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Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.


2012.11.08 - Pensado's Place - Interview with Mike Clink

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2012.11.08 - Pensado's Place - Interview with Mike Clink Empty 2012.11.08 - Pensado's Place - Interview with Mike Clink

Post by Blackstar Sun Apr 01, 2018 4:25 am

He talks about Appetite for Destruction at 29:10



Dave: Can you just give me a couple of anecdotes from that? I know nobody in the entire listening audience cares about this record [=UFO's Strangers In The Night] but me but-

Mike Clink: Well, it's interesting because that record, that was the record that got me hired for the Guns N' Roses record because-

Dave: That's Slash's favorite record too, by the way.

Clink: Yeah, so you know, I had done... I had kind of worked with a lot of pop, rock or rock pop acts up until that point, you know, and I had done Eddie Money and the Starship and Survivor and when I had my very first meeting at Geffen Records with Axl and my manager Terry Lippmann and Tom Zutaut and Alan Niven, they said, "that stuff, we don't like that," that, "we don't like that, however we do like this UFO record that you did," and that was the record that really got me got me hired. And it was interesting, I think we had... I had finished working on a Babies record the night before. We had finished mixing it. [...] But we had finished mixing that record, I think I finished around four o'clock in the morning and at six o'clock in the morning I'm on the airport... headed to the airport to head to Chicago to record the live record. We did a bunch of the Agora Clubs, that was kind of a club record that we... and we took the record plant truck which is, you know, once again, that tie back to the live recording thing and it was amazing. And Michael Schenker [from UFO], absolutely, is one of the greats. I mean, he was so fantastic to work with. One of the anecdotes about that record is...


Dave: So let's move on to Appetite for Destruction. I don't think you can really understand the power of that record unless you understand the time period. The Sunset Strip was, like, all about hairspray. I think more people made money selling hairspray than records. It was all about post glam rock posing. A lot of great bands, a lot of great musicianship, I'm not knocking that. And then out of nowhere comes to this band that you can't figure if they're looking backwards or looking really forward. And then we had the kind of the counter movement of the punk rock thing going on and somehow you managed to capture... It's not just a great record, I think why people buy it, is it's the last great classic record but it's the first great post-punk record too.

Herb: It was a movement record. Because one of the things that I thought during that time period was that the record was also really funky. There was an edge underneath there-

Dave: And Slash, his favorite group was Cameo.

Herb: No, no, I know. And so there was just lots of things that were so unique about this... Was that on purpose or you just-

Clink: Well, you know, what I always tell everybody is, I mean, they were the real deal, you know. There were a lot of people on the Sunset Strip that wanted to be rock stars, and I think they wanted to be rock stars, but they wanted to do it for all the right reasons. They wanted... their music was first and foremost to them... they actually... they didn't care whether they sold a million copies or 10,000 copies. They were the real deal. They lived and breathed it. I always say they were like a gang. They stuck together. They did everything together. And it was a pretty remarkable record and in that sense that it was just it was so real. There was nothing pretentious about it. People think that that record was two weeks in the studio, live, and, you know, we put it out and that was it, but it was a labor of love. It took about three months to make that record and, you know, we worked and we crafted it and put it together and it was, yeah, it was amazing. I mean, when people... it's interesting because when I finished the record and I played it for people, the interesting comments for people were that they didn't like it at first. Yeah, I was... and those same people, six months or nine months later after it took off, they go, "Yeah, I always loved that band," and I'm thinking-

Dave: MTV was the difference for that band.

Clink: It was the persistence. And I always tell everybody: In this business you can't do it alone, it is it's a group effort. So it was the efforts of Alan Niven, the manager, pushing the record label, it was Tom Zutaut, the A&R guy, who believed in the band and would go to Eddie Rosenblatt, the president of Geffen, to say, "One more video, I know it hasn't stuck," because it took about nine months to make that thing to happen. So it was definitely a group effort of everybody.

Dave: Was there a single before Welcome to the Jungle?

Clink: Oh yeah, there was, I think Mr. Brownstone might have been the very first single. So they were three deep into it before, you know, Sweet Child O' Mine hit.

Dave: I think I knew that but I didn't remember that. That's interesting. And in terms of your skill set that record embodies something that I'd like our audience to learn and understand and that is: You didn't just go make a record, in the sense that a record back then, we call them albums, and another type of album is a photo album which can be a collection of your photographs from your vacation or your third grade year in school or your visit to Pensado's place. And you created an album of where that band was at that moment in time and that band, and we'll tell an anecdote about the house they lived in, but one of the things that your skillset, that I'd like for people to understand, is that you sat down with the band, you knew the band, you didn't just go make a record that fit Mike Clink's taste or style, you made a record that captured and embodied what that band was truly about. And because we love the bad guys, as kids we never want to be the cop, we want to be the robber, we want to be the bad guys and everything, and I think you presented them as the coolest bad guys around. You didn't... that record is as raw as their lifestyle. This is a long ass question but it's gonna get to a point somewhere. But describe your philosophy because I think in today's world of precision your philosophy is much needed and useful today as it was then.

