Guitarist STEVIE SALAS On Being American Idol Musical Director - "It’s Kind Of Like Being A Record Producer, Except For The Live Aspect Of The Gig"

December 7, 2008, 10 years ago

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Laurie Lonsdale at Fazer.ca recently spoke with guitarist Stevie Salas, who has worked with WAS NOT WAS, Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, and most recently with VELVET REVOLVER's Matt Sorum. He is also a musical director on American Idol.

Laurie: So, how did this gig with American Idol come about?

Stevie: "It’s real simple - I know how to do it. The musical director thing is something that’s a niche I really figured out how to do years ago. I started as a musical director for Terence Trent D’Arby back in ’93, and once you know it, you know it. It’s kind of like being a record producer, except for the live aspect of the gig. So, you still deal with budgets, you deal with who you hire, who’s playing what parts, and even what sounds they’re going to use. So, I got good at it. I belong to this little clique of music business executives; I’m the only musician. The rest are all agents, managers, lawyers, and it’s a private little group and we travel around the world to surf. We’ll go to Hawaii or Costa Rica and it’s called a business trip, but all we do is sit around and drink cocktails and talk about the music business. So, one of those guys in this clique became a big manager for Chris Daughtry, so when Daughtry was coming out, he said, 'Steve I need you to do this, and make it real.' Once Daughtry came out and sold 5 million records, instantly Idol had me do Jordan Sparks and now David Cook, so I became their guy."

Laurie: Speaking of TV, you also have a show from Winnipeg called Arbor Music, featuring all aboriginal music. When do you manage to fit all of that in?

Stevie: "It’s called Arbor Live, and that’s something new. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. I like to develop native talent, because I’m a Native American. I thought maybe I could start helping guide the careers of some of these kids and people. But I realized there’s not a lot of ways to promote these records and these artists though, so I thought we should get a television show, because we’ve got this network in Canada called APTN (Aboriginal People’s Television Network) and get this stuff going. Then I found out that a lot of my big rock star friends were really into the cause and would help out. So, right away we get Matt Sorum from VELVET REVOLVER and Tommy Lee and MÖTLEY CRÜE and guys like that, who want to be involved and want to help. So, we put it together, pitched it, and have these live concert shows. But to tell you the God’s honest truth I haven’t had a moment’s rest since I started, because I’m flying back and forth to Canada, and then between Canada and all my record production stuff in Costa Rica and around the world that I do, and then there’s the Idol stuff, so it’s been crazy."

Go to this location for the complete interview (scroll down). It is followed by an extensive interview with Matt Sorum, who plays on Salas' latest album, Be What It Is.

Click here for more information on Salas.



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