I think the ’80s really twisted peoples heads. Folks sold a lot of records
back then. But not too many of them will stand the test of time. I want
to make records that are timeless, that you can play whether you’re 80
years old or 25. That simplicity helps that happen—it gives you a more
No matter what size
amp I use, I’m gener-
ally trying to find that
sweet spot where the
overdrive—the tube or
speaker or combination
of both—is constant but
it still reacts well to
If there’s too much over-
drive, the fuzz pedal
farts out, and if there’s
not enough the clean
sound is too wimpy.
It must have been different working in a hip-hop environment on
the Blakroc record. What did that teach you about other possible
roles for guitar in production?
The approach we took on Blakroc was really influential on Brothers.
We started most of those tracks with bass and drums, which carried
over to this record. That influenced the overall sound of the record
and the way the guitars went on. I don’t think any hip-hop record has
been made that way. We started writing the songs in the morning, finished them in the afternoon, and the rappers came in at night. They’d
spend a couple of hours working on lyrics, cut the lyrics, and that was
it. Song done. Hip-hop is so alive—and it comes alive even more in
that kind of environment. Watching [Wu-Tang Clan MC] Raekwon—
who could essentially write a film treatment in 45 minutes and then
put it to a really raw backing track—felt like what it must have been
like to hang out with Dylan or something.
You once mentioned learning a lot from watching videos in your
Yeah, I used to get videos from the library—blues and bluegrass guys—
and just watch how they did it. Watch their hands, pause it, rewind,
replay, over and over again for hours. I remember getting [Les Blank’s
1967 documentary film] The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins, and
watching it was just humongous for me.
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