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Rick Beato: Behind the Curtain

Bob Bakert, Editor

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JGT Editor Bob Bakert has a very candid conversation with guitarist, producer, musician, and YouTube sensation, Rick Beato

Bob Bakert, JGT editor: I became aware of Rick Beato a few years ago.  My first introduction was on Youtube and I, like millions, watched with amazement the demonstration of his son Dylan’s perfect pitch gifts. Having taken ear training in college I was aware of how extraordinary his pitch recognition particularly of polychords and total cacophony really is.  I thought wow but I really didn’t think much more about it until one day I came across an instructional video that Rick had produced and posted to YouTube and was really impressed.  So much so that I looked at several of his titles and was hooked. I binge-watched literally hundreds of them (he has produced over 700 to date).  I became and continue to be a huge fan. I told all my musical friends to check him out.  They all did with the same impression that I had… “frickin musical genius” is the most common description.  I noticed that Rick was from upstate New York as I am and that he too lived in the Atlanta area.  I contacted him and we met for coffee. I found Rick to be incredibly humble and while he was recognized everywhere, he said to me when I asked about a comment for Pat Martino’s tribute story he said, “nobody cares what I think”!

Well actually over 1.5 million subscribers to his world-famous “Everything Music” Youtube channel with an estimated total reach well over four million, a lot of people care what Rick thinks. tune into Rick.  I have been out at shows with Rick where men and women approach him in awe and he is recognized like a “Rock Star”.  

He is the author of his best selling book “The Beato Book – A creative approach to improvisation for guitar and other instruments”. Now he has introduced “The Beato Ear Training Method” which is the new world standard for ear training courses.  He has been a college professor teaching orchestra, big band as well as individual instruments.  He holds an undergraduate from Ithica College in Music Education, (his instrument then was classical Bass) and a masters in Jazz Studies from the New England Conservatory.

He is deeply knowledgeable in “Everything Music” from composition, film scoring, music theory, performance, as well as gear and production.  His channel features incredibly meaningful information on several different facets of music all presented honestly with respect for his audience. He has the desire and incredible ability to impart musical knowledge that can be  “put it to use” immediately.   His “Everything Music “ channel without a doubt helps his viewers grow musically. All of this is presented by Rick without ego, or pretense in an honest, straight forward style that contains no BS.   

Some of the favorite series on the channel:

  • What Makes This Song Great? Rick takes huge hits and dissects them with the original or rendered tracks pointing out the various qualities and features of the song – just incredible insights!
  • Interviews  – Rick has interviewed some other the biggest names Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, Peter Frampton to name a few 
  • Theory, lessons, and practice tips – hundreds of explanations of modes, scales, harmony, rhythm, and how to use them.
  • Top 20 lists – Rick will produce top 20 drum fills, top 20 vocal intros, top 20 solos and much more with detailed explanations of why he made his choices
  • Studio tips – Rick has produced hundreds of projects and is as knowledgeable about mics, mic pre’s, compressors, how to record and mix
  • Artists – style and contributions from luminaries such as Pat Metheny, Wes Montgomery, Jaco Pastorius _ Rick will dissect the styles of great players and show you their signature approaches to music.
  • Great and best solos, intros, bands, vocalists, and performances
  • Product and company evals

Interview from March 13, 2020

Bob: Your channel lives up to it’s billing “Everything Music”… what was your inspiration to learn so much about so many styles and genres not to mention the tech end of music?

