2002 Soup Interview with Dave-English


> Dear Dave,


> First, let me introduce ourselves. I am writing on behalf of SOUP magazine.

> SOUP is a Russian language magazine that writes about indie rock music for

> more than 3 years now. So far it is the only source of information in

> Russian about indie rock and during the years certain popularity was

> achieved and we have many readers in Russia as well as in other countries

> including US and UK. Of course SOUP reviewed albums you worked on and

> earlier in 2001 we did an interview with Mogwai. And we admire your work a

> lot.


> We'll be very happy and grateful if you'll have some time answering general

> and more specific question below for the interview we would like to put

> on-line about you and your work. Please take everything with a bit of irony

> and sorry for any misunderstanding or misinterpretation we could have

> caused - English is not our native language.


> Thanks a lot.


> Alexey

> www.soup.aha.ru


> And here are the questions:


> Probably in the beginning you played in bands as a musician. What was the

> reason becoming a producer and sound engineer?

> Why did you quit Mercury Rev back in 1993?

I definitely wanted to be in a band first, but I had an interest in electronics also.  I thought that the best way to find other people in a band was to be an engineer.  I began to work on what would become Mercury Rev's first record while still a student in engineering college.  I enjoyed working in the studio with them, but I didn't really like the road too much.  In 1993, we decided that I wouldn't tour with them any more, but that we would still work together in the studio and we still do!


> After all these years can you describe your first work with another band as

> a sound-engineer?

I did a lot of live sound first.  I was a nervous wreck.  I think that the first live sound that I did was for a weekly acoustic night on campus.  You were doing alright if you could just keep the feedback down to a minimum.


> Are there records of the bands you didn't work with that you listen to and

> think: "I wish I had worked on such a beautiful record"?

Yeah, lots of them!  I am usually pretty satisfied with the records I work on, but it's hard to lose yourself in them for me.  I'm always amazed at other people's recordings.  I try to just enjoy them.


> When you listen to other rock albums do you think professionally (This can

> be done a bit different, this part is nicely recorded, etc.) or you try to

> relax and just take music as it is?

Usually I just listen and enjoy.


> What is the role of the producer that he plays in a band while recording

> process? Can he be considered as another member of a band?

I think that the most important thing is to fill the gaps.  I'll sound like a football coach, but you have to emphasize the positive, eliminate the negative, and pick up the slack wherever it may be.  I don't consider myself a temporary member of the bands that I work with.  I always try to have more perspective than that.


> Please name a few producers/engineers whose work you admire both as a

> professional and as a music fan.

Tony Doogan, Joe Barresi, Dallas Austin, Mutt Lange, too many to mention!


> Tarbox studio was mainly built by yourself and your partner and you still

> take care of all the equipment in it. Was it difficult and expensive to

> start and what was the main motivation?

Yes, it was difficult and expensive to start and still is!  Fortunately, the main motivation was and is to see my family more often.  That keeps me moving if I ever slow down!  I live sort of in the middle of nowhere and so I was away from home most of the year and I wanted to be home more.  The weird thing is that it's turned out to be one of the best places that I have ever worked in and I really prefer it to anywhere else now.


> How is Tarbox operating these days? A typical day/month of work?

We have been extremely lucky and we are  starting to book things into the fall already!  I usually work with bands for about two weeks at a time. Noon to midnight with no days off.  Then I'll take a couple of days to tie up the loose ends from one band and prepare for the next and them we will go for another two weeks.  This has been helped in the last year by the addition of Michael Ivins of the Flaming Lips who has been assisting and engineering with me since last March.


> What does Trabox mean?

It's a surname.  The Tarbox family used to live here and they had the road named after them at some point.  We didn't have a good name for the studio at the time, but we figured it worked at Abbey Road...


> Would you agree to work at another studio far away from family if a

> band/label would like you to?

Once in a while I will, but it usually doesn't make much sense.  Most of the people that want to work with me want to work here anyway. 


> Any artist/band you'd like especially to work with? Don't say anyone,

> because there probably should be someone you really would really like to

> work with.

There are tons of people that I want to work with.  Adam Sandler, Janet Jackson, Low,(I hope soon!), the list goes on and on.  But there's only so much time in the day!


> Do you prefer first to listen to the band's demos and meet the people before

> starting working with them? Or there is a place for some sort of day-job

> approach when you just work? Did you decline to work with any of the

> bands/labels?

I usually like to hear the music first and then meet the people.  That way we have something to talk about.  If I feel like there is something that I can help with and they are nice people, we can usually make it work.


> Do you play live with any of the bands you produce/mix these day (I know you

> do it with Mercury Rev sometimes)?

I don't really do that, but I do still enjoy playing.  I usually end up doing something on the records.


> Have you thought of recording an album of your own music or as a full member

> of a band like Jim O'Rourke (oh, he is more of a musician these days) or

> Steve Albini?

I have a band with my wife and a few friends that is fun.  It's called Bass Piggy.  I think that we'll have another record out sometime this year.


