The transcriptions below are © to clive's
So I went to the Royalton Hotel in
mid-Manhattan to interview Dweezil. After hanging out in its oh-so-artsy-in-order-to-intimidate-you
lobby for a while, he called down to the front desk and said I
could come up to his room to do the interview. I gotta say that I've
never done that sort of thing in a hotel room efore, so it was a
little weird, but Dweezil turned out to be a very cool guy, and
we had a good time talking. I sort of got the impression from our
chat that he's a bit unsure of what to do next. He's still better
known for being the son of Frank than for his own sizable body of
work and his..uh..low-key acting career. When he joked during our
talk about 'what the hell am I going to do next,' it may have
been said glibly, but it was probably something that's crossed
his mind a few times. This very long interview took about 45
minutes and in the course of it, he spoke about a ton of stuff on
his mind, from recording Joe Walsh of the Eagles to the death of
Tupac Shakur to jammin' with Pat Boone.
we're talking about the producing side of things, I guess a good
place to start is: How did you slide from the music end of it
into the producing side?
Just kinda accidentally; I mean, I haven't done a whole lot projects yet, but I've been working with a lot of friends of mine over a period of time anyway. I've been friends with Warren D. Martini for a long time, and he was working on a record which was supposed to be just for Japan, and he was doing it out of his house. And he was having trouble motivating himself to finish stuff. I had worked with him on a couple of little things, and I knew his playing very well, so he just asked me to help him, and it ended up working out that I was one of the producers on the record.
It wouldn't have gotten done probably at all if we hadn't switched to project over to my house and my little studio, because he called me up at one point and said, "I got six weeks to deliver this thing." I said, "Well what do you have done?" "Nothin'." OK.... He had a couple of guitar ideas to a drum machine, but we had to all the drums, bass, vocals and mix the whole thing. Clearly we went over the six week time limit that he had originally, but had already been working for six or seven months on the thing--and procrastinated to the point where it was "OK...."
So we did about six or seven months of work in two months. It was pretty good. That was only possible because I had spent a lot of time working in my little studio to begin with, and started to feel comfortable with what we could crank out of there. And the fact that we had a Neve console in the other room, yet we were working on a small Mackie board and some DA-88s, was pretty funny. But the record sounded pretty good--we mixed it in the other room on the Neve console, but we were basically in a tiny little vocal booth inside the bigger studio at the house. The bigger studio was being used for other projects while we were working, so you know...
So you couldn't just take over and use that stuff...
No, we couldn't, but at the same time, it was kind of better because we were able to keep focused better and get more done, because if I use the bigger studio, I need an engineer because there's too much that can go wrong. It's like, I don't even know how many inputs that board has, but it's set up for 52 channels or something. There's so much going on that your signal path could get lost anywhere; it could be one mute button that you could never find! You know, 'Geez...'
'Aw, where the hell'd it go?'
So we elected for the smaller board that was sooo much easier to use and used some decent mic pres and stuff like that--and it turned out pretty good. I've been doing some TV music and TV scoring and things here and there, so ultimately I like being in the studio more than live performing anyway; it's always been that way with me, because nine times out of ten, the places that we play are places I wouldn't even want to go as a patron. (laughs) 'Cause I'm kind of anti-social in that way; I don't like a loud, smoke-filled place where people are drinking--call me crazy, but those are usually the places that musicians have to play and if I can find a way to sort of not have to go there, I'd rather be in the studio.
So have you done much touring with Z and stuff?
We've done a little. I would probably enjoy touring more if it wasn't so hard--not necessarily the shows and stuff, because those are the fun part. It's the traveling, it's the nightmare of when you're just starting out, trying to build an audience. It's all the political hassles and pitfalls and things that are unpleasant. It just doesn't make for an enjoyable experience or--you can easily get run down, get unhealthy, sick, whatever. I just thought for myself that I'd rather avoid that at this point in my life. Just because I don't see any benefit in it for me at this moment. I guess if I had a product that I really, really, really wanted to push and was 'I'm going to kill myself for this,' then I would. Right now, I'd rather just find a project that I can do in the studio. My brother Ahmet and I, we did some commercials for ESPN for baseball season. We did 12 spots that are going to run through the baseball season but I get to do the music for them, and the spots are like Starsky and Hutch, so it's like this '70s style thing going on.
