• Music Interview: The David Garibaldi Conversation

    By Dr. Alan Carlos Hernandez on March 6, 2017

    SAN FRANCISCO (Herald de Paris) —  David Garibaldi is one of the most often imitated, but never duplicated, drummers in the music world. He has held the first chair in the globally acclaimed soul band Tower of Power for many decades and the future for funk looks as bright as ever.

    Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, David began playing drums in elementary school at the age of ten. At age seventeen he started his professional career, and in 1966 joined the United States Air Force where he became a member of the 724th USAF band stationed at McCord Air Force Base in Tacoma, Washington.

    Upon leaving the military in 1969, he returned to the bay and on July 23, 1970 and joined the legendary Tower of Power. It was in this setting that David became one of the most influential drummers of his generation and became known as an innovator in funk drumming.

    As a performer David has worked with such distinctive artists as Patti Austin, Natalie Cole, Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum, Boz Scaggs, The BBC Orchestra, Gino Vannelli, Talking Drums, The Buddy Rich Orchestra, Ray Obiedo, Wishful Thinking, Poncho Sanchez, RAD and many others.

    In addition to his iconic work with TOP, he has an impressive list of achievements. Modern Drummer Magazine Reader’s Poll Winner “Traditional R&B/Funk” category eight times. Five consecutive years from 1980-1985, another in 2003, 2007, and yet again in 2009. His name now permanently resides in that polls honor roll category for his lasting contributions to the percussive arts.

    He is a DRUM! Magazine Reader’s Poll winner 1998 Best Percussion Video David Garibaldi featuring Talking Drums. Reader’s Poll winner 2007 Drum Book of The Year, The Code of Funk. Voted by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time.

    From 1982-1989 he served as percussion faculty at the Dick Grove School of Music in Los Angeles, California. He has been an International clinician since 1980. He is a featured columnist for Modern Drummer Magazine since 1979, and contributor to many other international drum publications.

    He produced Drum Loop CD: Tower of Funk Classic Funk and R&B Drum Loops. His Educational DVD’s: David Garibaldi Featuring Talking Drums, David Garibaldi Tower of Groove: Complete, Lessons: Breaking the Code, Ultimate Drums Lessons: Hand Technique & Rudiments.

    As a writer, his Drum set instruction books: Future Sounds, The Funky Beat, TimbaFunk (Talking Drums, featuring Michael Spiro and Jesus Diaz) Tiempo, (Talking Drums, featuring Michael Spiro and Jesus Diaz) The Code of Funk and Off The Record.

    In new media, he has The Code of Funk App for iPad and iPhone by Fuzzy Music Mobile.

    David’s first book, Future Sounds, was rated one of the 10 greatest drum books by Modern Drummer Magazine (August 1993) and The Slagwerkkrant Magazine (The Netherlands) awarded him the Reader’s Poll winner 1997 Drum Book of The Year for The Funky Beat.

    He is an Artist-In-Residence at the Drummers Collective in New York and Accademia Musica Moderna in Milan, Italy. With endorsements from the following companies: Yamaha Drums Sabian Cymbals Vic Firth Sticks Latin Percussion Remo Drum Heads Audix Mics The Buttkicker. In addition to being a 2012 Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame Inductee and recipient of the 2012 Yamaha Drums Lifetime Achievement Award.

    David spoke about his beginnings in a recent interview with J-Zone.  Here is an excerpt;

    “I started playing music in the Pleasanton Elementary School band, then in my senior year in high school I joined the Sid Reis Big Band, my first pro gig. After high school I joined a funk band called The Disciples and my journey with Tower started in 1970, in Lake Tahoe, California. There have been so many memorable shows, but the most significant would have to be the weekend we opened for Aretha Franklin at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. When I think about watching her from the wings leading King Curtis and the Kingpins with Bernard Purdie on drums, that was awesome.

    We spent a lot of time searching in the Seventies, striving to realize our goals, as people and as musicians. There was lots of self-examination. And you learn that, if you play enough music and work with enough people, if you experience enough life, you find out what’s really important. In retrospect, I must say, accepting where I’m at came more easily, more quickly, than I thought it would. It’s a satisfying feeling, actually.

    Not that I want to get complacent! I’m never totally satisfied with where I’m at, personally, or where Tower is at artistically, because I’m an advocate for change at all times. That’s me, always pushing the envelope. That’s how you grow. So Tower can be a difficult place for someone like me to be working, but I relish my role as a catalyst for change!

