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To most of our readers, the multi-talented, multi-skilled Jon Carin needs no introduction. For those who need a clue, He's a member of the touring and studio bands of: Pink Floyd (A Momentary Lapse of Reason, on which he co-wrote “Learning to Fly”, and the follow up album, The Division Bell, and their accompanying tours), David Gilmour (On An Island album and tour), and Roger Waters (In The Flesh tour, since then a key part of his band on and off the stage). He also performed with the reunited Pink Floyd at Live8 at London's Hyde Park in 2005.
We caught up with Jon for a truly fascinating, in depth interview asking about these things and much more - and included are some of the questions received from Brain Damage readers!
How did your involvement with PF begin? How did you feel when you started this relationship?
I met David at the Live Aid rehearsals in 1985. We were both very recently out of our respective bands (his, slightly more well known than mine) and probably wondering what to do with the rest of our lives. I immediately liked him. He had a quiet confidence, and a warmth about him. He said a lot without saying a lot. And musically, staggeringly good. An effortless, natural musicality that you could easily fool yourself into thinking you could do yourself until you hear people try, and you just sort of think “oh shit”.
When he reformed Pink Floyd and we had made the record, I declined the offer to tour to Steve
O'Rourke three times because I didn't want to be a session musician. I wanted to continue being an artist. I was essentially a child. Very young. I thought I'd be selling my soul. Or, leasing it out for an unspecified amount of time, anyway. My friends, family and manager at the time convinced me that Satan was highly underrated, genteel and misunderstood. How right they were... I think.
While performing with Roger and David, what are the differences you see in how they both approach playing the Floyd classics? What are the differences in performing with each of them?
If I were to generalize, because that is all I can do here, I would say with Roger, the emphasis is on the actual song. The nuts and bolts of the message of the song, and the mechanisms of relaying the message to the audience. He tends to break the song down to its molecular level to make sure he is getting the most out of it he can. And how it relates to the theatre of the show as a whole. He wants to know, actively, what everyone is playing and rely on that exact performance night to night. Without any alteration. We are treating the Floyd material reverently, almost as one would treat a classical piece. As close to the original as possible, which is very flattering to how perfectly the original records were produced by the band.
With David, the emphasis is entirely based on vibe or feeling. What will move you on an emotional level. The vessel that carries the song, or the emotional content of the music and the voice. He allows his intuition as a consummate musician to guide him, through his personal taste. He likes it real, if you will. He will only instruct if he hears something that jars him. You are already there
because he has chosen you for your taste and there is a level of trust there. And some of the most
exciting moments are the dangerous ones where you are allowed to explore the outer reaches of your
talent. It is an extremely relaxed, laid back feeling. Like much of the best parts of the music.
What is fascinating to discover about any music is that the actual songwriting is only a part of the picture as a whole. A vital part, but a part, nonetheless. You can have an incredible arrangement of a mediocre song and a weak arrangement of a great song. You can also make a mediocre song appear great, simply through arrangement and performance. Is it a great record or is it a great song? What I like about Pink Floyd records is that they are, like Beatle records, the definitive versions of those songs. I’ve never heard them improved. By anyone.
How did you manage the hectic schedule this summer performing with David and Roger?
I decided ahead of time it would be a test. I swim every day and drink heavily. Seriously, I found the shifting of gears and different energies fascinating, and a real test of my own mettle to deal with the intricacies of how delicate the situation was. But the real story is I missed my beautiful daughter terribly. After a week of not seeing her, I was ready for the sanitarium. I had stayed home for the first four years of my daughters' life, so leaving to go anywhere was like having a piece of me torn out. I longed for a family life for many years, and I value it very deeply.
How does it feel taking part on a long tour? Is it difficult to be creative or motivated on certain nights? How do you keep up?
Being on a long tour is an interesting thing. It is a bit like that wonderful Bob Dylan quote “I'm determined to stand whether God will deliver me or not.” You go out every night and do your very best, and hope you will transcend. It's not always in your hands. So many factors dictate your level of performance. Are you tired? Are you in tune with yourself tonight? But also, are the acoustics strange? Are you hearing properly? It is random. You can feel great and have an odd show, you can feel fed up and have an incredible show. Middle of the road anything is bad news. I have seen Pete Townshend manipulate the tone of his energy before a show to the point where it is as if he can create fire with only one stick and no friction. But you can only be as good as you are allowed to be. If you are given a little freedom, those are the true moments of beauty. No one can create magic in a box. Musicians don't operate well treated as farmed veal. Better to choose musicians that love and respect your music, and just 'get it'. And a little danger is good.
