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Voldar: . When Heartbreaker Mike Campbell met a young fan, he didn't just string him along It's not always easy being a classic rock fan while my friends are listening to rap and hip-hop, but I'll take bluesy guitar riffs and meaningful lyrics over synthesizers any day. I guess I should explain myself a little bit. I am 14, I live in Virginia and I love to play guitar. My interest in guitar is why I enjoy listening to Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Stevie Ray Vaughan more than more recent artists. I have left out one key band in this list of legends, however. I'm not just a rock fan, I'm a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fan. In January, having never seen the Heartbreakers play in person, I was enjoying YouTube videos of past performances while saying to myself, "Please don't retire! Just one more tour!" Then I stumbled upon a video labeled "Mike Campbell (All the best Bits!)." Campbell is the lead guitar player for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and in this video, which was obviously from 20 or so years ago, he walked out onstage with a brilliant red '60s Fender Telecaster around his neck. It was unlike any guitar I had ever seen. It had three pickups, where there should only be two, and a shiny whammy bar. I wanted to learn more about this guitar, but found little. I did, however, find a video of Mike playing the guitar in the video for "Refugee" (my all-time favorite) and the guitar was called "Red Dog." It was used on the band's breakthrough album, "Damn the Torpedoes," so I had to have it. But how could I get hold of a guitar like that? It had obviously been modified several times and was not a standard Fender model. I had never built a guitar before, but I decided to build my own Red Dog. Over the next three months I endured hundreds of eBay searches, many calls to local music stores, constant e-mails to dealers and a slow, sinking feeling in the pit of my wallet. Finally, I got everything I needed on a table: a body, a neck, two Gibson pickups, one Telecaster pickup, a pick guard, a Bigsby B5 tremolo kit and enough wires to supply electricity to my house. Three days later, I no longer had a table of parts. I had Red Dog. But my story isn't complete; it hasn't even started yet. An idea slapped me in the face over sushi one night: "What if Mike Campbell signed my guitar?" I had tickets for the band's upcoming tour, and that meant I would see him soon. From that point on, I could settle for nothing less than meeting the master himself. My dad helped me find Tom Petty's manager online. I punched in the number in my cellphone and waited. I quickly asked if the company managed Mike Campbell. The answer: no. DEFEAT. The lady on the phone quickly put me on hold to someone else. I stated the question again. The answer: Yes, we manage all of the Heartbreakers. SUCCESS. I quickly spat out my story, and she seemed impressed, but I knew they heard this sort of thing all the time. I got her e-mail, sent her my information, and nothing happened for a few days. At this point, I was playing guitar with my friend at summer camp. My phone rang, and I fumbled around to find it. I picked up, and a woman named Ramona Mark (who works for Petty's manager) told me Mike Campbell and his guitar tech saw my Web site! They liked the project and wanted me to come backstage at the Philadelphia concert on July 31. By this point, I was freaking out. Question: "Are you excited, Griffin?" Response: "Yeah." (This was all I could say on the phone and still sound composed). I'll fast-forward a few days. It was Saturday night, and I was on a train with my dad to Philadelphia. I was about 20 minutes from Philadelphia when I received a call from Laurence Freedman, a member of the Heartbreakers staff. We decided to meet at 6:45 at a gate of the Wachovia Center. He would then take me backstage to meet Mike. Laurence met me and led me through a doorway and down a dark staircase. I was officially backstage at a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert. The backstage reminded me of a school during summer. There were desks lying around, a cafeteria and deserted rooms. I was the only non-personnel person there, which made me feel rather special. What I was doing finally hit me. I was about to meet the greatest guitarist in the world, someone I had respected and looked up to for years. We passed a door with a laminated sign on it: "TOM." I peeked in and saw Tom Petty, in the flesh, sitting on a sofa with his eyes closed in a sort of meditative state. Then, standing three feet away from me was Steve Ferrone, the drummer! We kept walking past more doorways: "Benmont" (keyboards), "Ron" (Bass), "Mike"(if you don't know who he is, you have not been reading my article carefully) and "Scott" (vocals, guitar, harmonica). Finally, the last door on the right was the snack room, providing the band with anything they could possibly want, from water to Raisin Bran. Next to the snack counter were two couches facing each other. And facing me was an incredibly rare Rickenbacker 12-string, made in the '60s, plugged into a vintage Fender amp. By this