    It’s kind of interesting, the dynamics of writing and putting our music together is a very creative thing, yet the nuts and bolts of gigging day after day, well, it’s difficult to stay creative in a situation like that. It’s almost the enemy! But the thing that we do to keep the process artistic is the way we go about performing our business. That requires a different kind of creativity. It means concentrating on the business at hand. People say, ‘I don’t see you smiling? Are you enjoying yourself?’ And I think, ‘That’s kind of weird.’ Because I’m smiling on the inside!”

    I admit, I like the reputation of being…enigmatic, if you will. The idea that my close friends know me well, and those who don’t aren’t sure what to think! Which either makes me an incredible human being or, more likely, a royal pain in the ass!”

    Herald de Paris Consulting Editor, Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez a lifelong fan and friend of Tower of Power, finally had the opportunity to have an extended conversation with the man people call DG, as he is off the road for a while recovering from a recent injury, he will no doubt be back in the saddle in no time at all.

    AC: Who were the two horn players that approached you to audition for Tower of Power, what did they say to you that peaked your interest in the band?

    DG: Skip Mesquite and Mic Gillette. They used to come into the club I was playing at in downtown Oakland, California at The On Broadway, they would come and sit in. One night they said they were making a drummer change and would I be interested in coming and checking them out. Eventually I met Emilio Castillo in there and joined TOP.

    Interesting that when I first heard TOP, I had not yet met Emilio, but knew as soon as I heard them I knew I was going to be in it. There was no question in my mind, never a thought otherwise. Then when I did meet Emilio, he heard me play, liked it, things began moving forward.

    AC: Was it uncomfortable to know that you replaced Jack Castillo, Bandleader, Emilio’s Brother as the band’s drummer?

    DG: Yes it was. I’m not making any excuses here, but at the same time, I was 23 yrs. old and very hungry for an opportunity to be in a band like TOP. That being said, I was very sympathetic to Jack and Jody’s situation, you never want to see anyone lose their gig. Jody Lopez was the band’s original guitar player.

    This was part of the growing up process for everyone, especially Emilio, he had to fire his brother at a very important time in the band’s development. The decision he made kept the band going and look at the result. An interesting thing to note here is that they started as a family, and it continues in that same way today.

    AC: Tell us about your friendship with Skip Mesquite, how has his untimely passing effect and or inform your art? Similar question regarding the passing of Mic Gillette?

    DG: Skip was my best friend and was a super person. His passing was very emotional for me. I was there the night he met his wife Nancy and saw his kids grow up. He was out of the band for many years, and we continued to be friends and spend time together. He had a great sense of humor, became a great Christian man and we also shared our Portuguese heritage. I was there when he kicked heroin and God saved his life, so he was someone who was very close to my heart.

    Mic and I had a somewhat different relationship. We both had fiery personalities and would often clash. I think we were in some ways too similar to be really close. However, we did have many great times together and he was a pretty awesome presence in that TOP horn section. He could do things with the trumpet and trombone that no one was doing and we were a bunch of young dudes. He was 5 years younger than me, I was 23 when I joined the band. He was teenager playing like that!

    Anyway, he was a very loving father and really cared about young kids, teaching and mentoring them. I respected him even though we weren’t close and I’m always thankful that he was one of the guys that got me into the band.

    AC: What was the first song the band had written that made you think that we may have something here?

    DG: It wasn’t a song per se, but a vibe that they had when they played. They were teenagers but already had a sound. Rocco was a big part of that. They were doing original songs and very obscure cover songs. They were making music THEIR way from the beginning. That mindset is still with us today. I wanted to be a player in an original music band, this was my goal. Here it was, right before me, I was so excited.

    AC: In the beginning, TOP’s strength and radio weakness was the fact that no one knew if TOP was a Black band, Blue Eyed Soul or Pop, whose music was the greatest influence on what you did for the band?

    DG: I came up in the jazz tradition and loved straight ahead jazz, big band, Latin, symphonic band and all sorts of other music. They were more traditional R&B lovers. When I joined them, I brought that mix of influences with me. As we started playing together, we made up our own rules about how we did things. There was no rule book for us to follow, we just wanted to be as great as our heroes.

    AC: Tell us about Bass player Francis Rocco Prestia. You two lock in like Jedi Warriors. Was there immediate chemistry in the way you played or did the synergy grow over time?

