David Uosikkin

The Serious Side

Every now and then a band comes along that, after playing in relative obscurity for years, suddenly breaks into the big time with a bang. There’s no better example of such a band than the Hooters. This Philadelphia-based group named itself after the hybrid harmonica-keyboard instrument called the melodica, which was nicknamed the hooter. The melodica was popularized by the Jamaican reggae artist Augustus Pablo and is played by Hooter member Rob Hyman. Hyman and the boys worked the local circuit, and developed an intensely loyal following in and around Philadelphia before finally securing a record contract with CBS. They then went out and surprised everyone except themselves when they scored big with Nervous Night, their debut album released last year.

You can’t help but root for a band that strives to achieve success and then gets the break it needs—after years of patiently waiting for one—to prove that its music deserves to be heard. And what kind of music is that? It’s a potent, irresistible combination of reggae, rock, rhythm & blues, and pop. No, you can’t help but root for the Hooters.
You can’t help but root for the Hooters’ drummer, either. The warm, upbeat view of the guy with the almost unpronounceable last name—Uosikkinen (just call him David)—is as much a part of his drumming as it is his personality. According to insiders, he’s the one who keeps the spirit of the Hooters up when it needs some inspiration. And he’s also the one who keeps that delicious reggae- flavored beat on perhaps the most noted Hooters’ song, “All You Zombies.”

“I’m the guy in the back of the band,” says Uosikkinen, “but I like to think that my role in the Hooters is as important and as critical as anyone else’s. “And, of course, it is. Along with guitarist/songwriter/singer Eric Bazilian and keyboards/hooter/ singer/songwriter Rob Hyman, Uosikkinen is an original member of the band. “I’ve built my entire career around the Hooters, ” continues Uosikkinen. “The two are so connected that I couldn’t conceive of them being separated.”

When I spoke to Uosikkinen about his drumming and drum philosophy, the rise of what some people in Philly refer to as Hootermania, and his feelings on just what all this new-found notoriety means to him, he and the Hooters were about to come off the road after a long stint opening up for Loverboy. Uosikkinen is the type of drummer you can talk to for hours, and when the conversation is all over, his enthusiasm has so infected you that both of you want to talk for hours more. Due to his rigid schedule, that wasn’t possible. But from what transpired during our chat, it is possible to understand why Uosikkinen is indeed one of rock’s promising young drummers, whose name and sound you’re apt to hear more and more in the future.

RS: A lot of people are under the impression that the Hooters came out of nowhere last year and shot to stardom. Yet, in fact, the Hooters have certainly come up through the ranks and paid their dues.

DU: This is our sixth year as a working band, so we’re no overnight success. Before that, Eric [Bazilian] and Rob [Hyman] played together in various bands for five years. So we’ve been working our tails off for a long time. It’s kind of funny when people refer to the Hooters as a new band. I was talking to someone the other day, and he used the term “overnight sensation.” That was pretty amazing. “Sensation” is a heavy term. But that’s all part of success, I guess.

RS: But why the big breakthrough last year? What happened, or what did the Hooters do differently, that enabled 1985 to become the band’s big year?

DU: It was mostly our persistence. But what made the record company take notice of us and offer us a recording contract was the independent record we released a while back. That record was real successful. It was called Amore and sold over 100,000 copies. Record companies couldn’t help but pay some attention to us. Plus, the music on the record was really good. When you have a strong base of 100,000 records being sold in the Philadelphia area alone, that says something.

RS: Were there any songs on Amore that made it onto Nervous Night!

DU: Yeah, “Hanging On A Heartbeat,” “Blood From A Stone,” and “All You Zombies.” But they’re quite different in terms of production and arrangements. “All You Zombies,” for instance, sounds like a completely different song on Nervous Night. The hook is the same, but the groove is very different.

RS: You’re an original member of the Hooters, correct?

DU: Yeah. When Eric and Rob first formed the band, we didn’t even have a name. When they told me they were going to call the group the Hooters, I said, “What? You’re kidding!” I remember telling my friends that the name of the band I was in was the Hooters and watching them crack up. But now I love the name.

RS: How did you come to meet Rob and Eric?

