Hi Roman; In regards to your question about Bob, I once worked in a situation with him at Real World. The session was filled with great musicians from around the world, but there was a lack of leadership and the session was floundering despite the talent in the room. Bob entered the room, and after 5 minutes had cut to the source of the best of what was happening, delegated out parts and duties for all the 19 or 20 musicians and we were recording within the next few minutes. He came in and provided the much-needed leadership at a time when it was most needed. -David Bottrill
The letter at left, written by engineer/producer David Bottrill, is a concise yet perfect statement describing the greatness that is Canadian-born producer Bob Ezrin. It is likely that a good deal of Tape Op's readers had at one point developed a fixation on a memorable album that was crafted by Ezrin — be it by the likes of KISS, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper or Peter Gabriel. One of his most successful projects is the 1979 magnum-opus that is Pink Floyd's The Wall, a monument of musical storytelling that is a sonic haven of effects and clarity, and conceptually cerebral and entertaining. Ezrin surpasses the concept of being a "producer". From an early age he created massive monsters of music and sound (quite often as a co-writer) like some permanently energetic psychiatrist — with his mind's ultra-sharp eye, he delves deep into the core of a song or idea, and extracts them, arranges, brightens, darkens and colors them, and then puts them through to the public, whose 'third ear' becomes the aural prescription drug that deciphers these sounds and results in the utmost of ultimate listening pleasure. But most importantly, his work contains the guaranteed ability of being able to transfer inspiration unto its eventual listener, and sometimes ended up playing a role as national anthem to one's life at that time. And even via his other ventures, Bob has always strives for the ultimate goal — to connect one person to another. This virtue was rather evident when I was granted the opportunity to chat with him on two occasions at Hollywood's Henson Studios, where he was co-producing the upcoming (from what I had the pleasure of hearing in progress thus far), uber mind-meltingly fantastic Jane's Addiction album. He is a true producer, whose talent, confidence and personality is an astronomical cut above the rest — an orchestrator to the extreme (which goes beyond his mastery of musical orchestras) and involves everyone in any given project to contribute. He would even somewhat control our conversation — already answering and knowing what was going to be asked.
So in the case of projects like Pink Floyd's The Wall or the KISS records. Both had instances of members of not getting along or being "well" per se. How did you go about dealing with conflicts and flakiness? Like Ace Frehley just "not being there"...
Well, we don't want to overplay that. At time of working on Destroyer everyone was completely into it. Everyone was co-operating and trying their very best and certainly there were varying levels of proficiency on their instruments amongst the four players but everybody wanted to succeed. We worked really, really, really hard in rehearsal on that album to make sure that not only did we come up with interesting parts but that the band was capable of playing them well. So contrary to the urban myth that there were a lot of session players on that album — in fact, the band played virtually everything. There are a couple of guitar parts where I had to bring someone else in to help out because Ace was sort of missing in action, but that's all really. The rest of it was the band or me, a few specialists — and of course there was the orchestra. But it was almost completely self-contained. And I think that the band should get some recognition for that because I think when you listen to things like "Detroit Rock City" you hear some powerful confident musicians playing really interesting parts. And, playing well beyond what their previous product had indicated they were capable of. They should get a pat on the back for having done that. And, the only way that they did it was by practicing — being in the rehearsal studio and practicing over and over and over again. We spent weeks in there — 8, 10, 12 hours a day, drilling the material until the band was really comfortable.
And does the rest just become a technical process?
No. Then the rest becomes exactly the opposite. The rest becomes an emotional process. Once you know what you have to do and how you have to do it, you then reach for the feeling. Because far too often, in the studio you go in with material that's just recently been written. You're only partially comfortable with it, if at all, and you spend a good deal of your time trying to play it well. And sometimes, that's sort of "all consuming" and makes it difficult for the player who just experienced the music emotionally. So for most of the music that gets made at studios these days you don't really hear that depth of emotion. And the recordings where you do hear that depth of emotion are either ones that exploded in the studio through a kind of chain reaction of invention and emotion or ones where the band has played them live for long enough that they're comfortable with them, and bring them into the studio and just feel them — play them with all the emotion that they deserve. With the KISS guys, that's what went on — and to a certain extent, the same is true with the [Pink] Floyd guys. We figured out the parts first and practiced, practiced, practiced — and then we recorded them.