> With Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev you worked together for many years. What

> is the secret of creativity of those two bands? Do you get tired of working

> with each other and how you manage to keep it so interesting, new and

> creative to work with the same people for almost 10 years and releasing

> brilliant records?

Well that's quite a compliment!  Both Jonathan Donahue and Wayne Coyne have taught me a lot in the time that I've known them.  They are both very driven, creative, perfectionist people who know how to be true to their vision and still keep everybody involved in the project so that everyone is always putting forth their best effort.


> Zaireeka is definitely a very interesting and strange recording for the

> today's music. Can you describe the making of the album, why Flaming Lips

> and you decided to make release such a record, was it more of an art move or

> closer to the regular an album? Is there an philosophical message behind it

> (I don't mean something like: Go burn your neighbors)?

No message.  When Wayne first started to talk to me about it, we didn't know if it would be two, four, or ten records.  Maybe it would be a series that you could mix and match different cd's by color code or something.  In the big picture, I think that it turned out to be surprisingly normal.  I think that it's like a normal record.


> Was there a change in your professional life when both Flaming Lips - Soft

> Bulleting- and Mercury Rev's -Deserted Songs- were praised by critics and

> fans all over the world? Do you have more interesting offers to choose from?

Not really.  The offers that I had were already so interesting, they were hard to beat!


> The last Mercury Rev album is logically continuing the "soft rock" sound of

> the previous DS, which changed the face of Mercury Rev as band to something

> almost completely different. Why did it happen that DS turned out so

> different from earlier records? And is it with All Is Dream that the band

> are comfortable with their today's sound and approach?

I'll have to let the critics answer that one!  All we can do in the studio is make a bunch of noise and hope for the best!


> Terminvox was used on a few tracks of Mercury Rev's Deserters songs. Was it

> your choice of such unusual for rock instrument and why it was chosen? Did

> you know that terminvox was invented in the 1920-es in Russia by Lev Termin?

It was chosen because it sounds great. And yes I did.


> Your work with Mogwai definitely changed their sound a lot, I'd say it

> became more calm and maybe swampy and sophisticated, with the latest Rock

> Action it is more clear that the band moved quiet far from more simple

> quiet-loud-quiet-loud structure of a song. Was it more of your influence on

> a band or they already had in mind this sort sound?

I didn't really mean to change their sound at all.  Most of the recording that I've done with them has been quite literal, documentary style.  They are a great band who know what they want to hear coming out out of the speakers. 


> Did you like My Father My King EP recorded by Steve Albini, where band went

> a bit back to early recordings?

I think that its more a case of the songs dictating the sound.  We recorded a few tracks for Rock action that are like this EP, but we didn't put them on the record.


> Was it easy working with Mogwai guys on both albums? And generally how

> different it is working with lets say Flaming Lips, Mogwai, Mercury Rev or

> Luna? And what are the differences between working with all those bands,

> differences in recording approach, approach in creating songs, etc.?

That would take months to explain.  Suffice it to say that they are all different in all of those aspects and that is what makes working with them so much fun.


> Difference between CD sound and live sound is rather big with Mogwai or

> Flaming Lips for example. Maybe it is rather difficult for the bands to

> sound closer to oriignal versions or maybe it is a good thing to do

> something different on stage. What do you thin of the CD sound vs. live

> sound, especially for the bands you worked with?

I don't.  For me the two are unrelated.  I can't worry about that while we are working on the record.  While we are there, we just have to make it as good as we can and figure out the rest later.


> How often do you buy records these days compared to 5 and 10 years ago?

> Please name a few you liked recently in 2001?

About the same amount.  I liked Macy Gray, Bob Dylan, White Stripes, Low, etc.


> With all the technology going further it is easier for young bands/musicians

> to have sort of home studio with limited investment required and do the

> recording and mixing of the songs themselves with better result than on good

> old 4-track. What do you think of the whole situation, is it always good or

> does it result in too many bad, non-interesting music been released? Do you

> think it will change the record industry, possibly affect the demand in your

> profession?

I'm glad that more people can have fun so easily at home making music.  I don't think that it will affect me too much except for the better so that we can speak to each other about the technology as well as the music and hopefully communicate better in general. 


> What is the music of future and future of music? (I know it is a lame

> question, but you may give an interesting answer)

I hope that they can make a direct interface to your auditory nerves so that the air is no longer an issue.  They have done a lot of work on this, but it is expensive and destructive.  I would want to be able to still hear with my ears as well.


> What are your plans for 2002? Band you are working with at the moment?

Of course, the new Flaming Lips, the Delgados, I hope some more Mogwai and Sparklehorse, a great Japanese Band called Number Girl, and a woman named Gemma Hayes.  Lots more!


> At the end please tell us something interesting on the new Flaming Lips

> album.

Well I can say that we keep doing things that are confusing the hell out of us and we are taking it as a good sign!


> Thanks a lot for taking time and answering questions for the SOUP interview.

> Would like to visit Russia and what were the first things that came to your

> mind when you got the message from a Russian indie-zine?

The first thing was Cool!  I would love to visit Russia.  I think about it often.  I went to Estonia once and I loved it but that is the closest I've ever been.


> Thanks.


> Alexey