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March 24, 2022 157 mins

Dann Huff was a top session musician, then guitarist and singer for the band Giant, and is now an elite record producer in Nashville. Dann goes deep into the practicalities and creative process of making records, and if you're at all involved in the recording process, if you're an act and want to have success, you need to listen to this.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:08):
Welcome, Welcome, Welcome back to the bobst Podcast. My guest
today is Dan Huff. We'll do somet of guitarists extraordinaire. Dan,
a lot to have you on the podcast. Thank you
very much, Bob, honored to be here. Okay, when we
were setting up the time, you say you were tracking
until six. What are you working on today? I'm working
on a young new artist. You will not have heard

of him. His name is cam Marlowe spelled with a
K and uh new one of the new kind of
breed of artists here in Nashville. He's staggering. He's an
alpha male vocalist, and by that I mean literally every
take he sings on the tracking session would be considered
a comp a first rate vocal He's that it's like

old school, old school type of recording. As a matter
of fact, he's so good that I encourage him to
get live vocals on the tracks, which is unheard of
these days. How did you get involved? Like I do
pretty much with everybody, every artist that usually the label
calls me and we'll say we have somebody that we're
really excited about and we think you'd be a good
fit for for the artist and they usually set up

a meeting and you know, usually goes over pretty well,
and then it's just working out the I don't develop
these artists. They they call me to make records that
sound like singles and and you know, I mean it's
such a cliche thing, but they want hit records, right,
So right, that's that's it's I put my shoes on
one at a time, right, and then you want to

make hit records. But so so it's it's kind of
like a shotgun marriage. You're you're you're trying to two
digest the music, the the the vision of an artist,
and you go in the studio and start. And so
that's it, you know, And that's that's kind of what
I've made a living doing the last years, all my

years of playing a studio sessions. Is a good tar player.
I had no idea, but it was only in preparation
for what I do. Now, Okay, let's droll down a
little bit. They say we want you to work on
this record, want you to make a record, They give
you the music. How long does it take to decide?
And sometimes do you say no? I do say no,
But that brings up a good point. I love to work,

so I'll default to yes more than not because I'm
fortunate that I have a track record. Labels are pretty
selective who they're gonna bring me. It's gonna be pretty
top shelf, and that sounds if it sounds up to it.
I don't mean it to be that way at all.
It's just it's I'm I'm I'm at a good point.
I should say that they bring me a really good
artists and uhan, once in a while it will be

a note. But but for the most part, you know,
if I can fit it into my schedule, it's it's
a yes, you know, and I've been doing it long enough.
Or I really enjoy the Rubik's cube of trying to
figure out where people are at musically. At my heart,
I'm a session musician, is what I am. I mean,
I'm not a UM Well, other people would argue and

say I'm a producer or heart, I see the world
through the prism of of a guitar and then it
goes out exponentially. But there's always a way to figure
out music, you know, And I've always enjoyed so many
types of music, so uh, it's it's not always predicated
on on on one thing or another. Obviously, I'm I'm
one of the older guys uh in in my business

right now. I'm I'm I'm way on the old side.
As a matter of fact, I remember being a young,
little snot nose guitar player in Los Angeles when when
I was in my twenties and I would see people
in their forties and think, what the hell are they
doing in the studio those old men? Yeah, yeah, by
by those by dog years. I'm I'm Methuselah right now.

You know, Okay, let's assume you get the music, you
say go, then you want to meet the artists. What
does that experience like? It like meeting anybody? I mean,
you know, you know personalities. You many times you hear
somebody sing, you hear what they do musically, and it
has nothing to do with the person their personality when

you meet him in a room. More than not, most
people that I that I work with, they they they're big,
big personalities, and then you meet them and they're they're
they're shy, removed, you know. I mean, like I guess
like a lot of entertainers are. They they have specifically
that they do, and they have a language and and
my job at that point is not too um, it

is not to ingratiate them to me, It's I had
to figure out their language. I had to figure out
what they're trying to say. I mean, musicians don't always
use the same adjectives. Right. When somebody talks about something
being big and expansive, Well, I mean, what does that mean?
Big and expansive? Is that? Is that? Uh? Is that
led Zeppelin? Right? Right? Is that Vivaldi? I mean it's

you know, most of the time, my job seems to
be se figuring out what they mean by their adjectives.
I need somebody to sound more brown, I need to
sound more fuzzy, more more uh intimate? Well again, these
are these are these are adjectives that that that could

be applied to a lot of things. So you have
to figure that out first. You have to figure out
what they mean by what they say. A lot of
that can be done by listening to their demos, by
their previous recordings, if they've done that and you start
the conversation there. But it's I guess, I guess what
I'm coming to, Bob is it's it's it's different every time.
There's no one size fits all, and I guess that's

the thing for me musically, that's the that keeps me
engaged and interested in this whole thing, because, uh, if
it was the same thing every time, I'd get really bored.
And in saying that I live in Nashville, Tennessee, now
I'm I'm I'll just say it. I never in a
million years would have ever thought I would be involved
in country music. Right, let's go back the other thing

and then get back to country music. So you meet
the act, probably the act already wants to work with you.
How long does it take to have this conversation before
work on the album begins. It can be ours, it's
it's there's no rhyme or reason to any of this stuff.

I mean, if if it wasn't a perfect world for me,
we would meet several times. We would do rehearsals, we
would do pre production, we would spend time really diving deep,
getting to know one another, artist myself, doing demos, doing
a lot of that stuff way before we record records.

That's not the nature of the business. The nature of
the business is when these labels put you together with them,
they want it, they want it now, and they want
it they wanted successful immediately. Okay, so now it's a go.
What's the next step in making a record? Do you
have any rehearsals or you just go straight to the
studio normally. I don't get that. Most of these artists

are are are starting their touring already, so their time
is limited. The first thing is, you know, I want
to hear the songs you want to record. One thing
that I'm I'm not interested in doing is being an
A and our person. And traditionally in Nashville, the producers
were A and our instruments and and and many of

them were publishers, and so they would come in with
the songs, here's what we're gonna record. I have zero
interest in that. As a matter of fact, I think
it's I think there's a lot of I think I
got into this business because there was there was that
component that would would would constitute almost almost a uh.

I don't know how to say it. It's it's it's
it's best if you just help them make their music.
I don't want to be somebody's publisher. I don't want
to have uh incentive to from a financial standpoint. I
just want to help people make music. That's that's what
I like to do, right, And I think a lot
of artists when I started doing this, we're interested in
that because they didn't see a producer coming in with

another interest in having his songs recorded to help his
publishing company. As you said earlier, they hire you to
have hit records. When you listen to the demos, do
you only pull a project or do a project if
you hear a hit? What if you're in the studio
and there is no hit. I usually get interest interested
because I hear some element of their music that that

speaks to me. Most of the people that I work with,
they've they've come through the songwriting halls here in Nashville
and and they've usually graduated up to the upper tier.
And uh so they usually come in with really good music.
A lot of times you'll find out what you think
as a hit compared to the end of a project,

after you've realized the music it's not the hit, they're
they're hidden gems there. So I think that what I
what I'm saying is that you have to start the process,
you have to start making music. I mean, it's really
a sad thing if if we think we can cut
this down to some kind of algorithm. And and that's
what the business would would love for this to be right.

We we know exactly what's gonna happen A B C. D. Here.
You have this artist as things this good, you get
this writer right with them, then you get somebody like
me to come in and record the songs. That is
a recipe for for success. It doesn't always happen that way,
and usually there are sleepers when you record these records,
songs that emerge in the studio something that nobody would

have ever thought would would possibly be a contender. That's
the that's the that's the mystery of all this stuff.
So there is the agenda of a record label and
and management, and it's all good. It's you know, how
else can the business run? But there's the reality of
the way this goes. And that's the part that I'm
involved then, and it's it's just you get in there

and you start making music, and it's you don't know
how it's gonna go. That's the way. Needless to say,
since you've been doing this, this business has gone through
a wild transition with first file trading now ultimately streaming.
This has affected a lot of people's recording process. So
how has it affected you, if at all, in terms

of how much money and how much time and where
you record the records. Luckily, for me, I'm I've been
in the business long enough to where I can set
certain terms as far as budgets go, um, the process
of recording, I pretty much do what I've always done.
The business is being streamlined. You know this. Everybody now

is a producer, right, everybody with a laptop. I'm a dinosaur,
I think if you were before categorizing me as far
as the way I make music, I'm not. I usually
don't write with with artists. As a matter of fact,
I never write with artists. What am I saying? I
quit writing when I quit my band. Everybody's a producer
with a laptop. The demos that come in are are

staggeringly good, right, So why does why would an artist
need somebody like me? At this point? I asked that
question all the time. You didn't ask this question. But
I'll kind of circle back kind of what we're talking about.
There's something that that Bob and our age group we
got to experience musically seventies, right, seventies, sixties, seventies, There

that was a renaissance of music. It preceded machines and
proceeded a culture and the record business. It was still
the wild, wild West, you know. And and with that
there was an innocence and there was a fearlessness in
making music that existed, and I think it really fostered

some of the great pop music of all time. And uh,
at this point, I think artists, young kids are speaking personally.
They they want to feel a piece of that. I'm
abridged to that. I'm not a laptop producer. I still
deal with live musicians. I think that's not the only
way to make music. But that's there's there's certainly something

in sitting in a room with other people. There's there's
you can you can't replace that exchange of ideas with
with with sitting in front of the laptop. It's it's
I'll keep coming back to this this the two words.
There's tension and there's mystery to it. You don't want
to know what's going to happen next, because it's not
just your mind, it's everybody else's mind. So it's a reaction.

It's there's something about that that process that is magical
in making music anyway, so we live in a business.
Your original question was how how is this all affected
now with the transition to stream me and whatnot. Basically,
I thinks streaming is the greatest thing for music because again,
it's it's pushing the boundaries, is saying that the funnel

that we go through is not small, it's huge. And
and as much as radio has been a phenomenal instrument
in getting music to people, there are gatekeepers that that
are involved in that process. And and there's too much power.
The democratization of of music through technology, as I think

it's been a wonderful thing. It's confusing. Um it allows
in a lot of mediocrity, but it also allows a
lot of people to have control over what they do. Um.
Record companies are playing catch up to that, and and

I think the first round of their decisions are to say,
let's just get They call it content, which is a
pretty spite forward and I hate that word. Just it sucks.
It's not content, it's music, right, they want the there's
an insatiable appetite for music now product content. That's a

problem because there's a lot of mediocrity. You can't just
make great music quickly. Sometimes it happens in a flash.
Sometimes it happens over a long period of time. I'm
kind of the moderator with the projects that I do
on that process. Dinosaur. Yes, but but but we're gonna
find a chord of that music that that the artist

feels like that they're saying what they want to say.
Record company is gonna take it and do what they
gotta do with it. Sometimes it works for them, sometimes
it doesn't. Sometimes this this new process of just spitting
out these demos disposable music that works better for them.
I can't. I can't be the answer for all of
that stuff. Hopefully that that answers a little bit off

your question. I'm sitting down. That's a lot though. It's
all good. But let's go back to the nuts and bolts.
So you say, yes, you've met the act, you've listened
to the demos. How much is the budget that you
propose and how long does it take you to make
one of these records the budgets that I get. Can
I talk about some of this stuff to you? I'm

trying to think. I don't think I'm supposed to talk
about park because every deal is different. How long does
it take him? Is your budget A hundred thousand, three
hundred thousand, two hundred thousand. You know what that's That's
a great question. And this is an honest answer, even
though I preface it by saying I don't know if
I should talk about the truth is I don't a

hundred percent no, because I have a guy that does it,
and he usually he just he's been with me for
twenty five years. I know it's I know, roughly to
track a song in Nashville with you know musicians, your
union musicians that I use will be somewhere up from
twenty dollars just for the expenses. And I think that's mixed.

So what ten songs and you're talking about what two
fifty dollars? Right? Generally speaking? Are you making albums? Sort of?
Sometimes somebody come in and want one track or a
few tracks. For the most part, gladly I can I
can say that it's it's mostly album still to this point,
or what do they call collections now? Right, it's more
than it's more than eight songs, So it's a body

of work. Okay, So you have your read songs, how
much time do you need? Various? It just various. Cam
Marlow i'm working I'm working with now he's seen he's
seen live on the tracks, so if comp his vocals,
if they need to be comped from these live tracks,
that saves me weeks of doing vocal over depths. We've

determined this record is gonna be really simple. There's not
gonna be a lot of over depths after the fact,
so that again, some records take the I'm trying to think.
I just did a record with it with with an
artist named Kane Brown, who's a wonderful new hybrid kind
of artists. I don't know if you know that name.
We've been working on this record place for a year,

off and on. He tours all the time, so it's
not straight work. This record that I'm working on right now,
I probably have it done in six weeks. So they're
there there. None of them are the same for me. Well,
let me put it the other way. Look at it
from your perspective. You have a schedule. How do you
schedule all this stuff? That's the main dollar question. It

used to keep me up twenty years ago. It kept
me up at nights. I discovered ambient right that was
that was the only answer for me at that time.
It just does Bob. I don't. I don't, you know,
And sometimes you have to say to people, you have
to say, look, it's gonna take me a little bit longer.
You have to wait. That's the beauty of being a
senior in this business right now. I don't take advantage

of it. I don't. I don't. I'm not heavy with
that at all. Um and I have a wonderful relationship
with most of the label heads here. They're all my age,
and they know that I'm not gonna dick around with them,
with with their money, with with their schedules. I will
meet deadlines. I just want to know what the hard
deadlines are. And I and I usually I mean to
this day, I'm knock on some way around here. I've

i've never uh not delivered on time. But as far
as scheduling, I mean to this day. I don't have
an assistant. I'm I'm one of the holdouts. It's too
much work to have an assistant. So I do have
a production assistant who keep pays the bills and does
all that stuff. But that's it. It's just me. It's

a mom and pop shop here and I and I
actually do a lot of records so there's seven days
in a week, twenty four hours in a day. How
much you're working less than I did ten years ago.
But I've been hit a lot of saturdays lately. I

will say that normally I've been married forty years, so
in music years, that would be right exact. At least.
Sherry and my wife, my my girlfriend since that we
were fourteen years old. She's not in music business, and
that's probably why we're still married. But I decided a
long time ago, well i'll tell you a great little

a little story about you. Mind me a little anecdote
about Los Angeles. And we just moved out. I think
it was two two or three. We've been married a year.
I got out there was lucky enough to get in
the fast track right off the bat. I was living
my dream. My The only thing I want to do
is play guitar. About a year and a half, two

years in Sherry, I'll never forget. I know where I
was sitting on it, on which chair, which house we
lived in. She said, Hey, Dan, I love you, but
I'm gonna move back to Nashville. She said, this is
not really me. She said, we see still stay married.
I love you, but I would see you as much
as if you came home to Nashville and visited once

every too much. And and that was a real warning,
right And so my life has been one of balance.
And I've raised three kids and um now I have grandkids.
But I did, I did find out early that that,
like I used to do twelve hour days, I'll put
it that way, something suffers that at every point of life,

if if, if you're, if you're, if you're doubling down
on work, your family is gonna suffer and you've got
to make that up. So it's it's just a constant balance.
But right now, say I like to work, if I
have my way, I like to work between the hours
of eleven and six, kind of bankers hours for a musician. Now,

the past is history, But in retrospect, did it require
that much work twelve hours a day to achieve the
status you presently have? And we're the sacrifice is worth it,
no doubt, no doubt. I mean, I mean, you know,
I mean, I've been fortunate enough to be around what

I would consider greats at every facet of my recording career.
And yeah, it does, it does exact some some flesh
from you and there's no way to get good without
your ten thousand hours. So was it worth it? Yeah,
it was worth it. I think there's some other things
that I might have been able to accomplish had I

given a little bit more, but that would also wouldn't
have been worth the cost to me personally. Okay, so
let's go back to the studio. You mentioned earlier that
you have your regulars players in Nashville. Do you tend
to use players on all the records you make or
is it ever the guys in the band they're the
ones on the record. It's it's really whatever an artist

would like. And there's some artists that come in like
they'll and they'll they'll have a particular musician in their
band they know can cut it in the studio, and
they'll say, would you mind using I love that. The
problem is I've you know, I always maintained that I
have only so many ideas, so you have to change
the cast or else it's gonna sound like the same
record all the time. So how do you find new players?

