DAVE PINO INTERVIEW
by Bright Krinsky
Sometimes you meet rock stars or celebrities and you end up being completely disappointed when you realize that their whole persona is just an act. Sometimes it’s better to know less about the artists you admire and just enjoy their art. This is not the case with Dave Pino. Dave is the real thing. A rock ‘n roller who naturally and effortlessly preserves the essence of a golden age in rock ‘n roll even though it was slightly before his time.
His high-energy yet easy-going personality has made him the go-to-guy when you need a solid ripping nasty guitarist to take on tour. He has been in many great high-energy bands and has so many AWESOME stories to tell. He is also a great songwriter.
Dave has only owned one car in his life which he purchased right after high school and keeps it running himself. A matte black 1967 Camaro. The Mountain always seems to attract and bring together the most epic and lively characters and we are stoked to have Dave as part of our tribe.
You are from Massachusetts. East Coast. Cool, I was born in Cambridge Mass.
DP: Oh cool. I spend a lot of time in Cambridge. My brother and I are in our 13th year owning a business there. I still go to shows at The Middle East and Sinclairs too whenever I’m in Boston.
How long have you been living out in Los Angeles?
DP: I’ve been out here for 8 years. I was playing bass in a band called Seemless, and when we came through LA on tour I made some friends. When the tour ended I came to visit and sort of never left. In the first 2 weeks here I wound up in Powerman 5000.
Do you think growing up with immigrant parents affected your perspective on American music?
DP: Definitely. My parents worked 24/7 so they didn’t have time to influence me into any types of music or bands. That allowed me to discover whatever I wanted. My dad never followed bands. He was all about his construction business and taking care of the family. My mom listened to music once in a while. It was mostly AM Gold and she’d sing along but never sing the lyrics right. She would sing a few words and make up Spanish phonetics for the rest. It was really funny. She’s a little Peruvian lady.
Were you influenced by any world music from your parents as a kid?
DP: Yeah, I remember hearing it a lot from my folks or grandparents which caused me to identify it as old people music. When those old fashion Spanish dance songs would get played in the house all my old aunts would try and get me to dance with them. That sort of pushed me away from liking the music. However, hearing that music all the time gave me the ability to play certain Latin rhythms which was crucial in learning music by a band called Ankla, a brutal latin Metal band that I joined for a short period of time when they were in need of a last minute bassist on their tour. So it has been a good thing.
Who were your favorite guitarists growing up and now?
DP: Growing up I was all about Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Zakk Wylde, Joe Satriani, Vito Bratta, Nuno Bettencourt, Jason Becker, Paul Gilbert and Yngwei Malstein to name a few. I sonically gravitated to any guitar riffs that sounded buttery, fast and technically difficult. As I got older I then became able to appreciate and love players like Hendrix, Slash, Page and Angus Young. Guys who’s guitar playing just sounds straight up mean and ripping. The list of guitarist I love and admire today is gigantic, I don’t even know all their names. Youtube has exploded my brain with all the talent that exists in this world. I’m still discovering new players all the time. If I have to point a few guys, I really like Youtuber “Riffguy” and “Troy Grady – Cracking The Code”. I think Guthrie Govan might be the best guitarist in the world at the moment. Ha-ha. There’s a guy named Adam Ross that recently released the greatest guitar song of all time called “None More Fast” which you can find on a record by a band called Loud Lion.
You have perfected an epic 80s guitar virtuoso style that wasn’t really popular through the “no guitar solo” 90s and early 2000. What influenced you to go for that style?
DP: Ha-ha, thanks for thinking I perfected it. I grew up watching 80s videos. When the mid 90s hit it was a culture shock for me, but the song In Bloom by Nirvana was undeniable. I discovered Weezer and Soundgarden soon after. I love the 90’s and 2000’s but I still think the 80s was the most fun n’ epic.
Some of your songwriting reminds me of the Flamin’ Groovies. Were they an influence at all?
DP: I’ve never heard of The Flamin’ Groovies, I just checked them out. I hear what you’re saying. I could get into these guys. Most of my song writing influences (of released music) have been Weezer, Rick Springfield, Eddie Money, 38 Special, and a guy named Patrick Emswiler. However, AC/DC, Van Halen, and the Beatles are some of my favorites, but I’ve never released any music that sounds like it. I usually write in the vein of whatever the band I write for was based in.
What gear do you use? Guitar, pickups, amp, pedals etc.
JH: I’ve been bouncing between Gibson Les Paul, DBZ, and ESP guitars. I recently discovered Fishman Fluence Guitar Pickups and have been using their modern and classic models in all my guitars. For guitar amps I used Diamond for a while, but now with all the traveling I usually end up with whatever backline is provided. With Andrew W.K., whenever possible I’ll use either a Marshall JCM 800, or a 5150 III by Fender with a Maxon 808 Overdrive. With PPL MVR I’ll use an Orange Micro Terror or Marshall 800 with an old RAT Pedal, Maleko AssMaster Fuzz, Boss Delay and Digitech Whammy Pedal.
How did you get into The Mountain shirts?
