Interviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2005  |  0 comments

(This Interview originally appeared in Volume 1, issues 5/6 of The Tracking Angle, published in the winter of 1995/96)

Ever hear an LP copy of Maurice Jarré's soundtrack to "Dr. Zhivago"? It was released by MGM during the label's "Sounds Great In Stereo" era. They'd put that statement on the record jacket whether or not what was inside was really recorded in stereo. "It would sound great if it had been recorded in stereo, but unfortunately, it wasn't, " is what MGM meant to put on the cover, I'm sure, but they probably didn't have room.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2005  |  0 comments

M.F.: I remember when we were working on "Tron" we were in London in the Royal Albert Hall, we had about 108 pieces waiting, and the guy's sitting up at the organ waiting, while a fight broke out between Wendy Carlos and her associate on one side, and a guy named John Mosley who we'd hired to supervise the recording sessions. And there was a copy of the score being pulled back and forth till it just about ripped in half, so that was a swell time.

S.M.:All about how it was gonna be done?

M.F.:How it was gonna be miked, and.....

S.M.:Yeah, you see that's not the time to have the discussion.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 31, 2005  |  0 comments

The door to the Velvel Records reception area opened a good dozen times while I awaited Ray Davies' arrival. There was a constant stream of FedEx and UPS delivery men, visitors, and Velvel workers. Each time it opened it could have been for Davies, but I knew it wasn't, though the door opened toward where I was seated, blocking my view of the entrant.

With a click of the knob and a rush of air, the door opened one particular time and I knew immediately it was Raymond Douglas Davies' entrance. I would have bet a hundred bucks and I would have collected. What told me? The panache with which the door flew open? The “vibe?” I don't know. I just knew it was Ray, and it was.

John Nork  |  Sep 30, 2004  |  0 comments

TA: You probably don't remember this, Chris, but when I interviewed you and Roger in 1977, way back when you were in Miami, I asked you guys why you didn't call yourselves The Byrds when you were in McGuinn, Clark and Hillman, and you said that you promised you wouldn't unless David were there, and I said, "What did he do? Threaten to write more 'Mind Gardens'?" and everyone got a good yuk out of that.

CH: (laughs).

TA: What about "Hey Joe?"

CH: Well, that's okay. I think that David did it really good, but I don't remember. I think that I don't take it as seriously because the Lees, kind of this Byrds-clone, put it out.

John Nork  |  Sep 30, 2004  |  0 comments

John Nork: Let me start back in the past, Chris - how did you get into music?

Chris Hillman: Okay, that's a good question. You know, you'd think I'd get that question all the time, but I never do. I grew up in a home where my parents were not musicians but they had wonderful tastes and there was always music on the record player. Their tastes ran from big-band music, which was their era, and Duke Ellington and Count Basie was what I heard...in fact, one day when I was in my early teens I found an old 78 album of Josh White and I asked my father, "Where did you get this?" And he said, "Oh, I just picked it up at one point." And what's really interesting is that my older sister steered me into music - she went to college in the '50s and she came back from her first year or two in the early '50s, you know, with The Weavers and Pete Seeger and stuff, and I started to listen to that. I bought rock-and-roll records in 1956 and 1957, junior high school. You know, 1957: the year of rock and roll. So, I bought all that, and then, like a lot of people my age, I drifted into folk music. I didn't really get into The Kingston Trio or The Brothers Four; I lasted maybe a week with that, but I really liked the more traditional stuff. I gotta hand it to my older sister. She sort of steered me in that direction and I took it from there. Of course, I wanted to get a guitar and I got an inexpensive guitar and started banging out chords out of a chord book. I didn't take any lessons or anything.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 31, 2004  |  0 comments
Musicians have fans. Baseball players have fans. But mastering engineers? It would seem unlikely that a guy or gal who transfers tapes to CD or vinyl would garner a substantial public "following" ( a few groupie audiophiles notwithstanding), but over the past decade Steve Hoffman has managed to do just that.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 31, 2004  |  0 comments

M.F.:Here and there. Okay. Now what's happening with these Everest 35MM tape classical LP titles. Are they selling?

S.H.:Yeah. We would like to do some more. It's so expensive

M.F.:What 35 millimeter plyaback chain are you using to play those back?

S.H.:We're using a local collector in Los Angeles who has a pretty good sounding set up.

M.F.:It's a Westrex?

S.H.: It's been modified a little bit, but it's still very hard on the film.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2004  |  4 comments

MF: For the most part, you chose the material; it was only a few people who…

Martin: Pretty well, pretty well. I mean the idea of Vanessa Mae doing "Because": The idea of a mini violin concerto came first, and I had to find someone to play it.

MF: But she put so much into that. Sometimes that kind of thing doesn’t work—when you try to “classical-ify” something. But that was very good.