So you know, slowly but surely I'm finding my way into this new business [producing], because I like creating music to fit a certain mood almost more than I enjoy writing a song. I like the whole scoring process. I'd like to do the whole movie scoring stuff, but that's a really hard business to get into, because they just use the people that they know, and when you try to get it, they always try to low-ball you something that you have to work these horrible hours for no money just to...but 'you're willing to do it to get your foot in the door' kind of thing. It's still...it shouldn't be that way.
In terms of producing, this is the first time you worked on someone else's project?
I've produced my own stuff, but that was the first time, when I was working with Warren, that I was really trying to get something out of someone else, and it's almost easier in some ways, and then there's some elements that make it more difficult. Especially if you're dealing with a friend.
You have to be the taskmaster.
You have to be the taskmaster, and you also have to be making decisions that may be unpopular. We never ran into a situation where there was any real argument about anything but there were times when we were both basically saying the same thing but we weren't getting through to each other and it was...there's just too much time taken up to have those kinds of miscommunications, especially when we were under that deadline. It may have been a lot easier if we had the full six months or whatever he needed to make the record. To race through it and every day go, 'Look, I know that they want this record delivered,' and he goes, 'Yeah, I know that too, but I can't do it any faster than I'm doing it.' You can't force someone to be creative: 'OK it's noon; you be creative now. C'mon, do it, seriously.!'
So if a half a day goes by and you get nothing, and then you get 15 minutes at the end of the day, that's still the 15 minutes that you needed. But if you get too many of those days in a week, you start going, 'Oh my god, I gotta take some time off.' The trick of it is to find out when you really are needing some time off. Because if sometimes you need to take three, four, five days off, you can get a lot more done when you come back because you're much more into it, as opposed to trying to keep going. These are the little things you end up learning--it's kind of a trial by fire on your first attempt.
But when I'm working on my own, it's perhaps even harder for me to know when to take a break. I can gauge somebody else's lull, whereas mine, I may just keep going through just because it may be close enough in my mind. But you get this sort of insane...thing going on in your mind where you keep thinking you're going to prove something, where it may already be as good as it's ever going to get or as good it needs to be already. But you could have erased it 200 times to keep getting this one other thing--this one subtle change that no one will ever hear the difference, just you. But maybe you might not even hear the difference in two weeks. I've struggled with that before in my earliest producing stuff, where I would go, 'It's good but it's good enough.' It's like you're almost done but you can't allow yourself to be finished, because you just have to keep fucking around.
Yeah, with guitar solos and stuff, I was just taking up... Oh! There's one guitar solo that I did on one record, the Shampoohorn record, where literally I just went insane for four days. I wanted to have this solo work without punching in, I just wanted to have a solid uhh yet at the same time, I wanted to make it up; I didn't want to write the solo, I wanted it just to happen.
That's a pretty big demand of anybody I think.(laugh)
Yeah, but the thing was, the solos were all pretty good, but they were never quite what I was hearing in my head, and even the one that I ended up keeping wasn't the one I was hearing in my head, but the thing about it that was such a nightmare was that I did 1,500 takes. They used a clicker to tell me, because at a certain point, they were going, 'you're going nuts' because I'd play two notes and go, 'Nope! Do it again!'
I just got in such a rut that I actually discolored the tape from the amount of times that it was re-wound. And the version that came out? The solo's good but it's not this thing that you go, 'Wow--four days! 1,500 takes!" Because I could have played anything else and somebody would have liked it just as much. Once I got that out of my system, I never had to do anything like that again. I was just like, 'Whatever happens, happens.'
Yeah. That was my one moment of true studio insanity.
