Dave Meniketti is unapologetic when explaining the career longevity of his metal outfit Y&T, born Yesterday and Today in Oakland. “We’ve honestly recorded hundreds and hundreds of songs, and we’ve got this loyal following that keeps going and I just never saw any reason to stop because I enjoy playing,” says the guitarist-vocalist, who moonlights as a solo artist and also runs a family winery with his wife Jill. “But it’s gotten under my skin after this many years; we’re coming up on our 45th anniversary this January.” He believes he’s singing and playing better than he ever has, newer members have fit in seamlessly, and catalog classics like “In Rock We Trust’ sound just as relevant today. “We’re real proud of the fact that we’ve still got it,” he says.
I can’t recall ever reading any trashy drug/booze stories about Y&T. How did you avoid those pitfalls?
Well, in the ‘70s and the ‘80s, there was a lot of drug use going on, and a couple of the guys in the band were heavy into it. Meaning simply that we couldn’t keep going with them doing that, year after year — we had to replace them. But I was the one staple guy that didn’t do it. I did drugs when I was in high school — 16 to 18 years old, I did every frigging drug outside of heroin. But that’s when I first started playing guitar, as well. At 18 years old, I just said, “You know what? I’m not playing as well as I did just last week — I’ve got to cool it.” Now I’m the sole surviving member of that original band; everyone else has passed. So I guess I just lived a pretty clean life. I didn’t start drinking alcohol until I was 50, and I’m 65 now.
Well, you do have annual wine vintages to taste.
We got into wine 15 years ago, and it became a passion after a while for us. So we just started dong more wine tastings, going out with friends, learning all about the growing of the grapes, everything — all the dirty technical stuff that most people don’t care about. But I guess I developed a really good palate, and a lot of people who I’d become friends with in the industry started telling me the same thing: “Dave, you should put your own wine out because your palate is great.” And I said, “Ehh..I dunno.” I resisted it for a few years and finally said, “Why not?”
What’s been the most surprising thing you learned about wine?
People had told me how crippling the business side can be, with all its rules and regulations. There’s so much paperwork, it’s unbelievable.
IF YOU GO
Y & T
Where: Cornerstone Berkeley,2367 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
When: 8:30 p.m. Dec. 30
Tickets: $35 to $99
Contact: (510) 214-8600, www.ticketfly.com