HDW Enterprises and Foothill Felines Present:

DAVE MEROS (of Eric Burdon and the Animals, and Spock's Beard) and his Bengal Cat!

Dave Meros of Eric Burdon and the Animals, and Spock's Beard

We are so pleased to be able to share this interview with our website visitors. Dave Meros is the well-known and highly respected bass player for the legendary rock band Eric Burdon and the Animals, as well as for the progressive rock band Spock's Beard. We really appreciate Dave taking the time to tell us about his life, his family, his music, and the special little Bengal kitten 'Mohawk' who has won his heart.

HDW: Dave, can you tell us a little bit about what it was like to be you, Dave Meros, growing up? Where were you born, what type of family life did you have? What were your favorite activities and interests say in junior high/high school?

D.M.: I was born in Salinas, CA (near Monterey), had a completely happy, normal family life (don't hear that much these days, do you?) with one brother who is a little over 4 years younger than me.

My father worked for Bank Of America, and they transferred him around every few years, so I got a chance to live in various parts of northern California. Moved from Salinas when I was 9 to Watsonville, then Cloverdale (on the Russian River), Calistoga (Napa Valley), and Rio Vista (Delta region of the Sacramento River). All very small towns. I played some sports in High School, mainly football, played various brass instruments in band, got good grades and was basically a nice young lad with a bit of a wild streak.

Dave Meros of Spock's Beard and Eric Burdon and the Animals, with his Bengal kitten Foothill Felines Mohawk

Dave Meros, bassist for the classic rock legend Eric Burdon, and the progressive rock band Spock's Beard

HDW: How did music come to be such an important part of your life? When did you first decide that you wanted to make a career out of being a musician?

D.M.: From High School, I went on to college at U.C. Berkeley where I majored in business and played in the U.C. Jazz Ensemble. When I was about 20, a friend of mine asked me to play in his new band. . .but not any of the instruments that I knew how to play. .. it was bass! I had taken two guitar lessons in high school, so I kind of knew how the fretboard was laid out and where the notes were. The guitar player had a bass and an amp, so I figured - why not. I realized one minute into that first rehearsal that I had been a bass player my whole life and just never knew it. I had all the bass parts in my head. .. it was what I always listened to most in a song. I played my first gig two weeks later!

Anyway, I just sort of started playing more and more, and it was REALLY fun and exciting. One thing led to another, and I basically filed my business degree in the closet and kept playing music.

HDW: What instruments do you play, and how did you learn them? Why did you select those particular instruments? What type of music and which musicians were the greatest influence upon you and what was it about them or their style that you really responded to?

D.M.: My dad got a piano when I was 9 and I was really interested in it. My parents asked me if I wanted to take lessons and I was totally into it. After my first few months with an OK teacher, we moved again and by chance my mother found a 72 year old German woman who was the most incredible teacher I could have possibly found. She pushed me as far and as fast as I could go, and also gave me the ear training and music theory that became invaluable to me later on in life.

Eventually we moved again, and I got a really boring, lazy teacher and within a year had completely lost interest in the piano. But then I was in Jr. High and had become really interested in band, so I started playing brass instruments. Started out on trumpet, but didn't really like that too much, then played French Horn for a few years and really took to that. I switched over to bass trombone and tuba when I was in 11th grade, and continued on with those instruments through my first three years of college. After that was the bass, and I'm still with that one, almost 30 years later.

Dave Meros of Spock's Beard and Eric Burdon and the Animals - bass player extraordinaire.

Dave and Rose Meros' beautiful spotted Bengal kitten, Foothill Felines Mohawk!

HDW: In addition to being a musician, what other "careers" have you had and did you enjoy them also?

D.M.: None, really. .. just the typical jobs you have in high school and college. I worked in a music store for a couple years when I first moved to LA, and I now use some of my business school knowledge doing spreadsheets for Eric Burdon tours, but it's been mainly music.

HDW: What would you say was the point in time or event when you were finally "discovered" in the music business? How did you meet Eric Burdon? Do you have any advice for other aspiring young musicians?

D.M.: I still think I haven't been discovered or made the big time. .. I've been just lucky enough to have steady work for all these years. It was just pretty much one foot in front of the other and being excited enough about playing that I never let the disappointments get me down too much.

I would also play with anybody and everybody that I could, especially after I moved to LA in 1985. I would be in up to 6 bands at a time. It's common in LA to be involved in multiple projects, but I took it to an extreme. But that networking led me to eventually work with a guy who had worked a lot in the past with Eric Burdon. Eric called this guy up one day in January of 1990 and asked him to put a band together for him. So. . .this guy just called people that he had worked with that he knew would be compatible, easy to work with and could play both old and new styles. Luckily, one of those guys was me, and 15 years later I'm still spending too much time in airports and hotels. . .and away from my new little buddy Mohawk!!

HDW: Could you please share a little about the bands you are currently involved with? What part or parts of your musical career do you enjoy the most these days, and why do you think that is?

D.M.: It's pretty much down to two bands now. Eric Burdon and The Animals, and Spock's Beard. Eric Burdon is, of course, a rock legend and we tour all over the world doing a mix of his many classic hits and some new material that he released a few months ago.