Do you do all your recording at your family's studio?
I've done the most recent stuff there, but I had recorded... The first thing I took some production credit on was the Confessions record, which I produced with Nuno Bettancourt, and we did that at some studio, not the worst studio, but not a great studio. it was this place in Hollywood; it was on Santa Monica Boulevard, and anytime it got later than 9 o'clock, it was scary outside. We were afraid, because we had a lot of nights where we would finish at one in the morning and you go outside and wonder if your car is going to be there, if you're going to be shot. So that wasn't too good.
Then we were working at our rehearsal place, which we kind of turned into a recording studio, but at the time recording there, it was like a...it wasn't a very well equipped studio. It was like, we said, 'Fuck it, we'll go super low tech.' We had a Yamaha mixing console from a live mixing situation--that was our board. We had not too much outboard gear, but we were, 'You know what? It doesn't matter--we're just going to get this in and it's just gonna sound like what its going to sound like.'
Then we started adding more things, and then the old board from the house, which was a Harrison board which had a lot of modifications on it for Frank's stuff. The board that went into the house was a Neve console, so the Harrison went into the old recording studio in Hollywood, and it started to sound a little better in there, and now you get stuff to sound really pretty good. It's not necessarily the standard studio set up; it's a big room but it's a dead room. It doesn't have a hard wood surface or anything for good reflections on it. So you tend to have to do other things to get these reflections, put up weird baffles and stuff like that. It's a pretty, pretty... All the places that I can work in now, are good. I have a lot of things available to me, but they can always be improved--you can rent some stuff.
With the larger studio which you said is at your house, are you the only people who use that, do you have projects that come in?
We rarely have anybody come into the studio at the house, simply because it's our house, you know? It's usually kept busy full-time with some projects that are unfinished of my dad's and then there's stuff that I'm doing. There's always something to do in there, so even if we wanted to have other people come in, I think there would be a scheduling problem. But you never know. There may be some projects. They would have to be good friends of ours though; we wouldn't just go get some freaks in off the streets and let them record their new album.
Tell me about the What The Hell Was I Thinking project; how did that get under way?
It started off as a joke, and it's remained a big nightmare joke as it's gone on. I wanted to do something, in the beginning, that would be 15 minutes long with just a couple of different styles of music and four or five or six different guitar players play randomly on stuff that I designed for them to play on. But I kept getting more ideas of what I wanted to put into it and it kept growing.
At one point, I was, 'OK, it's just going to be a half-hour' then it was an hour and then I said, 'Well, fuck it, I'll just make it the entire length of the CD.' Start to finish, you can't get a single bit more information on the CD and it's continuous, never stops. And even then, I have too much stuff that I want to put into it that I can't get into it now. But it's going to end up with 35 or 40 different guitar players and as many ethnic styles of music as I could put into it, but it's all guitar, bass and drums, and it's guitars doing stuff that's not really been attempted before. Big orchestrations of things and different weird sounds and just whatever I could do on guitar, I just tried. I was trying to make guitar...I did music by the Bulgarian Women's Choir on guitar, trying to make it sound as much like their voices as I could.
(I chuckle) It sounds kinda cool.
Yeah, it worked out really good, but there's little pieces of my dad's music thrown in throughout as sort of some thread through some areas. There's some pretty cool performances--some guitar players on it, within two or three notes, you know who it is, and it's perfect. Eric Johnson, as soon as he comes on, you recognize it's Eric Johnson. Brian May, Edward Van Halen--these things just pop out. Joe Walsh, you hear these guys and you just know right away who it is, and yet they're playing on something they wouldn't normally playing over and it just came out of a section that bears no resemblance to the part they're playing on now. The only way I could make a piece like this work for 75 minutes would be if it changed drastically from moment to moment, because it's hard enough to keep someone's interest for two minutes let alone 75.
Yeah, I was going to say, how do you do that without fatiguing your listener?
