The S&V Interview

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Mike Mettler  |  Sep 03, 2014  |  0 comments
From the smallest of triggers come great things. I was sitting in the dressing room at Pearl at The Palms in Las Vegas on April 14, 2012 with Garbage drummer and co-producer Butch Vig before soundcheck, and we were looking at an album cover from his lesser-known ’80s band, Fire Town. “You know, one of the guys in this band, Phil Davis, and I have started a side project, a band called The Emperors of Wyoming,” Vig revealed. Initially released in late 2012 by Proper Records, The Emperors of Wyoming is a grainy, smoky spaghetti western come to life — pure Americana through and through, from the defiant twang of “I’m Your Man” to the harmonica-driven singalong jangle of “Cruel Love Ways.” Vig and the EOW gang decided to update the album for a 2014 Deluxe Edition released by Liaison Records (“a Super Duper Super Deluxe Edition,” Vig clarifies) by adding two covers — the Afghan Whigs’ “Rebirth of the Cool” and House of Love’s “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” — plus one original: “Drinking Man’s Town." Here, Vig, 59, and I get down to discussing the Emperors’ recording techniques, his views of hi-res audio, and what to expect from Sonic Highways, the new Foo Fighters record that Vig just finished producing, which is slated to come out in November. Right from the hilt of the holster, Vig and The Emperors sure know how to draw big.
Mike Mettler  |  Dec 20, 2017  |  0 comments
Career songwriters often find themselves on a perpetual quest to add new tools to their creative toolboxes in order to keep things fresh. Such has been the case for Mike Scott, chief architect of British alt-rock stalwarts The Waterboys, who turned to GarageBand and some interesting plug-in choices to fuel the almost two-dozen songs that comprise his band’s expansive new double-disc effort, Out of All This Blue (BMG).
Mike Mettler  |  Nov 18, 2016  |  1 comments
Elvis Presley would have loved to have taken advantage of today’s meticulous recording standards. Fact is, The King was very much a stickler in the studio. Elvis also had an affinity for orchestral arrangements, something his estate was able to realize last year with If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley With the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RCA/Legacy), which has sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide to date. A worthy sequel, The Wonder of You: Elvis Presley With the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, has just been released. I reached out across The Pond to get album producers Don Reedman and Nick Patrick’s takes on the sonic differences between the two albums, how a certain mantra guided their respective hands and ears, and what aspects of modern recording Elvis would have embraced.
Bob Ankosko  |  Nov 01, 2016  |  0 comments
Laurie Fincham has a storied career in speaker design and engineering that began in England in the early 1970s when he worked for Goodmans Loudspeakers, Celestion, and KEF. By day, he delved into speaker theory and design. By night he played stand-up bass in a jazz group to supplement his income. While at KEF, he co-developed the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) system for measuring and modeling speaker. In the early ’90s, he moved to the U.S. to work for Infinity before joining THX in 1998.

Today, as senior vice president of audio research and development, Fincham manages the audio side of the company George Lucas founded to raise the bar for cinema sound...

Mike Mettler  |  Aug 08, 2018  |  0 comments
Photo by James Cumpsty

Tom Bailey, the chief architect of the super-successful ’80s synth-pop masters Thompson Twins (“Hold Me Now,” “Love on Your Side”) is back with a cosmically named solo album, Science Fiction. We called him during a tour stop in Houston to discuss the sonic structure of the album, how he once built his own P.A. speakers, and reconnecting with listening to music on vinyl.

