On producer Rick Rubin.
Smith: He's just such a lover of music – all kinds of music – as we are. We have that in common. We've been working with him so long. He knows us so well. Often, we'll be writing our songs and getting them to a certain point where we feel like, "OK, it's time to play them." We'll talk about other guys: "Maybe this guy would work…Brian Eno… or this guy or that guy." So far, we go, "You know what? Rick's gonna be the best guy." Rick's gonna come, and he's going to give us…
Lifeson: The things you need.
Smith: Yeah. That objective… It's funny sometimes. I don't know if this happens for you, but we'll have our songs in their sort of rough... "That part goes eight times, we really don't need that." [Laughs] When you jam, with us…
Lifeson: You're into it.
Smith: You're into it. "Wait until you hear this one." We'll think it's the fucking best thing that we have. He'll be on the couch, very laid back. It's exactly right, he's not a jump-around kind of guy. He's listening. He's always listening. We'll play him this thing that we all love. We think this is the freshest, greatest thing we've done, and he'll go, "What else have you got?" [They laugh.] We'll be like, "What?! That was amazing. This is going to be the greatest thing ever!" "You've done that before. I heard that on Californication. It's good, it's good…" We're like, "Ohhhh! Are you sure? You want us to do it again? I think maybe I played it too fast." But fuck if he's not right.
Lifeson: Yeah. Then you come up with something that's better.
Smith: He's always like, "What else you got? What else you got, what else you got?" We don't like to really play stuff until there's at least two parts and a bridge, or something.
Lifeson: That's a song.
Smith: It sounds like it's more than just one thing. We'll play something that we came up with on Tuesday. "This is one thing that we did, but we don't really have anything for it." We'll play it, and he's like, "That… that's fucking good!"
Lifeson: "Start there."
Smith: "Make a song out of that." It's something we were probably going to throw away. He's worth his weight in gold. You're like, "OK," and sure enough, that will turn into something. He's very musical, and then he's really good with arrangement. He's really good at turnaround and…
Smith: We need a lot of trimming.
Lifeson: Yeah, we all do.
Smith: Or else…
Lifeson: 'Cause you're grooving on this thing – "This is awesome."
Smith: [Laughs] "This is going to come in here; it's going to make it really great."
Lifeson: He's sitting there like, "When is this part going to end?"
Smith: Yeah, he's like, "It's great, get to the chorus."
Lifeson: "This is a link to the bridge." "Really?"
Smith: "That would be a good outro... [They laugh.] You're like, "Fuck!" Not in any sort of …
Lifeson: No, in a constructive way.
Smith: Totally in a constructive way. I'm like, "Goddammit, he's fucking right." With me, he'll be in the control room; he likes to lie down actually on the couch. He's got the talk back on. We're playing our hearts out, trying to get that magical take. The worst is the long pause after the take. Instead of, "Great! It sounds great, I love it, that's great." When you really have a long pause after you finish… "Uhhh, the turnaround after the second chorus, did you always do that?"
Lifeson: "One time before when you did it, it was really good. Not now."
Smith: "Did you always do that? Did you play all that, Chad?" Or, "That's great. Chad, can you come in here?" It's like the teacher. [Laughs]
Lifeson: Yeah. "OK, come on in."
Smith: "Bring your stuff."
Lifeson: "You need a break."