The Buddha Den

Everything you wanted to know about the Dayton music scene and more but were afraid to ask

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

INTERVIEW: The Breeders (Part 2 of 5)

...picking up where we left off yesterday, here's the second part of The Buddha Den Interview with The Breeders...

TBD: That leads me to another question: I saw that when Mountain Battles came out, the whole All Wave recording thing…

Kim: You know, it was rough because it was completely All Wave, that means even the mastering, and the record itself.

TBD: So, I went back to refresh my memory, do me and my readers a supposed favor: What exactly is entailed in the All Wave process?

Kim: OK. Analog comes from the word analogous, so analog is analogous to a sound in the room. A natural sound of me pushing the airwaves and tickling your three bones in your ear. Vibrations. So analog music is analogous to that soundwave and vibration. So analog recording would be me speaking into a microphone or an amplifier hitting a diaphragm in a microphone, which is your ear bones, setting the diaphragm into a vibration and the electrical current going and being captured. Still, in the dimension of time… this is what I say, in the dimension of time, but analogous to the current, the ions, the magnetized oxide, and then capturing that electrical current onto a surface, so that when you play it, if you fast forward it, it speeds up. It’s based in, I think it’s based in the dimension of time. That’s what I think. But it’s even more than that. You’ve got it on a reel-to-reel, right? You’ve got this reel-to-reel. So then you take it to this mastering place and then you cut the lathe. Well, a lot of times nowadays, people will cut the lathe after it’s been transferred over to an analog-to-digital conversion. It’s easier to do it then. But it’s already being cut from a digital conversion. Honestly, I didn’t think it was gonna be that fucking big of a deal but it’s really hard to find people that will just take the tape and just make the record from the tape. There’s only like two or three places left in the world that can do it.

TBD: It’s getting better though.

Kim: Actually no.

TBD: Really? Is it getting worse? I’d heard there were starting to be more people getting into that.

Kim: More people are cutting records, only off of the digital music [source].

TBD: That’s unfortunate.

Kim: Is it? No. I don’t know. I mean, if it’s that hard…Honestly, if it’s that hard…I didn’t know it was that big a deal, man…But yeah, it is.

TBD: The other angle of [All Wave] from what I remember reading about it was that it was all about everyone playing together in a room. But there were overdubs, right?

Kim: Yeah, there were overdubs. It’s just the nature of playing. Remember in 93 right after that what did you hear about all the time? ADAT. Oh my god, the Hi-88s? Remember that?

TBD: They sucked.

Kim: They sucked so hard. But you know, all the engineers talked them up like they’re the best thing, and they’re not. They’re shit. They were then. And they were new.

TBD: Yep.

Kim: Anything new out of the box with the peanuts, the guys love. It doesn’t mean it’s good gear, they just love it, because it’s new.

TBD: It has nothing to do with real [unintelligible]….

Kim: It’s just them having something new to play with. So the digital and analog, again it’s just now it’s something even totally different from back then. Remember the engineers would say that it’s 66 times the sampling rate? They would try to draw it on the wall, as if digital recording is a better sound than analog recording? I had to deal with that. A lot people won’t even say that nowadays, it doesn’t even matter. It’s digital or analog. Nobody compares the sound anymore. It’s just what you’re used to and how you like the song or not, it doesn’t really matter. But what does matter, kind of, is the programming involved in digital music. There’s still something about sitting down with good friends and actually playing something. A lot of times, bands, even rock bands, can’t even do that because it’s all programmed. A lot of it is programmed with noises that don’t exist in real life. Which can be superfun…[imitates weird sounds]…it’s really to listen to. But, then are you gonna go see them play. I dunno, because it only exists on that spacebar, that hit, it can only exist right then on that file. It is an interesting thing and it’s not something that I’ve just had to come to terms with now. Back in 93 even, the minute you decide if you’re gonna have a second guitar come in the whole way to make a song sound better, it’s time to start thinking about what kind of live band, if you are gonna be a real band, that one wants to be. Because if you crunch the second guitar in because the song’s basically not good enough, honestly, and it needs that, then I would try to make the song better. An easy fix is something to add something for sugar or something, it super works easy and it really works a lot. But, ok, if you look in the room and you can tell that nobody on the stage is gonna be able to play that part, then you’re gonna be the band that plays that song without that part and you’re gonna be that band that’s playing that kind of sucky song because you didn’t fix the song, that moment on the record. So that happens every moment, and it’s not just because digital’s here. Think of the choices that bands are making nowadays. They actually have like 92 tracks up, but their fronting like they’re a rock band, which is fine. But am I gonna go see them play because I’m supposed to like them for who they are and it shouldn’t matter if I fell in love with their record, ‘Hey man, they’re artists, they don’t have to reproduce their record.’ Because they’re artists…I dunno, all of sudden they need 92 tracks to make a good record, but when I go see them play live I’m not supposed to hold their performance up to what they played, or didn’t play?

