Alum Carlo Ribaux: On Tour with Eric Dash and The Janoskians

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Interview by Erich Riepen

Drummer Carlo Ribaux is a talented and hardworking musician who hails from Switzerland. Since graduating from Berklee last year, he has already carved out success in the LA music scene working on various undertakings including a music video, side projects, session drumming, and touring. This fall he’s been playing drums for singer/songwriter Eric Dash, who shared a nationwide tour with Australian goofball-heartthrobs, The Janoskians. I caught up with Carlo in Boston as their tour stopped by Paradise Rock Club. Carlo invited me onto Dash’s tour bus, where we talked about auditioning in LA, being a touring musician, and people skills. Carlo was as friendly as he was savvy.

Berklee Groove: Was it your goal to be a performing musician?
Carlo Ribaux: Yes. Tours, session drumming—I love traveling.

BG: Did you practice a lot at Berklee?
CR: Yeah, I played a lot of jazz. Usually 3 hours a day, 6 days a week.

BG: How did you get involved with Eric Dash?
CR: It was through Barry Squire.
BG: Who’s Barry Squire?
CR: One of the first things I learned about trying to be a session player in LA was that you should go try out for Barry. I got in touch with people who were out there doing it at a Berklee meeting at NAMM and a very nice guy who was performing for Miley Cyrus and Madonna asked me, “Are you hip to Barry Squire? I’ll give you his email.” The guy told me you had to have three recommendations, but I just emailed Barry.

BG: What are Barry Squire auditions like?
CR: Very short notice, like two days. He wants people who don’t have too much going on. They send you one or two tracks and you play them with a band that’s never played together – usually without vocals. The audience is usually the label, management, the artist [vocalist], and Barry. Barry doesn’t make the decision who gets the gig, he just invites the people. They pay him to put together a band.

BG: Why do you think you were chosen for Eric Dash?
CR: Eric’s producer was there. I think he liked the way I lined up with the keyboard player in timing. It was a very musical choice, not like “Oh, he has the right look” or something.

BG: Talk about your role in Eric’s band.
CR: The drummer does two things: conducts the band and sets the energy or the fire for the band. As a person, I like to glue people together. I’m friends with everyone on the bus. I don’t function well unless the team is harmonic.

“Get inspired from each other rather than try to outshine.”

BG: Have people skills been important?
CR: It’s a huge thing. You want to be around people who are cool to hang with. You want to trust your team. The networking thing is very important, especially in the beginning. For the auditions, they can’t test your people skills, but you’re recommended through that. This business is way too tough to not be helping each other. I take the time out of my day to help other people because other people helped me. Get inspired from each other rather than try to outshine.

BG: What’s the rock star life like?
CR: I think people are prone to partying ‘cause you get an adrenaline kick at the show because you’re playing for 2500 people, but you can’t always party. Three of the guys in the band sing, so it’s pretty tame honestly. I have a pretty set schedule: I wake up in a new city around 10am, say hi to the people at the venue, go for a run, lunch, sound check and warm up, explore the city a bit, and then after the show go back on the bus.

BG: Why do you think you’ve been successful so far in music?
CR: Because I’m really driven. I do what I like. If I look at people who are successful, they’re the ones who just keep on doing it. I knew there were a lot of players who were better than me and I had to work hard if I wanted my goals. I’ve been rejected by Barry Squire auditions twice.

BG: As a session player, do you have a fan page?
CR: No, but I have a website. You need to have one if you want to make it. I’ve had a website for over a year now and I think it’s opened doors for me.

Check out Carlo: www.carloribaux.com/.