What made you want to start In The Pocket?
Philly is a really unique place with eclectic music. We’ve got the Philly Folk Festival, which we’ve had for over 50 years, the whole R&B scene, and rock music. When I started In The Pocket, I wanted to pay tribute to that.
This year, HoagieNation is having a pre-party and In The Pocket is playing, right?
Yeah. Last year we played the festival, and this year they asked us to take part in the pre-party concert at The Fillmore. It’s going to be a fun evening of food and music and a great way to kick off the HoagieNation festival.
For those that haven’t seen In The Pocket, what can they expect from your performances at the HoagieNation pre-party?
Expect to be entertained and to be rocked. What I love about In The Pocket is every 10 minutes or so we switch the musicians that are playing on stage. It’s similar to those old Stax Records gigs where Wilson Pickett would play a few songs and then Sam and Dave would play three songs. One minute we’re a killer R&B act, and the next minute we’re a great rock band. It’s a great mix of music that bound to please everyone in the crowd.
Tell me about your time in The Hooters.
It’s been a rollercoaster ride for me. The Hooters started off as a band called Baby Grand, then we changed the name to The Hooters. The first gig was me and two other guys in 1980. I’ve been along for the ride for nearly 40 years. Initially, we started off as a ska and reggae band. Then, later on, two of our members, Eric Bazilian and and Rob Hyman went to work with Cyndi Lauper on her amazing album She’s So Unusual. That was a huge success. Later on, they reformed The Hooters and asked me to come back. We got a couple more guys: John Lilley and Rob Miller. We did an independent record, Amore. At the time it sold over 100,000 records, which created a lot of buzz and record labels started to pay attention. Shortly thereafter we signed with Columbia records and released three albums: Nervous Night, One Way Home, and Zig Zag.
Nervous Night went multi-Platinum in the U.S. What was that like?
It was a huge success in a lot of ways. We started touring with Squeeze and Don Henley and other bands. The following year we toured Europe and had huge success in Germany. We changed our sound a bit because everybody was playing different instruments. We got a little more eclectic. When we would travel from city to city, we would go and see different bands and that would influence our sound. We moved with certain trends. We didn’t set out to have a hit record. The stars just lined up for us. And, over the years, we’ve been asked to play some big shows, so those hits opened us up to a much bigger, international audience.
What are your thoughts on Daryl Hall and John Oates?
We’ve known those guys for a long time. They’re great musicians and wonderful guys. It’s an honor to be a part of an event like HoagieNation.
There have been times when you’ve filled in for other drummers, right?
Yeah, one time I had to fill in for Rod Stewart’s drummer, David Palmer. It was in the ‘90s and I remember looking out in the crowd and seeing Gerald Ford, Sidney Poitier, and Gregory Peck. It was that kind of a crowd, which I wasn’t used to playing to. (laughs) I got to play “Maggie May” with Rod Stewart, so that was fun. It was one of those great moments where I got to play with one of my heros, and I got paid to do it. (laughs) On top of that, Rod was really great to work with. I was honored to do that.
What do you think of KISS’ drummer, Eric Singer?
I’ve never met Eric but he’s great at his craft, and he played with Alice Cooper, as did I. I worked with Alice back in the ‘90s for the album The Last Temptation, which came out in 1994. Alice was another great guy to work for. And Eric Singer, later on worked with Alice Cooper, while also working with KISS at the same time. That’s pretty amazing. It’s clear that Eric Singer loves to play. I love listening to him drum and I think it’s great what he does with KISS.
Another amazing drummer is Deen Castronovo, Journey’s former drummer and the current drummer for The Dead Daisies.
I’ve known Deen’s work for ages because he used to play a lot in San Francisco. He’s a monster drummer that’s really, really good. I love his work.