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February 18, 2021 102 mins

Steven Wilson has a new solo album, "The Future Bites." We discuss this as well as his work with Porcupine Tree but even if you're not a fan of his music, even if you've never heard of him, you need to listen to hear Wilson's stories of remixing King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Chicago and more. I was positively stunned how erudite and articulate Wilson was. If you're a music fan, I positively guarantee you you will lick up this podcast, Wilson is open, honest and RIVETING!

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:08):
Welcome, Welcome, Welcome back to the Bath West That's Podcast.
My guest today is artist remixer All Around That Pool
musician Stephen Wilson. Stephen, Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello. Okay, you
just put out a new album, Future Baites. What motivate
you to make new music today? Well, you know, I'm

(00:31):
I'm sort of one of those people that years and
years and years and years and years ago when I
was when I was a kid, when I was a teenager,
fell in love with the idea that I could make records,
and for me it was a magical thing and a
gift to be able to do that professionally. So I've
made it my business to make rather a lot of them. Actually,
I'm slowing down a bit. There was three years between

(00:52):
this album and the preceding one, which is almost unheard
for me. But as an excuse, I did get married
Eden and acquire a family in the meantime, so that
kind of slowed me down a little bit. Yeah, No,
I mean, I've I've just you know, I've just been
in love with the idea of making records ever since
I can remember, even before I knew what things like

(01:14):
producer lyrics, you know, even what those words I was
reading on record sleeves, even before I knew what they meant,
I kind of subconsciously and intuitively knew that's what I
was going to end up doing, and that's what I've
dedicated my life to doing. Okay, you have this new album,
the Future Baits. What was the inspiration for that? So
I wrote a couple of years ago, and and really

(01:35):
the idea of the future bias. There's a couple of
themes go on on the record. One I guess that
the dominant theme is about how sense of self and
identity have changed in the Internet era. So the idea
that we now, well, let's just say that before the Internet,
we used to look out as a species. We used
to look out at the stars. We used to look
out the world with incredible curiosity. Now we spend most

(01:59):
of our time gazing at a little screen to see
how many likes, how many comments, how many views, etcetera, etcetera.
So the idea that now we see ourselves pretty much
reflected back in the mirror of social media, and how
that has affected us as a species, how that has
affected the course of human evolution, because I really believe
it hasn't quite severely. So the album deals with a

(02:20):
lot of the kind of issues spinning off from that
new era, I guess of what I call the new
era of narcissism. Okay, you said you wrote it a
couple of years ago. Yeah, So what was the interim about. Well,
right here in the UK about two eighteen, we were
going through this hideous thing called Brexit. In fact, we're
still going through it. It was a very very depressing time. Um.

(02:44):
I was kind of, you know, seeing on social media
the increasing polarization of people, you know, the belligerents, what
I call the politics of hate really coming to the
fore that that whole thing brought out some of the
worst aspects of humanity, seemed to me. And we were
also in the middle of the Trump administration, so ditto
to that really, So I you know, I I think

(03:08):
I felt for the first time in my life, I
wasn't really looked looking forward to the future particularly, and
of course, low and behold, just as I finished the album,
along comes the pandemic and it's become even more sadly
and ironically, it's become even more relevant and even more topical. Okay,
just to be clear, you wrote it was there an

(03:28):
interim between writing it and recording it, or you just
held the album back because of the pandemic. Yes, so
the album is finished last January, so it's just before
the pandemic came along. It was being scheduled for release,
and then of course as soon as it kicked in,
we pulled it and and now it's just come out. Okay.
But in your particular case, because most people will hold
albums back, it's primarily because they want to associate the

(03:53):
release with the tour. You have a very dedicated fian base.
Do you find that the were maximize's consumption or use
some more tickets if there's everything happening at the same time,
what's the thinking there, Yeah, for sure. Ideally right now
I would be on tour, I would be doing record
store signings, I'll be doing TV appearances, whatever I can

(04:13):
do to to kind of bolster up the you know,
the record, But I can't do any of that, So ironically,
I'm left with the only thing I can do to
promote this record is social media and making videos and
posting that sort of stuff online so I can reach
my fan base that way. Um, I think the idea
of originally of postponing the album wasn't necessarily to do
with touring. It was more to do with I wasn't

(04:37):
sure when the pandemic first kicked in, and when Lockdown
first kicked in, I wasn't sure if it was the
right time to release a record that was essentially about
the dystopian world that we lived in. And I'm still
not sure that the truth is, I'm still not sure,
but I didn't want to hang onto it any longer.
I felt like a year was already more than enough,

(04:57):
you know, to hold it back. Well, the historically there
have been great dysturpian records. Are do you feel that
you're a pioneer of the twenty century or is anybody
else carrying the flag with you? I don't know. I
think there's lots of people. Certainly there's going to be
lots of people writing songs about, you know, what the

(05:17):
human race is going through right now. I've no I've
no doubt there already are many records that have been
released in the last few months that deal with that.
The difference for me, I suppose, is I have a
commitment and a dedication to the idea of the album
as a continuum, as a journey as a kind of
analogist with a film or a short story. I love that.
I love people. I love the idea of people sitting

(05:39):
down and listening to a record in the way in
the same way they would engage with a movie from
beginning to end. You wouldn't just watch a scene of
a movie in the middle, would you. You'd watch it
from beginning to end. So that kind of art of listening,
which I think is definitely being what has been and
is continuing to be compromised and eroded by what they
called playlist culture, um is you know, I I do

(06:02):
find myself kind of unusual in that respect. I'm sure
I'm not the only one, but I don't think there
are many of us left committed to that idea of
the album as a continuum. And that comes from from way,
way way back when I used to listen to my dad,
you know, playing Dark Side of the Moon and my
mom playing the classic Dona Summer Georgia Moroda records. Just

(06:22):
I'm sure, if you know, many of those have, like
this sidelong, what I would call disco symphonies. So I
was just completely in love with the idea that you
that music didn't have to be about the three minute
pop form. It could be something much more sophisticated, much
more in the long form in that sense. So I'm
still committed to that idea. I find it hard to

(06:43):
let go of that, even though I know it's kind
of an old fashioned idea in the age of Spotify,
streaming and playlist culture. But I have it. As you said,
I have a very dedicated fan base, so I know
there is still people out there that feel that way too. Okay,
de fire, what you mean by playless culture? Well, so

(07:04):
these days people aren't interested in albums, They're interested in songs. Okay,
So rather than somebody actually listening to a song they
really like, hearing a song they really like on the
radio or you know, on YouTube or whatever it is,
and saying, wow, I love that song, I want to
find out what else that artist has done and listened
to that too. People don't tend to do And obviously

(07:24):
I'm generalizing here, but I think a lot of people
now they don't have that mentality. Uh, it's the song,
that's all they're interested in. They don't care what the
what the rest of the albums like. They're not interested
in in what else that artist might have done. And
that's completely anathema to me, because I grew up being
fascinated by the cult of personality. So I would get
into an artist and immediately I fell in love with

(07:46):
the song. I wanted to hear the record. Not only
didn't want to hear the record, I wanted to hear
all the other records in that artist catalog. I wanted
to understand the trajectory of that artist's career, the bad stuff,
the good stuff, the amazing stuff, they're not so good
stuff that fails. I was fascinating with all of that.
And I don't think that's true a lot of perhaps

(08:06):
the younger generation of listeners now, they just like a song.
They're not interested in finding out much more about the artists.
They're not interested in hearing the album. They're not interesting,
certainly not interested in here, you know, in being you know,
familiarizing themselves with the whole catalog of a particular artist.
That's what I mean by playlist culture. Okay, what do
you view the general landscape of music today? Being the

(08:29):
way I always say, you know, I grew up in
the air sixties and seventies, where music drove the culture.
There was faltering with corporate rock and disco. At the
end of seventy nine, there was another injection as a
result of MTV. Music is still very influential. But I
don't want to answer the question for you. But today's
things have changed. How do you view the landscape of

(08:49):
music today? Are you optimistic pessimistic? Two things need to change?
Will there be an evolution? Yeah? All of the above. Really,
I mean, you know, I think it's true to say
there's more music coming into the world than any other
time in history right now. It's crazy. I mean the
amount of songs. I think Spotify get some like ten
thoud new songs added every day or something crazy or week,

(09:11):
I forget what it is. Anyway, it's a lot. Anyway,
there's a lot of new music being made. And a
part of that, of course, is the democratited eight. Democratization
of making music by the fact now that it's very
easy for anyone to buy a cheap piece of software,
put it on their laptop, and they can make music
in a reasonably high quality. You know, um plug ins,
virtual instruments. Pre preset culture enables people to sound like

(09:36):
their favorite artists almost instantly, just by pressing the right
button or choosing the right option on their on their
on their computer, laptop, on their laptop. So I think
that's good that people are able to make music. Unfortunately, um,
the downside of that is that most of that music
that's being made is extraordinarily generic. And that also is

(09:57):
a problem and a symptom of the preset culture. When
it's very easy to sound like everyone else, that's what happens.
Everyone does sound like everyone else. So you don't have
those kind of um, you don't have that kind of
situation you have perhaps in the sixties and seventies, the eighties,
even the nineties, where people had to find their own tone,
their own sound, their own personality because it wasn't easy

(10:20):
to sound like anybody else. Um. So I think that's
that's the downside of of the ease of accessibility of
now making music is that everyone pretty much sounds the
same as everyone else. I'm you know. But on the
other hand, I'm I'm kind of talking mainly about rock
music here and I and I acknowledge the fact that
I come from the tradition of rock and classic rock music.

