Mike Scott on Playing Songs Right

Regularly recruited to tour with pop superstars such as Prince, Justin Timberlake, and Rihanna, Mike Scott is quite experienced at learning other people’s music. It was in his role as house guitarist on P. Diddy’s new MTV talent search show, StarMaker, though, that Scott learned the value of taking song analysis to the highest level of detail.—Jude Gold
Publish date:
Updated on

“I’ve played Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’ with a million bands, but until we did it on this show, I don’t think I ever played it with a band that did it right,” says Scott. “Usually, when you play that song, everybody just jumps on the main clavinet riff and disregards the subtler parts. But StarMaker’s musical director, Paul Mirkovich, has a meticulous ear, and he mapped out everything, including all of Stevie’s clav parts—some parts you can barely hear without throwing the song into music software and isolating things. Paul had us each playing different layers until we really had the song’s pocket dialed, and man, I couldn’t believe how funky it sounded! Variation is cool, of course—artists like Prince don’t really mind if you change up one of their parts, as long as the feel is right—but to be a really killin’ cover band, all the parts need to be delivered perfectly. It can be frustrating when you’re trying to learn a guitar lick that’s buried in the mix. You may even come up with a better part, but that’s not the point. On a show like this one, you’re there to recreate the music exactly as recorded so people can focus on the singer up front.”