On a sad, related note, we lost one of the best monitor sound men in the business, John Roden, recently to cancer. What a lovely, lovely person and what fantastic sound he supplied to us on the On An Island tour. I don’t think I ever heard stage sound like that before or after. Incredible. He also brewed fresh Espresso onstage, so you would walk on each night for soundcheck and be transported to a small Italian café. I miss him very much although I only knew him for a short time.
When preparing to play with the Floyd live, is/was it a challenge finding the right synth patch to use, faithful to the recordings? Or did Rick Wright keep detailed notes on his synths?
Programming is something that has always come very naturally to me. I hear a sound in my head or on a record and match the tone. I know how to do that easily. With Pink Floyd, there wasn't much synthesizer 'programming' involved on those classic records. Well, slightly less than one would think. It is misleading. The choices are made more in the sense of which instrument is used, rather than knob twiddling. Farfisas, Solinas, Hammonds, Rhodes, Wurlitzers, Pianos have preset sounds. They may have added a Binson echo, wah wah, Leslie speaker, flanger, Uni-Vibe etc. And the
synthesizers are fairly easy to imitate if you know what you are doing. David's Lap Steel work
itself is like a synthesizer texture at times. Incredible.
I started on a Synthi AKS in my school when I was 11 or so. I was very lucky to have an incredible
teacher called Henry Sweitzer who taught Music Concrete, synthesis on a Synthi AKS and tape
manipulation. It is the only real formal training I had. Musically, I am self taught and I play
entirely by ear. So I know that synthesizer inside and out, and my work with the Floyd is a natural extension of my own taste and training, in a way. So I know Minimoogs, Synthi AKS, VCS3, Prophets.
But many of the interesting sounds on Floyd records utilize some form of Musique Concrete. For example, the drone on the front of Shine On is made from tuned wine glasses mixed with Solina and
Minimoog. The engine room recordings on the front of Welcome To The Machine. The double speed piano and hi hat bit in the middle of See Emily Play, the machine loop on the 1st breakdown of Sheep, backwards / forwards Farfisa on Dogs and Sheep, dogs barking through vocodors, tape loops of
various voices, tape delay, a piano note through a Leslie going “ping!”. Good ideas are usually the simplest. Assembling them into a show is another thing.
One of the great things about an album like The Dark Side Of The Moon, for example, is what is NOT
played. The way instruments appear and then GO AWAY! Sometimes for great periods of time. The Hammond Organ enters for the first time on the “Run rabbit run” line in Breathe and then goes away until the middle of The Great Gig In The Sky, then doesn't reappear until Us & Them, then goes away until Brain Damage/ Eclipse. It is only on 4 songs on the whole record. The Farfisa Organ is used instead on Home and Time, and there is NO Hammond at all on Home, Time, Money and Any Colour You Like. It would kill it to have it on those tracks. Space is key. Playing to simply fill a hole is one of the most irritating traits a musician can possess. If you have nothing to play for a minute or two, leave the stage, if necessary.
As far as Rick keeping notes on the sounds goes, the truth is he is much more a player that a
programmer. When we do the albums and tours, I supply him with all of the sounds he plays. I think we both feel this frees him up to be able to just play and not have to concentrate on the technical side at all.
In the AOL music sessions videos, you describe David Gilmour's guitar playing style very well. How would you describe Roger's style as a bass player?
Roger is a great bassist. And what that means to me is that he has entirely his own sound, and the
rhythm section of Roger and Nick is fantastic. “Professional musicians“ would probably tell you otherwise, but they don't know what the fuck they are talking about. Just so it is clear, I can't stand 'musos'. That rhythm section is hypnotic and has a sensuality and simplicity that makes everything you sit on top of it sound 2000 times better. I am only interested in CHARACTER. “The strength and originality in a person's nature” is the official definition of the word. All of the members of Pink Floyd, past and present, have it in bucket loads. As you can tell when various members are missing from the picture, the structure tilts. It is so easy to misunderstand the chemistry of the sound and play it busier or harder or just plain wrong. It collapses. How would I describe Roger's overall style? Simple, concise, hypnotic and to the point with a minimum of
fucking about. He is also able to get tremendous amounts of bottom end out the bass while playing with a pick (plectrum), which is very unusual.
