Who is David Mobley? A song writer? A Producer? A radio show host? A collector of toffee flavored candy bars? Three of these are correct. Maybe all four. Let me give you some history on this influential and well recognized music industry veteran and tell you why going to him for your project is a good idea.
This Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas music hero has over forty five years in the music industry ranging from song writing, guitar playing, radio hosting, collaborations, advice giving, project funding, producing and so much more. Have you heard of the group Crosswindz? This guy co-founded and produced the group. Since that conception in 1972 (officially called Crosswindz in 2003) David Mobley and Cliff Turpin had produced hundreds of songs. In fact, you’d probably recognize some of the hits such as Life’s Like A Highway, Take Me Home Tonight, Homeless, Hot Acoustic Nite and Heartbreak in the Makin’.
Currently, David’s good friend, Grammy Artist John David Schrader is about to release a very emotional and impacting album called 21 Summers. In this interview you’ll get to read about all this and more as David takes you on a journey through sensibility, professionalism and some stories from the good ol’ days of rock n’ roll. And yes, we’ll talk about taffy.
Daniel C. Morrison: It’s a pleasure to meet such a high caliber veteran in the music industry. To start things off let’s discover something no one may know. What would you do right now if you had taffy?
David Mobley: Hi Daniel. Well one things for sure – I would have a big ole sticky mess of taffy all over my fingers, shirt and pants along with a big mouthful of it. And then I would crash from the sugar rush and wouldn’t wake up for hours!! I LUV taffy!! Now I’m gonna have taffy on my mind throughout this entire interview! (laughs)
DCM: (laughs). Better than having the apocalypse on your mind! After reading your bio I have you pegged as a guy with a great personality who is easy to work with but also great to buddy around with. All those artists you’ve worked with from huge names to lesser known names has to be helped by word of mouth. How did you get into the music business? What drove you and how did you keep the passion alive for over 45 years?
DM: Easy answer Daniel. Two words: THE BEATLES. Since that fateful night way back in 1964 when they first appeared on the old Ed Sullivan Show I was immediately hooked that night. I couldn’t get enough music after that night and the same continues to this very day! Of course MANY, MANY other great bands have come and gone and a few are still around that helped influence me and has helped keep the passion alive for all of these years but The Beatles, as they did for so many. got me hooked.
DCM: The Beatles? Nice. It’s interesting how fundamental The Beatles have been for music in general since they started. Having so many hats and being a songwriter yourself what instruments do you play and what’s the name of a couple songs we may recognize that you wrote or co-wrote?
DM: Well – I can play several instruments such as the drums, keyboards and guitar. I’m not a master at any of them nor did I ever intend to be. I wanted to play just good enough to be able to write songs with and also to know how it all worked so I could play a sound I might be looking for when producing a song for someone in the studio. Being able to play several instruments has really come in handy many times. As far as songs go that I have written or co-written – there are a few that went regional and had a decent following such as ‘Tell Me A Lie’ and ‘Better Off Alone’ covered by several Artists and a few that went worldwide such as ‘What About Tomorrow’ and ‘Hot Acoustic Nite’ recorded and released by ‘Crosswindz’ as well as Dave Evans, the founder and original lead singer for AC/DC.
DCM: Right on! I believe I’ve heard that by Dave Evans. I had him grace a cover of Hip Rock Magazine a couple years ago. Talk about a guy that is still passionate! Producers, by definition, seem to be involved in only a few aspects of a songwriter’s development. However, with the skills you have it would seem there’s more bang for the buck with you as a Producer. What can you offer a client and what are a couple bonuses people get simply because you’re you?
DM: Well Daniel. I would answer that by saying my songwriting skills as well as knowing how to arrange and add those certain little things we call ‘ear candy’ all give me a little extra ‘thing’ that I can offer someone I’m doing a project with or for. I’ve also been told by many people over the years that I have an extraordinary ear when listening to those final mixes and that I hear the tiniest glitch or un-wanted sound that might be buried deep in a recording. It’s really important to try and catch all of that before going to Mastering.
DCM: I tell you, I catch a lot of little things in a lot of Def Leppard’s old stuff so I know what you mean by those little things! Crosswindz is an example of one of your latest groups and they are certainly sounding good with your touch added to it. Or rather they are sounding more well rounded. With your list of clients and people you know and work with is your style catered more to rock, classic rock and pop? What kind of diversity do you offer?