Clink: Well, you know, I mean, they're... our producers that kind of put their touch on things and I don't mean it by a little breathing on it, I mean they put a heavy hand to touch, so there are records where a producer will do five different bands, they all sound the same instrumentally, it's just the vocalists that changes. And my philosophy, and the way that I do things, is that I try to bring out the best in the band. Bands don't always know what they want when you get into it so I don't just instantly go into the studio and start recording them. I spend time to learn. I mean, there's a new band that I'm working with now out of Santa Cruz called Archer and the same thing, you know, I'm, you know, I've had a couple different meetings with them because I want to learn where they're at, what their influences are, to help shape what I think is going to be their debut record. Which I do a lot of development of young bands and that's very exciting for me. And with the Guns N' Roses I just... one of the unique things about that is it's not a very linear record. It takes you on a musical journey. It takes you different places and that has it's due to all the different songwriters and that's what I try to do with all the bands that I work with. It's taking on a musical journey, it should take you left, it should take you right, it should take you highs and lows and be an exciting listening experience to, you know, to partake in. I don't know if that answered your question at all.

Dave: Oh yeah, definitely. I'm asking this in reverse: If you made that record today, what would be different, not just with your... where you are but technology-wise? Would you be able to make a record that would capture something like that today?

Clink: Yeah, I think that that's one of my strengths. I mean, one of the things that I do is that I capture energy from bands that other people are not able to capture and I can't... I don't want to try to put it in a bottle and I don't want to try to explain how I do it. I just... it's a way and a philosophy of the way that I work I know when a band is peaked I don't want to take them over the top. I get them all the way to the top performance-wise and as soon as I realize that that's the moment that they've peaked then I pull back. I say, "That's it," you know. So, it would have been easier to make that Guns N' Roses record if I'd have had Pro Tools in the sense of editing, because those basic tracks I edited a bit. And that was all, you know, doing, you know, cutting the tape. I remember the first time I walked over to the tape machine with the razor blade and started cutting the tape Duff just freaked out. He goes, "What are you doing?" This is their son. Yes, he did. So he was just amazed that I could take pieces of one take and put them together with others. But in that sense I think that it would have made it easier. But, you know, I was, you know, I just kind of did it. I made, you know, as you know, when you're in the analog world you made things work, you know, you did multiple tracks so that you didn't erase anything if you thought it was good and always had it so that, just like Pro Tools, "That's okay, it's still there."

Dave: Now, did you use the SM57 on the guitars, right?

Clink: I used 57 yeah.

Dave: I got a question about that for you. When you mic the cabinets some people on the internet maintain that you put the speaker in the center of the comb which gives you a bunch of fizz. You didn't do that, there's no way you did that?

Clink: Just with anything, you know, I moved the microphone off to the side just a tiny bit. And it's all about listening and, you know, to that it's whatever you hear, you know. Whenever I would do an album with the band I had my assistant write down every single thing that I did and, you know, so that I could go back. If I ever wanted to go back and recreate something, you know, if we decided to change a part, we wanted to get the same sound, so we had that book, "EQ on the amps, mic placement down" and photographed everything. And at the end of every project I just gave it to the band. I didn't want it anymore. And inevitably, whether it was the next record or two records down the line, they would go, I get the phone call, "Mike, you know, we got your book out, it just doesn't sound the same, it doesn't work." That's because, you know, it's what... it's how you hear things.

Dave: The guitar... on the guitar sound on the intro to Sweet Child O' Mine, that's not a Les Paul or Strata, it sounds like a.... what is it?

Clink: It's a... it's interesting, when I first started working with Guns N' Roses, and I think one of the... in the first week of rehearsal, Slash had a Jackson guitar and that was his guitar and I remember it was cold, it was the middle of winter, we were at SAR on Santa Monica Boulevard and I don't think he had changed the strings on it in about a month. I said, you know, I got him a set of strings and they go, "Here," you know, and we didn't have a guitar tech at that time, I said, "Here, change the strings." So he cut all the strings off the guitar at once and because it was so cold the guitar neck just totally tweaked, it never ever went into tune after that moment. So the hunt was on to find the right guitar for him and in the process, we never found in rehearsal, but when we went to the studio we would just bring guitar after guitar. I rented, I think, every amp in the city. I rented every guitar that I could from all these different places. SG's, you know, they were all Gibson. He liked that Gibson sound but, you know, it was between an SG and this guitar that Alan Niven, the manager, brought down that someone had made. It was a replica of a 59 Les Paul and-

Dave: Was it single coil?

Clink: It was a humbucker. And that became his guitar. That became his go-to guitar.

Dave: What a great sound and that sound just... it's that time period '79. Whenever you hear it. And one other question before we go to the batter's box. I know you're a big SM7 fan on vocals, as is most of the world, did you use that mic on... what mic did you use-

Clink: On Axl that was an M 49 and yeah I-

Dave: Just collapsed the capsule?

Clink: No, no, no. It was just, it was a beautiful mic for him. It just captured all the warmth that we needed in the proximity. And he became very hard on those mics, you know, on the second and third records.


