Fueled by Death Cast Ep. 103 - DAVE KUSHNER

Dave Kushner playing the guitar


"A big lesson for me early on was like you can't put this monetary pressure on your art" Dave Kushner, Velvet Revolver, composer F is for Family






Incredible musician and composer Dave Kushner is back on the show again! Dave welcomes us into his home studio to talk about staying busy in the music industry. Since playing the band Velvet Revolver, Dave has started composing music for TV shows, and he co-wrote the theme song for Sons of Anarchy. Currently, he is part of the composing team, along with Vincent Jones, that produces all the music for the Netflix original F is For Family.
We talked with the co-creator of F is for Family, comedian Bill Burr, on episode 102, and he told the story of how Dave Kushner surprised him with Slash and Duff from Guns N Roses. Now hear the other side of that story from Dave himself.


This week the guys discuss the recent landing of InSight on Mars and also reveal new discoveries about ancient cave art. Were people 15,000 years ago keep track of time with astronomy? Keeping theme with the holiday season, the origin and tradition of Hanukkah are on The Roast, including the worlds largest jelly donut! finally, a big bundle reveals for a great gift idea from The World's Strongest Coffee.


This week meet Amy Evicks Mattingly in the show below:


Interviewer: And another one is Bill because you wouldn't expect him to be as proficient on drums as he is, because he's so funny. You focus all on that, and it's like, "Oh my god, you've got this other tool in your toolbox." Do you guys play ever together, just for fun? Or is it just for stuff like this, you find yourself playing?

Dave Kushner: We don't, "Hey, do you want to jam?" [crosstalk] Me and Bob always joke about that, because I've never been ... Now, being older, I feel like it was to my detriment to not be a guy that jams.

Interviewer: That jams right.

Dave Kushner: Because all it does is make you better.

Speaker 1: It's a great way to network, too.

Dave Kushner: But yeah, and you connect with people on a different level, and you get past the being nervous or being afraid to play in front of people, or what level you're on. Like, "Oh, I can't play with that guy, because he's better than me." And you just get past that, because you're just there all the time. So we joke about it all the time, but we don't. But I've actually played with Bill probably, I don't know, eight times? Five to 10 times.

Interviewer: That's crazy.

Speaker 1: All on stage?

Dave Kushner: Yeah. But for fun, because the first season of the show, and this is ... I don't remember what I said last time, so I don't know, I might fucking,

Speaker 1: No, it's fine. We're good.

Dave Kushner: you may not be able to use half of this.

Speaker 1: We did our homework, we'll make sure not to double up anything[crosstalk].

Dave Kushner: But yeah, when we were doing the first season, I knew he played drums-

Speaker 1: For F is for Family, by the way.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, for F is for Family, I do the music with a buddy of mine, Vince Jones, and so we were in Vince's studio. Because the first season, we did it all, Vince is a really killer keyboard player, and he plays, he's the Musical Director for Sarah McLachlan and he's played with Alanis Morissette and Dave Kahan and he's incredible.
So we would do everything live. He would play keys with everything but not midi keys, like actual, he has all old worlies, and his keyboards. So he would play and then be like, okay dude now I'll play base and you know, play guitar and we'll sing and blah blah blah. And he lived in a different house. It had a really built out second room for live recording and shit. So, we had to do this Steppenwolf cover.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dave Kushner: Like an eleven second piece of Steppenwolf.

Interviewer: Right.

Dave Kushner: So I was like, oh Bill plays drums, let's just get him to play and then he'll be able to play drums on his own show.

Interviewer: On his own show, right.

Speaker 1: That's so cool.

Dave Kushner: So we recorded it. There's video somewhere I have. He did good and we were like, oh wow. And then he and I became friends during that season more so and would hang out and shit. And then we went to dinner one night and then we talked about it because he's a massive guns and roses fan.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: And he talked about how when he was a teenager he used to play along with appetite front to back.

Interviewer: Whoa.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: Like the whole thing. So the next, I told this story already, right? The one where he played at my kids benefit?

Interviewer: No, I don't think so.

Dave Kushner: Okay, so we're... so every year... so my kid goes to public school.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Dave Kushner: And every year... before I started at the public school, my friend Donovan would put together a band, like an all star band.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dave Kushner: To play for the parents at the beginning of every year to get them into fundraising and all this kind of shit.

Interviewer: Okay, smart.

Dave Kushner: So I did it then because I grew up in LA, I went to public school.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: And it's specifically to fund the art and music and library-

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: And gym teachers at the school. That money pays for that stuff at this school up in Lower Canyon. And so I was like, yeah I'm totally into it, I'll play whatever. So I did it for a few years, and then my kid, my son was only two, so he wasn't even in school yet.

Interviewer: Right.

Dave Kushner: He was in preschool. Anyways, it comes to he's about to go to school, we hear about this school, we don't live in the district. We're like this school's fucking awesome. It's one of the best schools in LA, public, blah, blah, blah. And so, we end up getting into the school, right. Because of that. Because I do the thing and I know the principal, blah, blah, blah. Then it got grandfathered to me because Donovan's kids were out of the school. So then it became my job to put together the band to play the parents thing.

Interviewer: The fundraiser, yeah.

Dave Kushner: So the first year I did it, which was where I had to. So I had been doing this thing for 8 years.

Interviewer: Wow okay.

Dave Kushner: This years the first year I'm not doing it. But I did it for 8 years, and so, 3 or 4, no, my kid was, he's in 5th grade, so it was like 5 years ago. The first year I had to bring the band in, I brought Slash and Duff, why not?

