Former Exodus vocalist reveals his insights on everything from vocal health to how singers can find their unique voice.
Rob Dukes has put his voice through the rigors of thrash metal, and emerged as a singer with a compelling career.
He’s still going strong with a new album, new collaborations – and fixing up hot rods. We asked him to share his wisdom with the VoiceCouncil community.
What are a few ingredients that go into a memorable vocal performance?
When you’re singing live, it all depends on the crowd; in the studio, you better believe the words your singing, or at least the song.
What is the most important lesson you have learned about vocal health?
You just have to find that limit you have and push it right to that point; when you overdo it, rest. Also I don’t do anything, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink or do drugs, whatever I have, I inherited it.
Have you ever worked with a professional to help maintain your singing voice? If so, what’s one lesson you’ve found invaluable?
I had one lesson with a woman in NY, Melissa Cross, she was cool, and I liked working with her; I suggest you do if you want to scream for a living; I got lucky.
What would you recommend for singers to try to improve different aspects of their singing?
I suggest singing along with records. Then just grab a mic and do it, trial by fire. Find a band and see what you got. If you have any sense of honesty with yourself, you will know in about a minute.
Some singers have good vocal health and technique but really struggle to find their unique voice. What advice would you offer them?
Just be yourself. I used want to sing like Morrison, then it was Joe Strummer, then it was Hetfield; eventually I found my own voice.
What have been your career highlights?
Singing to 75,000 in Germany – this was turned into a DVD called “Shovel Headed Tour Machine” that I directed and produced. Also: being asked by Rob Zombie to sing with him for the last 4 nights of the Slayer/Rob Zombie/Exodus tour. Also: writing an album with Daryl McDaniels “DMC”.
Name one influential singer, and what it was that makes them stand out to you.
I have 2 favorite singers: Freddy Mercury and Mike Patton. I wish I could sing like those guys, they both have originality and incredible range.
As you look back on your vocal work what would you say was an important landmark(s) in singing more effectively?
On the Generation Kill album “We’re All Gonna Die” we did a song called “There is no hope” I sang in 3 different styles, using multiple harmonies; I know it’s the best work I’ve ever done, and now it’s my plan to top that, to go even further…That’s what Freddy Mercury would do, that’s what Patton would do – don’t settle for doing the same thing over and over.
Rob Dukes: After singing for Exodus for almost 10 years and touring to over 100 countries, creating 5 albums and a DVD, Rob was fired from Exodus after finishing the album Blood in blood out. Rob starting building old school VW’s and hot rods in Phoenix AZ. Rob is currently writing an album with DMC and his NY band Generation Kill, while at the same time building a 54 Ford hot rod.