Go to the Source
Imitate, Assimilate, Innovate.
For the last three decades, Dave has been the main bass man for Jools Holland. In this interview we hear about how Dave started out, we hear about his journey to becoming a well rounded musician, his early years with Jools, all the experiences with the band & we talk a load about education.
Above all, there’s one message that I took away from the podcast & it’s directly hinted at the excerpt at the beginning of the podcast. Often the study of music - whether through education or not - can all too easily become an academic affair - in other words, our effort to study and intellectualise music can actually work against us. In this brilliant interview, Dave reminds us how important it is to “go to the source” with music - in other words, don’t study things around music, or books etc… but listen, transcribe, assimilate - and then go do your own thing. It’s amazing and deceptively simple advice.
I was inspired by this interview & I hope you will be too. Dave’s a great man with a wonderful approach to life. It’s a long interview but I hope you can stick through it - as there’s plenty of Gems in there. :)
As always, get in touch if you’re enjoying the podcast - I’d love to hear from you for whatever reason - whether just to say hi.
Dave Swift: 00:00:00 If you've got two islands, one of them is just filled with with textbooks on musical academia, anything to do with harmony and theory, but that's it. There's no recordings. There is just, it's just books on the other island as hasn't got any textbooks at all and all it has a just, you know, loads of cds or whatever of every of every type of music, genre of music, and then you had the choice of, of being the best musician you can be the most accomplished position. Which Ireland would you pick?
Jack Vaughan: 00:00:33 That was the voice of today's guest Dave Swift. Dave is an amazing guy who has played with a ton of people. You're definitely going to have heard of not least Adele, amy winehouse, Shakar Khan, Paul Simon, a bb King, Paul Mccartney, George Benson, to name a few. It's a. it's crazy stuff and he's featured on about seven double platinum selling albums. It's a. he's. He's a special guy. For the last three decades, Dave's been the main bass man for jools Holland. In this interview we hear of course, about how dave started out. We hear about his journey to becoming a well rounded musician, his early years with jewels and kind of all the experiences he's had with that band. We also talk a lot about education and Dave has some really interesting thoughts on this because he's someone who, despite being incredibly successful, hasn't had a traditional one. So, uh, yeah, we talk about that a lot above all.
Jack Vaughan: 00:01:27 There's kind of one quote or message that I personally took away from the podcast and it's directly hinted at the excerpt at the beginning of this podcast, often in the study of music, whether through education or not, and we can all too easily become kind of quite academic about it because we're just trying too hard. And really this ends up working against us in this amazing interview. Dave reminds us how important it is to really just go to the source with music. In other words, don't study things around music called books. Well, to an extent you need to do that sort of thing. What he says is to go straight to the source, transcribe, assimilate, and then just go and do your own thing. It's amazingly and deceptively simple advice. I was inspired by this interview and, uh, I hope you will be to, Dave's a great man with a wonderful approach to life and it's quite a long interview actually, but you know, I hope you can stick through it as the planning of gems in there. As always, get in touch if you're enjoying the podcast and we'd love to hear from you for whatever reason, whether it's just to say hi or, or something else.
Dave Swift: 00:02:37 Very well. Thank you. It is my pleasure to be here.
Jack Vaughan: 00:02:40 Well, I saw you just the other day at Tom's wedding, which is, uh, was quite a day actually, so not, not long since I last saw you, but um, but what are you up to today? You just, you just chilling out at home.
Dave Swift: 00:02:52 Uh, yeah, I, I've, um, I've got a couple of days off now before I go back out until with Joel's. So, uh, we've, we've been touring all summer and we just sat a few days off, so we've still got a couple more weeks ago. So
Jack Vaughan: 00:03:04 where's, where's the tour?
Dave Swift: 00:03:05 It's all UK based. Um, a lot of the gigs we do, they're the same gigs we do every year. So in the summer we do a lot of outdoor gigs. Uh, and um, yeah, I think, I think this week actually, I'm not even sure. I think we were playing in the West country quite soon, but yeah, it's literally, it's the, it's the length and breadth of the country where we taught them. We do do some work abroad, we do a lot of work in Europe and we've done a couple of world tours in the past, but we don't tend to do too many of those because of jewels is TV and radio shows. We have to be in the country. Um, you know, we can't go away for too, too long because the TV or the radio show always crops up. Um, so yeah, so most of our works in, in the UK.
Jack Vaughan: 00:03:49 Good stuff. Well, I mean, like you say, you just mentioned Joel's there, which has been a big thing in your musical life, but um, I'd love to go right back to the starts traditionally what I do and what lots of people do on their podcast. To kind of ask you about your, your start in music. How old were you? How did it happen and what were the first few years like?
Dave Swift: 00:04:08 Sure. Well, it's interesting because people often say to me, do you come from a musical family and musical background? And I always used to say, well, not really because neither one of my parents played a musical instrument and usually that's, you know, that's what the situation is with musical family. It starts with the parents. But my two brothers played guitar, they both played acoustic guitar at home and there was a piano in the house that my oldest brother would occasionally play. So they were the musicians there. My parents, not at all, but I remember music being played a great deal in the house. So my, my, my two older brothers, they're eight and 11 years older than I am. So, you know, they had records by Jimi Hendrix and cream and Joni Mitchell, uh, that kind of thing. Uh, but my parents, my dad for some reason was it was a big fan of operatic music, which is kind of odd because my dad was a mom and dad were working class people.
Dave Swift: 00:05:03 They both worked in factories, so I'm not quite sure where his love of opera came from. But um, you know, that's, that's what he had albums out. But then we had things in between that stuff. Like I remember we had the, uh, some Peggy Lee albums. There was like, I was a member, we had the soundtrack to the sound of music that got played a lot and uh, and, and stuff like Glenn Miller was, was being played. So between, between my mom and my dad and my brothers, the stuff they were playing on records, there was quite an, covered a lot of ground, a lot of different musical genres that I was listening to from day one. But, you know, but I, I remember I really enjoyed music. I mean, I really loved it. I loved listening to it. It was, it was great, funny, it was very pleasurable.
Dave Swift: 00:05:50 In fact, the first film I ever saw at the cinema was the sound of music. My mom took me to see it and to this day it's still one of my favorite sort of films and I love the music from it. But um, but again, I never thought to myself that I wanted to be a musician. It never, it never entered my head that that was a possibility. So I used to sit. Interesting. Well, yeah, I think it's because again, my family background I think had, I had parents that were, that had a bit more of a Bohemian lifestyle or that played in some instrument themselves so I can actually see someone that was earning a living from it, you know, that it was possible to have it as a, as a lifestyle. But I didn't see any of that so I, I couldn't imagine it myself, but I was very passionate about it.
Dave Swift: 00:06:32 And, and also I, I had a good singing voice, so my own early, uh, sort of memories or work with singing in the choir. I always got picked to sing in the school choir, which again, I enjoyed immensely. Uh, and then I also joined my local church choir when I was about 10 years of age and I stayed in the clients for about eight years and I just loved it. It was, it was less to do with the religious experience, I have to say. Um, but definitely, you know, singing the music stuff was I, I was, I absolutely adored.
New Speaker: 00:07:09 Fantastic.
Dave Swift: 00:07:10 So that was, um, so that was way before playing an instrument. The, it didn't, it's odd because seeing my brothers played the guitar, you think there's a little kid that you'd immediately want to, I want to do that, I want to play that. And although I kind of fooled around on the instruments and even plunked around on the house piano and it still didn't jump out at me. It wasn't sort of saying, you know, play me and I want you to be a musician. It's still, that didn't happen for a, for a while after that. So, um, so I guess going on to actually playing an instrument, but when I went to secondary school I just went to a regular comprehensive school and I really fancy playing the saxophone because I think I'd seen people playing it on top of the pops and I've probably seen a few mgm musicals as a kid where someone was playing the sax and to me it looks such a cool instrument.
Dave Swift: 00:08:02 It just looked really sort of flashy and very kind of cool and trendy. And because I'd been listening to some jazz as well and I knew that the saxophone was quite a predominant instruments in that genre of music. So anyway, we went to one of these open evenings at the school where the sixth formers all were playing instruments and you go there with your parents and you get to choose an instrument of your choice. Something is sex, phone, sex man has sex with him. And we got there and everyone was playing flutes and oboes and clarinets. None of which I had any interest in whatsoever. Because because that's not the instrument, they're not the instruments that I've seen being played on top of the pops.
New Speaker: 00:08:39 Sure. Yeah.