Just steen around, just asking around. There's there was a
new player that I was working with today, a guitar
players in Nashville he's and he's homegrown. I I can't
believe that. I've never hardly met anybody in Nashville who's homegrown.
This guy. He's the age of my oldest daughter. And
his name is Chris Donnegan. And he's just on a
tip from an engineer who I've worked with for twenty

five years. He said, try this guy out. He sounds
exactly like what you're looking for. A bit irreverent, but
he's knowledgeable and he and he plays just just on
the fringes. And I said, okay, great, you know, and
that's it. He's locked in for life. Now he doesn't
know that, but he's locked in for life, whether he
likes it or not. But but truely, I mean truly,

do you you have to work. One of my heroes
in life is Mutt Lang and he was the guy
that talked me into being a producer. Wait wait, he
taught you one on one or he taught you because
you listened to the records, both both. I mean, it's
the greatest honor. When I got my first call to
play guitar from Mut Lane, that was it. I mean,
what else A little bit slower? What was that call?

For the first call? That mutt. Actually, I had moved
back to Nashville. I was playing in a band Giant
right by the way. Thank you for those more than
kind words, all hard felt, all true. Yeah, but that's
I mean, that was that was sweet. You know, so
and this you know You're gonna have to tie this
narrative because I'm jumping all around. I'm like, I got
it all in my head. Just keep going, Okay, great,

we had moved back. I thought I was gonna be
a rock star, moved back to Nashville to raise my kids,
be closer to extended family. Let's just stop for one second.
When your wife, Sherry said I'm gonna move back to Nashville.
What happened then? Did she move back? No? No, she
didn't she No, It's just I had to I had
to remember that I was in a relationship and I

you know, you have to cherish the things that you love.
I was cherishing music right I was given and I
just had to make sure that I balanced that and
I did. And she she it makes her sound like
she's a heavy she's not. She just she's just honest.
So and and quite honestly the best music critic too
that I've had because she's not a musician. She she
doesn't give rats. Asked about how much hours I put

into a guitar show. It's like does the song speak
to her or not? So anyway, Um, we're back in Nashville,
We're raising kids. I'm I'm gonna be a rock star.
So I thought this is right before Giant tumbled, and um,
Mutt Lange wanted to cut a record in Nashville. He's
loved I found out he loves Nashville. He he was

cutting a record on his ex wife. Her name is
Stevie and um, so he hired a bunch of Nashville
musicians and so it was not a rock record, which
is bizarre because I was not a country musician. Anyway,
we got to know each other in our our relationship
extended far beyond that. And I watched him work in

various capacities, and and that guy could bring water from
a stone. He had no fear. He would lead you
to the musical Promised Land, whether you well, no, you'd
always like it. It was all on him. And yet

he had such a profound respect and a desire to
hear the ideas of all the people you worked with.
And it really had an effect on me. And I've
worked with some phenomenal producers. I mean, you know, I mean,
there's no way you can call one the greatest. There's
no greatest. But I would say he's one of the
most profound musicians I've ever worked with. We could argue

whether people are in his league, but he's at the top.
I mean, it just I don't have an I don't
have enough vocabulary to say what I think about mud
life and as a person too. It's just he's the
quintessential music maker. That's just it. So I'm looking at
this guy and and and also just honored to be
part of making music with him. And he was the

one who said, you're a producer at hard Dan, you
should you should drop the guitar playing and produce records.
Well you didn't want to hear that. But what what
did he pick up on? I'm assuming because I haven't
really asked him. But but well, I'm an arranger at heart,
an arranger, so so the it's it's like I've always

liked making records to to to. If you're a musician,
you're a subcontractor, right You're you're hired to frame the
house you're a drywall guy, you're a plumber or whatever.
There's a certain artistic bent to each one of those
those disciplines, shall we say. And the record producer is
just the general contractor. He's he may be a he

may be a woodsmith himself, you know, I mean, or
a plumber, but but he it's his job to pull
the whole thing together and and it's his job to
make sure the house is built. That's what a record
producer does. And he just he he noticed some things
about the way that I related to the way he produced,
and he probably thought I'm I'm I'm guessing here, I'm projecting.
They thought I would be a natural doing that, and

he was the one. Um he didn't get me my
first gig, but I was actually producing um a Mega
Death record here in Nashville in the early nineties. It
was my my manager of Giant, Bud Prager, who got
me that that gig. He thought I'd be good to
work with Dave Mustain at the same time. Mutt was

producing Shania Twain at that time, and I was playing
on those records, and um, they were hanging out with
Faith Hill. It was a huge star at that time
in faith. It was. It was just kind of like
a drama. You know. Her producer was her fiance and
they split up, so she just didn't want to continue that,

you know, and I understand that. And and she was
looking for a producer, and Mutton and I were with her,
and they said, well, why don't you try Dan, and
she she had never thought of that. I was playing
on her records because I was living in Nashville this time,
and I, you know, I was supplementing my income, my
rock income, with playing sessions again. And so that was

the first thing. And you know, I mean, if if
Mutt Lange suggests you, somebody's gonna listen at that point,
and there you go. And that was the beginning of
of kind of my production in Nashville on country music.
And the irony is Mutt Lange, you know, his greatest
rock producer, you know, one of the greatest whatever you
want to call him. He was such a student of

Nashville music, of country music. As a matter of fact,
when he when he we we were in England working
on a record, and he he asked me what I
knew about an artist named Shania Twin And I said,
I don't know that much. I mean, I've heard some
music or whatever. She's she's gorgeous or whatever. That's about
the extent of what I knew about. I saw her
on videos and he said, well, I fancy her, and uh,

I said, that's great. So I was working on some
record with him in England at this time and he said,
he said, but you're not going to play on it.
And I said what? And he said, you don't know
anything about country music, which is so true. I didn't
even though I was living it. Grew up here in Nashville,
and I was living back in Nashville, I didn't know

a damn thing about country music. Funny thing was, I
got a call one day and it was, I think
the second day that he was tracking Shanai and Nashville
their first record. He he said, and I won't even
attempt a South African accent. But then you fancy coming
down and having a play. He's what he said, having
a play. And I said, I said, I thought you

said I didn't know how to play country music. He said, yeah, well,
I just want your wrist. Is that great? I just
want your wrist? So yeah, okay, But you know, if
we talk about the old guy because everything is different now.
There were producers that were you know, in the sixties,
they work for the label. Then everybody went independent. The

producers were mainly people leaving Nashville, which is a subculture
unto itself. But if we're talking about rock, the producers
were sort of they and our guys, and they would
also work with the music. Then we went to an
engineer producer. When you're an engineer, you learn that your
subsidiary and you don't make waves. And therefore when they

make records, it's harder for them to speak up with
their ideas. And what I'm leading to Ism is a
unique guy because in South Africa he started doing satellite records.
You know, before that they came to South Africa, they
would record them, they'd have them for a couple of
weeks and have the hit in South Africa. So this

is a guy who can do everything. He can write,
he can sing, he can okay, and there are not
many people who can do that. So how did those
elements come across in the studio? You know, he writes
it's almost like, um, it's like he writes an acoustic guitar.
You know, it's like you know, he's like He's a hippie,

is what he is. He's just he's a beautiful hippie.
And um music has to work from an arrangement standpoint
from melody. If he and he he usually has to
translate on an acoustic guitar for him, whatever his influences were,
and he has he usually has an idea when he
comes in. I mean it's not always fleshed out, you know,

a full demo, but he has an idea. You know,
he's a he's an arranger. Again, I come back to
I think that's really what what great records are made of.
Because when you go back, and I'll just deviate for
one second, you go back and listen to fourties and fifties.
You just listening to those records. Quincy was making any
big band record, right, I mean they were. They were
doing these records with you know, two or three mics.
That was it. And it's all the arrangement. It's all

relations and ship oriented. That's the way Mutt makes records.
It's arrangement. It's it's melodies, rhythms, the way sounds are
all orchestrated and arranged, they fall together. It's not just
a blob of music and then you you find a
way to do and I'm using my hands here. Great
for your for your listeners, so they can't see a thing.
But but it's it's not about moving faders up and down.

If a piece of music doesn't doesn't sit logically, like
if you put all your faders flat on the board,
if it doesn't sound great that way, chances are you
don't have a great record. That that's what That's the
crux of Mutt lying, as far as I'm concerned, everything
when when we down to the point of okay, once
he's got a drum track and a bass track, right,

that's got a dynamically musically arrangement wise flow with a song.
You're pointing something as simple as an eighth note part
ching ching ching ching ching ching ching, Okay, a lot
of producers, that's over in five seconds because it's such
a obligatory part. Dan Dan Dan, dank dank. I mean,
come on, what is that with Mutt? That's everything. It's

slow motion. Every note has to relate to that kick,
snare and high hat in a certain way that makes
every one of these notes sound large into the best
that it can sound. It's not slop. It's arrangement within
an eighth note part. And that doesn't mean that it's
like if you were to put it on a computer
screen and on a grid, that it would line up exactly.

That's not what he's looking for. He's looking for the
foe right behind each one of those, so that the
duration of each note makes the drums sound bigger and
more rich, richer than than they than they sound. So
if you if you start there and then zoom out
everything that he does, every note that everybody sings has
to have that relationship to the next thing. And that's

why his records sounded so damn good. Does that make
sense at all? Is that absolutely? Absolutely? But trying to
dig in a little deeper, you were saying, when you
make records, you're not in a and our guy to
what degree since mud has those skills, you may not
have worked in the studio with him with this happened
where he said, no, we're gonna rework the song, or
we're gonna rewrite the song. No, no, no, Then then

I I didn't make that clear. I've been around you know,
popular hit music, so so everything is an a and
our involvement. I don't like to go and and like
for a lot of Nashville artists, if they don't write
their own songs, you would go to publishers and and
listen to songs I would rather an artist. I I

am lucky because I get to work with artists that
usually write throwing music these days. As a matter of fact,
last I said, in the last fifteen years, almost almost
every artist that I work with either writes it completely
themselves or they co write. You know, and and so
you tell me what you want to record, you let

you have a conversation with the label about what songs
they think are gonna be hits. Right then I'm going
to accentuate that I'm not interested in that part of
the process. Now, once it comes into my hands, then
I'm then I'm on hands on for all of what
you would call A and R. At that point, we're
trying to make these songs the most impactful they can

possibly beat. I sound like kids. I just hate that
language about talking about hits. But you want something to
be impactful, so that if if from that in our perspective,
I'm I'm I'm a involved on the record, and we
we we rework sections, add sections. I mean, if we
have to write it there on the spot. It's fine.
I'm just I'm just not interested in in doing a

label and our's job as far as starting from scratch
from here's eighty tunes and let's cull this down to
ten if that makes sense. Okay, you're in the studio
and you say, okay, this song needs a bridge or
we're gonna start with the chorus? Are the acts ever resentful?

And frequently you have more success than the act. So
what's the vibe in the studio. It's all in how
you explain it. I mean, it's it's relationship, right, it's
and and that's predicated on respect. I mean, I think
you you have to earn that, you don't demand it,
you know, like you know, as a matter of fact,
I quit. I took down all the in my studio

at the house, I took down all the plaques. Number one.
It started reminded me how old I was. Right, It's
it's like, yeah, that was yesterday, right, And so the
more you think about that, Okay, it was yesterday. And
I don't want some new artists or that matter, old

artists to walk into my studio and see this is
who I think I am, or or you know who
who they relate to needs to be me at that moment,
and I have to earn their trust and their respect.
And so most of the time, at least my experience,

these artists will give me. They'll be deferential enough. Some
of them, I have to tell them to quit calling
me sir, which drives me batshit crazy, But um, it's
a trust thing. It's like, I'm not afraid, I'm I'm
I've been around the block enough. I'll tell people right
off the bat. Look, you're gonna see you're gonna see

some of the limits of my creativity here. You're gonna
there's gonna be some things I say that are just
absolutely off mark, and I'm gonna I'm gonna fall on
my face. If you can grant me that, I'm gonna
grant you the same thing. Because part of finding this
this thing we're looking for, whatever exists out there that
we're reaching for, doesn't come with It doesn't always just happen,

and we can't let our egos dictate. You know, it's
not about being cool, it's about being effective and finding
that thing. And so you know anything you say, you're
the boss number one, and you know this artist that
I was working for today. What he's twenty four years old,
He's he's ultimately the boss. It's it's his record, is

his face. It's gonna go on this thing. I'm gonna
go on and do other records past this point. So
I gotta listen very intently to what he's saying. And
if I hear him him him say an idea that
I don't think is gonna work, I have to discipline
myself to not just say no, no, that won't work.
I've seen that happen that here. Here's here's another good
thing about being a studio player for for decades. I

got to see great producers and I got to see
really bad producers. It's like classroom. You know what doesn't work.
The one thing that works is respect. You know, and
and and and when you give it, you usually get it.
Today I tried a couple of ideas that absolutely just suck.