(10:44):
That's what I grew up with. But there is a
new generation of music which does sound much more fresh
and is much more contemporary, is much more innovative, which
has come out of electronic and urban music in the
twenty one century, and I've been immersing myself up a
little bit more in that world. I don't like it all,
but I'm fascinated by it because a lot of the

(11:06):
people that make it are kind of doing things that
rock musicians don't do. That it's kind of like they
don't know what they don't know, they don't know the rules.
They're not kind of burdened with that kind of legacy
of the Beatles and led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd the
way I am and a lot of my musicians in
my generation are. They're not burdened by that, and they're
doing some extraordinary things. So I do feel, you know, um,

(11:29):
that there is some really interesting music going on. I
just don't feel it's coming from the you know, the
kind of area that I came from, the classic rock background.
It's there's nothing coming from that background that that kind
of interests me these days. What are the rules that
these young people are breaking because they don't have the
history that is burdening them. Well, one of them, for example,

(11:50):
is just in terms of structure. They have no interest.
I'm talking about, you know, people like Kanye West, Billie Eilish,
Kendrick Lamar, those kind of guys. They're they're the big
names that you know, you you might pick out pick
out of the current scene, but there's a lot of
other people doing it too. If you listen to the
music those guys make, there's no adherence to anything what

(12:11):
you might call a conventional song structure, and that fascinates
me because of course I've grown up with all of
those legacy artists understanding that the whole notion of introverse chorus,
first chorus, middle eight chorus, you know, the classic kind
of tim panale structure that are that are apparently a
great pop song has, although of course there's been exceptions
to that, but these guys don't. They don't kind of

(12:34):
seem to care about that at all. And I like
that because it makes the music unfolding more unpredictable ways,
and in a way that reminds me that's like going
back to what, you know, what I was talking about
the beginning, this idea the albums could take you on
a journey, and part of the the appeal of that
was you didn't know what was coming next. You didn't
know what was coming next on a concept album, you

(12:56):
didn't know what was coming next if a if a
song was ten minutes long. Um, So that adherence to
classic pop song structures seems to be disappearing and I
kind of I kind of like that. I kind of
applaud that that that interests me certainly. Okay, you know,

(13:16):
there's been a lot of documentation that you have to
put the hook up close so that people don't skip
the song. Is that something you think about when you're
making new music. No, I don't. You know, the only
thing I think about when I'm making new music is
just getting myself excited about it. That's all I think about.
And I've I've had this question come up in you know,

(13:38):
various different forms. Do you think about your fans when
you're making music? And I really don't. And it's an
incredibly selfish way to go about your career, But I
believe that's what an artist is, that someone who's essentially
very selfish. You know, people talk about the music industry
as if it's one thing, and of course it's never
really been one thing. It's always been at least two things.
It's been the entertainment industry and the music in industry,

(14:01):
and there's been a crossover. Of course, there has in
certain in the case of certain artists, but generally speaking,
I believe art is something that is made by people
who have this kind of vocation to do something which
comes from their very being, and they have to be
true to themselves. And that's where we get to these
words like integrity, you know. And then there's the other
side of the business, which is, you know, the reality

(14:22):
TV side of the business and the very kind of
contrived modern pop side of the business making songs that
will fit a particular demographic fit on daytime radio that
basically look at what their audience want and try to
give it to them, or worse, look at what radio
produces want and streaming services want and try to give
that to them. I'm actually incapable of doing that, and

(14:43):
I think anything, I think anyone that has integrity and
considers themselves to be an artist would also be largely
incapable of doing that too, because there's something about creation
and being an artist and being a musician. I think
that you means you have to kind of do what
you do in a vacuum. So you're absolutely right. I
mean that that whole thing about, you know, modern pop
music being almost a hundred percent about the lead vocal now,

(15:07):
no intro, no solos, no characters of the backing track
at all, just all about the lead vocal. And that
does sadden me a bit because you know, obviously I
grew up in listening to music where the music was
often as important, if not more important, than the top
line vocal melody. And what do you think about the
overuse of the elite drum sound and the lack of

(15:30):
melody in so much of today's current music. It's interesting,
isn't it. How how rhythm has become so fundamentally important
but more important than melody in modern pop. That's something
obviously I don't particularly I mean, my album is still
incredibly melodic, and I worked very hard to make it um,
you know, very strong melodically, as well as being hopefully

(15:51):
sophistication and having all the other stuff going on too.
But you're right, you listen to modern pop and it
seems that often the hooks are kind of the things
that my kids were chanting the playground. That's about the
level of banality that a lot of the hooks have
almost like you know, playground chance, but it seems to

(16:12):
work for them. And then the music is, as you say,
is this kind of it's all about the rhythm and
it's all about the base. There's not a lot of
what you might call harmonic movement in in modern pop
music with you know. Again, with some exceptions, Taylor Swift
writes great melodies, for example, great great harmonic shifts in
her music, but a lot a lot of the modern
urban R and B artists now are just basically creating

(16:35):
a rhythm track and then playground chance over the top.
It seems to me, Okay, you're blowing my mind. I
have seen Porcupine Tree, granted that you know, seventeen or
eighteen years ago, and I certainly have followed your career
and I see your picture associated with different certain works

(16:57):
that you've done. You always seems so serious. I'm talking
to you now. Not only can you talk fluidly, you're
so are you date? Where the hell did all this
come from? Um? Well, I'm very you know, I'm very
I'm a student of music. I've always been a nerd

(17:20):
um and I've always been very passionate about music. And
the history of music. And I've talked a lot about
it by b over the ears, you know. I mean,
I even have my own podcasts and you have my
own podcast where I just basically argue with my friend
about about albums. It's called the Album Years, and we
pick a year and we basically just argue about what

(17:41):
our favorite records are. So I've had a bit of
practice at this. Um. You know, it's not only being
able to talk fluidly. You know, there's an ability to
analyze in the society where analysis is tertiary. If it's
there and all, let's go back to the beginning. So
where did you grow up? I grew up just outside,
just outside of London, a place called Hamma Hampstead. Okay,

(18:03):
And what did your parents do for a living? So
my parents was an electronic engineer and my mother worked
in the local bank. So there was no there were
before you asked the question, there was no sort of
history of music in my family. How many kids in
the family. So I have one brother who's a couple
of years younger than me, who again has nothing to do,
nothing to do with music. He has a proper job.

(18:26):
But I I think my parents, Um, As I kind
of alluded to earlier, my parents were certainly responsible for
me falling in love with music because they kind of
brainwashed me, you know, when I was too young to
even understand in a good way. I mean, when I
was too young to even understand what I was hearing.
They were playing great records and I would hear them

(18:49):
on repeat. You know, the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever,
Abbot's Greatest Hits, Dark Side of the Moon, Tubla Bells,
you know, Frank Sinatra, these great records, and I was brainwashed.
And still I feel like those records I heard as
a kid when my parents played them are still very
much the foundation of my of my musical DNA. But

(19:09):
ever since then, i've i think partly also because of
my parents and the kind of eclecticism of what they
listened to. I've never really recognized this idea of genre.
And I know people associate with me with with a
genre particular one. It's never one I described myself as
being a part of. I don't describe myself as being
generic in any way. I have no interest in being generic,

(19:31):
and I've always been very much a fan of that
idea of listening, you know, across genres, being curious about
everything that's out there. And I think again that was
because of the music my parents listened to. And how
much formal education have you had? I left school at eighteen.
I did. I did my what in England was my
O levels and then my A levels. I didn't go
to university because I already knew what I wanted to do.

(19:55):
Um much to my parents dismay, I I kind of
was set already on actually what I wanted to do.
I would say, probably from the age of about thirteen
or fourteen. And did you go to regular public school?
You know that these words in different meaning in the UK,
but you did not go to a private, elite school. No.

(20:15):
I went to a very regular grammar school. In fact,
it was a sports It was called a sports college,
which is just a fancy way of saying that they
the emphasis in the syllabus was more on sport than
it was on the arts. So I had everything stacked
against me in that respect. I didn't really have any
proper music education even at school, so everything was kind
of self taught. But it was all from listening, just

(20:35):
being curious and listening. It's as much music as I
could get my hands on. Okay, so you were listening.
At what point did you start playing? I think almost
as soon as as soon as I realized that I
was in love with this notion of making records. I
mean just that, just the whole thing of being able
to hold something in my hand and say that I
did it. That was my ambition, you know, just to
hold a record in my hand, and we're talking about

(20:57):
good old fashioned vinyl records here. To be able to
hold one of those things in my hand and say
this is my record. That was my That was my
dream and ambition from twelve thirteen. So I my parents
did send me to guitar and piano lessons, and I
hated it because I wasn't interested in being um. I

(21:18):
wasn't interested in learning repertoire. I still to this day,
I can't play anybody else's music. If you give me
a guitar and say play me something, I know, I
couldn't play anything. I could only play my music. And
so my my guitar teacher would would be furious with
me because he'd sent me away with a bunch of
homework to do, to learn I don't know, Segovia piece
or something, and I come back the next week and
he'd say, if you learned the piece, and I say no,

(21:38):
but I've written my own and and that was that.
That that that was basically what I was interested right
from the beginning, just being able to create and beat.
My dad, being an electronic engineer. He built me stuff,
you know, that that I had no right to have
access to when I was a kid, you know, like
a little multi track cassette record, which meant I could
start experimenting with overdubbing and ound on sound from a

(22:01):
very very early age. And but you know, and I
have to say, I was never interested in being a
singer a guitar player. What I was interested in was
making records. I didn't realize it at the time, but
what I'd kind of fallen in love with was the
idea of being the producer stroke or to you know,
I remember having el O Records early on and looking

(22:22):
jeff Lyn, this guy does everything. That's what I want
to do. He writes the songs, he produces, he plays guitar,
he sings. I'm going to be that guy. So those
those were the kind of inspirations to me. Those kind
of people like Jeff Lynn now were you alone ranger,
or did you have friends who talked about this stuff
with that helped you in your formative era. Yeah, I

(22:44):
had a couple of buddies at school that we formed.
We formed our first bands together with m and also
had an interest in music. I had a very very
good friend of mine who had an older brother there
was about five years older than him, and actually that's
how I really became immersed in world of early seventies
conceptual rock music, because all the music that was happening

(23:04):
when I was at school, when I was at secondary
school or high school as you call it in the States,
was you know, post punk, uh, sort of the early
sort of new romantic stuff, electronic early electronic stuff like
Gary Human and New Order. That was what with the
kids were listening to a school. But my best friend
Mark had this older brother, Stewart, and he had this
record collection, so he kind of he wasn't interested in anymore,

(23:27):
so we just kind of borrowed records from his collection,
and that's how I discovered things like Hawk, Winn, Camel,
you know, all that early seventies conceptual rock stuff. So
that was another big kind of watershed moment. I think
him in my childhood, because that's where I found I
had access to to this this form of music that
had only really happened, you know, ten years before, but

(23:51):
it was like it might have well has been a
hundred years before. Because we're talking about the eighties here.
No one talked about music from the early seven and teas,
at least in my in my particular area, it was
an althema, right, but not only prog rock everything, you know,
all of the musical genres that come out of the seventies,

(24:11):
whether it's fusion music, you know, or the whole singer
songwriter tradition or progressive or whatever it was, if it
came from the seventies, no one listened to it, no
one talked about it, no one name checked it. So
I was very lucky. I had this this friend of
mine with his big brother who had this amazing record collection,
you know, stuff by Aphrodite's Child, you know, which is

(24:32):
quite obscure you know at the time. I still is,
I guess, you know. Anyway, So that that was a
really important factor I think as well in my in
my youth. Yeah, Okay, the obvious question, as an American
you're eight team, you leave school, what do you do
for money, So I ended up being very poor for
a while. I did go and work for a computer
company for a couple of years, but I got out

(24:54):
of as soon as I could. And for about the
first ten years of my career, when when I had
Porkepontry and No Man Commentary was still a solo project.
No Man was a duo I had with another singer guy,
and I did music for TV commercials. I basically got
by by doing music for TV commercials. But but that
was that was good, and I didn't mind that, you
know why, because it meant I didn't have to even

(25:17):
entertain the idea of compromising the other stuff. I was
making money and I could do the other stuff without
having to think about I've got to make this work
for me financially. And it didn't. It was a disaster,
you know. Uh. Poukeuponary lost money for years. No Man likewise,
and it didn't matter because I had this kind of

