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2007.MM.DD - - Interview with Izzy and his band

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2007.MM.DD - - Interview with Izzy and his band Empty 2007.MM.DD - - Interview with Izzy and his band

Post by Blackstar on Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:54 pm

Thanks to On Down The Road for collecting the Izzy interviews.


'Miami' Band Interview


You’ve mentioned before that you used a Fender Pro Jr. and Rick a Marshall JCM 2000 DSL401 on the album, what kind of guitars did you use?

I used a tv yellow Gibson SG on most of the songs and Rick his regular....Paul Reed Smith I believe...ask him though!

Who did the rant & backing vocals on ‘JR’s Song’ and vocal speeches on ‘FSO Ragga’?

Taz does the opera (hilarious) voice and rant on JR’s Song... He’s quite a talent....he paints as well.

Did you write all the songs or where there any co-written by someone else (e.g. Rick)?

I did write the songs on Miami but its the group that makes them sound like they do.... Its a unique chemistry that’s stuck for 15 years with Rick and I and 12 years with Taz... JT’s new since the Like A Dog cd and he’s also a very talented musician..... They each bring their own special sound and style to these recordings and that’s what I love about the music we end up with at the end of the day.... Rick Richards came up with the line ‘our ministry needs your money" during a band’s “piss take” session that we recorded live. I thought it was brilliant .... we used it as a main line in ‘FSO Raga’ aka "Fuck Straight Off"...

Did the writing take you along time? Were the songs worked out a lot before entering the studio as in demos? And could you tell us some info on what some songs are about?

I wrote 1⁄2 of the material prior to the sessions and the rest during the time we spent in Miami....... the place itself inspired a few tunes.......... ‘Buildings In The Sky’ came about from these big high rise buildings that spring up out of the beach... they’re imposing......... Huge contrast to the palm trees and the beautiful turquoise colored ocean.... Some pimped out Rolls Royce cars, street girls walkin’ by at lunch time in heels..... it’s a trip....................’TJ’ aka Tijuana is about this guy I know who kept goin’ down to TJ to get clean......... but the detox is not an FDA approved treatment...... You could only get it in Mexico..... He said he would hallucinate for about 6-12 hours, sleep for about 48-72 hours and then wake up and feel pretty good, considering................and he was on the methadone program in America for almost 4 years prior to these treatments! I think he just liked the hallucination/tripping part of it because he ended up goin’ back a bunch of times..... He’s clean last I heard 06/07

Over the years you’ve seen the inside of a lot of recording studios when recording your albums, which would be your favorite, if there is any?

Favourite studios....... ‘Criteria’ is top notch...... ‘Nomad studios’ in Dallas great vibe, cozy place to work........ There was a place in Trinidad ‘Caribbean Sound Basin’ we tracked at back w/ Ju Ju Hounds that was cool..... Middle of the island, iguana lizards in the trees outside. The studio had nice hotel rooms built in....great Caribbean food in house as well. Nice crew of people running it.

And last but not least, what is your favorite track off of Miami?

.............? Not sure..................


What kind of equipment did you use on Miami?

Standard Marshall 900 amp, some Mesa Boogie's and Fender amps as well. The guitars are mainly Paul Reed Smith, Les Paul, Telecasters, Gibson 135 and Gibson SG. The acoustics were all Izzy's Gibsons.

Most Izzy albums contain songs which mention your name as a co-writer or writer like the song 'Jump In Now' were you came up with the music, have you written or co-written any of the Miami songs?

No, Izzy came in with the songs pretty much completed. My only contributions were the guitar and backing vocals.

We've heard you came up with the line 'our ministry needs your money' that was used for "FSO Ragga", is it about something particular?

That line is a take on motivational speakers and Baptist ministers. It started out as a joke, then remained in the song for affect.

The 'Miami' album is only available on iTunes where there's no extra hassle with record labels, some find it frustrating and some think this way the music is much more widely available for the fans. What do you think of the music industry today and just releasing albums on iTunes?