The Wall, being a grand concept album, how was it done in terms of linearity? Was it produced in order from the story's beginning to end?
Yes. It was an extremely linear process. It started off with Roger [Waters] having a general concept about alienation and the metaphorical wall between himself and the audience that he considers building.
Did you relate to this concept in any way? Did you go through any bouts of mental wariness and perhaps madness from being in a studio for far too long without seeing daylight?
In fact, though we did spend some months in the studio, the settings were always wonderful and the group took very good care of me. So, I did not get cabin fever. On the contrary, I enjoyed the travel and working in different cultures. The project itself, however, was heady, fun, excruciating, mad, brilliant, passionate and draining all at once. It was fraught with the sort of conflict that accompanies any great work — the sort of dynamic tension that must exist when art is being fashioned.
And he presented the idea of the album in the back of a limousine in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1975 when they did that infamous Ivor Wynne stadium show in the residential area...
That's right! And I guess a year and a half later or something like that I got a phone call seeing if I wanted to come over and listen to some new material and there it was — The Wall. Mind you, not exactly in the form it ended up — but it was a pretty good start with an awful lot of conceptual material and some actual songs that ended up on the album. So we started with that. It gave us the framework. We knew what it was that we were trying to accomplish. We knew it was a double album, we knew it was a concept album, we knew the theme of it, we knew the feel and mood of it, but at that point we had not yet discovered the device that would make it possible to tell the story, which was creating that kind of gestalt character in Pink. At first it was completely autobiographical — it was all about Roger, and I frankly didn't think that the world was interested in the emotional history of a 36-year-old rock star. Especially then, when 36 was old! [laughs] And at that point, there were no older rock stars — very few, like Chuck Berry and people like that. So, with its references to war and things like that — it put an era on Roger that in a sense just alienated him even further from the audience because they couldn't identify with that experience at all. What we had to do was create a character who spanned all the way from the war up till the present and into the future. And, of course they already had Pink, you know, in earlier albums and we just decided that he was good enough. So we decided to resurrect him, give him some "flesh". Roger began using that as his model and began to create composites of people that he knew, and places that he had been and ideas that he had for the real "high character" songs. But the thing that was the key to bringing it all together for me was a template that I wrote in the form of a script — literally a script, called The Wall. It started off with Act One, Scene One, which described the action — described the bomb falling that never hits but explodes into a baby's cry and we go into the first song ["In The Flesh?"]. What I did was to take the material that we had and sequence it in a way that it really made not just thematic but dramatic sense too. It became obvious that things were missing when you did that. It was kind of like lining up a bunch of photographs and saying, "Here, this is telling the story" and there were some steps missing between photograph 4 and photograph 5 and it was obvious that there was something that had to have happen to get you there. So I would write a scene that would say what the action was but not which song it was. It would simply say, "to be written". And that became the framework from which we began to build the record. We already had some songs that we were working on in the studio — but the script was sort of the breakthrough because it gave us the blueprint for what we had to accomplish and also gave us a sense of how long it was going to take. So you're right — it was a very linear process, and then it just became a matter of finding the songs that were the ones that were to be written, and executing the ones that were already written. Now, in recording, we would cut a guide track with a vocal and an instrument — a guitar, piano, drum loop or something like that — for the format of the song. We knew what the song was going to be, and then we would overdub everything onto the guide track, and flesh it out and give it the sound and vibe we were looking for. I think we really did a good job because when you listen to the album, it doesn't sound like things were put together in pieces — it sounds like they were played together, and the truth is rarely did any of that stuff get played as a group. Well, there were a few things that got played virtually live, like the solo on "Comfortably Numb", which Dave [Gilmour] knocked off on his first try! He and I cut the guide track for "Comfortably Numb". I played the piano, which sort of played all the orchestral parts and he played the guitar and we were rocking along to the drum loop and he broke into that solo and played it. I was awestruck! That was amazing — first take — and of course, because Dave is a perfectionist, he constantly tried to better it and never could. We ended up using the original on the record.
Do you think it is good practice to have record on as often as possible?