(25:38):
safety net of being able to do music for for
these TV things. I was okay, how did you get
those gigs? Again? I was very lucky. I had a
friend of mine who happened to be um in an
advertising agency who came to me one day and said
it was really funny. It would have been about and
he came to me and said, we want we're doing
this commercial for Lego and basically the production team want

(26:00):
hastiche of Metallica, Master of Puppets. And I said, hey,
I'll have a go. I can do that. And I
did a really terrible, terrible version of Metallica Thrash Metal.
But luckily the production team were no wiser. They didn't
really know what they were talking about it, so they
kind of it was really lame, but it kind of
convinced them, and I got my foot in the door,

(26:22):
and um and and so I started to get more
and more work from agencies and and some of the
stuff I did later on was was genuinely quite good.
So I got a pretty good name for myself. Generally speaking,
musicians who are not household names are incredible networkers. So
if you look at yourself, everybody's humble. Do you work
the connections certainly back then, work on relationships, or really

(26:45):
somehow you blundered through when things came your way. I
think the latter. Yeah, I'm not. I'm certainly not very
good at schmoozing and networking. Um, I think, you know, largely,
I felt most of my here, I felt very much
out on a limb. I've never really been part of
a scene. I'm not sure if I would have wanted

(27:08):
to have been part of a scene. I mean, it's
kind of be careful what you wish for in a way. Um.
But it's also been frustrating not being part of a scene,
because being part of a scene gives you a big
leg up, you know. I feel like most of my
career has been a little bit of a war of attrition,
you know, particularly with the genre I was associated with,
being you know, persona non grat for most of the

(27:30):
nineties and most of the first ten years of this
of this millennium too less so now I think it's
you know, the kind of world of progressive rock, conceptual
rock is a little bit more accepted now, partly because
I think the younger generation don't care about genre as
much as my generation did, which is another good thing
about about the way people engage with music these days.
But for years, it was a struggle to get pressed,

(27:53):
it was a struggle to get radio play, um, and
I felt like I would have been better off perhaps
being someone who was better or at networking and associating
with me, part with myself with part of the scene.
But I think part of the reason I never did
is because I loved I love the music too much.
I loved the whole romantic notion of making music too much,

(28:13):
too to to kind of get into that mindset and
more cynical mindset I guess you maybe need to get into.
I've been very lucky the whole remixing things just fallen
into my lap two and I'm sure we're going to
come on, Yeah, let's see that. Because I got so
you do this podcast? What years do you tend to cover?
Were random? So so basically the idea was a very

(28:36):
good friend of mine, Tim Bones, so I've known for
more than thirty years, and basically whenever we get together,
we'd just nerd off and argue about music. And at
the beginning of Lockdown, I was looking for some things
to do, you know, creatively, to fill the time that
I suddenly had in my hand. And one of these
ideas was let's do a podcast. And I said to him,
why don't we just take what we do, you know,
naturally on onto a podcast and see if people love it?

(28:58):
And the idea is basically, we pick a year at random,
and we then go and see what albums were released
that year. And the first thing we do is we
throw out all the ones that we consider to be canon.
So we don't talk about Sergeant. If we do seven,
we don't talk about Sergeant Pepper, if we do three,
we don't talk about Dark Side of the Moon. There

(29:20):
is nothing left to say about these albums. Nothing, So
we deliberately pick ones that we think maybe people haven't
heard about. So give you an example. We did and
we talked about Van Morrison's Common One as our favorite
album of that year, which isn't even an album that
Van Morrison fans talk about very often, but for us

(29:41):
it's like one of the all time classics and a
beloved album. So that gives you a kind of example
of how we go about it. We're trying to introduce
people that listen to it, which a lot of them
are my fans and Tim's fans, trying to introduce them
perhaps two albums that are not part of the cannon,
but we think are just as good as those albums.
Would we ever picked a year from the twenty first century,

(30:03):
we haven't yet. We haven't yet, but we are going to.
We've only done about twelve episodes so far. We've we've
I think we've been back as far as sixty seven
and as far forward as night So we've been relatively focused,
you know, in the last thirty years or thirty thirty
five years of the twentieth century. At the moment, let's
jump into today's era. We have Van Morrison along ironically

(30:26):
with Eric Clapton making a anti lockdown songs. Is COVID
Mutate and in you know, basically indeed the UK. How
do you feel about that, and how do you feel
about Brexit? Well, I mean, I think I think I
mentioned to you earlier on the Brexit for me was

(30:47):
something extremely depressing because it brought out it brought out
those extremes in in viewpoint, It made people ten times
more belligerent, ten times more polarized. It didn't seem like
there was any room for discussion or a gray area anymore.

(31:07):
And that was really what the future bias became about,
you know, and a lot of that I do lay
the blame a lot a lot of that social media,
but it's unfair to do that because of course the
technology itself is not to blame. It's about the way that,
you know, the human beings engaged with the technology that's
the problem. How do I feel about Eric Clatton and
Van Morrison writing anti what is it they're doing? They're

(31:28):
kind of writing and and they're not saying that the
COVID is a conspiracy? Are they? They're not one of
those people that they're basically saying, Well, Van Morrison is
verging into that territory. But he's basically saying you the
lockdown as BS, you should open everything up. We should
be able to tour, or we should be able to
go to restaurants, etcetera. Yeah, it's kind of pretty responsibility.

(31:53):
I mean, I think the thing about Van Morrison is
if you really really take a long look at him
as a person, you probably wouldn't want to listen to
his music. And I think, you know, sometimes you just
have to divorce the art from the artists, don't you,
And possibly that's the case with him. Yeah, Okay, let's
go back to the remixing things. So how did it

(32:14):
fall into your lap? So? I in about two thousand
and two, I and my band Pokepine Tree, signed to
an American record label. We signed to Jason Flom's label,
Lava through Atlantic, and it was a big thing for
us because it was the first time we'd signed directly
to an American label, and we thought, you know, we thought,
oh great, we're gonna We're gonna crack America. Um and

(32:38):
we didn't obviously crack America, but we had a couple
of let's let's stop there because I remember, you know,
trains I liked on the first Lava record. Why do
you think you did not crack America? Because what we listen,
I don't want to blow my own trumpet, and I hate,
I hate to do it, but I'm going to do
it anyway. I think what we were doing was just

(32:59):
a little bit too head of the curve. Basically, what
we were doing in two thousand two, which has been
much imitated since, very flatteringly, but no one had done
it at the time, was combining extremely heavy riffs with
classic singer songwriter with textual ambient music and a lot
of sound design elements that you might associate with conceptual

(33:21):
rock music. And I don't think anyone had really done
that before. There was a lot of you know, really
crushingly great heavy rock records around at that time, but
they didn't have the kind of layering and the sophistication
in the production that we were that we were doing,
and for whatever reason, it just it was the classic
case of the record company couldn't figure out how to market.

(33:41):
And I don't blame them. I'm not one of those
people that lays the blame always at the you know,
the feet of the record company. Andy Carper was the
guys signed has worked so hard to try and get
it off the ground. But the point is that people
just didn't really know what to do with us, didn't
quite get it. It was like, well, they're kind of
like a heavy pink Floyd, aren't they. What do we
do with that? You know? Um? And I think subsequently

(34:06):
that sound became almost, you know, a genre in its
own right, and there's been lots of bands now have
kind of imitated those early Porcupine Tree records and what
a couple of those would be. Well, there's they're not
massively successful bands, but there are there are a lot
of bands. There's a label over here called case Scope
Music who basically that's the sound of that label, and

(34:29):
they have some bands that do quite good business, not
probably not in America, but that you know that it
became a kind of like a sound and a recipe
in a combination that other other bands adopted and and
it's one of those interesting things that in absentially the
album you talked about they had trains on. It sold
nothing when it came out, but it now sells year
in year out, It sells ten thou copies. Every year

(34:51):
it sells tenos. Okay, this begs a question. Those two
Lava albums, were you happy with them? Yeah? Yeah, yeah,
I'm really proud of Okay, so how did you fall
into the remixing? You made a deal with Lava, right, so,
so yeah, we we've we've gone slightly off topic and

(35:13):
we so basically we did those albums and one of
the things that the record company came to us and
said they wanted to do as part of the trying
way to break because they thought, Okay, this band that
they've got this kind of conceptual, layered production thing going on,
Let's hook them up with DTS and we'll do a
five point one mix, and we'll hire Elliott Shina, this
legendary a legendary engineer to do the five point one mix.
So cut along, story short, that's what happened. I'd never

(35:36):
heard music in five point one. I was completely ignorance
of it. I've never heard it, but I said, I'm
going to book a studio in London. Send me over
the mix I want to hear. I'm a control freak,
you know. I'm not going to let somebody just mix
the record put it out without me listening to it.
So I hired the studio in in in London, and
Elliott sent the mix over and I went and listened
to it, and I hated it. I hated it not
because he's done a bad job. It sounded beautiful, but

(35:58):
it wasn't. It wasn't why. It wasn't the way I
would have done it, and it wasn't. It didn't sound
right to me. It didn't sound like ust to me. Okay,
very very specifically, what was wrong? Do you know what?
Bob is? So long ago I can't remember. I think
I hated the way the drums sounded. There's too much
reverb on the drums or the guitars were to recess,

(36:19):
so literally it literally had to do with the sound
of the instrument as opposed to how they were put in.
The varying for speakers also also this also this year.
The balance and the distribution of this. You know, it
wasn't like I said, Elie, it was a you know,
master he'd done, he had done what he was doing
with it with his other acts. But for me, for

(36:40):
whatever reason, it didn't feel right for us. So I
said to the record label, I don't like this. I
want to go over there and sit with him and
just basically go through it, go through it with him
and you know, sort of do it as a as
a sort of co co mixing job. And that's what happened.
I went over there. I flew over there, and I
spent a week sitting there with him while he rather
begrudgingly remixed the whole album, and we got something that

(37:01):
we both were really happy with at the end of it. Anyway,
it's cut a long story short. While I was sitting
there listening to I was thinking, I can do this.
This is fantastic. I love this. I'm going to do
all my records in it. So I got back and
I put myself a little put a little five point
one system together in my in my own studio, and
from that point on I started to remix all the
records I was working on in five point one and

(37:22):
Lo and Behold. Three or four years later, Fear of
a Blank Planet, which is a couple of Porkeypine Try
albums down the line later gets a Grammy nomination for
Best five point one Mix. Where where were How did
you get that gig? What do you mean? What do
you mean? How do you have a black pianot planet?
You did not work on? No, no, no, not the
Public Enemy album. No, this is Fear of a Blank Planet.