    DG: Here’s some Rocco observations I made in an interview with Jake Feinberg. I’ve said these things many times before, but this sums up my relationship with him: “James Jamerson was one of his favorite bass players. Rocco has a real neat ability to feel music, play with a drummer. He doesn’t have a lot of knowledge about what he does yet he’s very intuitive. He could care less what a D minor 7 chord is. He also has very unique technique. It’s nothing like what you are taught in school. However, he has great ears and he can fit himself into the music. He’s just like radar and when we started playing together it was an instant relationship. We never really talk about what we’re doing much. We just play together and listen. I remember when I first started playing with him I was listening to play back of some rehearsals and I noticed when I would play on my hi-hat he would play real tight short staccato notes. When I would go to my cymbal he would play longer notes. He would match sonically what he was hearing.

    One day I told him I had been listening to these tapes and I explained to him what I was hearing. I asked him, “Why do you do that?” He said, “Well, it seems like that’s what I should do.” It wasn’t anything other than that. I thought, wow, this is brilliant. He doesn’t really have any musical training other than a real street/garage approach to playing. He’s got the thing all musicians need to have which is an intuitive sense of what to do and where to go with things. He’s a complete seat of your pants kind of dude. He’s a joy and we’ve had so many great years playing together.

    AC: Can you say the TOP rhythm section is still as good as ever or has the groove taken its toll after almost 50 years of road work?

    DG: If 50 years has taken a toll on us, then we should have quit long ago. If anything, it continues to deepen as we continue working together. It’s still fun and very challenging. We will go until the wheels fall off.

    AC: I am told that when you are all starting out everyone was crazy broke, Mike Shrive of Santana said that you and he were roommates? What was that like?

    DG: I met Michael in the beginning he came out to one of our gigs to see what the noise was about and introduced himself. He invited me to live at his house in Mill Valley. He’s a very caring person, a great player and totally sold on his art and drumming. We had many great times playing and hanging out together. We still get together when we’re close by each other. Brothers for life. Eventually, he invited us to tour with Santana, which was one of our first big tours giving us national exposure. Our relationship with them continues to this day.

    AC: In the Bay Area there was a communal camaraderie amongst all of the musicians, tell us about your rivalry with Cold Blood?

    DG: Cold Blood were the OG’s on the block. They were already recording and touring when we came around. Of course, we began doing shows together and became great friends. The original drummer, Frank Davis, was gone and Sandy McKee was in the drum chair. What a player he was, very unique in all ways. His setup was very different in that his hi-hat was BELOW his snare drum and his right hand was UNDERNEATH his left. Normally the hi-hat is ABOVE the snare drum, just mind blowing. But, he had a very fluid style and lots of technique. He played great grooves, spectacular fills where in the middle of a phrase, he’d be grabbing cymbals, sounds coming from everywhere on the drum set, great stuff. We were very different.

    Eventually, he left and was replaced by Gaylord Birch, another killer bay area drummer. Gaylord was similar in some ways to me and there was always kind of a spirit of competition. We would hang out together, but when our bands would play together, we wanted to kick each other’s ass. Very competitive, complete with trash talking. Cold Blood had a few different line-ups, but the one featuring Gaylord was vicious. It was a lot of fun and the relationships helped us all grow.

    AC: Tell us about your friendship with another Herald De Paris friend Mike Clark, and other Bay Area drummers who were your peers?

    DG: I met Mike in Oakland at the On Broadway. He’s a beautiful soul. We both were subbing for the regular drummer in Reality Sandwich. We always got along really well. He’s one of those people who will always be my heart. I always respected and admired his approach tradition is a big part of where he’s coming from and that makes what he does very rooted and genuine. Mike was already a very skilled jazz musician and always had that flavor in his playing. Out of all the guys in the area, his jazz playing was the most developed. I always viewed him as the lead dog, he could go back and forth between the jazz and funk seamlessly. I eventually got my gig with TOP and then Mike with Herbie Hancock.

    We both ended up in places that were perfect for our abilities at the time. There were a number of guys in the area but I was being influenced by a small group, even though there were a lot of other drummers who played well. I always mention certain guys and it’s hard to speak about them and you know certain guys get left out.

    One drummer who really had an impact on me that I must mention here was Steve Bowman. He was in a rock band called Aum and also worked at a very famous San Francisco music store called Don Wehr’s Music City. Everyone bought their gear there and it also was place we all hung out, debauchery central, but that’s another story!