point, I was getting a little nervous; at any moment -- oh my, he just walked in! Mike was wearing a leather vest, purple collared shirt, jeans, a crazily tied tie, and a sick guitar cloth hanging out of his back pocket. Even though he was about to play guitar for two hours, he still wanted to look sharp. He put his arm around my shoulder, smiled for the cameras and exclaimed, "Here we are, two guitar lovers!" Once the introductions were done and the cameras had had their fill, he asked, "So where is this guitar?" I unzipped the case and he quietly stated, "Oh, yes. This is Red Dog." He held the guitar in his hands and told me it was heavy, just like his. Without wasting the time to sit down, he planted his boot on the coffee table and began to play my guitar. For a split second his playing reminded me of my countless hours practicing guitar -- then he quickly ripped out a speedy, powerful riff, and the thought was gone. After a test shred, the guitar was deemed amp-ready. Mike asked me to explain the pickups, and how long the build took me. He plugged it in and continued to play. I congratulated him on the new album, "Mojo," and told him I loved how the entire album was completely about the guitar! I explained what inspired me to build the guitar, and as soon as he heard "Refugee" was my favorite song, he began to play it. "Do you know this part?" he asked as he began the crunchy smooth intro to the most powerful song ever written. "The key to the entire solo is letting the E string ring," he said. I stared in awe at how he manipulated the strings and neck to make the tone he wanted. He began to do something I like to call "death-bending." This is when you bend one string upward so it matches the pitch of the next, higher string. When these strings are picked fast, they begin to blend into one dynamic note that can crumble an arena. "Can I play it?" he asked. "Sure," I said, rather puzzled. "No, I mean onstage. I would like to play this for the second song, "You Don't Know How It Feels." My amazed response: "Absolutely." Then I asked if he could sign my guitar, three records, and a shirt for my uncle. His reaction made it plain that his reason for being there was not to sign my guitar and leave; it was to meet me and encourage me. With a quick "Oh, yes, of course!" he signed everything with messages like, "To Griffin: Awesome Job!!" or "Keep Rockin'!!" Before leaving for dinner, he shook my hand and said, "Have you started writing your own songs, because you should. I waited too long to start." Later, just before the Heartbreakers came onstage, the lights dimmed, the filler music stopped and the crowd exploded. I was lucky enough to get third-row tickets in front of Mike. We could all see those dark silhouettes moving toward their positions. The high hat on the drums started pulsing. *tap tap tap tap* Bursting from within the amp came the familiar opening ring of "Listen to Her Heart." The song sounded amazing, but all I could think about was the next one. The song ended, and Mike's guitar tech ran onstage to hand him his next guitar, MY guitar! "You Don't Know How It Feels" hit the audience with a heart-stopping beat. As if from a dream, Mike Campbell was right in front of me, hitting each powerful chord with Red Dog. His guitar fills were bleeding out from the amps and flooding the arena. I was jumping up and down and screaming my head off. Mike (I had told him where I was going to sit) saw me, smiled and lifted the guitar up in the air. A guitarist's salute! Mike started death-bending with my guitar! (I almost feel bad for my guitar now, because it will never experience that again.) I was enveloped in the song around me, breaking the spell only to look and smile at my dad. Laurence returned my guitar after the show; my ears were still pounding with the amazing songs I had just heard. I had just witnessed "Refugee" burn a hole in the world with solos, and "Free Fallin' " filling it back up with body-swaying chords. Laurence told me that when Tom had heard about my guitar, and me, he was so impressed he had left a "surprise" in the guitar case for me. When I got back to the hotel, I opened the case to find Tom's signature right next to Mike's. Mike's read, "To Griffin: Amazing Job!! Mike Campbell, 2010" and Tom's read, "Hi G! Tom Petty." In the 1989 song "Runnin' Down a Dream," Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and Mike Campbell wrote the lyric "Something good's waitin' down this road, and I'm pickin' up whatever's mine." So what did I pick up that night? I picked up an amazing, ear-numbing concert. I picked up seeing my guitar played onstage by Mike Campbell, in front of 25,000 people. But something I will never let go is a friendship with the most powerful, cool and kind guitarist, whom I will continue to look up to for the rest of my life. And I won't forget the first part of the "Dream" lyric: "Something good's waitin' down this road." Something tells me that this story is not over and that I must never stop experiencing, enjoying, sharing, remembering and picking up "whatever's mine." Griffin Black has been playing guitar for three years. He'll begin his freshman year at Georgetown Day School this fall.

