Hi David, I'm glad that you were able to find time in your
busy schedule to talk to us.
Phd: It's my pleasure to be here Clinton, I'm never too busy
when given the opportunity to impart my musical acumen on
the next potential generation of great music producers.
| CT: Your
approach to producing has been talked about in the industry
for years, and some would say that you have a reputation for
being difficult to work with in the studio. How have you responded
to this criticism and do
you feel that it's justified in any way?
||DP: If by "difficult"
people mean a perfectionist, I agree. If you're a mediocre
bunch of musicians that want to put a CD out so there friends
will idolize them, then maybe I'm not the guy you want to
work with in the studio. But if you're looking to take your
music to the next level, and you're willing to check your
ego at the door, then maybe I can help you externalize your
| CT: Can
you takes us through your process for working with a band
in the studio?
||DP: Before we ever pick
up an instrument, I like to get to know the band on a more
spiritual level; what are their likes and dislikes, what is
their favorite time of day, what bands do they listen to.
I may bring the band in two or three times for these pre-sessions.
Once I feel like I have the psyche of the band mapped out
it's time to get to work and figure out how to realize perfection
from potentially a number of misguided preconceptions the
band may have about what they think the album should sound
| CT: That
seems a bit rigid, shouldn't you be taking what they already
have and "polishing" it?
||DP: I don't think so. I
mean that's the way a lot of producers work these days but
I have a very different view about what my role is in the
creative process. The problem is that bands can become so
bogged down in their "sound" that they sometimes
can't see the forest through the trees. What I bring is an
open mind, and soul, with my only intention being to make
something that kicks ass.
| CT: Please
continue talking about your methods in the studio.
||DP: The next step is I sit
down with the band in front of a big whiteboard and have them
write down the album title at the top, in large letters and
underlined. Then under this I have them write down all of
the song titles in their preferred order. I'll then spend
the next couple of hours rearranging the order of the song
titles. It's also not uncommon for me to make some modifications
to the album or song title names.
| CT: How
is the band participating with you during this step?
||DP: I usually ask that they
remain in the room, but also remain silent. I like to get
a stream of consciousness thing going and any outside distractions
tend to block me. Once the songs are in the most optimal order
I can start to try to visualize the album as a whole, how
it should flow thematically. At this point were ready to start
working on the music.
| CT: So
do you have the band play you the songs live or do they bring
demo tapes? Do you prefer acoustic or electric when hearing
the songs for the first time?
||DP: Oh, it's nothing like
that. Remember that I'm approaching this thing from a much
higher plain. What I'll typically do at this point is I'll
pull out a guitar, and yes I do prefer acoustic, and I'll
play the band my interpretation of what the songs should sound
| CT: How
can you possible do that if you haven't heard the songs yet?
||DP: I'm pretty much improvising
as I go along. I mean not all of it's written in stone but
I can pretty reliably nail them the first time through.
| CT: How
do the bands typically respond to this? I would imagine that
many musicians might take offense to a complete stranger telling
them how their songs should sound. I mean how can you possibly
write lyrics that might be representative of the kind of messages
the band wants to communicate?
||DP: Don't forget that I
spent a lot of time with the band prior to this getting to
know them. After working in the business for all these years
I guess you just get a feel for things, and how they should
sound. I mean it's not as if I'm telling the band to throw
away their original versions, I'm just giving them an alternative
view. But believe me, more often than not we end up using
the versions that I came up with.
| CT: So
the bands don't mind giving up their creative control on this
||DP: We may disagree on which
version is the best, but I can usually wear them down and
get my way. I mean I AM the producer.
| CT: What
about the recording sessions, what recording techniques do
you employ and how do you utilize the band in the studio.
Is it a relaxed fun environment that promotes creativity,
or are you more structured in your approach?
||DP: I can't really tell
you much as far as mic placement, the kind of mics, instruments,
or amps that we used. I mean I wouldn't know the difference
between a U87 or SM57. I leave all of that crap up to the
engineer, and I only work with the best. I've recently been
working with Timothy
Corn on a project. He's kind of a legend here at Birdhouse
Records. My concern, and area of expertise, is to get the
band in the right frame of mind to make a masterpiece. I don't
want them relaxed like it's their day off, I want their mentality
to be tuned to their inner rock-n-roll self. Because of this
I have a number of non-negotiable rules. The first one is
that all band members are required to dress like they would
for any major gig. If somebody shows up in shorts, t-shirt,
and sandals, they get sent home to change. Secondly, I've
found that to get that "live" energy, a band has
to recreate that feel in a controlled environment. Because
of this the Birdhouse studio is outfitted with a full complement
of stage lighting and smoke machines. We experimented with
pyrotechnics, but we found that with the noise, as well as
the fire hazard, it was just impossible.
| CT: How
do you interact with the individual band members as you work
on a specific instrument. Do you ever use studio musicians,
and if so does that cause problems with the band?
||DP: I don't think about
the individual when I work on a project. For me the only names
I use in the studio are "drummer", "guitar
player", "singer", etc. If I'm working on a
particular song then it's pretty much point and say "You're
the drummer", "You're the guitarist". That
might be a band member, or it might be a session guy that's
hanging around. The songs usually dictate who's gonna play
what. There have been times when I end up using session musicians
on all of the tracks, even the vocals.
|CT: So what
your saying is that their might be songs on the album that
you write and record with a completely different set of musicians
than the band?
||DP: If that's what it takes
to get it right, sure!
|CT: What about
your musical likes and dislikes. What are some of your favorite
||DP: I actually don't really
listen to music much. I never have. To me music is something
that I'm trying to externalize. I want to draw it out of my
being. Listening to music means taking it all in to yourself,
giving yourself preconceptions about what things should sound
like, how they should feel. It's too limiting.
|CT: Well thanks
again for taking the time with us, it was very informative.