Wayne Perez Interviews Dave Levita
WP: What session work have you been involved in?
Levita: Eminem’s new record, Track #10. I didn’t get the credit, but that’s me on there. Sinead O’Connors new album: I played keys and samples on a couple of tracks. Kevin Gilbert’s rock opera [The Shaming Of The True] next to last track. Annetenna coming out on Columbia in the spring. I played lots of guitar and made various other noises.
WP: What are the main instruments of choice for you?
Levita: Guitar, Bass, Keys and noise.
WP: Some of your influences?
Levita: Hendrix, P-Funk, Brian Eno and lots of other shit.
WP: How did you meet Kevin?
Levita: I met Kevin through Susie Davis. She brought me over to Lawnmower and Garden Supplies Studio. Kevin and Brian were hanging out. They told me to go set up in the studio and while I was making noise just getting sound, they were recording unbeknownst to me. Some of that actually made it on a track I think.
WP: How was the general feel in and around the Kaviar sessions?
Levita: The Kaviar sessions were very exciting! It was the best, fattest, funniest, darkest music and all ideas were encouraged. Kevin was the baddest engineer and the atmosphere was so free. Kevin really knew what to say or not say to get the coolest stuff. He made me sound like I could play and made everything sound like Led Zeppelin or better. Brian MacLeod is so essential in his playing and raw as a swollen ***ina!
WP: So when you first went to the Kaviar sessions, all the songs were pretty much set?
Levita: Everything already sounded explosive. I just got to put some icing on. The thing about those sessions was the spontaneity. The pissed off attitude in a good sense and the power of everyone’s personalities. It was all so unexpected. Kevin really instilled a gift of confidence in me as did everyone. The bond between us just was there. Rarely did anything take long to record although Kevin was meticulous about sound and mix… the best.
WP: Was this more of a band-style recording or did you all record your individual parts separately?
Levita: When I got there everything was practically in place. I know Nick played bass and guitar on stuff. There was no attempt at recording everyone at once.
WP: Do you have a favorite of the Kaviar songs?
Levita: I can’t really pin a favorite but "Sultan" is pretty special. Especially the Susie advertisement end with our soft porn jazz approach.
WP: Did you come up with all the guitar parts for Kaviar? Which is your favorite riff?
Levita: Pretty much anything that I played I came up with. My favorite riff is Kevin’s rhythm track on "Sultan," the first thing you hear.
WP: What guitars and set up do you mainly use in the studio?
Levita: I use mostly a Mustang, but I’ll play anything that’s there if it sounds good. Lots of pedals and any good amp. There are so many. Or sometimes I will just plug in direct.
WP: Tell me what really sticks out for you regarding these songs: "Death Orgy 9000"
Levita: I could barely find anything to play cause it was so full already.
Levita: "Picnic" was kind of the first song for me and cemented me playing in the band. It just fit. We were all laughing ’cause it was so stupid and easy and everything was funny. It was the first time I was encouraged to play out of tune.
WP: "Ghetto Of Beautiful Things"
Levita: "Ghetto Of Beautiful Things" is such a nasty track. It did what Marilyn Manson did but four years earlier. I didn’t play on that track it was done already.
Levita: Brian’s drums on "Pretty" just fuck shit up!
WP: "Fall In Love With Me"
Levita: I like it more than Iggy’s. What can I say?
WP: "The Sultan Of Brunei"
Levita: "Sultan" was so fun! Especially recording all the fake George Benson wah guitar at the end.
WP: "Making Christy Cry"
Levita: Kevin took one of my guitar bits and used it as a vocal part. Just one of his many inventive approaches.
WP: "Broken" Levita: "Broken" was the last recording and the last time I saw Kevin alive. We recorded really late into the night and used a vocoder which we had a little trouble with cause I’m a little retarded…sometimes. I was only really around for Kaviar and a little bit of the rock opera [The Shaming Of The True]
WP: Tell me a little about each band member.
Levita: Kevin was doing everything. Brian, besides being the engine, also steered the direction of everything in the sense of taste and honing of ideas and basically co-created the music. Paul added an unpredictable element to the band and truly avant-garde in his thinking. Plays bass so dirty sometimes it spoils you. A very sick man! Susie’s spoken word stuff is some of my favorite on the record. She plays everything so well its not fair. She was the only one who really looked good in gaffer tape. I am eternally grateful to her for bringing me in. Nick D’Virgilio must be mentioned as well. He was the silent member of the band who played "Fall In Love With Me" and other stuff. He’s probably the most versatile musician I know. He makes me jealous!
WP: When you performed with Kaviar at CIA, this was the first time I saw "Fall In Love With Me" performed live. In the beginning of the song, you were tapping certain parts of the guitar’s body with your right hand, and the sound emitted was phenomenal. Was this incorporated into the live show, or was this how you performed it in the studio?
Levita: Just live noise tricks.
(Dave Levita is currently recording and performing with his band Descanso)
©2001 Goblynz Groove Media and The Estate of Kevin Gilbert