    We used to play shows with Aum and Steve and I became good friends. Over time, he began to take private lessons and would tell me about his teacher, Chuck Brown. He’d say how much he was learning and that I should take lesson too. Of course, I was on a big ego trip and felt that lessons were unnecessary because I was already touring and making money. Eventually, Steve began to noticeably improve and I got a little nervous.

    Literally, I woke up one morning and felt shame that I was telling everyone that music was my life’s work, but doing nothing to prove it. I called Steve and asked for Chuck’s phone number. I began studying with Chuck very soon after that and it completely changed everything for me about music and drumming. Chuck’s studio was at Sherman & Clay in downtown Oakland.

    He was a black man teaching all the young white guys how to get serious about things, he was a very kind, caring, a strict disciplinarian, a mentor who understood and taught tradition, and was the first teacher I had who showed me HOW to practice. I spent hours in the shed and got great results. My study with him elevated my playing to levels I never imagined.

    AC: What advice do you give new artists/students starting out who want to be the next DG?

    DG: Don’t even try to be the next DG, impossible, be YOU. Being yourself is what separates the men from the boys. Find out what makes you excited about life and music and then invest your time in making those things great. You won’t regret it. Have a system of values that will keep taking you higher in life.

    AC: What was the first big memorable gig you ever did, when you realized TOP was a national act? How did it feel when you heard “Still a Young Man” on the radio? Where were you when that happened?

    DG: I don’t know that there was one gig in particular. We’ve done many memorable gigs all along the way. Right before we did the Aretha Live at The Fillmore shows, we did a CBS Records convention at the Century Plaza Hotel in LA. Aretha was on that as well and we got a lot of recognition from Aretha’s band. It was King Curtis & The Kingpins and they were loaded with the cream of the crop session players from New York. We certainly knew who they were and we got their attention.

    This for me was more important than anything else. I wanted to be a player and play at the same level as my heroes. Here we were in some serious company and they noticed us. That was a huge step. I don’t remember where I was when I heard “You’re Still A Young Man” on the radio. I do remember when Back To Oakland came out and I went into Tower Records in Berkeley and it was being played in the store. What a thrill!

    AC: Substance abuse really took its toll on the band at one point, what kept you from succumbing to those dangers?

    DG: In the beginning, I went along with the crowd. We started out innocently with alcohol, then weed, then came hard drugs and other things. As soon as we started to make some money, hard dope showed up. I tried heroin twice and then realized where I was headed if I continued. I felt shame, I thought about my parents and what would my father say if he saw me like that. I loved my dad and didn’t want to disappoint him. That quickly turned me around. At that point in my life I was hurting and knew that dope was not the answer. I eventually met some Christian people and that changed everything for me.

    AC: How does fame and success change an artist? Is it the adulation, the money, the women, the sense of entitlement? What caused many of your peers to lose their way?

    DG: I never really thought about things that way. Yes, there’s fame, but it’s not what you focus on. My focus always has been to be a player and have high standards. For some reason this always appealed to me and I would stay in woodshed working, even today this is still how I operate. In our band, the star of the show is the music, not one person. TOP is the sum of its parts, we’re a family and everyone has a role in creating our sound and vibe.

    The folks that came into the band and felt that they were owed recognition for their contribution eventually left. Now, there are many of the guys who have been in the band who still come around and are part of our extended family. Not all, that’s just the reality of things.

    When you’re young and have no responsibilities outside of yourself, things are different. I think people lose their way when they have no real vision for themselves. I can’t speak for others, but I do know that about myself, and my peers who have had continued success in a very tough business.

    AC: The greatest gig TOP played?

    DG: My favorite all-time gig was Aretha Live at The Fillmore. Bill Graham put us on the show, three nights of unbelievably great music. March 5-7, 1971. I’ll never forget it. We were there watching history being made. The Fillmore West was the center of the music universe in those days. Trends were set there, every big city in America was trying to do what going on in San Francisco. We were right in the middle of it. Bill was our first manager and I’ll never forget him.

    AC: Tell us about your decision to leave the band? You say it was drug abuse but also about them hanging out with gangsters, can you elaborate?

    DG: Well, dope was changing us and the creativity that was our strength was beginning to deteriorate. Dope was taking its toll on our relationships. I was going in a different direction, I was clean and wanted to be the best musician I could. At that time, it seemed like an uphill battle, so the only way to get around it was to leave. I came and went three different times, each time thinking it was going to be different, very much like a love relationship that isn’t working.