There's no other way to do it. It's okay. We
ended up finding it by the end of the session.
Right on. The track came out fantastically, But it became
It became that way because the artist was willing to
trust me to go down a few rabbit holes. I
thought one thing is gonna work. What absolutely ended up

working was something that none of us thought was gonna work.
But it would never have happened had we not tried
some of these stupid ideas that I had. So that's it.
And and circling back to mutt uh Mut, I noticed
never panicked when you hit a dead end in the studio,

um and I and I and I experienced it a
lot of times as a musician. You know that that
horrible feeling like this, this is not happening, and people
are starting to look around, and and you know, it's
like what do you do now? It's it's not happening.
And I've been in a couple of situations with more
than a couple of situations with producers who you know,

it's exposes them if they don't have an idea, you know,
what do gonna do? Well, the next thing is to
blame somebody, blame a player. This sucking thing, doesn't you know,
it's like, come on, do something. Mutt Lang never went
to that place. It was just we're gonna get there,
hang hang with me. Let's just you know, talk about
a bar. And so here I enter, I enter my

production world with you know, the monkey of all monkeys
on my shoulder. It's like I've worked with Mudd Lang
and I know it great is I'm not anywhere close
to that, But you see what I'm saying. I mean,
it's like, absolutely you get to that point, you go
anything that I do, number one, I'll never reach that level.

But but that's how that's that's the way to conduct
yourself making music. And at least you have to have
that kind of credibility once you see it, an experience
that that you can never go back. So when you
hit a dead end, what did Mutt do or what
did you learn from what to do? Take time? Step away, Yes,

like just beating a thing into the ground is pointless.
Step back, get a different perspective, Go have a meal,
Go have a cup of coffee or whatever. Step back,
look at the painting from another angle, Turn it again,
keep looking at it. All of a sudden. If I mean,
this is not rocket science, right, I mean we're not

We're not this is not Bach. We're doing pop music here.
There's a there's a limited scope. And if if you
can find that, if you just mean number one, if
you're around people that are proficient, I hire a really
good musicians, musicians. Most of my things are way better
than myself. Just give that a minute. Something's gonna come

up and present itself. And like I said a minute ago,
it may not be the exact answer, it may not
be the exact route, but it may be something that
that that takes you into that that area that you'll
you'll you'll see what the final answers and the solution is.
Patience is the main thing. We were a couple of

your bad ideas. Today I think back, I can't remember it.
Luckily I can forget all that stuff. There was a
after the first course. There was I was well on
to this idea that I hate making just music that's
predicated for the radio. I was on a rant about that.
You know, it's like what am I saying here? Radio

has fed in my family all these years, but um,
we need to double that up. We need to take
time with this thing. And we we ran in and
the artists basically the end of the song we didn't undertake.
He said, I just think that sounds way too long,
and I said, yeah, you're you're, you're absolutely right, but well,
you know, just that the really bad ideas have been
reserved for modulations. I grew up like in Barry Manilow,

so I was like all that that dramatic stuff. Now,
if you could talk about the eighties when there was
unlimited money, they would be in the big studio. They
get a drums down, they build it, they cut the basics.
How do you do it? Hire great engineers. I hate
waiting and you know that great drum sound. Here, here's
here's my take on it. Like there is no the best.

I'll just say that, right, it's all relative to the
setting that it's in, right you. I remember listening to
a police record. Those sounds were great because they were
predicated on the band itself. He listened to van Halen.
Totally different thing. It's predicated on van Halen. Oh here, okay,

great example here. I remember playing on a on a
Pattie smythe record in the eighties, and the ron Nevison
was the producer, talk about a history and a list
of credits. The other guitar player was this little known
guy named Eddie van Halen. Right yeah, And and when

when he mentioned that Eddie van Hamlen was playing on
some tracks, I almost I almost just soiled my nappies.
Basically I got to the studio and the only thing
I cared about was hearing what Eddie van Halen did,
because I was such a massive fan. Right, and Ron
pull up the tracks and he was playing me some stuff,

and you could tell that it was Eddie. But it
was interesting because he didn't turn the guitar up like
anywhere close to the volume that he that that it
would have been turned up in a in a power trio,
right van Halen. It was. It was Eddie's guitar, drums
and then bass, so the bottom end was even it

was even subservient to his guitar sound. Well, in this
it was big drums, big loud bass, and then Eddie's
guitar in there. So it was Eddie because you know,
if you if you worshiped him slash studied him like
I did, you knew it was him. But it was
not the same experience. It was the same sound when

he is solated. It was there's Eddie van Halen contextually, right,
it was. It was less in volume and in the
elements that were around it. We're not the same, so
it was a different Eddie van Halen. So that what
we what everybody calls the brown sound related differently to
that setting. Right That's that's the world of production right there.

That's that's everything. It's everything is related. It's like what
I was talking about a minute ago in arrangement. It's
the way that it relates to the next thing. So
if you set your bottom end, your drums, your base
a certain way, then the guitar sounds to really poke
through and be effective have to cut through from a

different standpoint. Eddie van Halen's guitar sound was this massive beast.
It was a it was a whale of a sound
with all this bottom end and and this girth that
didn't relate the same way in the setting that Ron
had had had queued up for for this. Patty smythe

record Mutt Lange, by the same token, would take little
guitar sounds that, in the context of a record like
that would sound massive, but if you sold them, they
were these much more. They weren't miniature, but they didn't
have the girth of Annettie van Halen sound. So when

you say how do I do records, I get a
great engineer. I try to be specific about the direction
of the sound that we're going. And because I'm a
guitar player, and I make a lot of guitar sounding records.
I can dominate that conversation. I hire a lot of
guitar players that it's you know they we we have
a camarader and we can speak. We speak guitar talk fluently.

Do you work with the same engineer or do you
want to mix it up or what's your philosophy there?
I like to mix it. I have to mix everything
up because again, if I because of the amount of
records that I do, it would it would be boring
very very soon. I have a I would say that
I have four or five engineers that I like to
track records. I'm a little more limited on the on

the mixing. I I've gone back to UH an engineer
named Justin ee Bank. I don't know if you know
credits from Nashville, but if you look at them, Bob,
it's it's staggering. He's a Chicagoan that came through the
whole jingle thing and moved to Nashville. I met him
when I did my first Keith Urban record and we

haven't been a part since. I do have other mixing
engineers who are great and not but Justin and I
seem to really have a kind of just a language
and and he's he's a musician, and uh, we just
make records a different way. Same thing on on the
guitar players. I have about five in each instrument. It
seems to to me that that uh, I kind of

gravitate towards Okay, so let's just assume the engineer gets
the sound in the studio. How do you like to
build the record? Do you start? You know, you ever
make a record with a whole band in the room,
or you always start with the drums out. I make
records usually with the whole band in the room. That's
that's what people tend to want me to do. They
want a live situation. You know, even if we have

a lot of like what I call preproduction or you know,
tracks that we have to work with, they still want
that feel of a band. That's usually what I do.
So you going and you get basic sounds from each instrument,
and the guys that I hire come in with an
arsenal of of of equipment. That's that's top notch, right,
So you know you're getting great sounds. It's not like

you're hiring a band that don't have instruments and you're
having to rent amps and all that kind of stuff.
So and you know, you know, I like it that way.
It's not that I won't use studio musicians. As a
matter of fact, sometimes when you hire people who don't
play in the studio or just live musicians, you get
you get a different flavor. That's great. Do I have
the same amount of patients that I had twenty years ago? No?

Am I as interested in doing bands? No? I'm just not.
You know, that's that window is closed. Not saying that
I wouldn't do a band, but sitting endless hours in
the studio just trying to get a decent drum sound
or decent guitarist sound. I'll leave that to some you know,
some younger folks. Okay, do you read music? And do

your studio musicians read music? I read poorly, always have.
I'm a guitar player. Uh. As a matter of fact,
I almost didn't move to Los Angeles because I thought
that you had to be a much better reader. And
luckily I had a guy said, nah, that you can.
You can fake it. They want you for your ideas.
Um in Nashville, it's it's if you heard that number

system that's used here, no explain it. Yeah, it's it's
it's instesting, it's music theories. What it is that people
think it's this weird thing that it's just basically, if
you have a scale right, say you're in the key
of cf C D E F G A B C
right one, two, five, six, seven, eight, the one chord
would be a C cord, The four chord would be

an F chord, the five chord would be a G chord.
There you go. The sixth chord would be an a
minor chord. If you're it's music theory, you know, I
mean without going into it. So the way I understand it,
I'm not real big on my music history in Nashville,
but acts would come in and record there. It's a
touring uh, basically publishing town. Acts would come in, they

do their records on Mondays in Tuesdays, and they'd be
out on the road the rest of the week. So
there was not a lot of pre production. So you know,
if you're doing a song, if you write a chart
out saying the key of of a singer would price
sing it in D flat right, Well, the singer comes in,
they want to sing it in the natural. If you're
looking at a chart and you're looking at a D

flat and you're having to play in the natural. There
are musicians who can do that wonderfully, but guitar players
not so much. You know some who could, but but
for the most part they so they developed this thing.
That's it's it's a number system. Basically, wherever one is,
that's your key, right, So you're not looking at courts,
you're looking at numbers. So if we're in D flat,

one is D flat, right, that's it? And and and
then you five is a flat, Well you want to
move it to the key of E. You still got
your number chart one, there's E. Five is B. I
don't know if that sounds more complicated or not. No, no,
especially if you do it every day. I get it completely.
It's an alternative system as opposed to reading notes on

the staff. For me, I just memorize stuff. I mean again,
it's it's how hard is this stuff? It's like you
listen to it once or twice and you got it
to each his own. I would say. There are some
musicians that I work with that will come in and
they will they will write out the actual chord symbols
and and some musicians that I work with that that

prefer not to read at all. You know, it's just
whatever whatever it takes to get to that point. I'm
not a real stickler on it before mixing. How do
you know when a track is done? Instinct? You know,
I mean that's pretty subjective, right when you when you
take the mantle of the producer. It's when I say
it's done, you know. And then and then I turned

to the artists, gope, you think it's done, it's we
know nothing still. That's that's the beauty of it. It's
a humbling job at any juncture. It's just anybody that
says they know this ship is, they're full of ship.
I'm just telling you that you you you take your

best guesses, right, people pay me for my best guesses.
And somebody's got to say when you stop you talk
about copying vocals, You pretty much do that on every record.
I'm hands on. Yeah, that's the main instrument on the record.
So yes, I I look at the voice like like
it's an It's an instrument. Everything is an instrument to me.

So I'm listening to the sound of the voice, the
way that the way the vowels and consonants sound, the
way the rhythm against the track, the tonality. There's so
much into to a human voice, and so I comp
based on that, based on the way it sounds. To me,
most artists that I work with really like the way

I comp vocals. I mean it's personally I would rather
not have to to have to do that, but but
it's it's you know, it's a recording. When people say,
you know, people, he used to drive me crazy when
I played guitar solos. The first thing they would say
the g I t students? Right, how many takes to

take to get get to that solo? Is that? What
does it matter? It's a recording. It's like did you
get what you wanted to say? It's like a painting.
You don't ask a painter how long it took it
into paint? Something is it? Is that what you meant
to say? Vocals are that same thing. You can sing
a song a hundred times and you're gonna saying it
slightly different every time. Right. My job is to figure

out what's the most effective, and I tend to hear
vocals as instruments. Do you ever leave the mistakes in?
You know, sometimes things could be copped to the degree
they lose humanity. So so true. I guarantee I have
aired it made more mistakes. And that the greatest thing

that I ever had said to me early in my
production career. Again, the monkey on my shoulder is the
presence of Mutt Lang, who I you know, just holding
such a high est team. I could never make records
like that, but I'm trying, and it's he's right there.
He would laugh at that, right, but he's right here

on my shoulder. I was working with Keith Urban, who
is a brother, and we we really came up through
the ranks together and I owe him a lot. But
there are is a story that we were we were
doing a record and and uh, he got really angry
at me, heard this confident and he and he goes,

you made me sound too fucking good, and I was,
I was so I was. It didn't compute. And this
is how dense. I was right, I didn't compute. Well,
excuse me for making you sound he said great. I
don't think he said good. He said to fucking great.
Whatever he said, it took a while to realize what

he was saying. He wanted the tension, he didn't he
didn't want it to be perfect. He wanted to feel
like it was going off the rails. It was. It
was probably this one of the most single, singular moments
in my production career that meant more to me musically
than than probably anything, and it's affected me. So to

answer your question, where I've landed his tension. You want
to feel music that makes you feel like you'rere and
this is hard to do and I don't do it
all the time, and said, this is my aspiration, right, So,

because you hear some of my music I've made and go,
you've missed the mark. It's the aspiration. You want to
feel something that it's both known and unknown. You want
to feel like you're on a track ready to possibly
go off the side of the track. You don't want
to be so safe that there's not a bit of
mystery and and danger to your to your to your journey.

Right So in comps, yes, that's true. I mean you
can you can make vocals sound too perfect and they're boring, right,
you also have to You're also answering to an artist
too and what their threshold for how they want to sound.
So in a perfect world, though I like the yin
and yang of of it, of of the impact and

of of something being great and yet there being a
vulnerability at the same time to it. And again subjective.
None of this stuff is is something that we can
objectively say, Yes, this is the definitive answer here. I mean,
you're in your home studio. Now, people can't see that,
uh listening. But do you cut all in one room
or you just got basics in one room and then

you go to another room which is cheaper? How do
you do? I record bands downtown in Nashville and proper
studios because they're set up for that. You know, it's easier.
You get a bunch of people. I'm in a residential
neighborhood here, So in my studio I have a great
vocal booth. Actually the control room is a vocal booth
in a in and of itself too. It sounds great
in here. So they can either stay be in a

vocal booth or they can sit here in the control
room with me. We put on some headphones I have
around me, you know, guitar player, so I have all
my guitars and amps here, have all that stuff, your keyboards,
so so I I go go down like on a
typical record and records. If we we say, let's just
say ten tracks for for example, take me five days

six days to get that the basics the structure of
the record tracks. I then take a hard drive from
that back to my house and then we do vocals here.
I'll do my guitar overdubs here, incidental overdubs. A lot
of times I have some some harmony background singers who
this is beautiful introduction because of technology. I'll I'll call

him up. And doing background vocals sometimes can be like
watching paint dry. You know, if it's just harmonies, it's like,
you know, it's got a great singer. Hey, I need
you to sing the third above, maybe a little bit
below heart here, do this, here, do that. If you
have some extra stuff you want to do, I'll send
them over the internet. I'll send them you know, the
tracks and and and bounce down and they'll send it

back to me. Then I'll critique that and we'll we'll
we'll be more specific and we'll get it. That way.
It saves me a little bit of time. But yeah,
i'd say i'd say sevent of making a record I
do here in my house. And as far as the
studios you cut basics in. Is it always the same
one or you don't care? I don't care. As a
matter of fact. Again, it's just you know, it's decent equipment.