Not always, but often. Very often. For instance with the solo on "Another Brick In The Wall Part II", we got his sound up and I said, "Just play a little bit of this for me so I can check the levels" and he started playing. I just let him go and there it was — the solo on the first take again! It was ridiculous! [laughs] It was done. Sometimes he was inspired. He is one of the greatest players I have ever worked with, ever, anywhere.
What did you think about the film version of the album?
The problem with the film for me was that it robbed people of their vision of the album. Where The Wall was everyone's own personal "eyelid movie", the film stamped an indelible imagery and meaning on it that everyone was forced to share. Yes, there was some allegory which left room for interpretation, but basically most if not all of the mystery was removed. I didn't want to do it.
A few years later you produced Dave Gilmour's second solo effort, About Face, (and later Pink Floyd's post- Roger Waters records A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell). How did you attempt to differentiate a Gilmour record with a Floyd record, and not make the Floyd record sound like an expanded Gilmour solo record?
Well, there are certain... mood musical... and rhythmical... umm... I don't want to say rules, but tendencies that Pink Floyd has that are fairly obvious...
Yes exactly. That's a good word. Musical, rhythmical and thematic conventions that Pink Floyd tends to use. On Dave's solo album, we kind of stepped outside of that and tried all sorts of things. Well, there were a few things in there that could play successfully on a Pink Floyd tour and people would accept as part of the set. But, clearly we were much more focused on syncopated rhythms and more sort of intricate bass and drum work on the solo stuff. Floyd bass and drums is typically very simple and very atmospheric and hypnotic. That's part of its power — it just sits there and transports you into another place. The other thing is that you know, on a Floyd record, one does tend to look for more philosophical kinds of things to talk about. Though, obviously that stuff seems to come easier to Roger than to Dave, and it was a challenge for us to get that stuff in there. We reached out for some help. We had Anthony Moore come in to help out, and on the next album, we were helped by Polly Samson, who is now Dave's wife.
What is your relationship with Waters at all these days, if any? Were you ever considered to help out on his solo album — The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking?
I was asked to produce Radio KAOS. Roger and I met in NY and talked about it. But it didn't work out. As well got closer to finishing arrangements for doing the project, it became clear to me that I'd have to move my family over to England for a considerable period of time and I just couldn't do it. In the end, I backed out. He was furious with me, especially when I then agreed to do the Pink Floyd album. The difference was that Dave was willing to split the project between England and Los Angeles and also to build in sufficient breaks for me to get home to the family. It was just a more tolerable arrangement and less disruptive to the family.
You have done a lot of grand concept albums. Did you have an interest in cinema while growing up?
I was really into theater and film. Drama actually — really into drama. I was sort of an actor from the time I was five, and I actually did some TV work whenIwas8to10yearsold,andinmyteensI was aspiring to be in the theater — I wanted to do that. I fell into the music business almost by accident, through the theater, because I was working on a musical show and the music director was one of the partners in Nimbus Nine [in Toronto]. We worked very closely together on the score of this particular show and he was sufficiently impressed with my work as an arranger and song picker and stuff like that that he suggested I come in and meet with Jack Richardson and they hired me to work there. At first I started off doing jingles for them and very soon after I was doing pre- production for Jack on a couple of projects when Alice Cooper walked in the door. It all happened within a matter of months.
And just how old were you when you produced the first Alice Cooper record, Love It to Death? (1971)?
[laughter from both sides]
Yeah. There ought to be a law you know.
Another concept album — KISS' [Music From] The Elder is generally considered to be a flop.
The Elder was a good idea for some other band in some other time. It was perhaps the most ill conceived project that I have ever embarked on. Yes, there was some great music and also some great lyric writing, but over-all, it was the wrong thing for KISS to do. I should have known better.
You're quite the accomplished songwriter, and have co-written many of the hits by that the bands you produced. Do you find yourself just being so deeply involved that you end up getting a credit or do the artists usually ask out-front for aid?
It varies from album to album. Sometimes it is understood in front that I will be writing with the artist — as in the case of Alice Cooper. Sometimes it evolves over time. There are no rules. I try to bring what the project needs to the best of my ability.