    I hated seeing my brothers wasting their lives. Really, I’ve spoken about this many times and it still makes me a bit uncomfortable every time. The great thing about it is that finally, the problem no longer exists in band and everyone has their lives back together. Now instead of getting high before the show, we pray and give thanks for what we have, it makes a HUGE difference.

    AC: Lots of music friends go through an almost mourning and withdrawal when they for whatever reason leave a national act, how did you feel and cope after not being a TOP member?

    DG: Well, frankly I felt like a fish out of water, but have lived a pretty awesome life. I moved on and kept working, while also keeping an eye on my TOP brothers. TOP was and is my heartbeat!

    AC: What was good about being out of TOP all of those years, tell us about teaching, and why living in LA was not as good as it could have been?

    DG: I lived in LA for 12 years and had some great times there. I met some wonderful people who I still communicate with. I taught, but really, teaching is in my blood. I always wanted to be a player and a teacher. My life has played out along those lines in ways I never imagined. Just because I wasn’t in TOP didn’t mean I couldn’t continue to grow and enjoy life and music. I did both of those things, but in my heart, I missed my brothers and what we had built together. None of my friends in LA had experienced what I was able to in TOP, it was unique and shaped the way I view music.

    AC: What circumstances led up to rejoining the band, I know you had always loved the music, as you were one of the architects of the sound? How was it at first, when did you know if was right to come back full time, what was that decision based on?

    DG: When I moved back to the bay area in 1989, one of the first people I met was Jeff Tamelier. Jeff got the guitar gig with TOP and got me involved with Doc’s first solo recording, The Strokeland Superband’s “Kick It Up A Step”. When we started working on it, I saw that Doc and Rocco were clean and had a terrific time at all the sessions. Eventually, Herman Matthews, who was the current drummer, decided to leave the band. Mimi and Jeff called me from Europe, where they were touring, and asked if I was interested in coming back. They had never asked before.

    Mimi and I talked and I wasn’t sure if they’d even like me given our past, so we decided I’d do a Japan tour and then we’d decide if we wanted to go further. That tour was then moved later in the year and so I began doing the gigs on the TOP calendar. It took me about 6 months to get the vibe back and feel comfortable with the flow of the music, after all, I had been gone for 18 years.

    We were in Europe and were performing at the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands. All of a sudden during the show, everything fell into place and I knew I was back home. I’m still here, with no plans of doing anything else. It’s great to be in a situation like this.

    AC: Speaking of the architecture of the TOP sound, what was your relationship with another HDP friend Greg Adams, how did things change once he left the band?

    DG: Greg is probably one of the most gifted players and arrangers I’ve ever worked with. He knew how to write for the guys. In our band for instance, we have varying degrees of ability, it’s always been like that. Greg knew how to write to get the most out of what he had. If you listen to all his TOP work today, it stands the test of time, which is a sign of genius. I’ll always respect what he does. His band, East Bay Soul, is pretty badass and showcases his writing in a masterful way.

    AC: How have the fans changed over the years? TOP now travels the world much, much more than most domestic bands. What does the world see in TOP that the USA sometimes misses?

    DG: We have the best fans in the world. Many of them have been with us from the beginning, which always amazes me. We have faithful fans all over the world and know many of them by name. For instance, when travel to Japan, there’s a Bump City Funk Club that has meetings we attend in Tokyo. Some really great people. When we play the Tokyo Blue Note for a week, many of those fans come to every show. The world sees in us a genuine human approach to our music and honest performances. We engage the crowd wherever we are and are rewarded with a faithful worldwide fan base. I don’t think the USA misses it, it’s just different culturally here than in other parts of the world.

    AC: What country are you guys huge in that most people would be surprised?

    DG: That’s hard to say, we have fans everywhere. The Scandinavian fans are pretty serious and are as rabid as any TOP fans here in the states.

    AC: Tell us about your DVD’s and the Books you have written.

    DG: I always wanted to teach and write books. That was as much a dream of mine as being a player. In the 80’s I put together my first book manuscript and began taking it around to publishers. I was new at it and wasn’t comfortable with the response I was getting. I had heard of a man named Sandy Feldstein, who was a very famous music publisher and had seen his name on instruction books. He was a publisher, but also a drummer himself and a former professor at Potsdam University in New York.