So aside from the Beatles, who were the most memorable artists that you’ve produced? Any standouts?

Martin: Any other artists? Well, I’ve been so lucky to produce so many people. It’s difficult to name one. It’s like saying, what’s your favorite track? Obviously, Peter Sellers comes pretty high on that list. We worked very well together.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2004  |  0 comments

This interview with George Martin was conducted in July of1998 and was originally intended for The Tracking Angle. Unfortunately, we ceased publication before it could be run. It appeared later in Art Dudley’s wonderful Listener magazine, also sadly defunct. Martin was in New York on a media tour publicizing In My Life his farewell production. It wasn’t particularly well received in the press, but it was what Martin wished to do, and that was good enough for him and for me. Meeting Martin was a memorable experience that I shall never forget.

The hotel door cracks open and you're startled to see Sir George Martin has answered your knock, looking just as you've seen him in the photographs, only taller and even more imposing. He welcomes you sincerely, in a polished voice that's soothing yet terribly aristocratic and proper sounding.

Foolishly, involuntarily, (and you hope surreptitiously) your eyes momentarily lose contact with Martin's to dart around the room looking for those other familiar faces always in the photos. You lock onto Martin's eyes, which say to you, "Don't worry. We're used to it. You're not the only one who's looked."

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 31, 2003  |  0 comments

Jack Pfeiffer: The Last Interview

When I sat down at last January's (1996) Consumer Electronics Show with veteran RCA producer Jack Pfeiffer, I had no way of knowing that I would be conducting the final interview he would ever give. Pfeiffer suffered a fatal heart attack on Thursday February 8th, 1996 at his RCA office where he'd worked in the Red Seal division for the past forty seven years. He was 75.

Jack Pfeiffer was a pleasant man, soft spoken and easy to talk to. When my rather limited knowledge of the classical music world became apparent, he picked up the slack so I wouldn't feel too uncomfortable.

My reason for speaking with him had less to do with anything technical, and more to do with getting his take on the work being rediscovered and appreciated by a younger generation of music lovers thirty plus years later, and how, given the usual corporate bottom line mentality (yes, even then) such a dedication to quality could prevail. So yes, it was more People and less Mix and under the circumstances that's fine with me.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 31, 2003  |  1 comments

M.F.:Now that whole "Dynagroove" thing. Do you want to....

J.P.:Well, I'll dispose of it quickly. Some of them were great, great recordings too.

M.F.:Recordings yes, but....

J.P.:Yeah.

M.F.:Once they got on to disc though....

J.P.:Well.

M.F.:The difference was in the cutting, correct? It wasn't in anything else.

J.P.:It was in two places, basically. It was in the cutting, but it was also in the mix down, because the head of our engineering department came up with a device to make the translation from a high level of listening to a moderate level of listening that most people listen to. And to make that translation from listening to it at high level to low level or lower level, it changed the whole ear characteristic change.

Matthew Greenwald  |  Jul 31, 2003  |  0 comments

Matthew' Greenwald Sparks Van Dyke Parks

MG: Well, let's first hit that great rewind button in the sky... After you attended Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh, I believe that one of the first professional jobs that you got as a musician was playing clarinet on Art Linkletter's television show, "House Party"...

Van Dyke Parks: (Laughter) No, I came out to California expecting that job to be waiting for me... It didn't happen. (Laughter)

MG: So, you came out here and lived with your older brother, Carson?

VDP: Yeah, we lived in Seal Beach.

MG: So I guess at that time you kind of set the clarinet aside and learned 'Raquinto' style guitar... Did the two of you play coffee houses?

VDP: Well, we played all of the hip places to play. We played all the way from San Diego to Santa Barbara. We went up and down the coast and played all these places.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 31, 2003  |  0 comments
Since the mid-sixties, producer Joe Boyd's name has been synonymous with the British folk/rock scene. Through his Witchseason productions, Boyd produced the classic albums of The Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, Richard and Linda Thompson, Nick Drake, Martin Carthy, and Sandy Denny among others. During that fertile musical period, the Witchseason logo on an album was an ironclad guaranty of good music- and fine sound.
Michael Fremer  |  Jul 31, 2003  |  0 comments

In a career spanning almost 30 years and 18 albums, Joan Armatrading has established herself as one of the most durable and respected artists in popular music. Her honesty and integrity as both a musician and world citizen are rare in a field that regularly breeds shooting stars.

Born in the West Indies on the island of St. Kitts in 1950, and moving to England when she was 7, Armatrading absorbed both the lilting, sunny rhythms of the Caribbean and the grittiness of post-industrial Birmingham. Her tough, yet vulnerable musical stance has influenced two generations of performers, attracted to her unique, difficult to categorize brand of music.

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