I recently read an interview where you bore some responsibility in putting together the 1994 Pink Floyd performance of Dark Side, how would you describe your role in helping that happen? And did that experience come in handy on the recent Roger Waters tour? (Which was outstanding btw, thank you for a superb performance)
Well, you can pretty much disregard anything from that article, as almost none of the quotes in it were actually said by me. I'm not prone to take credit for anything. I am trying to get better at it, believe me! Even this interview is a bit painful in that department; consequently, I tend to play down my contributions to the albums and tours. However, my natural role is sort of a musical director type, or a problem solver. I do it whether asked or not. The problem is entirely mine. I have a finished picture of the sound in my head and if what I am hearing doesn't match the picture, I go slightly potty. Hopefully, privately.
How much does your role change in the different bands? Do you play different parts/harmonies to the same song depending on which band? Do you have to use different sounds, or tweak your settings to
please David's ear vs. Roger's ear or is there a definitive "Pink Sound" to some songs that just "is"?
Yes, all of the above. Every time it is different. I always start from scratch. I observe the
situation and fill a void. There are obvious differences in the two shows. But, yes, all of the above, I sing different harmonies, play different keyboard, lap steel and guitar parts, use different sounds, all different to match the energy of the particular band I am playing with. There is nothing whatsoever in common with David's band and Roger's band. The musicians play with completely different feels, intents and velocities, so I tailor what I do accordingly.
Also, to point out, in case some fans have noticed, I am asked to sing lead vocals on occasion. And
these are obviously different with each band. With Roger, I sing the lead on Breathe, Home, Time, Us & Them, Brain Damage/Eclipse and Comfortably Numb. And on the last tour, Dogs. With David, I sang Hey You, and co-lead on The Blue, Take A Breath, Sorrow plus different harmony parts with different bands.
One example of a major difference of approach is on Comfortably Numb. David sings it so tenderly,
beautifully. With a sort of detached wisdom, really exposing the lyric of being freshly injected by the 'doctor' and rewinding, recalling painful memories of childhood in a half dream state. A light against Roger's dark verse. Well, when I went to sing that part on Roger's tour, the arrangement was being played so much harder and more aggressively than on the record, and there are 4 backing vocalists singing along, that I have to practically shout it out over the music just to hear myself, and this put a different slant on the lyric that is sort of interesting in its own way. A sort of desperation. I would love to deliver it like David, but I seem to be leaning more into the
Johnny Lydon arena.
What is your best memory related to your work with the Pink Floyd, David or Roger?
Hearing Learning To Fly on the radio for the first time, singing Dogs every night.
What is the worst, if any?
Singing Dogs with my father in the audience at Jones Beach. The line about 'dying of cancer'. He was dying of cancer at the time.
What were your personal feelings at Live8? What was it like taking part in the performance?
There is no way I can honestly talk about my feelings of Live 8 without hearing a voice screaming in my head that it wasn’t about my feelings of being at Live 8. If that doesn't make sense, I am sorry. I was way down the food chain of concerns that day. And rightfully so. I was just happy I could be a part of it and hopefully help the guys feel slightly more comfortable than they might have had I not been there. If Nick has already claimed the Henry Kissinger line, then I could certainly have passed for Kofi Annan (or Leonard Zelig, depending on who you talk to).
Otherwise, it was a major star fest backstage, without an utterance of Africa or poverty. Lots of people pointing and staring at Brad Pitt etc... I hope it did some good somewhere. I enjoyed the first one much more.
Although The Who were absolutely incredible.
What instruments did you play on each song at Live8?
Breathe, Home - Lap Steel, B3, Farfisa, Wurlitzer, high harmony vocal.
Money – Piano, Cash Registers, B3
Wish You Were Here – Lap Steel, Horn Synth, Piano, Vocal
Comfortably Numb – Lap Steel, Orchestra, Synth, Vocal
How would you describe the overall mood of that night? The interaction between the guys?
This is where I think I'll bail out and not comment on their 40 year history. I have my own 23 year history to think about.
What are your thoughts about Live Earth?
I got to meet Al Gore and he appeared to be a very genuine person, enjoying what seems to be a much higher calling than being the President of the United States. I wish him luck trying to save a planet that does not seem interested in saving itself. Shouldn’t we all be in the streets protesting... well, just about EVERYTHING???