TBD: There’s a disconnect.

Kim: Exactly. For me, there’s no specific yes or no answer, I just take each individual case. I don’t know. It’s not just programming. Like I said, people with huge guitars, they better be able to repeat that huge guitar sound on stage. What’s weird is that even back in the old days in the 90s when Nine Inch Nails played Lollapalooza and they would destroy their gear, I never saw the show, but I would suggest to them, the guy who just rocked the Nine Inch Nails set, I would suggest to him if Trent Reznor or the keyboard player just destroyed their keyboard, what were you listening to? [It was] blowing their mind, thinking that actually that was a show and they were actually playing music, but the music was taped or looped or whatever the kids are calling it nowadays. It was a sample or such. So I don’t know, do you wanna be in a band where the drummer’s wearing headphones? It depends. Some people don’t have any problem with that at all. Do you wanna be in a band where one of the instruments onstage is a laptop? Not even pretend laptop, a synth, a keyboard, I’m talking about a real laptop, and you’re not a DJ, you’re gonna call yourself a rock band. Then, I dunno. I’m kinda weirded out by that. I dunno.

TBD: So you’re just purist is what you’re saying.

Kim: I don’t know. I kinda just like to know what it is. Maybe I shouldn’t like to know. I don’t know.

TBD: It’s a completely different thing. I hosted a show last Saturday night at South Park Tavern…it had two laptop guys.

Kelly: That could be really good….

TBD: …and I thought it’s….

Kim: …It is what it is…

TBD: Would I rather see a band get up there and kill it? Yes, but….

Kim: …it’s too expensive for a band to get up there and kill it.

TBD: They can’t rehearse.

Kim: They can’t rehearse. Now the two laptop guys can send files back and forth to each other and their lunch break from their real job.

TBD: And that’s what it is. No one has time to be a rock band anymore…

Kim: No, because their music is free and they can’t ever pay that back. It’s weird. It’s like it’s not the first time it’s like that. Animotion and all the MIDI stuff was programmed…Thompson Twins….

TBD: It goes way back.

Kim: Yeah, it does.

TBD: It’s just technology.

Kim: It is. I’m not saying it’s bad, I didn’t want be [that]...just because it’s trendy. Hell no.

TBD: So how much of that working model accounts for your schedule as far as releases and stuff like that? The fact that you work hard enough that to make sure that when you put it out, it’s exactly the way you want it to sound, so that when you play it…

Kim: That we can actually play it.

TBD: …How much of that All Wave working model do you think factors into it?

Kim: I don’t know. You know, a lot people don’t even work on their music, they just send it to producers. Even rock bands it to producers nowadays. They don’t have a drummer, these are just front people, they’re personalities, they’re entertainers. They have a team of people working on it. They’re taking the instrumentation from somebody else. They don’t have to worry about rehearsals and working on an album. The producer has the music, or an idea of some music. They schedule the studio. They’re just like, ‘Kyle, we’ll be ready for you day after tomorrow.’ Then they’ll sit down with and you will have gotten a file already of some of their ideas. You’re supposed to take your diary, your journal, from your last tour about how you felt. You’ll come in and talk about how lonesome it is being you or whatever. You only need to say a couple of lines and then ‘Thank you very much’, because I’ve got your voice and I can just put it wherever and I want and you’re done. It’s really not a question of how fast it takes you. And Kelly and I are ready to work with you at any time…

TBD: Nice to know. I was shopping for a producer…

Kim: That might have something to do with something…

Kelly: …and the fact that there isn’t really an impetus anymore. There’s not a music industry anymore. I’m not being like ‘Oh, the good old days…’. There just isn’t. The huge people like Madonna and U2 aren’t trying to be punk rock when they don’t sign with the record label. It signifies that it doesn’t exist anymore.

TBD: There’s no value to it.

Kim: Absolutely none at all.

TBD: Why wouldn’t I just put it out myself?