I'd rather not be in the same place. I mean,
there's some great studios here in town. But you know,
I've been in studios since I was a kid, and
it's I've never studio has never made a hit record,
you know. Okay, So you're mixing engineer. Does he have
his own room? He does? Okay, How involved are you
in the mix in the process? Where do you say,

take a whack at it, then let me hear it.
By the time I send him what I've what I've
landed on, it's in a pseudo mixed state. Um and
I work on pro tools, and so I wanted to
sound it's to me, it's like taking a polaroid. I

wanted to be that concise. I wanted to be almost
the thing. So when I send it to my mixing engineer,
he knows of my intent and he's and he and
he gets It's not like like in the old days
where you send a tape and and you have to
pull up faders. Okay, Well, here's the kick drum. Here's

the base. When he pulls up a session, he's hearing
the last thing the way that I that the artists
as signed off, the labels signed off when they hear
the rough mixes. So it's in a what I would
call a more than a rough mix. It's it's it's
it's a it's a it's close to a mixed state.
It's sub mixed. I should say that, and then then

yes with with with the guy that I mentioned justin Kneebank,
he always has he knows he has the freedom too mute,
things to changed to do. You know, I want I
want his take on it. I want his reaction to it.
But but it's not like it's a blind reaction to it.
He knows pretty much where I'm what I'm thinking about

this point. Okay, so he fixes alan, he sent you
his mix. How long does it take to get to
a final Sometimes he gets it first take. It's staggering
how good he is. There are other times where it's

it's great. We just went through something. The artist signed
off on it, the label signed off on it. But
I still had quite a few things that I wanted
to try. So we we then went to a proper
studio downtown. Well, I guess we could have gone to
his house, but we went somewhere in Nashville and we
sat for three four days and we just we just
made moves like like kind of the good old days,

and we had a great time, great laugh just hanging
out together. Um again, it's that collaboration. It's it's it's
the things that you don't know that you're gonna do
when you're sitting listening in a room with somebody else
listening to the same thing. We do a lot of
what he calls living room. He likes he he likes
to turn on a mix after he's been working on

it for a day. He turns in a very low
he listens at a very low decibel level, and he'll
sit in the back of a room, almost like there's
music playing on at a party, and we'll just listen
to it and eat lunch or just talk. And more
things come out from that configuration than sitting in front
of UH speakers and being just absolutely dedicated to listening

to a mix and we just we we It's basically
you just fudge around with something and too it's like, well,
I got nothing more to say about it, and then
we're done. You know what about mastering. I got a
guy that I've worked with for years and I can
truly say I've only been up to Gateway one time,
up in up in uh Main, Yeah, and Bob was

one of the great rock mastering guys with there. So
I started using him. And there's a he's so busy
that there's got named Adam that worked for him, Adam
an that just started sending records and he was sending
me back his first you know, his run throughs, and
it's like, well, that's done. I'm not gonna go up there.
It's the most perfect scenario. Again, there are other great

mastering places. Stertling is staggering, you know, it's like but
but by and large he's he's like he's like an
automatic and we've done enough records together. It's like very settled. Me.
Do I hear something go? It's once in a while
I'll say, hey, back off the compression a little bit,
or maybe it sounds like we we got cocaine highs.

You know, it's like it's you know, it's a little
bristling on the top end. But no, I'm looking for
as many ways that I can. It's not reduce the workload,
it's just to reduce to to pinpoint where I can
be most effective. And just sitting in a mastering studio
after I've worked on a project for my it's mixed it,

It's like, I, No, I'm not gonna do that. Are
you a gear head? I don't know if you saw
the guitars and amps. I mean to some degree, I'm
not a collector. And I used to put it this way.
I used to shoot out Mike's every record. You know,
you're bringing an artist in and you have ten mics
out there in the studio from the rental company, and
they're singing a verse in the course of each one,

and then you sit there and I realized that at
the time, I chose one Mike. And I heard a
story about a friend of mine going down to a
hip hop studio down in Atlanta. He wanted to go
into the mic clocker, you know where you get choose
all your mics, course, and the guy said, yeah, he
said that we got a Mike locker, and he showed

him to the mic locker and he opened the closet
door and there was a mic and it was when
Ding Ding ding ding ding ding ding. So I found
the mic that I like to use. I I just
I like a T six nine him in too six nine.
I found just a premium just tweeked old vintage mike.

And that's the mic. You know, Well, I use an
SM seven or if I use whatever. If I go
to other studios, yeah, I use whatever they got. I
got this great mike. And course a lot of the
artists that I go, you know that's the now it's
the mic, right, which just it's the mic because the
mic we have up in the studio, and it's the same,
it goes the same way across the board is there'sre's

a certain point you can sit there. I've set for
so many hours. I've wasted I think years of my
life waiting for engineers to try different compressors. Which it's
so infintesimal. I gotta I gotta feel the difference. I
it's if if if, if I have to strain to
hear a difference. It's not different. Right when you're mixing,

shove a fader up, don't don't don't type in point
to decibel, right, I mean there's an argument to be made.
I'm not I'm not No, I am dissing it. I'm
dissing at all. It's just it's there's got to feel
the impact. And if the sound doesn't really change drastically
to where you can feel it here, it it's it's
it's a moot point. So gear wise, I feel that

That's the way I feel about all gear. I have
great gear here at the house, but I'm not gonna
sit there and have fifteen different preamps because I lose.
Because by the time you've gone through it, you've lost
the muse. Right. I used to watch singers just glaze
over by the time I got through to the mic.
There's the micro gonna use. They were they were put

they didn't want to sing, Okay, I can see in
the video gentile X. So are you a gentile X
guy or you really don't care? They're they're here, They're great.
I know it's a horrible thing to say, right, No,
I mean you made the choice. Some people say genial
X are great. Some people say this is my sound,
this is what I want, and the old days over
the n S ten ms. You know, I like these.

I like these, you can I like. I mean, what
I really like is these little things they don't make.
These are called n HT pros, and I used to
have them even closer. I had them stands that literally
it was like they were like almost earphones, but not
ear phones. I listened really quietly, just I don't want
to lose my hearing. And plus you can't hear when
you play loud, so I listened to the level it's

uncomfortably low. But I like to have the speakers close
to my ears so you hear the bottom end. And
I don't know how I got those, but I just
like them. And and the main thing is that you
just know what you're hearing. You know, the speakers don't
have to be great that you just have to know
exactly what you're hearing and how that relates to other
sound systems. What's your view on analog versus digital. I

love analog. I just hate working on it. It's just
it's it's pain. If if I have a PROD project
to where we're going for a thing right and we're
we're not we're not dealing with all that XS and
oh's of programmed percussion, all that stuff. A grid analogs great, Yeah,

if you have a to me, it's like like you know,
like you know, when we were kids, what do we
had the crayon box that had what eight because they
had it with like thirty two. I never had one
with a little uh sharpener in the front, right. And
sometimes there's a reason for having the thirty two, But
sometimes it's great having an eight, right, and you limit
the the options. I love that at first you could

hear a big difference there. The technology has been around
long enough and the engineers are are so good that
it's hard to tell the difference now to where it
matters from an emotional standpoint musically. So it's not an
argum to me, it's not an argument what's better, it's
what's what? What's what more facilitates your workflow at that point.

So your referenced earlier country music today, so what's your
This is where you work, but what's your take on
the music? It's it kind of became the receptacle of
what rock was from the eighties. Well, I mean I
remember Tom Petty. I saw him once and he said
he called it the country music of the seventies, of
the rock music of the seventies. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's

it's it's it's where I can survive, right, it's no,
it's it's a big tent. Having lived now the majority
of my life here, I've I've I've I've come through
the back door into an immense appreciation and respect for

country music that I didn't have when I was a
young buck growing up here, Like I wanted to have
nothing to do with it. There's a real rock and
roll component to old country music. That's great. I think
there's some wonderful new country music that's being made that's
just you know, it's just it's They allow a lot

of a lot of differentials now that didn't exist when
I was a kid. It you know, and you'll and you'll,
you'll go and and and you can listen to from
a from a Chris Stapleton to Kane Brown record, you know,
to a Keith Urban record to you know, just you
can you can go down the list and it's yeah,

it's it's it's the nice thing about I will say
that I'm and I'm not. You know, it's like, there's
no better place, but I happen to live here. And
and so you you tend to be able to see
the good points and the flaws, right, the good points
about the strength of Nashville is that it's still wrapped
around live musicians. And I think that's a real plus

because that's being lost in a lot of other areas. Right.
Certainly not the only way to make music. It's not
the way you make great hip hop music. It can't
be right. But so this is a place, this is
a thing, it's a it's it's a piece of the conversation.
And and I think that's the wonderful thing about country music. Um,
if you like you know, for for me, I didn't

grow up with bluegrass music. I didn't grow up with
real whiny kind of uh you know what I would
call whiney country music. Of course somebody that would be
fighting words for somebody else, but that just wasn't my culture.
Right nowadays, you can do this other kind of hybrid
and and still be a part of the conversation. And

so I think that's the wonderful thing about Nashville. And
you know, there's always gonna be a corporate side because
the business exists to make money. I mean, if you
if you can't make money, you know, there's no business.
So that's when you're you balance that art versus commerce thing.
That's that's never gonna be a conversation that that anybody's
gonna come up with a with an answer that that

that satisfies everybody. But overall, it's it's a good thing.
And I never thought in a million years that I
that I would be that guy. As a matter of fact,
that's what people say. Yeah, Dan's the country producer, and
I thought I was a rock guitar player. You know, Okay,
in the last twenty five years, with all this digital change,

what do we know? We know the country audience went
to streaming before the rock audience. We know the paradigm
of radio being the be all and end all has
is not the case anymore, even though it's very important.
Can you feel less of a stranglehold from the traditional systems.
Is there an evolution in the overall business that's allowing

growth in what kind of sounds and pushing the envelope? Yeah,
it was. It's it's predicated on streaming, right, it's it's
it was all. It was all through the funnel of
radio and hits and and being able to control hits.
Now we we we don't control what hits are anymore.
You can control what radio hits are still to some degree,
but that's not the music that's moving the masses. Right,

you have a real time way of a barometer of
finding out what people care about. And that's exciting and
and and terrifying at the same time. Right, you can't
control it. Moved on and country music, you know, is
coming to that realization. Um, yeah, and I think it's great.

I mean I I had my buddy Randy Goodman who
runs Sony Records, great dear friend of mine. He told me,
as a matter of fact, on this this artist Cam Marlow.
He said, look, don't don't don't go cookie cutter on
this thing. Just make music that can that makes Cam excited.
We'll deal with the rest of it. Just something. If

if we need something to be pulled in for radio
or whatever, we can address that at that At that time,
basically chains are taken off. Just make some music, do
something that's compelling, whatever the hell that is. I like
that directive. That's that's that's great. Once again, in your video,
I can I can see like ten guitars. How often

do you play guitar as much as I can when
I produced. It's really hard for me because because I
am a guitar player at heart, and I just it's like,
you know, my my vision goes to the guitar. The
world comes through through the guitar. I ceased to listen
to a singer. I forget that I'm supposed to be

directing something. I do play on tracking sessions sometimes because
if it's the best way that I can communicate. Um,
I didn't play today or the or last Friday. Two
great guitar players, uh Tom Bukavac and Chris Donegan. They
were staggeringly good, and it was better for me not

to play. I will over dub after the fact, um,
because there's certain things that we didn't get that I
know that need need to be done. And and I'm
a different personality. Um a record that I just played
on every one. So I like to flex those old
must those if there's there's a reason for it. And
the eighties are kind of coming back around Bob these days.

It's it's it's something I never thought would happen. But
I have some of these younger artists saying, hey, can
you play some of that stuff? Yeah, well, you know
I have to. Why Wight slowed down? Tell me more
about the eighties coming back all of a sudden, It's
like everything comes back around, right, and some of the
values of the eighties. It's like, for we've been in
a in a how do you describe it, It's like

a harmonic and guitar drought for the last fifteen years.
Right when the eighties ended. I mean it it extended
far beyond maybe what was necessary and uh, you know, tasteful.
It was. It was gymnastics, right. I listened to some

of the stuff I played in the eighties. It's like,
it's just I'm embarrassed, you know, But that was that
was it, That was the culture, right, So you know,
the nineties came in and and definitely dealt with that
in in in in not too friendly of a way,
humbled us all right, right, and and and that's evolution,
and that's the way it goes. And but there's there's

some there's some things about the eighties that we you know,
for all honest that that still resonate, right, And there's
something about that guitar thing and not just playing simple
melodies and drony type things. There's about having that facility
to to like a violinist, you know, flares and and
and maybe an eight barcelos opposed to these freaking four

barcelos that have been going around for the last ten years,
you know. And so an artist that I was working with,
he said, you know, I want you to play that stuff.
I don't want you to and you know, so the
funny thing is, you know, I don't play every day,
so you know I used to play ten hours a day, right,
that was that was my life. And and so you
gotta work back up. It's like, yes, you know how
to ride that bike, but it's not the same thing. So, yeah,

I just finished some stuff. I played some cellos, and
I'm pretty pretty proud of that. Are they self serving? Hill, Yes,
they're totally self serving, saying yeah, I can still do
this stuff. They served the music. So everybody's happy, most
of which would be me at this point, just no
I can do but I love it. Yeah, I love
playing guitar. So you grew up in Nashville. What kind

of circumstances. My dad was a string orchestrator, string arranger,
so music in the family. My mother was a pianist,
but she chose not to do it professionally. She had
the chops. She was really good classical pianist. And I
grew up in Nashville. He was involved. He started in
in in He started the onset of Christian contemporary music

didn't exist before those years in the seventies, and I
wasn't so much interested in that as I just want
to go to sessions. And I got to go with
my dad when he would do rhythm sessions in the
seventies and see like the great so I don't know
if you know the name Reggie Young people like that
that played on I mean countless hit records, legends in

that and these guys would just take me under the
wing and let me sit next to them and watch
him play in the studio. That's all I cared about doing.
I didn't want to be a rock star. I didn't
want to do anything else. I just wanted to be
a studio guitar player. I think since I was thirteen
years old, I didn't. But when I found out what
but I met David Hungate. You know that, you know

the name David Huntgate, right, yeah, just base extraordinary And
he he had moved to Nashville, which is I was
always wonder, why are you moving to Nashville. I want
to just get out at that time, and uh, this
he loved it. He's a Midwestern guy and he but
he told me when I was nineteen. I was playing
on a record with him when I was nineteen, and

he said, yeah, if you really want to make it,
you know, as you really want to say you've made it,
you gotta make it in l A and and uh
and you know, he played in the band with a
guy that influenced me so freaking much. I mean, Steve
Luca there, you know, I just it's like, what can
you say about how great he is. He's he's a

couple of years my senior. But it's like I listened
to him and I heard him play on records in
the late seventies and he was, you know, teenagers like
that's what I want, you know, And I saw, I
saw it. Steve wrote on a vall he said, yeah,
Dan copied me. Hell yeah, I copied him. Absolutely, You're
gonna copy the best, right, I mean, that's how you
get work. There's no there's no shame in that. It's

that's what you do. And I would never embarrassed to stay.
I thought he was one of the greatest of all time.
You know, is period. You you can't look at Steve
and go that he has not affected so many guitar
plays me being that I'm on the beneficiary. I'm just
glad that he quit playing sessions when he did, because
it gave it was this massive like like like cavern

cavernists void that that that I got to be able
to step into and be a part of. I wasn't
the only guy. By the way, Okay, you're growing up.
How many kids in the family? Three and where are
you in the hierarchy? One of the oldest and the smallest,
but I'm the oldest. My brother Dave, uh, you know,
if you ever listen to Giant Records, he was, uh,
the drummer, and he's just great and my youngest brother.