I've seen your name billed as an 'executive producer' on some projects — The Heavy Metal 2000 soundtrack...
Well, it says executive producer but that really was producing the album project though not every individual track that went on it. Just some of it. There was a music supervisor so I couldn't be called that, so for want of a better title, we called it Executive Production. But like on the Babe soundtrack, for example, I did the same job and I was credited as the Producer. I haven't done a lot of executive production — I've done a fair amount of co-production, where I find somebody that I think is really talented and that I think will make a great producer one day, and work really closely with them.
I was talking to an accomplished musician/producer the other day and he briefly mentioned that he had been interviewed by you to possibly produce the 30 Seconds To Mars album. So when you interview a potential producer, what do you look for?
Well typically, I wouldn't interview somebody to be a producer on a project, but it just so happened on 30 Seconds To Mars that when the project started, I was still a full-time employee at Clear Channel, and I wasn't able to be in the studio everyday, all day. I needed a producing partner to help me do the project. As it turns out the album went so long that by the time we got towards the end of it — I was out of Clear Channel and full-time in the studio anyway. However, in the beginning, I looked for somebody for Jared [Leto, band member — also an accomplished actor] to work with, and meanwhile, he carried on working on his own and kept talking to me about this guy who had done his demos with him, named Gummo who I finally agreed to give a shot because Jared was comfortable with him and because he had done a really good job with the demos. That's how Brian Virtue [Tape Op #47] and I met. We worked very closely together on 30 Seconds to Mars and I think he did a stellar job. He's a really talented guy and someday he'll be a very famous producer. Anyway, I really enjoyed working with him on that so I invited him to be a part of this Jane's Addiction project as well. I really like the opportunity to work with somebody I think is especially talented and get them that credit so that "please god", if this thing is a smashing success, when you look at Billboard [magazine] and see "#1 produced by...", his name will be there with mine.
At least you still see that sort of need to make sure the legacy of good producers is carried on.
You know, I worked with a bunch of guys when I first started out that loved to teach and loved to ensure that the people they worked with understood why things should be done the way they should be done. I benefited a tremendous amount from that. And I learned that it is part of the job — to teach. The best thing a good producer can do is to spawn a whole bunch of other good producers. I've been really lucky over the years, to work with a bunch of people who have turned into some pretty heavy names and who've done a lot of great stuff.
Who have you been involved with in the past? A few examples that is...
A partial list includes Jack Douglas [Tape Op #90] who I treated as my protégé, and Thom Panunzio worked at the Record Plant with me for a long time. So did Greg Calbi [#86], Rod O'Brien and Dave Thoener. Gggarth [Richardson] [#28] and I did a few albums together and he is one of the best. So is Scott Humphrey. They're both really hot right now. Lenny DeRose and I worked together a lot. Brian Christian worked closest with me for years and years. He was really a great engineer and producer and is an amazing human being. There were a bunch of others as well.
Calbi went on to be a great mastering engineer. What about James Guthrie, who recorded a great deal of The Wall?
Well, I don't know if James would agree, but I think he learned an awful lot doing The Wall. We broke a lot of new ground and a lot stuff I had to argue and fight my way through — I mean, the biggest thing on The Wall that I had to fight for was the multi- machine approach — using more than one multitrack. People just weren't doing that. We were so early into that game that we were working off of a very primitive resolution system called the Mini -. It didn't even use SMPTE, it used another kind of proprietary code to lock two machines together. It was really glitchy and unwieldy but in the long run it worked. And it really paid off for the sound on The Wall, as we were able to do the basic tracks on 16-track and all of our overdubs on 24 — and the sound quality of the rhythm section on The Wall was consequently incredible. Even down to the last day there was nervousness about the multi-machine approach. Right before mixing there was one last thing we needed to put on "Comfortably Numb" for which we had no track space left. So, because we were working off the 24-track slave, which was full but had a copy of the drums mixed down to 2 tracks, I turned to Guthrie and said, "Erase the drums". And it was like the most frightening thing he'd ever heard in his life. I said, "Erase the drums, everything will be fine. Trust me." And we erased the drums. They were petrified — all of them, because they just couldn't believe that these machines would lock up and talk to each other. But we did lock them up and the thing started to play and it was like seeing God. We had been listening to these 24s for so long with these degraded tracks — you know, bounced down and bounced down further, that when the 16 came up with the original rhythm section, it was suddenly in living color. Everyone was totally blown away
It's ultra-pristine and very transparent — even on compact disc.
