It might've been a long time coming, but guitarist Jon Haber has finally managed to achieve a goal he’s had since he was 6.
Haber spent much of the early Eighties in a regionally successful band before switching gears to start the successful Alto Music chain.
Haber, who never lost his knack for songwriting, finally got back on the other side of the counter as musician, songwriter and producer to release his first album, DEC3 (pronounced "deck three").
With influences that include the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen and Foreigner, DEC3’s debut is an inspired blend of tasty playing, catchy melodies and memorable choruses. Joining Haber for DEC3 are longtime collaborators Chris Saulpaugh (vocals) and Mike Kalajian (drummer).
I recently caught up with Haber to ask him about DEC3 and what satisfies him the most about making his musical dream come true.
GUITAR WORLD: What sparked the DEC3 album project?
I think it’s a crime if you’re able to do something you love and then not do it. No matter what it is. Things might get in the way when you pursue your passion, but you only get one chance in this life. So about a year ago, I decided to do something I’ve always wanted to do, and that was to write and record a real record.
Tell me a little about your Eighties band. How close were you to making it to the next level of success?
At that time we had management representing us and were playing some really big clubs in the city. Unfortunately, we were more into partying and having a good time then honing our craft. We definitely had interest, but that’s where it really stopped.
What made you decide to switch gears and start your own business?
I had always worked in music stores, and after six years of gigging and the band becoming stagnant I thought it was time for a change. So I started focusing every possible ounce of energy (and still do) into growing the business into what it is today.
Where did you get your ideas for the songs on DEC3?
Whenever I get an idea for a title or a snippet of a song, I’ll plug it into my iPhone. What usually gets me going first is a good melody and chord change. Lyrics are also very important. I think when you have good music and the lyrics are just as good, it gives the song more longevity past that first listen. It makes the whole thing better.
Let’s talk a little about the songs on the album. What can you tell me about “Put Some South in Your Mouth”?
That was the last song we recorded. I remember I was out jogging in the city one day and ran up a side street. I saw this huge sign on a barbecue place where the slogan read, “Put some south in yo’ mouth!” I thought, “Man, what a great title!” I went right back home and wrote the song.
What inspired you to write “Red Line”?
I was following what was going on in the news about Syria and how the leader of the country [Bashar al-Assad] was gassing his own people. It was such an outrageous act and something that should have stopped after World War I. Then I watched our government and the British government threatening to do something about it. Telling Assad that if he ever used chemical weapons on his own people again, that would be crossing a "red line" and we would take action. Of course, we didn’t take any action. So I put myself in the shoes of someone living there whose last hope is for the world to come and help them — and then it doesn’t happen.
What first got you involved in music?
When I was growing up I used to play Wiffle Ball with a kid who lived down the block. One day, he started talking to me about the Beatles. So I went back to my mom and asked if she had any of their albums. She had three, but the one I played the most was Meet the Beatles. I played that record non-stop and immediately started taking guitar lessons.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your job at Alto Music?
The most rewarding thing is being around music. I get to be surrounded by Les Pauls, Martins and PRS Guitars all day long. I also get to see a lot of talent come into my store. When Gavin DeGraw was 11, he would come in to my keyboard room every Saturday and sing Billy Joel songs. To see stuff like that is very rewarding.
What satisfies you the most about the DEC3 album?
This is a really strong collection of songs that appeals to a lot of different styles of music. I’m hoping this record provides the motivation to keep moving forward. Life is what you make of it. I put out a record that I’m very proud of and hope it will be a catalyst that will inspire others to do the things they’re capable of.
For more information, visit dec3band.com.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.