By the time it came to his he said, screw this,
I'm gonna go into a different path. Too many musicians
in the family, but he's very musical here for him.
What was your experience going to school? Good student, bad student? Popular?
I went to a sports school. I was an athlete
and they had a horrible music program, and so it
was always that tension. You know, great parents. I hit

the Jack Pop hit lottery on that one, and they
they just said, look, you know, life is about if
you can't. I'll put it this way. My dad knew
I was. I was a musician through and through. He
he pushed me in all the other areas. He said, look,
you gotta keep working on your athleticism and your academics

because it's gonna fact everything at some point. You're gonna
have to make a choice. If it's music, it's music.
But don't don't shut those doors yet. So high school
was fine. All I cared about was we had a
local college here called Belmont College, which is now Belmont University.
It was a big deal. I had a studio. As
long as I kept my grades up. Um, my my

friends at college would come over and pick me up
after baseball practice and I'd go and sit in the
studio there and play, you know, from midnight until six
in the morning, and be just obliterated the next day
for school. But as long as I kept good grades,
my my parents were willing to work with me on that.
And that's why I learned to be a studio musician.
And you graduate from high school and then what I

went to work for a on the road for a
guy named Bill Gaither Bill Gaither Trio. They were Christian music.
They were a trio and they were playing arenas. They
were some of the best people I've ever met, continue
to be to this day, absolute integrity. Not the music
I wanted to do, but I was able to go.

I went to school, a little bit of college up
in Indiana, and I tour on the weekends and made
a living that lasted about a year. Year and a half.
I came back to Nashville. I went to Belmont College.
I had my tuition paid for because I played in
a band that you know, went out and played gigs
for the college, got married one and uh moved to

l A. So you never finished college about a year
and a half. And what'd your parents say about that? Nothing?
They didn't they they those those the doors were closing.
You know, there was there was there and doors were opening,
and they knew that that was the inevitable. I'm sure
they would have loved it I had I got into college,

you know, as as I would love for my And
the funny thing is, Baba, my my youngest kid, is
a touring drummer, and I was great drummer. He did
the same thing to me. He a year and a
half in the college. He said, Dad, you're you're wasting
your money. I gotta go on the road, and I
had no other answers. Yeah, you're right, you gotta go
do if you gotta do it, I would I rather
you have a degree. Yes, but that's just not gonna happen.

How did you decide to get married so young? If
you saw this woman that I met when I was thirteen,
you would have gotten married at seventeen. She's my soul mate.
I mean that she's beautiful. She's she she is as
beautiful as inside is out. I mean that sounds like
a cheap shot. Now. I loved her. I just loved her,
and that was it. That just it's one of those things.

And you don't always get right. I mean, you know,
I mean people say, how do you keep a marriage going?
There's so much luck involved here. This is but it's
kindred spirit. We lucked out. We met each other and
we you know, we have the same kind of view
about life. Yeah, I was a kid, and she was
willing to move out to l a figure that. You know.

We moved out there, no promises, nothing, m So what
point does the band White Heart come about? That was
between college marriage and me losing moving to the West Coast.
That was a Christian man and uh, you know I

was raised, you know, in a very evangelical setting. My
parents weren't didn't weren't heavy on the dog, but they were.
They're pretty free thinkers. There was also a lot of
great Christian music happening in Nashville. I mean, this was
that was the cutting edge music I think in Nashville.
You know. Um, when I had a chance to move
to l A, I just unceremoniously quit my quit the band.

You know, so I'm gone, guys, And they all thought
I was, you know, moving to Sodom and Gomorrah, I guess,
And but Sherry was was up and so no, I
I that was it. That was that was that was mecca.
It was all I wanted to do was play on records.
You know. So to what degree is religion part of
your life? Now, well that's a that's a large question,

right religion. I don't know about religion. I mean, religions
extremely important. Uh, spirituality, I'd say probably would would dominate that. Um,
I borrow from a lot of different religions. Right, Well,
let's put a different way. Are you a churchgoer? No,
there's a value to that. I mean, it's not that

I don't like church. Right now, I'm getting more from
from from different authors and in different thinkers. So no,
you know, there's no criticism of all that. Just when
you hear someone played in a Christian band, you always
ask that. But let's go back to the beginning. Was
guitar your first instrument? And how did you get into
playing the guitar? Can I be rude for a second,
not to you, not rude, but cause just you said

something that that it's just about that that that interests
me that I just want to remark on. Yeah. Yeah,
the thing about the thing about like like like I say,
I don't relate to evangelical Christianity he especially these days
from a from a political standpoint, it's it's it some

of its repulsive to me. And yet the irony is
that is it? Life is so complex, you know, I mean,
like you don't like people that irritate me. They also
have the good side, right religion, any religion. But I
was raised in the in the Christian faith, I mean

here in the South, the Bible Belt. So no, no
surprise to that. There's things I love about it and
things I hate about It's kind of like family, you know,
and you and you I luckily had parents that that
really we're very encouraging to not throw the baby out
with the bath water, I think. And you find things
in it there there that are useful, that are beautiful,

and the and the some of the ugly stuff you
just go, you know, whatever, you call it for what
it is. And but but religion or spirituality plays a
great deal in my life, plays a great deal in
music because there's a balance to it all. It's you
can't separate your life out. It's I'm not just a musician.

I'm not just a husband. I'm not just a dad. Now,
I'm not just a granddad. I'm I'm a guy who's
closer to death than not. You know, right, I'm closer
to diapers. We all go through it right now. This
life matters, right, Do I have any certainty about another

extension life? No, I don't. And but the religious components
still plays something because because it talks about values and
things that matter. So that's that that to me is
kind of how I view all that stuff. So I
it's it's not as simple of an answer of of
whether I go to church or not go to church.
You know, it's it's it's it's in how I view

all that stuff. It's it's it's evolving too. I mean,
I I'm what I hate. I'm hitting sixty two this year,
so I'm not the same that I was ten years ago,
twenty years ago. Certainly not when I was twenty in
Los Angeles. I was this green, freaking kid who was
playing rock guitar on all these records. But I was
just off the boat of Christian contemporary Christian music. So

can you imagine how the utter lunacy of that, you know,
I'm walking into cocaine, you know, haven you know, it's like,
it's just it was it's something a movie. It would
be too boring a movie movie to watch, but it's
it would be a great humort thirty minute humor show.
So anyway, sorry, I hate to go off. Wanted to

be clear. Yeah, it's just it's just all. It's all.
I don't I don't have any great answers about it,
but I do have a lot of patients with the
process because of what I said about the inevitability my
first you know, I don't I don't want to extend
this too far. It's just and kind of contemporary Christian
music is a big ten. Uh. It's just when someone

is involved in it. You asked, what degree are they
involved in the dog, which you were not. There's no
prejudgment there, but when someone is probaby, because I certainly
know people who were involved in it or very heavily
into the dog. But but I think we've covered it.
So did you start with the guitar? Yeah? That was it.
I don't I have no idea why that came up,

but you know what, probably because I went I was
at It would have to be because of church and
my dad was a at that time. Was he led
the music at church, and there they'd have these folk bands, right,
and the guitar. It was the guitar. So I saw
these guys playing guitar, and that was it. I thought
that was cool. So how I'd just start with an
acoustic guitar, you know, playing chords? You know, I took

down in the local music store here in Nashville. It
was when I was thirteen. My dad had a friend,
his name was John Darnold's a studio guitar player in
Nashville and he's still a dear friend. And he came
over one night gave a couple of hours of his
time to a third jenior old kid showed me some
scales and I was hooked. That was it. That was

that was like, that's where I'm going with this whole thing.
To be that good, you have to practice a whole
hell of a lot. So I did. That's that's all
I did. I mean literally going back to you know,
my wife, Sherry. So this is it sounds very southern.
I love the sounding. As I always tell people, I

married my sister just just to confuse but no, Sherry.
I met Sherry when we were thirteen. Right at fifteen,
I was so in love with this girl. I was
in love with the guitar and love with this girl.
But the girl was just and my parents, actually, since
I was the first kid, made me break up with her.
This is beautiful, you know they were. They were just

worried I'd probably get pregged at sixteen, you know, there
they would that would be it, right whatever, But but yeah,
it was. I would I would play ten hours a day,
That's all I would do, and to the point that
I would irritate my coaches would have they'd call my
folks in and say, you know, what's this guy doing,
you know, that was my life. I was a good

picture and but I cared more about guitar. So I'd
sit in my room and just and crack up my
amp and play. I turned on records, you know, I remember,
you know I heard Larry Carlton's first solo record. I
mean these things where I was like fifteen years old,
Asia by Steely Dan. I heard all those guitar solos.
Is like, what else in the world is there to

do but learn this stuff? Okay? What are some more
of your influences? And when did you start? You wanted
to be a studio musician, but did you start playing
in bands? In high school? I had a friend of mine,
Gordon Kennedy, who was a son of of of of
Country Royalty of Jerry Kennedy. He was great producer and
a great guitar players, studio guitar player in the sixties.

We did little bands. We played it kind of in
our high school. But that was no, it wasn't it
wasn't to be a band guy. It was we would.
We had a great music teacher. We had a horrible
music program at this sports school, and he said, look,
if you would, if you'll keep your grades up during
during uh what he called study hall. You guys can

take your guitars and namps to go down the hall
as long as you don't make too much noise and
just practice, because he knew that we needed time to
do that. That's really what we did. We just we
just we needle draft on records. That's all. It was
when we would try to learn the latest whatever was
coming out then it was it was Boston. For me,
it was al Dimola Elegant Gypsy, the first record of

Note that he came out with. You know, never heard
a guitar player play like that. Steely Dan too, Jeff Beck,
I mean wired, you know, I mean blow, blow by blow.
By the time wired here, I think we were sixteen,
you know. So we're just, I mean, we're just it's
so rich. We're just we're learning all this stuff. And

then we would play these little shows at our school assemblies.
They would call him and we'd play these songs. Can
you imagine the you know, thirteen year old girls listening
to us play Jeff back music. You know, but we
were we were so into ourselves. But that was what
we did for our whole high school career. Basically it was.
It was phenomenal. So when you moved to l A

to be a session musician, how many connections did you
have or did you just go blind? And how did
you get work? Specifically? I had played on a lou
Rawls record here in Nashville a friend of mine named
Ronnie Hafkin, who who was famous because if he produced
a band called Doctor Hook at that time, remember that right,

of course cover the rolling Store Sylvia's Mother, that's it.
So Ronnie always wanted young talent. He got me to
play when I was probably nineteen on a Lou Rawls
record he was producing in town, right, and then he
went to overdubb it out in Los Angeles and there
was a keyboard player slash arranger named Robbie Buchanan who

heard it and inquired who the guitar player on this
record was, and that was a connection. Ronnie Afkin came
back to Nashville several months later and told me that
this guy, Robbie Buchanan wanted to, you know, could he
have my name and number. Robbie was doing all the
big records at that time. This was in the early eighties,
and he said you should move to to Los Angeles

and it shocked me. And I think that's when I said,
I don't read music that well. He said that it
doesn't matter. So we just moved. We just moved. We
got back to our What happened, Well, yeah, I mean, yeah,
it's weird because for about a month nothing and then

the phone started ringing off the hook and and one
thing led to another. Well, I go back a little
bit before I moved there. This was in the day
and age when they had they still they had what
did they call him? That people would do the hiring
on sessions. I can't even remember the term, but they would.
They would, They would put together rhythm sections. And I

told this fellow that I that, uh, I said, just
booked me in a session, like like I lived there,
I'll take care of getting there, and he did. And
one thing would lead to another. L A fed off
young new talents. As I said, there was a void
there and uh so I would. I would load all
my gear onto a plane's back before they checked the

luggage or any that. I I would bloat two amps, a
pedal board and three guitars, pay a porter twenty bucks,
ship it to l A get off the fight, rent
a car, put it all in there and take it
to a studio, do one session, come back to Nashville
and do demo sessions. So I would probably lose a
couple of thousand dollars each time. I didn't even know
I could hire a cartage company and move my gear. Finally,

we said this is enough of this. We moved to
l A, got a session here to you know everyone
you know, but but I'm I just moved to town.
And then about a month or two later, the phone
started ringing, and it just it was exponential. Were your networking?
Were you working it? Are you just waiting for the
phone to ring? And I didn't know how to network.

It's it's a mystery, Bob. I mean, honest to god,
I've had people ask me, and it it just it
doesn't make sense. Was there a tremendous amount of luck
in my career? Yes? Did I deliver every time? Yes?
A d percent? And it was just it was the
absolute perfect time to move to Los Angeles, to be
a guitar player who had practiced all that I had practiced,

who knew kind of what to play. When Steve Lucather
had abdicated this key position and the world was looking
for I would say, Steve Lucatherur, that's so, how many
years did you do that? What was that lifestyle? Like?
It was the probably end of eight two, you know?

Was that sick years? Just it was usually three sessions
a day, three three hour sessions, sometimes more. And it
it was fast and furious, and I was I was
in the fast lane right in in gawking most of
the time at the people I was around. But then
you get confidence and you're you're doing what you do
and I, you know, I was, I was good at

it and um and it was about eighty eight I
would say you start to go, well, maybe there's more,
you know, And that's when I started fooling around with
We had a rehearsal band, I think Alan Pasqual and
I had a rehearsal band with some writers. Tom Kelly
was a writer and a singer, a great background singer.