One of the secrets to that sound was a transformerless Stevens multitrack recorder which I had flown to England for us to use on the gig. I think we rented it. I think they were so unsure of my madness that I think we rented rather than buy the thing. So we probably ended up paying for it three times over.
With the first Peter Gabriel [Tape Op #63] solo album, you did it in Toronto of all places — a semi-unlikely place for an internationally renowned artist to record.
Peter was just coming out of Genesis. He had no band and no material. He had some ideas, and he was just beginning to be himself — to step outside of Genesis and be his own guy. So my job really was to provide him with a place where he felt safe, confident, protected, where he could let go and just experiment until he found things that he really liked. So, for example, I moved him to New York for a period of time to write. I got him a really nice flat. In fact, we rented Garson Kanin's flat in New York — a famous, famous writer who was married to Ruth Gordon. So it was a place with great atmosphere. I would have him come up to my apartment on 52nd street every day, sit at my piano and write. I had a great piano in a really nice-sounding room. He would sit there and I'd be upstairs in the office and every time I heard something I really liked I would run downstairs and say, "Record that!" We'd put it on cassette. We had cassettes of ideas like that which he took back to England to flesh them out into songs. He felt good — he was comfortable, and safe and protected from the scrutiny of the outside world...
Where everyone would expect a continuation of the Genesis way of things — not to mention the press, especially knowing how dominant and influential they are in the UK...
Well — I don't remember whether we ever considered that, but I do remember that stepping out on his own and making all his own decisions was something he was growing towards for some time. Nonetheless, once it was a reality, it was a bit scary and it was important for him to have a partner and collaborator he could count on. So that was what I did — that was my job — to work together on this new thing called "Peter Gabriel". Then once the material started to take shape, we made the decision to bring him to Toronto to record it because I didn't want him in his own milieu — back home where my perception was that he tended to be less brave. I liked him better over here. He seemed to have more of a carefree attitude and more willingness to try things and experiment. So, we decided to go to Toronto — but I didn't want to cut any corners in terms of the quality of the musicianship, because we are talking about Peter Gabriel here — so the band we put together was made up of the best people I could find in New York and Toronto. People that I knew well and was comfortable with. These were all my "go-to" guys: Steve Hunter (the Deacon), Tony, Alan, Jimmy Maelen, and Joey Chirowski. And Peter added to that a fellow with whom he had been corresponding named Larry Fast, who was a great synthesizer player. I knew his work but I didn't know him personally, but I agreed to include into the band. That turned out to be one of the best moves I ever made. And Peter said, "I really need one countryman — one Brit, because I feel outnumbered here!" I said, "Who do you want?" and he said, "I want Robert Fripp". I said, "That's fine! Fripp would be great!". So Peter and Robert came to Toronto and joined this really unlikely and eclectic mix of musicians. We learned the album and recorded it basically in a period of about 8 weeks. It was so quick that he felt a bit railroaded I think — slightly uncomfortable because he felt he was being pushed into accepting some things before exhausting every possibility. You see, one of the problems with having high-paid studio guys on the floor is that the clock is ticking, and it's a very, very expensive clock. So I was painfully aware of that. I knew it was his money, and it was my responsibility to oversee the spending of his money and everyday that went by I felt like I was bleeding, so I felt compelled to move as quickly as possible. But still with a mind for quality and innovation.
Environments are to me, the absolute most important aspect to doing a project — what other examples of environmental situations did you dictate for other projects to help enhance the creative and production process?
I always consider the venue and the atmosphere for every part of the album-making process. It would take too long to go into every decision that I made along those lines. But it is essential to create a macro-environment that feels protected and special in which to create the project and then a series of mini-environments that apply to its individual aspects. The most recent example is deciding to go to the Henson [once the A&M Studios] lot for Jane's Addiction and then transforming Studio B [pictured at right>>>] into a series of personalized corners and iso booths wherein each guy's personality is reflected. Each guy has his own special space within the very cool whole. The lot is in Hollywood but behind walls so that there is always a feeling of safety and protection from the "outside" world. This was important for this project.