Rick: I’ve always been interested in understanding different genres of music. It comes from having a big family and every one of my siblings liked a different thing. And each of my parents liked a different type of music. So in my house, everybody had their cassette players or record players or whatever. Nine people in a three-bedroom house with one bathroom. And they would all be listening to different music. My brother Lou liked the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton. Loved southern rock, loved things like that. My brother Mike liked Bobby Darin and Frank Sinatra and things that were way early for him. He should have liked Led Zeppelin and things like that, but he wasn’t interested in that. My sisters loved the Beatles and the Stones and things like that. And then, of course, I was in– then I have a younger brother had his– he was very big in to ’80s metal and a lot of– and ’70s rock, as I was. So I was surrounded by people that liked different genres of music. My dad loved jazz. My mom loved opera and classical music, so there we go. So I was fascinated by it all, and when I produced bands, I produced all different genres of music; metal records, country records, rock records, singer/songwriter records, electronic records, because everyone presents a different challenge. Some of them are challenges of the orchestration arrangements, the types of hooks that they have. It might be that the– if you’re doing a doom metal or drone metal band, right down to the type of gear that people use. Mad amps, Orange amps, Orange overdrive amps or OR120’s or Sunn Model T amps. Things like that that are stylistically appropriate for the genres, and that’s a detail that, unless you immerse yourself in these genres, you don’t even know what the language is. And sometimes the language goes right down to the absolute type of gear. Grunge people did not play Ibanez pointy head guitars. No grunge people did. They played Les Pauls and Strats or Fender Mustangs. Nothing was pointy. No Ibanez guitars. People in new metal played pointy guitars, and they didn’t have long hair. There’s the image component of it, too.

So I’m just fascinated by all these different things. Beyond even the musical elements, what is the culture behind all these different styles of music? It’s not just understanding how to produce it, how to play it. It’s also important to understand what the cultural underpinnings are behind it; what their reference music is. What they’re inspired by. When I interview somebody, I always ask them about what their inspirations were, what their favorite solos were. You’ve got to get more specific because people can give you general answers, but if you pin them down to really specific questions, then they have to think, “Okay, well, what am I going to say about this?” Once again, it’s just being fascinated by people.

Bob: You have to consider the audience.

Rick: Absolutely.

Bob: It makes sense – you’re making a grunge record and you want to make a record that is going to appeal to that audience.

Rick: Yeah, but if you understand where the bands are coming from with their influences, then it’s going to be stylistically correct. The types of tones you go for, the types of melodies, how the harmonies work together, the sounds, everything. And you have to understand the artist and what they like – the sounds they like – and then you’re going to be in the ballpark. It’s not a paint-by-numbers thing. You can’t copy other bands or copy under– everybody has to have their own individual style. But as a producer, I need to immerse myself in all these different styles. I didn’t need to. I wanted to because I was fascinated. I wanted to be– I wanted to master the sonics and the stylistic– I wanted to know what made music, what made these songs great or [laughter] these types of music great. What is about it? What is so special about Elton John versus Soundgarden versus Linkin Park, whoever. What is the difference between these three? What kinds of stories they’re talking about. In the 70s, people wrote songs /where they talked about Operators, Jim Croce. People don’t even know what an operator is, what a pay phone is anymore. The song doesn’t have any lyrical relevance in a way. Are you stuck by jeans on the door? Or I have my bags packed. Nobody mentions Bags anymore. That’s kind of a 70s-style lyric. So these are things that don’t really exist in society anymore. So even the lyrical content has no meaning to younger generations. They just don’t write those kind of lyrics. So just being aware of these things is– I’m fascinated by that.

Bob: So did that come after the formal education?

Rick: No. I’ve always been like that.

Bob: From your family.

Rick: Yeah.

Bob: Do you have a favorite music genre?

Rick: I don’t know if I have a favorite genre of music now. I wouldn’t say I do. I listen to so much different music. I tend to go for things that I haven’t heard in a long time or put on new things. Things I’d never heard. What did I listen to the other day? I mean, I just pull up songs from the 70s or songs from the 60s that I haven’t heard in forever. They just pop into my head. Oh, let’s listen to that. And I listen to new music with my girls when I’m driving to school in the morning. I will say, “Is this a new song or an old song? And I’ve taught them what to listen for. Old songs have very small base usually,

LISTENING AND SONICS

Bob: I asked Rick what he has been listening to and he got into the way records sound – “sonics”.

