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Bon Jovi's David Bryan

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As keyboard player, songwriter, and founding member of Bon Jovi, David Bryan has seen and learned a lot about music and the music business in the past 20 years. After selling 100 million albums, traveling the world and playing to millions of people in 50 countries, and living through the rock and roll years, the grunge years, the rap years, and everything in between, David has a lot of experience to share.

David Bryan
Keyboardist, songwriter, founding member
Bon Jovi

MOTU: David, thank you for spending a few minutes with us.

DB: My pleasure. I've been a MOTU user for a long time. I'm happy to help you spread the word.

MOTU: Can you tell us how long you've used Digital Performer?

DB: I got the first version of Digital Performer when it came out in the late 1980s. I got my first Apple computer in 1984. I've always loved using Macs.

MOTU: Any cool early DP moments?

DB: I sequenced the bass line for Living On A Prayer in DP.

MOTU: That's a memorable part!

DB: I use DP to develop parts and entire song demos. In addition to my keyboard parts I'm deep into working with drum loops and whatever sounds I can get my hands on.

The band has been working on a new CD and I'm using DP to record my tracks. In Jon's studio we have a Pro Tools system and SSL mixing board. When basic tracks get recorded, we do a two track mix, which I transfer onto my G4 Powerbook into DP. I record MIDI and audio parts in DP. When I've got all my tracks recorded as audio, I give those raw audio files back to the Pro Tools engineer and he drops them back into the main session.

MOTU: Do you use OMF export from DP?

DB: I could, but in this case I'm merging the edits into single audio files for each track in DP. I burn those files to CD and give them to the engineer. He just drags those files into the ProTools session and everything lines up perfectly. It's simple and works well.

MOTU: Are you working with MIDI or audio within DP?

DB: Both. I'll record audio tracks directly or I'll work with sequenced tracks triggering hardware synths and virtual instruments. On the new CD I'd say 99% of my tracks come from virtual instruments.

MOTU: Tell us about your virtual instruments.

DB: I have the Moog Modular from Arturia and Reason from Propellorheads to name a few. Now I've got MachFive and it's changed the way I work.

MOTU: How is that?

DB: I've gotta tell you, some of my best keyboard work ever is on this new CD and it's being played on MachFive. I've had all my old sound modules sampled, such as my Yamaha TX816. Originally I played these samples on Akai samplers. Now what I've done is import my Akai library into MachFive. I've also got Kurzweil libraries running in MachFive and, of course, I use the sounds that come with MachFive. That means I've got original samples, Akai samples, Kurzweil samples, and all the stock MachFive sounds ready to go in my Powerbook. I don't have to carry all that hardware around to have access to my entire library of sounds. Also, because all these sounds load up into MachFive, I can build layered instruments that are combinations of different libraries. I've also just got the MOTU MX4 synth and I'm starting to check that out.

MOTU: And then you further tweak those sounds?

DB: Oh yeah! I tweak everything! Mach Five makes it really easy to set attacks, releases, filters, and all those performance aspects. Also I'm really into the effects built into MachFive. I can build these massive layered sounds and then add flangers, distortion, reverb and all that. Mach Five lets me save the effects with the sounds, so it's easy to manage and recall patches when I need them.

MOTU: And you do this on a Powerbook?

DB: That's right. I'm running a 1ghz G4 Powerbook with a gig of RAM. I've been using DP 4.12 under OS 10.3. This is my recording, writing, and road rig.

MOTU: So Bon Jovi has a new CD on the way?

DB: Yes we do. We've been busy and we actually have two CDs coming out. In November we'll be releasing a four CD box set.

MOTU: Greatest hits?

DB: Not quite. The first three disks are songs from over the years that didn't make it to the records. When Bon Jovi goes into the studio to make a record, we might have 25 or so songs on tap and we have to choose the twelve best. So the box set is going to have all those alternate, unreleased songs. The forth disk in the set has demos of some of the hits as well as movie soundtrack material.

MOTU: I understand you have a song of your own on this disk?

DB: I do. I do a lot of film scoring work, all in DP of course. I've been working on a musical called Memphis. I wrote a song called Memphis Lives in Me and we put it in the box set. I started out writing the song at home on my Steinway. I recorded the Steinway as an audio track into DP. I took my powerbook over to Jon's studio and we tracked my vocal part there.

MOTU: Very cool. Anything you can tell us about the new CD?

DB: The new CD is as yet untitled and we're looking at a Spring release. You know, any artist wants to be able to say that their latest work is their best. I think that's gonna be true with this new recording. We are having a lot of fun and are really exited about touring the material. People are going to listen to the new disk and say "Well, they did it again!"

MOTU: I'm sure you will! Thanks David.

DB: Thank you MOTU!