Three Dog Night - Pat Bautz

So when did you first hear Three Dog Night; if you were a jazz guy, did you even listen to that much rock and roll ...

My first recollection of a Three Dog Night song ... this is going to make the guys sound ancient - which is a good thing (laughs) - my first recollection of a Three Dog Night song was hearing "One" when I was about nine, at the roller skating rink. Let's see, how old were those guys in '69? I can't pick on their age though, can I?

Well, you probably can ...

(Laughter) Well, I hammer 'em all the time about ... well, I don't think I'd want to see that in print. But, I can't really say that I was a huge Three Dog Night fan in those days. I appreciated the music, I just wasn't a real pop guy in those days. I was a Miles (Davis) guy, I was a Chick Corea guy ... I was just way into that. But, that's the way I was then. I was a young player who wanted to play all the notes, and subsequently you listened to the guys who played all the notes, all the time. But as you get older, and you want to further yourself in music, and appreciate the fact of silence ... as opposed to, "Let's play some more notes!"

That sounds like something that Sandy Nelson said; something to the effect of silence could speak louder than the largest drum (NOTE: Nelson was a session drummer turned artist who had several instrumental albums in the 60s. The guitar player on those classics was TDN producer Richard Podolor - T.W.).

Oh, absolutely! And, it absolutely can. And, as I said, I didn't understand that when I was in college ... and I didn't really learn to appreciate that until much later.

So, how did you join this band?

I auditioned ... this was 1993. And I've been around here ever since, like a bad virus. You can get a shot, but I won't go away (laughs).

How did you find out about the audition?

It was several things. I had known Cory previous, and I knew (TDN agent) Robert Norman, and I knew one of the bass players who had been in the band. But, yeah, I ran into Cory ... but, yeah, that's how that came about. I think there were a lot of guys - they had at least a couple or three days of auditions back then. And there were a lot of guys I knew there.

So, when you got hired, did you just do a crash course ...

Yeah! No rehearsals. It was very cool; it was one of my favorite things to do. I got a live tape of the show they were doing at the time, and I wrote out charts on every tune. And so, at least for the first month, all I did was stare at this chart the entire time. Not that I didn't know the tunes, but you still have to count all the measures ... it was just that you want to make sure you're ending at the same time everyone else is, you know (laughs).

So that's the way you learned?

I remember one time - oh, God, I hadn't been in the band more than a week or two, and we played at a place, south of Myrtle Beach (S.C.) ... it was called the Purple Gator.


(Laughs) And ... I was readin' charts furious then. And this was about my third or fourth gig, and I lost my charts. Somehow, they got left at the club, and the next day I'm scramblin' around trying to piece together charts, because we've got to play a show in an hour. What a nightmare day that was, you know?

So you didn't go back and listen to the records to learn the songs.

You know, I didn't; I did some, to get Floyd's influence off of some, but ... they called me, and I was out in two or three days, it was that quick. I didn't have a whole lot of preparation time. So, consequently, my first few months there I did do a bit of listening to some of the original stuff. And I still go back occasionally and listen to what Floyd did on that stuff.

Floyd was very unique, wasn't he?

Oh, absolutely! He did some really cool things. And you know when I was a kid I really didn't notice it. You have to have been around a little longer, to appreciate the things he did.

So how can you have any sense of energy or spontaniety if you've got your head in a chart?

Oh, well, it does become easy to handle if you're not buried in a chart, counting measures. As many years as I've done this gig, which is - what, over eight years now - I still have a great time every time I go out to play. And my whole theory, or my whole mindset of drumming, is to be as perfect as I possibly can. And so I thrive on perfection from my playing, my own playing. And when I'm playing, and it's exactly what I intend, man, that's a great feeling. But I just had such a large quantity of material to learn at the beginning, and, granted, they had been doing shows with a different drummer who did things differently. There's just a whole different thing that you have to take under consideration.

So, what has the reaction been from the fans through the years, keeping in mind that there are some who, the last time they saw the band - or if they've ever seen the band before - Floyd was there. How have you been accepted by the fans?

Right! Oh, I've been great. Oh, since we've played so many times in so many different places, like in Texas or Oklahoma or so many places, so many of the fans have become like my friends. I like it. I remember the story, right after I first joined the band, one of the guys - I think it was Jimmy - overheard this lady going, "Oh, did you know - that guy who's playing drums - he's the original drummer's son!" (Laughs) Which I thought was pretty hilarious. I think I told Floyd that at one point, so I do - just for fun - sometimes tell people that I am "Son of Sneed."

(Laughs) I'm surprised that Jimmy didn't tell the lady that THAT couldn't be, because Floyd's Canadian.

Well, there you go, that's a thought (laughter). Ah, that's funny.

How do you put up with Greenspoon?

(Mock horror) How do I put up with Greenspoon? Greenspoon's my buddy!

I would think so.

We are the sickest individuals in the band.

No argument here.

(Laughs) Well, you know, you've hung out with us.

No argument here.

Yes. Jimmy and I are - what are we - we are the funny bone of the band. I figure if you can't be out there having a good time, then why be out there.

I could say Abbott & Costello, but Beavis and Butt-head come to mind ...