I can understand the consumers frustrations, but by eliminating industry-types you are afforded complete freedom.

How was it recording Miami? Any cool/ funny stories during the recording process of it?

We pretty much worked constantly, but did get a chance to see Velvet Revolver and have dinner and laughs with Duff. A couple other things happened, but printing them would be incriminating. Topless German girls, frolicking the beach was inspiring.

What's your favorite track off of Miami?

All of them.

Why is the new album called ‘Miami’?

We cut at Criteria Studios in Miami. A very historic studio indeed.

Are there many 'leftovers' a.k.a outtakes from the Miami sessions?

Every track is out, nothing left over to my knowledge.


You’ve played bass on Miami, did you come up with all the bass parts on the reggae tunes (‘Partly Cloudy’ ending & ‘FSO Ragga’) as well?

Yes, I did. We just kinda jammed those reggae bits. In fact, what you hear (instrumentally) on the reggae tunes is completely live in the studio. All first (and only) takes.

What kind off bass and amp did you use on the album?

I primarily used a Fender P-Bass through SWR amplification. On occasion I'd use Izzy's Rickenbacker. The SWR was a small amp but it had some punch to it!

Taz has mentioned that the ‘Miami’ songs where jammed out a pinch more then normally, where there many songs that where written on the spot in the studio?

I believe all the arrangements were just kinda jammed out based on Izzy's riffs and ideas. The only two I can remember that had some sort of structure before recording were 'Going To Tijuana' and 'JR’s Song'. Izzy and I demo'ed those two songs before the Miami sessions (without vocals).

Which is your favorite song on the album?

Definitely 'Going To Tijuana'. That one hit a very special chord with me...

It’s been mentioned in the past that Izzy likes to write the lyrics just before recording vocals, were you guys around when the vocals where recorded?

We were all around for the recording of the entire record except for a handful of vocal overdubs tracked in LA.

The Miami album is only available on iTunes where there's no extra hassle with record labels, some find it frustrating and some think this way the music is much more widely available for the fans. What do you think of the music industry today and just releasing albums on iTunes?

I've got mixed feelings about it. On one hand, it's pretty cool that albums put out on iTunes only are easily available to anyone with a computer without the extra expense of an 'import' album. On the other hand, it kinda sucks to have no album artwork, no production notes and no thank-you lists or anything like that. I grew up listening to records as Ii read the liner notes or possibly followed along with the lyrics. The next generation wont have that. That's not necessarily a bad thing but it puts an interesting spin on the idea of knowing the band members, the producer, the band's friends (as found in the thank-you’s). Even as a kid far before I knew anything about how a record was made, I knew who produced my favorite records, where they were recorded and who the guest musicians were. that very well may be a thing of the past. Well, I suppose all that can be looked up on the inter-web...

You've also engineered again on the Miami album and the sound is pretty different compared to the Like A Dog album. Did you approach it the same way as on the Like A Dog album? Were you also involved with the mixing, production or other similar aspects of the album?

Actually, the approach on the recording and mixing sides of this record were a bit different from 'Like A Dog'. 'Miami' was mixed at Nomad Recording Studio (referring to the re-mixes) , but it was recorded in studio E of Criteria Studios (in Miami) which has a very big cutting room. This allowed for very roomy drums which translated to the mix beautifully. You can hear it in the mixes. With the exception of "Everything's Alright", I used no reverb at all on the record though it sounds like the drums have it. The verb is all natural. 'Miami' has a different vibe, too, so the mixes were approached differently from that aspect.


Could you tell us something about how the ‘Miami’ recordings went down?

We had such a good time recording this one. We did it before Christmas and when we got back home decided it was so much fun that we should go back and do some more so that’s what we did. The studio "The Hit Factory", (aka Criteria) is world famous. I mean everyone has recorded there from The Bee Gees to Black Sabbath. While we were there Missy Elliot and the Black Eyed Peas were recording as well. This recording is more loose. We spent time Jamming the songs out a pinch more than normal. I was in a great place mentally so I think that carried over into the recordings. Izzy, Rick and I found a hole in the wall Cuban restaurant that we would walk to every day for lunch. The vibe was relaxed and the songs are as strong and diverse as always. I have only heard a couple of the tracks and I myself can’t wait to hear everything.

