From the archives. Recorded November 1998.
Cris Cohen interviews Roger McGuinn. They discuss:
- His album "Live From Mars"
- "King of the Hill," the duet he recorded with Tom Petty
- His love of folk music
- Learning to perform as a solo artist
- And more
When The Rolling Stones album “Voodoo Lounge” was released in the 90s, it received a number of much deserved compliments from fans, critics, and other musicians. (Seriously, check it out. There are great songs on that record.) I remember one writer asked Eric Clapton why he thought it was so good and he said, because Charlie was really into it.
Although somewhat subtle in both his demeanor and playing, Charlie Watts profoundly influenced his bandmates, the sound of The Rolling Stones, and drummers everywhere. I think what made him special was his cool confidence behind the kit. It is probably a challenge to play with larger-than-life figures like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. But Charlie’s playing never clashed with what they were doing, nor did it get buried in the background. It just made their music that much better.
Cris Cohen: You talked about how, if you know her, if you're in her circle, Patty will eventually write something about you and be brutally honest about it. Were you cool with that from moment one? Or was it odd the first time it happened to you?
Dwight Baker of The Wind and The Wave: I will say that it doesn't happen to me as much, but to be a friend of hers or her husband, who is a hell of a man, because he, his name, or his personage are in those songs a lot. I think he's had to be a pretty strong person. I think they've done some couples therapy about lyrics that she's written before. I don't know if I said that in the interview you saw, but I've said after she's presented a lyric, "Are you sure you want to sing that? You are going to have to have a real conversation with at least two people after singing that."
And she's just like, "I can't do it any other way. This is the way I do it."
Speak your truth.
Rich Redmond, drummer for Jason Aldean: We are all running businesses. And businesses thrive on repeat business. A lot of the people I have worked with in my life I have been able to count on for continued business because they know that I am going to be the first one there, I am going to be the last one to leave, I'm going to have a smile on my face, I am going to be able to take direction, and hopefully we are going to have a great experience together. And that has worked out for me.
John McFee of The Doobie Brothers: Growing up, it wasn't the greatest childhood honestly. So music was my refuge. It was an escape.
Cris Cohen: One of the things I found really interesting in terms of studio work, was the recording of the song “You, You, You” for this album. From what I read, you guys initially recorded with the entire band playing, but then you stripped it down to just vocals, keys, and a little bit of guitar. Why the U-turn?
John Easdale of Dramarama: Well, it was not a calculated move. It was just happenstance. It was like, “What if we took this out and that out?” That is the beauty of being in a recording studio; you can fiddle with the knobs and the faders. And you usually start from just one thing, and you can fix that sound, and then you add the others. We had it going one way, and then it was like, "What if you took this out? And what if you took that out"? We also added a little bit of atmosphere with the keyboards and the effects and whatnot. I am delighted with it. I think it adds to the feeling of the song.
Cris Cohen: And then, as far as the stuff that was removed, even though the other instruments were not heard on the final recording, do you think they were necessary to get the right mood for the song?
John Easdale: Looking back on it, I am not really sure if that was the way I had envisioned it at the beginning. I am sure we could have done it that way, but it was just a straightforward song. The words were the same, and the chords were the same.
It is really hard to answer that question. I can't imagine doing it any other way. Aside from some songs on one solo album I did, I have never recorded a song where I was the only musician.
Most of the time, when we record, it is as a group. Then we work on fixing the different parts. But we record live as best we can. It is trying to maintain that live feeling, the feeling of a bunch of guys playing in a room together.
Robbie Wulfsohn of Ripe: Inspiration can strike anywhere. The easiest way to find great songs is to try a bunch of different things and be as prolific as possible in the creative process. I don't have any rock solid faith like 'this formula is the magic bullet.' I just want to try every possible formula and see what yields things that feel true to us. We find that a mentality where we are committed to our formula being a lack of formula has been the best for us.
Cris Cohen: With the new song, “Let Me Down Easy,” you co-wrote that one with Pete Cornell. What do you like about him as a songwriter that you sought him out to co-write?
Kevin Martin of Candlebox: Well, I knew Pete obviously back in the eighties, when I moved to Seattle. I moved there in 1984. I met him a couple of times through shows and whatnot. Big fan of the band he had called Inflatable Soule. We had a ton of friends in common. We never played shows together, but I always admired him. I mean, he was so different than Chris (his brother). Being that he was a few years older, I think his songwriting was a little more of like the classic approach to songwriting. Whereas Chris just seemed to be so asymmetrical with his songwriting.
Years and years go by. Candlebox blows up and does its thing.
We get together in 2018 to play a couple of reunion shows in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the debut album. And Pete came to the show with his wife, Amy Decker, who is my manager. We just started chatting. I hadn't seen him in so long. I was like, “Man, first of all I am so sorry about the loss of Chris and the loss to your family. I can't imagine what you're going through.”
He's like, “Life is tough, but you have to move on. You have to find your footing again and try and live.”
It just got me thinking. I was like, “You know, I'm doing a new record. I would love to co-write with you on something. I was a huge fan back in the day. Maybe this is kind of serendipitous that we are meeting again, after some 20 odd years, and I'm about to make a record.”
So, I told him the style of music that I was going for. I wanted something swampy, bluesy, dark. I even said to him, “Maybe I'm exorcising some demons that we both have.”
He was like, “Let me think about it. I'll send you something.”
And not long after, he sent me this track on acoustic (guitar). And I was just so struck by it immediately. It had the same kind of energy that it has now, when we recorded it. To me, that's always a sign of a great song is if you can play it on an acoustic and it feels like a recorded, full band version of a song. That always makes me kind of feel like you're on to something and you should probably stick with it.
Dave Wilson of Chatham County Line - "I think the hardest cover song for us to do was the John Lennon song 'Watching The Wheels,' just because it has some small idiosyncrasies. He was such a seasoned writer when he wrote that song. It sounds really easy, but it's got these little tricks that you have to iron out if you're going to do it faithfully."
Matt Frenette of the band Loverboy: During recording sessions, Bruce Fairbairn, the producer, would come out like the manager walking out to the pitcher's mound. He would go, "Okay so, Mattie, I know you're holding back. Just go for it on this take. You've got a lot of drums in here. Just hit them all!"