DU: I met Eric first. I was playing at a club in Philadelphia with a band. Eric was interested in working with its singer. We met and got along very well. Then, he came out to see us again, and we invited him on stage to play with us. Not too long after that, he called me up, and asked me to come down where he and Rob were rehearsing. It started from there. We hung around together and played a lot. I also did a little recording with them. I think we did a few cover songs for a demo, which was for a movie. Not only did we sound good together, but we all enjoyed each other’s company. We were primarily a dance band in the beginning. We’d do our own material, and then cover old reggae tunes by Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, and Augustus Pablo. We’d also do a ska version of the old Yardbirds’ song “For Your Love.” We’d really change around the arrangements of the songs we covered quite a bit.

RS: Anyone who has followed the Hooters since the band’s early days knows that the band was influenced by a variety of sources. You could definitely hear the reggae influence, but there were also obvious strains of Philly soul, rhythm & blues, and mainstream rock. Has playing drums for a band with such an eclectic style ever been a difficult job?

DU: No. It was great, especially in the beginning, because prior to my playing with Rob and Eric, I was playing mostly rock ‘n’ roll. But I used to listen a lot to Bob Marley and other reggae artists. I really enjoyed getting the chance to play reggae and ska.

RS: Did the reggae or ska beats ever cause you problems?

DU: No, not after I got the hang of it. It came pretty natural to me. I was lucky.

RS: I mention that because I know a few drummers who are great rock drummers, but when they’re asked to cross over and play something with a reggae feel, they usually wind up blowing it.

DU: See, I listened to guys like Sly Dunbar and Carly Barrett of the Wailers. Dunbar plays pretty straight-ahead reggae beats. You can tell when it’s him playing on a record without even looking at the credits. But for me, it really wasn’t difficult to play reggae. I know what you’re talking about, though. I’m fortunate; I feel quite comfortable playing it. The best thing is playing something with a rock feel, and then falling into a reggae feel with the bass drum on the 2 and 4.

RS: What are your musical roots? What kinds of music did you listen to as a kid?

DU: When the Beatles came out, I thought they were amazing, just like everyone else did. But two of my favorites were James Brown and Otis Redding. I used to listen to James Brown Live At The Apollo all the time. I don’t know if that was Bernard Purdie playing drums for him or not on that record. But whomever it was was so tight and played the coolest stuff. I’m real glad I got into listening to records and drummers like that at an early age, because it helped my grooves a lot. At the time, I had a lot of friends who were listening to the British Invasion stuff, and I’d tell them, “Hey, listen to this record,” and it would be one of James Brown’s. “Sex Machine” was one of my all-time favorite songs. I once played in a band that would do a 20-minute version of “Sex Machine.” The singer used to be in the Hooters; he’d do James Brown just fantastic. James Brown is definitely one of my heroes. All those early soul and R&B artists were definitely big influences in the way I viewed music and played the drums.

RS: Bernard Purdie in particular?

DU: I liked Bernard Purdie, but when I was a kid, I just listened to the music. I didn’t know what drummer was on what record. I remember seeing Otis Redding in a film singing “Respect.” That had a big impact on me. I was playing in Madison, Wisconsin, and I went by that lake where his plane crashed. I got the eeriest feeling being there.

RS: What inspired you to take up the drums?

DU: I started playing drums because I really liked music a lot. When I was a kid, my father took me to see Buddy Rich. I remember having my picture taken with him.

RS: Were you playing drums at the time you met Rich?

DU: Yeah, I had just gotten started. I started playing around with a snare drum when I was in sixth grade. Originally, I wanted to be a guitar player. I remember going into a music store with my mother to look at guitars, and the man who worked there said something about my hands being too small. He probably thought I was going to be a pain in the ass and didn’t want to be bothered with me. I had a neighbor down the street from where I lived who had a guitar and a snare drum. He could play “What’d I Say,” and I could lay down the beat for the song pretty easily. That was my introduction as far as playing drums went. But from then on, I kept on playing.

RS: Did you take lessons or study music?

DU: I took some when I was a kid. There was a music store up the street, and I used to go there once in a while. Later on, when I was in the Hooters, I started taking lessons at the Modern Drum Workshop. I did that for about a year.

RS: When did you decide you wanted to make a career out of playing drums?