Well, the main thing is that every....moment to moment, there's a drastic change in the tonality of everything, from the drums to guitar tone to everything. The room tone, everything changes so it's not like the drums and the bass never change throughout the whole thing and the guitarists just have a couple of things to do. Everything changes, so it's got it's own unique flavor for that particular moment, and you can't predict where it's going to go, because it's like fast, slow, in between, different ethnic moments happen. When it's all put together on the CD, it will have cue points and you'll be able to cue straight to your favorite guitar player if you want, but it will also give you an idea...like, there's stuff that goes from...it's like taking a ride from some Arabian-flavored music to Japan. And in between that, there will be "Chattanooga Choo Choo." So it's this Arabian Express or something. It's very odd moments that are all connected but you don't know how or why.
And I never knew if it would work or not, but so far it's all still working, even though I've been working on it for six years and no one's heard the parts that I've already taken out, I've been constantly tweaking it to the point where... I can listen to it as many times as I've heard it, I can still listen to it all the way through. And everybody that I've tested it on, I asked them all at a certain point how long they think they've been listening to it, and they'll say 15-20 minutes, and it'll be 40 minutes into it. Some people might choose to never listen to it all the way through, but it's like a background thing. It's an audio movie kind of thing. It just takes you through weird shit.
Weaving all that together, I can't imagine. To be able to connect something like the Arabian to the Japanese has got to be an odd-ball thing to try and pull off.
It is, and in some cases, we would play the transitions physically and in other cases, it's just an edit, but you'll never know what's what. Because it's pretty seamless, all the stuff, because you can' do incredible edits now with computers, so you never really know what it is. It starts off with this mockery of the 20th Century Fox fanfare and continues on. The very end of the whole thing is a joke in and of itself, because it goes through 10 or 12 different styles of endings. It starts off with a lullaby, because oh, you've heard so much that you're probably tired. It goes through three lullabies then it does the standard blues ending, it does anything that cues you that you know it's supposed to end, those are all connected. Until it finally ends with 'da na na, na na, na.' That whole kind of thing, but it's all through...after you've heard all this stuff, you have to go through these short little ending jokes.
In terms of getting all these people on it, were you going to them in order to record, did they come to you?
Some people I knew, some people I didn't know and it was like a question of availability. If they said they could do it but they could only do it where they were at that particular time, I'd go there. I recorded Yngwie Malmsteen in Florida, I recorded Eric Johnson in Austin, TX, Brian May in England...so most of the other people I did in Los Angeles, either at their studio or my studio or wherever it was convenient. And it hasn't been that big of a problem.
I've got a lot of my favorite players on there. Edward Van Halen, clearly a big, huge influence on me; Eric Johnson was great to have on there; Brian May, Angus and Malcom Young, Steve Vai, Joe Walsh--you hear all these people on this thing and Brian Setzer did a great thing on there too. When you hear them, sometimes some of them are back to back even though they never were together in the studio, and the parts resemble...it's just a drastic change from one to the next. But it still works. Until anyone hears it, they're just going to have to take my word for it.
Now, would you bring that out on your own label?
I think so, because of the nature of all the other people involved. If I had to try to take it to a major label, there's gonna be all the confusion and people trying to go "Well, you know, originally, it was just going to be your independent thing, and one record company may not give permission or whatever, and I don't even want to give them any ideas on that.
Any idea when this might come out?
My goal is, well, I'm still waiting to do Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, and I'd love to finish this thing this year. If I could get around to recording Jimmy and Jeff, depending on their schedule and whatever, then I'd finish putting the pieces together myself, because there's a couple of little unfinished bits that need to be tweaked and then I have mix it. It's like a giant connect-the-dots; I've connected almost every dot, but then I have to color it in. With any luck, I'll finish it this year and put it out early next year. But you never know.
Yeah, it was funny because the PR people sent me a pile of your old press releases and stuff, and they were from last June and stuff, saying 'oh, it's coming out later this year' and you go back further and the releases talk about it...
