Robert Berry

 Interview by Michael Oshust ~ February 12, 2019

Robert Berry has managed to survive in the treacherous minefield that is the music business and flourished as a performer, songwriter, and producer. He grew up in a musical family in Northern California. As his quest for knowledge grew, he managed to obtain a part-time position as ‘assistant everything’ person at a busy San Jose recording studio. By the time he was a senior in high school, he had acquired a reputation as a solid performer and in-demand studio musician. After graduation, a booking agent devised a plan to create a local ‘supergroup’ by recruiting members from several recently disbanded outfits. The band that resulted was known as Hush. From the beginning, as the principal songwriter and chief strategist, Robert Berry was the guiding force in the group. Fast forward to 2016 was a big year for Robert Berry as he met with pal Keith Emerson in Los Angeles to discuss a 30th-anniversary release of the long-awaited follow up to the debut 3 album. That album, which took shape in 2016, was nearly shattered with the news of Keith Emerson tragic death. Ultimately and as a tribute to the friendship of Emerson and Berry, it somewhat painfully got back on track and is set for a summer of 2018 release date as 3.2 – The Rules Have Changed on Frontiers Music SRL. Robert Berry has released 5 solo albums, contributed to many high-profile tribute albums and has an impressive track record in the studio.

 

Robert, the album is well written and the track order is precise. Did you record and produce all instruments and vocals in your studio?

Yes Michael. I have worked for years to have the best equipment I can find in my studio Soundtek. The one stroke of luck I had was when I  bought my Neotek console. For some reason I knew that I wanted a very simple signal path with a four band EQ. Neotek not only had that but the preamps and quality overall is spectacular. It has never let me down and of course it runs into the latest, greatest Protools Ultimate system. I have all of the finest instruments at my studio also. A real Hammond B3, a Yamaha C7 grand piano, Memory Moog, many Marshall, Fender, and Vox amps. 130 guitars and basses so when I want a sound I can get that sound. But the real secret to a great sound I believe is playing the right part. That's not only note wise but the placement in the octave, and how the foundation for the vocal and other solo instruments is formed. Oh yeah - and yes, years of loving every instrument I could get my hands on. Everything on The Rules Have Changed was played by me. BUT - we had 5 songs written and I originally had 20% of Keith's playing already done. The Emerson Estate made me take it off if I wanted to release the album. Still can't give you a good reason why. But I spent countless hours getting every nuance, every tone, every feeling that Keith had put into his playing. I couldn't have done it without his initial genius involved. 

 

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I hear influences of Jon Lord, Rick Wakeman and Geoff Downes. Who were your influences growing up?

I was a huge fan of everything that the english keyboard players did. Starting with John Lord in Deep Purple and then really getting into Emerson because of the Moog. But, I became a big Wakeman fan when my band Hush was together. I loved the textures he built up and the melodic soloing he did. Years later Asia became the kind of band I always wanted to have. Yes, Geoff was a huge influence. Between him and Steve Howe they got the perfect combination of guitar and keyboards. That's where I believe my sound lies.

 

 

 

 

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"Powerful Man" which is about father-son relationships, and a beautiful song. What triggered you to write the song?

Initially I was thinking about writing this song because I had noticed that so many of the guys I played with son's were getting into music. Steve Howe's song Dillon - fantastic drummer. Keith Emerson's son Aaron and grandson Ethan, both great keyboard players. Burleigh Drummonds daughter is a musician, Sammy Hagar's sons are musicians, and Greg Kihn's son Ry, a great guitar player. It just hit me one day that the power of their dad's on stage must have given them the music bug. And then BAM - my son decides he wants to do music for a career. But in the beginning the song was only an idea. It took the situation I faced with Keith Emerson to make me dig deep enough to finish it. The true inspiration came from his son Aaron and Keith's love for his grandkids.

Robert Berry's album 3.2 – The Rules Have Changed is on Frontiers Music SRL. 

 

Special thank you to Robert Berry and John Lappen.​

Photo Source: All photos by Lappen Entertainment

Photo Source: All photos by Lappen Entertainment

Photo Source: All photos by Lappen Entertainment

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