DU: All my life, [laughs] As soon as I started playing in bands in high school that played clubs and made money doing it, I said, “Wow, that’s great!” That’s when school went down the tubes. Looking back, I really wish, though, that I had gotten a better education. But I was too into playing the drums. That’s when I seriously started to listen to other drummers. Little Feat was a favorite band of mine. I love Richie Hayward as a drummer. I’m also a big fan of Andy Newmark and especially Michael Shrieve. I think Michael Shrieve is one of the greatest.

RS: Let’s switch gears now and talk about Nervous Night. There are three tracks on the record in which I really enjoy your playing. It’s not only because what you play is quite smooth and refined, but also because it’s unusually important to the song’s success. I wanted to get your feelings and comments on these songs. Let’s start with “All You Zombies.”

DU: The important thing about what I play on that song is the bass drum. You hear this mesmerizing bass drum sound on that tune. I remember that Rick Chertoff, the producer, had in mind something of a Wall of Sound thing. It was like the Pink Floyd song, “The Wall,” actually. If you recall, that song has a strong bass drum. We wanted the same sort of effect for “All You Zombies.” It’s hypnotic; it doesn’t move except for the one solo section near the end of the song. When we originally recorded the song on Amore, we’d drop into the chorus and I’d play a straight four, and then go back to that reggae feel. You can hear that on almost every song Augustus Pablo has recorded. So Rick wanted to capture that but make it sound bigger.

RS: The bass drum is certainly the pulse of the song. Without it being so strong, I doubt if the tune would have been as effective.

DU: When the song was being recorded again, this time for Nervous Night, we wanted to make that bass drum sound even bigger. Live, my bass drum has been rocking the rafters. It’s been great. We have a Lexicon 200 up there with us; we get that digital going, and the room starts shaking! That’s been one of our best songs live.

RS: What about “And We Danced”?

DU: “And We Danced” is real upbeat; it was an easy song to record. The toughest song on Nervous Night for me to record was “Day By Day.” When we first started recording that album I’d record to a Linn, and I wasn’t used to doing that. I am now, but in the beginning it was hard. Going back to “And We Danced,” though, it was easy because we were real inspired playing that one. I enjoyed it, because in the chorus where there’s a double hit with the cymbals, that’s something I really get into doing. It’s just a good rock ‘n’ roll song for a drummer to play.

RS: And finally, what about the old Arthur Lee song that the Hooters covered, “She Comes In Colors”?

DU: Ah, that one! I’ll tell you the truth, I didn’t even know if that song was going to get on the record. I don’t know if I should apologize for stealing a feel or what, but the song “Pressure,” by Billy Joel, had a big influence on me for “She Comes In Colors.” Liberty DeVitto plays this cool quarter-note feel, dropping the backbeat down on, I think, 4 and 6. We used to play the song in clubs, but with a reggae/ska beat. When we recorded it, I wanted to do something a little bit different than what we’d been doing live. It turned out okay. Everyone was happy with it. Actually, “She Comes In Colors” turned out to be one of the more surprising cuts on the album.

RS: One of the toughest tasks a musician must accomplish in the development of his or her own style is the transition from being mostly an imitator to being one’s own player with one’s own ideas. As a drummer, when did you make that crossover?

DU: Well, you talk about imitating other musicians—other drummers. I know it’s very good for me to see other drummers perform and listen to lots of music. But I try to steer clear of out-and-out imitation. And I think I do a good job of it. You have to understand that the Hooters are quite different from other bands. Because of this, it was quite easy for me to develop my own drum style. They say Philadelphia is the melting pot of sound; well, it was pretty easy to develop my own style because there were so many music forms to take from. I used to go see Buddy Rich and Tony Williams. I play a canary-yellow drumset that is similar to the yellow Gretsch set that Tony plays. I had Tama paint my set for me. But I remember seeing Tony play with VSOP. I sat there with my mouth open. So guys like Tony influenced my personal style, too, not just rock drummers.

RS: But to go back to the question, what has been the most difficult hurdle for you on the road to becoming a drummer whose style of playing is his own, as much as that’s possible?

DU: Solos. I’m not really a soloist, and I haven’t done many solos. But I love getting up on stage during soundchecks and just hitting away. My career has been spent making music with other musicians, which is really what playing drums is all about. But since we’ve been touring with Loverboy, I’ve watched Matty [Frenette] do a solo that sounds and looks very exciting. I don’t know if I’ll ever do that sort of thing, but I want to work towards doing something like that. But with music. That’s why I’ve been listening to a lot of Latin material lately. It’s almost like you’re playing a solo, but you have other musicians playing with you.