It's always like that because of the scheduling. Like when Eric Johnson originally said he could do it, I had to wait two years. So I've had the patience of a saint on this thing, and I think that at a certain point, I'll either have to go 'all right, no one else has to be on this and I'll just finish it all myself,' or 'I've waited this long for everybody else, I might as well continue to wait.' If something's not going to make that big of a difference, then I'll just proceed forward, but I just think that it would be great to just get Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page and some of these other things, because then it's this insane line up of people doing something that's pretty different. And especially now, further away from the beginning of this project. I mean, when I started, people still were into guitar playing and musicianship--and now, no one really plays very well or cares.
There's a lot of that shabby, LoFi thing, kind of like what you were talking about before.
Yeah. So it's either the best time or the worst time ever to put out something that has musicianship on it. But I think the record may find a resurgence of guitar aficionados, because there's nothing out there like that. You never know--just the novelty alone of having all those guitar players all on one record is probably going to interest a few people.
Well, yeah--it sounds like an encyclopedia of guitar players. In terms of recording these folks, did you talk to them about what you wanted or was it, 'Well, here's the track; just go nuts with it, do whatever you like.'
A lot of times, I knew that they would connect to it right away and do their own thing, and then sometimes I would say, 'Well it would be nice if you could sort of re-tread this area of your playing and add this.' Like for Van Halen, Edward plays two solos on it and the first solo is about two minutes long, which is the longest solo that he's done on any record, but it's a collection of all of his best licks. It's as if you sampled every lick you liked and then just strung it together, but he actually plays it that way. 'Cause what I did was to say, 'I want you to use this and this and this and this.' And I would show him some of the licks and he'd be, 'Oh yeah--I forgot about that one.' So I had to kind of re-teach him some of them, but he could still play all that stuff, he just doesn't have the same inclination to play them any more because it's...
He already did it.
He did it and also no one cares in the same way that they did in the early 80s because people sort of dismiss flash guitar playing as being retarded, non-musical, unimportant, whatever, but I still think it's pretty damn cool to be able to do some of the stuff that he does. So that's the first solo; on the next one, he gets to do whatever he wants. That was one case specifically where I said, 'This is what I want.' With Brian May, I wanted him to do some layered guitar harmony stuff, and also have lead lines that played in between. That wasn't very difficult for him to do. There's a lot of the stuff where people just connected to it right away. Like the Brian Setzer thing--he just did his thing and it was perfect.
Joe Walsh just walked in, and he did his part faster than anybody else. It was hilarious--he had an amp this big [puts hands about 18" apart], he brought two guitars, plugged straight in, he was ready to go in a mere couple of moments, everything he played was good, and he was done in like 25 minutes and that was it. He always just has such a great sound and when he walked in with that little amp, it just made me laugh. I said, 'Do you use this all the time?' and he said 'I pretty much record with this all the time,' so these awesome guitar sounds that he has--"Rocky Mountain Way" and all these things--are all small little amps. It's just the way he plays; it's the personality. He's got more personality in his hands than any of the gear, and that's what I found for almost everybody. Angus Young was in particular--if I tried to play his sound with his guitar, I sounded like some guy who's just learning how to play, who's testing a guitar at Guitar Center or something. But he played and suddenly there was all this sustain and it sounded perfect. That's just the nature of how he plays.
And the fun part of the project was that it was almost like espionage--I got to see how everybody does their stuff, learn all the secrets of how they got their sound to tape, and it was just as much fun as seeing them play. You're right next to the gear that you always wondered what it was, you get to touch it, look at the settings. It was great.
OK, let me ask you about the Frank Zappa Plays The Music of Frank Zappa record--how did that come about?
My mom had the idea of wanting to put out a record that had Frank's signature guitar songs on it, and I thought it would be good to include versions that pre-date the original so that you could hear the development of the theme and all that. I had to search for the appropriate versions of these songs in the vault and there was a lot of stuff to listen to. There were a couple of people involved in the whole process of listening, because you know, I had a hard time listening to all the stuff because it made get a little weird every now and again. So I had other people listen to it, and I was giving them the guidelines of what I was looking for. When they found something that was close to that, I would listen to it. What ended up happening was that we found basically what we were looking for.