SLQ: MUSIC REVIEW Concert review of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at Jiffy Lube Live By Chris Klimek Tuesday, August 17, 2010 When Tom Petty allowed himself a few words in praise of his since-forever band, the Heartbreakers, on Sunday night at Jiffy Lube Live, he introduced drummer Steve Ferrone as "the man who gets the job done." Petty could just as easily been doing something he seems to detest: talking about himself. Everyone knows you don't go to Tom Petty for flash or invention. You go to him for the thing he has come to embody more than any other rocker of his generation: excitement-free dependability. Since 1976, he's rarely let more than a couple of years go by without giving us another song or three that sounds just perfect on the radio of a car with the windows open. He's always made writing great -- well, greatish -- songs look easy. So a workmanlike 100-minute set like Sunday's registers as a letdown: the same 17 or 18 songs in the same order as the night and the month before, with just enough unexceptional exceptions, such as that cover of Chuck Berry's "Carol," to prove the rule. Petty has long evinced a Zen resignation: Even on the line, "You could stand me up at the gates of Hell/But I won't back down," he sounds like he just woke up. As a result, his best-loved material has neither lost urgency nor gained resonance as he's aged (he'll turn 60 in October). He nestled four tunes from "Mojo," the bluesy, just-released new Heartbreakers product ("Running Man's Bible" and the Led Zeppy "I Should Have Known It" were the two that went over best) deep inside a protective cocoon of a half-dozen weather-beaten classics ("Listen to Her Heart," "Learning to Fly," "Refugee") on either side. His greater interest in the new songs vs. the old was palpable. (I probably imagined the note of apology in his voice when he introduced 1991's "Kings Highway" as "an album cut.") The multigenerational crowd bellowed along the choruses of "Free Fallin' " ("I get a lot of requests from girls for this song," Petty said) and "I Won't Back Down," but Petty seemed determined to squander their enthusiasm. After rocking out an extended bridge, or turning a song over to the audience for a verse, instead of powering through one more ecstatic chorus, he'd just unceremoniously end the number. And for a group of vets marching through the same set every night, the between-song intervals felt longer than Peter Bogdanovich's Petty documentary "Runnin' Down a Dream." (Three hours, 59 minutes, since you asked.) The most playful part of the night was the extended breakdown in, er, "Breakdown," when Petty free-associated a few minutes of PG-rated come-ons in that sunburned voice. "Well, what can I say?" he punted later, introducing keyboardist Benmont Tench, a founding Heartbreaker with whom he's been performing music literally since both men were children. I dunno, Tom: How about anything?