Dave Swift: 00:08:40 So anyway, they asked teachers and they said, no, we don't have a saxophone, I'm afraid. Ah, okay. So next thing I saw a trombone lying and it's case. And uh, I've always been a big fan of the, uh, the bizarre and the absurd. And for me seeing this trombone, he did seem a really absurd instruments me because everything else had seen, had sort of buttons and keys. The trombone had this slide. So I thought to myself, okay, I'm going to give that a go. And then the next time I went down to the music blog, a few days later, they gave me a euphonium and I'm thinking myself, hang on a minute, what's going on here? And they said, well, the trombones been given to another boy. This is all we've got left. Um, and I didn't really want it because it was so far removed from the saxophone.
Dave Swift: 00:09:28 I'm thinking to myself, the sex or the coolest instruments ever to the iphone ium as beautiful sounding as it is. I thought to myself, how am I ever going to get a girlfriend if I'm playing that you've found him? So is that why you eventually went to the bass? Because basis. Well, you know, I think actually the bass found me. Um, how did that happen? Well, the thing is I, I, I, I paid the you only for a few months. I gave up on it because it wasn't my thing and I forgot all about music and this is kind of quite a key point because, um, after that. So this was in the first year of senior school. So I then just decided that music wasn't for me. Uh, if I have been given the instrument my choice, it may have changed everything. So what happened is that I didn't study music as an academic subject, you know, when you get to sort of choose your options later, later on.
Dave Swift: 00:10:13 And again, I went back to my original thought of, uh, you know, look at what my parents did for a living, how am I going to get a job? You know, so all the things that I enjoyed, which was very creative, things like art and music and drama, I didn't bother with any of that because I thought, how on earth is that going to get me a job? Um, I just, I just wasn't getting, I guess had enough advice to people. So I'm. So I picked a whole load of other subjects that thinking about afterwards, I hated every single one of the woodwork, metalwork, physics, biology. It was like crazy. So anyway, uh, when I was 14, uh, my friend who had, who got the trombone in the first place, he'd been playing this whole time and I'd said, well, what's it like? You said he's great fun and you get some, uh, an academic lesson each week.
Dave Swift: 00:10:59 And as it turned out, the trombone teacher came on a Thursday afternoon, uh, when I had double physics. So I realized by taking up the trombone I could actually miss a lesson and physics every week, which for me was a result result. Um, so one of the reasons why I'm sitting here chatting to you now is more to do with my hatred of physics than it is to do with my love of music. So sure enough, I went along to this trombone teacher and I said, listen, I, I thought about playing this years ago. It didn't work out. I'd like to give it another go. And you said, I'm sorry I can't take you on a subway of it because you're too old at 14 years of age. I was already asked it. Yeah, to. Yeah. So I said to him, please, please no, you give me the opportunity because I really want to do this.
Dave Swift: 00:11:42 I'm thinking I really want to skive off physics. So anyway, he gave me the trombone and he gave me, um, tuna day book one, I remember it quite distinctly and he said, take it home, play for a couple of weeks, see what happens. And do you know what the, the, the planets aligned, everything came together for some reason. Myself and the trombone bonded so beautifully and I just loved it. I absolutely loved it. And then because I've found something that I was good at because the only other thing I was good at school was sports. I was a very good athlete and I thought he was going to do anything when I left school it was going to be sports related. I didn't dream of anything musical. So all of a sudden I'm playing trombone and I'm loving every second of it. I, I can't put the thing there.
Dave Swift: 00:12:24 And I made progress very quickly. But then as far as bass goes, the school band and I played in a, just decided it needed. Um, and actually that's not entirely true. We, myself and some friends, we formed an offshoot of the school band and we needed a bass player. So I basically had the blue volunteered because I played my brother's guitars a little bit. So I was the only person that had had any experience with a, with a guitar. Um, so I went out with my eldest brother and we bought my first Bass Guitar. So this was when I was about 15. And then I started to play that. Well, I could already read music now from, from playing the trombone, again, I wasn't taking music as an academic subject, so I was learning everything from my trombone lessons at school with this peripatetic teacher. Um, and so all I, all I then had to do is to transfer all my knowledge from the trombone and from reading music onto the bass, which is, which is what I did.
Dave Swift: 00:13:20 So I started to play Bass Guitar and then my trombone teacher, which is one of the best pieces of advice I've ever been given, said to me, you know, you should consider taking up a acoustic bass double bass because if you decide to do this for a living and you are already good enough to do this, then playing the double bass as well as the bass guitar will mean that you'll get a lot more work. And so that's, that's basically what I did. So while I was still at school, I was playing trombone, Bass, guitar and Double Bass and enjoying every second of it.
Jack Vaughan: 00:13:48 Fantastic. And was it something, do you, would you recommend that to anyone who's starting out to actually play numerous instruments and to to a certain extent, it sounds like you came from the, well the so called classical tradition, the reading side, using trombone, and you brought that to your bass playing, which went in a different direction. Would you recommend that to.
Dave Swift: 00:14:06 Well, do you know what? I think it all depends on what you're hoping to do. You see. For me, I didn't know what I wanted to do. I just knew that I was loving playing these instruments. I didn't, I wasn't thinking about doing it for, for a living that. And in some ways I'm glad that I was a classically trained trombone player because like I said, at that time a lot of bass players they couldn't read. They were only like a few bass player because I'm originally from the West Midlands. I'm from Wolverhampton and there was the theater's there so the theater guys could read. But all the other guys that were doing just regular gigs, there are very few bass players that that could read. So that's the reason why I'm a trombone teacher said this'll, this'll be good for you because it means straight away I can get you work in, in shows sessions and stuff like that because if I'd have just joined a band, you know, those things take time to grow and develop and to build up a following and whatever.
Dave Swift: 00:15:01 But if you could, but back then if you could read music, you could immediately get work. So, so I'm kind of glad that I did it because a lot of my early years who depended on my ability to sight read. But if I was given advice to younger people, now it's, it's trickier because for instance, in the, in the jools Holland band, there's only myself and the horn section that can read written notation. The rest of the rhythm section, a fine players as they are, don't really read music. Um, you know, but the thing is we've all ended up and some of the horn players, they went to university, they got degrees. I didn't do that at all. I left school at 16 and that, and that was it. I turned pro straight away. But I guess the point I'm trying to make is that music is a great leveler. So you look at the jools Holland band, it's a 20 piece band that's hugely successful with playing with incredible high profile iconic artists on a regular basis. But the mixture of people in the band are musical background is so varied. But we've all ended up in the same place. We're all playing the same music with the same people yet some people read music, some people don't. Some people had a music education, some of us didn't. So it's incredible.
Jack Vaughan: 00:16:10 Yeah. Well there's many, many paths to.
Dave Swift: 00:16:14 Yeah. But I would say, you know, if somebody, if you, if you really wanted to say particularly playing a west end show, then you've got no other choice, but you need to read music. There's no other way around it. You can't do otherwise. But if you just want to play in bands or you just want to kind of jam, uh, or, or even sort of, you know, just do like freelance jazz gigs, then there's not that greater need to learn to read music.
Jack Vaughan: 00:16:37 Yeah. So, so early on it sounded like you were kind of early skillset, gave you the ability to be what really exposed to a ton of different input, you know, a ton of different musicians doing these sessions as you said. So like in the first sort of three, four years before, obviously before Joel and stuff like that, what were the kinds of things that you were doing and I mean how many, how many people were you planning with a month and, and things like that?
Dave Swift: 00:17:01 Well the thing is because I was playing, I was still playing trombone as well, so yeah, I mean just with the trombone alone. I mean I was playing in orchestras, I was playing, I played in several brass bands. I was playing in like, you know, sort of jazz, jazz orchestras. I was playing small groups. I even played in a funk band that we're doing earth, wind and fire kind of stuff. So I was playing in a small horn section. So even before I took up the bass, I pretty much played every musical genre you could imagine. So that's the reason why it was easy for me when I, when I switched to bass, because I'd already had a great deal of experience with all of these types of music, but, um, but a lot of them were just, uh, you know, they were kind of rehearsal things, you know, they weren't necessarily fully fully prototypes, some of were but, but a lot of what I did early on was, were things like shows where it was picked work, I guess you'd call it, um, but you know, things like tv sessions and radio jingles.
Dave Swift: 00:18:00 But everything I was doing had was we had written music and this is one of the problems that I had early on. This is the only thing that's, I guess that I have any regrets about very early on because, uh, I wasn't playing much music, uh, just just by ear. Almost everything I was doing was written down and placed in front of me. Uh, and, and so the great thing is there was nothing on the bass that I couldn't play because the complexity of the music on the trombone had already prepared me for that. So everything I was playing on the bass was so simple, but again, the problem was, was playing without music and it's the one thing I always had a bit of a fear and dread of because I just knew that it was my weakest, the weakest part of my playing. And it took me a long time to get round that.