Mike Mettler  |  Sep 26, 2018  |  0 comments
Some long-gestating sonic missions are simply worth the wait. Case in point: Styx’s June 2017 studio concept album The Mission (Alpha Dog 2T/UMe), which recently entered into the 5.1 stratosphere via the 24-bit/96kHz surround sound mix found on the just-released two-disc CD + Blu-ray Edition of the album. As good and enveloping as The Mission sounds in stereo, it sounds even better in its hi-res 5.1 mix — and that’s due in no small part to the creative synergy between the record’s three chief sonic architects: Styx guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw, producer/guitarist/vocalist Will Evankovich (Shaw-Blades, The Guess Who), and producer/engineer Jim Scott (Tom Petty, Wilco, Dixie Chicks). I spoke with Shaw and Evankovich to delve into the making of the surround sound mix of The Mission.
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 13, 2015  |  0 comments
In a band of equals, some can appear to be more equal than others. “I always like to have the first word and the last word on albums,” laughs keyboardist Tony Banks, one of the main songwriters in Genesis. Banks has always felt making an impression right as a song commences to be paramount. “You make an impact with those first few bars. It sets you up for the next 5 minutes, so you ought to try and get it right,” he says. Just cue up the majestic “Watcher of the Skies” from 1972’s Foxtrot for prime evidence of that thesis being put into action. Besides his storied career in Genesis, Banks also tried his hand at a solo career, the highlights of which have been compiled in the four-disc box set A Chord Too Far (Cherry Red/Esoteric Recordings). While Banks puts the future of his longtime band to rest — “the chance of Genesis getting back together again is pretty slim, I have to say”— we have plenty of Chord music to sink our collective ears into. Banks, 65, called from across the Pond to discuss the, er, genesis of his signature keyboard style, his deep love for surround sound, and the importance of sequencing. As Bankstatements go, this one is rich in high-fidelity rewards.
Mike Mettler  |  Apr 29, 2015  |  0 comments
Tori Amos has always been an artist who knows what she wants, and knows how to get it. “Music was always first,” she says. “The records you hear, whether you like them or not, you can blame me for, because I was fighting all the time that the songs were represented in the right way.” For Tori, the “right way” meant staying true to the core of her quite personal songwriting, piano-driven arrangements, and unique vocal character, all of which are on fine display on the just-issued two-disc Deluxe Editions of 1992’s Little Earthquakes (1992) and 1994’s Under the Pink (both on Rhino). “I’ve taken a pretty firm stand about being a woman in control of my destiny — for good or ill, you know?” she admits. “People know that I fight for the art, and the music. I’m not going to back down.” Here, Amos, 51, and I discuss the hard-fought genesis of Earthquakes and Pink, how her sound-quality goals shifted in the transition from the ’80s to the ’90s, and how she forged her artistic identity.
Mike Mettler  |  Dec 07, 2016  |  0 comments
Besides having one of the coolest band names ever, Van der Graaf Generator has been making deeply adventurous music since the late ’60s in a style that, frankly, is hard to pigeonhole. Sure, it’s easy to call what they do “progressive,” but I’m inclined to agree with VdGG guitarist/vocalist Peter Hammill, who describes VdGG music as being “barely controlled chaos.” It’s also a good way to define VdGG’s recently released 13th studio album, Do Not Disturb (Esoteric Antenna). I connected with Hammill to discuss the sonic template for DnD, what it’s like to be admired by a punk legend, and VdGG’s possible future (or not).
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 22, 2011  |  0 comments

Good news, friends — we have another exclusive video treat for the S+V faithful.

Mike Mettler  |  Jul 24, 2019  |  0 comments
We talk with Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips about their current concept release, King’s Mouth: Music and Songs, incorporating stereo-friendly elements into a mix, mastering the lost art of the song transition, and why having a great drummer is crucial to a band’s long-term success.
Bob Ankosko  |  Jan 04, 2018  |  3 comments
15 Minutes with Astra Insights’ Shawn DuBravac

Stop for a moment and think back to home entertainment 10 years ago. You were starting to build a library of Blu-ray titles, thankful that HD had finally made its way to disc, but 4K at home was a technology of the future and streaming was still a curiosity. Netflix was a hugely successful DVD mail-order company with a billion discs delivered but could see the writing on the wall when it started offering movies on demand over the internet in February 2007. Today, streaming is commonplace and home audio and video have reached unprecedented levels of quality, raising the question of what comes next? Looking ahead to the future, we reached out to Dr. Shawn DuBravac, founder of the Washington, DC-based consultancy Astra Insights, former chief economist for the Consumer Technology Association, and author of the New York Times Best Seller (Regnery, 2015). A well-regarded futurist and trendcaster, DuBravac writes frequently about technology with a focus on deciphering disruptive shifts.

Bob Ankosko  |  Mar 24, 2022  |  0 comments

15 Minutes with Robert (Bob) O’Brien, Co-Founder, Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC)

Advances in TV technology are coming fast and from many directions these days, giving consumers — and home theater enthusiasts, in particular — more reasons than ever to consider upgrading to a new set. Whether we’re talking Mini-LED, MicroLED, or QD-OLED, a new take on OLED technology, there’s a lot to keep up with. We tracked down industry insider Robert (Bob) O’Brien to get his take on what has become a very dynamic space.

Bob Ankosko  |  Dec 01, 2016  |  0 comments
A few years ago Sonos published an infographic that traces the History of Hi-Fi from Edison’s phonograph through Apple’s introduction of the iPod in 2001, stopping just short of documenting its own arrival in 2002. Long before anyone even heard of streaming, the company set out to reinvent stereo with an Internet-connected wireless speaker and introduced one of the first iPhone apps—a controller for its first system—just a few months after the App Store opened in 2008. By the end of the decade Sonos had captured the imagination of a public that seemed to be waiting for its fresh, cloud-based take on classic hi-fi. Today Sonos is a billion dollar company offering a variety of products, including the Top Pick-winning Play:5 wireless music system. We recently sat down with Patrick Spence, who took over the reigns as president in July, to talk about Sonos, past, present, and future.
Bob Ankosko  |  Oct 14, 2021  |  0 comments

A conversation with Tony Ostrom, president of the Wireless Speaker & Audio Association.

We’ve tracked the progress of the Wireless Speaker & Audio Association (WiSA) since its humble beginnings many years ago. A lot has changed since those early days when the Association showed up in a CES hotel room to demonstrate a home theater system devoid of speaker cables. It was a remarkable demo, not just because it worked, but because the enabling technology made it possible to send uncompressed 24-bit/96-kHz audio signals through the air from an AV receiver to seven speakers and a subwoofer. Today, wireless music is everywhere and better than ever but in those days transmitting hi-res audio wirelessly was a daunting task. It’s been a few years since we checked in with the Association so we caught up with WiSA president Tony Ostrom to get an update on the technology and the products it enables.

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