RS: In the past, it often seemed that many rock drummers, when asked to develop a beat from a songwriter’s idea or to do their part to enhance the basic rhythm of a tune, react only to the music. But today, lyrics are being taken more and more seriously by drummers. Would you agree?

DU: Yeah, sure. I know I have to feel and appreciate the words. I’m an emotional player, so I have to feel all aspects of a song before I can play it right. I need some sort of emotional link to it. If you’re working with a songwriter like Bruce Springsteen, for example—and I like to think Rob and Eric write similar kinds of songs in terms of quality of lyrics—it’s easy to relate to the songs. But when you go out and tour for nine or ten months, it’s also easy to play well consistently if you believe in the songs you’re playing. Remember, you’re playing the same songs every night. If you don’t have some sort of emotional link, you get bored, and then you’re in trouble. Your playing definitely suffers.

RS: You mentioned your drumset before and said that it was a canary-yellow Tama set. Could you give me more details?

DU: Presently I’m playing a Tama Superstar set. I play a 22″ bass drum, a 5 1/2X 14 snare drum, a 12″ power tom, and a 16″ floor tom. It’s practically the same setup that Max Weinberg of the E Street Band has. As for cymbals, I use two crash cymbals—an 18″ medium crash and a 16″, both of which are Zildjian. I also use a 21″ Rock ride and 15″ New Beats. I use a China Boy medium on the right, and for “All You Zombies,” I use a gong chip. I trigger it off a Tama pad, which is similar to a Simmons pad. I also use an old Japanese snare without the head on the bottom, but with a Ludwig Rocker head on top. I tune it up as tight as I can get it, so that it sounds like a timbale. I use that drum on “Hanging On A Heartbeat,” and wherever I feel like changing things up a little bit. Instead of using a tom, I’ll use this drum.

RS: Did you use this set during the recording of Nervous Night?

DU: Well, actually I was using a smaller Superstar set. I have the power drums right now, which are a little bit longer and sound a little bit stronger.

RS: What do you listen for when shopping for a set of drums?

DU: That’s a good question. What struck me about the set I’m currently playing was the tone of the toms. It’s beautiful. They also tune real easily. I go through a lot of heads. But I’m fortunate that, when we tour, they’re changed every night. My drum tech is very good, and that helps, too. His name is Drew Parks, and the Nervous Night tour was his first. But he can go on stage and tune my drums, and I’ll go up later on and make only a few minor adjustments. I don’t know if that’s the case with every drumset and every drum tech. I get my heads stretched and go around the rims checking everything out. Most of the time there’s very little that needs to be done, so I guess I’m fairly lucky. But to answer your question, I look for drums that are also easy to work with. I know some drummers who go nuts trying to get their drums to sound good.

RS: How about when you’re searching out a new snare? Is there anything in particular you listen for?

DU: It’s interesting that you mention that, because Charlie Donnelly, the drum collector who sells drums to drummers like Carl Palmer and Phil Collins, came out to a few Hooters’ shows and brought a couple of drums with him. I’ve been looking for a Ludwig Black Beauty. I’m looking for a 5 1/2″ one, in particular. Charlie had a couple of real old drums, including some Radio Kings. I’ve also spent some time with Bun E. Carlos. He has some drums that he’s been collecting. I like a real crisp snare drum, but with a lot of sensitivity. I want to know that, if I play it very lightly, it’s going to react and resonate well.

RS: And what about cymbals?

DU: Well, I endorse Zildjian cymbals, but I haven’t had a chance to go to the factory yet. So what’s been happening is that they’re sending me cymbals, and I’ve been playing them and determining which ones I like and which I don’t like. Eventually, I find something I really like. The 18″ medium crash I use right next to my hi-hat is one I really like. It definitely sounds great. I like relatively thin cymbals. They don’t hold up as well, but they sound amazing.

RS: We’ve talked about equipment. Now, let’s talk for a moment about the sound you get from the equipment, and how you work it into the overall sound of the Hooters.

DU: I prefer a real open drum sound, and I think that works best with the Hooters. For instance, I don’t put anything on my toms. I don’t have any muffling on the drums. It’s the same with the snare.