    He was the percussion editor at Alfred Publishing in LA where I was living at the time. I called and made an appointment to see him and was pretty surprised that he knew who I was. Anyway, I took my manuscript over there and he was very kind and gracious, which immediately set me at ease. We talked at length about what I wanted to do and then he took my manuscript home with him and graded it like a college paper. After a short time, he called me back in to discuss my work.

    Thankfully, he loved it. This manuscript was everything I knew about drums, it was almost 2 inches thick and covered many aspects of drumming. Sandy said that he laid it out on his dining room table and looked at it as if it were a college paper. He then said as much as he liked it, there was no real subject, no real focus. For a drum book to be marketable, it had to have a subject and come in at about 80 pages. I was stunned. I had no idea what my subject would be, it was something I had never considered. He told me to go home and figure it out, then come back and we would proceed.

    I went home and struggled for two weeks to find this elusive subject. Then one day as I was practicing I realized that the central them of my playing was about grooves, about the hi-hat, snare drum and bass drum. There it was, the subject of my book. I called him back and said I was ready. When we met and I told him, he shook my hand and we had a deal. He was a very smart man who never once interfered in the creative process, even though he had an opinion. He would ask questions or open a line of discussion that would get me to think, he knew how to steer me in the right direction without telling me what to do. I would discover what he meant as I thought things through.

    He knew all along what my subject was, he wanted to see if I could figure it out on my own. Brilliant. That was a terrific lesson in how to work with someone and steer them toward discovery without interfering. A true mentor. We had a handshake agreement and I didn’t sign anything until the book was ready to come out. It was all very organic in the way it all transpired. That was my first book, Future Sounds, which has been very successful.

    After that I continued to write books and author articles for many drum publications around the world. I’ve also done some instructional DVD’s that have been quite successful as well. When someone has success at anything, they never do it alone. I have to say that my drum teachers and music publishers have been very instrumental in helping me to deliver quality instructional materials that have stood the test of time. The lessons that they’ve taught me were very important, and impacted every aspect of my music career.

    Part of the reason my books have done well is that I’m also a student of the drums. I still study and when there’s something I need to learn, I take lessons. This makes my teaching more relevant.

    AC: How does your “The Code of Funk” app for iPad and iPhone by Fuzzy Music Mobile work?

    DG: These apps contain the music from my book The Code of Funk. It’s the play-along tracks plus the sheet music to follow. You can mix the drums with the track, isolate the parts I played or mute the drums completely to allow for play-along. In the book, there are play-along tracks in the Mac or PC format also contains multi-track “stems” that can be used with ProTools, Digital Performer or any other music editing software. Fuzzy Music is drummer Peter Erskine’s company. Extremely useful, cutting edge technology for learning.

    AC: TOP does 200 dates a year, what is life on the road like, when you start hitting your 60s? Is the thrill of performance still there, are you still experimenting and improving your chops?

    DG: As much as we tour, it’s still very enjoyable. I always get asked if I get tired of playing some of the same songs night after night. Well, sometimes but rarely. We don’t think about age, we do what we do. It requires a lot of stamina and focus. Traveling the way we do isn’t for everyone. You have to be responsible and take care of yourself. I practice and workout every day on the road, pretty much the same thing I do at home, but at home I have better nutrition, my family and my own bed! What’s not to like? We make a living playing our own music with great people who also happen to be world-class players.

    It’s very challenging to make our music work the way we envision it. It takes focus and commitment. The great thing is that every guy in the band has very high standards. Nobody “phones it in”. That’s what makes our music remain viable, fresh, relevant and entertaining. It’s our commitment to what we do that keeps it at consistently high level. Another thing that might get overlooked is that we’re a family, actually we’re the next level beyond that, an organism. It’s such a joy to be with these guys, each one has a very unique personality and we enjoy working together.

    That’s 15 people who travel together. Band, crew, tour manager and a merchandise person. If there’s someone who is not on our same page, they leave or get replaced with someone who likes functioning within our structure. I always feel like there’s so much more we’ve yet to accomplish.

    AC: What are some of your all-time favorite TOP songs? Which is your best composition?

    DG: There are many of our songs that are really fun to play. I guess I could single one or two out, but honestly, I love the way our sets are built. There’s a lot of challenge in every song and the set requires paying attention and being in the moment. I try to do my very best one note at a time, the rest takes care of itself.

    If I had to single anything out, I’d say that playing the ballads requires a lot of sensitivity and has become a real showcase for our musicianship. All the songs in the show evolve over time, every so often we’ll change the arrangements. This keeps us growing and surprises the audience. We are definitely a work in progress.