Clink: Like I said, I do go around the country talking to kids, you know, and I tell, "You could be the best engineer, you could be the best mixer, you could be the best producer in the world, but if you can't look someone in the eye and communicate your ideas with an artist it doesn't matter." So you have to be able to have people skills and I really stress that part of it.


Gerald G.i. Griffine: Next one up is from Armando Sepideh: "Mr. Clink, you said you worked with Guns N' Roses for months to get the performance that you did. Please elaborate on specific techniques for how you captured the energy of Guns N' Roses live?"

Clink: Well...

Dave: It does feel like a live record.

Clink: Yeah.

Dave: Great question, Armando.

Clink: Yeah. You know, the performances didn't take months to get. The performances, you know, the actual recording of the whole record took a couple months to do but, you know, as I said previously, my philosophy was to know when it couldn't be any better and to cut them off at that point. I think the problem with artists is that they always think that they can do better and in the days of tape if you went farther you lost that one magical performance. So I knew when to stop to keep it, and archive it, and move on.

Dave: I think you and I are like, you listen to a ton of records, you love, just listening to music all time as do I and that helps in knowing when you got something right cuz you got built in references to compare it to. So important to listen to records and just immerse yourself in this thing we love so much anyway.

Clink: Yeah and it's also getting to know the artist as well.

Herb: Yeah, you have to know the people. You have to because you don't know their meter and their rhythm-

Dave: [?] what time of day... let's break the day up, morning, early afternoon, late afternoon, early evening, late evening, what part of day did you consistently get the best performances from them?

Clink: Different guys, different times. I started with Slash at noon.

Dave: That early?

Clink: Yep. I mean, he got himself up and we started at noon. We worked till probably 6 to 8 o'clock at night doing guitars. This is after the basics were done. And then Axl would be scheduled to come in at 9 and we would work probably until 4, until 6 o'clock in the morning. So I was I was up most... I was pretty much around the clock.

Gerald G.i. Griffine: Two-part question from from Dan Rappapore: "Mike, what are your views on using or not using a click track and are there any tips on comping and getting performances out of difficult musicians?"

Clink: Click tracks, interesting. You know, I like the click track as a reference and we'll go back to Guns N' Roses. Some drummers can play to a click and others can't. And I always tell a drummer the best thing, you know, if you want to play to a click, get used to it before you get in the studio because in the studio is not the time to learn how to play to a click. Steven could not play to a click. He absolutely did not play to a click. What I would do is I had a click going in the control room, the tempo of the song, before the band started so it would be ingrained, it would just... it just ran even if we were outside of the room, that click was going, you know. So everybody would get used to getting used to the tempo of the song and I always started him with the click in the the song and then I would have to inevitably take it out because he would be listening for the click. He would hear that... he wouldn't hear the click and that would throw him off and, you know, it pulled back, you pushed forward. So and the second part of the question was how to get-

Dave: Hold on with the second part. Did you ever experiment... I'm sure you did and always want to bring this up for our audience, also for your answer too, sometimes I found that instead about [making clicking noises] if I put a tambourine or a hi-hat or some kind of percussion some kind of real instrument that a drummer was accustomed to hearing, sometimes just another kick and snare and hi-hat in their headphones, that helped them. Did you try that with them?

Clink: No and I'll tell you why: Because back in those days Pro Tools didn't exist. We didn't have a whole lot of drum machines. I think back in those days, I mean, MIDI wasn't really a big deal so you didn't have something [?] Oberheim things so... Do you remember the old clicks at the


Dave: Let's go to another question. that next

Gerald G.i. Griffine: Alright. Next one is from Ben Wallach: "Mike, the Use Your Illusion  records are some of my favorite sounding guitar records of all time. What were your mic and signal processing choices for Slash?"

Clink: You know, threw all the recordings of Slash's guitar electric guitars I used the same thing, I always use 57s and I used Neve preamps and I used my DBX 160s because as I said and barely touch them on the compression. I would barely touch it because if you, you know, if you crank it too hard it's gonna affect the way that the guitar player plays. So that's kind of been my go-to-

Dave: Slash is an underrated guitar player. Everybody knows him and he's... he wins poles because of his popularity. He's really a good guitar player. Was he as good an acoustic player back then as he is now? Because his acoustic work now, I saw him on, I think it was a Guitar Center thing or something this week, and he's a pretty good acoustic player.

Clink: Yeah, you know, I think all those guys kind of grew into becoming better musicians, you know. I think that he's really, really, really gotten great so I-

Dave: [?] he's deep, he's not just a hack-

Clink: He's he's definitely got it. I mean, he's got that feel, he's pretty amazing, yeah. And he's one of the... he's gonna be one of the greats... known as one of the greats.


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2012.11.08 - Pensado's Place - Interview with Mike Clink Empty Re: 2012.11.08 - Pensado's Place - Interview with Mike Clink

Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 25, 2022 7:04 pm

Transcribed everything regarding Guns N' Roses.
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