About the only thing I’ll do is take a little piece of another snare drum head and put it on my snare head. In the early days, a lot of the old drummers used to put a wallet or something on the snare drum. What I do, I think, gives me the same effect. Actually, my drum sound is built around the “set ’em up, tune ’em up, and go” concept. Also, I’ve got to credit Bill Wittman, our engineer, with a lot of my drum sound success. He gets a truly great drum sound for any drummer he works with. I remember hearing a Patty Benatar song on the radio. Myron Grombacher was playing drums, but it was a Bill Wittman drum sound. I also have to say that our producer, Rick Chertoff, is an ex-drummer. As a matter of fact, he used to play with Eric and Rob. So I can’t mess around in the studio, [laughs]

RS: Your experience in the recording studio is obviously not that of many other drummers who appear in the pages of Modern Drummer. Yet I’m sure you’ve formulated some very definite feelings about playing in a studio as opposed, say, to playing live.

DU: I look forward to the challenge of recording. I find it interesting and challenging. I’ve never been nervous going in. When we started recording Nervous Night, we had a very good feeling about the album. We knew that, once it was done, it was going to be a good one. The thing I found most interesting about working in the studio was that I could be a subtler player if I wanted to. I like the idea of really concentrating on one song, too. Live, you have to concentrate on the entire show, which might consist of 14 songs. You can make mistakes in the studio and get the chance to fix them. Of course, that isn’t the case live. I think this allows a drummer to be more adventurous—to try new things. And I think drummers should take advantage of it. The only thing I had some problems with in the studio was going in and cutting tracks with the Linn, like I mentioned earlier. I wasn’t against the idea; I had just never done that before. Before we go into the studio to make the next record, I plan to spend some time playing with a Linn so that I’m used to it.

RS: Has playing with a Linn in the studio had any noticeable effect on your live playing?

DU: Definitely. I think about my tempos more because of the experience. I’m a better player, not only in the studio, but also live.

RS: Do you have anything in particular that you do so as to guarantee that your concentration is sharp—be it in the studio or on stage?

DU: Yeah, lots of rest. I know that’s hard to do on the road, but I remember when we were recording Nervous Night, I’d go back to the hotel each night and get as much rest as I possibly could. Also, a good thing for me to do when recording is to really listen the night before to the song to be recorded the next day. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen, because Eric and Rob will write a song, and then they’ll say, “Okay, let’s record this.” But if it was in my power to have the material available the night before, when I could really listen hard and concentrate on what I planned to do with the song and link up with that emotional feel we were talking about earlier, I definitely would.

RS: Do Eric and Rob write much on the road?

DU: They write some things. We don’t perform any of them—at least we haven’t so far. We were the opening act on the Loverboy tour, so we only got like 45 minutes to play. When we started the tour, I thought we’d never get a soundcheck. I figured that the only way I’d be able to prepare myself to play was to work out on the pads I brought along on the road. But Loverboy didn’t do soundchecks, so we got the chance to do one each night.

RS: Loverboy didn’t do soundchecks?

DU: Not really, no. They did one like every two weeks or so.

RS: Didn’t you do a song called “Who’s That Girl?” on tour?

DU: Yeah. That’s one of the first Hooters songs we ever played. It’s not on any record. It’s got a Bo Diddley drumbeat. It’s a cool song for drummers, and I get a lot of comments about that one.

RS: Do you socialize much with other drummers?

DU: Yeah, I do. I have a lot of drummer friends at home. On the tour, when we played New York, Michael Shrieve came to one of our shows. I hung out with him. That’s probably one of the greatest things about being in a band that’s making some sort of impression in the music scene. To have him come and hear me play was a big thrill. I felt like I should have bowed when I met him. He was in a band called Automatic Man. That band had a big influence on me in the mid-’70s. I listened to the record by the same name over and over again. A friend of mine, Carmine Rojas, who plays with Julian Lennon, turned me on to that record. The stuff Shrieve played on that album was amazing. It seemed like real straight- ahead stuff, but there were a lot of little things going on. He was like an early Stewart Copeland.

RS: Do you consider yourself a protege of Michael Shrieve?

DU: Well, he definitely had a big influence on me as a drummer; I can say that. I remember hearing a song off the Automatic Man record called “Fanfare.” It was after I listened to that song that I started getting into rock-steady sort of things on my ride cymbal. And instead of playing it just straight ahead, I’d try to do different things with my right hand. Carmine turned me on to a lot of stuff like that.