Which songs from the Floyd catalogue would you like to perform that you haven’t performed yet?
A Pillow Of Winds, Chapter 24, Fearless, Nobody Home, Pigs, The Scarecrow, Lucifer Sam, Scream Thy Last Scream...
What is your favorite song to perform?
With David, Comfortably Numb. With Roger, The Fletcher Memorial Home or Dogs.
Which has been your favorite or significant concert, from either the Floyd, Gilmour or Waters tours?
Pink Floyd at Joe Robbie Stadium in Florida when my parents braved the torrential rain and cheered
from the audience with their friends.
Pink Floyd at Earls Court, October 1994. I came off stage and George Harrison, Michael Kamen and a huge crowd of others sang Happy Birthday to me.
Backstage at Madison Square Garden August 1988. Speaking to my grandfather on a payphone from
backstage. It was the last time we ever spoke before he died. He told me to enjoy my life. What
pressure! How the hell do you do that? I miss him.
My enjoyment of the shows themselves have nothing to do with location. A 'special' place doesn't dictate a special show.
After listening to Pink Floyd (and Roger's and David's original songs) for so long, how do you make those great songs your own? As a listener you may have certain kind of vision, but as a player, how do you get into those songs?
They are not my own. I try to inhabit the spirit in which they were made.
You got to visit some pretty interesting places on the Dark Side of the Moon Tour. What was your favorite city to visit and why? And the favorite crowd?
Well, Reykjavik was fascinating because of the way they utilize energy and conservation. Geothermal energy for heating etc. Very clean and very pretty. Lovely people. Adelaide for its bioorganic farming. I like places that are environmentally aware, as you can tell. It is a big interest of mine. Usually, wherever we are, I gravitate to the old towns. I think, as a generalization, modern culture leaves much to be desired. So when we were in Dubai, you see all of this modern rubbish that already looks dated, indoor ski runs in shopping malls etc., but there is a very pretty old town with spice markets etc... much more my speed.
Same with Istanbul, Malta. If you are competing with timeless architecture, then use that as your
yardstick for the new architecture. Wasn't Prince Charles advocating that at some point? I
completely agree. Shanghai was terrifying from the standpoint of pollution, sprawl, and complete
disregard for the future. I cannot put into words the hell that city has been allowed to become. And Hong Kong and Mumbai are close behind.
I came back to New York and it looked positively sanitized in comparison.
Which type of show do you prefer to play - large elaborate gigs or small intimate venues?
It is a cliché, but the indoor arenas, like Madison Square Garden, are probably the perfect place for this music. The lights, the visuals work the best, the sound is the best, there is space
backstage to breathe. Maybe not the vibiest, though. It is a tradeoff.
Having said that, I enjoyed the shows with David enormously. They had an intimacy and magic that I believe he was searching for after the huge stadium shows of the Division Bell tour. And he makes it incredibly difficult to ever play with another guitarist or sing with anyone else ever again. He is so incredibly good that it is easy to take it for granted because he does it so gracefully and so effortlessly and so eloquently. Without fanfare. When he plays and sings, he just makes THAT SOUND. I hope he doesn’t take another 12 year sabbatical.
Outdoor shows can be nice once in a while, but the sound tends to blow around and the lights and visuals don't look as good. Unless the Palace Of Versailles, or St. Marks Square in Venice or Red Square or Clam Castle or a breathtaking Amphitheatre in Vienne is your backdrop, of course.
There is a rumor spread across Chile that has already become a Urban Myth, about Pink Floyd coming to play The Dark Side of The Moon at a beautiful place called "Moon Valley" (Valle de la Luna), in the middle of the desert, where there is no better skies to see the moon. How do you feel about
playing at these kind of mystic places, like Pink Floyd did in Pompeii quite some while ago?
I hadn’t heard that rumor. Sounds lovely. I'll pack my bags. Speaking of things South American, I am more concerned that the people of Peru are not at all in touch with the lineage of Paddington Bear to their homeland. I searched high and low in Lima for a Paddington Bear shop, museum, statue, airport... it says right on his tag “From the deepest, darkest, Peru”! What gives?
But, I do wonder quite often if places hold energy or memories. You touch a 2000 year old wall and try to feel the people who have touched it before you. I have recorded in studios where people like John Lennon or Bob Dylan have worked and wondered about that. “They walked here, too.” Or even “Did they use this loo?”.