Interviewer: What not, right?

Dave Kushner: You know, it's like this little stage, it's just for the parents,

Speaker 1: Oh my God, I'd love to be there.

Dave Kushner: There's like 150 parents.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: And they're just starting in the school. Some of them their kids are coming into kindergarten, they don't know anything about the school.

Interviewer: Right.

Dave Kushner: They've been there for a week and they're like, hey come do this parents thing and whatever. People would drink and get kinda nuts. And so I brought Duff and Slash and I think Chris Chaney from Jane's was playing bass too. For the rest of the set, he did it a bunch of times and this kid Andrew Watt who is a big songwriter guy who is blowing up, he did all these...like he plays with Post Malone and.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dave Kushner: And something Cabelo chick, I don't know. All these people I'm too old to...

Interviewer: Right.

Dave Kushner: Anyways, so him and Frankie who's done it every year...

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: So I ask Bill, I'm like, dude you wanna play back in black with me and Frankie at the show? And he's like yeah, I think it was back in black, and he's like uhhh, he got kind of nervous. At first when I asked him he's like, oh yeah I'll do it. And then it came close, it was like Thursday and I'm like dude you wanna do it? He's like yeah, you know he gets nervous, he's like I don't wanna embarrass myself. I'm like dude you'll be fine, I know you can do it.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: You can come sound check, you can play, blah, blah, blah.

Interviewer: Right.

Dave Kushner: He's like alright, cool. He comes to sound check and Chaney's playing bass and me and Andrew are playing guitar, Frankie sings, and I didn't tell him that I was going to have Duff and Slash play on that song instead of Chris and Andrew.

Interviewer: You didn't tell him?

Dave Kushner: I didn't tell him.

Speaker 1: On purpose?

Dave Kushner: Yeah. And so cause I didn't want him to get freaked out.

Interviewer: Right, right.

Dave Kushner: I wanted him to do it, you know? So he shows up and he hadn't met Duff and Slash at that point. So basically it's a tennis club.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Dave Kushner: Right? Up in the hills. And so you're at this tennis club and the backstage is behind, like back there.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: Like on the other side of the club. Behind where all the people. So I'm on stage, people are here, and the backstage is back there. Which is just like a small area.

Interviewer: Right, right.

Dave Kushner: So, and every year I get kinda nervous because I don't know, I won't have guys like Duff and Slash show up early.

Interviewer: Right.

Dave Kushner: Cause I don't want them fucking hanging out forever.

Interviewer: Right.

Dave Kushner: So they'll show up like while I'm playing. So I never know, I'm always nervous, what if they done find it, what if they're, there's no cell service up here, you know? What if they don't show up, what if they change their minds.

Speaker 1: Exactly.

Dave Kushner: And I'm playing thinking, every year, whoever is the special guest.

Interviewer: Right.

Dave Kushner: So I guess Bill and Slash and Duff all were hanging out back there. And so Bill knew, everyone knows when they're supposed to come up. Cause Slash, there was two, Paradise City and It's So Easy or something at the end.

Interviewer: Right.

Dave Kushner: And then there was the ACDC song right before. So I see Bill, and he comes up and he kinda sneaks during, right before that song.

Interviewer: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Dave Kushner: He sneaks on, he's sitting at the drum set. I'm like oh let me introduce my friend, Bill Burr playing drums. And I'm like oh and I have two other guests. And it turns out that Slash went to that elementary school when he was a kid.

Speaker 1: Oh weird.

Interviewer: Oh my gosh.

Dave Kushner: Which I didn't know til that night.

Speaker 1: Oh my God. Alumni.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, and so then I introduce them. So they start walking up and I look back dude. And I see his, he was just like... like literally just had his head down. And we talked afterwards. And he's like dude I just couldn't even lift my head up cause if I did I would just become a fucking teenage kid again. There's a podcast, and episode of his podcast where he talks about the whole thing.

Interviewer: Oh my gosh.

Dave Kushner: Like the week after it happened.

Interviewer: Oh my gosh.

Dave Kushner: And so he played. But he just was looking down the whole time.

Speaker 1: Oh man.

Dave Kushner: And I'm turning around looking at him like, dude you're in Velvet Revolver.

Speaker 1: Doin it man, you're doin it!

Dave Kushner: Yeah. And he just looked up for a second, he had this big grin on his face and then he kinda fucked up. It wasn't noticeable, but it was like just something little. So then he, so we talked afterwards. And we're all talking and I introduce him. The best part of the story, which he tells on his podcast too, is he was supposed to go right after that to go do a set at the comedy store.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dave Kushner: On Sunset. He leaves, he's like oh dude I gotta go, you know? He goes and he, what I found out later was, someone had given me a video of it, right?

Interviewer: Okay.

Dave Kushner: So it's basically him playing with Slash and Duff.

Interviewer: Right.

Dave Kushner: And so I sent him the video.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: And so he's at the comedy store, he gets the video, and he's just like, and they were like hey so you gonna go up? He's like nope. I'm not gonna fuck this up. This is like the best evening of my life. The fucking greatest thing has happened to me in the last 23 years and I'm not gonna fuck it up by going on stage and fucking ruin this high.

Interviewer: Right, right.

Dave Kushner: So he's just like showing guys, other comedians backstage of him playing with Duff and Slash.

Speaker 1: That's so funny.

Dave Kushner: He gets in his car, he had a Prius at the time, he pulls out like.

Speaker 1: I remember him talking about that.

