Y&T Frontman Talks Vocal Technique In New Interview

December 15, 2012

Guitarhoo! recently conducted an interview with Y&T guitarist/vocalist Dave Meniketti. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Guitarhoo!: What are some of your fondest memories from your early years as a musician, which have stuck with you until now?

Meniketti: One of my fondest memories of the beginnings of our band was how we took our careers in our own hands and started the ball rolling by becoming in essence our own promoters and managers at that time. We would scrape together $150 between all of us and rent local halls, printing up cheap posters that we stapled to the light posts outside the local high schools. Then we would pack the places with wild young rock fans that didn't have a clue who YESTERDAY AND TODAY was, but heard there was a concert with free kegs of beer. It ended up being a brilliant plan that worked amazingly well getting a name for ourselves and introducing the locals to our style of rock and our musicianship. We followed that up with a tour, of sorts, of the local high schools, asking for permission to play lunch hour or after school on their campus. A simple idea, but it worked fabulously well to get people talking about this band, making it that much easier to attract the local big wig manager.

Guitarhoo!: You've got a powerful rock singing voice. Do you ever find it challenging to be both the guitarist and singer?

Meniketti: The biggest challenge for me after the first few records was to take my singing more seriously. I was always a guitarist first in my mind and singing was just something you had to do, not something I was trying to be particularly brilliant at. And at first, I wasn't very good at it. I was able to keep pitch well enough and had the makings of a decent voice, but not until the "Mean Streak" record did I really have it all come hit me in the head that I was the lead singer in the band. After that recording, I realized that I better get on my game or the band was ready to find a dedicated singer. So I worked hard on becoming a better singer, along with the coincidence that I happened to work with a great vocalist on the next record. Between his tips and my inner insistence on becoming a better vocalist, I made a huge step towards becoming a more professional rock singer. As far as the difficulty of doing both at the same time, I never really felt it was an issue. It all seemed second nature since I had pretty much been doing it since I first started playing with other musicians. Only on those rare instances where the licks of the song were so far away from the timing of the vocal lines did I have to really pay attention and practice a lot more. I just would work it to the point where it became comfortable and I no longer needed to concentrate so I could just enjoy the performance.

Guitarhoo!: Are there any particular warm up rituals you do while on the road to keep the voice in check?

Meniketti: Nowadays I do some light vocal warm ups before going on stage. Mostly I will sing 5 to 10 minutes of scales, taking it easy at first to warm the cords up slowly. In the previous years I went from about 15 minutes of warmups early on in the career to no warmups at all the last 10 years. I remember talking with Ronnie Dio about warming up the voice before a show, months before he passed away, and he told me the first notes he sang at the concert were the first notes of the first song on stage that night. I was amazed that we were both doing the same thing, since I thought only I was as reckless as to do that with my voice. Luckily, it all worked, especially considering how high and long I sing every night. I am much more focused nowadays since I sing 2 to 2 ½ hours each night with sometimes 5 shows in a row without a day off. The only other things I do nowadays that seems to really help me on these long tours is to limit my talking before and right after a show. That, along with trying to get enough sleep before each show are important parts of my voice management. It can be a pain in the ass, but I'm used to being aware of these things on the road and it just becomes part of my tour demands I place on myself.

Read the entire interview from Guitarhoo!.

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