Jack Vaughan: 00:18:48 So when did you first start encountering that as a kind of cycle difficulty?
Dave Swift: 00:18:53 I suppose it was, yeah, it was, it was kind of like late teens when I got to about sort of 19 or 20, I was playing in a big band again that had a huge pad of music, fantastic charts like kind of buddy rich kind of stuff and uh, and Duke Ellington, count Basie, all these things. And a lot of it was written down. But then at one point during the concert that I was in this regular band, there was like a small group of it, like a splinter group would sort of come out the front and do like a dixieland tune or like a jazz standard. And I remember the trumpet player at the time, he called me out and he just sort of said whatever the name of the song was in the key and I'm looking at and kind of going what, you know, where's the, where's the music? We're at least a chord charts. And he wasn't. And I realized then that, you know, you need to have a repertoire of songs as well as a working musician especially, you know, if you're playing sort of jazz big band stuff. Uh, and basically the, all the, I was one of the youngest guys in the band. These guys were much older than me, so they knew all of these jazz standards and they'd been playing them by ear a lot and I hadn't been. And I was horrified.
Jack Vaughan: 00:20:03 So what I'm interested what you did at that point then sort of that kind of juncture. What did you go and do?
Dave Swift: 00:20:09 Well? Well, I, I definitely started. He was my problem. I think I wasn't listening to enough music. I was practicing a great deal. And back then I used to focus an awful lot on technique. I became very obsessed with technique and uh, and I wasn't spending enough time develop developing my ear, uh, that, that was, that was my problem. I wasn't listening to stuff that I wasn't analyzing things. I was listening to things in a very, very casual way. But, but also, here's the thing, I didn't know about harmony either. I, I'd never studied it because playing the trombone, you know, it's, it's, I'd never played the piano for instance, or the guitar. I'd never studied harmony. I didn't know enough about it. And I remember one of the things I did at one of my earliest gigs was working on the qe two, the Queen Elizabeth, the second cruise liner, and I did this in 1984. I was 20 and I was on the cruise ship with a, just a dance band playing sort of background music. But one of the saxophone players, he's now, he's a very prominent UK bassd player. His name's Julian are grillers.
New Speaker: 00:21:12 Yeah.
Dave Swift: 00:21:12 And he was in the band I read and I was in and he, I love spending time with him because this was someone who was already dedicated jazz musician and was just doing this Gig to a bit of cash, but he knew way more about jazz and improvisation than I did. So we used to go to New York on a regular basis and we'd always go to manny's. And we bought our first fake books there, you know, the books with all, with all the chord charts and one of the. And they were called fake books then. And actually they were still illegal. So when you went into a music shop, I think it was, man, it was just something like that. We had to, we had to buy them in a brown paper bag and they had to be served underneath the counter because, but you know, he said to me, if you want to learn to play jazz and jazz standards, this book will be a big help.
Dave Swift: 00:21:58 Um, but I also remember buying a load of those Jamie Eva sold books because it's the first time I'd ever seen books on improvisation because I hadn't seen anything like this before. Um, so I bought a couple of those thinking this was going to be the answer to all my, all my prayers, but actually I realized quite quickly on that just what I needed to do is just spend more time listening to tunes. Um, and, and to some extent, you know, you have to throw yourself in the deep end. So that occasion when I got called down to play, adjust that, I didn't know it, some, you know, it was the best thing you could do and then. But then I learned my ears got better. As time went on, I started to play with more people where there wasn't any written music. So. But it was a slow process. It took me, it took me a long time to break the habit of requesting written parts, some core charts. It took me a while. It wasn't an easy transition, let's put it that way.
New Speaker: 00:22:54 No, that's fascinating. Especially about the prohibition real book stuff. That's hilarious.
Dave Swift: 00:22:59 But you know, one of, one of, one of my friends said to me years later, you know, he sort of said it's really important. A lot of musicians these days, younger guys, they're so obsessed with practicing and often not practicing the right things, you know, just technique or speed or whatever. And he did say to me, he said, I said, well, what advice can you give me? And he said to me, well, he said, listen more than you play. And I thought he had a good point because, you know, so I was working out of these real books and fake books. But the thing is, I wasn't listening to the recordings and I wish, you know, what you need to do is just to go to the source in those circumstances because there's only certain inflammation you've got on that page. And actually a lot of those chords in those early books were, were incorrect. So you know, you, you weren't getting the correct. But he said to me, just listen more, you know. So I made sure that my record collection grew. I, I spent a lot of time tracking down records and just spending more time listening to stuff and playing along with them.
Jack Vaughan: 00:23:57 Yeah, well I was going to ask about that because I often think that it's really important to think well to listen actively as well because you listened very passively stuff, which is also good. There are different ways you can listen, so I mean when you were listening, were you in effect sort of transcribing and you're in your head, you're jamming along with it or was it kind of just absorbing?
Dave Swift: 00:24:15 To be honest, it was all of the above because I remember the first time I ever heard I'm Jakob Pastorius, a fantastic American sort of bass guitarist, the virtuoso, and it was someone let me a weather report while I was playing the trombone in orchestral practice. Somebody said, well, you know, you've learned to play the bass so you're listening needs to listen to this guy. And it was a weather report album called night passage and I'd never heard of weather report. I'd never heard of Jack up a story. As I took this regular one. It did blow my mind, uh, I have to say, but it also made me panic because I thought to myself, am I expected to play like this guy on every gig because I've just started out on the bass and this guy was a complete virtuoso and I did panic to begin with, but um, but I really loved the music and I definitely loved his technical prowess and uh, so I started to, that's when I started to transcribe stuff.
Dave Swift: 00:25:07 I started to transcribe a lot of Jeca pastorious kind of basslines. Um, but obviously I knew that that was more for my own pleasure because a lot of the time I knew I wasn't going to be able to get to play that, those basslines on the commercial gigs that I was doing, but it was still good because it was developing my ear. It was, you know, I was writing music. Um, it was, it was all good. I always say transcriptions are a great thing. I still do them all the time and they're, they're very hard work. I mean, they're terribly hard work and they're very time consuming. But I always say about transcriptions, the, um, the hard work is its own reward because I've learned more from transcribing basslines, melodies, Solos. I've learned more from doing that than from any theory book that I've ever encountered. In other words, going straight to the source. So if you want to learn to sort of Solo like miles Davis as opposed to buying a book on how to sell it, that mother's Day was no go and buy some miles Davis albums and, and listen and practice and transcribe and play along with.
Jack Vaughan: 00:26:12 Yeah, completely. I mean for me, the two things that whenever I'm trying to study something that isn't music as well, I ended up writing kind of like an outline of a book on it, you know, some big topic I'll like, I'll never publish or do anything with the book, but the idea of kind of taking the information and digesting it and pulling it in. So transcriptions like that for composition, pastiche composition is something I've done for years just for fun. And you just get to think about it. It's like a. what's that thing that Thomas says? I forget who said it,
Dave Swift: 00:26:40 what's. What's the notes? Here it goes. It's club Terry quotes and it's imitates, assimilate, and innovative. I think it's attributed to club Terry and, and you know what? That's, that's pretty much it. Those three words just sum everything up because the, the greatest jazz musicians that, that I personally, because I'm in jazz is probably my favorite type of music. I'm an, I get to play a lot of different stuff, but I think deep down I just, I really still love playing jazz and improvised creative music. I'll go further to say that, but I think that all of the guys that I really admire, the, the older players, the, the more iconic players really didn't go to sort of music colleges to, to, to, to do that, to learn to play that they basically imitated people that came before then, uh, you know, their contemporaries, they, they, they copied, you know that Ray Brown, the great jazz jazz basis, he listened to Jimmy Blanton, he got Jimmy Blanton albums and just copied everything he did.
Dave Swift: 00:27:39 And initially that's what he was doing. He was doing it like copying note for note, but then he then went off and did gigs, play the little few things from that, which obviously was the assimilation thing. Uh, but then eventually, hopefully what comes out is something of your own. But I think to begin with, you have to, you have to listen to other people and, and uh, you know, see what they're doing. That seems to be the universal way that those guys learn to do what they did learn to play like they did was, was just purely listening know as opposed to getting too bogged down in, in, in the academia side of it. In fact, when I, not long after I moved to London, which was in 1988, I ended up studying with an American jazz basis called Michael Moore. I'm pleased to say still with us, but he was living in London at the time and he's gone back to America now.
