Paul Pesco

"My pair of K10's live with me. I take them on solo acoustic gigs and when I'm on tour with Hall & Oates I have them there too."

"For my acoustic guitar gigs, I can take one K10. It fills the room with sound. It's balanced. It's not overly directional, which is an amazing thing, cuz like with guitar amps, they're so directional - they're like a laser beam. Three or four people are telling you your guitar is too loud while everybody else in the room is like 'I can't hear it'. It really does have this incredible dispersion."

-Paul Pesco


QSC: Paul Pesco Interview

Paul: I’ve known about QSC for a while; the amps that they make, the speakers/PA systems, etc. A friend of mine was involved with a store opening in Orange County and I went in there they had this acoustic, solo musician - this guy playing guitar and singing. And I noticed, man, the sound was really full and really nice, and I went, as I always do to kind of inspect the gear and see what kind of guitar he was playing. He was playing a Martin, which was nice. And I looked over to investigate what speakers the guy was using and I saw they were the K Series. Basically, from that moment on, I fell in love with this series of powered speakers. I think they’re amazing. They sound great. They’re portable. They really pack a punch. For the size, for the price, there’s nothing better, and I truly love them. It’s funny, I was living in Costa Mesa at the time and I would ride my bicycle past the factory and was like ‘man, I want to go in there and say hi to those guys and stuff’. So, I did, and that was the genesis of my relationship with QSC.

QSC: Tell us about your guitar rig

Paul: I have a pair of K10’s, and basically they live with me. I take them on solo acoustic gigs and when I’m on tour with Hall & Oates I have them there too. They’re basically for my stereo guitar rig. I’m using a Line 6 Pod, the HD500, and I program all of my sounds there. I’m using the DT25’s, which are their amps that work in conjunction with the HD500 system. That incorporates power tubes and pre-amp, so it’s kind of the best of both worlds. Digital effects with two pre-amps and power amps. It’s really, really exciting.

Paul: My rig is still evolving. I was originally just using the K10’s direct. But now I’m going to mic the DT’s and actually use a small mixing board with my K10’s, to blend the mic sound with the direct sound. Kind of emulating what Larry Carlton put together on his set-up. It’s a really interesting way to work. On stage, with Hall & Oates it’s definitely a challenge. Some people are on in-ears. Daryl is old-school and does not like in-ears at all. Hates head phones. He wants to feel the air - he wants to feel the instruments he’s playing. But then, he needs to hear his voice in such a way so then he doesn’t have to push. And, that probably the reason his voice is in such great shape, cuz he has some serious volume on stage. This poses an interesting challenge for me being right next to his side fill; his main side fill is just incredibly loud.

QSC: Is it just vocals on his side-fill, or is it instruments too?

Paul: It’s some instruments. We have keyboards, bass, and some drums, but basically the side-fill on stage right is Daryl’s vocal monitor, and I stand right next to it. So, the K10’s end up saving my life because, I’m not using in-ears either. I end up just using an ear plug blocking the right side to just to save me from the huge side-fill.  I really depend on the K10’s to give me my guitar sound and a reference point to play. I kind of live with my K10’s. They are always there by my side. It’s funny. I talk about it on this short YouTube video I did on the road, talking/introducing my rig. I like to put the speakers right in front of me, they’re coming right off of my guitar rig. Traditionally, we always have our guitars behind us…our guitar amps behind us, and unfortunately, our ears are facing forward, so something in front of us is a much better position.  So I really like positioning the K10’s like right there in front of me. It’s almost like a personal fold back.

QSC: Tell us about your solo gigs and how your incorporate your K Series for those.

Paul: I have friends coast to coast that own restaurants. I love food, they love music and need it, so often times I will just go see my friend. I have a great friend of mine out in Long Island who owns a great steak house called Paces, and if I’m in town , they’re like, ‘Paul, come on, grab your guitar and play’ and I’ll just do that just to hang because I love it, and they’ll pay me with food. They’ve been so good to me. This is like one of my favorite places to hang. But, what I’ll do is grab even just one K10, strategically place it, and I’m there playing acoustic guitar. It fills the room with sound. It’s balanced. It’s not overly directional, which is an amazing thing, cuz like with guitar amps, they’re so directional - they’re like a laser beam. Three or four people are telling you your guitar is too loud everybody else in the room is like ‘I can’t hear it’. It really does have this incredible dispersion…I don’t quite know how they do it, but I love what it does. It’s magical.

