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Progressive Rock Interviews

Big Dixon

Interviewed by Lorraine Kay
Interview with David McBee of Big Dixon from 2006
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Now David, you are the new kid on the block, so to speak, as far as Rocket Scientists is concerned. I also understand that you actually had to commute to play with RS because you live in Tampa, FL, whereas the rest of the band lives here in the Los Angeles area. So you just came out to California for the CalProg show and sing for Rocket Scientists?
Yeah, I flew out two days before the show and had a couple of rehearsals with the band and went in and did the show.
MSJ: Well, you did a good job. Everyone around us thought you were the hit of the show. Had you studied their music before you went out there?
I record with them on the new record. I sang on six songs on the new Revolution Road. I met Erik when my band “Shock Opera” opened for his band about three or four years ago. And he just asked me to come out and sing on the record whenever he had some stuff worked out that he wanted a heavier singer on some parts. But the CalProg show was really kind of out of my element is the best way I can put it. I’m more used to doing heavier rock or metal so this was a whole new genre for me. It’s taken me a little bit of time to get into the groove but I think I will in time.
MSJ: Everyone at that show that I talked to thought that Rocket Scientists were awesome, especially since everyone knew that Rocket Scientists were kind of a last minute replacement band. I heard that a big part of why they liked RS was your vocals and stage presence. Also Rocket Scientists is a lot more edgey than many other prog rock bands and having a rock singer out front I am sure must just add to it.
Well I was concerned about that. I had a really bad day that day. I have been recording with my other band Teer when I was called to come out and do this show. I was refocused into the recording I was doing so I had to practically relearn this material plus some of the older Rocket Scientist material just before the gig. So talk about pressure and with only two rehearsals, but I went out there with guns blazing and gave it everything I had and I was so happy that so many people really dug what I did. Everyone I talked to afterwards said they were very impressed. I met up with the guys in Cryptic Vision in Vegas at the airport and they were blown away by the show and I know those guys, they’re from Tampa, too. And if I had done a bad job they would have told me. They would have said “Dave man, you blew!” because we’re friends.
MSJ: You said you had a bad day. Besides the couple of practices you had, what else did you do to get ready for that gig and to distress?
When you’re a singer all kinds of things factor in. Like the night before I slept really well, but I got up really early so I could get my body awake to sing during the day. Because for years and years I have been singing at night starting at 9 or 10 o’clock at night. So starting to sing at 12:30 p.m. in the afternoon is a little harder on a singer cause it takes a long time for your body to get woke up and warmed up. And then there was this singing in the shower rumor going around. Well, what that was all about was when I was taking a shower that morning. Some of the Cryptic Vision guys were on the same floor as me and heard me warming up in the shower. So later I had several people come up to me and go, “Hey, was that you singing in the shower?” So I said, Yeah, that was me.” But you know, you let the hot water run and you get your body awake and then I went and ran on the treadmill for awhile.
MSJ: You’ve been singing professionally your whole life, what was different about this gig? Why were you so intimidated?
Here’s the key. I walked out on that stage and I tried to be psyched up. And it was because the prog people were going to be out there with their arms crossed, looking at you and waiting on you to impress them. They’ve been listening to Genesis and Yes and King Crimson and that’s just not the kind of music I grew up on. I grew up on Queensryche and Dream Theater and Zeppelin and Bad Company and Foghat. I come from quite a different world. So it was a lot of elements that came into the picture whenever I stepped out on that stage. I wanted to be a rock and roll singer but I had to hold back and be a progressive rock singer. But my main focus was making sure the crowd was into it.
MSJ: Well CalProg was a pretty mellow gig. Did you at least enjoy yourself?
When I got there my agenda was to promote RS because I’m on the new record. And I am an outgoing person. So I went around to all the tables at the party the night before and tried to meet everyone that I could. Granted, I’m kind of flamboyant and I’m loud. I’m running around going, “Hey! How are you? Hey! We’re going to rock the house tomorrow!” I think I was a surprise to some people cause the rest of the band is more reserved. I had a good time. Everyone I met was pleasant and everyone I met was very nice and I’m just happy I got to do it more than anything else in the world. I guess the most important thing is that we got that show under our belt and Erik is mixing the CD today and it’s going to come out in September and we’ll just see what happens from there - maybe a tour.