Dave Swift: 00:28:30 But I've got a couple of records with them on. So when someone said that he's in town and, and teaching, I knew that I had to go and study with him and he was just a wonderful guy. Uh, he taught it, taught me so much. He made me not made me, but he encouraged me to switch from French to German bow on the double bass, which, which to me was much, much more natural and I still use it to this day, but, um, but he was such a beautiful, lyrical player play with a lot of guys, play with Bill Evans and also he was the last bass player with Dave Brubeck before David passed away. But, uh, but Michael Moore, he told me an interesting thing you know, to do with education and he said he attended one of those summer jazz schools. I think it may have been a Jamey aebersold one, but if certainly I could jump at some of our school in the states.
Dave Swift: 00:29:17 And then he was just pottering inbetween classes going out and looking at other people teaching. And he told me himself that he had not had much of a music education as far as certainly as far as jazz plant, he wasn't just more, more of an organic player and anyway he was, he was watching them on the blackboard doing things like harmonizing various minor scales, harmonizing the melodic minor scale, the harmonic one scale and all the modes that are generated from it. And he's standing there watching it actually quite bewildered by all this academia. And he actually said to me, you said, I, I quickly realized that I had been playing that stuff naturally. I've been doing this for years. I just didn't know what it, what it was or what it was called. You know what I mean? So he was, he, he'd already been about their performing and playing created music and improvising, but he just didn't know, you know, all the academic terms and all the modes. But he'd been doing it naturally who'd been doing it by air because he learned from listening to other players.
Jack Vaughan: 00:30:17 It's such a crazy thing. I'm talking as a part time teacher as well. It's a double edge sword of, of music education, you know, it's, it can be great and it can also just be terrifyingly deadening thinking in that way. And the difficult thing. It's like, um, that, that theory of multiple intelligences I think of at the moment because it's like, you know, some people naturally have an inclination to go ahead and just like you and like him to kind of just basically assimilate stuff, you know, just an imitate things. And yet there are some kids as well who, whether it's them or their parents or, or whatever, you know, are wanting to get started early stage and don't have a natural inclination or they may be passionate, but they may not dive straight into, uh, the imitation side of things. So, um, and, and just balancing the, the kind of a, what'd you call it, the intellectual side of music.
Jack Vaughan: 00:31:09 And the main aim is to get people to be passionate and into what they're doing so that they can find their own drive. Um, you know, and actually sometimes I say to people, listen, all you need to do is when I've, when I've heard about their goals and what they want to, what they want to achieve with music, if they're just starting out, you know, giving them a few lessons and I explained that, listen, it's not all about just coming to me and having some, having some theory lessons and me giving you goals. It's about you taking this out there and just, you know, just copying stuff and finding, following your nose, you know?
Dave Swift: 00:31:41 Yeah. Well I think the other thing is, it's interesting when I was, when I took up the trombone that first straightaway, the teacher didn't say to me, you know, just go home and play it and have some fun with it. Just just make things up, just making noise, do whatever you want with it for a couple of weeks, even a month, whatever. But, but straight away you get given a book. In my case, it was one of those tuna day and uh, and yeah, I mean it was, it was great because he, I, I couldn't really read music prior to that. So, so it did, it was a life changing thing, but at the same time I did sort of feel, looking back now, it was almost like you, you've got these chains around you because you're, you're straight away. You're forced into learning in a very academic kind of almost stuffy kind of way.
Dave Swift: 00:32:24 I, I just, uh, you know, I think now if I, if I was sort of teaching like someone from scratch, I certainly wouldn't just tell them to go out and just get a music theory, but I'd just say have some fun with the instrument. I have some kind of thing. For me, it's sort of, I could have probably been, um, had more, uh, you know, I could have been more, more of an improvising plant early on had I have done that, but I, I kinda think because I'd been given books, I'd been given music books and theory books. And again, every single thing I played was written down and uh, and yeah, and it's kind of great because you're getting a music education, but I think it was stifling potentially any sort of creativity that was there initially.
Jack Vaughan: 00:33:05 Yeah, totally. So that would be the advice. Would you say that you'd give yourself, if you could, if you could go back and talk to young Dave?
Dave Swift: 00:33:12 Yeah, absolutely. I would certainly sort of say, you know, do a lot more things that didn't involve written music, play, play with other people and uh, yeah, but it was almost, it almost became, you know, like a crutch really [inaudible] I said I just knew that I could take on anything that involved written music, but then there were certain things that I really wanted to do but I didn't get involved with because I didn't trust my ear enough. I didn't think my aid was developed. I, I hadn't done enough of it. So yeah, I, I'd sort of say, you know, spend as much time sort of listening and training your ear and playing by ear. Then, you know, it took me a long, long time to balance those things out. In fact, when I got the Gig, it was interesting because there were, there was no music at all. Uh, and I, again, I was used to having charts there, but I realized that this wasn't going to happen in this band, so I knew that everything had to be learned by ear and it was fantastic for me. It really forced me into, into doing something that I should have been doing.
Jack Vaughan: 00:34:14 Yeah. There's a point in that, as you said earlier about that, that famous phrase about just diving in the deep end or something like that, that you said it. We're so often, and I think that the dangerous part of education is that that idea that you need to get yourself ready before you go and do it. Whereas some of the most successful people go and do it before they can do it and before they're ready, and then that somehow supercharges the process. Does that make sense?
Dave Swift: 00:34:41 Of course, what it's, it's a bit like. Yeah, with the whole jazz thing, you know, because there's so much money to be made now from, um, from, from academia and especially in the jazz world. There's a lot of schools and courses you can go on. And I think the problem now is that it can create this, this school of thought where I can't go out and do a jazz guy, can't go out and improvise other people unless I've studied every single thing about harmony and jazz harmony there is to know, you know, it makes some people are paranoid. And, and the thing for me is, it's a bit like when you've got like a small child, you know, you would never say to a small child, here's a dictionary, you know, you, you're not allowed to sort of speak or put a sentence together unless you've learned all the words in this book.
Jack Vaughan: 00:35:24 Yeah, I suppose is people's inhibitions, isn't it? And fear in the beginning that makes them feel like I have to go and study this rather than just explore and make mistakes. You know, it's like we had mentioned to you before the show about, um, having William West the on the, on number one, which is a great podcast, but his book is called the perfect wrong note, which is essentially about what we were talking about, you know,
Dave Swift: 00:35:46 I've seen the podcasts. He's fabulous. I'd love to read the book. I mean, I definitely will, but, but yeah, I think it's um, yeah, I think it, it, it sort of causes problems, you know, and uh, um, you know, and it's, it's just important to some of the best lessons that I've learned. I've been on the bandstand, I've just been playing with other people and you know, and you've made mistakes. Uh, and then you know, you might be playing a tune you've never heard before. I mean, I do this a lot now. A lot of my freelance gigs, when I'm playing in London, I don't always know who I'm going to be playing with a. and more importantly, you don't know what songs are you going to be doing. But I guess there's, there's an expectancy that if you're doing that type of Gig that you have a repertoire, because again, you know, when I was coming up, a lot of bands had pads of music, they had big, big pads, charts, court charged, written things that doesn't exist anymore, not, not in the firm.
Dave Swift: 00:36:38 From what I've seen. It's like you're expected to have this ridiculous repertoire of music. And I say if you go and do a Gig, you need to know a certain amount of standards, certain amount of pop tunes, certain Beatles thing. You've got to have that in your head. And that's a lot of stuff to know. That's an awful lot of pressure, especially for younger players because, because they've got even the longer history of music to listen to that I had when I was starting out. But, but yeah, I never turned up anywhere now. And people say, Oh, here's some cool charts, here's a written part. You've just got to. And they just started playing. Often you don't even get the title of the song or the key, you know, you've just got to play. Um, but, but, but it's, it's, it's a great, a very fertile environment to be in and of course, and if you don't know the song, you know, these people are not going to turn around and stop and then say, okay, let's do something else. They're going to carry on doing it and you are expected to pick it up the second time around. Uh, and although it's very daunting, it's very exciting as well.
Jack Vaughan: 00:37:34 Well, I kind of want to shift gears a bit and actually talk about your kind of, let's, let's kind of fast forward to your kind of start with Jules. How did that come about? And then I want to ask you about kind of the musical experiences which are kind of various and incredible. So yeah. How did that first come about?