SLQ: DVD Review: Classic Albums: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers/Damn The Torpedoes Read more: http://blogcritics.org/video/article/dvd-review-classic-albums-tom-petty2/#ixzz0wrYzT2iW Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had already achieved some success with their first two albums, but it was with their third, Damn The Torpedoes, that they really hit it big. Containing such radio staples as "Refugee," "Even The Losers," "Don't Do Me Like That," and "Here Comes My Girl," the 1979 LP in many ways remains the bands defining work. As the subject of the latest installment of Eagle Rocks Classic Albums series, Damn The Torpedoes is examined in depth by the musicians and studio technicians who created it as well as by other discerning commentators. A typical Classic Albums episode provides a fair amount of back-story to set the album in question into the context of its era and its creators career. However, perhaps because the 2007 Peter Bogdanovich documentary, Runnin Down a Dream, already covered such ground in detail, whats presented here concentrates more on the actual making of Damn The Torpedoes rather than the circumstances surrounding it. In doing so, Petty recalls plenty of perceptive anecdotes and kernels of wisdom I was always good, he jokes at one point but the most enlightening insights come from keyboardist Benmont Tench and guitarist Mike Campbell, both of whom are avid students of their musical influences and cognizant of how those influences manifested on Damn The Torpedoes. In one particularly enlightening scene, Campbell demonstrates how he worked from an Albert King riff to craft the basic chord structure of Refugee, which (though he doesnt say so) draws a distinct parallel to Petty and the Heartbreakers latest album, the blues-influenced Mojo. Whats most apparent in a general sense, though, is that the bands ability to deconstruct their own songs isn't in any way compromised by the fact that they wrote them. The bonus material (which runs almost as long as the near-60-minute main feature) continues in much the same vein and is every bit as interesting and informative. Altogether, it makes for one of the best, most informative editions of the Classic Albums series.

SLQ: 4 ... ! I Should Have Known It http://www.roks.ru/index.php?chapter=hittop&action=vote

SLQ: Petty & co. bring their Mojo to Mansfield By Sarah Rodman Globe Staff /August 20, 2010 MANSFIELD Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers new album is called Mojo, and last night at the Comcast Center the veteran rockers made clear that, nearly 40 years in, theirs is still working just fine. Everything else was also working in the 105-minute show. From the joyous energy of the crowd to the high class, yet low-key staging to the finely calibrated set list that included 11 classics, one album cut, four new tunes, and two cant-miss covers, it was a typically excellent outing for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-ensconced band. Petty poured on his characteristic slacker charm, punctuating hits like fizzy American Girl and cheerfully defiant I Wont Back Down with sly smiles and slow spins. He busted out the maracas for the nights early high, a hard-rocking and funky run through the Fleetwood Mac jam Oh Well. During the breakdown in Breakdown Petty murmured kiss-offs and come-ons to an unseen vixen and engaged in some sassy call-and-response with guitarist Mike Campbell and the crowd. Like Petty, the song has aged remarkably well, with that slinky riff still powerful enough to coil around the spine and force a swivel into the hips more than 30 years and a countless number of radio rotations later. In between tunes, Petty offered thanks and praised the crowd and his band mates, of whom he believably declared, I love every one of them. And when they play like they did last night and probably will in their second show at the venue tomorrow, why wouldnt he? Well-oiled does not begin to get at the way the quintet gets inside a song and carries the crowd with it. Whether it was drummer Steve Ferrone earning his nickname of Pettys personal locomotive on Jefferson Jericho Blues or Benmont Tench getting fast and loose on his keys for a cover of Chuck Berrys Carol, the Heartbreakers smoked. While the stretch of four Mojo tunes midset may have been overlong by one, sending some to the restrooms, those who stayed were treated to a spicy spectrum of blues-soaked rock. The righteous, near head-banging stomp of I Should Have Known It with its zig-zag-Zep lick and the epic psychedelic meanderings of Good Enough, which saw Campbell scorching his way through a giddy, damn-the-torpedoes solo, clearly jazzed the musicians. Petty also cut loose repeatedly, taking a lyrical flight at the close of You Dont Know How it Feels and heating up the outro of Mary Janes Last Dance. An indication of the groups multi-generational appeal came near nights end when, after a rollicking Refugee, an equal number of lighters and cellphones were hoisted aloft by the jam-packed house. Petty is always generous with time and sound for his opening acts, and My Morning Jacket got a full hour and 15 minutes to stretch out on their reverb-soaked anthems to the slowly growing crowd, By the time MMJ lit into the wall of sound of Im Amazed, many had warmed to the keening sounds of Jim James and his gang.