Kim: Exactly. And putting it out, why wouldn’t I just give it away myself? That’s all it is: promo. It seems. I don’t think it’s the coolest. Kelly said that she doesn’t know what the answer is, but free probably isn’t the answer.

TBD: It was a legitimate point. At the level you guys are at, you should be able to sell a record.

Kelly: Anymore when you think about it, it’s so interesting, like recording. Granted we did record at the big analog studio that is apparently no longer valid anymore. Do you know the guy who’s sitting there, it’s not like he came after his day job. That’s his job. He has child, a newborn by the way.

Kim: A wife

Kelly: He actually needs to pay his rent. So, if music is free, then how do we pay him? Then obviously you shouldn’t be in an analog studio, you should be downstairs. Then it just tells you what it can be.

Kim: It’s actually telling us what we can do. And the only thing we can do is laptop it and give it away for free. Which is like, you know, it’s fine, we can do that. Whatever. If that’s what’s left, okay...

TBD: Well how disappointing is that to you guys as far as a working model?

Kim: You know it was more disappointing in 2002 [for Title TK] and stuff thinking, ‘It’s not gonna go there! No!’ And now that it’s there, eh, it’s like five years late.

Kelly: The idea of being a musician and the excitement of being on the road and setting up your gear and getting your guitar and that string, yeah it needs changed, but man, it sounds good like it is and all these little minor things, the smell of stale beer and all that, is so awesome. Rolling into a new city and seeing…what do the cool people wear in Stockholm? Ooh, I wonder if they’re considered or oh god, that’s eastern European fashion? All that really cool stuff. So what you’re telling me is instead of that whole thing, you’re telling me that I have to go back to when I was working at the defense contractor in a cubicle in front of a terminal, and that’s gonna be job? Sitting in Kim’s basement in front of Pro Tools? And that’s how I make music? I can’t do it….

Kim: It’s interesting actually that somebody said that they went into a studio, it was Sony or Universal…not a studio, a record label. Not me, I didn’t. Somebody on the coast in L.A. had gone back into the Universal record label building and all that was left was a line of interns sitting at these tables in front of laptops and all they were doing is they were blogging and what is it called…when you search engine shit to the top?....they’re doing promotions. They’re doing marketing. By marketing and promoting, what they’re doing is they’re saying…

Kelly: …the record’s out…

Kim: They’ll get in people’s blog and talk about it. You’ve seen people, I’ve seen people, say ‘Oh my god, get them out of here! I know what they’re doing: Oh, I was just wondering if you guys have heard the new….

Kelly: …Dresden Dolls…

Kim: …yeah, or something. [They say] ‘It’s really great!’, and that’s they’re job, and somebody said ‘If that’s the record business now, I don’t think I ever would’ve wanted to be a part of that.

TBD: It has nothing to do with music.

Kim: It doesn’t seem very exciting, does it? Sitting in the laptop to just sneak, not sneak, but to just drop the name over and over again.

Kelly: Do you think people that used to drive like that Sissy Spacek movie, Coal Miner’s Daughter, where dude got in the car and went from radio station to radio station…

Kim: That sounds cool.

Kelly: I mean, OK, the advent of the telephone…

Kim: There was the telephone back then…

Kelly: I know.

TBD: Maybe not in Appalachia…

Kim: No, but I tell you what the period of time reminds me of: it was in the 40s when Columbia [Records] had to rely on…

Kelly:…back in my day…

Kim: I read the book, it was about Hank Williams and back in like ’38 to ’40 the unions, the musician’s unions, went on strike because there’s [affected voice] new-fangled thing called the record [end affected voice] and it could capture musical performances and you’re saying that if you use that then that’s gonna be my job. And they probably went ‘You want this thing? You want this record?’ That’s not how the real thing sounds. This is totally different than the real thing. Anyway, they weren’t getting paid because of [these records], so they formed a union. And what happened? Columbia said ‘Fine. Go start a union. Fuck ya’ll. We got two years of records in the vaults and for two years the only records that were coming out…there were no musician work from Columbia and all they were doing was putting records out from the vault. That’s how the musician’s union started.

Kelly: Interesting…we need to start a union…

Kim: [laughs] an added bonus, here's a clip of Kim and Kelly working on the handscreening for Fate to Fatal...



Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can't believe i just read that whole thing...

see you tomorrow.

3:03 PM  
Blogger semicolon said...

Nice to see even famous daytonites find a way to throw mud on me.

11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


8:14 AM  

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