Dave Swift: 00:37:51 Prior to, I mean I'd been, I'd been with Jools Holland now 25 years, but I've been a professional musician for 35 years. So for those first 10 years I was what you would call a freelance session guy. So I was doing whatever gigs sorta came along. So I worked a lot on cruise ships, a lot of theater work, a lot of sessions, but here's the thing, I always listened to creative music. I was always a big fan of, of, of Jazz, of jazz fusion, jazz funk, you know, and it was all with very, very creative guys are listening to things like return to forever chick, corea, Stanley Clarke, weather reports, all those type of bands. So I thought to myself, well hang on a minute, I'm not doing this. This isn't. I'm playing okay music and I'm playing with good musicians, but none of it's particularly creative. So I was earning a great living.
Dave Swift: 00:38:40 I was traveling the world, but I wanted to. Yeah, I want it to do that. I wanted to play more improvised creative music with creative musicians. Now initially, interestingly enough, I think I might. I moved to London in 1988, but before I moved to London I actually wanted to go and study somewhere and I, I was considering Berkeley, the Berkeley School of music because it seemed to be a lot of players I admired. Gone there. I sent away to the prospectus and it was too expensive. I just couldn't afford to do it. So I thought the next best thing to do is to move to London, but I didn't know anyone here at all. I, I think I knew two people in the whole of London. Uh, and so this was in 1988 and I said to myself, okay, I'm going to do. I'm only going to take on work that I really want to do.
Dave Swift: 00:39:24 I'm not going to do all the stuff that I've done before. So I, I avoided the temptation to go and work in the west end to do anything where there was written music. So I just did. I just played jazz. I, I, I had to play the bass guitar by this stage. I'd given up on the trombone because not because I wasn't any good as it, but I just didn't have the time. They weren't enough hours in the day to practice that. So the trombone had to, had to go. I'm afraid I'm much, much to my sadness, but I didn't want even want to play Bass Guitar. I want to play double bass, I wanted to play jazz with jazz musicians and that's what I did for the first couple of years of being in London. And it was wonderful because it was very creative. Uh, and I was playing the music that I really wanted to play, playing with the musicians I wanted to play.
Dave Swift: 00:40:09 The only downside to it, I was absolutely skint I didn't have any, any money at all. And it made me quickly realized what a, what a fabulous art form jazz playing jazz was. But what a, what a terrible profession choice. I remember someone saying, one's about just the amount of hours that most jazz musicians put in compared to other people who put in that amount of hours. Then the equivalent money that comes out is just insane. It just doesn't make, it, doesn't make sense at all, but might go, my goodness, it was so rewarding. It was, I just cannot begin to tell you how, how happy I was and I've been earning less money than I had been for 10 years and really, really kind of suffering for my art. Um, but, but the, but the rewards are so great with the music. I listen to the playing.
Dave Swift: 00:40:59 But anyway, what happened is that I was playing with a saxophone player at the time and he'd already got the jewels Gig, uh, and uh, and at the time jewels, he was in a pop group called squeeze and he left and rejoined them a few times, but this was the final time. So he was going solo now I didn't know a huge amount about jules. I remember him from the TV show, the tube, which was a live music show back in the eighties that he cohosted with Paula Yates. And I knew he was in squeeze because I've got a couple of their records, but I didn't know a great deal about it. But, but Phil said, yeah, he's going to the next place that he's going solo and he's already got like a rhythm section and the horn section. But he needs a bass player because the bass player, well prior to me was Pino Palladino, highly acclaimed basically, as you know.
Dave Swift: 00:41:46 So it was Pinos First Gig when you moved to London, was to, was playing with jools Holland, and then, uh, and then the next bass player was the bass player in squeeze but squeeze, reformed, and they had, he went back with them thinking that that was the better choice. Uh, but it was sadly, he kind of got it a bit wrong because squeeze quickly folded after that. I mean that they're, they're back now. But at the time he just thought, well, potentially starting out with Jules as a solo career, you didn't know where it was heading and none of us did. So basically I got called to do an audition, a jools Holland studio, which is here in southeast London. And interestingly enough, I'm the only person that's ever auditioned for the jewels gig. Everybody else in that band, uh, just got it through word of mouth.
Dave Swift: 00:42:32 They just, they just got the Gig. I'm the only one that I'm aware of that had to do an actual audition. Um, and I've, I've never discovered the answer why that is. But I think it's a lot to do with the bass for Jules is very important. It's a crucial instrument for him being a pianist and what he does with his left hand. So I don't think, I think he needed to spend some time playing with me beforehand to see what I could do and what I was capable of doing. He didn't just want to say, oh yeah, come along to a Gig and then realize onstage that it's not happening. So, so yeah, this was um, this was towards the end of 1991. So I went along to jools Holland Studio, southeast London, and there was a jules and the guitarists are guitarist and we just played around of piano.
Dave Swift: 00:43:19 I was playing double bass because he was only really interested in, in the operator at that time. And we played for about an hour and it all seemed to go, well, here's the thing again, no music, no chord charts, but by this stage, because I'd been playing with jazz musicians, I was way more confidence about my ability to play by ear. Now, for instance, if I've got the jewels Gig, say 10 years prior to that, I would have been a lot more nurse because I didn't think my, you know, my ability to just play because I didn't know what we were going to play. He just, he would just start to play stuff and I just had to join in. Um, but luckily by this stage I, I was prepared for it. And Anyway, he, uh, he said I'm okay. It's great. You sound really great, but we need, there's a few other people we have to see.
Dave Swift: 00:44:06 I remember thinking, well, that sounds a bit of a brush off. Yes, exactly. So, uh, so jules and the guitarist went outside for a quick chat and five minutes later, and I'm packing the bass of that. But here's the interesting thing. I, I wasn't too fast and I remember thinking at the time I wasn't sort of panicking or thinking, Oh God, I hope I get it over, get it. Um, because, because here's the thing, I was already enjoying what I was doing, but the, Oh yeah, I wasn't earning a great deal of money but, but the music I was playing and the musicians that I was currently playing with was, was so rewarding for me that I just thought if Joel's comes back in and says, no, it's not going to work out. I honestly wouldn't have minded at all. I know that sounds crazy now, but when he came back in and said to hell with it, the gigs, yours, that we've got a tour in a few weeks' time, we'll get some cassettes too, so you can listen to some of the previous shows. And that was it.
Jack Vaughan: 00:45:01 Yeah. Well it just goes to show that, that. I mean that's the classic thing, isn't it, about like you don't care about something, you're often going to perform A. Yeah,
Dave Swift: 00:45:09 yeah, yeah, absolutely. I was so carefree about the whole thing. It's probably what got me through the audition. Now. Say for instance, if, but see back then there wasn't that much to lose because that stage Jules didn't have his TV show. He's BBC Two later with jools Holland TV show. He didn't have his radio to show either a and we didn't have the gigs. That was just like a handful of gigs in play in colleges and some balls, whatever, you know, he's not the person, the artist that he is now. So if for instance, if you were auditioning for the jewels Gig now, you'd be a lot more sort of paranoid and you'd be a lot more keen to get it because of you know, what, what you were getting yourself into stuff and you'd be more keen to do a better job for them.
Jack Vaughan: 00:45:53 I'd love to know what did you get into them?
Dave Swift: 00:45:55 Well, again, when I bought that Gig, it was 1991. Now here's the key point, right? We didn't know. None of us in the band knew where that Gig was heading as far as we were concerned. We were doing a few little gigs, a few private parties and it was just fun. It was just. We were just having a laugh and we were still aware their twenties, but then very, very quickly tools, popularity just. It just went crazy and he got, he got that TV show, he got asked to host, um, BBC two later, uh, it was like a late night music show, um, and I think it was probably just called the late show at first, so it may have even been called later, but now it's called later with jools Holland. And um, and that started just a couple of years afterwards. So, so fairly quickly all of a sudden we're being told, you know, you needed to play it on TV and none of us had done this before.
Dave Swift: 00:46:49 This was a whole new thing for us and it was, it was exciting and daunting all at the same time. So, so very early on we were playing with ludicrously famous people, um, you know, uh, and over the years it's just grown from that both on, on the TV and the radio show. So for instance, you know, we, we've been lucky enough or I've been lucky enough to play with three of the Beatles in my time with Jules and I've played with two of the guys in the rolling stones. Um, but on top of that, you know, really iconic people like Eric Clapton and bb King and Jeff Beck and, and the great thing with the jewels Gig now is we've all got play with some of our own musical heroes. So if you asked different people in the band, they're all going to come up with different names.