And you obviously hold a ton of enthusiasm and energy to keep things going — but what else can one do to get the best performance out of an artist in the studio? I heard back in the day you used to be like a "coach" — even somewhat dressed in gym attire complete with a whistle?
The job is always at least two-fifths cheerleader. Every performer needs someone to feed off of when they perform and they need the adrenaline that accompanies great performance, which is hard to generate in the sterile environment of the studio. So, it is my job to get in there and pump people up and move them along. At the same time, I have to be the voice of calm and reason when things get too heated one way or the other. Yes, I brought a whistle to work with KISS. I also wore boxing shorts, gloves, clown shoes and a robe that read "Bobo — World Champion". I wonder where that robe went. I don't wear robes anymore but I do arrange for surprises every once in a while. I love that. You need to give the performer the feeling that something big is happening while they're working. They thrive off of that energy and will often reach beyond themselves when it is there.
So do you still like to work on that kind of linear schematic? In other words, not spend a year and a half on a recording project?
I hate spending that amount of time on a record — ideally, the process should be 2 to 3 months to record something, and then 3 weeks or so to mix it. Seems to be the way things go, when they go well. Sometimes it takes longer. Unfortunately, more often than not, I get the "special projects" — ones where people are just coming back together after being many years apart or where the band is trying to make it with one member missing — stuff like that where it's not as automatic and extra work is required.
Like Lou Reed's Berlin album. What happened there? I heard it was "problematic", to say the least.
[long pause and leans back with ultra-cool confidence]. Well, the Lou Reed project was an adventure. And, there were lots of problems attached. Because we were all young and crazy and experimenting with drugs and at the same time pushing the musical envelope, trying things that were never tried before with combinations of people who had never played together before. So it really was a venturesome project to start with. And it was made even more venturesome by the fact that it was Lou Reed, who was kind of a wildcard at the time. Still, a genius though. And to this day, maybe the best pure writer of anybody I have ever worked with. But, he was going through a lot of stuff then — and it was a very difficult record to make — it was emotionally gut- wrenching for him, because so much of it hit home and we were doing it in a way where it was so dramatically portrayed that we couldn't hide from any of those feelings. They were just right there on the surface, all the time. When you're making a record, playing something over and over and over again, you start to smell like it after a while, and so for Lou, it was really tough, because he's standing there, basically in a perpetual downpour of his emotional nightmares day after day.
So would you stay away from a potential gig that presents that type of instability which might result in something never getting completed and hindering your career?
I don't stay away from anything. I love a challenge and I particularly love drama — to me that's still the highest form of entertainment. So if you can do something that's emotionally effective that touches people and makes them feel and think at the same time, that's just perfection for me.
I read that on the Julian Lennon album from 1991 — Help Yourself, you had to reach deep into his personal life and help sort some things out. Do you find sometimes this type of thing becomes more about a producer's job than actually doing arrangements, and so forth?
Our personal lives are what inform our creativity. It comes with the territory — when you work with creative people helping them to reach their potential, you end up going into their personal life in some way. In Julian's case, there was a lot of baggage there from his relationship with John and then with Yoko. It affected him deeply and he needed someone to help him think through it. I really got close to Julian and then he moved to Europe and I lost him. I regret that. Art is that which hides inside of us pushed — sometimes agonizingly — to the outside. When it is the outward representation of love, the pushing can be exquisite and intoxicating. When it is the outward representation of pain, the pushing can be excruciating. I don't know if there needs to be a dark side as much as there needs to be a brave and mad side — for you'd have to be mad to want to take the festering, bubbling brew inside of you and pour it all over yourself for the world to smell. That's what some folks have to do. But, let's remember that most of what we're talking about here is not art. It's entertainment — and there's a big difference a lot of the time.
What would have been your absolute worst day working on a project, and as well, the best, most exhilarating day on a project — any project?
