Saturday, February 9, 2013

'Sound City' Dave Grohl

Sylvia Massey would do this thing with tape, and I'd seen it done before but not like that, not by some one who seemed to do it with such ease, it was amazing…

My band was at Phase One in the big room (Studio A) on the Neve console recording drums for Glueleg 'Clodhopper' and after she had used up all the mic's, cables, gotten a wicked drum sound and then Chris Simpson had worked some sort of magic, Sylvia cut tape.  I remember asking if it made her nervous, these were the drum tracks after all. She was patient, explaining the process, the way she found the parts and where to cut. It made me nervous, but I'm a bass player.  Still the result was seamless and an experience I will never forget…I should have taken more pictures.

I should say I am lucky; I've recorded on 4 track cassettes, 16 track half inch, 24 track two inch tape and a plethora of digital medium. In the 1990s I was in a Canadian band at the dawn of the Protools revolution and we were able to record a 'professional' album.   We did record digitally but I don't think we used Protools, I'm fairly sure it was a bank of ADAT machines for the over dubs. But we did used tape; two inch tape and 24 tracks for the drums and bass in that big room.

Then I watched this movie.

What really took me back was the sound of the tape spooling down and up when the 'record' and 'stop' buttons where pressed.  whvooooop! (1:12:45 with Stevie Nicks) Wow what a great sound.  Then there is the bit in the movie of James Brown editing tape, (1:03:02) what I said, a lost art.

This movie is awesome, it talks about music the way I think it should be, organic, natural, live.   I remember reading the liner notes on jazz records and being amazed that those heavy musician could do that live and I argued (and still do) for live recording.  There is something wonderful about that, the performance, the sounds and the attitude. This movie was a nostalgic trip through the process of writing a record. The interaction between musicians and the process of creation.

There are stand out moments: The writing section with Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor, and Josh Homme is something amazing (1:24:10)…I keep saying amazing and awesome and all that, but if you are a musician, engineer, producer or music fan you need to watch this film. Sitting in the studio they talk about how Trent 'uses technology as an instrument not as a crutch'.  Reznor all so notes that there are musicians that will never touch the real gear that the have emulated on their computer. The grove they knock down is super vibby and I want more and you cans see it grow you can almost feel their excitement.

There is also a history lesson here on rock and recording, starting in 1969 right up to the end and then the future.  There is Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Neil Young, Dio, Nirvana, Ratt, Rage Against the Machine, Rick Springfield, Masters Of Reality (who I had totally forgotten about), Fear, Johnny Cash and the producers like Butch Vig, Rick Rubin,  Ross Robinson That's just some of the artists.

There is the real people and their stories associated with the studio and the regular woes of the music industry. There is the moments of stars being star struck and the meeting of musical peers and the resulting genius.  There is mention of magic and things that shouldn't be. There is the wonder of the things that were, are and will come.  There is the childish wonder and exuberance when something wonderful happens.

It's about music, it's about rock and roll.

I guess I am being nostalgic.

Whatever, I'm still doing it.