In the case of "Black Napkins," we were trying to find one that was the very first recording. We were trying to find an actual introduction, saying that this is the first time this song has been performed and it's called "Black Napkins." We found the closest facsimile to the whole thing, which was...and it was recorded in Yugoslavia, back in. It's the first version of a song, done in a country that doesn't even exist now. It's this weird glimpse of the past and the future in this whole thing. It was a good version of it and then to have it connect up with the original so you can really see the progression is great.
There were some people who are like a little bit perturbed that the originals were included, and I think that it was a necessity to have them included so that you could hear specifically the transformation. It goes either way--some people are really excited that both are there so you can hear it, and other people are, 'I already have the originals; why would you make me buy that?' Well, a lot of people may never have heard the song before need to hear it, so it needs to be on it. But we had a couple of people who wrote to us and said, 'You just repackaged it so we have to re-buy it!' It's like, 'Well, then I fooled you! Crazy freak!'
Hey, you bought it. So were those obvious standout versions that you found or did you have to pick and choose and weigh differences between versions a bit?
They really were very stand out version, although there were so many to choose from. "Black Napkins" is the first version--it's much more sedate, compared to the rippin' version from Japan--the original. He's playing with a clean tone in Yugoslavia, and then it's this dirty, nasty sound in Japan, and he had completed the phrasing idea at that point. You hear a different phrasing. I think "Black Napkins" is one of the coolest guitar instrumentals because the phrasing on it is really cool over those chords. It's like a waltz, but it's very, very much part of my dad's personality. It's very Frank. That, "Zoot Allures," and "Watermelon in Easter Hay" are so specific to his style of playing and phrasing, that I wanted to find other versions that helped support that whole thing, his whole personality in there, but also give a glimpse of what else it could have been.
"Watermelon in Easter Hay," the version we found I think pre-dated the studio recording by more than a year. I just find it interesting to see how stuff is lying around or kicking around and how it becomes something, because most of the time, you only hear the one version and nobody really knows what else it could have been. And to call it "Frank Zappa Plays The Music of Frank Zappa: A Memorial Tribute" was kind of a joke in and of itself, because to have somebody else attempt to play these songs on guitar would never ever sound like Frank at all. He's the only one that could play those and have it create that vibe. I've heard people attempt to play Frank before and no matter how well-intentioned they may be, it doesn't really end up with the proper result. So hence the title.
I think it's a good record, it's a special record for people who are already familiar with those songs. People who haven't ever heard them, I haven't heard too many reactions from those kinds of people yet, but people who really had always appreciated those songs got a kick out this record--they enjoyed it.
One thing I meant to ask you was about the sequencing. All of the songs running into each other, except for "Zoot Allures" which was interrupted--was there any particular reason?
I thought that it didn't necessarily have to have every one back to back. It felt like that one, because it was so different from the one that people became familiar with on the record, that you should have some space to digest the new and different version that was from Japan. It just set up better as a more comfortable listening, if you were going to listen to the whole record. Because I didn't want it to ever feel like it was all pre-programmed to be this, this; this, this. Go A, B with each song. I wanted the record to flow nicely, because some people may never even figure out that they're listening to different songs, because some of the edits on some of those things change, yet you don't necessarily know that it's become a new song. I just wanted it to have a good feel for the solid listening.
The clips that they sent me, which were mostly interviews for your last record, it seems that there's sort of a frustration that your father's music comes up as a topic so often.