(37:44):
This is a Poke Pine Try album. This is a
Poke Pone Trey album that was kind of riffing off
the Public Enemy title. Okay, I guess I was unaware
of it. Okay, yeah, yeah, it was the altist. So
two albums after an absentially the Pork Pantry album is
called Fear of a Blank Planet, So it was kind
of a riff on the Fear of a Black Planet
was a riff on the public everything. Anyway, that album
got a Grammy nomination for the Best five point one Mix,
just out of the blue, I mean, and and somebody

(38:05):
rung me up one day and said, do you know
you've been nominated for a Grammy for your for your
mixed of a Blame Planet? Anyway, So to cut another
long story short. My manager at that point started to
put out some feelers and say, I've got a guy.
He's just been nominated for five point one mix. Do
you are you interested in having it? And one of
the people that responded in a positive way was Robert

(38:26):
Fripp and King Crimson, who I was a lifelong fan of. Anyway,
he wasn't completely sure, but he was interested, So I
did a couple of tracks on spect for him. He
came up, we played the two tracks to him and
by the end of the first track he was jumping
up and down his chair and saying, We're going to
do the whole King Crimson catalog in five point one.
So I started with the King Crimson Catalog. It was

(38:48):
very well received. One door led to another a little
bit slower, a little bit slower. So what year was
the King Crimson remixes? Was two thousand nine. This was
the story of in the Court of the Crimson King. Okay, now,
a couple of things. Most people would say five point
one is a field format, not so much as S

(39:09):
a c D. But it's really for a very small
percentage of people who have high level home theaters. So
I didn't the market appears to be small and dwindling.
From being inside the beast, what do you see are
you talking about at that time? Are you talking about
right now? Because right now it's growing. Right now, it's growing.

(39:29):
But you're absolutely right. In two thousand and nine, it
was dwindling, and part of the reason it was dwindling
was because the record companies had given up putting out
stuff from five point one. Now, what actually happened was
that they put enormous in two thousand. In the early
two thousand's, they put an enormous amount of money into
getting stuff remixed into five point one. They were paying
like a hundred thousand dollars to get pet sounds mixed

(39:53):
into five point one, you know, and a hundred and
fifty thousand dollars to get room as mixed into five
And then when and then with surprised when they only
sold ten thousand units and they didn't make their money back. Now,
fast forward to two thousand seven and eight. There's not
a lot of people putting our catalog in five point one.
But the people that are doing it are making no
money from it. They're doing it as a labor of love.

(40:13):
And there is a small dedicated audience four five point
one that have been starved of catalog since the record
companies had spent so much money doing the early records
that they basically completely pulled out. But I was a
champion for it, and I started remixing King Crimson, and
there weren't many other records coming out at five point one,
but the ones that we were ravenously received by the

(40:36):
people that listened to it. And there was still a
category in the Grammys for multi channels surround sound mixing,
so it was actually relatively easy for me to get
the nod the nomination because there wasn't a lot of competition.
But people notice things. People notice things like Grammy nominations.
So I started with Crimson and then I got invited

(40:58):
to do Jethrow Tells Aqual Lung War. You're working with Fripp.
You know. The first album's results of having Gregg League
did pretty well commercially, then it became more of a
cult item. The obvious question is was that a labor
of love? Did you make any money? How many copies
of these how many copies of one of these albums

(41:19):
would sell? Um, Well, that's a difficult thing to quantify
because the fourti anniversary editions were CD DVD A combos,
so so that that's the trick. And that's another thing
that's changed from those early years when record comans were
doing surround mixes. They're very rarely now released to stand alone.
They are considered to be extra value content. And I'm

(41:42):
sure we'll come onto this, but nowadays surround mixes are
almost always added as a kind of extra to a
box set or a deluxe edition. Um. But in those days,
two tend the Crimson fourtieth anniversary editions were put out
as CD, DVD A combos and they did extremely well,

(42:03):
extremely well, partly because I think it was coincided with
the time when bands like King Crimson were being completely
rediscovered and reevaluated, particularly by mainstream media. And Robert will
tell you that because he put out thirtieth anniversary editions
of those albums around too about and they got no press,
and the little press they did get was quite derogatory.

(42:25):
When the forty anniversary editions came out, five star reviews
right across the board, it was extraordinary. It was absolutely
even for albums that had never been part of the
you know, the core favorites of that band we're getting
the most extraordinary reviews, and that band started to really
start to sell again, and of course that led to

(42:46):
him reforming King Crimson around that time too. Okay, let's
just talk at that particular time. You said, at first
you did the five point one mixes at your home,
and then when you were working with Fripp, did you
also do them, and what kind of equipment were you using,
and what was the studio experience as you went further
into the project. So it was all done in the

(43:07):
digital domain. Basically, what would happen is the multi track tapes.
I mean this is true. Pretty much every project have done,
the multi track tapes gets sent to a professional tape
transfer facility where they baked the tapes and then they
transfer them to high resolution digital files. I get sent
those files, so I get raw multi track tapes, but
as digitized files. So then part of it for me

(43:31):
is just kind of detective work seeing what's on the tapes,
making sure everything's there, and then essentially recreating the stereo
as closely as possible before breaking out to five point one.
And I do all that in Logic, the software called
Logic Audio, and it's a very simple set up logic
audio basically going out to six self powered speakers, the

(43:52):
two at the front, the two at the back, the
one in the middle, and the sub the low frequency speaker.
And that was based atally set up in my little
home studio. I have a proper studio now, but for
years because there's no money in it. No, they weren't
paying a lot of money to do any of this.
I'm not kidding when I say it was a labor
love um and I was just having fun doing it,

(44:15):
and you know, and learning a lot, learning a lot
by how those guys made those records. It was an education.
So making the album of the old days, yes, there
might even be multiple twenty four track machines. Then you
have twenty four track, then you mix it down to
two track, So we're in the process. Were your teeps
coming from all of the also send you the two track?

(44:36):
They send you the last version of the track, would
you actually get So I'm not interested in I'm not
interested in the two track bounced down master. I'm interested
in the raw multi track tapes. So the tapes where
the guitar is isolated, the bass drum is isolated, the
vocals are isolated, the back in, etcetera, etcetera, and there's
no there's no usually no processing at it, so things

(44:57):
like reverbs, compression EQ or any phaser of anything like
that has to be reapplied to the mix um. So
I'm pretty much I'm very much working from from the
very raw source recordings upwards. Yeah, okay, Well this is
fascinating to me because prior to your work, I was

(45:19):
a hundred percent against remixing the most egregious examples. Although
he's a nice guy and a friend of mine, Jiles Martin,
what they've done with the Beatles I just find horrific. Okay,
it has changed the music, and I'm very fearful that
those will become the default products going forward. But when
I first listened to your tall mixes, it sounded just

(45:44):
like the original, just like with a lot of steel
wool scrubbed off, and you were closer. How could you
do that without did you just know the material? Without
having the two tracks? How did you get so close
to the finished product that had previously been released? Well,
I mean I do, obviously I do have the two tracks.
I have the CD, I have the vinyl. So what

(46:05):
I'm what I'm doing? So my work process is basically
to load up the multi track tapes, and then alongside
the multi track tapes is to load up the original
stereo mix. And then I'm literally on a pair of
headphones listening in little five second chunks to the stereo mix,
to the original stereo mix, and then my new mix,
and then I'm hearing are okay, they've pushed the lead

(46:27):
guitar up a couple of dB there, so I'll do
that now. My whole philosophy with this is the people
that these mixes are aimed at, the people that these
reissues are aimed at, whether it's part of a box
set or it's part of a CD combo, as a
stand alone blue ray, whatever it is. The people that
are going to listen to these products and buy these
products are people that probably have bought these albums at

(46:48):
least three times before. They bought the original vinyl when
it came out, they bought the first CD edition, and
they probably bought the deluxe CD with the extra disc
or the bonus tracks. Now you're a expecting them to
buy the deluxe hundred dollar plus box set with a
blue ray in it or a DVD in it with
a five point one mix. So the point is that

(47:08):
these people know the music probably better than the artist.
And I say that advisedly because most of these artists
haven't listened to their records for years, and I'm the same,
I don't listen to my music. So Ian and Robert,
for example, the two people we've talked about so far,
King Crimson and told they haven't listened to their records
for years, and I find quite often I'm fighting them

(47:30):
to not change the music. So Robert will come in
and say I never liked that bit, let's you raise it,
and I'm saying, you can't do that, Robert, you can't
do that because the people that listen have been listening
to this record for sometimes for fifty years or forty
years or fifty years. It's like a bible to them.
It's like a sacred text. So we can't change. And

(47:50):
I've had these kind of fights with with some of them.
I mean not fights, but it's a heated discussions with
some of these guys. The worst was Greg Lake when
I did an e LP album, Greg Lake come mean
and saying bless him, you know, rest in peace and
all that, but coming in and saying we always played
that too, fast. Can you slow it down? I said,
well I can, but I'm not going to because I
think you're missing the point. You know, this this was Tarkas.

(48:14):
You know. I think you're missing the point Greg that
this is not for you to to, you know, fix
things that you didn't like the way you played it
forty years ago. This is about creating a more immersive,
three dimensional version that's essentially doesn't sound in a way,
doesn't sound different. But I can't remember what analogy you use.
You use, Bob, the steel wool one, but I mean,

(48:35):
I always use the analogy. It's like cleaning the Sistine Chapel.
It's like just taking off a layer of grime off
off of the Michael Angelo beneath, but you're not changing
anything about the art itself. So I'm very committed to
this idea of recreating that stereum, all of those mixed
decisions that they made in nine or whenever it was

(48:59):
figuring out all of those mixed decisions and recreating them
because fans don't want to hear any other way. Um,
there's kind of a there's kind of a contradiction to
work here, which obviously the fact you're remixing in the
first place. It's going to sound a bit different. But
I think there's a way to do it that it
doesn't jar. It doesn't sound like someone has tried to

(49:21):
reimagine the music, and I'm very, very against that. Okay,
Is it just technology? How do you achieve a clearer
version than the original? A lot of it is technology.
I would love to take the credit. You know, I'm
doing some incredible act of necromancy to make it sound better.

(49:42):
Not really, um, it is the technology working with digital files,
not having to work with multiple generations of analog tape.
I'll give you an example. In the Court of the
Crimson King was actually recording on eight track, but it
was done in the old fashioned way of they would
record the band on eight tracks. They would bounce those
eight tracks down to two tracks on a second eight track.