The Mojo Magazine Pink Floyd Special (2005) stated that the rudiment of "Learning to Fly" (presented by you to David Gilmour in 86) was originally inspired by the music of David Sylvian. Aside from being a Floyd fan for many years, I do like Sylvain's work very much and can see certain
parallels in the atmospheric qualities of his work and the Floyds. Could you tell me, which Sylvian song it was that inspired "Learning to Fly"? Are you a Sylvian fan yourself? Are there any other links between Sylvian and Floyd?
Sorry, but please throw that Mojo magazine in the trash. Or just carefully cut out my part of it with sharp scissors. It is filled with quotes from me that I never said. I did do an interview with that journalist about how A Momentary Lapse Of Reason and The Division Bell were made. We spent 2 days going over those albums track by track. Great interview. He chose not to print it and make one up instead. Weird.
The David Sylvian thing is close. Not a particular song, but the rhythm pattern is certainly
influenced by his brother Steve Jansen. Or Yukihiro Takahashi, even. That slightly disjointed,
quilt-like rhythmic pattern they do so well. With the parallel 5ths rising and falling in the
verses. I do like David Sylvian’s records a lot. Words With The Shaman, Rain Tree Crow, Brilliant Trees... fantastic.
Tell us more about your collaboration with former Psychedelic Furs frontman Richard Butler? How did it come about?
Richard is a dear friend. One of my best friends in the world. When he was living on St. Mark's Place in Manhattan, his building had a racquet ball court. Very old and tatty and always empty. When we had a few drinks, we would bring a guitar up there and sing. Usually David Bowie songs from Hunky Dory. When he would sing, softly and up close, he had the most fascinating tone. I wanted to make a record based around that tone. Later, he moved out of the city, near to where I was living, and we started to write, mostly for enjoyment at my house, and it started turning into a record.
What was your role in the making of that album apart from playing all the instruments?
We wrote everything together. I wrote all of the music and he wrote the lyrics. All just acoustic
guitar and voice. I recorded it that way, then erased the guitar and started to 'paint' sound around the bare vocal. I played all of the instruments, engineered, produced... all on very minimal
recording equipment. But very good equipment. A few very old valve mics, two great valve mic pres, RCA, EAR, Collins compressors, no Pro Tools at all. Rough mixes on a Mackie board. Very hand made. Very labor intensive.
We also braved enormously painful circumstances together during the making of that record. Both of our fathers died, and Richard was being forced to withstand super human amounts of pain from another situation, so our friendship and the music was our little sanctuary. A place we could go inside ourselves to deal with all of this. Not overly serious all the time. We aren't capable of that. Absolutely hilarious at times, oddly enough... And the music started to develop this feeling of being like medicine. Medicated, but brutally honest. Functioning like a modern blues.
Can you tell us about other personal projects that you have done?
Well, Trashmonk is a personal favorite of mine. Nick Laird-Clowes is another extremely dear friend. Very important person in my life. GREAT person. We made that record in his old flat on Ladbroke Grove in London. In the front room! The rule was, nothing allowed on the record that wasn't in that room. I played ashtrays, staple guns, a table for a kick drum we named 'Mama Africa', Chinese Banjo (whatever that is!) lots of bass, lots of acoustic guitar, lots of hand drums and percussion. Huge fun. Whenever I was in London for another project, I'd sneak over in the middle of the night and work on that record. He is my match in enthusiasm in all things “quest”!
Another is Martha Wainwright. She spent a better part of a year or more up at my house. Biggest favor I have ever granted anyone. No need for a 'thank you', Martha. We work-shopped the songs for her debut CD and I co-wrote The Maker with her. The one her brother Rufus sings on.
Tell us more about your various collaborations (The Who, Townshend, Eddie Vedder, etc)
I love Pete Townshend. I think he is an absolute genius and an extremely deep, creative person. Like the guys in Pink Floyd, an absolute one of a kind. But he is also completely underrated as a synthesizer pioneer (even though the songs his synthesizers are the most famous on are not actually synthesizers, they are home organs). I would work with him any time he asked me to. I produced a few albums for him, but I feel like what we started to tap into on some of the small shows we did was a doorway into something new for both of us.