Dave Kushner: His Prius? It's funny cause if you pull out, the comedy store's like right on Sunset.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dave Kushner: So if you pull out, you're like, you have to pull to the edge to be able to see both ways.

Interviewer: Right.

Dave Kushner: And you know, people are walking by you and stuff on the sidewalk. And he says this attractive girl is looking at him. And he's thinking he's all on a high-

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: She probably wants my autograph or something whatever. And she's like kinda signaling to him and he rolls down his window and she's like, are you Ernesto our Uber driver?

Speaker 1: Night ruined.

Dave Kushner: Yeah. Womp womp womp.

Speaker 1: The universe is so humbling sometimes, it's beautiful. It's beautiful. That's a beautiful story.

Interviewer: That really is. And it's great that you get to work with him on F is for Family because it's such a cool show.

Dave Kushner: Yeah.

Interviewer: And actually, I actually wanted to start by talking about that because that was something we didn't get a chance to talk about the last time you were on the show because we talked a lot about you and bands.

Dave Kushner: Right.

Interviewer: And your career in bands, but you do have this awesome career composing music. Your work with Sons of Anarchy, but also now with F is for Family going into, correct me if I'm wrong, it's third season.

Dave Kushner: Yes.

Interviewer: Coming up, right?

Dave Kushner: Yep.

Interviewer: What is that process like? I mean you and your writing partner. You said you're playing it live, do you draw from the way that you used to write in bands? Or is it a completely different, like back to the drawing board kind of process?

Dave Kushner: It's really different.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: Because when I, so when I did Son's I did the theme song first.

Interviewer: Right.

Dave Kushner: And what was so cool about to me, which was foreign to me was the fact that you try and cram all of this information into thirty seconds.

Interviewer: Right.

Dave Kushner: You know what I mean? And then later we did a two and half minute version for iTunes. But that was because of the popularity of the song.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: But you know, it was like, there was a lot of cut and paste and we just, first chorus, we'll make this part longer.

Interviewer: Right, right.

Dave Kushner: You know, we'll do a little bridge and a little solo in the middle.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: But what I really was kinda super into was the fact of like, oh wow it's like this mini song. You don't have to think about, am I gonna do the chorus four times and then am I gonna do it eight times? Is it a double chorus-

Interviewer: Right.

Dave Kushner: On the way out, or do we go out on the chorus? Is there an intro? Do we need to do the... you know, it's like you're cramming all this information into such a small space that, I don't know, it's just really cool to me. It's like, you think of a hook, and you think of a little bit of stuff before and after, and that's it.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: So, it kinda just shifted everything for me and after I did that I did my first actual composer job where I was doing all the underscore of this ABC show. It was a cop show, so it was an hour long cop show, so it was just all full on underscore.

Interviewer: Oh yeah.

Speaker 1: Oh okay.

Interviewer: Really setting the tone.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, really trying to set the emotional tone of what was happening.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: Like some guys partner just got killed or whatever.

Speaker 1: So do you get the scenes and then-

Dave Kushner: Yeah.

Speaker 1: -you have to put the music under that?

Dave Kushner: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Okay.

Dave Kushner: Basically the process is, and I didn't know any of this dude when I went into that first show-

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: -I did it with a buddy of mine, John, and he had done it before. And he... so we, basically you go to what they call a spotting session. So they do a locked version which means we're not going to change it anymore.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dave Kushner: Okay, there's no more editing, this is it.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: They have a time code stamped on it and they'll say... and then you sit in a room with the, whoever's the most music focused guy, whether it's a producer or the director. Typically not the director but usually a producer or the creator whatever.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: And so you'll all sit in a room and you'll basically watch the episode. And then you take notes and you go by the time code. And you just say like, oh and they'll temp in a lot of stuff. Like the editors when they're editing, they'll put in temporary music.

Interviewer: Like clips of stuff to like give you an idea?

Speaker 1: Give you an idea, give you a starting point.

Dave Kushner: Yeah cause the dude will say, the creator comes in and says my overall tone for F is for Family is, it all takes place in the 70s, I want blah, blah, blah. But I want some.

Speaker 1: Badawa pedals.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, but I want also like orchestrated stuff because one of the guys, the co creator was from the Simpsons.

Interviewer: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Dave Kushner: So he likes a lot of actual orchestration and shit.

Speaker 1: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Dave Kushner: So they'll come in. They'll say this is the vibe overall. And the editors usually have big libraries and drives full of all kinds of music.

Interviewer: Right.

Dave Kushner: And they'll find stuff, and they'll sort stuff. So they'll just put in a bunch of stuff, you know, in scenes. And you'll watch it and then they'll say like oh, this is good except it's too schmaltzy. Or this is too dramatic, or this gives away the fact that this guys gonna lose his dog or whatever. So you just sit there and you take notes. Then you're just like, oh you want it to start at 11:33 and you go and you sit there and you write all this shit down. Then you go back to your place and you make a list of okay, these are all the scenes and you just start knocking down the list.
The first season we did it all together and now because everyone's trying to get more work and do other things too, I pretty much we talk on the phone, me and Vince-

Interviewer: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Dave Kushner: -but we basically get the list. We do the spotting session and then we just say like, okay I'll do 6, 9, 12-

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: -13, 14, and 12 you know, whatever. And then he'll be like, okay cool or well I want to do this one. And then that's it, I'll just do it all here.

Speaker 1: So you kinda split up the work with him?

Dave Kushner: Yeah.

Speaker 1: And you do it all here?

Dave Kushner: Yeah.

Speaker 1: That's awesome.

