Dave Carlock: Nicknames come a bit loaded

Published 12:44 pm Friday, March 29, 2013

Nicknames. I get a lot of nicknames.
A lot of people don’t understand the bonding that goes on between those who work together in rock n’ roll. Once respect has been earned, camaraderie often culminates in the creation of a nickname. Depending on its creator, the nickname is usually anything from flattering to amusing; but if it comes from someone in the UK, it’s quite likely to be the type of thing that would shock your mother.
An Irish guitarist in a band from Dublin that I’ve been checking out recently gave me not only a nickname, but a PIMP-name. I thought it was hilarious, but one of my friends sounded downright concerned when I shared with them my newest street identity. I realized once again that normal, well-adjusted people of the world don’t understand the world of rock.
Granted, if this guitarist worked in corporate America and dubbed a co-worker the same PIMP-name, he would quite possibly be fired or, at the very least, sent to sensitivity training. But it’s all about perspective. In the world of rock, I wouldn’t have gotten a PIMP name at all if this person hadn’t respected me. I simply wouldn’t have been worth his effort. And so, I proudly accept his statue of honor, cast as it may be in fiery furnaces of molten profanity.
Even in Ozzie and Harriet’s suburbia, nicknames have always been a term of endearment —even if it was something head-scratchingly weird for a young boy like “Beaver.” But I’ve usually faired better than that. I’ve been previously dubbed “Carspock,” because of the logical, stable engineering demeanor I typically needed to assume working with livewire punk rockers. When they considered my speedy work in the studio as something magical, Blink-182 dubbed me “Warlock.” I was often surprised to hear their management call me “Warlock” in meetings, too, so when it comes to nicknames, one always hopes for a good one.
After pulling rabbits out of my hat a few times while producing her EP, singer Jackie Ray started calling me Willy Wonka. I thought this was kind of an odd nickname, but OK. I suppose he and I both like purple. But after time passed, I realized he and I did share a lot of the same attitudes. Just as Wonka tested all of the contest winners with the ability to respect his factory’s rules, I view how artists react in all situations as tests. Can they respect my boundaries? Or are they just as content to step on me to get what they want? When they prove themselves, they usually get a friend for life and the entirety of what I’m able to offer them, just as Charlie did from Wonka when he proved his character. I have to trust the artists I get behind implicitly. I also need to know who the problem children are and move away from them as quickly as possible. Life is too short.
Perhaps the favorite nickname given to me was from one of the most important people in my professional life, my mentor, the late Greg Ladanyi (Jackson Browne, Don Henley, Toto). Every day I walked in the studio, he greeted me in a giant voice as “SuperDave!” That was always a good way to start a day, unless he was smiling at the same time. If he was, I knew something was up and I had to fix it. Even so, being called “SuperDave” made the fixing easier.

Goes both ways
Then one day, I realized how many of the people I liked, loved or respected got nicknames from me.  My great friend and L.A. drummer Chris DeLisa has several, including DePizza, DeSheen, Crispy Dawg, Chris D. Loops, Deeelish and more. The more nicknames someone gets from me, the higher I hold them in esteem.
My assistant engineers all got nicknames from me, too: Nick Major, a gregarious passionate musician as well as budding engineer, became “Nick Majority” or “Nick Majoritus.” Now he’s called Private Major in the U.S. Marine Corps. I took to calling the shy and talented David Williams “Switzerland” because of the way he astounded everyone with the absolute position of perfect neutrality whenever he was asked to weigh in on any topic, from choosing a place to eat to giving his two cents on a debate of any sort.
So in the long tradition of amazing nicknames, it’s with great honor that I humbly accept this PIMP-name from Ireland, the country of my ancient ancestors and the region I blame for my lifetime long lack of tan.
And yes, it is undoubtedly the most outrageous nickname I’ve ever been given.


Dave Carlock is a 26-year veteran of the entertainment business whose work as a recording engineer and producer, touring musician, and songwriter made him Googleable. His continuing work as an Independent Content Creator of Sound, Words & Image has earned him a Grammy Award certificate, two Platinum Record Awards, and a Paragon Award in advertising. Currently, he brings national and international artists to make records and music videos at his production studio in the Benton Harbor Arts District.