I never get frustrated really. I appreciate all of his music, and I've always said that if anyone should be allowed to have any of that influence end up in their music, it should be me or Ahmet or someone from our family. And there should be no reason for anybody to question that. Even having said that, his influence has been great but yet it hasn't appeared so much necessarily in my recorded work. It's appeared more in the live stuff that we've done. Certainly with the next few projects that I'm going to be putting out, it's going to be much more apparent. So then there's going to be people who are like, "Well, how come the sudden shift?" It's always been there, I just fuckin'...you know, you grow up, you mature in what you're doing, you more of a focused idea, and really the core influences that you have, they'll always be there, but they may show up much more so when you're really clear about what you want to do.
So the stuff like What The Hell Was I Thinking, there's even bits of my dad's music throughout the whole thing that just appear here or there--little phrases, little elements of it. Michael Hedges, the acoustic guitar player, does a version of "Sofa"(?) in the middle of, actually towards the end of the piece. These little things, I think really, the older I get, the more I start thinking about the reasons that I even write music the more his influences are going to show up. I'm less interested in the pyrotechnics of guitar, and I'm more interested in the relationship of melody and chords now, much more so than I ever have been.
There's always a long time in between projects for me anyway. Sometimes I work really fast when I make the record, but then it takes a long time to put it out because we're in an independent situation and distribution deals come and go for us. Like even Music For Pets was done for two years before it ever even came out, so by the time it came out, it was an old record for us, but it's brand-new for somebody else. I'd like to avoid situations like that, but sometimes you can't, so you're less enthusiastic about it, even when it's brand new to someone. That's unfortunate, but these new projects, I'd rather finish them and be really into them and get them out as close to when they're actually finished as possible, but What The Hell Was I Thinking has been going on for six years! If it takes another three years, I probably won't even question it, really.
See, when I finish that, then I'm really going to be wondering, "What the hell am I really going to do?" Because I've just had that as this thing in the background, looming for so long. Either it's going to free me up to do so much more, or I'm going to start going, "Well, now what?"
But I have this other solo record that I started working on, which I hadn't done anything like this for a long time where because I have this new studio, I've been doing it a lot more on my own. I've been doing all the engineering and I've done some songs where I played everything I could but drums because I'm a horrible drummer. It'll be me doing guitar and bass and singing, whatever else I can throw on there, which is a much more personalized record than I've ever done before. So that one, I don't know, that one's close to be recorded at this point, but I don't have a scheduled release for that yet, or even a concept of what I'm going to do. I don't know if I'd want to put a band together and go and play that and be on my own--or not. I may be too afraid. Never know, because I have a lot of other interests that somehow, sometimes take me out of the studio.
Like, sometimes I'll work in there and I'll be happy doing stuff every day for a couple of months, and then I won't even go in the studio for two or three months--I'll just go play golf. Where I used to be really focused on a time frame, I'm much more relaxed about stuff because I just feel like it's done when it's done. I never really thought I'd end up in that kind of situation, but it's kind of, I think it's only going to get worse from there. I'll be like, 'Hey listen--six years between records? That's good! That's a short time.'(we laugh)
Do the Boston thing.
Yeah. So there's other things, because I'd like to get into the musical scoring stuff, and there's even TV things where I may be forced to be in front of the camera or whatever is appealing to us currently. Even if I ended up doing voice-overs as a way to earn money, I'd probably still be, that'd be fine with me. It's never been that 'Oooh, I want to be a rock star!' or something like that. That is nonsensical to me. I enjoy music, haven't found a way to reach the ultimate audience, because I think the stuff I do will appeal to people--if they're able to hear it, yet at the same time, because of the independent nature of the way we do stuff, and the horrible state of the record industry as it is, you're just battling stuff that you shouldn't have to battle. If stuff was just based on musical merit or whatever, there's be a lot better music for people to get their hands on and listen to.
I'm sort of waiting for the distribution angle in the future to disappear, where people can just directly download whatever music they want. If and when it starts happening, and a big band can directly download their stuff to their fans, and they can control that, the artist will finally be able to really benefit from what they're doing. Because record companies, they just barely give you what you should be getting. You get a band like Aerosmith, they have a solid fan base. If they were direct marketing to their fans right now, they'd probably still sell their eight million records or more, and make nearly 100 percent of the profit, whereas now, maybe they make 30 percent of the profit. The moment you get a band that make a huge amount of their profit...