Interviewer: That's awesome. That's really cool. Is it any different because of the medium? It's an animated show, so are the cues a lot shorter because it's...?

Dave Kushner: Not necessarily. I mean sometimes, like for instance, this is a pool party, and they want, they're like oh we need something that sounds like the Beach Boys.

Speaker 1: Oh my God is this from the third season?

Dave Kushner: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Oh my God.

Interviewer: Yeah, so, we'll definitely cut this.

Speaker 1: Yeah, we'll definitely cut this out, but this is so cool for me right now.

Dave Kushner: So like I'll get like a master, I'll get the whole episode, right?

Speaker 1: Right.

Dave Kushner: I'll get this list. Am I giving you too much detail and drawing this out too long?

Speaker 1: No.

Interviewer: No, not at all.

Dave Kushner: Are you sure?

Interviewer: Yeah, no, I'm really curious about this.

Dave Kushner: Okay, so I'll show you. Wait.

Speaker 1: No, this is very exciting for us.

Dave Kushner: This is, for instance, the... okay 3:08. For instance-

Speaker 1: Ohhhh.

Dave Kushner: -This is the sheet. These are all the cues from episode.

Dave Kushner: ... the sheet. These are all the cues from episode eight of the third season, 308.

Jeff: All right.

Dave Kushner: So there's 26 pieces of music. Now some of them are ... you know this one is almost a minute. This one's almost 42 seconds. There's some that are like five seconds long. There's some that are ... This one's 20 seconds, this one's ... Some are two minutes. Sometimes they're three minutes.

Jeff: Wow.

Dave Kushner: Sometimes, like there's one here, where is it? There's like a long one because it's like at a cocktail party, so it's basically just the background music. Right here, cocktail party, 3:20, so this one is two and a half minutes. And it's just like lounge music at a cocktail party.

Jeff: Yeah.

Jeff: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: So this is basically it's a pool party and they wanted something that sounds like the Beach Boys, right?

Jeff: Right.

Dave Kushner: So then they'll have all the notes and it's like, here's a start time, here's the end time that matches with that time code. And then it'll say, "Source from speakers, bad Indian music." Or this one just says, "Radio's on. Happy rock music, mid-60s vibe." But in the notes it said, "Beach Boys."

Jeff: So do you put the effects on it to make it sound like it's coming from an old radio here or does somebody else ...

Dave Kushner: No, because that's a music editor. Because typically if I do that, then it's stuck like that, and then they can't uneffect it.

Jeff: Okay.

Dave Kushner: So I usually just ...

Jeff: Send raw tracks.

Dave Kushner: Yeah. So then this is the scene with just what's in there. There's no, I didn't think they temped any music, but like, oh yeah that's the temp music and that's that and then, I'll do this. (Music Playing)
And them with no vocals and ...

Jeff: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: So basically, so that's it.

Jeff: That's so cool. So you must pool from a lot of different influences throughout your time line.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, and they have a lot of stuff that they want, you know like as far as, as far as like specifics, like with that. They want the Beach Boys or with you know, I've heard there's this kid that plays guitar and he's like oh,"we want like [inaudible] or we want the song on the background of Vic's radio station to be like an Almond Brothers song." Or we want, and there like the one guy, Mike Price, who is the other co-creator, who works, still works on the Simpsons, he's a writer and he, he is very of that Simpsons mindset. So he's very like you know, he'll say, "Oh, I want this thing the gossamer wings" and like a lot of like very, you know, eclectic, but also like old standards that half of them I don't know, by my buddy Vince knows.
We need this thing from, whatever. So, like Dave Geraballi blah blah blah, whatever it's and its cool. It's varied and it's cool because you have to write in a different way. You have to write for the emotional effect of the scene, which is totally different than writing.

Dave Kushner: You know, it's taken me a long time to get out of the way because I came in as guitar player, and it's like, but when I did that first show, I was doing a lot of stuff with, you know, not since, but like a lot of pads and like a lot of mini stuff and not playing any guitar. I did a show.. Because like Wild West, which is Vince Vaughn's company, that does this show, I did the show called "Sullivan and Son," that was like on 3 seasons, it was like "Cheers." It was a comedy and you know like, I didn't play any guitar in that show for like 2 cues. I did like, I got a mandolin and I learned how to play a bunch of chords and you know, wrote every cue with like mandolin and you know Vince did the accordion and it was like accordion, because we did the theme song and it there like we want every piece of music on the show to sound like that band was playing the music.

Jeff: Okay

Dave Kushner: And so, it was like accordion, drums...

Jeff: It's almost like acting at that point.

Dave Kushner: Yeah.

Jeff: You have to like put yourself in somebody else's shoes

Dave Kushner: Yeah.

Jeff: And act like them, but you are doing it musically.

Dave Kushner: Exactly.

Jeff: That's so cool.

Dave Kushner: But your acting like yourself acting like someone. But yeah, it's great man. It's like it changes and you know, sometimes it's stressful in a really different way than being in a band. You know, It's like you know you have a deadline and you have to make this and you can't think of anything. Like there have been nights where you know especially when you do like network stuff, like that show I did was ABC and its like you have a deadline and it's like a big deal and it's fucking stressful. You know and your like it's like 3 in the morning and your like "Oh my God, I have 2 more things to finish" and "I do not know what to do and this sounds like shit" and your the only one there sitting there like one in the morning, like "Oh my God, what the fuck and I going to do."
You can't just give up. You gotta fuckin finish it. So..

Jeff: Drink more coffee.

Dave Kushner: Drink more coffee, Yeah!

