Stepping into the elevator, in the unassuming office building on the edge of what use to be Fighter Town USA, I didn’t know what to expect. Then again, this Rock ‘n’ Roller has learned over the years that where ever you are, always be ready to Rock, and never hesitate to Roll! Cliche? Hardly, more like industry truth. The doors to the elevator opened to a hallway leading to the beginning of my Rock ‘n’ Roll day with the incredible Richard Dale “Richie” Kotzen.
The foyer of the EnterTalk Radio station, looking like a backstage green room prepped for rock royalty. Guitar, Bass, and Drums set up in one corner, vinyl backdrop “step and repeat” in the other, and a craft service set up that would inundate any member of Spinal Tap for hours. Pushing past into the studio I take a seat behind a truly humble living legend, Jackie Bertone (The Beach Boys, Kenny G, Peter Cetera & Michael McDonald to name a few) just in time for “Jackie’s Groove” to get underway.
Opposite through a web of Microphones, Webcams, HDMI, and XLR Cables porting mirror lenses, aviators, weathered denim, and cowboy trucker hat sits Richie. “I love the way the music business is right now…” as he laments about the “Old Days” where record labels controlled artist to the point of micro managing their sound, look, and even lyrics. “I love the idea that i have a direct to (fan) base release for my music”. As the interview seamlessly moves forward the big picture starts falling into place. The beauty of Enter Talk Radio is that they allow an adequate amount of time for the interviewer to dive into a rabbit hole of a question and answer format that the listeners crave. “It’s not a song if you don’t have something to sing.” Talking about his writing process in and out of the studio. Sometimes I wonder, how do veteran song writers go about coming up with that gold they put out on their records? As he (Richie) keeps his statuesque demeanor a yes moment comes out of nowhere pointing out the fact that it takes more than just a thought to write a hit song.
Years of touring and experience line this man’s pockets with nothing but one pearl of wisdom after the next. Although poignant with his responses Richie Kotzen gave such a sincere open and honest rebuttal to every question elaborating on his new album “Salting Earth”. With so many stories unfolding to the adventure that was taken on his self-produced effort it got me excited to take the album for a proper ride. Continuing on, Richie dove into a few questions about the method to his songwriting madness. “It’s not a song if you don’t have something to sing.”
Talking about the inspiration of his lyrics and melodies coming at anytime and anywhere “So when an idea appears, record it. Even if it’s just a voice note on your phone, record it.” Segueing into the fact that sometimes it will be the middle of the night and he will wake up with a melody in his head and think “I’ll just remember it in the morning…but you can’t think that way, just record the idea. Mumble the lyrics to the melody or vice versa hum the melody to the lyric line”. Taking a hard right Jackie lays down a series of not your typical interview questions that cause Richie’s facial expression to light up like a Las Vegas slot machine landing all sevens. Jackpot Jackie should be his new nickname, striking a chord and respectfully forcing Richie to shift gears. He doesn’t have time to adjust, yet in true Rock ‘n’ Roll fashion the answers are quick and incredibly honest. Wrapping things up Jackie and Richie hit a high note with one final and simple question. “If Richie Kotzen were not a musician and had picked a different career path, what would he be doing today?” A subtle smile surfaces on Richie’s face as he turns and looks directly at Jackie “More than likely(pause) I would be a Carpenter or Contractor. I love to create and build things with my own two hands.” Even though the answer was unexpected, it wasn’t to surprising. An artist must create. It’s in their blood, and one way or another they
will they will sweat and bleed for their art.
-Timmy D. / BackStage360