DM: Actually Daniel – Crosswindz has been around since 1972. It was created as a non-touring session-driven studio band to act as a tool for releasing songs that my partner Cliff Turpin and I had written. We actually started getting a fairly large following over the years even though we weren’t ever a real band. Although we have written a handful of country songs – our main genre has always been pop, rock and ballads. I personally have written scores for a couple of motion pictures but didn’t much care for the work involved in doing that. Very intense and different that just sitting down and writing a 2 to 3 minute song about ‘whatever’.
DCM: I got ya! I read that the name was official in 2003, at least according to Wikipedia. And it is impressive that you’ve written and produced several hundred songs since you and Cliff began your journey. That’s impressive! It’s obvious that you’re no stranger to working with high profile talent. I saw on your website you are completing work with Grammy Artist John David Schrader with his album “21 Summers”. From your perspective what kind of experience is John?
DM: I’m glad you asked. A movie could be made about ‘John David Schrader’! In my opinion, he’s a musical genius when it comes to songwriting and telling a story in his songs. John’s a cancer survivor and wasn’t given much of chance to pull out of it when he was a little younger – 21 years old to be exact. John told me his favorite time of the year has always been the summer. Thus the name of the new album ’21 Summers’. John’s entire life was turned upside down during his 21st summer when he received that cancer diagnosis. He is one brave man and he has always faced that gut-wrenching time of his life head-on through his music. John also writes about his loving Mom who gave up everything she owned including every last penny she had to her name to help John get through such a devastating disease. Everyone should be as brave, humble, noble and down to earth as John David Schrader. And today this unbelievable Artist is right on the brink of turning the music industry on it’s head! I’m just grateful to be able to play a small part in it. I will have MUCH more to say about this fantastic on-going project at a later date if you have the time Daniel.
DCM: With as inspirational of a story as that is, I’ll make time! That sounds fantastic! How does working with him differ from other artists you’ve worked with?
DM: Easy answer Daniel. Most Artists are easy to work with because we all have the same goal in mind – put out a great product. But sometimes – make that MANY times – differences of opinions, egos and hurt feelings get in the way of progress. Studio time is precious and very expensive. It’s always smart to have a plan in place, understand who’s going to be in charge of that plan and then follow that plan. This is usually the Producers job. The Producer is normally the glue that holds the entire project together. Many times the Artists tend to want to make it their job. And, sometimes, understandably so. They know and hear in their head what they want. What they forget is that a good Producer knows how to give it to them. Artists fail and fail miserably in this area of the project when trying to wear too many hats. So, to answer your initial question Daniel – John fully understands this concept and is always willing to listen and make the correct decisions and/or changes as the project moves along. He knows his part and he knows and appreciates my part. John has no ego – and if he does – he does not let it get in the way of his professionalism. John and I work VERY well together.
DCM: That is amazing! I would imagine that with the experience you have that trust in your ability is a no-brainer. But I do understand the egos and honestly, the ignorance that mistakenly gets brought into the studio. So how did you come across John and get to work with him? That must be a cool story!
DM: Kind of a cool story. I was in Sacramento with Todd Rundgren, Mickey Thomas from Jefferson Starship, actor/singer David Johansen from The New York Dolls and several others for a fun 3 day music event. The event was filmed as well as having a ‘live’ radio station remote going on. The lady that owned the radio station was there and she and I briefly met on the last night of the show. I was talking with Todd Rundgren backstage in the green room after the final concert and this very kind lady that owned the radio station was within earshot and over-heard Todd and I conversing. Nothing came of it that night but when I got back to Dallas a couple of days later I received a phone call or Facebook message, can’t remember which, from this lady, the station owner. Her name is Cory Marcus. She owns HotMix106 that was there doing the remote. She basically told me she liked what she heard while Todd and I were talking and she came right out and asked me if I wanted to have my own radio show and that she would broadcast it throughout all of Northern California and beyond. I was floored and flattered and stunned all at the same time. I had NEVER thought about doing a radio show. Never in my wildest dreams! But after talking with my wife and carefully considering it I called Cory back, thanked her and said yes and we were off to the races. So, I quickly needed some REALLY great talent to put on our first and most important show. I advertised for singer/songwriters from all over the country. Needless to say, and luckily, I got TONS of great responses. I had two Singer/Songwriter friends helping me sift through all of the submissions when all of a sudden and thankfully I came across one that just absolutely floored me. It was from an Artist by the name of John David Schrader out of New York. I love music that is different, music that has a lot going on, something with a certain edginess and color to it. John David Schrader offered all of this and more! The CD he submitted just blew me away. I had to get this guy on our first show no matter what! I immediately called him up and asked (maybe even begged) if he would like to be on my very first show. He very kindly said yes and we talked music for a good bit. We really got to know each other during that phone call. I remember thinking how fun it would be to maybe work with John one day. That day didn’t come for nearly 5 years but the opportunity finally presented itself. It has been nothing short of great since I got involved in John’s latest project titled ‘21 Summers’ due to be released in late November, 2015. It’s funny how things happen sometimes. Call it fate or call it whatever, I’m just glad it happened!