Jeff: Jease louise.
Do you ever get, especially with a deadline like that, do you ever like turn something in and get a note back like do you ever have to change something?

Dave Kushner: Yeah. Yeah.

Jeff: That's got to even add to the stress. Then like.

Dave Kushner: You know it's funny because I was thinking about it today, I was finishing, I finished yesterday all my stuff for that episode, 308, so we have 2 episodes left to do music for the 3rd season, [inaudible] for family. It actually alleviates some stress because, look at the end of the day you are on a team, you know, and you are trying to help everyone get to the finish line for their vision. It's not like a precious thing where your like this is my music. It's a representation of me. It's not. You are providing a services and you know, they want me and Vince to, they like what we do, but, you know, I'm fucking dumb and just part of a team. So, in that respect, you learn to just be less emotionally...

Jeff: Emotionally.

Dave Kushner: Yes, thank you. I will interview him. You know, but you also know that there's notes or the possibility and you are not a mind reader and they can change it just because. It's not usually one person. Sometimes they will send episodes to Netflix and Netflix will say, you know what this thing, it's typically not music, but it can be, "we don't want music here at all". Well, it might be some cue that I labored over for a whole day from one minute thing, you know, with a bunch of strings and orchestration and shit, but also when I start to get like that, especially now that I have been doing it a while, I just get like send me the end dude, don't tweak out on the perfect base part or whatever. Your like, just send it. You know you are going to do thousand more of these kind of things. If they like it cool. If they want you to change it, you change it.

Jeff: It's not going to be anybody that's like driving the base line in that scene? You know watching it as viewer. [crosstalk]

Dave Kushner: Because I don't hear it.

Jeff: Exactly, you mentioned that you for that one moment you bought a mandolin and learned some chords and starting writing stuff on a mandolin, is there like, what's the weirdest instrument you've had to put in to composing music? Is there like something just crazy that was asked of you?

Dave Kushner: A Theremin.

Jeff: Yeah, Is there anything like...

Dave Kushner: Shoe box guitar, maybe.
There's a lot of, not anything I can think of like. I mean you know because, there's so many like.. The thing is to, I think as a musician that's interested in other instruments, like once I had the mandolin and then like the cigar cig-fiddle, they call it, I definitely start, you get a bug, you know, then your like oh I want to get a fucking, I got to get a ukulele, but there are different size ukuleles.

Jeff: That's what I would do. I would be going into weird music stores finding like weird rattlers.

Dave Kushner: There is this place called McCabe's on, if your on the west side at all like toward Santa Monica while you guys are here, it's like those kind of instruments. It's like eclectic, weird like triangular shaped mandolin. You know like weird. You know like every weird instrument you have seen like every country band guy playing. All those instruments exists there. That's where I went to get a mandolin. That's where I went to get...

Jeff: That sounds like fun though.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, it's totally fun, but I, for me, I just didn't, the thing is they are so specific sounding. I think the one thing that stopped me down that road was I, so the first season I did "Sullivan and Son", I borrowed a mandolin from this dude. It was like an ovation so it looked like a mini-ovation acoustic [crosstalk] an everything. So I did the first season like that and then the second season I was like, "I'm going to go to McCabe's and I'm going to buy like a really good mandolin." So I buy this mandolin and I swear to God, I did the first episode and their like, "This sounds different, it's like what's different about this like musically? Are you using something different? This just doesn't sound right." I was like I used a different mandolin. "We like the old mandolin."

Dustin: Oh my God.

Jeff: So they had just gotten used to the old mandolin sound?

Dave Kushner: Yeah, because it just, I mean I guess it's just if you listen to a really old vintage guild acoustic versus a plastic backed ovation. There going to sound really different. They were used to that sound. They did know anything, they weren't like super musical guys, they were just like it sounds different and we like that sound and we want it to be consistent with the first season. So I had to go and find, so I had to return that and then find an ovation acou on eBay and...

Jeff: That doesn't sound like fun.

Dave Kushner: It steered me away from jus buying a bunch of instruments, which you know, like...

Jeff: It's probably for the better.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, and plus with any kind of, and there so much stuff now in virtual instruments that makes it great like companies like, Made of Instruments or whoever that make so much killer stuff that you can really get like an incredible sounding.. You know..

Jeff: Harmony keyboard.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, or..

Jeff: It's really impressive.

Dave Kushner: Like Arturia that company makes killer all kinds of keyboards, like moves and Farfisa and Clabernets and just so you don't really have to go out and I mean it's always cool when you go to a place and there like, and Vince has a lot of that stuff, keyboards and you like "Oh, that's cool."
I don't know. I just said I would rather spend it on shoes or something or just virtual instruments where you just you know, where you are not because it's very specific. That cig-fiddle sounds like one thing. That mandolin sounds like one thing. Then you just constantly buying. You know, I guess it's like shoes. You know, its like you only need one pair of shoes for running and one pair for, but I have fucking 40. You know, because it's like I like those and I like those.

Dustin: I'm the same way with Nike running shoes. I probably have 10 pairs of this shoe in different colors. Sometimes when we do mug releases, I'll buy a pair of shoes in the mug color and I will take pictures of it. It's weird. [crosstalk] We all fucking do it. We all have a thing.

Dave Kushner: Jeff is shaking his head because he knows.

Jeff: It shoes or it's comic books or baseball hats. Whatever it is, everyone has got their thing.

Dustin: Do you still find yourself, you have a plethora of instruments in the studio and I know you have even more in your house. Do you find yourself buying guitars on a whim from time to time?

Dave Kushner: That I do. I still cause it's like...

