"I went from the K12’s to K10’s and finally the K8’s which I use now. I wanted to see just how small a rig I could feel comfortable with. And you know what? I gave up nothing in performance and have the benefit of something so light and portable. It’s the best speaker system I've had, ever. Ever!”
“I also hooked up the K8s to my board in the studio and tried them out as reference monitors. And you know what? I didn’t want to hook my other ones back up after that. You know, the “real ones’? I’m not! You know, the K8s are just so ballsy, you know?”
Ruben: How did I come to join Weird Al? I fell on my head.
I was asked to do a Dr. Demento 20th Anniversary TV special and Al was going to be the special guest. And they had an orchestra with horns and rhythm section. I got there and I found out that the rhythm section was Al's rhythm section. I asked, 'where is your regular keyboardist?' And they said Al didn't have one. I was new in town, having been in LA for only about a year. I thought, 'okay, this is good.' they asked me to do some shtick with Al where he was supposed to poke me in the eyes and at one point, I was just supposed to go, 'oh my!' But I padded my part by falling 10 feet to the ground, onto my head… on live TV! They saw that and said, 'maybe this guy could fit in.' And here we are 20 years later.
Ruben: And yes it’s a Tragedy…I mean, history. It’s legend.
Ruben: Well, right now I have 2 K8's which are extraordinary. I first tried the K12's, and they had a ton of power. But I wanted something smaller so I went to the K10's, and found that they also blew my socks off. Then I thought, 'why not give the K8's a try?' and see just how small a rig I could feel comfortable with. And you know what? I gave up nothing in performance and have the benefit of something so light and portable. And it's the best speaker system I've had, ever. Ever.
Ruben: My keyboard rig on stage with Al has got to be high-powered, with the most current sounds that are available. I have to recreate the sounds from the current records from all the current artists. I have to recreate them exactly. It's not like your typical bar or cover band where you just play some sounds that sort of sound close. It has to be exactly right. Al won't accept anything less. So right now, my rig is consisting of a Kurzweil PC3K8, with the sampling option and weighted keyboard. I've got a Yamaha Motif on board. I also use the Muse Receptor which is the module that houses all my virtual instrument libraries. So, I've got everything going on here.
Ruben: I got my first QSC amp about 20 years ago when all other amps before then were these big monsters that weighed a million pounds and QSC came out with an amplifier, the PowerLight that delivered a ton of power but was really light. Eventually I transitioned into powered speakers but when QSC came out with the K Series I had to try them. I love these things. They reproduce the exact sound that I hear in my head, which gives me the freedom to play more expressively.
Ruben: I went to school at UC Santa Cruz, and started a funk fusion band when I got out of school with a bunch of young players that went on to do a bunch of great things. We played Yellowjackets, Lee Ritenour, Larry Carlton, all that kind of stuff. And nobody understood us. They wanted "Wooly Bully." So I said 'okay enough of that' and went down to L.A. and saw that you've got to know everything. You've got to be able to play everything. That's when I starting playing with Al - that was a lot of fun. But I had a passion for Latin Jazz. Ah, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Charlie Palmieri. And I started meeting all the greatest people in Latin Jazz and the latin jazz orchestras. Some people started playing some of my arrangements. I would take stuff like Steely Dan and other popular tunes and turn them into mambos, cha-chas - very eclectic. And that turned into VLO, the Valtierra Latin Orchestra.
Ruben: VLO is something that whenever I get the chance to be home I'm always having some ideas about. The latest idea that I'm working on is a song called "I Love You More Today Than Yesterday" by the band Spiral Staircase. I've arranged that as salsa, and it slams. I'm blessed to be able to call some of the best Latin Jazz musicians in the world my friends so when I come off the road, I ask them to come and record with me and we have a great time.
Ruben: I also hooked up the K8s to my board in the studio and tried them out as reference monitors. And you know what? I didn’t want to hook my other ones back up after that. You know, the “real ones’? I’m not! You know, the K8s are just so ballsy, you know?
Ruben: Yes, I am thinking of getting another pair just for the studio.