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SLQ: Petty breaks out old faves at concert By JANE STEVENSON, Toronto Sun Last Updated: August 26, 2010 12:36am Tom Petty clearly still has his Mojo - also the name of his first album with The Heartbreakers in eight years. But the 59-year-old singer-songwriter-guitarist, initially suited up in a black duster coat with a neat beard accentuating his long hair, focused on hits and older songs rather than the jammy, blues-based new material at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night. "Well how are you tonight," said a smiling, overwhelmed Petty as the audience went wild. "We are excited Toronto - here we are. " Later he turned up the lights to wave to the audience: "You're a good looking crowd." Playing on a stripped-down stage with floating video screens above it to show off closeups of each band member - outstanding lead guitarist Mike Campbell, keyboardist Benmont Tench, keyboardist-harmonica player Scott Thurston, bassist Ron Blair, and drummer Steve Ferrone - Petty kicked off the hour-and-45-minute evening of music with an early song from his 30-year-plus back catalogue - Listen To Her Heart. But it didn't take long for him to reach into the hits - You Don't Know How It Feels, I Won't Back Down and Free Fallin' - before covering an early Fleetwood Mac rocker Oh Well with Petty losing the coat, his guitar and shaking some maracas as he snaked around the stage. He also offered up Mary Jane's Last Dance and Breakdown - with Campbell's playing and Petty's vocal performance on the latter song leading to a spirited crowd clap-along as the song slowly wound down. Of the four Mojo songs sandwiched in the middle of the set, the scorching slow blues number Good Enough and the harder-rocking I Should Have Known It stood out over Jefferson Jericho Blues and Running Man's Bible with some expert playing from Campbell. But when Petty returned to his hits - a gentle Learning To Fly, Don't Come Around Here No More and Refugee, he had the audience firmly on side again before the encore barnburners Running Down A Dream and You Wreck Me. Opening was '60s California folk-rock heavyweight act Crosby, Stills and Nash, one of several high profile openers on Petty's tour - a list which has included Joe Cocker and ZZ Top. The harmony-heavy threesome - David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, now all in their mid to late '60s - are always warmly welcomed in these parts, particularly when they bring fourth member and hometown boy Neil Young with them. And even if he wasn't on stage this time, the Canadian musician was represented as CSN delved into the music of Stills' earlier band with Young, Buffalo Springfield, with Bluebird and For What It's Worth, and Long May You Run, from the The Stills-Young Band. They also tackled The Rolling Stones' Ruby Tuesday. The trio, backed by four musicians, opened their 85-minute long set with perhaps their most famous song, Woodstock (written by Canadian Joni Mitchell about her then-boyfriend Nash), with a slimmed-down Stills still sounding as good as ever on his blistering guitar solos, particularly on later numbers, Long Time Gone, Deja Vu, Almost Cut My Hair (featuring some big notes from Crosby) and Wooden Ships. Nash took over on piano for the sweet domestic bliss song, Our House, while Southern Cross and Teach Your Children, featured all three musicians on acoustic guitars. Also noteworthy were the Stills solo hit, Love The One You're With. Frankly, with this quality of material, it's hard to put a false step forward. RATING: 4 out of 5 TOM PETTY SET LIST Listen to Her Heart You Don't Know How It Feels I Won't Back Down Free Fallin' Oh Well (Fleetwood Mac cover) Mary Jane's Last Dance Kings Highway Breakdown Jefferson Jericho Blues Good Enough Running Man's Bible I Should Have Known It Learning to Fly Don't Come Around Here No More Refugee ENCORE: Runnin' Down a Dream You Wreck Me

