Shreddtime Stories: Dee Snider Sessions -- Not What You’d Expect

Hey, this is T.D. Clark, and I’m honored that I’ve been asked to share some of my experiences in the music industry -- as well as some of my guitar knowledge -- with the community. So with this first column, please allow me tell you a little about myself: where I’m from, the touring I’ve done, and a bit about my guitar playing, and then I’ll share some fun stories with you as well.

Shreddtime Stories CD, T.D. ClarkSome people have referred to my playing style as “shredder,” and with an album called Shreddtime Stories I can understand why. The truth though is that I think there’s more to it than that. I try to write good fun songs that anyone can listen to and enjoy.

I’ve released five albums and I’ve toured throughout North America, played in Europe, and Japan, with artists including Ted Nugent, Bad Company -- and more recently -- a couple weeks of dates with Yngwie Malmsteen on his 2014 Guitar Gods tour, that also featured guitar phenoms Gary Hoey and Ron “ Bumblefoot” Thal.

We did, I think, 11 shows along the Eastern seaboard states and one in Toronto, Canada. I routinely gig with my original band opening for national touring acts around the country and many of them here in Chicago, where I grew up and still live.

In the past few years I’ve supported Ted Nugent, Bad Company, Michael Schenker, Steve Vai, Gary Hoey, Richie Kotzen, Great White, Lynch Mob, Pat Travers, Kings X, Tony MacAlpine, and quite a few other great bands and players.

I play guitar for Gold Record Recording Artist and American Idol Star Chris Medina and New York pop star Joe Taylor. I do also play in a popular ‘80s rock tribute called Poison’d Crue,  We play in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan.

I teach guitar too, both in person and via Skype, and I also run an after-school lesson business called Guitar Fundamentals, offering after-school beginning guitar and keyboard programs in over 60 park districts and 12 school districts in Illinois, Indiana, Arizona and California.The programs are for people of all ages but I specialize in programming for kids grades K-5. 

The core of the programs is my Mars Jamzz Method Books which I wrote and designed specifically with kids in mind. The books have 4 funny Martians walking the kids through the lessons that keeps them laughing and learning. I’m looking to expand that program, so if you know a school or park district near you in need of a fun guitar program for kids, let me know. There are also Franchise and Licensing opportunities.

Dee Snider's Rock and Roll Christmas TaleI do some studio work as well, and recently I had the opportunity to do some recording with Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. He had done a holiday musical called Dee Snider’s Rock & Roll Christmas Tale for a couple of months at a theater in Chicago during the 2014-15 holiday season, and then was working on a new album here in town.

And it turned out a friend of mine was producing and writing the record. So he brought me in and the rest is history, as they say. Since a lot of my friends and other players have asked me repeatedly about the Dee Snider sessions, I figured I would address those sessions here, in blog format.

Dee Snider Sessions -- Not What You’d Expect

TD Clark and Damon RangerI got a call from Grammy-, Emmy-, and Oscar-winning songwriter Damon Ranger to play guitars on a track he was doing for a movie. It was a Country-Pop type thing which ended up being a lot of fun, and the track turned out great. I can’t say the name of the movie right now, but it’s the title track, and it’s going to be huge, so I’m pretty excited. 

While I was doing that session at CRC in Chicago I was asked by Damon if I wanted to play on Dee Snider's solo record. Damon had written and was recording and producing the songs for Dee's record and wanted me to beef up the tracks. I think he initially asked me to play lead guitar on a few songs and it kind of grew into me re-tracking several rhythm guitar parts, as well as adding licks and repeating lines, in addition to playing lead guitar parts and harmonies.

I should add that it was crazy when he first asked me to play on Dee's record. I mean I played and still play all those Twisted Sister hits in various bands, and I saw Dee testifying to Congress during the whole PMRC thing. So as far as I was concerned, it was going to be Awesome!

Damon sent me the basic tracks to start working on and I was surprised, as the songs were not what I had been expecting. They are definitely more modern but still with a Rock/Pop edge. As fate would have it, when I showed up at the studio two of the songs had been changed, so I had to re-track and come up with parts for songs I had not even heard. But it was all good. Being creative is what being a musician is all about anyway, so into the fire we went.

I’ll keep it short and wrap it up here, but this story is to be continued, so stay tuned for Part 2…
In the meantime, please check out my website, and my music, and feel free to ask questions in the forums. I’ll check in regularly and try to post some useful stuff…

Next: Back in the studio and jamming live in a club with Dee Snider.

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