That's going to change everything.
Oh yeah! Record companies will go completely down the toilet, because there's not going to be one major artist that's going to want to stay on a record company if they can go directly to their fans.
'Cause you're just supporting somebody else's infrastructure.
Yeah. So the record companies have got to be panicking at this point. If you keep your costs down on making a record and you can comfortably sell to people 100,000 or 200,000 or 300,000, you can make a good living, you know? If you start to build an audience and you start selling millions and you're selling directly to people, well that's what everybody's kind of hoping for, but it's that kind of thing you have to wait for. And then there'll be a whole lot more music available to people, but the whole thing about where you find out about it is going to be another thing altogether. That's going to be a nightmare.
It's a little much as it is. MTV is just totally unhelpful.
Yeah, there's nothing on there to see. It's all game shows.
That M2 thing may start to develop. Somebody should have done it years ago.
Everyone that I know, we all think back to 82 or 83, and it's all "back when it was cool, man"--but I don't know that it was all that great back then either. Fondness for a time clouds things.
They were still pushing shit back then that was horrifying. I remember when I was working there, in 1987 and 88, I was having to introduce Lionel Ritchie videos 10 times a day. "Here's Lionel Ritchie, dancing on the ceiling!" And I'd be sitting there, going "this video sucks." Long before Beavis and Butthead. I can't even talk about videos, it's so bad. But at least it was music programming back then. They had to play that shit over and over again because they had to fill time. But now they have so little time for bands to get on there that it's impossible to get on. And they used to pretend how there wasn't any 'Urban' programming, any 'Black' programming--that's all I ever see on there now. And they still pretend like there's not enough on there. There's still some people complaining--"There's not enough black artists!" Really? I haven't seen anything but black artists.
It's amazing how segmented it's gotten. If you tune in, maybe during a certain half-hour 'show'--if you even remember when it's on--they'll maybe play something from a genre you like.
Yeah, man. Every time you tune in usually, it's just some rap thing, some hip-hop thing. I guess that's the sign of the times; everybody's really into that music for whatever reason. I have a hard time with it. I have a hard time feeling back for the Tupac Shakurs and Notorious B.I.Gs of the world. I don't know why, but whatever.
Slightly different kind of music--how did you get involved with the Pat Boone metal record?
The whole thing is, I've always liked to play on anything and everything, because you always learn something no matter what the experience is. I heard he was making a Heavy Metal album and I jokingly said to someone, "Oh, I gotta play on that!" And then it ended up happening!
I think the way it worked was, I was doing a documentary for German television on the death of Heavy Metal, and they said that he was making a Heavy Metal album. I said, "Well, there you go; he's the reason it's over." I said, "Clearly, I need to play on that record." And some of the people involved with that, they were interviewing him and I guess they said that I wanted to play on it, and then I ended up getting a call. I never expected that I'd have any dealings with Pat Boone. It just never occurred to me that it was even plausible.
I ended up playing on that, and then I ended up on an episode of a TV show never aired, where I actually played with him on that. It was this ABC drama series called, Second Noah, and I had to play a fictional rock star--it was sooo horrible--named Cyrus Rhodes. God, it was bad! So I had to play with him on that, but then I actually played with him on the Tonight Show, and then I ran into him at a couple of golf tournaments, so I actually can't escape Pat Boone.
And he's actually very funny! I gotta give him credit--he's pretty witty and he's having fun with what he's doing, so it's perfect.
I saw him on Politically Incorrect a couple of months ago, and I was surprised, because I didn't know anything more about him than "Tutti Frutti" or something. He came across really well--funny, but also really on the ball.
Yeah, he's pretty entertaining. When I've spent a little time with him and talked with him, you can't help but like the guy, you know? It's just weird. I guess it's just because he's having such a good time that it rubs off...
Well, I've taken up enough of your time for one afternoon.