Eddie Vedder, I think is fantastic, as well. I did a concert in 1994 at Carnegie Hall with Roger Daltrey and a star studded cast honoring Pete’s music. And Eddie Vedder came up and sang alone with his guitar, refused to be filmed and recorded and blew everyone off of the stage. A similar
revelation to the one I had with Richard Butler, in that I heard his voice in a new way. I still hear a whole record in my head based around Eddie's voice. Whenever Eddie has joined Pete and me onstage, it has been wonderful. Great guy. Deep music lover.
The Who is a different animal entirely. It is the one built on testosterone and adrenaline, with a Sufi undertone. Again, a lesson in chemistry. John Entwistle was the loveliest man. Quadrophenia was the biggest programming challenge for me in my entire career. Underneath that album runs a very deep subterranean river of synths and soundscapes, and none of it is what it appears to be. Pete scraping away on a violin triggering Arp synths, outboard motors in tune with the song, homemade vocoders, sometimes 8 or 9 elements happening at once. Every night it felt like my head would come off.
I have to say that The Concert For New York City I did after 9/11 with The Who was one of the most
emotional and rewarding nights of my life. A lot of uncertainty and fear in the air. And we went out and essentially carpet bombed the audience, who had just been weeping along to James Taylor minutes earlier. HUGE release for everyone’s anger and despair. Magic.
I got to meet Bill Clinton. God, I miss someone who can actually speak (and think) as our leader. So it was a real mix of magic and loss.
What are your plans after all of this touring? Will you be working on a new album?
I would really like to do a record of my own, but I don't want to waste my time doing it. I would love to know that there is an audience out there who will actually buy it and not just steal it on
Limewire or something. I can't support my family on the flattering thought that 10,000 people have stolen my record. I have it all done in my head, and would love to do it, though.
Other than that, I will be enjoying family life and chasing my yummy little daughter around and the other way around, and touring will seem 100 times easier!
Obviously you have been busy, but any chance of a Jon Carin tour? Perhaps with Richard Butler? If so, do you need another guitarist? ;)
I would have loved to tour the Richard Butler record. That is a real shame. Maybe in the future. The release date for that record kept getting moved closer and closer to David's tour, and I was
committed, for lack of a better word.
A Jon Carin tour? Would you come?
Can you describe what effect Music has had on you as a person and on your life in general?
Music is completely intermingled with my personal growth. It is an extension of my body and soul. From the moment I was old enough to have a thought in my head, it contained music. And just like life, it is illusive. Just when you think you have it all figured out, it shifts. The lesson is to always be a student.
What was your first synthesizer?
Synthi AKS and an Octave Plateau Cat. Not in that order.
You have frequently worked with other keyboardists on your various tours (Rick Wright, Rabbit Bundrick, Harry Waters). How do the two of you decide (in particular with Rick) which parts to play in each song?
Well, with Rick, he tends to stay on one sound for each song. So if it is Time for example, he just plays electric piano and I do the rest. If it is Shine On, he'll play B3, and I’ll do the rest. Same with Rabbit. He played piano and I did the rest. (I LOVE playing with Rabbit, by the way!!!).
With Harry, he is just starting out, so I use him to just fill out what my two hands and feet can’t reach, in the same way as when I hired Andy Wallace for the In The Flesh tour in 1999. I'll do as much as I can, and farm out the rest. Not out of disrespect, just because I enjoy covering a lot of ground. And I can actually do most of it myself. And Harry is really more of a jazz fan, anyway.
Was that really an old analog sequencer I saw Harry playing during 'On The Run'?
No. For the Dark Side tour with Roger, we are using James Guthrie's spectacular 5.1 mix of On The Run he did from the original master tapes as a bed. James is an absolute sonic genius (and a fantastic guy), so it would be pointless to try to top that mix, and it has to be perfectly in sync with the fantastic visuals Roger has prepared, so I am adding sounds over his mix, as well as effects Roger, James & I have added in the studio onto his mix. Roger bought the Synthi AKS as a gift for Harry to mess about with, but I haven't heard any noise coming out of it yet.
And we also have Graham Broad playing along, doubling the 16ths on the high hat and the heartbeat on the kick drum. I dare anyone to try that at home without needing oxygen.