Denny Belfield was a bass player that was playing in it.
I'm trying to think who was playing drums. I'll think
of it in a minute. But it was the rehearsal
it was. It was a rehearsal ban. It was on
a lark. We were going to try to get a
record deal right, and Mike, Oh, Mike Barrett was the drummer.
That's who was Mike Barrett. And we would rehearse and
rehearsal halls and we just drink some beer and and

and and play and do songs and whatever. And the
material was okay. But but Alan Pasqua and myself it
was like, I guess, I don't remember, but it wasn't
scratching an itch effectively. And we just started writing songs ourselves.
And I had sung a little bit, so on some demos,

I started singing and what emanated out of that was
the beginning of our band Giant, and probably within a
year we got signed. You know, it was bizarre, but
the idea was, like all these records we were playing on,
if these guys can do this, hell, we can do
this too. We had no no one tell us we couldn't,

so we just did. It was so it was a moonlighting.
It was basically our way of having some fun before
you go to the band. Any memorable session stories. Everybody
always likes to know the crazy stuff. There wasn't a
lot of crazy stuff because I wasn't necessarily have to
be easy. Just an interesting story or any great records
you played on, and maybe you didn't think they were

gonna be that great or something like that. Okay, in
order of your question, memorable, the first time I got
asked to Michael Jackson session it was memorable only because
I walked into the studios. It was at Westlake and
he walked basically off the street into a into a
lounge and there was this guy sitting there that looked

like he looked horrible. He looked, I mean like he
was a wreck. He'd been living on the streets. And
I didn't realize until somebody was attending to this guy.
And what I didn't realize until a few minutes later
was they were taking off makeup. That's the only way
he could walk around the streets, right, And so I

was just asking him. I said, what it was, dumb question,
Now I think about it, Why do you do this?
He said, well, that's the only way I can. I
can walk down the street and go shopping. So he
had some Hollywood makeup artist, you know, duh. That was
that was you know, that was just stuff like that.
I mean, that was you know, I was a kid.
It was twenty five. He was making the Bad record

at that time. Any records you worked on your specifically
proud of Yeah, there's one specifically um my, uh, you
know it was kind of bucket list was to play
for Boss Skags because I would think that those were
some of the most impactful records for me from from

a lot of musical standpoints. And and I got this
call from Bill Schnay to play a Boss record that
was like that was it, you know, And the rhythm
section was Jeff ber Carroll and Marcus Miller and uh
different keyboard players. I mean it was like, who's who

playing on this record? And Boss asked me to write
some songs for it. Right, So again I didn't have
a publishing company. I didn't even you know why I
wrote songs with him so I could write extended guitar solo.
This is how green I was. I mean seriously, I
I didn't know what publishing was probably just but I

sure as hell knew how to write a section that
I could blow on a solo. Right. It's just it's
it's just silliness, but it's it's it's it's true. And
um we did this record. Oh, Peter Wolfe was playing,
you know, producer Austrian producer was playing keyboards on it.
David Page would come in. There was a song that
we that I had written with Bob. I wrote three

songs with them, and he wanted to record us. Great,
you know, he said, well, who do you want to
come and play guitar on this long Steve Steve Luga there.
It's like, so I get to play with my my
like I'm a kid, I'm a kid in the candy store. Seriously,
I just I just didn't even know what to do.
I was, you know, hanging out with Jeff Breck Carroll

and and just the whole thing it was. It was
it was otherworldly, right, I keep checking on make sure
I'm recording this. So yeah, and it was. It was
in the middle of the eighties and music had changed then,
and this was pretty artsy record of some cool stuff
on it. And this was this was the time, like

the hottest one of the hottest acts on the chart
was Debbie Gibson. So that gives you kind of a perspective, right,
And the label got this record and even Alan Holdsworth
even played I mean, so this is this is I mean,
you know, it's just it's deep and wide, right, and
this is my this is the greatest thing a young
guitar player could be a part of. So and I

also had three songs which I got to play some
pretty badass guitar solos on it. And the label rejected
the record, right, they dismant on and I remember even
getting called from some other producers come and redo some
of the songs, and it was so ah, Sacharin, you know,
just just I you know again, my my, my lens

was only that of a guitar players. I was looking
at the music business. I just I just it was.
It was an abomination, right. The funny thing was this
is this record is called Other Roads. The funny thing
was that the three most uncommercial songs with the songs
I would have written with bos right, they made the record,
so they exist there and and to this day that

was probably I would say that was one of the
highlights of my whole career. I mean, of all the
records I've played on a lot of a lot of
big records, but that was the one that that that
grabbed my heart strings. Other Roads. How did you get
involved and meet Budd brag That's a little bit unclear
to me. I can't remember exactly how I met him,
but It was around when we submitted demos to to

to to get to have a band that was signed.
I think the label put me in touch with him.
I think I can't remember. So you had your deal
before you have the manager. I think Bud's not around it.
Dispute that how do you get the deal? I think, dude,
demos it's a little vague. I don't know. Well who shopped.
Somebody had to go to the label say hey, this
is what I have. Great. That may be the mystery.

I may need to we may need to, you know,
put an addendum to this. I don't remember. That's the honesty. Okay,
So you get a deal with A and M, and
then somehow you get put in touch with Bud Praeger.
How did you decide to work with Bud? You know? Bud? Yeah,
I do. That's that's a that's a load. Basically, he

scared the ship out of me. And it was like
the greatest challenge because on one hand he could tell
you that you have the raw ability to do this
and using his you know, and also basically be honest
and say that you are nowhere close to your potential.
That's the that's putting it in a very genteel form, right,

but that's what that's what he sold. And his track
record was staggering. He he was honest, I really and
I really appreciate. I learned more about the record industry
from Bud Prager than anybody. And I had been in
the record industry as a guitar player. I didn't know
anything about it. And um, yeah, he was a great friend.

He was a great friend, a great mentor. Um and
and and he was you know, he was just honest.
You know. I mean there's certain things we were good
as a band and there were things we were horrible,
and he would he would identify both. You know. Okay,
so you make the record. Were you happy with the album?
That first record? Yeah, I thought it was pretty good.
I thought it was pretty good. And you know, that

was still in the in the in the A O
R radio existed, and it was a it was a
big thing in American. We had put out this first
single and and and the first single that we put
out had a minute guitar. So that started the record
and they played it in its entirety. Who wouldn't love that?
You know? You I drive around l A and hear
that thing playing all the time, and it's like, wow,

you know, yeah, we are pretty good. You know, So
what was your experience trying to play rock star? You
know I could. I was a pretty good singer. Um.
By the way, I absolutely what you wrote, by the
way you were. You're very kind in some of the
descriptions about my guitar playing a musicianship, and I appreciate that.

But what I really loved about what you wrote was
was in the was in the area of what you're
wondering whether it was because maybe the playing was really proficient,
sounded really good, and you were wondering whether it was
live or prerecorded. And then you said, and then Dan
started singing, I busted a gun. I thought that was

great because I was a good singer. You know, I
was not a great singer. I had a good range
and I was convincing. But wait, wait, wait, wait, Just
to be clear, this is a big thing, like with
the super Bowl. Whatever about people? Are people lip sinking
or not? And I will tell you, in my particular world,
if I say something is live and the expert's way in,

they'll crucify me. Oh yeah, yeah, if I'm wrong, okay,
But no, you were. You were so correct. It is
a live vocal. I don't care who you are. A
live vocal is gonna sound live. Okay. Well but okay,
so so that was the contract. I didn't mean it
as a point. I didn't. I can't. I'm not saying
you're I didn't mean it as a putdown whatsoever, not whatsoever.

It's just the guitar part was so faithful, to the
point I heard it the first time, I thought it
was live, and then the next time I was gonna
write about it, well, I really better listen to see
if it is live, and I'm listening to guitar part whatever,
and then you're saying, okay, that's a live vocal. I
didn't think there's anything wrong with it. Okay, Well, okay,
thank you, and I take that point. Let's just say
I'm a better guitar player than singer. So but that

was okay. But as I say, that was not my
meeting at all. Well, okay, okay, I appreciate that. But
I almost liked it better when I interpreted the other way.
But but yeah, we we did it. We did a record,
you know. We started it in Los Angeles and and
we three songs into it, we decided to moved to
England and get away from our culture in l A.

And it was the best decision. We worked with a
wonderful producer named Terry Thomas, British producer. That's what a
Bud's go to go to people. Yeah, and it was
in the Van Charlie. Yeah, and you know it was great.
Answer to your question about rock star, I was. I
was not a rock star. That was the thing. And
I think that was very Bud was very painfully aware

of that because how I mean, come on, you're you're
talking to me. I'm not a rock star. It's just
to be a rock star, you gotta be a rock star.
I'm a musician, right, I could sing, we played really good, um,
but to be a rock star that's a different thing.
And I would find myself playing gigs and you know,

I'm thinking about guitar parts, I'm thinking about books that
I'm reading, and I thought, and I'd be thinking at
the same time, I'm so not a rock star. I've
been around rock stars. I know what a rock star
does and I'm not that that ringleader that that. I'm
not a big personality who who just dominates an arena

or a you know a stadium that that wasn't me.
So I knew it. I was self aware enough to
know that. But our music was pretty good. So so
we kind of floated on that for a while. Going
to record number two, things were changing a bit, and
I'll never forget we kind of pretty good record the
second one. It wasn't as good as the first one,
I don't think, but I'll never forget. We were mastering

in in and uh, finalizing the record or mixing it
in New York, and I'll never forget. We're up in
the Sony building and uh, I saw a video of
even Flow, right Eddie Vetter climbing on that whatever, that
little theater, and I thought, that's the end right there, right,
I never forget that because that is very captivating, that's compelling,

and that ain't me. I'm just telling you right there,
that dude is not me. I got a lot of
good things about I mean, and I'm not. It's not
like I'm saying that. It's this is not about self deprecating.
This is I would want to watch that way more
than anything else. That's that's the difference, you know. So
I didn't grow up wanting to be a rock star.

I didn't study everything about the great rock stars. You know,
Steven Tyler came to Nashville a couple of years ago.
We were doing a record in this room, you know,
we were in that's a rock star. Oh yeah, He's
one of the few who literally lives up to the legend.
Most are disappointing, but not He's a rock star. Whether

he's on stage or he's sitting there in room, that's
a rock star. So so I was not that, And
so you learned this stuff, you know. I didn't realize
that all the stuff that I was going through though,
it's it leads you, life leads you, right, you know,
and all of a sudden you end up. I did
learn about living on the edge week to week. Why

cheeking your record on the chart, you know, and the
the just what that takes out of you emotionally, you
know it. It's tough being an artist, right, an artist
whatever you want to an entertainer, because it's based on
do they like me? Right, musician. It's just if you're
freaking good at what you do, you're gonna find a

place to plug in. When you're an entertainer, artist, whatever
you get there, there's a there's a lifespan to what
you do, and those gray hairs start coming, those pounds
start coming on. There's someone coming up quickly and you're
gonna get your ask replaced. That's a tough place to be,
you know. And people complain about how insulated performers are,

you know, how how self center they are. That's the
only way to survive that world. So I learned a
hell of a lot about what I would be dealing
with later in life. I had no idea that I
was going to school. Basically during that time, Giant was
best school. Of course, Bud God Rest his soul, you know,
I mean, because basically I'm saying he was the best

headmaster I ever had. He would hate that. So how
did it end? With a whimper? We were over touring
and I think it was ninety one over in Europe
and it was just you could just you could just
feel the winds that change. Man, it was just it
was that arrow was over. It was over. You could
sense it in the room we were playing. We're playing
good venues, you know, and people would come out, but
it was it wasn't the thing, you know, the thing.

We were all turning our our heads to were you know,
it was all of a sudden. It was you know,
these new bands that were coming coming out and and
and that was the that was the winds of change.
And you could say whatever you want if you're half perceptive,
you knew that was what was going to happen. You know,
So you come back from Europe, everybody goes through a
separate way. That's it pretty much. Yeah, that was it,

you know, I mean there was a culture change, and
I mean it happened over the course of what a
year or so, right, but right, it was pretty quick though.
I mean Kurt Cobain and and crew Man they were
they talked about a wrecking crew. That was it. Talk
about the eighties what with what records were They spent
three quarters of a million dollars on a record to

see if they got a hit. They were making records
up in Seattle for eighty thou dollars and they were
great records. You know, you could sense where everybody was
going to record companies. You know, it's just in in
in rock and roll. If if rock and roll is
not offending somebody, you got problems. And by the end
of the eighties, it was it was a corporate gesture, right, yeah,

the air bands, etcetera. Was there anybody involved but or
the other members wanted to keep going? Yeah, I mean,
you know, I mean they're still making some records. By
the way, Europe has got this insatiable appetite for eighties music.
Right there, there's my brother and Mike Brgner Delo. Mike
is great bass player, great friend. They're they're still making

giant records. They have, they have you know, different guitar
players and different singers, and they're still doing stuff. You know.
They I don't know if they'll ever want a tour.
I doubt they'll ever go tour. But no, I mean
after our second record, no, it was it was like, nah,
time to pack it up. Okay, So how depressed were
you about that and how did you pick yourself up

and make your next move. I don't remember being depressed
at all. It was like, this is a reality. I
got kids to raise, you know, and luckily for me,
I hadn't severed, you know. I there was a bit
of cache that I that I had with my recording career,
and Nashville was ripe at that time to want to
capitalize on that. They wanted something different. I was different

because I wasn't from here in their eyes, so it
really didn't change things. You know, I never I never
stopped being a session I guess what it is, Bob.
In some respect, I don't think I ever quit beat
a session player. I think I kept my day game.
So even when you were enjoying you would play gigs, yes,
when I could, Yeah, And and you know what I mean.

And you could look at that and say, well, you
never were a percent And you know, I think I
was a realist and I and I don't know, to
some degree, I think that would be true. I don't
think that I knew that, but I think if I
don't think I knew that on on the surface level,
I think intuitively, I think I had this gut feeling
like this may not happen, so I didn't cut ties

with everything. The two top producers in Nashville are you
and Dave Cobb. Dave Cobb makes a completely different type
of record. What do you think about Dave and his records?
Jake and also mentioned Jay Joyce and Joey Moy. You
gotta mention those guys are their beasts too? Um now,
I mean, but Dave Cobb oh, lovely and great. Dave does.