MSJ: How do you like working with Erik?
I love Erik. He has been so cool to me. He brought me out there and he treated me like gold. He’s a great songwriter and he’s such an accomplished musician. He’s brilliant. He’s a genius and he’s borderline the most incredible keyboard player in the world. Most of all he’s a wonderful person and he works very hard. To work with him is a pleasure. In fact, the whole band is a great group of people and I am very proud to be a part of it. I think when this album comes and people hear how good the songs are like “Dreamin’ Red” and “The Sky is Falling.” That’s going to speak volumes for what we can do. Because if you can do it in the studio, you can do it live. I’m 38 years old and I’ve been singing with club bands and professional bands all my life and this is the biggest level I’ve ever been at - working with Erik and it’s an honor more than anything else.
MSJ: What about the album?
I truly believe that when this record comes out, people are going to buy it. They’re going to hear the songs and they’re going to be blown away. This album is so powerful, because of the songwriting that Mark and Erik have done. And the work that went into it, obviously with Erik on keys and Mark on guitars and Don Schiff on N.S. Stick and Greg playing drums on it has paid off. Well, the proof is in the pudding and I think that when Rev. R. comes out that it’s going to do well.
MSJ: As far as Rocket Scientists, go are you officially a member of the band?
As far as I know. That’s what I was told. That’s what the press release said. I guess my answer is yes.
MSJ: And you say you’ve been working on a CD with Teer?
I’m really working hard on getting this new Teer record done and there’s some really good songs on it. Jim Morris is producing it with Shane French on guitars, John Teer on drums, Rob DeVore on bass and Nathan Boone also on guitar. We’ve got 14 songs that Jim Morris says are going to be great rock and roll legendary songs.
MSJ: Will you be touring with Teer?
We’re supposed to be going back into the studio in August and we’re going to finish up the CD. Then we’ll probably go over to Europe and tour and tour some of the United States too. And I’m going to do that between the RS stuff.
MSJ: What is Platinum Jesus?
It was just something I came up with. I was in an Autozone and they had these little Jesus things for in the car and they had a chrome one and I said, “I need that – that looks like platinum.” It was a Jesus air freshener. But I thought New Platinum Jesus would be a cool band name. So I just put it on MySpace. And I’ve had that for a while. And then I have my own myspace the David Scott McBee MySpace that has some songs on it.
MSJ: What about you. What should people know about David?
Well, I am not the sharpest tool in the shed. I am not a genius. I grew up in a small town in Gaffney, SC and I’ve made it as far as I’ve made it on pure guts. I’ve given it every ounce of everything that I am. I’m just me. I don’t put on airs. I have no agenda. I have no underlying anything. I’m just who I am. Well, I am the most humble singer I guess there is in the world. I don’t know why I’m that way. I guess because of the way I was raised. I grew up singing in the church choir. I used to go to church with my grandmother and she would tell me to go up there and sing because I was loud and the next thing I know I’m singing in rock and roll bands and years later, well here I am.

My heart is truly open and I have something for the world and I really want to do this. I really want to make records that move people. And I need people like Erik and Mark and Don and Greg and Shane French. I need these people to help me catapult myself to where I can reach people. It’s not for ego and it’s not about being a rock star and it’s not about being famous or having lots of money because, dude, if I was in it for that I reason I would have quit a long time ago. But I enjoy what I do because it comes from my heart.

MSJ: Okay so what was the last CD you bought?
Wednesday 13’s new album. It’s a scary album. I like Wednesday because he’s from North Carolina and he’s a friend. I saw him as a kid come full circle to where he’s at right now, hanging out with Alice Cooper. He’s a really cool guy.
MSJ: What was the last live concert you went to?
I went to see Live Stock and saw Rob Zombie and a bunch of other bands.
MSJ: Now, my last question. What was your most memorable Spinal Tap moment?
This is a good one. Remember how back in the ‘80s they used to run light trusses across the front of the stage? I went to go and jump up to jump off stage and I nailed my head right into the light truss and it knocked me out cold on the floor right in the middle of the song. I was doing this song “Rock and Roll Crazy Nights” by Loudness. I was only like 16 or 17 years old. So then I woke up on the floor and I had on white spandex and I had blood all over me. It was embarrassing.
 
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