Dave Swift: 00:47:35 But interestingly for me, the people that I, my favorite people with, the people I grew up listening to, they were the ones whose albums that I bought and I couldn't now believe that I'm actually playing with these people, uh, on tv, just beyond my imagination. So people like, um, you know, the great singer Algero, um, Shakar Khan, another favorite of mine, George Benson, the great American guitarists, but much later on people like amy winehouse and Adele, um, you know, uh, but, but none of us saw this coming. This was just completely unexpected. But you know, we, this was our job now. Our job was playing on live television with these really famous iconic people, sort of Paul Mccartney.
Jack Vaughan: 00:48:26 Yeah. So there's, there's like a ton of different people that you mentioned there and they're all really varied as well and I'm kind of interested to dig a little deeper about your experience with a number of them slash all of them, kind of. What are some of the main characteristics or what, what do you think? Um, I suppose what I'm trying to ask is what's been one of the kind of shared features of all of them about the great musicians that you played with?
Dave Swift: 00:48:47 Well, interestingly, you know, people often say to me, what have I learned most about working with these artists and actually from being a jewelry that I've, I've learned, I've learned an awful lot about, about music and anything related to it, but I've also learned an awful lot about human behavior if nothing else. And uh, and the one thing that I've noticed with a lot of these artists and, and they are world famous iconic artists and stuff. But it's interesting that sort of be in the rehearsal room behind closed doors. You know, that they're not always the people that you think they are a. and actually they're often very sort of, there's a lot of humility there, there's an awful lot of humility and a, and it's refreshing to see because this industry is often so ego lead a these days. It's what you sort of see predominantly in the industry, but it was.
Dave Swift: 00:49:41 But it's more to do a lot of these people, they, you know, you don't have to be an amazing musician to be able to play with Eric Clapton. You don't have to be a virtuoso guide. I mean, not at all. I mean, you know, you have to be competent, but it's more to do with, um, you know, your, your personality because you know, you need to spend the whole day with these people. Even if you're only recording one or two songs on a TV or radio show, you have to spend an awful lot of time with these people. So, you know, you have to be very personable with them. You have to not be overly friendly. You know, you can't make out as though they're your best mates and you've only just met them and they are who they are. You've got to have a certain amount of sort of decorum, uh, about, but um, but yeah, you know, the, the, the one thing that I've had to realize, you know, you need to have a very good as well because you need to learn to play songs very, very quickly when you're with these people, unless you get given a CD or a recording of it in advance.
Dave Swift: 00:50:42 I've had to do these, I've had to work with these artists where you've met them on the day and you've got to learn a song right there in front of them very quickly about amy winehouse was a good example. She came on George's radio show and we had to play one of the tracks of her album that we knew she was coming on the show. We didn't know what track it was, so they were in the studio just prior to the actual show being recorded and we had to learn one of her songs on the spot. So there was no time to write anything down. We just had to listen to the CD and the control room and after two run throughs we had to, we had to play it with them. We had to, we had to play on the show and you know, full well if you turn around that and you've got to say no, I still don't know.
Dave Swift: 00:51:21 It's, I've got to listen to it six more times and you know, that's not a good thing. That's gonna be, that's gonna be a problem. So you know, we need to be put in that environment where, where you're playing with these almost intimidating sort of sort of people because they're so famous is so iconic and you've got to learn their songs. Some of that they've potentially been playing their whole lives so they know it inside out but you haven't heard it before. So we had to become all, had to become very good at learning stuff really quickly because they're sitting at the sitting there looking at you, waiting for you to learn it.
Jack Vaughan: 00:51:57 So nowadays do you have, do you have like kind of practice time at all in terms of the material? I know you work on your, your with transcriptions and things like that, but do you ever have practice time where it's like, Hey, we've got this repertoire to learn or what?
Dave Swift: 00:52:10 Yeah, well, what happens now is it's like I said, for the, for the radio show's been going something like 17 years. A lot of people still don't know what exists, but it hasn't been going at that time and the first, the first 10 years I would say we never got told what the tumor was and we had to learn it there and then on the spot now, although this was really daunting and really hard work and it was very, very pressurized situation, it was the best thing. It was one of the best experiences of my life because it forced, it forces you to use your ears grow very, very quickly. Um, you know, you have no choice. It's sink or swim. You can't turn around and say, I'm sorry I haven't got the ability to do this. I need loads more time after that. You're, you're, you're done for the, that's the show.
Dave Swift: 00:52:52 Business suicide. Um, but. So that was great. So we had 10 years of that, but then, uh, eventually the BBC started to send us the material the night before, we'd get either a CD in the post or we'd get like an MP three, but again, they'd never be any music. There's never any music written down. We always have to learn it ourselves. It's the same way we do tv shows, the, um, the later and also the new year's Eve hootenanny show. Uh, I'm in the horn section, get charts because somebody, there's about four or five of the horn section that take it in turns to do arrangements, but they only do arrangements for the horns. There's no parts for the rhythm section at all. And the main reason being with all due respects to my, the other guys, I would be the only person that can read the chart.
Dave Swift: 00:53:38 So what's your, what's your approach to an ups that's relatively, or not necessarily challenging but relatively in depth? Okay. Well, what I always do without fail this is, this is, this is the first thing I would do. I transcribe everything that I have to play. So I'm the, I'll get the CD, whether it's the radio show, the news TV show, I will, I will transcribe the bassline note for note 100 percent and even at home here, I've got like loads and loads of these box folders with thousands of transcriptions of all of these incredible artists over the years. And it's a nice thing to have as a souvenir. But, but here's the thing for me, um, CDC, Joel's, one of the things he values about me, he is attention to detail. I'm, I'm the detail guy in the rhythm section because jaws will listen to the songs probably more in a bit more casual way, a bit more organic way.
Dave Swift: 00:54:30 So he might listen to it while he's at home or driving the car just to get the general idea of it. Um, because you know, he, he still wants to be able to play with some freedom, but he knows that he can, he can do that because I will have learned the bass part of it. Note for note. And in some ways it's not a bad thing because some of the people that we played for the bassline in itself is quite iconic. It's something that you can't always just make up. It's got to be what's on the record. And so I'll always do that to begin with. Um, so, um, so I can see every little thing the original bass player did on the album. I ever little sort of, even if you make mistakes or any little kind of nuances, I've got it written down there and it's a great starting point.
Dave Swift: 00:55:15 Then when we turn up to the TV or recording studio, I'll often say to the person will be playing with, do you want me to play exactly what was on the record? Uh, and, and, and, and obviously if they say yes, then I've already done the work. I've done this in my spare time, but quite often, but it's 50 slash 50. Sometimes I'll say, yeah, absolutely. It's got to be like the record. And I'm thinking, what break will I'm because I'm done here. But then sometimes they'll say, no, no, completely played freely. Just do whatever you want to embellish, which I'm more than happy to do, but here's the thing, if I didn't do that work in the first place, if I didn't do that very, very accurate and full transcription and I just turned up and I'd been listening to while I'm in the bath whistling and they turned around to me and they say, oh, Dave, you know, if you got the exact part for the record and I'm going to go, um, uh, I didn't realize that's what you wanted, you know, then then I'm kind of a compromised and it's also about learning the rules so that you can do exactly that.
Dave Swift: 00:56:14 So, so at least if I have the transcription to begin with, that's the foundation of the way at anything after that is going to be easy. But if I haven't done that and I've just learned it in a very way and they said, no, it's got to be as a record, then I've got to go to a corner of a room and do that transcription there. And then, which I won't have the time to do so. But I always attempt to, to play without it, if I can, if there's time I will try and learn it without the music. And this is more important. Safe. You do have a TV show where you don't want to be seen with your head to be buried in a pile of music because obviously tv so much more visual thing. If we're in. If we're in the radio, I'm in the recording studio doing a radio show.
Dave Swift: 00:56:52 It doesn't really matter if I'm reading from a chart because it's certainly what people are going to hear. But I will make every effort. So to learn that the music. But it's a bit to me, it's just really rewarding doing the transcription because again, you're, you're really getting to the heart of the song and I'll often put the chords above it as well if I have the time. But it just means to me that you're getting right to the center of it. You're not just hearing it in a very haphazard casual where you're really got to the core of it, um, which, which I enjoy doing. I enjoy doing. But then after that, then you can then he can free you up if they'll often say, Dave, you don't have to six originally to it, but at least I've got some, you know, like a working thing. I've got a basis to work from.
Jack Vaughan: 00:57:34 Yeah, absolutely. And what about, do you ever have any parts where you're kind of doing solos or kind of more improvisational stuff?