    AC: How is the new TOP CD coming along, what can fans expect?

    DG: I’m not going to say too much. It’s in the mixing stage now. All of the recording is done and is soon to be titled. There are 28 new original songs with Emilio and Joe Vannelli co-producing. I think folks will be pleasantly surprised.

    AC: Is there anyone you would have liked to work with, any other bands you wish you had some time playing with?

    DG: You might think I’m crazy, not really. Tower of Power is my home and I knew that from the moment I heard it when I was 23 yrs. old. I’ve had the good fortune to work with some really great people, but nothing compares to TOP, nothing.

    AC: What are some of the personal projects you are working on right now?

    DG: I have new book that just recently came out, Off the Record. I transcribed the note for note the drum parts to 10 classic TOP songs. It’s released by Alfred Publishing. I’m putting together another book of ideas right now, but have no timetable. These projects are all different in terms of how I get inspired to do them. When I have enough of a concept, I start carving. It’s challenging and very satisfying.

    AC: What kinds of things are on your bucket list?

    DG: This also might be crazy, but I really have no official bucket list. I’m living my dream. I love my work and my focus is always studying, growing, teaching and performing.

    AC: What do you think TOP’s musical legacy will be?

    DG: I think that’s for others to say. Our story is still being written and we’ve got a ways to go yet before we turn in our tour passes.

    AC: Doc Kupka says it will be all over when the phone stops ringing do you agree?

    DG: Of course, right now is a precious time in our history. To be at this stage of the game, coming up on 50 years of touring and recording, and still be working like crazy is phenomenal. People still want to hear us. We cherish and respect what have.

    Edited By, Mariam Salarian

    D&M Lopes March 7, 2017

    Thank you Carlos!!!!!!
    Excellent!!!!!! So much TOP history thank you for sharing!

    Frank Frankiefoto Abadie March 7, 2017

    Doing it…. Doing it the DG way….time… Practice practice…that’s what the TOP funk is all about… Coupled with a brotherhood that is as powerful as the sound that creates.
    You got to love it and the rest is history… Life
    Thanks DG

    Greg In Antioch March 7, 2017

    Great story and interview. One of the greatest bands ever. I’m lucky to have followed them for 48 years. Great interview Dr. Hernandez!!

    Walter Floyd Jr March 7, 2017

    Needless to say Tower is my all time favorite group to see and listen to.As a week end drummer in New Orleans I can truly appericiate what it must take to achieve what David Garabaldi and TOP have accomplished. 50 years is insane..they are still the best. In DG s interview I am so impressed with his loyalty to his group..he is so locked in …but for all the right reasons. I met DG at House of Blues..New Orleans on three occasions..all time he was super polite and interested in our conversations. I have a few photos with DG…they are like gold to me..Thank you DG an the Always so great “Tower of Power ” sould funk group…truly every musicians dream…luv dem guys…

    Frank Perri March 7, 2017

    Been a fan since my early 20’s…now in my early 60’s. When I first heard Knock Yourself Out, in college, I couldn’t believe the overall sound, feel and tightness.David’s drumming was way over the top, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the new albums as they came out. Keep drumming Dave….we need you.

    Art Rodriguez March 7, 2017

    DG is a wonderful person. I had the pleasure of studying with him when he was living in LA. I was runner up to Mark Sanders for the drum gig way back when, and made a return to Sausalito to over dub Tower Horns at the Record Plant for my friend Brian Haner’s album.
    Thanks for posting!

    Bob "#1-T.O.P.-Fan" Henson March 8, 2017

    Great work as always, AC. Very informative and great to know DG is doing so well!

    Ken Martello October 7, 2017

    Steve Bowman introduced me to David years ago when I didn’t really know much about the Tower of power. i started listening to them a lot and the bands i was playing in started doing their tunes. Later on i had the pleasure of playing two nights had a Christian function with David, Steve Bowman also was there. I was amazed at the talent of his drumming, but the Tower of Power plays real heartfelt music. There’s no gimmicks or junk included, it’s the real deal. Great players , playing great music, our band does a lot of their tunes, and when we want to get inspired we watch a TOP concert. Besides what other band do you know of that’s prays before each gig. God Bless David and the Tower of Power…..

    dalia October 12, 2017

    Nice Doc..really nice…i love TOP and 50 us is due to, passion, unity, and Love for my

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