SLQ: Tom Petty unstoppable at the Air Canada centre By Ben Rayner Pop Music Critic Tom Petty makes a pretty convincing case, I must say, for devoting ones life to rock n roll, weed and takin it easy, maaan. A couple of months shy of his 60th birthday, the dapperly attired Petty who led his faithful backing band, the Heartbreakers, into the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night looked and sounded almost indistinguishable from the Petty who gained his first foothold on radio and on the permanent pop consciousness from which hes become inseparable with Breakdown and American Girl nearly 35 years ago. Theres something to be said for only exerting yourself just enough. For no matter how much the critical chorus might chronically fuss over how little Petty has bothered to broaden his songwriting palette over the past three decades, the mans best work is utterly freakin unstoppable. Unstoppable. Pettys hits are self-regenerating in the same way that all classic songs from Dear Prudence to Honky Tonk Woman to More Than a Feeling to Blitzkrieg Bop are self-regenerating. They never really wear themselves out, no matter how many times theyre thrust into your ears. I was in a bar crowded with hipsters and indie-rock musicians on Sunday night when someone threw on Full Moon Fever in its entirety and the reaction to the moment when I Wont Back Down kicks into its Heeey, baby refrain was the same then as it was at the ACC on Wednesday; everyone within earshot turned into a giddy teenager and couldnt help but sing along. And the reaction was similarly joyous to each of the tried-and-true chestnuts Listen to Her Heart, Free Fallin, Mary Janes Last Dance, Dont Come Around Here No More and a beautifully restrained version of Learning To Fly among them that Petty and the Heartbreakers trundled out during their crisp, 90-minute set. Material from the bands recent album Mojo, basically a blues-leaning excuse for Petty to sit back and cede the spotlight to longtime sideman Mike Campbells wailing guitar prowess, met with a slightly cooler reception. As maybe it should have, since Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fare about as well with their late-career dabbling in the blues as most ageing white men. The band dug into the new tunes with evident eagerness, though, establishing at least one of them the knowingly Zeppelin-esque behemoth I Should Have Known It as a bona fide keeper and, along the way, rescuing more tedious Mojo excursions such as Running Mans Bible and the long-fused Good Enough at the 11th hour with dynamic climaxes built around Campbells (and occasionally Pettys) sustained six-string heroics. A slight change in direction appears to have reawakened as much of a fire in Pettys belly as his ultra-chilled persona will allow, at least. Some of Mojos jammy spirit found its way into You Dont Know How It Feels which noodled out into some fluid soloing towards the final chorus that justified the songs invitation to roll another joint and a sultry, simmering take on Breakdown. Those moments, combined with the mid-set blues explosion, served notice that Petty and the Heartbreakers still care enough about and, most importantly, still enjoy what theyre doing enough to do more than just go through the paces onstage.

SLQ: Tom Petty drummer Steve Ferrone talks groove Steve Ferrone has sat in the drummer's seat for Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers since 1994. But the British-born sticksman is still seen by many as 'the new guy.' It's a label he's grown accustomed to over the years. "I'm always the second man asked to the dance," he says, laughing. "But I'm not complaining because I've been to a lot of nice dances." And that dance card has been full ever since Ferrone replaced the late Robbie McIntosh (not to be confused with the guitarist of the same name) in the Average White Band in 1974, right as the group was releasing their breakthrough smash Pick Up The Pieces. Over the past four decades, Ferrone's impeccable taste, timing and groove have paid off handsomely: he's been 'the new guy' for Eric Clapton, Duran Duran, Peter Frampton and The B-52s, among others, and has played on countless sessions for everyone from Johnny Cash to Michael Jackson. Even so, when it comes to touring bands, does he mind being thought of as 'the new guy,' or even 'the replacement'? "Not at all," he says, again chuckling good-naturedly. "I've replaced Stan Lynch in Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers. I've replaced Phil Collins with Eric Clapton. I've replaced Roger Taylor with Duran Duran. There's a few choice ones right there. No, see, these drummers have played on amazing records, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for their work. To be asked to go in and sit down and play the parts that they established, I'm flattered and honored. Also, I guess it means that, on some level, I'm that good - or at least in somebody's mind I am." Having now clocked in 16 years as a member of Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, currently touring behind their latest release Mojo, it's doubtful that Ferrone will be abdicating his drummer's throne to anybody else in the near future. "It's a wonderful group of people in this band," Ferrone says. "Tom and Mike Campbell are such