Arena Rock Documentary with ties to the Flathead Valley
(This article appeared in THE LIVELY TIMES Entertainment Magazine July 2012 issue)
Rock Documentary with ties to the Flathead Valley
What is the common thread between the deep sensual layers of an Arena Rock anthem, the Flathead Valley, an upcoming music documentary produced by Foo Fighter Dave Grohl, and a well-known Montana family of musicians? As it turns out, the answer is Polson resident David DeVore, multi-platinum LA record producer and engineer.
DeVore came up through the ranks of the rock and roll recording scene in the 70’s and 80’s. He worked his way up the ladder in the legendary studios of the day: Sound City Studio in Van Nuys, Sausalito Record Plant, Ocean Way studios in Hollywood, and Abbey Road in London. When the freedom of the 60’s gave rise to the mega-concerts of the 70’s and 80’s, producers, record companies, and radio stations needed to find a way to turn the hard rock of the times into a more radio friendly commercial sound. “Arena Rock” was born, combining hard rock, progressive rock, and power ballads. The new sound was highly produced and multi-layered, with haunting reoccurring melodies and memorable hooks.
In an era when analog music was king, David mastered the mysterious world of capturing sound as the natural ear hears it with the intricate science of miking drum kits and electric guitars for optimum amplification. As a producer he learned the subtle language necessary to create, on vinyl, a sound which preserved the artist’s vision. He engineered and produced many of the names synonymous with Arena Rock: Santana, Fleetwood Mac, EltonJohn, Foreigner and REO Speedwagon, earning a wall full of platinum records along the way.
In 2000, DeVore began to yearn for a slower pace, so he traded his hectic life in Los Angeles for a quieter one beneath the shadow of the Mission Mountains, moving with his daughter Hana to his present home in Polson, Montana. The next ten years would bring great happiness and great sorrow. DeVore met and married his wife Stefani, then tragically lost her to cancer five years later. Grief has a way of drawing one back to a familiar place. Returning to the mentoring of musicians and the recording of music became central to his recovery.
Several years ago, DeVore got the opportunity to listen to some demo tapes recorded in Seattle by a young rock band which had originated in LA and had been working out of the LA/Seattle area for 7 years. The lead singer and the bass player of the group happened to be the son and daughter of a well-known Montana music family. They had recently moved back to Missoula for the bass player to finish her degree at UM. The band was The House of Quist, and the music was rock and roll all the way – primal, raw, sometimes lacking the lush melodic themes David liked to hear, but the bones were all there. The songs were original, intricate, and ultimately enticing for a producer seeking a new challenge. A production relationship was formed which resulted in an eleven track CD.
The House of Quist consists of Guthrie Quist on vocals, lead and rhythm guitar, Halladay Quist, on vocals and bass, Patrick McKenna on drums, and Matt Brua on lead guitar. Multi-instrumentalist (and father) Rob Quist joins in as his schedule allows. Guthrie, exposed to opera while attending Pepperdine University on a voice scholarship, was really influenced by some of the big voices in Arena Rock, “...guys like Ronnie James Dio, Steve Perry and Meatloaf. We worked hard with David to craft a sound that could not be tied to a particular era but had a feeling of timelessness because that is what David’s music is all about. Rhiannon (Fleetwood Mac) could come out today and it would be considered current and hip.”
During the last week of the mixing process, The House of Quist’s booking office received a message from Foo Fighter founder, Dave Grohl. Grohl was trying to track down David DeVore to interview him for the upcoming documentary Sound City, about the famous recording studio where some of David’s first platinum LP’s were recorded. Grohl had come across DeVore’s name on the House of Quist website while surfing the web. Reports Variety, (to quote Grohl), “Sound City is a film about America’s greatest unsung recording studio. Deep in Californian’s sun-burnt San Fernando Valley, tucked away behind the train tracks and dilapidated warehouses, it was the birthplace of legend. It was witness to history. It was home to a special few, intent on preserving an ideal.” Grohl and Nirvana recorded their breakthrough LP Nevermind in the Sound City studios in 1991.
DeVore was interviewed several times for Sound City, which will be distributed by Roswell Films, a branch of Grohl’s label Roswell Records, and released in January/February of 2013. Reflecting on a lifetime spent working with some of the musicians who defined modern music, David DeVore recently said, ”It has been a case of being in the right place at the right time, with a large dose of good luck. Talented artists, incredible studios, and great mentors have made it possible for me to grow and develop. Again, I find myself with the opportunity to work with a young, talented, and hard-working group in The House of Quist. A bunch of great songs and an eager willingness to do whatever it takes has culminated in a solid album. Now I look forward to the next phase – getting out and playing live, because that is really what it’s all about. In the studio, we tried to capture the energy of a live performance and I feel we have done just that. I am grateful for the opportunity to once again be a part of a great musical experience and to help a young group fulfill a dream”.