Dustin: You can't take that away from you.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, cause in my head I'm like well I might use that thing for one cue on one episode, but like, you know, the mandolin if I got to use it for a whole season, I'm going to buy one and guitars, I am always going to use them. So, you know, like my buddy Brian plays in Paul McCartney's band and he that black SG is his signature model and it's a killer because it's got split..

Dustin: Love that millibar.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, what's cool about that is that you can take that whole thing off, just off the top without unscrewing it. It's like, it's got these build in medal saddles basically that sit there. If you take all the strings you , you could just basically take it off and then it comes with the other stop tail piece the regular SG's come with. So it's got that and then it's got series parallel push pull pots on both pick ups and it just sounds killer. So, you know, I always wanted and SG in that palm blue color. Every once in a while, and you know what I have guitars in storage that are sitting forever and I'm like I am never going to play that thing so I will sell that and then get.. That's like my way of doing it. Well if I, sell this then I can get that.

Jeff: It's not like they depreciate in value too much. I mean..

Dave Kushner: Yeah, if you get the right ones. Especially.

Jeff: Is there anything you don't have that you would like to get as far as guitars and bases?

Dave Kushner: I mean, I'm sure there is a bunch. You know, I would love to have a Rickenbacker base. I'd love to have...

Jeff: Especially when you are doing like 70's stuff. You should have a Rick in here.

Dave Kushner: Dude there was a scene that I just did yesterday and there's a band in the scene [crosstalk] and it look so like it was an exact version of it. So..

Jeff: It is such a signature sound to there is nothing that sounds like a Rickenbacker.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, and it's like I'm not..You know, I'm a guitar player, but I love playing base and there's those Lakeland bases. Have you ever played those? Those are killer, I would love to have one of those.

Jeff: Those are nice.

Dave Kushner: The Blob Glob model is killer. They're just like "P" bases.

Dustin: All of our listeners and viewers, this is Christmas list for Dave. Please send your guitars and bases.

Dave Kushner: The go fund me.. I mean like I would love to have an Explorer. I'd love to have a Flying V. I'd love to have...

Jeff: You don't have a Flying V?

Dave Kushner: I don't.

Jeff: That's insane.

Dustin: That's insane.

Dave Kushner: I know.

Jeff: You need one with the diamond stud medal. It looks like the back of a jeep. Diamond Plate.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, with etched in flames.

Jeff: Is the only composer work you doing now for family or do you have other composer work that you are working on?

Dave Kushner: I always do something, like I did. Right now you mean?

Jeff: Yeah, and obviously stuff you can talk about.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, I mean I always do you know like dude, every job I get I have gotten through people I knew. You know and it's like at the end of this block and you guys go out and drive to the end there is a dead end and go about 6 houses down. My neighbor is a producer and I was walking my dog with my kids and he's like you did....

Dave Kushner: And I was walking my dog with my kids and he's like, "Hey, you did Sons of Anarchy, right? Because I have this show, American Grit, and maybe you could do the theme song for that." And I was like, "Okay, cool." And then we got along good and there was this like, I shouldn't say this because there's like maybe some serious animal lovers on this show, but I killed this rattlesnake with this guy because it was right in front of my yard and there were all these kids coming over. There was a rattlesnake.

Jeff: You're a hero.

Dave Kushner: Okay. There was a rattlesnake. I swear to god, this big. I have pictures. It was this fat. And the neighbor, this producer guy came over, and knocked on my door. Him and his wife and they was like, "There's a fucking huge rattlesnake right in front of your house." There was kids coming over for a play date. My kids were like six and four.

Dustin: And you've got a dog and ...

Dave Kushner: Yeah, it's like I'm afraid the snakes going to get through and be in the backyard where the kids ...

Jeff: Totally.

Dave Kushner: So his wife is like a crazy, competitive archer. So you go to the end of the block and there's a cul-de-sac and sometimes you'll go out there and she has one of those bows that's like got the long thing that sticks out for a balance and it's got like 20 pulleys on it. It's got it's own stand. It's like six feet tall. What she does is she opens her garage and she has the competitive target inside of the back of the garage, and she stands out in the middle of the cul-de-sac and just shoots arrows into her garage for target practice. So that's like how I first met them.

Dustin: Like, "Hi, what are you doing?"

Dave Kushner: It was badass. So she comes back. She has these snake boats. They're actually boats for walking in tall grass and like ivy and stuff.

Dustin: Oh, they're not made out of snakes. They're made to protect you from snakes.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, and snakes can't bite through them. So she comes back with her snake boats. I'm like, "Dude, you have a flat head shovel because we'll have to like hit the thing and we'll just like and chop its head off." So that's how he and I became friends, and then the TV show thing happened. And then I did American Grit. So right now, he has a show on CBS called Pink Collar Crimes that just came out. So I did some music for that. I'm doing this theme song for the NFL Network for Thursday Night Football, which is what I'm doing now, which is coming out for this season. And then I'm going to do some other stuff because I became friends with the creative director for NFL Network. So I'm doing some other music. I'm going to try and do this kind of all star thing. Some more music for the playoffs.

Jeff: Awesome.

Dave Kushner: So yeah, it's just always working.

Jeff: Always busy.

Dustin: And you're always making new connections that always need music for something.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, I mean, everybody needs music.

Dustin: I mean, that's why somebody lives in LA, right? Because you're always going to be talking to somebody who's doing something that you may be able to be a part of it, and then everybody stays ...

Dave Kushner: I mean, it's trippy for me because it's like I was born and raised here, like in Hollywood basically.