Dave does what I mean, it's just it's totally organic
music right at a top level. I mean I do
more of a mixed bag, I think. I think I
would love to do that also, But what people call
me for is is more of integration into pop music
and and then also into rock music. A lot of

people like to tap into that rock side. So it's, um,
we always want what we're not, right. So I I
listened to Dave's records, and I listened to I listened
to Jay's records, and I said Joey's records, and it's
always they always sound better than mine. I hate that.
I freaking hate that. But I think we all do that.
I think it's just, you know, it's what you're not.
When somebody makes a cup of coffee, they it tastes

better than the way I make coffee. I guess it
just maybe it signifies you want to grow. So yeah,
Dave's brought a a different sensibility into this town. The
way he makes records, he's he just he's just his
own thing. I wish his producers, I wish we could
hang around each other a little bit more. We're all

busy enough to where we can. But I would love
like when I used to play sessions, I got to
see all these great producers work. Right, when you're a producer,
you don't get that luxury. You're isolated. So yeah, what
i'd like to see and I you know, I mean
steal some of their ideas. Heck, yeah, I would love

to do that. Okay, if you look at the big
rock producers, they had their era, and they were done,
and they were done long before your age. So to
what degree when you work are you conscious of, well,
you know, I gotta have a certain level of successor
they're not gonna call me anymore. Yeah, I mean it's
you live in abject terror, you know, if you're honest

with yourself. Yeah, I'm I'm My expiration date was long
time ago. This is a this is a really pertinent though.
I think it was six years ago. I'll use the
sports metaphors, but for me, it's easy baseball, right, you know,
you're getting older and and and all of a sudden

just seemed like they're coming in faster, and and it's
not necessarily they are coming in faster. It's just that
you know, gravity time, your reflexes slow down, things seem faster,
and that's how music was starting to hit me, certainly
six seven years ago, and uh, I had an artist.
His name was Thomas Rhett. He was he was kind

of shooting up like a meteor, really fresh ideas, a
great guy, good songwriter, great songwriter, a matter of fact,
prolific songwriter. He came over to my house and said,
I'd like you to this is six years ago, seven
years ago at the tops. That could be part of producing,
but I'd like you to co produce with this producer,

Jesse Fraser. Jesse's a DJ originally a songwriter, great production ideas,
totally opposite for mine. He's he's all in the box,
he he he draws music, you know. And I heard
some of their demos. I said, well, why do you
need me? And and and they they you And when

I heard their demos, this is funny too. You love
this background singer on a lot of the demos was
Chris Stapleton. How you like that? Phenomenal? How the world
goes so so? And truly I was being honest, I said,
why don't need me? And it's just you know just
that basically we just what you bring, who you are

as a musician, just come and jump on the ship.
I said, sure. I talked to my wife that night
and I canna be honest with her, and I said,
you know, I'm just this is I think I was
mid fifties and and and I said, you know, because
I'm feeling like, you know, maybe I should step out
of this thing and just retire. You know, it's been
good to me. I was trying to learn all the

new technology, everything, just the way people did records, and
it was it was overwhelming. And I found like I
reached a saturation point and and you know, fear, you
all of a sudden you become very vulnerable. And you
know you're used to being in alpha, right, It's like
you know everything, and all of a sudden you realizing
your mortality here musically speaking. And and she and Sherry

just said, she said, why don't she just be you? Dan,
Why don't you quit trying to be what you're not?
So simple? But it was like I I was so
looking in every other direction, and I thought, well, yeah,
it sounds like a good idea. So I started that.
I started that started to try to enact that in

the way that I made music that time and I
and I tried to be open when I didn't know something.
I also tried not to be the center. And and
so this co production venture with with Jesse Frasier basically
revived me musically and it was like, oh, I can

make music again with another generation. This is a lot
of times around the track it can be valid and
not only can I contribute, but now I can also learn.
But it requires a different uh ego status And I
can't be the alpha at all times. I can be sometimes,
I mean, but but not all the time. And and

it was it's all. It was a whole new discipline
for me, and and not not automatic. I will say
that it was some bumps and and if I'm honest,
there's still some bumps. It's it's it's it's tough. You know,
when you're successful, you want to be that person, you know,
and and uh, but I think it's it's it's it's

been the thing that's kept. It's like the extra lives
and on a you know, pac Man video game, right,
there's there's the old reference and and it's that humbling
thing of of going for a full circle. You see
music not only through your lens through the years you've
been lucky to experience it, but you also realize that
you don't own it. You that it's owned by all

and and you realize that that there are eighteen year
old are coming up that have as much skin in
the game as you do. And either you allow yourself
to listen to that fully open minded without this well
look kid, oh here's how when it goes in my day,
that's the that's the beginning of the end for you.

So I I learned that, you know. So it's a
balancing act every day. And sometimes I'll be honest, I
I come home and I you know, I have I
struggle with it, you know, because I struggle with being
in control, and I struggle with also the fact that,
if I'm honest, some of this stuff is just absolutely
new to me, and I can't believe that I can't

see it, you know, it's like God. So either I
go I've learned something today that's that's fantastic, or I'm
just a little bit more not just humbled, but but
but frightened by the fact that I don't know all
this stuff coming at me. So I don't know if
that's an answer to what you're what you're saying, but
that's a great answer. But can you tell me a
couple of things you know that you didn't, weren't aware of,

or that you learned in this change in the last
six years. Well, I mean starting with one, that that
that my insights are valid still to this day. That's
a that was a big one. That In other words,
the stuff we were talking about a while ago, about
the seventies and in the eighties, that stuff. New musicians

are hungry to have access to some of that stuff,
and they want people who were there. It's not just uh,
exercise and history. They wanted to talk to people and
experience those insights. Okay, that's one thing. But the stuff
that was that was that was frightening, frightening to me
was the technology. How you know, we all hit our

threshold of what we're able to do technologically, um just
even just even down to something simple like samples, programming,
all these things you watch You watch some of these
young musicians on a laptop, and the speed with which
they can process stuff is it is foreign to me.

And when you try to learn that you're learning it
it's like you're an old dude. That's all. That's what's
just really what it is, right, So you have to say,
you know, either I'm gonna spend all my time trying
to learn something that somebody's gonna be much more intuitive
than I am at, or you can just go, I'm
gonna collaborate with you. You do that and I'll do this.

Jesse Frasier was great on the I mean what he
could do on a laptop and drawing stuff. He didn't
even know what the chords were called. The music he's
making is phenomenal. I can also play put a guitar
and he and he doesn't know how to do that.
It's collaboration, That's what it is. What are a couple
of records from the last five ten years that you

were not involved with that you think are great? Well?
You mentioned Dave Cobb. I mean I love his Chris
Chris stable Ts. I mean, let's just talk regional here.
I mean Nashville. Is that is that? Okay? Yeah? I
mean yeah, because it's just that's what I meant, because
I would love to mention Silk Sonic. I love that
new stuff. Okay, the Silk Sonic, let's go into that.

I don't think the material is as good as the execution. Yeah,
I mean first at first, blessed. I mean it's just
you're just listening to to to to these guys pay
homage to to the grades of soul, I mean, and
they do it. I'm not even care Again, this is
a musician. I don't give a shit about the material
at that point. I just care about the sound. You know, well,

definitely the sound is there. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you know.
I mean like in like in Okay, in Nashville, since
we're just local here right mentioned Dave's records. Jay Joyce,
I mean some of some of those Brothers Osborne records,
some of the Eric Church records. I mean, Jay comes
from a different plan too. He's a real indie kind
of music maker. I just I love everything he does.

I just I turn it up. That's when I when
I hear it, it's like it was on the radio
or if I'm streaming it, I just listen because I
like the way he processes music. There's a there's a
simplicity and almost a kind of a cold hard indifference
sometimes to his music that is so appealing to me.

You know, like he's not needy, it's it's gotta fuck
you attitude, and that's not something that I have. I'm
a little more like you like it. You know, Jay
makes records that that really appealed to me. Um, yeah,
those are records that I really like. Um and pretty

much across the board, I will say that I don't
even know Jay that well, but I just I'm a
I'm a fan. I just think he's great. Um. I
mentioned I'm trying to think like Joey Joey Moyd. You know,
you know Joey have you ever talked to him? Never
talked to him? Canadian Music Acre, you know, he and
he came through the Mutt, He came through the God.

Now I'm this is this is the a A r
P forgetting names of bands, right, I hate this ship? Um,
Canadian nickelback. There you go. He came through that camp.
That's a pretty tough camp. Right. They made some hardcore
commercial rock records, you know, and Mutt actually made a
record with them. Right. But Joey came through that camp

and learned everything. He's a sponge and he makes some
records in Nashville I think are stunning, whether you like
him musically or not, for for the content, like I
thought some of his Florida, Georgia line stuff was pretty
impactful stuff. He's doing this music with this guy named
Morgan Wallen right now, that's really resonating. So Joey's multi multifaceted,

you know, and and he's he's just a smart music maker. Um. Yeah,
I'll turn his stuff up to you know, like I'm
looking for any new ideas anything, you know. So what
do you think of the Morgan wall And double album.
I even listened to the whole thing. I like Morgan Walland.
I think he's a really good songwriter. I like his

you know, forgetting the whole controversy and all that other stuff.
There's a few controversies. The album, the double up is
really good, really good people, you know, outside of country.
It's one of these things where you listen to the
record you can tell why it's so successful. He speaks
right to people. It's he's not fabricating hit songs. He's

he's he's he's he's telling his life. I mean the
funny I just recorded a song of his. He was
one of the co writers on uh. Keith Urban and
I are kind of re saddling and doing some music together,
which has been a lot of fun lately because we've
had a few years. We haven't made a lot of music.
We made a couple of singles and stuff like that.
But we were doing a song on the other day
and I asked him who the songwriters where He said,

you know, Morgan was one of the songwriters. It's like
and the alliteration, the it's like it's poetry, you know.
I mean, it's it's from a I'm not you can
tell I'm not like a like a full on Southerner, right,
I've lived most of my life in the South, but
my parents are from the North, so consequently I'm a
bit more of a Yankee, you know. But but there's

a heart to what he does that you can't help
but be attracted to. So yeah, and those records that
Joey does with him or as good as what he
did with Florida Georgia. Okay, but not only is their heart,
they're good changes. Yeah, yeah, No, he's he's he's a
lightning rod, you know. And and some of this stuff,
I mean, it's like this other stuff got for me,

got blown out of a context. I mean, you know,
i mean, without going into all this stuff, it's just
it's it's so pc oriented, you know, it's like, it's like,
I love what what Trevor Noah said about YEA Kanye.
I can't call him a But the other day he said,
you know, he doesn't need to be canceled, he needs
he's counseling. You know. It's like exactly life. It's like,

come on, come on, you know, yeah, Morgan Morrigan. Yeah,
he drink too much, probably yeah, but I mean, come on,
he's young. He got drunk one night, made a racial
slur that he definitely shouldn't have said, but he apologized profusely.
We gotta forgive him, give him a second chance to

take somebody like that and to judge because of one
snippet one night on somebody's phone. It's like, that's ridiculous.
None of us would want that about ourselves, you know.
So I think he's I think he's a I think
he's a true voice. Do I agree with him and
all of his and everything he says and acts? No,

he'll no. But I mean, isn't that rock and roll too?
But you mentioned ye Kanye? Do you understand that music?
And I'm drawn to certain aspects of it, But but
culturally I didn't grow up urban inner city right, right?
I mean that's not that's that's not my language, it's

not my culture. Um. I hear certain bits of hip
hop music. Um. And this is where God help me
out here, Bob right on the tip of my tongue.
Super Bowl dr Nope, it wasn't Snoop dog Nope, keep going.
I love them both. I love Snoop Dog. Um, keep going, Nope,

keep going, Come on, j no, I love her to
keep going. The last one on the on the talking
about said nope, nope. Great, Okay, there's and there's Bowl.
There was one, there was one more. And this is
so embarrassing. He his his brand of hip hop music

absolutely obliterates me. Not that I know the titles of
his songs. And the embarrassing thing is I cannot remember
his name right now. Kendrick Lamar, thank you, thank you.
That's in my apologies. If Kendrick and Lamar would ever
hear this. This is massive apologies, like for sixty one
White Dude. Right. Like when I his his music really

impacts me when I hear it presentation that cadence, the
chord changes, there's a fusion with with with jazz music
that it really excites me. Harmonically with his music. Um,
not all rock music hits me, you know, I mean
so so so not definitely. Not all hip hop music
is gonna strike me, strike the same chord. Not all

country music hits me either, you know. So so it's
just you know, we all we all gravitate towards a
thing that resonates. There's there's a there's a tuning fork
in our soul, right, and certain music hits that tuning fork.
You know, that's what makes it interesting. Well, I really
believe the tuning fork. But ill, I'm checking myself all
the time, and I say, well, if I heard the

song twenty times, what I feel differently? You know the
way we did in the old days. You're driving around
with the radio, You're exposed. You're exposed again. I can
name I'm teen songs I heard once and I knew it. Yeah, okay,
And it's funny because when something resonates with my tuning fork.
But moving on, anybody that you would like to work

with you haven't worked with? Yeah, my well, I mean
my dream you know, I mean is that you know
I would love to work with with? You know YouTube?
How's that? Okay? What would you do differently? What? What
is what would you bring to the party. I can't
you know, I wouldn't know off the top of the batot.
I have to hear with it. What is There's something
about what they did culturally at a time that I

was coming through music, Their their intelligence, their life experience.
It's it's rock. Music doesn't age gracefully most of the time.
You know, it's a tough thing because it's it's a
it's an adolescent urge right in necessary you know, so

intellectually you have to have a different been, a different
pursuit to to to keep connecting. I mean, it can't
connect to the same level when you're young. It just
it's it doesn't exist. That doesn't exist. But musically, um lyrically,
even spiritually kind of where they come from. I'm interested
that they interest me. That's the that that type of

artists interests me. Now, I'm sure you asked me that night.
Immediately that's my dream. That's shooting for the moon, right,
will that happened? Oh yeah, you might as well go
with the dream. And they've worked with the same people consistently,
so for me, it would be interesting. Did you watch
that movie? It might get loud with Jack. Why Jimmy

Page and the Edge. No, it's just very interesting that
so much of the Edge is sound are effects, no doubt,
but he is. But the irony about that, right is
that he has affected guitar players as much as anybody else. Period.
Well I'm trying to say is, since you're starting, it's
not like effects coming in and one take whale. Since

you're starting someone who's laying effects, that's where you could
help out. That's where you can do something. Maybe, I mean,
I'm saying it probably because I just like to be
in the room. I mean, yeah, it just seems to
me more like like like he deals with layers. He's
an orchestrator, right, and it's it's a different type of
using guitar for a different purpose, right, It's not guitar

for guitar, say Jeff Beck, if we're if I'm being honest,
the one guitar player who I would most like to
be in a room with would be Jeff Beck, period.
Hands down. He's gonna die one day and the people
who didn't see him are really gonna you know, I
think he's the best. Jimmy Page brings other stuff. Hendrix

means other stuff. But when you have to choose one.
It's Jeff Beck for me and plays without a pick
to boot. Yeah, I've seen him several times, like I
just you know, all you all you do is sit
there and just I got to see him at the
the Um at the Rhyman Artistorium one time in Nashville.
It's a great small theater, right, but acoustically it's beautiful.
And you know, every guitar player in Nashville was there.

It was you know, you're you're there talking about they
called the Mother Church. Well you're there, you're basically worshiping
this guy. And he didn't disappoint you know. No, it's
just it's it's it's it's we're soul in electric guitar,
meat and the and there's nothing more to say, tone, note, choice, dynamics,

just everything about what he does, you know. I mean
it's like it's it's it's, it's it's it is there
is something. I mean, this is where music is, this
transcendent level. Right. It ain't about hit songs, that's the thing, right,
There's there's certain things we remember, there are hit songs.
This is a different thing and it's and it's it's
integral to our lives as those hit songs are. When

he plays notes, it says more than a hit song.
To me, it certainly does so much longer are you
going to do this? It's a great question, you know.
I don't think I'm gonna stop making music. I don't.
I don't know how long I'm going to continue making
what we would call commercial based music. I do have
some other types of music. I mean you mentioned Dave Cobb.

