Gary James' Interview With Dave "The Snasul" Jacobs Of
Roll The Stones
A Tribute To The Music Of The Rolling Stones
He's played with major artists from the '70s and '80s. He's played with international Reggae superstars. But his love of The Rolling Stones has led him to portray Keith Richards in Roll The Stones: A Tribute To The Music Of The Rolling Stones.
Q - Your group is a Tribute To The Music Of The Rolling Stones. Explain.
A - We look nothing like The Stones. My background is I've done all kinds of work. I've done studio work with and played on records with Bob Marley and I've lived in L.A. Everybody in the band has a pretty good resume of credits. We had gotten together one day just for fun to play some music, just to knock it around and we started jamming on Rolling Stones' songs. The Rolling Stones, unlike if you were doing a tribute to Nirvana let's say, probably have 600 songs in their catalog. There are maybe 5 or 6 bands that people would say are maybe the best songwriting bands in Rock 'n' Roll and they've been covered by everybody, like The Beatles and The Stones. So, we just started playin' 'em and one thing led to another and the next thing you know we sort of became this group that was performing Rolling Stones songs. We never really wanted to be a look-a-like band. Since we've been doing this for so long with other projects, everybody is sort of pro enough where we can come out there and play in such a way where we can present it. We were actually hired by a guy to go to Germany at one point and play for some of The Stones' crew and their people. The guy had heard us. He was in a movie theatre and heard us playing in the atrium at a place in West Palm Beach and came and heard the band. One of the things that impressed him about us was the fact that we weren't a look-a-like band, that we weren't trying to be somebody we were not. We were sort of playing the music and taking these great songs. Of course, we stayed true to the things that are really important. We're not gonna play "Satisfaction" like a Reggae tune, but we do take a lot of liberties and we do add instruments and saxophones and female vocalists. We've actually had people come and tell us, people who are Stones fans, "Oh, we love the band." They love the songs. They love the energy. The surprising thing is we've had people who are not Stones fans who say, "I hate The Rolling Stones, but I love you guys because I love the way you interpret it. I love what you do." That's sort of how we came about. As far as the name, we were playing at the house and the drummer's girlfriend said, "What are you doing tonight? Are you just going to roll the stones over at the house?" Wow! That's kind of catchy. It just stuck and that's about it.
Q - In a group like this, you really get people to pay attention to The Stones' lyrics.
A - Yes, we are.
Q - And the music as well, but chances are when your audiences leave, they come away with a greater appreciation for the lyrics.
A - That's true. And The Beatles broke up. They stopped doing it, but The Stones kept going. They've been through multiple generations of fans, they have rolled with the punches. If you told me, "I like Country / Western music," I could probably pull you out ten Rolling Stones songs that are Country / Western. If you say, "I like Funk," I could pull you out Funk songs. They've done a lot of different things. Not only that, a lot of the songs are interpretive. You can take them and do them different ways because they're well written songs. That's what we try to do. We have a catalog of about 100 songs we play, pulled out of the 500. We fluctuate, depending on where we're playing and who we're playing to. We definitely do our own thing with them. Sometimes when we're playing, we'll completely screw up a song and go off into left field and start jamming on it. That's kind of the fun part of the night where people really enjoy it. People say, "We really like when you took it. You took it to a different place." I'm sure The Rolling Stones do the same thing after 50 years. I'm sure they're taking chances with things too.
Q - This is a nine piece band, correct?
A - We can play anywhere from six pieces up to ten pieces. The six pieces would be the very basic, where we would use the basic core of the band and a saxophone and as we started expanding the band out to ten pieces, we would add additional female vocalists, a percussionist, a horn section with another trumpet and a trombone. So, we can go from six up to ten, depending on where we're playing, the size of the venue, the money, the audience, the whole thing.
Q - Are there more venues open to you for a six piece than a ten piece?
A - Oh, yeah, definitely when you're talking about ten piece. You've got a physical limitation as far as the stage. We've played places where we did use horns because they requested them. The guys were standing on the staircase. There's no room for all that when you've got all that stuff. That's one thing, and the budget. Then you've got the opposite end of the coin where we've done city functions or big corporate functions where they don't want the smaller band. They specifically want the larger band because they want to fill the stage. They want a spectacle, sort of. They want to see the whole thing. But The Stones themselves, the real Rolling Stones, they're technically four guys that are really in the band at one point, but they go out with eleven people. I saw Bruce Springsteen about a week ago and he had fifteen people in the band. A lot of time you need that to reproduce some of the elements.
Q - When did you put this group together?
A - I think we're going on six years now we've been doing this.
Q - Before you started, did you do any research to see if a band like this would work?
A - Oh, yeah. I've been a Rolling Stones fan, not ridiculous. I don't listen to The Rolling Stones day and night, but I am definitely a fan of British Rock. I've been very influenced by everyone from Eric Clapton to The Stones, The Beatles. We did do quite a bit of research. I've read lots of books and I know a lot about the band. I've seen films and documentaries. We even went so far, we looked up finding set lists for what they've played in concert. We looked at what other people were doing. So, we definitely did research. Ron Wood used to have a club down here in South Florida, Ron Wood and Bobby Keys. They used to live down here so we used to see them all the time. We'd go to their clubs sometimes. Our original horn section that we had when we went to Europe used to play with Bobby Keys and Ronnie Wood over there. As far as wanting to do it right, we respect the songs. What we didn't want to do is come out there wearing some stupid, ill-fitting wig, being an over-weight Mick Jagger. We just wanted to be true to what we were doing and not fake it.
Q - I was actually talking about the business aspect of putting a band like this together.
A - Yeah. We did look at that. We haven't looked at it since then. We didn't really look at it that much at the time. We just sort of did it. It's kind of weird. We researched it a little bit after the fact. We did it ass-backwards maybe. (laughs). But we found out afterwards we do make a little more money doing this than we would for doing other different things. Some of the guys in the band are full-time musicians. That's all they do. Some of 'em have other jobs they do. So, we sort of did it 'cause we enjoyed it first. We probably would make more money if we did put on stupid wigs and do the whole thing, but it's not something we chose to do at this time.
Q - You must be the businessman of the group. You're doing the bookings?
A - Yeah.
Q - Just from the way you're talking, I figured that. You not only offer a Stones tribute, but a tribute to the Blues as well?
A - Well, that sort of came about in a weird way. B.B. King owns a club down here called The B.B. King Club. We played there a half a dozen times. It was funny when we first played there, it was, "Well, I don't know about having a tribute band there. We're a Blues club." We had to talk to the guy and say, "Do you even realize that the name of the band The Rolling Stones is named after a Muddy Waters' song, witch is a Blues song?" When The Rolling Stones started out, I think the first two albums were all Blues covers. Basically, they're a beefed-up Blues band really. So, depending on how we want to spin it, we can go out there and do two hours of Rolling Stones songs and still play Blues. Out of those 100 songs, we can pick some very hard core Blues songs. Our saxophone player also plays harmonica and we can play slide guitar and Blues. We're sort of doing Blues with a Stonesy kind of spin.
Q - I take it Keith is your favorite Stone.
A - I definitely like Keith Richards. I like Mick Taylor a lot. I like Ron Wood. I like all of 'em for different reasons.