Multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter Korel Tunador isburning the keyboard candle at both ends these days, with a steady stream of high-profile sideman and leader gigs in constant tow. Katy Perry and the Goo Goo Dolls are just two of the headlining acts that have recently tapped the Pittsburgh native’s wellspring of keyboard creativity. “I’ll be on the road with the Goo Goo Dolls for the next year and a half,” he tells me via phone from Annapolis, Maryland. “I’m having a blast.”
Tunador got his musical start in Pittsburgh, leaving at the age of 17 to attend the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston for saxophone studies. “Pittsburgh is an amazingly creative place,” Tunador tells me, “but I knew I had to get to a big city with a lot of musicians in it. At that point I was playing piano, bass guitar, and saxophone, and it was the saxophone that really resonated with me at the time. It ended up being a great thing, because it gave me the opportunity to play with hundreds of guitar and keyboard players before I started playing those instruments professionally myself. I played tons of jazz and rock gigs. It turned out to be a great vehicle for learning, as well as an asset in the long run.”
Tunador would eventually relocate to Los Angeles where his career would take off. “When I moved to L.A. eight years ago,” he says, “I did it with the intention of starting or joining a band—of doing something. My first year there was a total disaster! I swear, I couldn’t get hired at Guitar Center, but eventually, I started being offered tours. Things started to evolve from there. I think one of my assets is that I approach every musical situation like I’m a band member, even if it’s not my band. Psychologically, I try to care about every gig like that.”
Tunador would become known for his nimble, multi-instrument mastery, shuttling between enviable gigs with ease. “Things have been incredibly fortuitous,” he continues. “I toured with the Goo Goo Dolls for nearly two and a half years really heavily. When the band decided to take time off, I found myself looking at an entire calendar year where I’d be free. And it was then that Katy Perry’s band was looking for someone, right when I had all this time off. So the timing was perfect.”
In addition to his work as a sideman, Tunador released his leader debut No Tomorrows independently in 2010. “I’m singing and playing most of the instruments on the record,” he says, “but I was smart enough to get my good buddies to play bass and drums when they were needed. But I did everything else!”
When asked how to get to where he has gotten to in the musical world, Tunador waxes more practical than poetic. “Of course, learn your instrument,” he says. “But work on your singing and your Pro Tools! Those are two weapons you need to have handy these days.”
KOREL’S KEYBOARD RIG
Muse Research Receptor 2 Pro Max
With the Goo Goo Dolls, I’m using Receptors exclusively. I’m probably running 13 out of the 16 channel strips full, plus I have tons of effects going on, so I use the Receptor’s snapshot functionality to toggle between everything. I run off of one Receptor, and I have a duplicate that runs in parallel. Both get the same MIDI information, so if one ever goes down I can switch to the other one instantly.
Yamaha Motif ES8
I use the Motif as my main controller, and have the same types of patches internally that I use on the Receptor. I have stereo A/B boxes at my feet on my pedalboard, so I have three layers of redundancy, just in case.
M-Audio ProKeys 88
When I was on tour with Katy Perry last year, I was using an M-Audio ProKeys 88 stage piano. I love M-Audio.
What’s on Korel’s Receptor?
Applied Acoustics Systems Lounge Lizard and Ultra Analog
IK Multimedia Miroslav Philharmonik