(Laughs) That's probably way more true, but I get to be Beavis, though. Jimmy is definitely Butt-head (laughs). He's gonna love me for that, isn't he? But it's great playing in the band. It's like, everybody in the band is my brother. It's not like I'm working for some guys who are some big tyrants. It's not like that at all. It's like a big family of brothers. It's fun.

So how have the arrangements changed in the time you've been there?

You know, the arrangements ... boy, that's a good question. You know, I think I brought something different when I came in the band from the previous drummer, Mike Keely, who was there before me. Mike was like a rock guy, you know, like a spandex-wearing, big-hair guy. And I brought a different thing to the band. I think, in a lot of respects, I play similar to what Floyd played because Floyd tended to use a lot of "ghost notes" in his playing.

You might want to explain that.

A "ghost note" is a ... ghosting is like where you play ... where you play subdivisions of the groove ...

I'm sure that will help.

It's like you're subdividing the groove. For instance, on a snare drum, you're playing "two" and "four," but there's all these rhythms in between that you can play, but at a very soft volume. But it helps it move along like a train. A train, like, goes (makes chugging train sound) ... it's got that thing, where you're still emphasizing the backbeat on the snare, but you're doing all these little intricate rhythms in between that people don't audibly hear all that much, but they're going, "Wow, there's something about that that makes it move." And that's that ghosting that's going on in between. And Floyd did a lot of that. Floyd was one of those cats that played that weird "back-sticking" on his (high-hats) and that kinda stuff, and it was all in between what people might think of as the important beats. It was grooves within grooves, like that.

But you do have to keep it fresh.

Yeah, but you know, I don't get my freshness out of playing some wild incredible fill somewhere. My whole mental things about my drumming and what keeps me excited about playing, is that time, that groove. That's what I really ... It doesn't necessarily mean playing some wild fill or something to keep it fresh.

Staying "in the pocket."

That's what really makes me happy, or satisfies me, or whatever word you want to use for that. It's the perfection of the groove ... (laughs) That's kind of "out there" isn't it ... it's the perfection of the groove, man.

Sounds like Sammy Davis, Jr.

And I MEAN that, man.

So have you developed a new appreciation for what Michael and Jimmy have done all these years?

Oh, absolutely! Yeah; of course ... 'cause it's the little things that are important when you're playing. It's the little things that make big things, it's the little things that make the overall picture what it is.

And, how do these symphony (concerts) change your approach?

Oh! Those are cool. Lately I've been using electronic drums ... Obviously, acoustic drums, for the violin players sitting behind me, there would be so much volume in his (microphone) that you probably wouldn't be able to hear the guy playing his violin. So while electronic drums wouldn't be my absolute choice, because it just doesn't feel as good when you're playing. Being a technical guy, I totally agree with the fact that I have to make a small compromise to make that happen, to make the overall picture of the band... you can hear the symphony great ... what I have to change in the way I play is very minute. So, that's why I'm doing that. And that's a choice I made purely to make that thing better. We tried it with acoustic drums and put glass all around, but it didn't work. But, that's one of the reasons why we use in-ear monitors. There's not those large, gigantic speakers blowin' my drums back at me or Jimmy's keyboards back at him or Danny's vocals back at him. Plus, it's way better for your hearing. Now that everybody's (using) in-ear, we're quiet as a church mouse up on stage. All you can hear is a snare drum now. But, out front, it's gotta be so much superior sounding, because you have total control over what comes out of the front.

So, how many different mixes do you have to have for those in-ear jobs?

Twelve mono or six stereo.

Everybody hears a different mix?  

Everybody can hear exactly what they want to hear. Which is a great thing. Me personally, I have reverb, stereo reverb on my kit, and it sounds great! It sounds like being in a studio. It's a very pleasurable way to play. Because you're not influenced by what the room sounds like, because some rooms - not out front, but up on the stage, it just sounds brutal. Some of 'em you play and they sound great. But, usually, any place that's designed for acoustics never really sounds good on stage. Even when I played in college and symphonies and stuff like that, it always sounded bad. But out front it always sounded great.

So, what are you future goals?

Oh, losing 25 pounds ... (laughs) That's a good question ... well, I love what I do. My goal is to keep doing it as best as I possibly can to the best of my ability. Long-term goals are probably the same as most everyone on the entire planet - have a nice home and have the same things that everyone else has. Maybe having grandchildren, even though I don't have kids yet. (laughs). I have a great wife ...

She'd have to be.

To put up with me, you'd better believe it. She listens to me and she laughs at my jokes (laughs). And she's a great cook, hence the 25 pounds.

So, you can't think of a website you can mention?

Let me think here ... See, I literally have been buying and selling so much property lately, so I spend a lot of time perusing home sites. I look for great deals for buying houses to rent, because I have quite a few at the moment ... so that's kind of the "musician's retirement fund" ... (laughs) That's become my hobby, but it really isn't a hobby, because you have to put so much time into it ... so I'm running through airports with my cell phone, saying "Okay! I'll be down there next week, and I'll fix your toilet."

So, you actually fix toilets and things?

Absolutely! I'm the king. (Laughs) I'm the king of the commode! Or the commode king, how's that sound? Right in the spot I belong ...

In the toilet.

(Laughs) That's right!


(Portions of this interview originally appeared in the Three Dog Night newsletter. Thanks to Madonna Nuckolls for her assistance and cooperation.)

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