An Interview with Dave Brooks of the Slammin’ Gladys

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Those that harbor nostalgia for the Los Angeles Sunset Strip are in for a treat today, as Dave Brooks of the Slammin’ Gladys joins us today for a chat. After nearly 30 years away, the Slammin’ Gladys are back with a new record called Two. If you’re into good old-fashioned Rock, with a touch of 70s and 80’s nostalgia, then this one is for you. Dig into this interview with Dave, and I discuss his roots, the band’s new records, and his thoughts on the current scene. If you would like to learn more about the Slammin’ Gladys or check out their new record, head over to the band’s website here. Cheers.

Andrew:
Dave, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. This last year has been rough, right? How are you holding up during this seemingly ever raging dumpster fire?

Dave:
I think an important part about navigating all this was keeping our eye on finishing the album and getting some videos done, and learning how to promote something in this day and age. There was a lot of reconnecting going on through this whole time got to spend some special time with special people that normally in the “normal” environment would not of happened Just got to keep on keeping on.

Andrew:
Tell us about your backstory. What was your musical gateway?

Dave:
Well, personally, It certainly started with my mom. She loved music and shared a lot of it with me. I was also able to pick up CKLW in Detroit when I was a kid because I lived in Geneva on the lake, so I really got into Motown very young. Then it was onto Deep Purple,  Sabbath, all that stuff, and then I saw Aerosmith and knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. There was and is also a lotta, lotta great bands in Cleveland at the time and around this part of Ohio.

Andrew:
As a band, who are some of your earliest and most important influences? 

Dave:
The band is a whole; we were all very into Rock and very much into Prince, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin. I’d say we’re pretty heavily influenced by Van Halen, too, but there are many Blues roots showing through on this record but that’s where Rock ‘N’ Roll started.

Andrew:
For those that don’t know, tell us the story of the Slammin’ Gladys. How did the band come together? What is the origin of the name?

Dave:
We came together in spring of ‘89 in the last wonderful breaths of what was Hollywood in the 80s. People will never know what a wonderful time that was. Al and I have known each other pretty much our whole lives; we were jammin’ together when we were 14. JJ had seen me at The Akron Agora When I was playing with Gotham City, so he knew who I was when I fell out of the car in front of The Rainbow. We started writing the next day. Then we had enough sense to get Steve on board, no pun intended on DeBoard.

Slammin’ was a phrase we used a lot back then, like if we thought something was cool or like a really cooking song. Gladys is Elvis’s mom. That’s all I better say about that.

Andrew:
Let’s talk about your new record Slammin’ Gladys Two. How did the record come together? What was the inspiration after all these years?

Dave:
Charlie and Regi From Jib Machine Records came to see me when I was playing out with The CBC “Cleveland Breakfast Club.” They were talking about releasing the first record with maybe doing a bonus track. Well, when me and JJ got together to start writing the bonus track, we accidentally wrote, I don’t know like six songs or something. Al and Steven had some great ideas, and we revived a few songs, I mean, like I wrote “Poison Arrow,” I think in 1989.

JJ really put a great team together and made a really great recording. He even made me sound good!

Andrew:
This is your first record since your debut in 1992. What happened between then and now? Why the long layoff, and what led to the decision to regroup now and finally release your long-awaited follow-up? 

Dave:
Al And Stacie put out quite a few albums and toured Europe a lot. JJ has been quite busy with  The Tories, The Nelson Brothers,  a lot of movie trailers, and such. I put out a few solo records, and I did a record with The Demarco Brothers, which is pretty incredible for you guitar players out there. And I toured Cleveland with the CBC, and I know Steve put out a few records, and he toured the beach in Southern California. Ha! So we kept very busy and always remained friends. It was just time to do it. The word ‘serendipitous’ keeps coming up quite a bit.

Andrew:
What is the band’s songwriting process like these days? How has it changed since your first go-around?

Dave:
We’re maybe a little more independent about our songwriting process, though; it’s still very much a band effort.

Andrew:
How about the production side of things? Do you self-produce or hire outside sources?

