Dubbed the “Knights of Soft Rock” by Rolling Stone, The Section is the house band that defined a generation. Working with legends such as Carol King, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Linda Rondstadt, Joni Mitchell, Crosby and Nash and many more, The Section quickly made it on the short list of top studio combos. It’s no surprise that when it came time to choose the 2018 TEC Hall of Fame recipients, The Section was also on the short list. NAMM sat down with all four members for an exclusive interview about career highlights, keys to success and surprising facts. Read on!
NAMM: How does it feel to now be a part of the TEC Hall of Fame alongside legends like Jack Douglas, Skunk Baxter, Chris Stone, Ed Cherney and others?
Leeland Sklar: It feels wonderful. I know so many that have been honored and it makes me proud to be a member of this most gifted fraternity.
Russell Kunkel: It came out of left field, was not expecting it. But the fact that we were thought of in that light is such an honor.
NAMM: What do you enjoy most about what you do?
LS: It is a profession that brings pleasure to people. Every day I get to do something that helps lift the human spirit. That is a rare commodity in this day and age. Plus my respect for all those I get to work with can’t be equaled.
RK: I enjoyed the process of creating. Whether it’s a drum part, a melody or a lyric. I also really enjoy being able to collaborate on the spot with other musicians. It really is magic.
NAMM: What would you say is the key to your success?
LS: Tenacity and hard work and the ability to get along with people.
RK: For the most part I think that it would be listening. Also having a simpatico with your surroundings. The musicians, the song, the artist, the producer.
NAMM: Was there a time that you had to really think outside the box when working on a project?
LS: Too many times to mention. Every gig is a unique experience and you, to a certain extent, have to reinvent yourself with each one. Much is easy to fall into but there are those that make you stretch and think in a very different way.
RK: To be honest I really try to think out-of-the-box every time I’m called upon to create. It’s important because most everything has already been done.
NAMM: Are there any words of advice to aspiring professionals who want to be in this industry?
LS: Patience, tenacity, community, professionalism. It is a business that can be frustrating. You have your abilities and there may not be gigs for you. Keep the passion that drove you to be a musician in the first place, meet as many other players as you can for those connections can be the difference. It is hard but rewarding.
RK: Yes, you have to be good.
NAMM: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry?
LS: I have been doing it for going on 50 years so needless to say I have seen a lot. The most dramatic was probably going from analog to digital. When MTV came along it became more about how you looked rather than how you sounded. The pendulum is always swinging.
RK: Well, two things come to mind. The first one is the music business has gone through a huge change for the most part I think not for the better. Artists are not nurtured along as they used to be. They are pretty much run up the flagpole to see who salutes them and if there is no one there, they are cast aside. I also feel that this change was prominently brought about by the advances in technology.
NAMM: How does being a part of the TEC community benefit you and your career?
LS: The TEC community is what I deal with on a daily basis depending on the gear being used. Those in the community are always striving to move things on and I love being able to experience what new technologies they create. Another wing of what I do. I find the developers a fascinating group of brilliant artists.
RK: I’m not sure about this one. But I can tell you that I am completely honored to have been given this award.
NAMM: You’ve worked with legends like Carol King, James Taylor, Crosby and Nash, and many others. What is one of your favorite memories with one of these artists?
LS: This could be a book. It’s very hard to be concise. After decades with all of them and so many more there are a lot of stories…some you can share and some you cannot!
RK: This is a hard one. I have many great memories with all of the wonderful artist that I have had the opportunity to work with. But one that is dear to my heart is the time we walked from backstage through the crowd to the center of Madison Square Garden for the troubadour reunion tour with James Taylor and Carole King. It reminded me of when fighters walk from backstage to the center of the ring. Large goosebumps on that one.
COMPLETE THE THOUGHT… Leland Sklar
Something most people don’t know about me is…I actually once did not have a beard!
I’m most proud of… My musical journey with my friends and my family.
When I’m not in the studio, you can find me…Working in the garden or on my car.
My best advice for someone in this industry is…ENJOY, ENJOY ENJOY!
One thing I have yet to do on my bucket list is…Fly in an F16 or some other current jet. I love speed and power.
COMPLETE THE THOUGHT…Russell Kunkel
Something most people don’t know about me is…I like to cook.
I’m most proud of…My family.
When I’m not in the studio, you can find me…Surfing, swimming and spending time with my family.
My best advice for someone in this industry is…You have to be good.
One thing I have yet to do on my bucket list is…Go to Africa.