(50:04):
Then they would fill up the other six tracks on
that tape with malotron. They would then bounce that down
to two tracks on a third tape and fill up
the rest of the six tracks with a vocal. They
don't have to be Einstein to work out that. That
means that by that time the drums, guitar, and bass
that were on the original reel our third generation analog
tape copies with all the attendant hiss and degradation of

(50:28):
sound that that entails. So when I get those tapes,
I go back to the original source reels and I
resynchronize all of what they call those slave reels. So
I'm dealing for the very first time, the very first
time anyone has been able to mix that album from
first generation copies of the drums, bass and guitar, and that,

(50:49):
by definition, gives you more clarity. Less tape is less
harmonic distortion. Now, I say that with the caveat that
some people like all that ship and one of the
complaint it's I have had, and I completely acknowledge it,
is that some people don't like the fact that the
music sounds clearer. The part of the sort of sludge

(51:10):
and cross talk and tapeist is all part of the
experience for them. And all I would say is that
what I do probably isn't for those people. And you know,
I think there are a minority anywhere, but those purists.
It's not for those people. But does that sort explain
to you, you know how some of that clarity is
kind of coming back in in that respect, and you know,
being able to clean. Yes, and what about in terms

(51:31):
of effects, you say, you start with raw and then
you add reverb delay whatever is. The modern technology also
helped there. The modern technology is amazing. One of the
things I hear a lot is that digital can't replicate analog.
I think that was true for years. I think it's
becoming less and less and less true, and it's becoming

(51:51):
more and more redundant as an argument against digital technology
is so good now the plugins what we call the
plugins that we use, which are the kind of pro
you know, equivalence of what used to be like old outboards,
effects units, compressors, delays, a reverbs. The plugins now are
so good, and the emulations of the vintage plug in
specifically are phenomenal, to the point that some of the

(52:14):
guys that used to use them in the sixties and
seventies can't tell the difference between the emulations now. But
that's really been happening, particularly the last five six years.
They've just becoming There's a company called Universal Audio that
make plug ins that are such a high quality, and
they are emulations. So I'm using, you know, when I'm
going and remixing aqualung for example, I'm using an emulation

(52:35):
of the old e MT one forty rever plug chamber,
which is exactly the same reverb that they used on aqualung.
It just happens to be a digital emulation of it,
which is phenomenal. So that's been also kind of one
of the things that's really helped me is these kind
of emulations, modern digital emulations of all of the original
analog outboard gear. Okay, we'red you stand on raw source

(53:03):
forget remixing, are you someone? You know? There are people
who cut on the ANALYG transfer the digital. There are
people who talk about digital. They talk about sampling rate
c D versus violent, analyged versus digital. If we're starting
from ground zero, where do you stand? Let's just say
that all these days, everything I do, and I think
everything almost everyone I do in the digital domain is

(53:24):
done at a very high resolution. So the days when
we were working on digital at c D resolution, you know,
sixteen bitty four point one, I mean I'm now doing
stuff at K twenty four bits, sometimes even K twenty
four bit. The resolution is just off the scale. Um,
So I don't think there's any compromise in terms of

(53:46):
the quality of digital. But there is something missing from digital,
and what it is missing is that it doesn't have
a kind of signature sound the way analog does. Analog
does have um It imprints its personality and its signature
on the music, and some people like that. I like that,

(54:07):
you know, I like I like old records that recording
sixties and seventies. Part of what I like about them
is that kind of golden glow, that kind of gradual
top end roll off that you get with analog. It's
a very sweet kind of roll off at the top end.
And I don't understand these things. The truth, I'm kind
of bluffing here a little bit. I don't understand this

(54:27):
stuff that there are people that really do. But all
I'll say is that I grew up in the age
of digital recording. I started in the industry when digital
recording was very young and it didn't sound very good.
These days, it sounds fantastic. And you can cut analog
from a digital, a digital recording uh K twenty four bit,

(54:49):
it should sound amazing. It should sound amazing. Okay, I
completely understand releasing vinyl records of things that we originally
quite ano be al never made any sense to me
to have something that we recorded digitally trim through the vinyl.
What is your take on that? Well, I think I

(55:12):
understand completely where you're coming from. But I think the
one thing you're discounting there is the whole romance and
the kind of tactile experience of vinyl, aren't you You
know so, I think a lot of the time it's
not about the source audio. It's it's you know, a
c D made from the same master as a vinyl.
You're absolutely right, what's the point? What's the point where

(55:32):
you can get a CD for five bucks and you
have to pay thirty bucks with the vinyl and you've
got all that surface noise and potential crackle involved too,
you know, to contend with I feel that way sometimes,
but I also like vinyl and I like to have
certain things on vinyl because I love the ritual of
final I love the kind of tactile, tangible experience of

(55:53):
taking a record off the shelf, taking out of the sleeve,
putting it on the turntable. Honestly, I think a lot
of it is that for people. And I also think
a lot of people hear things that they want to hear,
so when they listen to vinyl. Oh, it sounds so
much better than the digital files. I think what they're

(56:14):
hearing is the kind of compromises they're inherent in vinyl,
the fact you can't cut very high top end to vinyl.
There is a natural roll off. So people hear that
and they say, oh, it sounds so much warmer than
the CD or the digital file. Yeah, it sounds warmer
because they couldn't cut the trouble to the vinyl. So
there's a lot. I think there's a lot of that
mythology that goes into vinyl. But I have to say

(56:35):
I love Final because I love the ritual of it
and I have a nostalgic attachment to it as obviously
growing up with vinyl. Okay, forget the rituals purely talking
about the sound. Is there any reason to take something
that was cut digitally creator the vinyl such that you
either have a comparable but different sound or a better sound,

(56:59):
or inherently or you're going to get a word sound
because of the compromises of vinyl itself. Okay, with the
caveat that, it does depend on what the sources. Okay,
you know, if you've got if you've got a source file,
that is a very high resolution, then it would make
sense to cut its vinyl. If it's a digital file
that's CD resolution already in the sense that the artist

(57:20):
recorded it as CD resolution is probably pointless. But even
then there is the caveat that you may have a
fantastic vinyl cutting engineer who will get something out of
the audio that the guy cutting the CD didn't get.
But these are caveats. Basically your question, The answer is no.
The answer is no. Just so I understand you're saying
it would be you get a higher chance of getting

(57:43):
good quality if you had a higher resolution digital recording. Yeah,
if you've got digital recording that's done at four bit,
putting that on a CD, you're naturally having to dial
it that down to forty four point one sixteen. You're
losing a lot of the information. A lot of the
digital information is being thrown away because c D has
to be a lower resolution, lower bit rate going to vinyl.

(58:04):
That's not true. You have a pure analog wave, which
is a continuous thing. There's no information being thrown away.
But if your digital file is already CED resolution, there
is nothing to be gained by cutting it to vinyl.
Does does that make sense, okay, So tell us how

(58:27):
you got the Toll gig. So it came from the
King Crimson, you know, the King. It was like I
was saying to you earlier, one door led to another.
The King Crimson series was very successful, very well received,
very well reviewed. Next thing I know, I get a
call from Tim, Tim Shacksfield at e M. I as
was then this would have been two thousand eleven. We're
doing Aqualung fourth anniversary. We'd like to get a five

(58:47):
point one mixed done? Would you like to do it?
So that started me off on the whole Toll catalog again.
That Aqualu and came out. It was extremely successful because
it basically sounded the same as the original all but
so much better. And I'm paraphrasing what a lot of
people said about it. You know, I'm not That's not
what I think. That's what most people said about it.

(59:08):
And again I don't take credit for that. That album
was originally mixed onto a faulty quarter inch tape machine.
There was out of alignment. So every single version of
the album that came out before we remixed it had
been from a master that was was mixed onto a
faulty machine. So it used to make me laugh when
he used to see some of these people on forum saying,

(59:30):
how dare Stephen Wilson remixed this album? The original mix
will never be bettered. When Ian himself said, we mixed
that onto a machine that wasn't working properly. I've been
waiting forty years to fix it. So we fixed it.
And it wasn't hard to fix it because the original
session tapes sounded beautiful. It was the quarter inch master

(59:51):
that was where the problems had come in. So we
did a mix of that. It came out beautiful. It
sounded much more alive and vibrant and three dimensional insert
your own cliche. And it was very well succeeds, very
well received, and I've gone on now and done I
think something like ten toll records now we've we've basically also,

(01:00:11):
you know, at what point did you shift from doing
in addition to five point one two tracks and how
did that come down? That's a very good question. Um, yeah,
we haven't touched on that have weak So what happened
was essentially I was hired to do the five point ones,
but my first the first part of my process always

(01:00:33):
was to recreate the Sarah stereo mix to the point
that I could hardly tell the difference when I beat them.
When I would go from the original mix to my
new mix. The only thing I wanted to hear that
was different was perhaps a little bit more clarity. I
didn't want to hear any difference in the levels. I
didn't want to hear any any difference in the reverb treatments,
the EQ, the compression, stereo placement I matched exactly to

(01:00:58):
any moves and he rides in the volume, and he
moves in the stereo field, something panning from left to right,
or I recreated everything meticulously because I wanted the five
point one mixed to reflect as closely as possible what
the stereo mix that people have been as as you know,
as much as it's possible within thein the surround field,
to reflect what was happening in the stereo mix. And basically,

(01:01:21):
to cut a long story short again, while we were
doing this, people like Robert and Ian and myself, we're
listening to the stereo mix and saying, this sounds better
than the original mix. We should include this in the package,
you know, as a bonus for people. You know, we won't.
We won't take the original mix out include the original
mix two, which is almost always what happens. The original

(01:01:42):
mixes included too. But let's throw in this new stereo
mix too, because even though it was a byproduct of
doing the five point one, it is it does sound different.
It sounds arguably better, clearer. Maybe a little bit of
that analog magic has been compromised, but you know what,
it's a different perspective. So that was the kind of
mindset originally, let's throw it in. Let's throw it in

(01:02:03):
as a bonus um and a lot of people started
responding very very well to the stereo remix, to to
the point that some of my jobs have been like
for example, the Chicago Chicago second album I just got
hired to do a stereo mix of that wasn't even
a five And the Sabbath albums I've just done stereo
only not that the record company didn't even ask me

(01:02:23):
to do surround mixes. So that was kind of how
that came about. Yeah, okay, just in terms of process,
what do you do after you make the stereo mix
to make at five point one? You know, in technical terms,
on the workstation, I flip, I just flip on each fader.
I go from stereo out to surround out. And when

(01:02:45):
you do that, your stereo pan pot becomes a surround
pan pot. So instead of just something where you go
from left to right, it becomes a little sort of
diagram which is like essentially like a little picture of
your room, and it has a dot in each corner
where each speaker is, and you just start to break
things out into the room. So I might say to myself,

(01:03:07):
you know, and I really approached it like an idiot,
because apart from those mixes i'd seen Elliott do, I
hadn't listened to anyone else's mixes, and I just kind
of did it like a bit of a you know,
kind of intuitive way, like an idiot. So, well, this
might sound good, and let's try to put in the
backing vocals in the back and and if it sounded
good to me, that's what I went with. And when
the mixes came out, I started to realize I was

(01:03:29):
doing it in a way that not many people have
done it before. I was doing it quite aggressively. A
lot of surround mixes had tended to be quite conservative
in that they kept pretty much the whole stereo image
in the front and they would just occasionally put a
bit of reverb or sound effect in the back speakers.
And I didn't know this because I had seen Elliott

(01:03:50):
doing and Elliott was quite aggresive with his surround mixing.
But apparently he's one of the one of the exceptions too.
And I was putting all sorts of things in the back,
you know, and in the center speaker and moving things
around the room, and it just sounded good to me.
This is fun, you know. So they answer your question is,
technically speaking, you just get presented with a little sort
of pan, a surround pan pot which has a little

(01:04:11):
dot where each of your speakers is, and you just
move using the mouse. You just move things where you
want them to be in the surround field. It's easy. Okay,
Obviously there's been a learning curve and you're much better now.
How long did it take you to do in the past?
But more importantly, someone called you today. I just wanted
to track and forget the preparatory, you know, baking it.