brilliant writers. No, I'm quite happy to be a Heartbreaker." He thinks for a second. "That always sounds funny, doesn't it? I'm a 'Heartbreaker.' Of all the bands with great names, this one's right up there." In the following interview with MusicRadar, Steve Ferrone talks about playing with Tom Petty And The Heatbreakers, along with some of the other illustrious names on his CV. He also discusses his approach to playing, and it's one which involves, oddly enough, the art of the dance. What is general philosophy about drumming? Do you have one? "What I like to do is feel the song - I see it and figure out what I like to call the 'light and shade.' When I was a child, I was a tap dancer, and I remember a big part of our instruction revolved the light and shade of certain routines. I see drumming the same way I see dancing. It's all dynamics. "Because of my tap dancing, I can visualize a piece of music and feel it physically. Basically, I can sit down with a band and pretty much play a song without ever having heard it before. I'm not saying I play it perfectly the first time. [laughs] But I have a sense of the flow, the dynamics, where the choruses and verses are going. If you have rhythm - and let's face it, dancing is a great starting ground for a musician - you're usually able to know how a song should go." I would assume this helped in recording Mojo, which is the most 'jam-oriented' album the band has ever done. "Well, yeah, we recorded the whole thing live pretty much. Tom would come in and start playing a groove, and I'd start playing along. He didn't present finished demos or anything. The songs fell together during rehearsals. That's the way it's been with us for a while. "Songs used to develop during soundchecks, too, although we rarely do soundchecks anymore. With the new technology like Pro Tools, we just record the sound from the gig before and adjust the levels to the next room. Soundchecks are kind of a thing of the past now." What kind of direction do Tom and Mike Campbell give you? Or do they give you free reign to come up with your parts? "They give me free reignuntil I do something they don't like! [laughs] Their music is pretty straightforward, so if I do something too complicated or come up with a groove that just won't fit - anything that gets in the way - that's when they'll say something. And then I'll say, 'Fine, I just won't do that again.'" [laughs] When you were asked to join, what specifically did Tom tell you was the reason? What made you the right guy to replace Stan Lynch? "He never really told me, and I never asked him. I got a call to go out for an audition, but I wasn't told who it was for. This was in 1994. So my gears were turning'Who could it be?' It was all very top secret, you know? But then I showed up at this studio and there's Tom Petty and Mike Campbell sitting there. Well, I figured out pretty quickly who I was auditioning for." What did the audition consist of? Did you have to play through some of Tom's hits? "Well, I should stress that I'd worked with Mike before - he and George Harrison; in fact, I'm pretty sure that George recommended me for the gig. So we started to play You Don't Know How It Feels, and that felt pretty good. Then we listened back to what we'd played and Tom said, 'Wow, what a difference a drummer makes.' Then he turned to me and said, 'Don't worry, Steve, you've won.' [laughs] And that was it." How have you adapted your style to the older songs in Tom Petty's catalogue? Some of the material that Stan Lynch played was quite energetic. I'm thinking of songs like American Girl. "Yeah, well, that song speaks for itself. It has a pattern that is very recognizable and I don't really change it at all. The kick pattern, especially, is very important to play right. The song has a swing to it. "My job isn't to re-arrange songs that are etched in people's minds. But the newer songs, the ones I've played on, they're mine, if you will. So I don't have to adapt my style to fit them; my style is already a part of them." Who do you listen to in the band? Do you listen to Tom's vocals? Ron Blair's bass lines? "I listen to the whole thing. I let the music fall all around me and I make it work. If Ben [keyboardist Benmont Tench] plays a nice little line, I try to leave space so it can be heard. If Tom hits a certain vocal line and really punches it, I might reinforce it, but I don't get in the way. I don't try to set the tone and the tempo of the band; I let them guide me and I keep it all together. The band works really well as a team. "However, you mentioned vocals: I will sing along as I play. It's not