RS: Were you and Carmine childhood friends?

DU: When I was growing up, there was a place where bands would rehearse up the street from my house. One of the bands was the one Carmine was in. His band was a local band with a great rhythm section. I forget who the drummer was. I had heard all these great rhythm sections on record, yet I had never seen one live up close until this point in time. I’d jam with the group sometimes. Carmine would say to me, “Just lock in with me,” and away we’d go. I got a lot of valuable experience that way. It had to have an effect on the way I play drums today.

RS: Rock steady, reggae, and ska all seem to have played a pretty significant role in not only the development of the Hooters, but also of yourself as a drummer. Have you had any association with any Jamaican drummers?

DU: The Hooters played with Steel Pulse. They’re not a Jamaican band [they’re British], but they play reggae music. I rapped with Steve Nesbitt, Steel Pulse’s drummer. He’s an amazing person. He came out and watched us play. But he didn’t want to talk about drums that much. He’s kind of evasive, but he can definitely play.

RS: You and the Hooters have a successful album and a successful tour under your belts. Can we expect to hear anything different from you on the next album and next tour? Do you have any ideas floating around in your head?

DU: Yeah, I do. They have to do with equipment. I’m hoping to purchase a lot of new equipment before we go in to record another record or go out on the road again.

RS: Electronic drums perhaps?

DU: No, I’m not that interested in picking up electronic drums. I’m more interested in acoustic drums, actually. Also, I want to buy a marimba and get involved with that. You know, the band endorses Hohner instruments, which has the melodica. I didn’t get a chance to go to the Hohner factory yet, either. But from what I understand, Hohner has all kinds of cool percussive instruments. I’d love to play around with some of them and experiment a little. I don’t know if I’d ever get a chance to use any of them live, but I’m sure I could find some use for them in the studio. I’m looking forward to doing this. I’m also dying to get a timpani. I think that’s every drummer’s dream. I’d like to have one and work it out every once in a while.

RS: When I listen to and study a drummer, I search out what I like to refer to as the technical side and emotional side of the person and the person’s playing. I think every drummer has these two sides in one capacity or another. Actually, I think every musician has them.

DU: They probably do, sure.

RS: Give me an overview of your two sides, and tell me, if you can, how they coexist with each other.

DU: My two sides have to go hand in hand, because if the emotional side of my playing isn’t right on, my technical side stinks. Physically and mentally, I have to be in tune so that I can play well, too. It also helps to have the material to play, so you’ll be inspired to play to the best of your ability. That makes a big difference.

RS: What happens when one side starts to dominate the other? In other words, what happens if your playing is so emotional that you begin to lose control of the technical side of your playing? How do you right the balance?

DU: That doesn’t happen too often, because the other members of the Hooters wouldn’t let it happen. They stay on top of me. We all keep on one another. We have integrity as musicians. When we go on stage, we want to play as great as we can play. So what I’m driving at is, if I should slack off in one way or another, I’m told about it pretty quickly. At the end of each show we sit down as a band, listen to the tape of that night’s show, and actually critique it. It’s difficult to do this every night when you’re out on the road for an extended period of time. But this is a ritual that we go through. It sounds insane, and sometimes it gets a little crazy, but it’s a good thing to do.

RS: What you’re saying is that band members critique your performance and you critique theirs?

DU: Yeah, that’s it. If someone’s going to take shots at me, then I’m going to take shots at him! [laughs] I’m only kidding, but yeah, that’s the way we do things, and it works. You have to feel pretty secure to do that with each other. Some bands don’t listen to their tapes. We do. We all want to be heard and contribute something more to the growth of the Hooters than simply playing our instruments.

RS: I think it’s a great idea; I really do. You sound like the kind of drummer who has specific ambitions and goals.

DU: Well, I know my one main ambition as a drummer is to keep getting better and better. That might sound like a cliche, but it’s true. I think about it a lot. I’ve never given much thought to one day becoming a producer or anything like that. I want to play drums. It’s funny, because out of all the members of the Hooters, I’m probably touted as the most “un-serious” guy in the group. But there is a very serious side to me, especially when it comes down to playing and getting it right. I enjoy playing music with integrity and not settling for second best.