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R i c h a r d T h o m p s o n F o r C o m p l e t i s t s
Small Tom Rothrock Interview
The release of Action Packed The Best Of The Capitol Years was an opportunity to have a word with MOCK TUDOR producer Tom Rothrock, founder of BongLoad Records (Beck, Fu Manchu, Elliot Smith, L7). Tom is also responsible for bringing out both Mock Tudor & Action Packed ON good ol' VINYL.
FF: You produced MT. What do YOU think RT was up to when he got in touch with you (and Rob Schnapf)?
TR: We had been interested in working with Richard since about 1993 and a friend at Capitol kept bringing it up when he was getting ready to record an album. After about 6 years we got a meeting! I don't know what Richard was "up to" but we seemed to have overlapping ideas on how to approach recording.
FF: Do you think the aim was reached?
TR: We all had a great time recording. If there was an aim it was to make a record that would stand the test of time. I believe it will.
FF: On the sleeve notes of Action Packed RT is quoted about MT: "You don't hear the production necessarily". Have you been asked to be invisible (unhearable) or what?
TR: No, that's just a style, ha! No gimmicks, no reverse gated-reverb. Nothing to distance or distract the listener from the performance and song.
FF: Could you tell something about the recording process? Like: Does RT know what he wants before laying it down?
TR: He knows the song and would show it to the band, run it down 2 or 3 times and then we'd track it.
FF: Who's was the leader during the recording session of MT?
TR: Richard led the band, if that's what you mean?
FF: Who has been playing the critical-and-never-satisfied role?
TR: Most record companies
FF: How many takes were needed for each song?
TR: "Hard On Me" was the toughest song to record, go figure. Many take over several days to catch the performance that's on the album.
FF: Did you record all instruments at one time for all songs?
TR: No, Richard, Teddy, Dave and Danny T. or Atom E. on bass all Vocals, backing vocals were all overdubbed. As much of the live performance as possible was preserved.
FF: How much time did it take to finish MT altogether?
TR: About 4 weeks of recording at Capitol Studio B and 2 weeks of mixing at Sunset Sound, studio 1.
FF: What's your own favorite track?
TR: Several, I'd start w/ "Hard on Me" but add "Cooksferry," "Dry My Tears," "Walking the Long Miles," "Uninhabited." I'll stop before I run down all the songs!
Andy Graham in a
recent interview with Richard Thompson: "I quite liked the production
of Schnapf and Rothrock. Any chance of working with them again?"
FF: Who decided to leave out two recorded songs from the initial CD? & Why?
TR: We all wanted to present as concise a record as possible. This was the hardest part of the entire project! Getting a song sequence and picking what to leave off. Richard was ready to bail on "Cooksferry" and it ended up first! This was the trickiest album sequence Rob and I had ever encountered, quite a puzzle. Listening to the CD I think, what was so tough? But at the time, oh boy.
FF: What do you think has been the essential part of MT:recording,dubbing, mixing?
TR: Gotta do it all, equally important.
FF: You're involved in many recordings of different types of artists. What would you say is the difference between recording Beck & RT? In what way is experience or age counting in this sort of work?
TR: Beck has an American accent. My age or Richard's? He's been making records since I was 3.
FF: What was your role, what was Rob's role during the recording of MT?
TR: Rob and I worked together for 10 years before recording with Richard. We were both there hands on the entire session. We both have backgrounds in engineering a mixing as well as production. Four hands and four ears working as two, weird stuff.
FF: How about the vinyl-project? Why vinyl? Does it sound better, compared to CD? Is it profitable? Nice to posess? & How come you seem to love vinyl better than digital CD?
TR: Vinyl is a great format. It's very satisfying to have you work on wax. The sound is a personal choice. The vinyl is a higher quality master. It's cut from a 24 bit digital master, the CD version is clipped down to 16 bits from 24 bits.
FF: Are there any plans to work together again with RT?
TR: I recorded two songs with him a couple of months back, at Stagg Street Studios in Van Nuys, for a project some friends of his are putting together.
FF: What would you like to tell to > 600 dedicated RT fans getting together everyday on the www to talk about Their Hero?
TR: 600 a day, that's great. He's cool. But y'all have already figured that out!
FF: Dave Mattacks is sad about the fade in "That's All, Amen..." Is the original recording still at your avail? & Do you think there's a chance this will ever make it to a CD?
TR: Hey, I'm just glad that Dave is on the record! He's great! I don't know why he wouldn't like the fade, you can hear his big drum fill right at the end!
FF: Do you think you've got great stuff for an interesting remastered copy of Mock Tudor, containing outtakes, false starts, studio banter etc. to be added to an Old Fleetwood Mac-ish Boxed Set to be released after 30 years, on RT's 80th birthday?
TR: Oh sure, Capitol has reels of outtakes in some mysterious vault, somewhere.
Flip Feij (c) April 2001