DCM: That’s awesome! I love how fate winds its tapestry! I wonder about that every time I do an interview (laughs). Do you all share stories of crazy experiences? Is there one you’re allowed to share? Do any involve taffy?
DM: Oh heck yes. And everyone thinks THEIR story is the best! (laughs) One of my many cool experiences (and I’ll keep this short) involved me taking a break from mixing one of the songs for our new ‘Crosswindz’ album way back in maybe 1971 or so. I needed a break so I walked out of the control room and into the lobby where I noticed an older guy (maybe mid 30’s) which now at my age I consider a very young man (laughs). I remember him sitting on an old leather couch smoking a cigarette. We made eye contact and he spoke first saying that he really liked what he heard coming from the control room. There was a lot more said but I basically told him thanks and started to head back in when he stopped me and asked if I might want to come up to the Woodstock area and hang out with his group. I told him thanks but I couldn’t. I was only maybe 17 or so at the time and didn’t even own a car. Plus, I had just met this stranger and had no clue or anything about him. With that said I asked him who he played with. He stood up and smiled and said ‘My name is Levon Helm and I’m the drummer with a group called ‘The Band’ – ever heard of us?’ End of story!
Needless to say, I didn’t, or couldn’t, go but what could have maybe come from that? I think I may have blown it but things still have turned out great for me. Levon and ‘The Band’ went on to become music icons, even more so than they already were when I met him that afternoon way back when. And if my memory serves me correctly Levon DID have a big ole hunk of salt water taffy in his hands that day. Made my mouth water.
DCM: (laughs) Perfect story! And wow, man! Who gets to have those kinds of experiences, really? Let’s switch gears to another admirable quality of yours, your charitable nature. Underpriviledged kids seems to be a soft spot for you as I read you are very into helping them express themselves through music and songwriting. Tell me a bit about that.
DM: Well – this is a bit of a touchy subject for me as well as it is for many folks who like to help others but don’t want to toot their horn very loud about it. I try and say just enough to hopefully make others want to share their good fortunes and help with whatever charity or cause that they wish. Mine just happens to be with the kids that can’t afford music lessons or musical instruments. My family was dirt poor growing up so I WAS one of those kids. I wanted a guitar really, really bad so I could play the songs that I listened to on my Dad’s little cheap transistor radio. My mom scraped up every penny she could find including some old stamps and other relics and took me to the music shop not far from our house. The store owner told us we were like WAY short of being able to afford anything he had for sale. But I remember him staring at me and I suppose maybe feeling a bit sorry for me. Between his goodwill and the sad look on my Mom’s and my face he took one of the guitars off the wall and handed it to us in exchange of what little we had to offer. He even put new strings on it. I remember crying out of happiness. It’s why I help kids who have a love for music as much and as often as I can. That moment when I was a little boy was a life changer for me in so many ways.
DCM: That’s a sweet story! I teared up a little. Being underpreviledged always hurts. I know the feeling too well. It really is refreshing to hear the good deeds that people do. I really wish there were more stories of this nature told and spotlighted because the good nature of people in general, in my belief, is quite powerful and happens quite a lot. Were there other ways you were underpriveledged?