Dave Swift: 00:57:41 So be honest with you. No, not really. The Jaws Gig, I'm in another people often say to me, they say, Dave, how come you're not more flamboyant on the get go? How come you don't do Solos? And I also demanded them to say the same thing mainly because I don't want to get fired because, you know, the thing with it's, it's a, it's a large band, it's a 20 piece man and there are some incredibly fine soloists in there. There's some great, great soloist and really my job in, in that group is much more of an accompanying thing. It's holding stuff together, you know? Uh, so, so Joel's, he doesn't really want me to be too flamboyant. In fact, for the first sort of 10 years of having that Gig, at least he would always tell me to play less, play and play more simple stuff, you know, don't be so flashy.
Dave Swift: 00:58:27 Play lowered. Uh, and, and I, I had to accept early on that, that is what the job required. Now there's a lot of people that wouldn't, that wouldn't be able to handle that. They, they would be with the ego, might get in the way and they might sort of say, no, no, I want to stand out, I want to show. But then they wouldn't have the job anymore because jules wouldn't be, wouldn't keep them on. He would find it. You'd have to, because that's not what the Gig is about. And actually, interestingly enough, this brings to meet sue. Um, there's a quote, there's one of my favorite sort of bass players. In fact, he's one of my favorite musicians on the face of the earth. And he's American bass guitarist called Anthony Jackson. He's an incredible, incredible player. He played a lot more commercial stuff. You play with Sorta Shakar Khan on a lot of her albums, but more recently he played with Hiromi, you know, the Japanese sort of premise and in fact went to see them quite recently, but he is one of my, he's one of my greatest inspirations, not just as a, as a bass guitarist, but as a musician and that there's an interview that he did many, many years ago and they talk about this sort of soloing thing and drawing attention to yourself and if I, if, if, if, if I may sort of quotes from this interview, but he really kind of sums it upgrades.
Dave Swift: 00:59:44 They sort of say, you know, you, you don't solo very much at all. And he was kind of saying, well, if it doesn't suit the piece, so if it doesn't suit the music then why would I, you know, he, he's thinking of it from a very intelligent musical way. He just doesn't want to do the obligatory solo if he, if he doesn't really feel like, if it doesn't feel as though it's necessary, he just, he doesn't want to do it anyway. So what they're saying is that this is the question they asked him, they say when you do take a solo break, you don't tend to shoot up into the horn, register on the bass right away like so many players do. And Anthony says this and this is a great answer. It's a matter of maturity. You shoot into the horn, register when it's appropriate, you don't do it to show you can do it and you don't shoot up high or play 64th notes to impress the other bass players in the audience.
Dave Swift: 01:00:32 You have to be prepared to accept that. If all you get to play a whole notes in the lower, lower middle register at low volume, you are still as much of an artist as if you get to play 64th notes all night at loud volume. It's absolutely essential that a musician be secure enough in himself to do that. And I think that's such a great quote because you know, there's some summer young players these days, they want to stand out there. You know, they have got egos and, and they, and they're kind of fed up of being stuck in the background. Well, I will say to them, what if that's the case? Why did you pick the bass? It's kind of a thing, you know, if you want it to be a more flamboyant, soloistic player, then perhaps the bass wasn't the best choice for you in the first place better. But, you know, I love what he said about even if what you play is not complex and it's not, and you're not drawing attention to yourself and it's not sort of, it doesn't require um, Olympian sort of technique. You know, you are, you are still valid as an artist. You are still a creative artists even if you don't. And I think that's such a great, great thing.
Jack Vaughan: 01:01:43 It's so much deeper than that as well because in many ways that's the surface level of stuff. And being a musician, I'm sure you'd agree, would be, is really about everything else is like all the, all the kind of personable stuff that you've spoken about, the creative, the collaborative, um, and your, your place in that is a part of the whole. And uh, yeah, like you say, if you can just quietly that ego a little bit happier, it's a lot more successful. Yeah, yeah,
Dave Swift: 01:02:08 exactly that because I mean, for instance, if we are playing with someone like Eric Clapton note, obviously most of the time it's going to be blues orientated now, uh, you know, it, it's, it's a, it's a fairly rigid form, you know, the, the, the, the blues, I mean there are some variations on it, but it's, it's pretty standard thing. Now, for instance, um, I wouldn't necessarily have to play every single sort of notes that was on the original recording bass, especially if it's a walking bassline because walking bass lines can be a bit random. There can be arbitrary. It's only certain songs that have very, very specific basslines. But if it's like a walking line, I mean, that does give me a certain amount of freedom, but you have to, you know, you have to still remember the genre of music, you're playing it and you still have to play accordingly.
Dave Swift: 01:02:55 Whether it's a volume thing, whether it's or whether it's the tone of your instruments, um, you know, the attack that you're using, there's a lot of things to think about. So even if you're not being able to be, be hugely creative and hugely flamboyant, there's a lot of things that you can do. There's a lot more subtle things you can do to still be a creative musicians, you know, you know, like I said, you know, dynamics, you know, the weather you're playing with your fingers or your thumb or a pick or the area of the instrument. You play this. And this is, you know, Anthony said, you know, he, his main criteria for, for whatever project he does is to bring as much intensity to the, to the role as possible. Um, but without stepping out the boundaries without sort of going too crazy, but do whatever you can do to enhance.
New Speaker: 01:03:43 I get that. Yeah. What do you say that. Would you be able to unpack that a little bit more about what he means by intent? Intensity?
Dave Swift: 01:03:49 Yeah. Well, I, I think he's, you know, for, for me what I mean, he's, he's a very passionate musician. I mean, you watch anthony play and uh, he's actually about watching an orchestral musician. I mean considering he plays like a Bass Guitar, um, you know, you watch the way that you can just see the way he performs. It's like watching someone who's playing in the Symphony Orchestra is very, you know, he's not playing like, like a regular bass guitarists will play. Well firstly he placed sitting down actually never played standing up. But it's just that it's just the smaller things that he does. It's just the finer the. I mean, for instance, you know, he, he's not afraid when he playing this very high octane fusion music, particularly with Hiromi, you know, he's not afraid just to hold like notes for like several bars, you know, he's, he's a real sustained freak.
Dave Swift: 01:04:43 He loves a sustained and instruments he loves. And so, you know, for, for anyone else to have the confidence when everyone else around you is playing this kind of crazy frantic music just to play like two or four bars where you hold one notes and you sustain that time. But it's just the way he does it and the way he touches the string with the, you know, he, the way he, there's so much thought that goes into something simple like plucking that one note. You can actually watch them. You can see the way he's fingers poised over the instruments and you can see he's very deliberate. You know, he, he, he's not just hitting that note thinking, Oh God, I'm hitting a low ef. I've just got to sustain this damn thing as long as I can. He's thinking much more, much deeper than that.
Dave Swift: 01:05:29 You know, he's thinking exactly the lightness of touch, the, the intensity of it, uh, is he going to give a little bit of a broad. So with his left hand, you know, how long, you know, it's just, I mean, but he, you know, he's a real sort of deep thing and to the best of the reason why he's one of my favorite musicians, he's, um, he's very, very sort of deep. Again, in fact, when you talk to him it is kind of quite interesting because he's like one of these kinds of wise, wise Tibet men that lives at the top of the mountain. When you climb to the top of the mountain and you've got three questions to ask, you've got three key questions. So whenever you meet Anthony, you've got to think of that. You can't go to them and just say, well, how's the weather?
Dave Swift: 01:06:08 What'd you think of the weather and where have you been on your holidays? Because he's actually the such an intense guy that you need to ask him something of really great value or great worth because it's just, you know, he's not really going to be that interested in it, you know, so you have to be very careful when you talk to them. But, but this comes out in, in his performance, he's very, he's very intense and he's, and he's, and he's always listening. You can see them on stage. He's always watching the other musicians, his width. And I know a lot of players that don't do that. They actually play on, they stare at the floor all night, which to me is not great because communication on stage is very important. It's one of the most important things that there is, you know, I mean, yeah, I mean, okay, you're communicating with each other musically, but it's still important to, to engage with each other visually, I think. And he and he, and he does that a lot. But um,
Jack Vaughan: 01:06:59 well there's almost no separation right at times or most of the time ready, don't you think? Between, between the musicality and the.
Dave Swift: 01:07:07 Yeah, very much so. And the thing is, you know, I've been to a few seminars like sort of music things. I've been to a lot of, you know, the sort of summer schools and jazz courses. I've just been in the background of the classroom watching what's going on. And um, there's a famous jazz American Double Bass player called read Mitchell and uh, and I've seen a couple of these lectures, sadly no longer with us, but, you know, he's, his key thing was communication. That's what he always taught. That was his big, big thing, you know, didn't, didn't go on about technique or soloing, it was all to do with communication. And um, and, and I thought that was such a key thing because at the end of the day, that is what it's all about. It's, I mean, yeah, you've got to communicate with each other as, as performing musicians, but you know, that you're communicating with the audience as well.
