“I had dabbled in production before. On the Eurythmics album In The Garden, there was a German producer, Conny Plank, who taught me an awful lot. He mixed and engineered and produced, and he demystified many things for me. He said to me, ‘Here, you can touch the board. And here’s how you cut up tape,’ and so on.
“When it came to the Sweet Dreams album, there was another chap named Adam Williams, who was the bass player for the band The Selector. He knew how to engineer, and so I learned a lot of other things from him. I started to really understand how the board worked and to not be afraid of it; to not mind overloading it or doing delays that went into feedback and started to distort. Dub records had all of that, so why shouldn’t other records?
“We had one small TEAC eight-track recorder, one Bel noise reduction system, one Klark Technic spring reverb, a Soundcraft 16-input desk and a Roland Space Echo. That was about it. And I would spend hours experimenting between the sessions, sometimes till four in the morning, making the weirdest tapes. They weren’t anything that I meant to release; I just liked making mad noises. It was a great way to learn, though. Just as photographers have to go out and shoot some pictures to develop their craft, it’s the same with people who work with sound.
“Sweet Dreams had a lot of experimentation. There’s a song on the album that not too many people talk about called The Walk, and on just seven tracks – ‘cause one track was a sync tone – it’s got all sorts of little horn sections and Annie with loads of harmonies. On The City Never Sleeps, I went out and got the sounds of the Camden Underground station. With the screeching of the tube train wheels, I mixed in slide guitar.
“There was one young A&R guy at the label who kept hammering the people above him, saying, ‘These two are going to make something groundbreaking.’ I think they were like, ‘Yeah, well, when are we gonna hear it?’ When we finally delivered the record, nobody knew what to think because it was so unusual. They put out songs that we didn’t really think were singles. We always thought the song Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) would be a huge hit, but it wound up being the third single that was released in Britain.”