Dustin: Oh, interesting. Yeah.

Dave Kushner: So it's like that's just my life. So it's just funny to see The Transplants and the people come in for that reason where it's like I'm just here anyways. I know a lot of those people because Slash and I went to junior high together. Joey and I were in Wasted Youth together and Blasco. It's like we were all in these little bands that would play with Tool or Rage or whatever, and it's like we just all know each other because we've all just seen each other for years. So it's just different. It's trippy to see ... It's kind of sad I guess. Now that I have kids to see people come with expectations of wanting to pursue those kinds of dreams and then they don't get it. They're like, "LA sucks."

Dustin: Not everybody's going to succeed, whether you're talented or not.

Dave Kushner: Exactly.

Dustin: It's just the way it goes, but you got to put the work in if you really want it. Sometimes you're not going to make it, and you have to be aware of that when you first set out. You may not succeed at first or second or third or fourth or fucking ever. But you got to try it if you actually want it.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, and you got to ... And, dude, you see so many people like ... I mean, I respect the guy that works as a waiter who's an actor. I respect the guy that works and pays his way instead of just not doing anything and then complaining that you're not getting work because you're putting so much ... Like that was a big lesson for me early on was like you can't put this monetary pressure on your art.

Jeff: Right.

Dave Kushner: Because this it suffers and it just becomes shitty and you get resentful at the art. But it's not ... Or the people that are preventing you from doing your art. But it's like you got a job, then it doesn't matter really because you're still making money. You can pay for ... You can go on dates. You can put gas in your car. You can show up for your life in a different way. I don't know. That's just a big thing for me because I see a lot of people fall into that trap.

Dustin: Well, I've always heard the opposite of like, "Don't have a plan b. If you want to make it as a musician, just be a musician and that's it." But that's a really interesting perspective where if you hang everything up on your musicianship, you're anchoring your creativeness. I mean, creativeness is a channel and the more filters you put into that channel, the less you're going to get the essence of what you're trying to do and hanging up everything on that music career, you're going to fuck it up. That's really interesting.

Dave Kushner: Well, it's funny. A friend of mine said to me once, he's like, "Look, dude." And he's an actor. He's like, "Look, I'm going to act. You're probably going to be an old man playing guitar on your porch. You're always going to play guitar. You're a guitar player, but if you get to make a living at it, that's the gravy."

Jeff: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: But you already have the thing. You already love to do the thing, so do the thing. But you don't have to ... Because for me it was I was going to ... My plan B was to join the set builders union because I used to do art department on sets, and I loved doing it.

Jeff: I did it in college. It was fun.

Dave Kushner: It's killer, dude. I would do it today. Some days I'm like, "Ah. I should do that when I'm not ..." I'm in between jobs but them I'm like, "Ah. I don't need to fuck up my hand." Because it's hard work.

Jeff: Oh yeah.

Dave Kushner: You wake up and your hands, you can't even open them, and it's like brutal. Then I'm like, "I'd only make ... Maybe I won't."

Jeff: Maybe I won't.

Dave Kushner: But I have a lot of friends that still do it, and it's ... But that was my plan B. When my grandmother was like, "Oh, well what are you going to do?" When I got on Velvet Revolver, I was 35. Up until then, I was just ... I always had a job working somewhere. So I built sets and then it was like, "Well, what are you going to do?" I'm like, I actually said to her, "If I don't make it by the time I'm 35, I'll join the union and I'll fucking just build sets," because I like doing that. That's my ...

Dustin: Which is not a bad path.

Dave Kushner: No, it's awesome. It's a creative. You get to work with great people. You get to travel. You're on sets. The job doesn't stay the same all the time. It's rad. So that was my deal, and literally it was like two weeks before ... I literally was going to borrow the money from my dad to join the union, which was like $2400. And that's when I get in Velvet Revolver.

Jeff: Oh my gosh.

Dave Kushner: So literally, and I had just met my wife. We had been going out like a month.

Dustin: That's some awesome.

Jeff: Like your whole life shifts at that point.

Dave Kushner: Yeah. It was crazy, dude.

Dustin: And at 35, that's really ... I mean, that's weird. That would be like from two years from now where I feel like I have everything set, but it could just take a turn. You never know.

Dave Kushner: Well like my buddy Brian Ray, it's like that was really inspiring for me because when he got in Paul McCartney's band, it was like 10 years ... No, it was 2002 or '03, and like he was 40-something. It's cool because it's like you just never know what's going to happen. I don't know where ...

Dustin: Just got to be ready for it.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, I don't know where my next gigs coming from. I don't know if there's going to be seasons four for sure. I don't know. But I know that when I just show up and I do the work, like you said, and have ... And, like I said on the last thing, it's like if I show up with that attitude, I'm here to be of service. I'm here to help you guys. I'm here to help whoever. I'm showing up and I'm fucking getting in. I'm getting my hands dirty and whatever. Then my experience has been things work out.

Dustin: Yeah.

Dave Kushner: You know what I mean? So for me that's just where I got to try not to overthink things.

Dustin: Yeah. Sweet spot.

Dave Kushner: Yeah.

Jeff: I think that's the way, and we talked about this before, I think that's the way that everyone should think about life, especially when you're pursuing a creative endeavor because there's so much, like you said, there's so much weight put on I need the money, I need the fame, I need whatever it is. If you want to create, if you want to be creative, whether it's building a set or playing guitar or whatever, just do the thing, like you said, and it'll come whether you're 20 or 30.

Dustin: Or it might not, and that's fine too.

