BraveWords correspondent Matthew O'Shaughnessy recently chatted with Y&T vocalist/guitarist Dave Meniketti who spoke about the bands Live At The Mystic album, the thirtieth anniversary of their iconic Meanstreak release and the never-ending support of their fans.
BraveWords: You have always gone on record that JIMI HENDRIX was a primary influence on your guitar prowess.
Dave Meniketti: "You know, a lot of guitar players that came out of the timeline when I started playing guitar all had that same sort of influence because of Hendrix. He was a guy that was doing something completely different than everybody else at the time. And I think that's still kind of the truth now when you play back his old stuff. There's not many people that really copied Hendrix's platform of songwriting and guitar playing. At least not quite in the same way. I had the chance to see him play twice before he passed on within a year of each other; he came back to the Bay Area one year after the next. It was something else to see him onstage - that was amazing!"
BraveWords: Your stewardship of Y&T over the past thirty-nine years has been nothing short of sheer perseverance and, of course, many highlighted milestones over that time. You and the band have certainly weathered the greatest test - that of time.
Dave Meniketti: "Well, thank you - I appreciate you saying so and pointing that out. We're just trying to bring the music to the people. And it's amazing that's its been so long that we've been in this industry. I mean, nobody would have ever guessed that sort of thing. But, it's inside of you; when you are playing you just don't have a timeline built into yourself when you are no longer going to enjoy it and that just has never happened. We just keep doing what we are doing because we love what we are doing just like we did the first day we started. We're happy to still be around and still bringing the music big time. This version of Y&T is just absolutley amazing; we don't sound anything different than what you would expect us to sound like. Maybe even better I suppose; a lot of people come to our shows and say you sound better than your albums. I think we are doing the right thing out there!"
BraveWords: You've said many times that Y&T and your self thrive on playing live. And certainly you've had many, many years to showcase the bands musicial live creativity from arena headliners as well as support to groups like OZZY OSBOURNE, AEROSMITH, MÖTLEY CRÜE and many others.
Dave Meniketti: "That's right. I do love playing music more than anything else as far as live performance goes. And there is something to be said for creating new material and getting in the studio and getting excited behind that. That's a great feeling as well. But, you have to know that playing in front of a crowd when you are getting the energy back from them and it's just a give and take relationship between the two; there's no other feeling like it and it's the feeling that gets under your existence where you just don't want to stop doing this. That's the feeling that keeps me going and all of these guys."
BraveWords: Y&T recently released a stellar hard rock experience in Live At The Mystic. It must make you feel proud.
Dave Meniketti: "I am. We had two really nice nights at The Mystic Theater. It's one of these gigs we play every year around the same time frame - just before Thanksgiving. And its become sort of an event that people come to from all over the world as a matter of fact. They fly in because they know it is a special place to play. It has a vibe all to itself which also ends up helping give great performances there. We were just really happy with the fact that when we listened back to the tapes a couple of weeks after the show that it stood up. It was a great performance. And we thought we have to get this out there; there's not something out there as a production thing from the newest band playing together and being as tight as we are. The way that our engineer mixed it; he kept the sounds of the audience down a little bit so you really get the sense of what's being played and you really hear everything. It's a great record to have if you only had one record to get to find out what Y&T is all about."
BraveWords: Vocally-speaking, singers such as Ronnie James Dio, David Coverdale, Paul Rogers, and more represent some of your influences.
Dave Meniketti: "That nails it right here. Certainly there have been a lot others as well. I've really liked the R&B influence of the singers you mentioned and I've mentioned before. There's just something about that rhythm and blues style... that gritty style of singing... that I have always gotten into. It's all about emotion for me. Whether it's my guitar solos or singing - it's that kind of connection between your heart and giving it your all. And that style of singing just seems like the right style for me."
BraveWords: You've got a great run of live shows coming up. With a massive back catalogue of legendary and classic albums, what does the Y&T set-list look like on these shows?
Dave Meniketti: "Well, if we are true to form, we usually finish the set-list ten minutes before we go onstage! I can only tell you that it will probably be quite a few songs from the Meanstreak record because we are celebrating our thirtieth anniversary of that release. And the other classics that we expect people will want to hear will be in there. Plus, the fact that we've got some deep tracks that we're going to throw in there along with some of the latest stuff we've done from the Facemelter album that came out in 2010. So, it will be a good mix of all of that kind of stuff. And, luckily for the fans, and us, we play for over two hours a night whenever we play so that gives us the opportunity to really mix it up and give some good hits, deep tracks and new stuff and everything all in one."
BraveWords: After nearly four decades of rocking the masses from coast to coast and across the globe, what has made Y&T retirement proof so to speak. Your longevity?
Dave Meniketti: "I have to bring it back to the fans really and that's the honest truth. Obviously, we have a love for music there's no question; if the fans were not there for us, if they weren't so amazing to us. If we didn't have the feeling every time we get onstage that we are the best band in the world because of the way the fans react to us; it would make it that much harder to have survived as long as we have. I just have to give it up to the fans. They really respect the band and we give it back to them. We want to make sure that we do not do any but give them the best show that they've come to see and then some. That's what keeps us going forward and that's what ultimately is going to keep us going forward for the next decade and beyond. I don't see an end to it. I feel healthy, I feel great. I don't feel like the number that my age is. This is keeping me young. And keeping me going and I still have the passion for it. I don't see this ending anytime soon..."