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As you said, you have made a lot of different kinds of records – some of them were experimental and avant-garde. The idea of doing full-on, hooky rock music never left you, though.
“Well, you know, there’s good and bad in everything. There’s crappy rock and there’s great rock. Genres don’t really matter so much. You might have predilections toward one type of music than the other, whether it’s jazz or classical, country music or rock, whatever you like. Obviously, I’ve had great experiences in the pop-rock field – I’ve done it for years – so it’s not like I forgot how to do it. [Laughs]
“There’s a part of me that’s always enjoyed rock. To some extent, I actually enjoy metal bands. It’s thrilling if it’s a great one. I think a band like King’s X is incredible. They’re one of the greatest and not sufficiently recognized bands. So, in a way, doing this – ‘Let’s make a rock record’ – it was fun. We didn’t have to go into jazz or do anything experimental. It was like, ‘If we’re gonna make a rock record, we need to write some songs – great structures, great hooks, and they need to really kick.’ That in itself is hard enough. To write 12 or 13 really good songs that really work is not easy. Most people can’t do it. But to me, the really good thing about this album is, there’s not a weak track on it.”
With you and Rob working on the album together, how exactly were the tunes built up?
“Well, see, I tend to work alone or with a technician who operates Pro Tools. What I do is, I start writing at home, basically with a one-track digital recorder. I get a lot of ideas, and then I come to my studio with the best of them, and I start fleshing them out into Pro Tools and taking them further. The guy who works with me, we’ve worked together for years, so there’s absolutely no constraints. It’s intimate: I sit on the couch and play with the pedals, play the guitar – I can sit there for 10 minutes trying to think of the next note. It’s fine, ‘cause there’s no time constraints.
“With Rob, it was sort of an expansion of that. He’d come down, and maybe I’d have a lick; for instance, one of the things I had was Light The Fuse And Run. I said, ‘I’ve got this thing. I think it could be something.’ He got right on the drums. Right next to my Pro Tools setup, I have a Roland electronic drum kit. So he’d either pick up and bass and we’d get into it, or he’d get on the drums and we’d see if that stimulates into the next thing. We’d build something up like that.
“Usually, between me playing the guitar – lines, riffs, whatever – and Rob playing the drums, and then he would add bass – and then he’d probably think about singing on it, unless we already had the melodic line carved out – and that was the general process. From there, we’d go back to them, hearing them fresh, and modifying them until we got what we’ve got.”