(01:04:31):
You know that's not done in your studio. Once you
get the files. How long from start to finish? Well,
that really depends, like for example, I'm doing a project
now which unfortunately has to remain nameless, but it's it's
a big American record from from the nineties that sold
a lot of copies, and the tapes came to me

(01:04:51):
and they recorded. Some of the tracks were recorded on
four twenty four track tapes running in SYNCHRONI station. So
I'm loading up these sessions and it's just insane. There's
like a hundred channels of information. And the thing is
the track sheets that come along, which the track sheets
being the original documentation that's like on the tape boxes.

(01:05:13):
They're usually not very helpful because these guys that recorded
these albums never really anticipated there's someone like me twenty
years later I was going to have to figure out
what's on these tapes ever again. So I'm literally then
going through all of these tracks, listening to say, okay,
that sounds like a backing vocal label as such, that
sounds like it could be a you know, as our

(01:05:37):
sitar whenever it is. I'm listening through and I'm kind
of labeling labeling each of those tracks. And this is
before I've done any mixing at all. I'm literally just
identifying what is on each track of the multi track,
and then I can start to have an idea about
what sort of what sort of time is involved this
project I'm doing right now, I've been working on since

(01:05:58):
the beginning of the year, off and on, you know,
because I have got my other, my other consideration of
my record coming out, but I've been promoting that. But
I've been working on it on and off since the
beginning of the year. It's probably gonna be the best
part of four to six weeks by the time I
finished the surround mix of this particular album. But then
I've had other records where it's just record on eight track,
like when I did I think it was Benefit or

(01:06:20):
stand up for Jethrow Toll. No, this was the first
albums record on four track, so I had there was
very little, you know, to sort of figure out and
do with that. Um so that I mean, obviously that
was a much quicker process. Someone comes in with twenty
four tracks, how long do you think it'll do. I'll
take me about a week. Take me about a week
to recreate stereo mix from a well recorded twenty four track,

(01:06:43):
forty minute album. You'll tell me about a week. And
how do you establish a fee? I don't I don't.
I don't really care about the money. I mean, I'm
in a very privileged position to be able to say that.
I always say to the people that asked me, um,
what have you got, it's fine. And the other the

(01:07:03):
other sort of consideration for me is I must genuinely
like the album uh and have some um pre knowledge
of the album. I must know that. I mean, I'm
not going to take on a record that I've never
heard before, I don't know, I have no affinity with.
And part of that is simply because I you know,
I do acknowledge to myself that the people I'm doing

(01:07:25):
this for are the people that have bought the album
over and over again and their fans, and I think
I'd have to be able to do a good job.
I have to be a fan too, so I have
to genuinely be a fan of the record. And at
that point I just say to the label or the
management or the artist, whoever it is, it's asked me,
what have you got? What's comfortable for you budget wise?
And usually it's fine. I've never turned down a job

(01:07:46):
that I wanted to do because of the money. And
you get an override or royalty sales, no I would
never accept that. Never, it's not my work. It's not
my work, it's not my career activity. Even my mix,
I'm kind of copying the original guy that mixed it,
you know, I'm kind of recreating his mix in a way.

(01:08:07):
So the only part of the process that I'm really
being creative is in breaking out into the room. You
know that the surround field. No, I would never on principle,
I would never take an override a royalty. Okay, the
five month stepard is very important and can change record mastering.
So how are these projects mastered? Wow? Wow, you've You've
hit on one of my favorite subjects there. Early on,

(01:08:31):
these five point one mixes were being and and the
stereo mixes were being sent off to be mastered in
various They will remain nameless for some very reputible master
ing rooms. And I had sent the mixes off being
really happy with the way they sounded, and they kept
coming back and they sounded worse to me. And I

(01:08:51):
remember having conversations some of the guys that commissioned them
from me, and I would say to them, you thought
that makes it sounding great, didn't you to start with?
And they'd say, yeah, they sound it amazing. Why are
you having the master because they're coming back basically compressed
with big smiley eques, which is what you would do
with a new You might arguably do that with a
new record that you wanted to get on radio or

(01:09:14):
you wanted to part when it's on Spotify and the playlist.
But the point is that these records were doing are
selling to the fans who are listening to them at home,
generally on pretty good high fives. Why are we crushing
the dynamics out of them? And this is one of
my big bug best crushing dynamics. Um So, I actually
managed to persuade almost in every almost every case since

(01:09:37):
say the early days, the first two or three years,
these mixes get released by passing the mastering stage completely.
So the mixes come out of my studio, they go
on the disc exactly as they are, and the labels
love that because they say five dollars not to have
it masters. You know. Okay, let's be talking about the

(01:09:57):
very specific equipment, because do an equipment has difference? First hardware,
what are you using for a computer? So I'm I'm
a I'm a Mac user. I've been a MacUser ever
since the beginning. Um so I just bought myself. I
love one of the brand new towers, you know, very expensive,
but for Dolby atmost particularly which is what I've now

(01:10:19):
transition to, which is the next step out from five
per one, which maybe you want to talk about that too,
But anyway, Dolby Atmosses is obviously, as you can imagine,
quite process or intensive. So I've got a very very
powerful Uh those machines you can buy for five thousand
or ninety thousand dollars. How much rem did you put it?
What do you do for chips? I spent about ten

(01:10:39):
thousand pounds, So what's that about thirteen thousand that I
forget exactly? I threw quite a lot of ram at it. Yeah,
because surround mixing is quite particularly this project i'm doing now,
where as I've got a hundred channels of audio and
I'm breaking out into Dolby at mooss it's quite it's
quite CPU intensive, it's quite memory intensive. And what do

(01:11:02):
you use? How many screens and what screens? I just
have one screen, but it's a big screen. It's a
big screen. I can't I can't be doing with the
two screens thing. So I have a big screen, one
of those ones that kind of curves around you. It's
like a wraparound thing, so I can see the whole
mix all the time. Basically, Okay, what headphones do you use? Um?

(01:11:27):
I am using? Hold on, I'll tell you audio audio technical?
Headphones audio technical? And did you make a specific choice
on those? And how expensive are those? Do you know what?
They're not that expensive? They're not. I think they're good.
They're good. Um, I did make a choice. They're you know,
they're like a three quid pair of headphones. I mean,

(01:11:48):
you can spend three thousand. But the question would become
this was like the old days of mixing Tora tones
or exactly Yamaha and as ten. You know, you don't
want to get too far from the average listener. So
a lot of people use these Sony as a standard.
How did you discover these audio technicals? I can't remember.
I probably just went to my local music equipment supply

(01:12:09):
and said, you know, I think I bought these headphones
not for mixing on. I bought them for probably tracking
with you know, I wanted a good pair of headphones
to work with when I was tracking vocals and stuff
for my own stuff, and I just started mixing on them.
I know how they sound, I understand what I'm hearing
through them, and of course that's the most important, which
is kind of what you're alluding to. You know. The
point is if you know what you're hearing, if you

(01:12:30):
understand what you're speakers or your headphones are giving you,
that is a hundred times more important than having the
fancy you know, amazing expensive speakers are amazing expensive headphones.
And then what speakers do you use? So for mixing
in stereo, I use Vocals, a company to I think
the Italian company called Focal French. Actually I know, because

(01:12:51):
I haven't in my car. I beg your pardon, French
company called Focal, Yeah, yeah, so I have to. I
think they called Triads, the Triads Stery Monitors. And for
the mixing instaurround, I use General Lex Jenny Lex speakers,
self powered speakers. And why did you choose those specific
brands because Elliott used them. So I used basically my

(01:13:13):
original five point one setup was based on his because
he's the only one i'd seen and he was using
General X. So I just went out and bought myself
five or six General X speakers and now I have
Dolby atmos, so i have another seven or eight in
the room, but I've just stuck with them. Again. I
understand what I'm hearing when I hear general X, I've
I've grown up, you know, hearing them. Okay, for people

(01:13:34):
who at this point still don't understand, explain Dolby atmos.
So Dolby, you know, I don't completely understand all of
it myself, because it's it's a much more complex thing
that five point five one is very straightforward. You've got
five speakers, you can put sound in any of the
five speakers, and you've got the sub which is the
dot one, which is for the low end frequencies. Dolby

(01:13:57):
ATMOS is more complicated because it's it's it's to do
with it's more to do with object orientation, which means
you can basically place the sound anywhere in the room.
It will sound like it's coming of a particular spot
in the room, in the air. I don't know how
they do it, but they do. But the bottom line
is that the most standard configuration of Dolby atmost, which

(01:14:17):
is the one I've got, is seven point one point four,
which means that you still have the five speakers you
have in five point one, the two in front, two behind,
the one in the center, and the sub but you
have two additional speakers in the horizontal plane which are
at the sides, so they fill in between the front
and the back pair, so you can discreetly put something

(01:14:38):
that feels like it's coming specifically right from beside you
rather than from behind you or in front of you.
And the point four are two sets of speakers above you,
two at the front, two behind you, which means you
can now move sound not just in the horizontal plane
but also in the vertical plane. And it's incredible, and

(01:14:58):
it does mean you can give the impression of literally
you can put point something in the air and say
that sound is coming from there and point at it.
And that's the incredible thing about Almoss. It's I mean
to say it's immersive is an understatement. It's the next
level up from from immersive. Okay, you know, Dolby, always
start theatrically. How many people you're mixing these records, you're

(01:15:20):
mixing them for home use, How many people have these systems?
I've no idea. Um that's never really been a motivating
fact for me, and I've always been of the philosophy
that if there's there's catalog out there is more likely
people will go out and buy systems. Now, when the
Beatles are doing Dolby Atmos, that's a big help. That's
a big help. I know you're not a fan of

(01:15:41):
Giles Is mixes necessarily, but the fact that he's done
Delby Atmos mixes, the Beatles have done Delby Atmos mixes
probably has sent a lot of people out to look
at the possibility of putting Dolby Atmos in their rooms.
And I think that was always the problem. When I started.
There wasn't catalog like that out there. Um, And when
you get people putting out albums like the Beatles catalog

(01:16:03):
in in at moss, then that's such a great kick
start to the whole industry. The other thing I think
Altmos has got in his favor is that there there
are now Again, I don't understand the technology, but there
are there are soundbars, and there are headphones that are
able to They are able to decode Dolby Atmos mixes
and give you a kind of pseudo I think. I mean,

(01:16:24):
I've heard it. It It was amazing. I heard I listened
to one of my mixes on a pair of headphones
and it wasn't completely discreet, but you know what it
was se of it was there. I don't know how
they do it, but that's that's again I think a
big advantage is going to have over the previous attempts
at creating multi channel sound in the domestic market. Tell
me two albums that you've remixed that you're like the

(01:16:49):
most or you're proud of stuff. M Well, there's different criteria.
Then there were some that I'm proud of because I
feel we made the most improvement in the sound, and
Aqua Lung would be pretty near the top of the list,
if not the top of the list, because that was
not as as I mentioned before, to that had a

