Playin’ in The Allstar Band
Dave Hlubek Talks About Molly Hatchet, The Southern Rock Allstars and TV
by Michael Buffalo Smith
Dave Hlubek needs no introduction to fans of Southern Rock. As the co-founder of Molly Hatchet as well as one of its most prolific songwriters, Hlubek scorched across the fretboard on hits like “Dreams,” “Flirtin with Disaster,” “Beatin the Odds,” “Gator Country” and so many others. These days he is a part of Southern Rock’s premier supergroup, The Southern Rock Allstars. We caught up with Dave in between recording sessions for the new SRA album and endless tour dates for a few questions and answers.
Dave, who were your earliest musical influences?
The Beatles, all the groups from the British Invasion. I was fascinated by that. I loved Cream, anything by Clapton, the Doors. Early Hendrix stuff blew me away. Pretty much anything LOUD would do.
How did you first come to form Molly Hatchet?
It was after having a long line of local bands in the Jacksonville area. After so many years of playing in all the different clubs, I happened to meet Steve Holland at a local music store called Paula’s Music in downtown Jax.
He had just moved from Virginia Beach to Florida and I heard this voice behind me saying “That guitar really sucks.” I turned around and asked who he was and he said, “ I’m Steve Holland ! Wanna start a band?” We started rehearsing that very afternoon and that band is what went on to become Molly Hatchet.
Tell us about your relationships with the original band members, especially Danny Joe.
I think the relationships between the original band members and myself are really good considering all the things we’ve been through and put ourselves through over the years. We are all on speaking terms and we all love and respect each other. I’m proud to know all of 'em. We conquered the world together and that’s not a bad thing! As far as Danny Joe goes, I see him as often as I can and try to give him all my support. He is my friend.
What is your favorite Molly Hatchet album? Favorite songs to play?
“Flirtin with Disaster” for the album. Anything on the first and second albums. “Take No Prisoners” was my least favorite. I got real lazy in my songwriting -- the band was lazy overall -- and I think the album reflects that. We were not focused.
What kind of guitar and amp rig to you use and is it the same as what you used in the Hatchet band?
Back in the Hatchet days I used Peavey Mace amps. I use a Line Six Axe 2X12 rig with SRA. As for guitars, I’m using the Hamer equivalent of a Paul Reed Smith. I was using stratocasters but Jay won’t let me any more!
What are your fondest memories of playing with Hatchet?
Touring Europe together, selling out the hometown coliseum, getting our gold and platinum awards. Just sharing our lives together. There were good and bad times. Sometimes it’s counterproductive living too close together.
Tell us about Riff West.
The best. Just an all around great guy. When I grow up I wanna be just like him.
Your thoughts on the Jammin for DJB event? How did it feel to play beside Danny again?
It was very, very emotional. I was not sure how I would feel until the night of the show when everyone came together. It was one tearful night but it felt great playing with the guys again.
What is Southern Rock?
Southern rock is one part Jack Daniel's, one part Wild Turkey, one part stupidity and 72 hours of pain.
What’s your idea of a perfect day or evening off the road?
What’s your five all time favorite albums?
1.Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
2. anything by Cream
3. Gino Vanelli - Brother To Brother
4. Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced
5. Spirit - 12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
What about movies/videos?
I got lots of ‘em!
What? Me, read?
Tell us about The Southern Rock Allstars and elaborate a little on each of your band mates.
Okay, to quote a phrase from “Animal House," “they are all special in their own unique way.” They are a great bunch of players and I have a great time touring with them. Good friends! Being in the SRA organization I have been given a second chance at a career that I thought was over with, a lot because of my own doing. Making it simple, the SRA is not a baby sitting service and refuses to be so.
One of the most talented performers I’ve ever worked with onstage. In the studio as a producer he’s able to extract performances out of me I never thought I could do. Challenging -- daring me to do better. He’s a great father -- he’s got one of the smartest nine year old kids who is actually pretty tolerant of me.
On the flip side of that coin, Jay’s got one of the most wicked right crosses -- he hits like an anvil and then moments later is one of the most compassionate people you’d ever meet. Believe me, I know!!
You know him, you love him, you gotta have him! He’s been a better friend to me that I will ever be to him. I’ve known him a lifetime and consider myself the richer for it. Sweet man, great songwriter, great performer.
What can you say about a man that knows something about EVERYTHING? And if he does not know something about a particular subject, he’ll talk about it anyway. Seriously, he’s a real hard working, in-your-face country boy that doesn’t ask for anything that he’s not willing to work for. He expects everyone around him to work just as hard to achieve the same goal and there’s something to be said about that. One hell of a good bass player.
How do you feel about the new SRA album?
I absolutely love it. The teamwork, the songwriting, the performances blow away the first SRA album. It’s gonna surprise a lot of people and I’m proud to be on it.
Who are some of your favorite people that you have jammed with in Southern Rock?
Dan Toler, Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Dru Lombar, Allen Collins, Jeff Carlisi, Don Barnes, Henry Paul, Tommy and Billy Crain, etc., etc. The list goes on and on.
Who would you like to jam with in a perfect world?
I would like to be onstage one time with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.
Back to Hatchet. Your thoughts on the current version of the band with Bobby and Phil?
The best way that I can answer this question after much thought is this: what was once is not now, and what was once is not meant for now. It is a different time and a different group of people. It is a new administration. That’s the best I can do. I don’t want to give it any more lip service because I think that it is time to stop all the backbiting and mudslinging. It serves no purpose.
What sign are you? When were you born?
Virgo, August 28, 1951.
What advice would you offer to kids aspiring to become rock and rollers for a living?
It’s kinda difficult for me to give advice in this new millennium, me not being a product of the new. I don’t think that you can take a shortcut to paying your dues, though many folks seem to give it one helluva shot . The new pop rock is just designed for moneymaking and when you get to be a certain age, you’re out. But that’s not to take anything away from the hardworking musicians out there trying to make their mark who are willing to work hard to achieve it.
Any other words of wisdom Dave?
You haven’t forgotten who your talking to have ya? Words of wisdom? On a serious note, all I can pass on is just be grateful for every day you have because there are no guarantees.
UPDATE: Dave has rejoined Molly Hatchet, touring and recording like old times!