What in your mind distinguishes you from
other guitarists who put out records with
chops for days?
The problem is that there are so many guitar
players nowadays that love to use their home
studios and spend hours and hours on their
solos. I’m an old school guy sonically. I’ve got
to use a real studio. You never listen to your
amp with your ear down near the amp. You
listen to your amp in the room. The best studios in town, like Capitol Records and Sunset
Sound and some of these old school places,
have amazing rooms. We mic the amp, but
we also mic the room. That’s the sound of
the guitar and that’s what I want to hear. I’m
not a home studio guy. I pretty much just do
little demos for myself on an old hard drive
recorder, and mic amps and mic acoustic guitars and work out parts, so I rarely have to use
a real studio.
So instead of my records costing $5000 to
$6000, they cost $25,000 or $30,000. Which
is dangerous nowadays in this climate where
people aren’t buying CDs—they’re downloading. But that’s ok, too.
The sound on your records is very organic.
I never use plug-ins, and I always mic an amp
no matter what. I like to mic it through some
of that old API gear that they have at Sunset
Sound, but I’m paying two hundred bucks an
hour (laughs) so it’s a little dangerous. You
want to be able to listen to it five to ten years
from now and say, “Man, this still holds up,”
whereas that plug-in stuff may not.
When I go into the studio, I have four to five
hours to get this tune completely in the bag.
That means the 12-string part, the Gretsch
part, the SG part, the two acoustic parts and
the solo. The modern art of the guitar record
sis in the orchestration, because at some point
everybody’s got monster chops.
I was listening to Greg Howe’s new record
and thinking, “Oh man, this guy’s chops are
insane!” There are a lot of people on a level
that’s pretty high in terms of that. Now it
becomes, how do you layer? How do you
orchestrate? My concept has always been,
“How do I pick who’s going to be Frank
Sinatra? Which guy is going to have that main
voice?” On those Frank Sinatra records the
whole orchestra comes in and it’s beautiful.
There’s this huge level of glorious sound. Then
Frank comes in and it’s even more glorious!
So when you’re orchestrating all the guitars
you have to figure the rhythm part is going to
be this clean Strat, but I’m going to back it up
with this acoustic. I’ll put the Strat in the