The absolute worst day was in London when a drunken maintenance guy turned off the power on the multitrack erasing a piece of the master for "Here Comes the Flood" with the London Symphony Orchestra and Peter Gabriel live. I lunged at the guy but Brian Christian grabbed me by the back of my shirt and held me long enough for the idiot to stumble out of the room. He probably saved me from going to jail for killing the guy. There is no one best day. There were so many times when everything just seemed to click and all the music was right. It is the greatest rush in the world — and it is addicting.
You were brought in to produce/ co-produce this Jane's Addiction record. What is your role?
The role here is to help the band to find that cohesiveness and voice again and to work with them to ensure that this produces some shit-hot music. They hadn't been Jane's Addiction for a very long time. It requires learning to create together again. This sometimes benefits from a "referee" or catalyst. That's part of the job as well. Jane's is an amazing band finding its way back into the light. I am here to help with that journey. And I am really enjoying the work because the people are so special, so passionate and so talented. Every day I wake up looking forward to going to work. Isn't that incredible? How many people can say that? I say, "Thank you" every morning for all of my blessings. I consider myself to be a very lucky guy.
Bob Ezrin's Take on the Music Industry:
The music business right now, across the board, is characterized by a lethal sameness that comes as a result of a lack of understanding and vision at the top of the industry, coupled with a need to continually make more money. We don't know exactly what do to — with the music itself, marketing, promotion, new technologies, pricing, product definition — so the best thing is to do what worked the last time. And that's exactly what we've been doing, over and over and over again — doing what worked the last time because we don't know what to do and we are afraid of the price of failure. It's to the point that record companies, managers, producers — even arrangers, songwriters, everybody — is actually discouraged from stepping outside of the box because it frightens them. And that's a terrible thing. I don't think it's necessarily specific to the music industry either, it's happening a lot in film too, and even in literature, where the same book gets written over and over and over again — because the last one of that sort sold so well. What is happening — you can already see it — is that there is a backlash within the audience. They're sick and tired of hearing, reading, seeing the same thing over and over again, so they're often doing nothing. And everybody is feverishly searching for the reason for this drop of interest or sales in their particular medium. In our industry, we decided to blame it on downloading. That's just too facile of an answer — and it's wrong. Because, I could have downloaded the Eminem album just as easily as I could have downloaded anything else, and that thing is flying off of the shelves. Why? Because people want it. And the reason they want it is because he really excites them. And the reason why they'd rather download than actually go out and spend the money on most other things is that most other things are not really that exciting at the end of the day. Basically folks are quite satisfied with hearing an "okay" song 2 or 3 times and moving onto the next thing. And that's the state of our business! We're putting out a lot of "okay" shit that people are quite satisfied with hearing 2 or 3 times and then moving on from. The reason for so much "okay" shit is that we continue to produce reproductions of original art so to speak and we try to foist them on the audience as the real thing. We don't want anything new because we're afraid that it might not sell!!! One of the other by- products of a world where invention is not encouraged is that it starts to dry up. And the people who seek it are not stimulated anymore because they're completely immersed in a world of mediocrity. Nothing turns their crank. I think that as a culture, we have really got to look at that. Do we want to promote a creative process which strives to create really great things that people really love or do we simply want to chase the last commercial success and "make our numbers"? I don't think the Beatles started out to sell the most records in the world. Truth is they just started out because they had a burning need to do what they did. We have to develop a new crop of support people in the music industry — people who are the new impresarios, new record company — well, I hate to use the word "executives" — new talent developers. We need people who are genuinely looking for real talent and beauty, and worrying about the rest later. Because right now it's exactly the opposite. Right now we are worried about the results first and shoehorning the talent into that. Every record made now has to have that certain producer, certain mixer, has to be a certain length, has to be in a certain guitar tuning, has to have a certain vocal sound. Anything that steps outside of that has to be "eclectic" and "difficult". That's bad and I think it's wrong. I think there is more than one sound in the world — there's more than one kind of music to play, more than one kind of melody to sing and more than one kind of story to tell. Another part of the solution is developing other ways of getting the music out there outside of radio, which has essentially become closed shop. The internet is great for that. I think it's extremely helpful for getting certain kinds of artists out to larger groups of people. Playing live is hugely important. We really need to support our local clubs and we really need to get out there and listen to what's going on.