While on the subject of James Guthrie, it is incredibly important to point out how his dedication to audio quality has virtually ensured that every Pink Floyd related release you buy is sonically
superior to any other artists' products. From his record productions to his recording, mixing and mastering, he is among the very best. He is the keeper of the audio flame. In a similar way to how
Storm Thorgerson is the keeper of the visual identity of the band (I could give you 10 paragraphs on Storm if pressed, I love him dearly). There are so many shortcuts taken in every step of the chain nowadays that we aren't even aware of that James is battling every day of his working life. “That'll do” is not in his vocabulary. He is the ears of the band and also my advice board every time I have a question about recording. Completely indespensible as a friend and Floyd compadre.
And he has made many projects much more enjoyable having shared the journey with him.
Tell us a bit about your use of Kurzweil keyboards. What do you find in them that makes them unique and your instrument of choice?
I have been involved with Kurzweil since the eighties. I love and support them without hesitation. They do everything I need them to do, and they are in the process of updating the things that need
updating. I won't get all techno talk here, but they are fantastic synthesizers (if you are willing to go deep) and samplers and general sound manipulators. Everything you hear me playing onstage is coming from those keyboards, and also the sounds that I program for Harry or Rick to use, as I supply them with all of the sounds they use, and they play my Kurzweils.
What is your main arsenal of instruments? Your “rig” if you will?
At home, that is a different story entirely. I collect vintage home organs, old radios, synths, mics, preamps, compressors, stringed thingies, all sorts of doppelgangers and doohickies that I won't name for fear someone will buy all of them up on Ebay.
What is your favorite instrument, the one that gives you the most pleasure?
Whatever instrument I am NOT playing is the one I always want to play. It's hopeless. If I am playing keyboards, I am feeling like I want to play the bass or get on the drum kit. I like to switch around and I like to move around. Like in The Band. Or The Beatles. That is honestly the way I assumed it would be when I was young. Being stationary at a keyboard rig makes me feel like I am working the catering table at a big party. The fun is always out... there!
What are your thoughts on Analogue vs. Digital? How do you see the role of technology in shaping how we connect with music?
Analogue, please, for sound. God, almighty, when I pull out tapes I worked on, pre digital, it makes me want to cry. SO much fatter, richer. Just better. Digital is great for editing, and what I do is use it as a painting canvas. I enjoy my digital mucking around tremendously, though. And hopefully the MP3 is a terrible temporary solution for lack of storage. Apple, please make me a 20 Terrabyte iPod that handles 96k / 24 bit WAV. files. It can be the size of a fridge. I don't care.
Are you involved in any way with Roger's work-in-progress solo album(s)? If so, can you tell us about it?
The last time we worked on it was during September 11 (THAT Sept. 11) in London. Great songs. I'm sure he'll get back to it when it feels right to him.
Can you give us an update on the progress of Roger's studio albums? What instruments have you
played so far on these tracks?
No, that would be a violation of the Recording Privacy Act of 1999. Code Red would ensue, and my
identity would be erased. Not worth the risk, sorry.
Have you been working with Rick Wright on his solo project?
I wasn't aware he was doing a solo project. I'll ask him about that.
Do you have any advice for young musicians, looking to become a success/starting out?
Not without sounding ridiculous. I had a plan, the plan got thrown out along with rule book.
Who are some of your all-time favorite pop/rock artists/influences?
Bob Dylan, Syd Barrett, The Beatles, Brian Eno, David Bowie, Cat Stevens, Slim Harpo, Talk Talk,
XTC…. Oh I give up. I'll print out my iPod Playlist at some point. Waaayyyy too many to mention. Just anything but Reggae.
As you know, the fans have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for you and your talents. How do you plan on staying connected with them while not working in Floyd land?
I didn't know that, but thank you for saying it. I don't know. You tell me. Carrier Pigeon? Waxed string and two cans? What do you suggest?
I have a MySpace page at www.myspace.com/joncarinartist and an official website at www.joncarin.com.
Also, one of our songs “Good Days, Bad Days” from the Richard Butler album is featured in the new movie “Things We Lost In The Fire” with Benicio Del Toro and Halle Berry which comes out on October 26.
Click here for the movie trailer, or visit the official movie site at www.thingswelostinthefire.com.
To buy the Richard Butler CD, use the following special links: Amazon US/International, Canada, UK/Europe, France, or Germany. Alternatively, you can download it from iTunes.
We all want to thank you for your time and your generosity in answering these questions! Any final words or thoughts?
Thank you for this Academy Award.
© Jon Carin 2007, for www.Brain-Damage.co.uk