DM: To repeat and hopefully reinforce what I said in short, my cause in life is to help kids that can’t afford musical instruments or lessons because I was one of those kids at one time. And I remember all too well how bad it hurt not to be able to afford what I really loved and wanted. Luckily, I had my parents, my grandfather (who helped pay for a handful of lessons with what little he could afford) as well as the owner of the music shop that probably felt way back then the same way I feel today. I hope what I’m saying here touches someone who maybe has had a good fortune and will consider giving a little back to those who don’t have.
DCM: I understand completely. For me there were two things. One was video games. I spent so much money on my first management jobs on video games that it no longer was a big deal. Now I wish I would’ve spent it on developing my songs. (laughs) Secondly was food, meaning going out to eat. Now when I can I make sure I tip well and about once every other month when I do go out somewhere I buy a stranger some meal. Not to brag or because I feel like I have to but because I really enjoy how I feel helping others and that magical feeling that there is goodness in the world. Oh man, I love that feeling and seeing and hearing about that stuff. Bless you brother! The magazines I started and about 90 percent of all the time I invest for artists giving them a little spotlight in such a crowded artistic area such as music gives hope. But look at me go on and on, (laughs). My apologies. I just love hearing your inspirational stories and reading about how you help others as you can. It’s awesome!
Are there any pursuits you had originally wanted to go after that you decided against? If so, what were they? If not, well, good for you!
DM: Well Daniel – video games was never ever never a biggie for me. Just didn’t care for them for whatever reason. I guess maybe it was because I spent ALL of my time on music. ALL of my friends played and loved video games but they just never really interested me. If I had one small possible regret it would have to be pursuing a career in baseball. I received player of the year on every team I played on growing up and was given a college scholarship to play. But my Dad owned a business and I did love the idea of business (my 2nd passion) so I passed on baseball, college and everything else and dove straight into the world of business and music!
DCM: Well congratulations on that! I can tell you’re a businessman at heart as well with all your success. You even do radio work so I’d like some info on that radio personality of yours. You’ve been part of several and have your own very successful show currently. If readers were to tune into this what would they be hearing?
DM: (laughs) I laugh because I really don’t have a so-called ‘radio personality’ in my opinion. I have a proud but horrible Texas accent and feel that I sound like (crap) on the radio. This whole radio thing never entered my mind until 2011 when I was at a gig in Sacramento with the likes of Todd Rundgren, Mickey Thomas from Jefferson Starship, actor and singer David Johannsen from ‘The New York Dolls’ and many others. A very nice lady by the name of Cory Marcus was there doing a live remote from her self owned HotMix106 radio station. I met her and had a brief chat but nothing more came of it. When I got back home from to Dallas I received a phone call from Cory. She asked me if I would like to do a one or two hour music related radio show and, if so, she would air it weekly on her station. I was floored since that’s the last thing I would ever think I might enjoy doing. The interest was just never there. Never once crossed my mind. I obviously wanted to be on the radio but only with my songs, certainly not a show. I thought about it for a couple of days and thought, why not give it a shot. I came up with a format called ‘The Songwriters Webcast’ , brought in a few Artists, some unknowns and some well knowns, and we were off to the races. After a while I got so much into the concept that I started my own radio station and filled it up with 24 hours of music, interviews and fun. The station has changed formats and names a few times over the past few years but is still all music related and is currently simply called ‘David Mobley Radio’ playing all of my fav songs from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and a little from the 90’s. An all new ‘David Mobley Show’ is in the works and will be broadcast from many stations outside of mine around the world. I’m really excited about it.
DCM: Sounds exciting! Do you have advice segments? Special guests? Interviews?
DM: Hmmm. Advice segments. I would say try your very best to come up with something fresh, new and different. DUH!!!! (laughs) Don’t do the same ole-same ole… EXPERIMENT! You never know what might just work. I practice this not only in my music but with the businesses I own. I always re-invent myself. I know about the old cliché – don’t fix something that isn’t broken – and I believe in that to a certain extent. But WAY too many folks wait until something becomes stagnant and/or broken and then try to quickly and haphazardly fix it, usually being too late by that point. I like to re-invent and fresh things up while on top. For me, that thought process has always served me well.
Regarding special guests and/or interviews, everyone , famous or not, can become a special guest or interview depending on your questions and their answers. You don’t necessarily have to have someone ‘famous’ to have a great interview. Everyone has something special about them or something special and interesting to say IF the interviewer can pull it out of them. Famous names may get someone to tune-in but if there’s nothing there or it’s boring you’ll lose that listener before your third question.