Jeff: 70. Yeah.

Dave Kushner: Or it comes like ... When I learned ... I mean, it's just like when you ... And it's always cool like in hindsight. When you see like how it went from I was writing songs by myself and I just gotten a computer. I borrowed $800 from the production designer that I was working on sets for. I was like, "Dude, I need to get a computer." Logic Four had just come out. My roommate had a version of it, and I would just tweak out and write like songs by myself and get really into it. Then I met Mikey Fitz from Fitz and The Tantrums just somewhere locally. This was like in 2000 or something, way before that band. We just got along good.
I was like, "Dude, I got these things. You want to sing on it?" He started singing on it. Then I did this other tour in Duff's band opened for the band I was doing. It was in Japan, and Duff and I got along good. Then we started like hanging out. Then I was like, "Dude, I'm doing this project." He's like, "I want to do that." And then it was me, Joey, and Duff, and Mikey Fitz. We were going to do this thing, and then he called me. We were in the studio making some like a demo for that project, and then he was like, "Ah, dude. I think I'm going try this. Try this thing with Slash and Matt. We just jammed with the two dudes from Buckcherry." I was all fucking bummed. I was so bummed. I was like, "Ah, just going to be in a band with Joey again." It was like I thought like, "Okay. Well, that's it. That's that thing." And then two months later, he's like, "Dude, you got to come down."
So you just fucking never know.

Jeff: Did that project ever have a name?

Dave Kushner: I think we called it Chopper Read.

Jeff: Chopper Read?

Dave Kushner: Yeah. There's that ... Have you ever seen that movie?

Jeff: No.

Dave Kushner: Duff's a big reader. So that's how we first started hanging out because he would read all these books. Like Black Hawk Down, he read the book first, and then he's like, "Dude, you got to see this movie. I read this book." So he read this book called Chopper Read, and it's about this guy in Australia named Chopper Read who was this fucking crazy criminal. Like just jailbird, gnarly dude. And they made a movie about him and I think Eric Bana played Chopper Read. You can see it probably on Netflix or whatever. It's just a rad ... He was just such a character and a larger than life badass, gnarly criminal. We just liked the name.

Dustin: It rolls off the tongue, for sure.

Dave Kushner: Yeah. So that project was called Chopper Reid.

Jeff: That's awesome. Do those tracks still exist somewhere?

Dave Kushner: Yeah. I'm sure they're somewhere. I mean, yeah, I have them somewhere.

Jeff: Yeah. I'm sure you do.

Dave Kushner: I don't know if they're on cassette or eight track or in a computer or on a hard drive somewhere. I don't know.

Jeff: Oh, man. It happened the first time and it happened again, you are one inspiring motherfucker.

Dustin: Yeah, dude.

Dave Kushner: Ah, thanks.

Dustin: I'm moved, seriously.

Jeff: After the first time we had you on the show and we talked to you, I left that show just wanting to ...

Dave Kushner: Crying.

Jeff: Not crying, no. I left that show wanting to go seize the day and do all sorts of awesome stuff, and you did it again.

Dave Kushner: Ah, thanks, man.

Jeff: I thoroughly enjoy talking with you, and I can't thank you enough for inviting us into your studio in your home and being on the show again.

Dave Kushner: Yeah.

Jeff: It was so amazing.

Dave Kushner: Yeah. Thanks. I mean, I think sometimes that's part of why I do these things because it's like I have to hear myself say it. You know what I mean?

Jeff: Yeah, I totally understand.

Dave Kushner: To re inspire myself or to be like, "Oh yeah. Oh yeah, that's how I think of things and that's why I do things that way or to tell ..."

Jeff: I totally get that.

Dave Kushner: You know what I mean?

Dustin: I think that's why podcasting in general has become such a phenomenon is because people love recounting and re experiencing and really delving into their own thoughts. How many times do you sit down with somebody without going through your Twitter for hours and just having a deep discussion about your life? It just doesn't ever happen except for now that podcasting exists and we get to have these awesome moments like this.

Jeff: That's the truth.

Dave Kushner: Yeah, and you guys, honestly, it's like when we first talked about it, just through emails, it was cool because when I really dug into like all your guests, it's so varied and kind of eclectic. It's just really cool. It's like the guy ... Because I grew up just doing art. I didn't play guitar until was 15 or 14. I was just full on art kid, just drawing all the time. I wanted to like draw comic books for a living. So I was an only child. I was super into superheroes and this and that. I'll go see all those Marvel movies, all the DC movies. Even if you tell me they're terrible, I'll go anyways.

Jeff: Me too.

Dustin: This guy.

Dave Kushner: So it's like into ... So when I saw just from astronauts to comic book people to ... It was just really cool.

Dustin: Thanks, man.

Jeff: Thanks, man. We want to create a good show and we want to have a good conversation and talk to interesting people.

Dustin: But more than anything, for me, personally, these moments, like Jeff said, it's inspiring.

Dave Kushner: Oh, cool.

Dustin: It's elevating. I mean, we're friends with an astronaut. It's so weird. I never thought that would happen in my life, and it's ...

Jeff: All because of this.

Dustin: Elevating is the best word for it because I just feel like it lifts me and makes me want to lift the other people around me and it just so happens to be tied to a cool company that we work with.

Jeff: Heck yeah.

Dustin: We get to do awesome things like this. So thank you very much, man. Like Jeff said, thank you for inviting us into your house and your awesome studio and letting me play on your guitars a little bit. It's so cool, man.

Dave Kushner: Right on.

Dustin: Cheers.