QSC: How did you come about to start playing with Daryl of Hall & Oates?

Paul: Well, I’ve been playing in the studio in NYC since the early 80’s. It was definitely my goal to become like my heroes… Elliott Randall, Larry Carlton, Steve Lukather - these guys played on everybody’s records. I would read the credits on a Steely Dan record and go ‘wow, look at these guys… that’s what I want to do, I want to be like Larry, like Elliot, Dave Espinoza, you know?’ I’m friends with a lot of these guys now. I really was one of the lucky ones. I set out to work in the studio, and was lucky enough to get the opportunity to play on recordings and some early demos by some artists that became HUGELY famous. I did the demos for Madonna that got her signed. I worked with a group called ‘The System’ and we ended up recording and producing a lot of artists besides our own records.  I think it was in the 80’s where Daryl heard about me and my work, and had me come in and play on a demo. Murphy, the singer from The System, was writing a song with Daryl and they had called me in to come play guitar and from that point on Daryl was like ‘listen, I want you to play guitar in everything. I really love your style. You have this great blend of R&B with a rock edge’, which is perfect for Hall & Oates. It’s a ‘rock and soul’ sound. Oddly enough, I had met them years and years before. I was like, 18 years old. I knew Jerry Marotta, who was the drummer in the band for a while. He was in a band called ‘Orleans’, and he had produced this demo of this band I was in just out of high school. I ran into him on 48th street one day and I’m like ‘Hey Jerry, what’s going on?’ I had just bought a gig bag and I’m like, ‘Look man, I’m like a session guy’. He goes, ‘Hey, what are you doing? I’m going over to the Hit Factory. I’m working with Hall & Oats’. Want to tag along?’  So I’m like, ‘I’m tagging along to this session. I’m a cool cat.’

Paul: So I get to the studio, and Jerry walks over into the live room, going over to his drums. Right in the middle of the room is this Fender Rhodes, there’s Daryl Hall playing some chords on the Fender, and I’m against the wall thinking ‘this is cool’. John Oates walks over to him and they start talking to each other, obviously working on some changes. Then Jerry walks over to him so now there are all three of them standing over the Rhodes. I’m standing there, against the wall with my guitar case. All three of them look up, and Daryl and John are like ‘who are you? What are you doing here?’ ‘I’m Paul, Paul P-P-Pesco. Jerry’s Friend. He said it was ok if…’ They’re like ‘no, no, no. This is a closed session. Out!’ So they kicked me out. That was our first meeting – when I first met them. I’ve reminded them of that. Daryl and John don’t remember it of course, but I was there! I was just some random kid. But, within 10 years, they were calling me to come into the studio.

QSC: And double your rate…

Paul: Yeah, I doubled my rate (laughs). But now, I’m in the band again. Sadly, the reason I got the call was because T-Bone Wolk had passed away. He had been playing guitar and MD-ing the band. As you all know, T-Bone was the bass player for the band. He played on Saturday Night Live for years. Amazing musician, probably one of the most creative and inventive bass players I’ve ever worked with. I miss him, a lot. Well, I got the call the day after he passed away… he was working in the studio with Daryl. They had just started Daryl’s new solo album. He did this amazing guitar solo, went home, had dinner, and passed away. He had an embolism, which is like a blockage of the heart, and it happened very quickly. The next morning, I got a phone call from management. John Oats and Daryl separately recommended me and offered me the gig. So, now I’m playing guitar and MD-ing for Hall & Oates, and working separatelywith Daryl. I co-produced his new solo album which is called ’Laughing Down Crying’. It’s something I’m very proud of, so definitely check it out. And I’m also the guitar player and MD for the TV show that we have called “Live from Daryl’s House”, which plays in most markets on Saturday nights as well as available online.

QSC: And the show uses QSC as well, right?

Paul: Oh, that program uses exclusively QSC Audio Products, for our monitors and our main P.A. in the room. Definitely check the show out; it’s a lot of fun. We invite artists. The first episode featured Pat Monahan and Jimmy Stafford from the band Train. It was a great, great episode. We’ve done more than 50 episodes already and have some excellent ones coming up. I know it’s playing in about 85 – 90% of the TV markets in the country, so we are very, very excited. And very happy to be working with QSC on it.