DCM: Hence the taffy question, (laughs). Let’s take that creative mind of yours and utilize it in a fun way. From all your experiences and how you see technology and availability changing how would you project the next 10 years being like for upcoming and current Independent artists?
DM: In all seriousness, I think it’s going to go back in many ways to the way it used to be in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, a way that may have had flaws and surely wasn’t perfect but did work! The entire music industry as it is today is in complete disarray and shambles. The technology side of it is wonderful and fantastic, it couldn’t be better. But that same great technology has been one of the chief reasons for the downfall of music in most other sectors of the industry. There is hardly any money to be made by 98% of the Artists through CD and/or music downloads these days and just about the ONLY way for an Artist to survive is getting onstage nightly and playing as well as selling back-end merchandise and doing meet and greets with fans. The technology has made it so easy these days that anyone with any talent whatsoever can have a fully written, mixed and mastered radio ready song within 24 hours. Technology like that is fine on one hand but completely waters down the rest of the industry and really makes it tough on the REAL Artists who are attempting to make a living at it. I have a million mixed feelings over the entire thing. Even organizations (without naming names) that make sure Artists get fair pay for airplay and whatnot are having a very hard time as to what to do and what not to do. And as far as the record companies, don’t even get me started. I’ll keep my feelings to myself regarding most of them. There are a few good ones but not many. Again, I really feel the industry is headed back to the old days and record companies played a HUGE role in those days. If I’m right and it does go back to the way it used to be the record companies/labels will have to adjust and think different than they used to. If not, it will be today all over again. I know it’s a business and I know business can be run properly, fairly and profitably. I also know it can be cut-throat and greedy when it just doesn’t have to be that way. Those would be the chief changes that would have to be made. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
DCM: I am giving a standing ovation to that Mr. Mobley! What do you think would be an interesting and actual promotionally worthy event or festival to put on if you had it your way?
DM: Funny you ask this Daniel. This happens ALL the time but here’s the latest example that just happened in Las Vegas last Saturday night. We went to my friends ‘Chuck Negron’, formerly of ‘Three Dog Night’ concert he put on. I loved, as millions did, Three Dog Night’s music. I was there with my wife and friends. As with many (and I hate to use the word ‘has beens’) because you never know what kind of concert to expect. I’ve been to many, many duds from Artists that used to be really good and had some really big hits. But being around for as long as I have been I pretty much know what Artists can still perform and what Artists have no business being onstage any longer. No disrespect whatsoever to my lovely wife and my very dear friends that were with me but I had the feeling that they may have been expecting a bit of a dud concert last Saturday night, especially when it was just one of the original ‘Three Dog Night’ singers/players. As the concert started and moved along I noticed my wife and friends REALLY getting into the whole thing. By the end of the concert they were ALL on their feet happy and cheering, as was I. Chuck Negron is one of those Artists that still really has it. I mean he can still put on one heck of a show. So, to answer your question Daniel m, if I were to put on a worthy show and/or festival I would carefully pick and choose Artists that I know still can pull it off and will leave it ALL out there onstage for the audience. But to repeat myself, I would be very picky and choosey. I wouldn’t go by or judge their popularity now or back then OR how many hits they had in their day. I would go by the energy they could and would still put out to make the audience really glad they invested in a ticket to not only re-live a part of the past but to still see that the past still exists!
DCM: Beautifully stated! Man, David, I really love your informative answers. This has been an amazing treat for me. I have a lot of respect for what you do and how you made what you do a lifestyle. Thanks for the inspiration!
DM: Thank You so very much for this fun interview Daniel. And I really mean that!! I LOVED the ‘off the wall’ questions – and the taffy thing was absolutely great!! What I hate is those same ole – same ole questions that SO many interviewers ask. Example: So – you just won the Super Bowl – how did it feel to win?? That drives me insane! I personally like fresh, new, and again, off the wall stuff like you asked throughout this interview. It was fun and a pure pleasure. Thanks for taking the time to come up with some really cool material. And Thanks again for this interview Daniel. It was all my pleasure!
DCM: You’re very welcome. Thank you for the kind words! I look forward to hearing more about your latest project with John and the magic you still produce!
Daniel C. Morrison – CEO/Founder of Hip Rock Magazine