Cris Cohen: Now, one of the first things you notice when comparing Thelonious Monk's recordings to yours is the difference in the quality of sound, quite obviously because you had much different recording materials available to you than he did. Was there ever any concern about making the songs too clean or too crisp?
Andy Summers: Well, it's a good thought. Yeah, I understood what you were saying, but I guess the way I almost visualized it was that everything's just going to sound much clearer and fresh because of what we can bring to recordings now, the actual recording quality. No, I saw that as a plus actually.
Cris Cohen: So it's like when you pick up an older vinyl album and you think, "If only he had the kind of recording equipment I have access to, how much better we could have heard him."
Andy Summers: And also personally, I like recordings to be… I mean, this is always just something I have to go through with every engineer because engineers will tend to separate everything out and make them very clean, because that's what they do. And I always try and keep things a little rough, a little murky sounding, punchier. I don't like things to be too audiophile as it were, because I think it tends to take away from the richness of the music sometimes.
Cris Cohen: I read another interview where you said, "We're not rock stars. We're musicians." How do you define the difference between the two?
John McFee of The Doobie Brothers: In general, a rock star to me is like, that's what people think you are. That's an outside perception. To the public, that guy's in a band, or he's an artist that's famous, sells a lot of records or whatever, all that, has this degree of success. That's a rock star. This is a perception from the outside. But there are some people that think they're rock stars. And so there's that, and that's what I was addressing when I said, "We just want to be musicians. "We're not into this rock star thing at all. It's like, hey, it's about the music. And that's something, before I joined the Doobies, I always felt like that's a band that seems like they must be just focused on the music.
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Cris Cohen interviews drummer Sandy Gennaro. Sandy has recorded several Top 10 singles and played with artists such as Cyndi Lauper, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Bo Diddley, and Johnny Winter. They discuss:
- Joan Jett – “Everything you play sounds like a hit record.”
- The natural ability called “feel”
- His intense preparation for gigs
- Knowing what NOT to play
- What he teaches to corporations about beating the odds
- Why many companies have customer service issues or employee retention issues
- And more
Cris Cohen: Do you think with a lot of modern day recording there is too much emphasis on perfection?
Jim Weider of clients The Weight Band: Yes, I do. A lot of that is because of technology. Now you’ve got 48 tracks of Pro Tools, and you can overdub endlessly. You cut all these tracks, then you have to go in the studio and mix and make decisions. Back when we were using tape, you had 16 tracks and you made your decisions immediately. It was no cut, paste, cut, paste, cut. There was a little bit of editing and that was it. There weren’t a lot of endless decisions. That can be a nightmare. Technology can hinder you if you let it, if you get sucked in.
Cris Cohen: Last fall, I interviewed Billy Cobham and he described his playing in jazz and drumming as he always thinks of it as he's writing a letter to someone. And so that seems to be what you were talking about.
Andy Summers: It is. It's a narrative, if it comes from the right place. I go out now and I usually play with the trio. I stand there for a couple of hours on the stage and I play these beautiful tunes, and then I improvise. Basically, improvisation is on the spot composition. But playing jazz like that and trying to play deep, it's a real mirror of where you are at the time. What's in your head, your physicality, the room, how you feel about your life… and it really mirrors all these things. And that's what I love about it. There's a truth to it. That when you really just stand there and you're just trying to play naked in the space, then it's like you're really attaching to sort of a life process.
It's some hard stuff to talk about. It sounds mystical, which is what it is in a way. Words cannot describe it. Except when it's happening, at the right level, you connect to something. I don’t want to get a bit religious, but it is sort of talking to a higher power or something. You do get connected in a way that is deep and hard to talk about, but is very satisfying. Like when you connect with a score, it doesn't happen every time, but in the really great moments, when it's happening like that, it's a wonderful thing.
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