Did it take a long time to work out/arrange a demo into a real song?

Sometimes yes and sometimes no. It depends on how complete the song sounds when you begin writing it. Some are simply more easy than others.

What kind of kit do you use, and what preference of head do you like, studio and live?

I play DW drums. I use Remo coated emperor heads. In the studio and live. Sometimes coated ambassador in the studio just to get a quicker decay because they are one ply thinner than the emperors.

Do you play any other instruments besides drums?

I play a little guitar, but only enough to write music.


For Izzys fans who are perhaps unaware of how you came to work with Izzy could you provide a little background information? Does your further involvement with ‘Miami’ stem from your production work on “River”?

I actually toured for a few dates with the Ju Ju Hounds in 1993. They picked me up in Atlanta toward the end of the tour. I think I did two weeks of dates with them before the tour came to an abrupt end and I went on to play with Soul Asylum. I recorded Rick's guitar parts on River so he didn't have to fly to LA. Izzy wanted me to put some keyboard parts down too as well as long as we were in the studio which I did. But due to a patching error my keyboard parts were recorded to the wrong hard drive so when I sent the Master hard drive back for mixing there were no keyboard parts there. I didn't know there had been an error until the record was released with no keyboard parts. As far as playing keyboards on Miami, Izzy and I always talked about working together again sometime so I just called Izzy and asked to play on the record and he said yes.

What kind of keyboard & organ setup did you use for the recording of "Miami"?

I used a Hammond B3 organ with a Leslie 122 speaker and the studio's grand piano. I think it was a Yamaha but I'm not sure. I also used my Wurlitzer model 200 electric piano. We ran it through an amplifier to dirty it up a little and give it a bite. You can hear it really well on the song ‘Partly Cloudy’.

Songs like ‘Partly Cloudy’ give the album a positive "jam-session" sound. Is this how the recording felt at the time, or had the band already planned the songs before entering the studio?

The whole session was kind of loose and comfortable. We recorded as a band. Izzy would just say "this is how this one goes" and we'd roll tape. I think it's a very organic record. We actually had to listen to each other as well as learn the songs at the same time. I think that's what gives it that jam band feel.

Some of Izzys fans find it frustrating that "Miami" was only available on iTunes, however we're of the opinion that it makes the music much more widely available to fans, without needing the extra hassle of a record label. What is your opinion of the music industry today, and do you feel the internet has helped smaller artists like Izzy?

I feel the internet is an essential tool for an artist to take advantage of. I think iTunes leveled the playing field with the major labels. You don't need a label anymore. With iTunes there are no manufacturing costs which is passed along as savings to the consumer. When you cut out the record label then the artist gets one hundred percent of the profit after expenses.
It used to cost from a hundred thousand up to a million dollars to make a record. Now you can make a great sounding record for around forty thousand. Obviously the less you spend to record the sooner you start seeing a profit. You don't have to sell a million records anymore to have a successful record anymore. An artist can be a success by selling as few as ten thousand records or downloads. An artist doesn't need a major label to promote their record anymore either. With vehicles like Myspace a band can target market their music and develop a substantial fan base and it's free. Some unsigned artists are getting five hundred thousand plays in a month. You can't get that kind of exposure the traditional way. You'd have to pay an independent record promoter to pander to radio stations and then there is no guarantee an artist will get that range of exposure. I think when the smoke clears the internet and iTunes will be the standard.

Have you heard the final cut of the album, and if so do you feel the songs could be easily adjusted for a live performance?

Yeah, I actually downloaded it from iTunes. I think it's a good sounding record. It lends itself to live performance. We basically recorded it live in the studio. I'd love to get the chance to play this record live. Who knows, it just might happen.

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