Hooters drummer ‘makes his own kind of music’
By GARY PULEO
Times Herald Staff
(Gene Walsh/The Times Herald)
WEST CONSHOHOCKEN — Drummer Dave Uosikkinen, a founding member of longtime Philadelphia band the Hooters, has come up with a bunch of highly lucrative ways to put his three-plus decades of playing to work in between gigs with his band.
One of those pursuits finds him drumming up some innovative high-tech transactions, while another puts him face to face with his passion for playing with the most fundamental method of all: teaching.
“It’s the life of a musician and you find a way to support yourself,” Uosikkinen said over lunch at one of his favorite neighborhood haunts, Stella Blu. “I teach, do sessions and get involved with different projects.”
Showing others how they can attempt to master the skins is especially rewarding, he said. The Bucks County native started giving drum lessons while he spent a couple of decades living in California and continued after moving to West Conshohocken a year ago.
“It’s nice to see somebody have a good time playing music. I have students who I taught when they were younger and they went on to do professional gigs.”
One of his most notable pupils is Ilan Rubin of Nine Inch Nails, Uosikkinen said.
“He was one of my students when he was 12 or 13 years old. And now he’s an amazing drummer who tours the world. I saw him at the Tweeter Center last summer and I couldn’t believe I gave this kid lessons,” he recalled, laughing.
It’s not just aspiring musicians who come to Uosikkinen to learn how to make some noise; established pros who may have misplaced the basics somewhere along the way come to him for musical guidance as well.
“You see it in sports all the time,” Uosikkinen pointed out. “You’ll see a golfer or baseball player who has to go back and take a look at their swing and their technique. Drumming is a lot like that because of the way you move your hands and use your body. Some professional drummers get into some bad habits. I know I did. There were times when I’d have to go back and take some lessons and get myself straightened out, and then playing became easier again.”
As a guy who learned to play drums from one of the great skinmen — Joe Cusatis, now retired, who owned the Modern Drum Shop in New York — Uosikkinen has been a mentor himself to many drummers, as he explores ambitious ways to stay afloat as a working musician of renown.
In 2008 he created DaveUDrums (www.daveudrums.com) whereby songwriters and musicians can anchor their tunes with a customized, Uosikkinen-crafted groove simply by uploading a “scratch track” and paying a recording fee. Within three days, Uosikkinen will deliver to his client a completed drum track.
“Drummers not only need to know how to play these days, but technology has changed so much in the making of music that you don’t even need to get into a studio to make a record,” he noted. “If you know your way around a computer, you have a way of developing some music that someone can hear. I think it’s good to figure out ways to be mobile and use the technology.
“Some of the great mistakes and warts that happen in music can even be corrected, but the challenge is to know when to stop and how to use the technology to your benefit.”
When Uosikkinen and bandmates Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman unveiled The Hooters’ album, “Nervous Night” in 1983, the album was an immediate blockbuster, propelled by the radio-intensive hits “All You Zombies,” “And We Danced” and “Day by Day.”
Uosikkinen’s career with the band has been linked to some of the most culturally significant concerts of our time, including 1985’s Live-Aid Concert in Philadelphia, Amnesty International Concert at Giants Stadium the following year, and Roger Waters’ extravaganza at The Wall in Berlin in 1990.
The Hooters recorded and released their first album in 10 years, “Time Stand Still,” in 2007, and followed it with a massively successful tour of Europe.
“The business has changed so much,” Uosikkinen said. “A lot has been written about how bands really need support to go out on the road now, and we seem to have gotten that kind of support in Europe. It’s expensive to tour with the five of us, plus our crew and two tour buses.”
The band rocked a packed house at The Borgata in Atlantic City last fall, and headlined with Hall and Oates at the venue formerly known as the Spectrum in Philadelphia the month before.
“I always hold out hope that we’ll get to play more here in the states,” Uosikkinen said.