Kevin Pate Remembered by Brian Smith of Beat Angels and Gentlemen Afterdark
My old band Gentlemen Afterdark once had a demo deal with A&M Records. We were very, very young, and living in L.A, and recording at A&M Studios with this guy Rob Jacobs producing. He'd recently engineered and mixed some huge multi-platinum albums, including U2's Rattle and Hum.
Now, we knew Kevin Pate was incredible, that his was a skill that couldn't be taught. We just figured Kev slid from the womb that way, cigarette dangling.
His musical intuition stunned us; he had that sense of when to pull back, when to sustain, when to push, when to flood.
We're in working on a song called "Holiday" and Kevin just strolls in and plays this elaborate but deceptively simple bassline, a classic Pate melody that had all this rock 'n' roll sexual stuff in it, that added musicality to the song without losing any punch. Wasn't just a bass part for a pop tune -- it was more than that.
He nailed it in one pass, which really wasn't surprising. He always did that. In fact, it was never his fault if a take had to be redone. Jacobs was this sort of hyper guy who at that point had already manned the console for some of the best rhythm sections around. He just shakes his head and turns to Robin Johnson and me and says, "This guy is the best player I have ever heard."
Cut to several years later, late 1995. Pate and I are in the Beat Angels, recording our debut album, laying down foundation tracks at this large studio in Phoenix. Guitarist Gilby Clarke's producing, and he'd just survived Guns 'n Roses' massive multi-year Use Your Illusion world tour, and Virgin had just released his Waddy Wachtel-produced debut solo album.
Guy knows his shit. Again Pate ambles in, trailed by smoke from the cigarette dangling in his mouth, this sort of slight, loose-limbed guy with a Keith Richards-y mien, and nails his bass parts in one pass. At one point, Clarke turns around and looks at us. Says, "Kevin is the best player I've ever heard."
After completing his parts, Kevin steps into the control room and looks at us with genuine credulity, and says, "Aw, hey man, sound okay?"
We're like, "Dude, you're fucking McCartney on Abbey Road . . ."
Kevin nods once quickly, grins and, in his voice that's strangely both scratchy and calming, but with a peculiar twist on consonants due to a combination of his mother's thick Irish brogue and his mouthful of fucked-up teeth, says, "Aw, okay, man. I guess I'm headin' home."
So he turns and goes home. That was it.