'Still Packin' A Punch!'
One of music’s most distinctive voices, David Pack has won acclaim worldwide for both his insightful solo work and as the charismatic lead vocalist—and guitarist—for the celebrated progressive pop-rock group Ambrosia. As a songwriter, Pack’s compositions took the band to the top of the charts repeatedly, and have delivered hits for a diverse group of artists.
As a record producer, he’s worked with many of the biggest names in music, his collective works selling over 30 million units. Pack’s imprint producing and music directing truly major events includes the masterminding of President Clinton’s two star-studded inaugural galas.
On 'The Secret Of Movin’ On,' his long-awaited new solo album and debut disc for Concord/Peak Records, David Pack’s ongoing evolution from his phenomenal stint as Ambrosia’s frontman into the compelling artist he is today is revealed in a way that’s both powerful and intimate. His creative journey paralleled by one of intense personal exploration, Pack’s latest music—as suggested by the album title—is soulful and authentic, driven by his deep commitment to a spiritual path and the earned wisdom of major life-changing experiences.
Chatting recently with David, I first wondered why now was the right time for him to have recorded this new album? "After producing so many artists and special projects, I realized one day that over 10 years had passed, and yet my incredibly loyal fans out there just kept on writing to my website to "please" do a new record and not forget that I am an artist."
"That feeling converged with the opportunity from Concord and Peak Records. It was perfect timing for me, as I found in writing the songs that I had a lot to say."
Where did its title The Secret Of Movin' On originate? "It's the title and lyric of the opening song - a duet with Ann Wilson. It was originally titled "Travelin Light" because that was the lyrical metaphor I used as the chorus to the song. It started as a sort of therpeutic memo to myself, based on Biblical teachings of true forgiveness and love being one of the key meanings of life itself. I was also reading the book "Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren and was drawing inspiration from that, while going through some very personal issues in my life."
"I reccomend this to anyone going through recovery from relationship issues, it certainly has been therapeutic for me."
Which new track are you most proud of - and why? "Songwriting is my "thing" and has been for many years. I keep the bar really high so I'm always reaching even higher for the goods. I always gut check songs to see if they feel like they'll hold up over time. I believe these songs will. But I can't pick just one, sorry."
With all the big-name guests on board, which song turned out to be the hardest to record ... and why? "The most difficult one to write was "Vertical Disbelief" because it's also a wild multi-layered arrangement, and it really was challenging to nail down. But having the greatest musicians in the world while tracking - like Vinnie Colaiuta on Drums, Alex Al on Bass, Luis Conte on Percussion - means you can get it recorded in one take, which they did. Even the title eluded me until I went to Bernie Taupin's art exhibition, saw an amazing bunch of his oil paintings, and he allowed me to use the one titled "Vertical Disbelief" as the CD Cover! It just also happened to have the perfect double entendre for that song title. And so it serves as almost a "sub theme" to the CD as a whole."
Why choose this album to remake your old Ambrosia hits? "I felt it was important to identify my voice and name to the songs that have been played so much on radio for so many years - people knew the Ambrosia name, but not David Pack as the writer and singer. We created fresh arrangements--using Latin influences, first class musicians, guest artists, and today’s technologies, and I am pleased with the results. Russ Freeman was a big help with "You’re The Only Woman" ... he did this beautiful classic guitar solo that we downloaded from a phone line from Florida to L.A. then Pro-Tooled it onto the track he and I had created !"
Having been discovered as a band back in 1971, why did it then take four more years to get a record contract?! "Does anybody really care? haha. We actually got signed in 1972 to a production company, then to 20th Century Fox in 1973, but it took 2 years to record our first album!"
Life Beyond L.A. in 1978 spawned some hits, but latter albums weren't so lucky ... what do you attribute that to at the time? "Actually our biggest album came after Life Beyond L.A. and our biggest hit was in 1980! But, we did do a wildly progressive album in 1982 called Road Island produced by Pink Floyd engineer/co-producer James Guthrie that we made in England. Warner Bros thought we should get back to our prog-rock roots after Biggest Part of Me and the One Eighty record. It turned out to be the absolute wrong call - but I'm very proud of the album, especially the song "Endings" on that one. We even used Floyd's recording gear to do underwater recordings of my voice on the song "Ice Age"!"
Tell me more about your first Ambrosia band paycheck and what you all used it on! "It was for the hit song I co-wrote "Holdin On To Yesterday" - our first hit. And I wanted to thank my dad and mom for believing in me for so long, so I bought them round trip tickets and lodging for Hawaii, and threw them a thank you party."
What remains your Ambrosia musical highlight? "Too many to boil down as "one". Possibly when Alan Parsons finished the final mix on our debut album and played the whole album back."
Just where did that band name originate anyway?! "Does anybody really care?! The dictionary - that's the truth. We started in the "A".s!"
What cheesy '80s song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! "The 80's are a blur for me. I don't remember any cheesy ones as I've probably blocked them out. But there is a super fine Phil Collins Genesis song from the 80's that I loved so much that I actually did cover "Hold On My Heart" - and it remains unreleased. I'm hoping someone will use it for a film or something."
If there were just 3 words that described David Pack's music, what would they be? "Pick one: Purpose Driven Music, or Anthems for Underdogs, or Recommended for Recovery!"
Finally, if you were asked to record a single for charity, and had to choose 3 other musicians to aid you in the project, who would they be, what instruments would they play, and what would the name of the song be?! "The song title would be "Committed" ( anthem for at-risk teens) and would feature TobyMac from DC Talk (production/rap), Dave Matthews & Band (on everything!), and Alicia Keys on Keys and vocals."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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