(01:17:09):
problematic original mixdown phase. So being able to really clean
that up and make it shine and sound like it
never sounded before, I had a mensum out of proud
pride of doing that in terms of actual creatively, the
most challenging but probably the most rewarding, Seeds of Love
by Tears for Fears was a nightmare to do, uh,

(01:17:35):
but it's one of my favorite records of all time,
and the final result was incredibly rewarding just a beautifully
recorded album with great playing, great songs, great performances, but
an early generation of digital recording. And another album that
took three years to make was recorded multiple times in
different studios with different lineups, different arrangements, and then the

(01:17:57):
final versions of the songs would be one version of
the song recorded in this year with this band stitched
onto another version of the song done two years later
in a different studio with a different engineer and a
different band. I mean, it was just a nightmare to
piece it together, but I'm very proud that I did
and persevered and we got through to the other end,
and it sounds terrific. Okay, that was an album that

(01:18:20):
was recorded digitally from source, yes, yeah, And what machine
did they use? Do they do use the Mitsubishi or
do you know? I think I think it was the Mitsubishi. Yes,
And it was recorded forty eight forty eight K, which
was you know, that was all the digital machines were
capable of then. But you know what, when digital is
recorded well, it can still sound amazing. I'll tell you
another example, Skylarking by EXTC another out my remix, which

(01:18:43):
is a beautiful you know, recorded by Todd of course
up in Woodstock, and that was recorded. I think, no,
maybe I'm thinking the wrong album. No, it's not that
album's Oranges and Lemons, the follow up to Skylarking, not
the Todd one. Oranges and Lemons was recorded at forty
eight A sixteen bit, which is like CD resolution. But

(01:19:03):
you know what, it sounds amazing. It sounds amazing, And
I think sometimes people forget that a great producer and
a great engineer is a lot more important than the
resolution of the recording. Um, those things are, obviously, they
are important. I'm not saying they're not. But the fact
that the album sounds as good as it done when
it was a relatively low you know, in terms of

(01:19:24):
digital terms, quite primitive forty eight K sixteen bit sounds phenomenal.
Let's talk about that Tard albums. I discussed this with
Tard himself. I find there's a signature kind of high
end compressed sound that his records have in the final mix.
Did you find his mixes like that different from other mixes?

(01:19:46):
Did you have a take on that? Yeah, his mixes
are quite eccentric, in a in a in a in
a good way. Um, And of course wasn't particularly a
fan of the original mix. Andy Partrish wasn't a fan
of the original mix. Um Todd's mixes are quite um.
They're quite sort of murky in a nice way. Um

(01:20:10):
quite homogenized. There's not a lot of clarity, and there's
not a lot of detail. There is that kind of
slightly muddy top end, which I think is what you're
kind of alluding to. This very much a signature to
the way the top end on his record sound, which
doesn't doesn't allow the instruments to really have clarity or separation,
and I wonder if that's something he likes. He likes

(01:20:31):
the fact that mused the all instruments in a sense
combine into this kind of cohesive sound rather than sounding
like different instruments in a in a mix. If you,
if you, if you see what I'm getting at. So
what we were doing with the remix was trying to
get into the mix and put some air around the
different instruments, which was definitely what Andy wanted. I mean,

(01:20:52):
that's what he wanted at the time, and he didn't
get it. So we were kind of trying to reetro
retroactively put some of that separation and clarity back into
the album. You know, again, one of my favorite albums
of all times. So that that was that was one
of my favorite projects I've done year for sure. One
would say at the end you ended up with a
product that was somewhat different from the one the fans
were used to. In that case, we did. Yeah, I

(01:21:16):
have no idea how he made it sound like he did.
There is there are occasions where I simply, you know,
for all, for all my ambitions to try and replicate
the stereo as closely as possible, there are times when
I just cannot get close to I cannot figure out
why it sounds the way it does. So in that sense,
I just have to get as close. And it could

(01:21:36):
be as simple as they were using some piece of
outboard gear that was specially made for them. It was
kind of, you know, a a piece of equipment that
had been made by some boffin that Todd knew that
he was putting through all his mixes through and it
did something weird to the mix, and nobody quite knew
what it was. I mean, they're all those stories about
those things that come out of Abbey Road, you know,

(01:21:57):
the special Perry combobulator that they put all the tracks
through that made it sound like an Abbey Road mix,
you know, and all those things are very coveted by
collectors of analog outboard equipment. I don't know, so sometimes
I cannot get close and I do feel like, you know,
I just have to do the best I can. Had
you end up working with Chicago, that's the one act

(01:22:19):
that sticks out your catalog. So that was Steve. Would
you know Steve Willard over over Rhino in l a step.
I know the guys we started Rynod with Steve. I
do not now, Okay, so Steve, Steve the Ready way.
He's not the red hair guy, is he? Do you know?
I've only met him in person I think once, and
it was a few years ago because over in l
a hem, not really important. I'm thinking now I think

(01:22:40):
I do not, but keep going. I think he's a
lovely guy. Anyway, he asked me, He asked me, and
that was that was a That was a slightly interesting
project because the band didn't really know who I was,
and they weren't right. It kind of involved in the project,
which is unusual for me because usually one of my
I wouldn't say it's one of my stipulations, but it's

(01:23:02):
certainly one of my requests, strong requests, is that I
would like the band to be on board and approving everything,
um and with Chicago. For whatever reason, Steve was like, no, no,
the band are interested, but they're happy for me, you know,
you know, do it. And when it came out, the
fans really liked it. And then there was a couple
of comments from the band that were a bit snotty

(01:23:24):
about it. This kind of English geeks done this mix,
we don't know, and then um, you know. And then
the next one they got there they got the Chicago
Transit Authority in the the first time, they got it done
by their own guy, and I don't know what happened there,
but obviously they decided after that they didn't want me
to do anymore. But no, So that one was, you know,
these projects can come from management, they can come from

(01:23:46):
record label, and they can come from artists. In that case,
it definitely came from from Steve at the record label. Yeah,
he wanted me to do it, and I was very
happy to do it. Okay, Traditionally the actors not the engineer.
Do you ever talk to the mixer or the engineer
on some of these projects to find out where they
were coming from, what they did very occasionally. Most of them,
to be fair, are either dead or retired, so you know,

(01:24:10):
I can't talk to Eddie offered about doing the Yes
mixes because he's retired. He's not interested. But I did
speak to Hugh Pagem, I spoke about one of the
XTC mixes I did. I spoke to Dave Bascombe, who
recorded Seeds of Love for Tears for Fears, for example.
So yeah, I've occasionally sort sought their kind of input,
no doubt, to dream projects you haven't yet done. Oh wow.

(01:24:34):
Kate Bush has always been top of my list. Um.
I just think her albums would be so perfect for
surround um that it's frustrating to me, not even that
I would do it, but just that no one is
doing it. But apparently she's she's not she's not interested.
She's not if she's just not heard surround, or she

(01:24:55):
has and she just didn't particularly care for it as
an idea. So yeah, Kate, Kate would be And and
the Prince Catalog. The Prince Catalog. Prince was my when
I was growing up in the eighties. Prince was was
my hero. He was the guy that had posters on
my wall, and to be able to get my hands
on on Parade or Purple Rain or any of those

(01:25:15):
seminar eighties records would would be a dream. I mean,
just to be able to go into his world. I mean,
for me, the single most gifted musician the world of
pop has ever produced, to be able to go into
his world and deconstruct and reconstruct the music would just
be mind blowing for me to be able to do that. Okay,
so this lead deep. Are you a musician or a remixer?

(01:25:38):
And how do you split up the time into what degree?
Are you frustrated by one or the other? Oh? I
mean my job is to make my own records, and
and that would allay. That is always my priority to
make my own records. That's what That's what I feel
I was put on this earth to do, not to
not to tart up other people's records, you know, the
tarting up of the old other people? Sorry, is that

(01:25:58):
an amerrit Do you have that express in America times? No?
We don't. Just watching a Last Night and you know
they had someone using an expression they don't use and
ran and everybody got freed out. So it's kind of funny.
It sounds bad, but I don't know what you're talking
about it, but they don't. There's certain things that don't
mean such a negative things in the UK. It's not rude.
Don't worry, it's not rude. It just means to basically,

(01:26:20):
you know, give give something a sort of clean you know,
clean up a bit, or make it look better than
it deserves to, or or make it look as good
as it deserves too in the case of these albums.
So you know, that's not my job. My job is
not to but it's become a sideline and you know what,
it's one I love to do. And you know, I
keep saying to myself, I'm going to try and try
and you know, back off doing as much as I've

(01:26:42):
been doing. But then people keep approaching me with these
amazing albums. You know, I'm not going to say no
when you know, if principal cap Bush ever did come on,
I'm not going to say no. I'm not going to
say no when I get asked to do XTC Skylarking
or songs from the Big Chair. Of course I'm not so.
And as I say, I think there's also an element
that it is feeding back into what I do as

(01:27:05):
an artist. Anyway, I've learned so much from from from
being able to go inside this music. I mean, what
better education could there be for someone who likes who
believes in sonic excellent excellence and it's fascinated with production
um and the techniques of the past and present. What
better education could there be than to be able to

(01:27:26):
go inside these classic records and actually have to figure
out for yourself because nobody's apart from those engineers that
gave me a little help, they don't remember, they don't
remember how they did, They don't remember a lot of
the time how they got those sounds. So I have
to figure out for myself, and in doing so, those
things become part of my own tool kit. So the
answer your question, Bob, it's definitely. You know, my day

(01:27:47):
job is doing what I do as as a musician
as a songwriter. But I'm very very happy to do
this too. I know every year is different, but what
percentage of your time has spent on your music as
opposed to working on someone else's. I think it's eight twenty.
I mean, as I say, if I get a well
recorded album record on twenty four tracks, I can turn

(01:28:08):
it around probably in a week without feeling like I'm
rushing it turn around in a week, and I'm doing
maybe seven eight albums a year, So you can figure
out from that that may be spending a couple of
months a year working on the back catalog remixing projects.
The next question would be where are you making your money?

(01:28:29):
Are you making your money primarily from those projects? From
going on the road? Music itself doesn't generate as much
revenue as used to unless you're drink. I think I've
been quite fortunate. I have a I have a substantial
back catalog. Some would say there's too many records I've made,

(01:28:49):
and I would be one of those people. I've made
too many records over the years. But because I've made
a lot of records, and I have a very very
loyal fan base which continues to grow incrementally continues to grow,
my back catalog generate is pretty good income for me.
I'm never going to be, you know, multimillion or anything
like that, but I don't want to be. I don't
need to be. I'm very comfortable. I've managed to make

(01:29:11):
a career by basically doing what the hell I want
and not many people can say that, And I continue
to make it, continue to make a career by doing
what the hell I want musically speaking, uh and creatively speaking,
I'm completely fulfilled. So my I'm make enough money from
my back castalk and I get paid a little bit
to do these remix projects too. It's it's um, it's um.