Spock's Beard is my alter ego, a progressive rock band that is a labor of love. It is very complex, grand, thematic music, but also very contemporary sounding and very much rock music. It gives me a great outlet for all the other parts of me that aren't utilized by being a sideman for Eric. Spock's Beard just released our 8th studio CD today (Feb 01, 2005) and we're planning a Europe tour in March, and a couple west coast U.S. dates in April (SF and LA. . .if you're interested, check out our website for details: www.spocksbeard.com.) The thing that I enjoy most about my musical career is the combination of the above two bands. . .being fortunate enough to be in two very good bands, each very different from each other. It keeps me fresh and challenged. . . and very busy!

HDW: Tell us about the very first cat in your life, or the ones that you have felt closest to!

D.M.: I think the first one was a really cool dark silver gray tabby that my parents got for my brother and I when I was in 5th or 6th grade. He was a great cat, really pretty, had a great personality and was very affectionate. Cats don't live forever, but this one got very sick and died when he was only about 4 or 5 years old. It was a pretty big loss to the family, since we were all pretty attached to him. If I remember correctly, it was cat leukemia, so make sure your kitties get their shots!! From that time through college, though, my family always had cats around the house and they were always really great.

But I think the cat I felt closest to was after college, I kind of adopted a stray and brought him into this funky old house that I lived in with one of my band buddies. He was not the best looking cat. . .really big and lanky, and your average brown and black striped markings. He unfortunately liked to pee in the house where he smelled where another cat had been in the past, so he quickly became a strictly outdoor cat, which he didn't mind at all. He had his little kitty door into the garage and a nice comfy bed in there, and he was very happy! He loved being outside, but he was really friendly to people. .. more like a dog than a cat. He would come when called, all the neighbors knew him (his name was Eddie) and he became sort of the neighborhood character. He was also a very proficient hunter and the neighbors would borrow him whenever there was a mouse spotted in their garage. Without fail, within 10 or 15 minutes, Eddie would be proudly munching on a freshly caught mouse out in the driveway.

Foothill Felines Mohawk, in a special tube made for him by proud mama and papa Rose and Dave Meros

Dave's Bengal Cat, Foothill Felines Mohawk!

Dave's Bengal Cat, Foothill Felines Mohawk as a baby with Dave!

HDW: We'd love to hear any thoughts you have about animals in general -- are there particular animals that you have always felt particularly drawn to (Eric Burdon notwithstanding!), and if so, why?

D.M.: I like most animals. .. except for the really stupid ones like chickens (apologies to all chicken lovers). They have a true spirit (even the chickens) and don't have any of those evil tendencies that plague mankind. I've always been drawn to cats in particular, though. Maybe it's because those were the pets that I had when I was a kid. But it's also because they are so independent, smart and physically beautiful. The Bengals are a great breed. .. very exotic looking, great, non-allergenic and very soft coats. They are REALLY smart and also very fond of people.

HDW: Now that you and your wife Rose share your home and lives with a Bengal kitten, what advice do you have for others contemplating purchasing a Bengal kitten? And the really big question ... why did you name your Bengal kitten 'Mohawk'?

D.M.: Just go for it! They are great. Our little guy (5 months) is in his wildman stage right now and he is just hilarious. Also growing like a weed, and getting more gorgeous every week. You can really see his native ancestry in his eyes and behavior sometimes when he's raging around the house. He's very athletic and not afraid of anything. But at the same time he's very aware that even when furiously tearing into a toy, he shouldn't scratch a face, and never has, not even once. He has also been very faithful to his litter box and hasn't had one single accident since we brought him home.

Advice at this stage would be mainly to be prepared to spend a lot of time with your Bengal. They really demand a lot of human attention and need to stay active and in the middle of things. There have actually been times where he'll come and get me out of my office and bug me until I follow him to his new playtime activity for the day. It's pretty funny. They can also be very stubborn, and react much better to positive reinforcement than any punitive action!! But he's just the best. .. I would completely recommend a Bengal to anyone who wants a cat. Definitely a superior breed, and Holly's cats are superior within that breed. Even the vet complimented us on Holly's line of Bengals!

When we first started coming over to see kittens, Holly had maybe 15 little ones going. There were three or four that looked very similar, and it was really hard to tell them apart. But I could always pick out the one that I wanted. When my wife asked me how I could always pick out my favorite one, I pointed out that at that time, when he was really small, the black stripe on his head was pretty narrow and really pronounced, and his face was much lighter than it is now, so it kind of looked like he had a mohawk. Well, that was his ID from then on. I really didn't want that as his name, but it was too late, and to tell you the truth, it is actually a really perfect name for him. He is a little Indian!

I don't know if there are things that make him unique among other Bengals, but he sure stands out above other cat breeds. People are always really impressed with his exotic looks and confident, happy personality. And. .. he doesn't shed, which is great. I am slightly allergic to regular cats, but not even a slight bit allergic to Mohawk. He is a good eater and not a picky eater like some cats I've had. Rose and I are so happy to have him!!

Foothill Felines Mohawk, at home with Dave and Rose Meros in northern California!

Foothill Felines Mohawk, at home with Dave and Rose Meros in northern California!

Foothill Felines Mohawk, at home with Dave and Rose Meros in northern California!

(HDW Enterprises and Foothill Felines wishes to thank Dave and Rose Meros for providing us with these wonderful photos and interview!)

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