Rick: I’ve been listening to a lot of Steve Vai, some of Steve’s records. I wrote to Steve and said, “Every time I turn on my car, I don’t know why, but my phone auto plays Passion and Warfare, that record.” And I said, “I love the drum sounds and it’s really mixed well and recorded well.” And he wrote back that he had an API console that they did it on there that he ended up changing out all the transformers on or something and it never sounded the same. But it’s a very punchy record and I listen to a lot of records that I like the sonics of too, that’s another thing, even– if a record can combine great sonics and great music, then you’re really cooking. I like records to have terrible sonics and great music. Great music is the important part., but if you can combine the two with great sounding records and great songs, The Beatles were able to do that, The Stones were able to do that.

ON WES MONTGOMERY’S TONE AND PLAYING

Rick: Yeah. Not every Wes record sounds great. Portrait of Wes sounds phenomenal.

Rick: Boss Guitar sounds great, but not every– Wes’s guitar sound wasn’t always great on every record, but on his best records – to me, his best records – he had the best guitar sounds also, like “Boss Guitar”.

Bob: I just think there’s him and everybody else when it comes to attacking the note. The envelope, it’s a little technical, but the envelope of his notes and his tone was so different than everybody else. His overall approach to me was so different.

Rick: Wes never played a bad note on a record ever.

Rick: He never did. Wes never played a bad note. It’s unbelievable. Even any outtake you have, he never played a bum note ever.

Bob: You’re preaching to a preacher. I think he’s the guy. He’s my guy.

Rick: Yeah. So I still go back and I listen to those records. If I had to say two favorite Wes’s solos, Days of Wine and Roses off Boss Guitar, Fried Pies, which is off Boss Guitar, Blue ‘N’ Boogie, which is, was it, Smokin’ at the Half Note? No, Full House record. Blue ‘N’ Boogie is a great solo. Cariba is an incredible solo, it has a great chord solo in it. Those are some of my favorite Wes records.

INFLUENTIAL ROCK GUITARISTS

Bob: Did you listen to Hendrix much?

Rick: Yeah. I always tell this story, first guitar solo I ever learned was Hey Joe, and I taught the solo to my brother, and we used to jam on that all the time. And he and I would get in fights because I’d play rhythm for him for five minutes while he soloed [laughter], then he’d get up and he’d leave, and we get in a fight. Finally, my mom got fed up. She said, “I’ll play chords for you.” So my mom would strum on acoustic chords–

Bob: I’ve heard that story, great Mom!

Bob: Of those guys from that era who are the ones you listened to or were most influenced by?

Rick: Beck, Hendrix, Clapton, and Page. I mean, those are the main– but you have other people too

Rick: But those were really kind of the– they were the main guys.

Bob: If you had to pick one, who would it be? If some kid said to you, “I can only listen to one of these guys. Where I am going to the most?”

Rick: I don’t know. They have such different styles. Jeff Beck played, I would say more– he was different than anyone else, but his style was un-inimitable in a way. Is that even a word?

Rick: So Jeff Beck is not somebody I would learn things from if I were to play. I would say that Clapton and Hendrix you learn stuff from as far as lead playing. Page was more of a part player. Great soloist too, but more of a writer. I think of him more as a writer.

Rick: He composed a lot of the solos and stuff like those pieces.

THE INFLUENTIAL BLUES GUITARIST

Bob: Yeah. So as far as learning, if you want to go back to the guys from the 60s, those are the guys that-

Rick: Yeah. But you also have the three kings. I mean, I would get into– if you’re going to learn things, I would go Albert, BB, and Freddie. I would start with them, and then see how those guys– and Chuck Berry. And I’d see how those guys influenced the– see how they influenced Clapton, Hendrix, and– but you kind of have to go back to the early blues players, because a lot of the type phrases that they played, these guys were built lines off of and things like that.

RICK’S COMMENT ON THEORY

Rick: You can be a good jazz musician and not know how to read music, but you can’t without understanding theory.”


Interview from November 22, 2019

Bob – First, do you compose at all?

Rick – Yeah.

Bob – Are you working on any compositions?

Rick – Not right now. Only stuff for videos.

Bob – For you own videos?

Rick – Yeah.

Bob – have you ever composed for film?

Rick – I’ve done a lot of what you would call soundtrack oriented videos, or I’ve written things that sound like film scores. But they’ve just been for videos.

Bob – Is that something you want to do more of?

