The Doors' recording engineer, Bruce Botnick
What was the atmosphere like on the early Doors sessions?
The songs were really visual and connect on a very personal and poetic level. I had never seen them before they entered the studio, but I immediately related to them and knew what to do. I was seriously into jazz, classical, Sinatra, and all sorts of things, and they were, too. Individually, the Doors were not the greatest players, but, together, they were one. There’s magic in not being perfect. The Doors were a performance group, and they played the songs live before they recorded them. When they came into the studio, they were really going for it. As the producer Paul Rothchild used to say, “We’re documenting them.”
You engineered the first five records, but you produced L.A. Woman. How did that change things?
It freed us up to just do the music. We did far fewer takes of each song than on the previous sessions. Paul Rothchild was into perfection, because, once you’ve created an icon, you have to exceed it.
How did you approach the DVDs’ 5.1 mixes?
I have my own studio where I worked on the mixes for a little over a year. We went inside the original 8-track masters and tried to bring out sounds that weren’t heard before. I didn’t want to move things around just to put them in bizarre places. That doesn’t work for me. But, on some tunes, like “Horse Latitudes” and “The Unknown Soldier,” if you sit in the middle in a dark room, you could get nauseous, which would be the desired effect.
When you did L.A. Woman, did the Doors know it would be their last record?
They had no idea. We thought Jim would go off to Paris and we’d make another record at some point. Or we’d go there to record.