I love soundtrack music. I love music that's not commercial music.
That's the irony that the stuff that I get called
to do is is not necessarily what what I spend
my time listening to. So I I I hope that
I get to do some music. Um, there's just there's
just writer in town that writes great poetry. His name

is Mike Read. I don't know if you where you
would know Mike Read's name is. His most famous song
is a song that Bonnie Rate did called I Can't
Make You Love Me? Sure right? And and it's like
he writes. Mike's in his seventies. He he spends a
lot of his time writing poetry now, and his poetry

is devastating. He's he's like one of my dearest friends.
We spend time talking about authors and everything is sept music.
But but but we're musicians, right, And uh, the thing
about the he writes songs that are not commercials like
what we would call commercial songs now, because he's writing

from a perspective of living life seventy plus years. By
the way, he was also all pro defensive end for
the Cincinnati Bengals, So he's he's in the song where
he was all pro and he's also in the songwriting
Hall of Fame right here. So but he writes these
songs that are so cool. Um, they're not They're not

like hit songs for kids to do, right, but they
deal with with substance and and thoughts that that are
becoming of of somebody who's lived seventy years on earth.
I'd love to work with an artist would want to
record that kind of music, to do that kind of
music right, not on the grid of popular music. And
I think I think I have something to add for that.

So so and by the way, Alan Shamlin too was
co wrote that song with him. I don't want to
just give all the credit to might read on that
it was one of the best pop songs of a
of a couple of decades, right, Um, but that I
find that compelling. I'd like to make some music down
just I don't know, just something like that. Well, that's

the real music. You know. Another great writer. I just
have to mention, although he's self contained on those Bondie
Rate records, Paul Brady, of those songs like luck of
the Draw of the title song and you know it's
just a lyrics, etcetera. He had a chance, like thirty
years ago to break Biggie, worked with Steely Dan's producer,

but didn't happen. Although he's an icon in in Ireland. Brady. Yeah,
you're not familiar with Bob Brady. Well, I'm gonna look
them up after we finished our conversation. Oh wait, he
had one song, the Long Goodbye, was a hit. Okay,
now tell me who recorded it, because this is what
I'm gonna show my ignorance Brooks and done. Okay, yeah,

I vaguely remember that. But since you're talking about lyrics,
he had this song on this side called Paradise is
Here Now, but just lyrics. I'm gonna play this lyrics.
I said, you say you want to live some move
out into the fast lane. You say, you need excitement
to make you come alive, to place a million miles
from the shadows that surround you, I look for attention.

You're lost in the future where lovers ask no questions
and shadows never fall. Some pilgrim round for paradise, no compromise,
But paradise is here and then it goes off to me.
And that comes with living, right. I mean, you don't
write that when you're in your twenties unless you're extremely

prolific and you're kind of beyond your years. There's music
to be made, I think. I think for all of
us who have been through in the trenches of pop music,
I think there's more music to be made outside, as
long as we can lose the idea that it has
to be hit music. You know they're gonna be people. Well,

I think a hit. No, there's a definition of a
hit on the radio chart, the X number of millions
of streams on Spotify. But there are plenty of songs
that are hits because they hate you a certain way,
they have a certain effect, irrelevant of the commerciality. You know,
I could whip out twenty you know that means so

much to me that were never charted, but it's like
unbelievable just to listen to those songs, which of course
brings me to Jason Isbell. What do you think of
Jason Isbell? Uh, I've seen him play live. I don't
know a lot of his recorded music, but when I
saw him play live it was I think a year
and a half ago, it was it was stunning. I mean,
it's just he doesn't seem to be constrained by what

this whole idium of pop music. He just this is
kind of weird. I think things are are headed because
of of of streaming. It's like people just they're gonna
do what they're gonna do, and people are gonna find them.
They're gonna find their audience or audience because they find them,
and we we don't. We're not gonna have to bother
as much with this idea of hit music anymore, at
least I hope. So it has been fantastic, Dan. I

want to thank you for taking so much time with me.
I'm I'm honored. And uh, as I said, you wrote
a very kind piece about me, and and and uh
it was it was nice because a lot of friends
called me that I hadn't heard it from in a
long time. So I'm honored to be a part of it,
and and and and thank you for for what you
do from a historian standpoint, and just your involvement. I mean,

it's like, you know, the rule has changed too, hasn't boy,
hasn't changed. But the great thing about it is, you know,
back in the old days, you knew every record on
the chart, even if you never heard it. Now nobody
can know everything. No, it's like it's just overwhelming. How
long are you going to do this? Bob, I'm gonna

do this till I die? But what motivates me? I
would articulate it in a different fashion, but it's that resonance.
It's that thing. And I ser them, you know, seven
years older than you are, and so I was there
when the Beatles broke, etcetera. There are a lot of records,

not only in the sixties, but in the seventies they
had so much meaning. The whole musical culture has changed.
But there are a lot of elements in streaming TV.
I mean, you could start with the sopranos. I can
mention shows were they male? Essence of life? Most of
them are four in shows. That's what really resonates with me.

And I find just like if you go down that
rabbit hole, if you stop worrying about giving people what
they want, that's what they're most interested in. They're most
interested in the personal and seeing what's going on in life.
And you know, and a rock stars completely changed from

the seventies where it really became iconic. In the seventies,
a rock star was as rich as anybody and would
say no and can destroy hotel rooms. But today, in
the era of billionaires, you can't make that much money
in music. All you can do is speak truth to power,
and people have forgotten that. I mean, the power of

a good song. If you listen to rock music today,
the on the active rock, you need a whole lexicon
just to figure out how they got there. You know,
it's not something that you hear once and just go wow.
So I think, and it's you know. Another thing is
this and you references in an oblique way, is the

political situation. This is driving our culture. The interesting thing
is when I talked to the titans of the live
business for years, they just want to talk politics. Yeah,
we can talk about the tour or whatever, because there's
so much at stake. Even in Nashville, where they redid
you know, jerrymandered, etcetera. It's the future hangs in the balance.

And now we have Ukraine. Everyone thought Russia would run
over them in a minute. So the key is and
it's you. That's why I love so much what you said.
You can't keep repeating yourself. That's death. You know, as
you say, you know what you bring to the party,
and there's always a need for that, because only you

can deliver yourself. But I know some of these trade papers,
these guys in the seventies, the names and the faces changed,
they're still doing it. It's like, holy fuck. You know,
it's like, there's got to be more to life. Well
there is there, there isn't and and and what you
said also about some of this streaming via television now right,

and people have you gotta give you gotta give people
more credit. People have more of an attention span, they're
smarter than we give people. But when we give them credit,
right an audience, I couldn't I have said, well, I
say it in a different way. People just have an
incredible ship detector. They go no, no, no, and then
they'll watch the streaming show for ten hours. Yeah, and

that's and and those are the values I think. I
think we're just starting to you can become confronted with
again in music. It's like, no, it's not an algorithm.
I'm sorry. You've you've got there is a thing called
soul and you've got to access that and you've got
to listen for it. And it's it's precious and you
can stomp the ever living life out of it if

you are not, if you're not humble enough to sit
and wait for it, you know, and and and for me,
you know, it's my small world, but it's in a
recording studio, but it does exist. And well when you
I witnessed it today. I witnessed it in a beautiful way.
It was awesome. This thing came to life out of nowhere.

We had no preprogramming, there was nothing. There was not
even a demo. There was a guitar work tape, and
we just allowed this thing to blossom and and it
was it was like it happened. You know. Well, you
know how I became aware of your success in the
country music world. I have a friend who's in country
music agent and his his recommendations are phenomenal. And this

goes back to I guess two thousand seven he sent
me Keith Urban Stupid Boy. Woh yeah, and holy fuck.
You know, people say, oh, country music said, listen to
this track. This is better than any of the rock
and roll I mean, forget that. It's an amazing guitar solo.
It's soulful. Not to mention the song itself, it's so great.

Sarah Buxton wrote that, by the way, I sat next
to her at Joe Walsh's seventy fifth birthday party. I
bet you her. I bet you Tom Bukavit, her husband then,
was playing guitar for Joe wash. Well, he was there.
Joe played for a little while. You know, some of
the regulars that he's played with. I don't remember. We
were sitting at the same table. I can't remember who played,

but yes, she was. You know. It's funny because such
a heavy, serious song and she's such a breezy woman.
It's kind of funny. Yeah, she's She's from a different era,
but it's listen. The songwriters got fucked in streaming. There's
no doubt about that. They got the smaller piece of
pie than they deserve, and I hope they can get more. However,

you cannot hold back the future. Yes, you used to
have one track on a CD. It's old. Millions of
cops you got paid. Those days are through. They're just through.
And so until you recognize where we are, you're lost.
We we can't we can bring elements of the past
into the future. But you know, I hear from these

people all day long. You know, streaming is not paying enough.
Most of these people, they won't even be able to
make records in the old days. No, and you know what,
you know again, we have our perspective, We've been through
it right, and we have our expectations. You tell that
to an eighteen year old kid. Man, they don't care,
is they? You know what they You know what I
want to do. When I was eighteen, I wanted to

be able to make my rent so I could play
music the next day. That was the value and that's
still what it's all about. Man, if you can make
your rent, if you can play a show that night.
For me, it was playing a session, a demo session.
That's it. The rest of it is, whatever your life,
it's probably good. The thing got toppled for a while

because it needs to reinvent itself, you know. And you
can say well, it's easy for you to say because
you lived through some fat times. Yeah I did. But
but that's not why I got involved in it. That
never was the reason. No, not at all, not at all.
But the interesting thing is, for the last twenty years,
used to be every three to seven years we got
a whole new sound. Yeah, and that hasn't happened now.

A lot of other things, you know, you can mention,
you can go to the coast and you can mention
the number one country hit records, and then a lot
of people have no idea who these acts are. Same thing,
you know, some of these records that are number one
on the pop charts the weekend. You can evade things now.
Used to be you couldn't avoid hearing certain sounds, and

there was a cohesiveness. So maybe it's more of an understand.
You know, the major labels you said earlier are so
focused on hit singles, they're conceding the rest of the
universe to other people. Let's say, that's an interesting thing.
Not to and not to be self serving this thing,
but but I just finishes working with Kane Brown and

and I do a lot of his production. I don't
do all of it because He does a lot of
collaborative collaborations with with different hip hop artists and I
don't do that, you know, And and it's it's it's
funny because he's you know, he's he's a new breed
of artist. You know, he's he has his roots. He
grew up in the South and his he was raised
by his grandfather who turned him onto uh to uh

Rainy Travis Records. When he's a kid, right, He's from
a mixed race family. His grand his granddad was white.
You know, here's this young kid, by racial kid, growing
up in the South under some pretty tough conditions, just
trying to figure it out. Thankfully channeled it through music.
As a matter of fact, the first time I met him,
he was here at my studio playing me songs, and

he played me a song they just ripped my heart
out called learning. He grew up with a consciousness towards
country music, and he knows so much about country music.
But then the hip hop role loves this guy because
he's a he's he's got a really cool voice, and
he's a country artist, but he's not constrained by being

a country artist. This guy is playing to every kind
of audience in the world, and it's it's I love
that because it's you know, the the idea that you
can you can label one individual by by a music
genre is is to me as a joke. He just
loves music. He sings what the hell he wants to sing,

and they'll sing a song he just he We just
did a song the other day called Pop's Last Name, right,
he's singing about his deceased grandfather. He absolutely loves that.
That raised him, right, and then what's his latest pop
I can't remember the latest pop single that he had,
humongous pop single, you know. It's like, and he's just

going to help with it all. I'm just gonna put
out songs. I'm gonna drop tracks, right, And of course
everybody's running after him. You can't do that, well, yeah
you can. You know. I think that's phenomenal, you know,
and we just all trying to keep up with him
because he's you know, he's doing what he does. That's
the future right there. It's it's nobody owns nobody owns
this stuff, you know, it's it's it's owned by the future. Well,

on some little all the baby boomers have to die
because the ethos of the younger people is just totally.
I mean, this is a crooked business. Younger people don't
view it that way. They don't mind making money, but
they say, okay, it's ones and zeros, this is what
I mowed whatever. And you know, all this focus that
we have is not is across the board. It's not

only music, etcetera. At some point you have to see it.
They're stealing the world's We don't really have to see
it because there's a lot of good stuff come out.
And you talk about Florida Georgia Line. You know, that's
a band that recently broke up and has gotten a
lot of ship. But they injected a lot of hip
hop into country and and it was good for everybody,

no joke. And it's and you know that's these kids
growing up playing country music. Right, you go to these
country bars and it's hip hop music between sets. Well,
that's because that's what they're growing up on. And and
they're not interested in just being one thing. And I
think that's phenomenal. I mean, to me, that's music is
not supposed to be one language. It's supposed to encompass

all languages. Right, you have your dialect he's but I
don't want to know how they speak in another country.
That's the beauty of all this stuff. Nobody owns it.
Let the thing out of the bag. And as a
matter of fact, we're not letting ship out of the bag.
It's it's out of the bag, right, We're just hanging
on for dear life. Well, that's one thing we've learned.
Nobody is in control. I mean, this is going up.

But covid Us, I thought that the world was the
country was kind of run by a few people, and
it was all kind of worries. Now whatsoever. The fact
that the country works at all, any country, is mind
blowing to me. It's a million people with a million
different thoughts, never mind, you know, right or wrong. It's
just astounding. I mean, this is a you know, you go.

You talked about the attention span. The other thing that
makes me crazy is people bitching about the phone. How
great is the phone? You can be in contact with
people twenty four seven. You can go down the rabbit
hole of the stuff that you're interested in. I mean
I could never be in contact with this many people.
I couldn't. I mean I never even talked on the phone,

so I'm not saying that whatever, but to have that
in your hand, and it's a lot more interesting than
a lot of ship that's going around a lot of time.
That's why people on their phone. The only probably you
and I have is we were We were in the
same adult class, right and we can talk forever. So
for me, this is wonderful because I melled what I

already know with a deep dive into your role to country.
I mean, I certainly know a lot of people who
work in country, but your perspective the best parts where
how you do it. You know, the collaboration. I have
a friend who was ran publishing a candidate for one time.
I mean, big believer in collaboration. And what do you

think of the Beatles documentary? You watch it now? Just
it's it's what you know intuitively in your heart. And
to see your heroes doing that thing, that almost painful
family thing was great. The fact that so much of
it was spontaneous and not premeditated just blew my mind
because the records are so iconic. The fact that they said,

well we got a couple of weeks, we're doing something,
just unbelievable. Collaboration, is it? That's really what it is.
I mean, you can't underestimate what that is worth. I
mean for the good and the bad. But it's it's
it's what I really seriously think. Everybody has about three
good ideas. That's it. Now, there are some people who
are extraordinarily gifted above the rest of us, and and

take them out of the equation. But the restaurant, we've
got three or four good ideas. But exponentially, you put
that in the room with with with four people who
who have gotten three or four ideas from somebody else,
and then then the world. You have the world at
that point. And that's that's what I would get. Get
a chance to winns I and like I said it,
I thought today so it was really nice. Well, you
could expand that to many other elements of our universe,

even though we're not. But in any event, until next time,
this is Bob West says
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