Dave Swift: 01:07:55 I mean, that's, that's the other thing. I mean, you don't want to sort of disorientate yourself from the audience. I mean, they're know that that's often who you're playing to. So, so, you know, he, he talked about an awful lot about that, but um, but, um, but yeah, like I said that there's certain musicians that I admire that there's so much more to them. A lot of people just see them at a very surface level. Their cell, God, he's really plays really fast. He plays technically advanced music. But I always look for the smaller things, the finite things, the, the, the smaller plants because they're the ones, they're the things that interest me. So, you know, I'm looking at um, you know, someone's hand positions and like I said, the way they attack a note, um, you know, how long they hold the notes on for, uh, you know, all these smaller things.
Dave Swift: 01:08:44 They fascinate me a lot more. And that's the reason why, like now in my own playing, I've been trying to strip away lots of things in my own playing. And, and Jules has helped me with that actually because all the time he told me to play things simpler and just play less notes. And uh, first of all I thought myself, Oh God, this isn't. Because I always wanted to put loads of stuff in there because I want it to play like my favorite players, you know, like people are Jack up our stories. I wanted to put loads and load stuff in there. But I realized first of all, it didn't fit the music. It was completely in Congress. But um, but I don't know. And here's the interesting thing. One of one of my favorite double bass players was a guy called Scott the Farro and he famously played with bill and Scott.
Dave Swift: 01:09:28 The father was an incredible play. He was formally a saxophone player and then switched to bass and, and he, he rewrote the rules of, of Jazz Bass player because he became an incredible soloist. You listened to those classic recordings with Bill Evans and it's incredible, uh, what, what he was playing. It was just no one else was doing at the time. And when I was younger I was a complete Scotland nuts and I would try and play like him and transcribing stuff. And actually I even contributed to a book about Scotland Fro. Because I'm sadly, he got killed in a car crash when he was 25 and um, his bass got damaged and that, but it was restored and I got to play his bass about 10 years ago and then his sister contacted me and said, I'm doing a book about my brother, would you like to, to, to write a few paragraphs?
Dave Swift: 01:10:15 And for me it was such a great honor to do this. And the book is actually called jade visions than life and music of Scotland. And uh, it, it was such a proud moment for me to be able to contribute something to the book about one of my musical heroes. But here's the thing. As I've gotten older, I, I gravitated to players that played a whole lot less than that. We're much more, um, I, I know kind of. Yeah, just just played. I mean, Scott really was, I mean he was very creative player, played great notes, but he, there was a lot of technique there. So a lot of the players that I then gravitating towards now, like say the Charlie Hayden is another double bass player that we recently lost, and Charlie, they were best friends. In fact, they used to practice together. They used to live together and practice together, but they couldn't be more opposite in their styles.
Dave Swift: 01:11:05 Like Charlie is very deliberate with is playing. Very simple for him. It's much more about the sound of the instrument. He's very careful with his note choices like Mike Anthony Jackson, the same thing. So these are the people that I'm more drawn to now. The people that are more, I don't know, that have stripped a lot of stuff away and they're looking at the finer nuances of playing, of tone, production of sound, whether the m and a lot of that came from Joel's, I think it was, was telling me to keep things simple and to play a whole lot less. And it made me realize the value of doing that because a lot of the time it was better for the music. It was better for the, the artist I was working with, um, that I wasn't trying to be, you know, have a huge ego and to try and be, to play complex and so those all the time it was, it was, it was a great thing for me to learn. So, so yeah, I play a whole lot less now.
Jack Vaughan: 01:11:59 Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Dave, I mean we should probably wrap up soon because we're getting onto kind of well over an hour almost now, which is great. It's been awesome. It's been awesome chatting and hearing about stuff. I've got a few kind of quick questions. Just to round stuff off. I mean, you clearly you've played with a number of people who are, most people have heard of quite a few years. Is there anyone that you haven't played with it yet? I'm sure there is, but you know who, if you could pick maybe one or two people who haven't played with that, you'd still like,
Dave Swift: 01:12:27 well, I always say the same one actually, and I come stevie wonder because I love stevie wonder's music. I grew up on it. It's just fabulous. An incredible artists, I've seen him play a number of times now and yes, if I could have stevie wonder on my cv, I would have been thrilled. I love to play with the, with Joni Mitchell as well. Joni Mitchell would have been, would have been very cool.
Jack Vaughan: 01:12:48 Great. Great. And um, if you could only give one piece of advice to a young musician starting out now, what would it be?
Dave Swift: 01:12:55 Well, you know, that's, that's a good question. I've been asked this before, but you know, I think, forgive me if I've already mentioned this, but, um, you know, my dad didn't give me a great deal of advice because he's not because he didn't want it. He was just a very quiet private guy. But my dad said to me when I was younger, he said, he said, listen more than you speak. And interestingly this get jazz guitarist, friend of mine said, listen more than you play. Uh, you know, and I think that's, that's a key thing. I think that's probably the best. Well, actually, the other, the other great piece of advice I've been given, and it's, it's what we've all heard is he's always, always attempt to play with musicians better than yourself, more accomplished than yourself because, because that will, that will help you more than anything else because again, I've learned more lessons from being on the bandstand than any classroom.
Dave Swift: 01:13:47 Uh, and the, and the best lessons I've learned from playing with other musicians that were older than me when I started out. I was always the youngest one in the band. The, the, the other guys in the band were a lot older than me and, uh, and there was always someone to learn from them. So. So yeah, I, I think, uh, yeah, for younger players I would say always strive to play with, with musicians better than yourself and more accomplished because you, you will, he will rise to the, to the situation and you'll have to, if you're playing with those guys, you don't have any choice. But, but that's where I've learned most of my lessons of, of the, by doing that already.
Jack Vaughan: 01:14:26 And lastly, what we know that you're off on on tour in a bit, but what else is going on in your professional life and stuff like that at the moment?
Dave Swift: 01:14:34 Well, the thing is I'm actually getting back into playing my trombone, which, which I'm really excited about because I always said to myself that I would come back to it. So I'm, I'm having a lot of fun now playing it all over again because I'm playing it in a very different way. So before I was, I was so caught up with reading music, so now I'm. Because of what I've learned from the bass, I'm actually transferring that to the trombone now. So my. Because my ears are better, my ability to improvise. So it's, it's, it's really weird. It's kind of quite exciting going back to after all these years, will this,
Jack Vaughan: 01:15:05 it sounds like coming full circle.
Dave Swift: 01:15:07 Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So, so that's fine. At the moment I'm just doing it for fun. But having said that, if I do get my chops back then I would consider doing using it on gigs. I'd happily do that. I think it'd be a lot of fun, but um, but yeah, we have summer tour with Jules is just ending and we're just about to start a whole new series of, uh, George's radio two shows. They start next week. I don't know who the guests are yet, but uh, those are always very varied and fun. So that's coming up and um, I mean obviously I did this project with our mutual friend Thomas Solomon Gray, which was an album I did with tom called new beginnings last year with some fantastic other musicians. Uh, like my couch among guitar over. I've uh, I've forgive me my couch among guitar, Ivo name on piano and Dave's story on drums and that was fantastic to do and I think we're going to be doing some gigs with that lineup, uh, songs from that, from the album. So I'm. So yeah, there's, there's a couple of things, but at the end of the day, the jewels get, I guess it's my day job, which I still call it
Jack Vaughan: 01:16:13 night.
Dave Swift: 01:16:14 Yeah, the idea have indeed. But um, but yeah, so there's plenty to keep me occupied.
Jack Vaughan: 01:16:20 Fantastic. And where can people find out more about you?
Dave Swift: 01:16:23 Well, I do have my own website, which is just very simply dave swift bass.com. It's a brand new website that I've got. So, um, so yeah, that, that, that's, that's one place they can find out an awful lot of contact me through there. I am actually on facebook too, but I'm not on facebook as a, not as a musician or a band. I am actually just on facebook as dave swift, so I'm very accessible, uh, on there.
Jack Vaughan: 01:16:51 Good stuff. Wicked Dave. Well listen, thanks so much for coming on. It's been spectacular chatting. Um, and uh, yeah, have a good rest of your day, man.
Dave Swift: 01:16:59 Thank you so much. It's been an absolute pleasure.