Dave:
JJ was a true producer on this record and he really guided the ship.

Andrew:
“Rockers” and  “Metalheads” are judged for their appearance? It’s odd though, people will judge someone for looking “too hard,” but in the same breath, someone can be judged for not looking “hard enough.” What are your thoughts on that?

Dave:
Well, I think people should look however they want to look. We just kind of look like who we are. I mean I’ve been wearing pretty much the same thing for, I don’t know, my whole life. We just look how we look. I guess the “Dragon Eye Girl” video is a pretty good representation of what is going on with us.

Andrew:
Since the days of Satanic Panic in the 1980s, Metal and Hard Rock music in all its forms has seemingly been on trial. What are your thoughts on the persecution of Metal/Hard Rock as a genre? Do you feel it will ever be widely accepted the way that Pop or more mainstream Rock music is?

Dave:
I think Metal was very well represented in the late 80s on the charts, on the radio, and on the Sunset Strip. I mean, you can always turn on the radio and hear AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, Led Zeppelin –all that stuff in the early 90s, too. Man, there was a lot of there’s a lot of Rock on the radio that’s for sure. things are certainly a lot different in America than they used to be. I’d say that our album Two is more of a Blues-Rock record kind of got a little bit of a 70s feel to it.

Andrew:
Touring is usually a huge part of a working musician’s proverbial machine, but as we know, COVID has disallowed it. What do you miss most about touring?

Dave:
Everything. Mostly being with the people.

Andrew:
One disturbing fact I’ve learned over time is that streaming services don’t pay artists well, if at all. Meanwhile, Bandcamp seemingly goes out of its way to take care of its artist.  What are your thoughts on that issue? How do we as fans do our part to help?

Dave:
I think I read some crazy thing: if you buy a CD or vinyl or a freaking T-shirt or anything off of the artist directly like on Merchbucket or something like that, they make the same amount of money if they would’ve gotten like 40,000 plays on Spotify. So that’s insanity if that’s true. It’s good that somebody’s out there looking out for the artist. It’s a tough but rewarding path.

Andrew:
In a world dominated by late-stage capitalism and social media, can artists really, truly get ahead? How do we keep the playing field level so that everyone has a chance to succeed?

Dave:
Well, I don’t think the playing field has ever been level. It’s the music business. You make the music, and they give you the business. We’re working with an incredible label this time around, getting great support and advice. It’s the best I think we can do or anybody for that matter do the best you can, you know.

Andrew:
Are you into records? Tapes? CDs? Digital? Where do you like to shop for music? What are a few albums that mean the most to you and why?

Dave:
I listen to CDs in my car because they just sound better that’s all there is to it. I’m always blasting Audioslave or something like that. I mean terrestrial radio sounds good but there’s so many commercials. I love vinyl also there’s just a warmth to that that you don’t get on anything else but the fact is that most people you know buy and listen MP3s or 4s or whatever so we’re trying to make those the best we can.

Andrew:
Who are some of your favorite artists? Ones that mean the most to you.

Dave:
There’s so many. Chris Cornell for sure maybe the best ever. Steven Tyler, Robert Plant, Steve Perry, all the Van Halen guys. Jani Lane for sure. I love Nora Jones. I love, love, love Sarah McLachlan. Ella Fitzgerald was really important to my singing development for sure, but you’d probably never think that. A lot of Motown artists—Marvin Gaye was so incredible. I mean I listen to the Classical station all the time too. I think everybody in the band’s very diverse with what they listen to in their heroes.

Andrew:
Last question. What advice would you have for artists just starting out? How do they stay afloat in a world that seems to be so abhorrent to creatives?

Dave:
You guys ask excellent questions! The main thing is, I think that you need to practice a lot more than you think you do. Try and play and sing something that’s very hard for you to do it’ll make you just that much better. Then you gotta keep your head in it all the time. Try to write one song a week. And never give up! Thank you so much for your time!

Interested in learning more about the work of the Slammin’ Gladys? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Andrew has always felt himself to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found Vinyl Writer in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Stories from the Stacks. Over time, the column grew into a website which now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process.
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