Rick – Oh, no.

Bob – I could be completely crazy but, you may be the quintessential composer for contemporary/modern music for Orchestral works.  I don’t mean symphonies in the classical sense but symphonies as filtered through a man who has such a deep well of  musical knowledge and skill. John Williams and  Star Wars meets Pink Floyd, meets Nirvanna and the Beatles, Hendrix and Gordon Lightfoot, jazz and classical elements.  It could be a whole new thing. Like the first time people saw Star Wars.

Rick – I thought about it. But I’m still kind of getting over now being a music producer and re-imagining myself with my new career as a YouTuber.

Bob – As a personality, as a celebrity.

Rick – I guess. Yeah.

Bob – How is that working for you?

Rick – It’s cool. I mean, it is what it is. But I don’t really give it a lot of thought, honestly. I just do my job or try and do work every day.

Bob – You have an amazing the amount of videos (718) , how many hours a day are you working?

Rick – Usually about 14.

Bob – What do you do for fun?

Rick – Work.

Bob – I think you just dig it.

Rick – Love it.

Rick – Yeah, I mean, I really– I just love music, love playing music, love listening to music.

Rick interviewing Peter Frampton

Bob – It’s amazing if you will, that just you’re just as knowledgable with grunge as rock, pop, jazz, and classical music.  You go from interviews with Steve Vai and Peter Frampton to visiting the homes of the great classical composers in Europe (shared on his channel) and everything in-between.

Bob – And you and I talked about this, about your son Dylan at the Pat Metheny concert (literally able to hear and identify every note and chord/polychord, etc. He is probably the only human on the planet and I think certainly the only one at that concert who understood (comprehended and could identify) every note that was played from the harmony to the single note lines, literally everything that happened musically. To have that kind of unbelievable facility has to be pretty crazy.  (As I was leaving Dylan was shooting hoops in the driveway.  I met him and he is a very normal kid with unbelievable talent and he is very humble about it)

Rick –  Yes.

Bob –  And you find every one of these genres that you’re into as interesting as the other are or some are your favorites?

Rick –  I’m just so interested in just learning. I like to understand the things that I like, and I like to understand things that other people like.

Bob – So what do you like?

Rick – – Well, I guess it depends on the day.

Bob – Saturday morning, you got nothing to do, a clean slate, and you can do anything that you want to and it’s obvious to me now you’re going to come down into the lair (studio) here. Your studio workspace is incredible. (lets jus say Rick loves gear)

Rick – Well, if it was that or it was Saturday and I didn’t have anything to do, then I’d just come down and practice probably.

Bob – Just practice?

Rick – Yeah.

Bob – And that’s just to satisfy your own natural curiosity?

Rick – Yeah, pretty much.

Bob – Do you have any interest in performing?

Rick – No.

Bob – Writing a suite and taking it to the Atlanta Symphony and being there at the keys or with the guitar and performing it?

Rick – No.

Bob – So the thing that you enjoy doing the most is educating people, I would guess?

Rick – Yeah.

Bob – Answering their questions?

Rick – Yeah.

Bob – Helping them to understand?

Rick – Yeah, definitely. That’s what I’ve always liked. I mean, it’s not like I really dislike performing. When I do a live stream, that’s like doing a performance. It’s in front of people. Some of the live streams get hundreds of thousands of views. So sometimes I’ll have 2,000 people in. With no warning, I just turn on the internet ( and thens of thousands tune in)

Bob – I know.

Rick – And then a video would get 100, 200, 300 thousand and more views.

Bob – Does that blow you away? I mean, think about five years ago. If someone told you, someday you’re going to be sitting down in front of a camera and you’re going to have 1.5+ million subscribers on a Youtube channel,  to listen to you talk about “Everything Music” … and you turn on your camera at any time of the day or night and X thousands of people watch, interact, and learn from you…

Rick – yeah, I don’t know. I don’t really think about it.

PRODUCING

Bob – What do you miss about producing?

Rick – Nothing…

Bob – Done with that, huh?

Rick – Done, yeah. I miss nothing about producing.

More Rick Beato – Behind the Curtain

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