If you're playing a musical version of the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, Printz Board is a good name to know.
The Ohio native who resides in Los Angeles has written hits and worked in the studio with the Black Eyed Peas, Dr. Dre, James Brown, Katy Perry, and Sheryl Crow, among many others. Currently working as musical director for CeeLo Green on a tour that hits Cruzan Amphitheatre July 15, New Times spoke to Printz Board as he shopped for drum kits at a Guitar Center in Mobile, Alabama.
The good-humored man shared with us what to expect from his upcoming solo album, Board Games, his responsibilities collaborating with CeeLo, and how he got into his current career.
See also: Why Everybody Should Love CeeLo Green
New Times: Can you go into specifics of what it is you do as CeeLo Green's musical director?
Printz Board: What you'll see from me this Tuesday is me playing trumpet, playing keys, and singing with CeeLo. Pretty much as music director, I put the whole thing together. (I have to) be an all around funny guy (laughs), I do a little bit of the choreography as well, and I'm on stage the whole time.
My job is making sure everyone in the audience has a smile on their faces and leaves wanting to hear more and see more. I make sure the songs translate like they do on the record, but at the same time, give you something fresh and new so you don't feel like it's just the record. I try to turn it into an experience like you're going to the movie theater and you lose yourself to the show from beginning to end. I have to know every drum pattern, every chord, every guitar strum while at the same time playing my stuff and enjoying it and having a good time.
Later this year you're working as Macy Gray's musical director, and you've done it for other artists. How do you train to be a musical director?
It's pretty easy in the respect that I have my own music project as a solo artist, as Printz Board. As soon as the Black Eyed Peas took off, I fell into this role as their musical director. With my band, I was writing and producing, so I was telling them how it goes. I found the players who played the way I wanted them to play, so essentially, I was my own music director. I took that experience to my other situations, where I'm not in front, and I don't have to dress nice every day since I hide behind Macy or CeeLo. I don't have to worry about hitting the pristine notes since everyone's not focused on me.
How did you first fall into a life of music?
When I was ten, I picked up a trumpet because I thought it looked easy and was definitely wrong. I played with my family's organ and in eleventh grade my Mom bought me a brand new trumpet for my birthday and that's when I decided music was what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I got a scholarship to San Diego State and studied classical and jazz, keys and trumpet. Right after that, I caught with the Black Eyed Peas.
How exactly did you hook up with the Black Eyed Peas?
Pretty much my band Gravy and Black Eyed Peas were the ones moving and shaking in LA and were very similar. Interscope was like, we're going to sign one of these guys, which one is going to be. They decided to sign Will and Apl and had me join forces for the musical aspects, so it was really a combination of both bands.
Writing for The Black Eyed Peas and other artists, how is the process different when compared to writing songs for yourself?
It's not too different except you don't have any moral issues when you write for someone else. You just kind of write the song. If I write a song doing something I don't normally do, that doesn't work for me morally. If I'm talking about drinking out of a keg doing a handstand or doing drugs, I don't do that, so I wouldn't write a song for myself about that. But for someone else, I can write that song. But I don't keep the best songs for myself or give away the best songs and keep the scraps.
You've worked with a wide variety of artists from James Brown to Selena Gomez. How do you go about looking for collaborators?
It's kind of cool, you tour around the world and go to award shows and you make friends and rub elbows and it's as simple as, "Hey man, what's up? You want to get in the studio next week?" The other way is through a publishing company or a record label.
You have an EP out Pre Games, but you're also working on a full album. What can we expect from it?
That's called Pre Games because the album is called Board Games. With Pre Games, I wanted to give people some insight, a window into my house and then once we get to Board Games, it will all be unleashed. You're going to be like, "Oh, that's what I thought I was seeing and hearing, now I really understand."
It's fun, it's funky, it's rock star, it's just amazing.
CeeLo Green: With Lionel Richie on the All the Hits All Night Long Tour. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 15, at Cruzan Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $21 to $131 plus fees. Call 561-795-8883, or visit livenation.com.