(01:29:34):
It's not why I do them, and it doesn't matter
to me, but it's always appreciated when there is a
budget from the label or the artist or whatever. You said.
You recently got married. Is this your first marriage? It is?
And what was the motivation of this lead deep to
get married? I fell in love. I fell in love, Bob,
I fell in love. You know. I always thought that
I wasn't the sort of person who would ever get

(01:29:55):
married and have kids. But then I met my wife, Hydrometer. Well,
I actually met her. I met her twenty years ago,
although we only we really got together properly about four
years ago. I originally met her twenty years ago. She's Israeli.
She's from Israel. I met her twenty years ago when
she's a very young young lady. She was only eighteen
years old at the time I met her backstage at

(01:30:17):
a gig in Israel where she was working for the promoter.
She wasn't a fan, she didn't know who I was.
But we we kept in touch for many, many years,
and about four years ago, um, and she did in
the meantime had two kids and I hadn't, so we
we got together about four years ago and the rest
is history, as they say. So I'm now a stepfather

(01:30:38):
as well as as well as her husband. Now four
years ago when she still living in Israel, or she
moved to the UK. Now she moved to the UK
a long, long time, many years ago. In fact, her
first marriage had also been in England. So we've kind
of been in touch all this time. Yeah, Well, it's
always tough when you're an artist and you're living in
your own head so much to balance home life in

(01:30:59):
work life. And sometimes they're significant others who accept less
time and other people don't. So what's it like now
that you're married. It's really been four years you said
it's been two years. No, it's been eighteen months since
we got married and kind of bought a house together,
and most of that time I haven't been on the road,
if at all of that time I have been on
the road for you know, and during the last year

(01:31:20):
for obvious reasons. But the last time I actually played
a show was towards the beginning of two thousand nineteen.
So you know, I've been enjoying I've I've since we
moved into the new house. I've built my new studio.
It's actually the first time I've really had a proper studio.
I mean every time, every every studio I've had before
that has really been whichever room I put my computer
into my guitars, and that's been quote unquote the studio.

(01:31:44):
And I actually this time, we bought a new house together,
we built a proper studio, a proper room on the
side of the house, proper acoustically treated, and it's the
first time I've had a really special room. And of
course it's all been made dogby atmost compatible, which is
great to be able to do that. So I've been
enjoying eighteen months being home, being married, being with the kids,

(01:32:04):
um doing a lot of work in the studio, and
not having to worry about motivating myself to go out
on the road, although I'm beginning to miss that obviously,
I am, and that's a big part of what I
love to do well. Are you the type of person
who works strict hours or you're getting to run and
you might work till two in the morning, or you
start for dinner at a specific time. I have a

(01:32:26):
pretty good work ethic, you know. So the answer is
the answer to your question is the latter. I do
have a kind of time. I kind of go to
the studio around midday and I will work to about
seven or eight in the evening, and then I'll stop
to have dinner with my family, and then after that
I'll spend the evening with my wife, watching TV, watching
a movie, listening to records. So the days of me

(01:32:46):
I used to I think I used to do that
thing of going through till two in the morning. But
those days, you know a lot of people say that,
don't they As they get older, I think they stopped
doing that burning the midnight all thing and getting some
more of a a routine. And I'm in that stage. Now.
Let's go back to the new album. You have an
incredible marketing plan with people. Can see the air quote

(01:33:08):
your merchandise tell us about the generation of a thought
behind that. So the idea with the album was I've
always been fascinated by by this idea part, you know,
part of the what we've been talking about during this conversation.
This idea of trying to reconcile the idea of being
a professional musician by also being completely true to yourself

(01:33:29):
and having integrity, all that stuff. Blah blah blah. It's
a very hard, you know, tight rope to walk, and
it's always fascinating me. This idea of music is commerce.
How do you sell music? What is involved in selling music?
How do you how do you if you're a creative person,
how do you also get your brain to be involved
in the commercial side of things, selling yourself, schmoozing and

(01:33:50):
all that stuff we talked about. And I've been fascinated
by that. And one of the things I've been really
interested about is how what would it be like to
sell a piece of music in the same way that
apples are one of their products for example, um, and
what would it be like to almost remind the listener
relentlessly or the purchaser that they are involved in a
financial transaction when theyre buy a record. So kind of

(01:34:14):
riffing on that, I got together with the design and
we came up with this idea, why don't we parody
the world of high concept high design. This These companies
that buy a fifty cent T shirt put their logo
on it and then charge five dollars for it, like
a company like Supreme, for example, and people love that.
They love that, And what interests me about that is
how it means that the purchasing of a lot of

(01:34:37):
these items is no longer about the utility. It's about
the ownership. It's about the status of owning the item
rather than its utility. And I believe that applies very
much to my world. You thought we talk about these
deluxe edition box sets that are coming out of left,
right and center these days, and this seems like barely
a week goes past now and there's not ten more
deluxe edition box sets being announced. These are absolute utely,

(01:35:00):
I think, for most people about ownership rather than utility.
Most of the contents of these box sets you will
never listen to more than once. But it's nice to
have them. It's fun to have them. It's fun to
have the coffee table book. It's fun to have the
CD of Demos, it's fun to have the CD of
the Cleaned up board tape. It's fun to have the

(01:35:21):
CD of the alternate mix, where the only difference is
the backing vocals a bit further over to the left
hand side of the stereo spectrum. Jimmy Page, I'm looking
at you here with your led Zeppelin deluxe editions. It's
kind of fun to have those things, but actually what
you really need is the original album. That's all you
really need. Maybe a five point one makes if you're
into that thing too. So it's fascinating to me this

(01:35:41):
world where things have moved towards ownership rather than use,
and so we're kind of riffing off that with the
with these kind of what I call high concept, high
designer products. A can of air for two hundred dollars,
by the way, doesn't really exist. It's it's not what
I'm trying to say. You know, when you casual lookwards
say it's sold out, but in it should when you
click on there, there's like a laptop bag. Everything is

(01:36:04):
exorbitantly praised, and that's when you realize it's a joke.
It's a conceptual joke here, it's a conceptual gang. But
you know, but the point is that a lot of
these things are not completely ridiculous because there are I mean,
they are ridiculous, But what I mean is they're not
ridiculous in the sense there are companies out there that
really are marketing things that are not a million miles
away from these things. You know, paying a thousand bucks

(01:36:27):
for a pair of sneakers just because it's got a
particular logo on it. This is the kind of world
I'm talking about. And also the other thing that kind
of span off from this was this idea of the
sort of elitism of limited editions. So we did one
edition of the album, which is a limited edition of
one copy, and we put it on so and by
the way, this is real. This is not something we

(01:36:47):
was a gag. This was real. We created myself and
my designer created one a one edition, one sorry, one
copy edition of one version of the album. That version
of the album came in a big box which had
a seven inch single with the song of which only
one copy was pressed. It had it had my Grammy
certificate and Grammy Medal nomination, It had handwritten lyrics, basically

(01:37:10):
had a load of really exclusive stuff of which there
was only one thing, you know, one version of that,
and we put it on self a ten thousand pounds
with all the money going to the Music Venue Trust,
and it's sold out within five minutes, sold up within
five minutes. And I love that because it played it
kind of. Also, it's also playing on the idea of
music selling music in the same way that art sells

(01:37:33):
what it produces. So this idea that a painting or
sculpture is produced in an addition of one and that
one sells at a premium price. That's that's what basis
that the whole world of art is predicated on. You know,
you create one original piece, you sell it for an
exorbitant price, and then the person that buys it has

(01:37:54):
the choice to either share it by putting in an
art gallery, or they can hang it over their front
room and Frank hang it over their fireplace in the
front room, and no one ever else gets to see it.
That's their prerogative. And I was fascinated by what would
be And I know I'm not the only person to
do this. Woutan Clang did an album of one I
think one copy a few years ago, which I think
they sold from a million dollars. Uh, So I know

(01:38:15):
this is not a completely original notion, but but it
all kind of was riffing on this idea of elitism
and snobbery and the idea of ownership rather than utility. Okay,
a lot of people might be listening to this primarily
for your remixes. Obviously we've talked about the new album,
and you also said you have a lot of work.

(01:38:36):
If you wanted them to further explore your work, where
else should they look? I mean in terms of your catalog,
It's very hard to question to us, I've done so
many different kinds of records, So I mean, without knowing
what the sort of agenda, what the agenda of the
person you know that you'd be asking on behalf of
is in terms of what their tastes are, I couldn't say.

(01:38:57):
I think The Future Bites is probably my face record
of all the records have ever made. Now. I know
I say that every time I make a record, because
I do say that every time I make a record.
But there's something special about this record to me because
it sounds completely like me, but it's completely a record
of the now. It sounds like a record that could
only have been made now. It's very contemporary sounding record.

(01:39:19):
And I say that because I think a lot of
my previous records have got more of a nostalgic element
to them. If people are really into progressive rock, they
probably like my album Hand Cannot Erase, for example. If
people are really into metal, they probably like those early
Porcupine Tree Lava Atlantic records like Fear of a Blank Planet.
And in absentia, if people like more eighties pop stylings,

(01:39:40):
they might like my record to the Bone. So it's
a hard question to answer without knowing the taste of
the post involved, but I would say definitely. The current record,
The Future Bites, is a real landmark record for me,
and it's a very accessible but no less sophisticated because
of it record for him, A lot record, Okay, And

(01:40:02):
since we live in this playlist world, one track where
someone should start on the new album, Um, I really
like this song called Man of the People, which I
think is a beauty. It was in my head it
was going to be Marvin Gay collaborating with Pink Floyd.
And I know that sounds rather lofty aspirations to have
for someone like me who can't really sing anywhere near

(01:40:24):
like Marvin Gay, but that was it was kind of
in my head. I had this idea. I wanted to
do it almost like this kind of soul ballad, but
with the kind of production aesthetic of classic Floyd And
when you listen to it, that's kind of what it
sounds like, I think. And I'm really proud of that song.
Man of the People is beautiful song. I would go
with Personal Shopper, but that's okay. You're the person who

(01:40:46):
made the record, you know. I love the whole record.
I'm so proud of everything. It's like trying to choose
one of your you know, your favorite child. I love
them all. I love Personal shop is great to Yeah,
and I've loved talking to you. Know. It's funny until
you actually connect someone, you have no idea what they're like.
I had no idea. As I say, you were so
erudite and articulate. There are many people who are musicians

(01:41:07):
who really can make it but not really talk about it.
And I can see why you have this podcast, and
I would love to argue with you about some of
these records, but I think we've come to the end
of the feeling we've known for today, so Steve and
I want to thank you so much for doing this pleasure.
I had a lot of fun Bob is great to
talk about a lot of stuff that I don't normally

(01:41:28):
get to talk about because I've been I'm on the
intervilled interview treadmill right now for the future. BIS and
questions are always the same, so it's been great to
have some different things to talk about. Thank you for that.
It was great. I'll leave it at that until next time.
This is Bob left sets
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