When David Sancious was 6 years old, his family moved from Asbury Park to Belmar, New Jersey. A piano was included with the new house and the instant he heard his mother play, music became the most beautiful thing in the world to David. Many years later, after studying – and absorbing – everything from Chopin to Coltrane, Sancious sat in on a jam session that some guy he met at the entrance of a club had organized. Shortly after, “Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band” was born.
Since then, David has spent his life playing keyboards for many of the most iconic frontmen the music world has ever known (Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, Jeff Beck, Santana, and others). On Tuesday, June 21, at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, he embarks on the “Rock Paper Scissors” tour where he will be performing with not one, but two living legends, Sting and Peter Gabriel.
AXS gave the virtuoso keyboardist a call at 9 a.m., a time that is typically excruciatingly early for a musician. “I was the youngest of a family of five and I was always the first one up,” he stated with a warm joviality coloring his tone. “I like the morning so much that I’m usually awake before the sun is up each day. I like it because it’s very quiet and it’s beautiful. It’s a real creative time for me.”
Besides being a musician, David enjoys working in the garden. It’s a hobby that he discovered as a young boy when he used to help his mom. “I do enjoy being outside when it’s nice weather, but the winter can be tough for me with the sunlight deprivation and the cold temperatures. I’m not a fan,” he laughed.
When asked how he manages to keep his early morning schedule when he’s out on the road, David explained that with all the years he has spent performing concerts and, before that, playing clubs, he can function just fine with as little as four hours of sleep.
David flew out to Ohio on June 9 to start production rehearsals for the “Rock Paper Scissors” tour. At the time of this interview, he had already worked seven of the last eight days, preparing for the opening night.
“I’m playing with Sting, but I am also sitting in with Peter Gabriel on a few songs,” he informed. “There are multiple people who are going to be sitting in with the other band – some of the musician’s in Sting’s band will be sitting in with Peter on certain songs, and some of Peter’s musicians will be sitting in with Sting. That’s the kind of thing we’re currently fleshing out, along with which songs we will be doing because each artist has a pretty extensive repertoire.”
“There are still some surprises in these songs,” David enthused. “If you are fresh as a person, you can always bring some fresh energy to a song… even if you’ve already played it a thousand times before. It could be something really subtle, something you’ve never done before. In terms of arrangements, there have been some interesting changes that we’ve made to the songs for this tour.”
When asked how an audience might react to not hearing an old favorite performed the way it was originally recorded, David replied, “People are different, some people definitely want to hear their favorite song as their favorite song, but other people are more receptive. But honestly, the question should be, ‘Does it work for the artist?’ At the end of the day, you have to make yourself happy before you can expect anyone else to be happy. I don’t think it’s realistic to lock any artist into a format of what has to happen with something that they created. If they wrote the songs, then there’s an implicit kind of freedom to reinterpret them as time goes by.”
“What’s interesting about art – whether it’s music, literature, painting, or whatever – is watching how the creativity matures,” he continued. “Take that first expression and watch how it changes and grows and deepens over time. Look at Bob Dylan, for example, look at what he’s done over the arc of his lifetime. It’s pretty incredible. He certainly hasn’t stayed exactly the same, he’s done a lot of different things throughout his life. Some fans have been with him all the way while other fans have dropped away, but the important thing is the expression.”
In closing, David told AXS, “I’ve been going back and forth working with these two artists since the 80s and it’s been a real fascinating and unique experience. All the musicians, the crew, the management… it’s one big happy family. We all have so much history together and we all enjoy playing together so much that it’s like a big party. We’re working hard, but it’s a great work atmosphere because we’re all having a lot of fun. It’s going to be an incredible show, both sonically and visually. It’s going to be stunning!”
(c) AXS.com by Allen Foster