just 'cause I like to sing [laughs]; it's because I'm checking the tempo. If you're shifting things around too much, particularly with songs that are so dependent on the vocals, then all you're doing is messing things up." You play with a traditional grip. Have you always done so? "No, I started out with a matched grip, and I switched when I was about 18 or 19 years old. I remember watching this French drummer who played with a traditional grip, and I was very impressed with his ability to get all of these grace notes in. The big thing was figuring out how to incorporate the traditional grip but still have a strong backbeat. So I worked out a way to play traditional but power down the stick with my thumb - which is why I have a very messed-up thumb now!" [laughs] Let's talk about your tenure with Eric Clapton. What was that like? What kind of directions did he have for you when it came to what he wanted from the drums? "His whole thing was, 'Make me play.'" "Make me play." "Yeah, he wanted the band to kick his butt. You know, it's a hard job to be 'Eric Clapton.' He's gotta go out there every night and live up to this legend. He has all these solos to play, and he's gotta blow people away. It's a lot of pressure. So he would just say, 'Steve, go out there and play your ass off.' He looks for fire. I think he really liked being pushed. It helped keep him on his toes, I think." Playing with Eric, you performed material from all of the eras of his career. How did you handle the Cream material? You and Ginger Baker have styles that couldn't be more different. "Absolutely. I would just sort of grab it and make it mine. I played Sunshine Of Your Love totally different. I took a hint of his groove, but there was no way I could match what he did. I didn't even try. "All drummers have their own particular quirks - some you try to work with and others you can't. When you're talking about somebody as flamboyant on the drums as Ginger Baker, there's no way you can play like him. "The point is to take the essence of what he did and use that. Again, Eric's whole thing was, 'Play with fire, Steve. Give me everything you've got.' He didn't want his musicians to play it safe. And you can still play a groove and be non-flashy while giving the music everything that's inside of you. Sometimes that's the hard part - playing with heart but not making it all about yourself." On a somewhat related note, you played with both Eric Clapton and George Harrison when the two toured Japan together in 1991. It was basically Eric's band backing up George. "That's right. What an amazing time." OK. How hard was it, when playing Beatles songs with George, not to try to re-create Ringo's parts? "I didn't really think about it. George told me what songs to listen to, I listened to them and we played them. What I did was what I always do: I listen to the song, I get the groove, I figure out the key elements and then I do my thing." How was George to work with? "Oh, he was wonderful. What can I say? He was a great guy. A tremendous human being. I walk past his star on Hollywood Boulevard a lot, and every time I do I say, 'Hey George, how ya doin'?' What a sweet man he was." One other mega-famous artist you worked with was Michael Jackson. Tell me about that experience. "Oh, it was great. I was hired to play on a couple of songs, and one of them was Earth Song. I was working with the producer Bill Bottrell. So we're in Westlake Studios in Los Angeles, working on the song, and I turn around and there's Michael Jackson. It's like he materialized right next to the drum kit." Wow. What do you say? "Hey Mike"? "Yeah, basically. [laughs] And what was funny was, he looked at me and said, 'Steve, can you dance?' And I go, 'Well, are you asking?' [laughs] Maybe he could tell by the way I played, I don't know. "What was interesting about doing that song was that Michael wanted me to play electronic drums - that was the big thing in those days. And I said, 'Michael, the song is called Earth Song. You've got to have real drums on there.' I could tell he was hesitant, but we cut a deal to do it both ways. "He listened to the electronic drums and liked them, and I could tell he was about to go with that track, but I reminded him about our deal. So I went in and cut the same track on acoustic drums. He listened back and started movin' around, going, 'Yeah, yeah! That's it.' And that's when I told him, 'There you go, Michael. Now you've got a true Earth Song! [laughs] The acoustic drums won out in the end." http://www.musicradar.com/news/guita...-groove-273410

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