DP: They first came to my attention at SXSW in 2012. A Mountain Shirt of a Cobra was given to me as a gift. When I put it on I thought I looked so cool. I ended up wearing it every day on the Andrew W.K. 10th Anniversary Tour. I wore out the shirt and looked online to buy a new one, when I discovered the website and realized this T-Shirt company was ridiculously awesome. I wanted every shirt. I couldn’t help but write them on Facebook to let them know how great I thought they were.
I heard there is a story about the Mountain cobra shirt helping you hook up with your wife. What’s the story?
DP: Ha-ha, yeah she was the person who gave me the Cobra shirt as a gift. At the time we had just been getting to know each other. Everywhere I went kids flipped out over the shirt. It was a sign she had amazing taste. I knew I could trust her. I had to lock her down.
What are some of your favorite mountain shirts?
DP: Oh man there are so many. I want all of them. My favorite that I own has been the Dachshund Face. I still wear the Cobra too. Here’s my wish list. Grey Alien, Just Visiting, Columbia First Launch, Final Flight ISS, Black Cow, Big Face Baby Orangutan, Yeti, Dragon Wolf Moon, and Breakthru Skull.
What is your spirit animal?
DP: My spirit animal is definitely a Honey Badger.
You’ve been in a bunch of cool bands. Could you talk about them a bit?
JH: This could be a while. I have been in about 15 bands and 7 of them have made it out of the jam space and travelled. I have fond memories of every band and learned so many things from them. The ones that stand out are Powerman 5000, Ankla, Seemless, Waltham, Damone, No Allegiance, Andrew W.K., Roll the Tanks and PPL MVR. No matter which band I’m playing in, one thing is always a constant. There’s always lots of crazy, stupid, and hilarious things happening in short periods of time. Guys and girls who try to play in bands for a living are a certain breed and we get ourselves in so many ridiculous situations. I have a ton of awesome memories and stories, but of course the best ones I have to take to my grave. It’s a clause in my contract with the devil.
Who are you playing with now?
DP: Right now I’m playing in Andrew W.K. and PPL MVR.
Andrew W.K. only wears white T-shirts. What do you think it would take to get Andrew W.K. to wear a mountain T-shirt?
DP: It would have to be a dirty white shirt with white ink.
You’ve got a Native American Steez going on in some photos. What’s the story behind that?
DP: My whole life everyone has thought I was Native American. Growing up in Boston people would stop me in parking lots and ask to take a photo with me. I’d be like “why?” and they would say “we’ve never seen a real life Native American before!” Even the high school drama teacher begged me to perform in her high school play as a Naked Indian. The older I get, the more Native I’m looking. My grandmother is always gifting me Native jewelry too. Having an Native America Steez has become unavoidable.
From your experience how do bands decide what music to listen to in the van or bus?
DP: Usually whomever is driving the van at night gets to decide. It becomes more of debate during the day. I remember Ankla used to always drive with the windows down cranking Napalm Death at full blast. They refused to roll the windows up and use the AC because they said it cost more money. 80mph on a windy hot and loud highway is how we rolled. Lately in the Andrew W.K. rides I drive and toggle between Metal and Spanish Party Music like Los Tigres De Norte. Not sure the dudes even notice since they’re always immersed in cracking jokes with each other, but I like having it on because it makes a good backdrop when listening to them talk. With WALTHAM, the guys in the band would listen to lots of Weird Al Yankovic.
If someone reading this interview had never heard of you or any of the bands you’ve been in, what three albums would you recommend as a good introduction to your music?
DP: Well, there’s my music and music I perform. I love ANDREW W.K.’s first album “I Get Wet”. I would recommend kids start there. Another band with the same energy level would be Powerman 5000, and the record I made with them was called “Somewhere On The Other Side Of Nowhere”. A couple years ago I released an EP with my childhood band WALTHAM called “Wicked Waltham”. You can find that online easy. PPL MVR is definitely COOL. Check: PPLMVR.co
Where is your favorite place you’ve ever played?
DP: Landscape-wise Pemberton Music Festival is my favorite. I wanted to move there after seeing it. Audience and show-wise, my all time favorite show would be the London HMV Forum with ANDREW W.K. in 2012. That show was pretty out of control. There has been a ton of great shows over the years tho. Riotfests every year are amazing. I’m about to play Festival Supreme with Andrew W.K. AND PPL MVR. I think I’m the most excited about this show than any show in my memory. The Darkness is playing. Die Antwoord. There’s comedy. I’m beyond stoked. I’m going to be in the audience the entire time.
Besides being a ripping guitarist and songwriter what are you into?
DP: I’m actually into almost everything. I like knowing as much as possible so long it’s information of consequence that is governed by the laws of physics.
Do you have any crazy or weird stories you want to tell us?
DP: When I was 14 years old before one of my band practices I drove my bass players car through my parents brand new house. I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. I lit up the tires in my driveway, slammed into the garage door and knocked it off its rails. I kept the tires spinning through the garage then road up my Dad’s snow plow like a stunt ramp and slammed through the living room wall. The rear axle of the car got stuck on the plow and the front tires were just screaming on my parent’s brand new hardwood floors for a couple minutes. I filled the whole house with rubber smoke. They were in the kitchen at the time watching Spanish TV with a clear view of the living room wall as I came blasting through it. They all jumped out of the way and took cover. They were horrified. We stopped having band practice at my parents house after that.