THE S&V INTERVIEW

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Mike Mettler  |  Dec 21, 2016  |  0 comments
Rainbow was looking for a hit, as bandleader/guitarist Richie Blackmore wanted to hear his songs on the radio. After scores of vocal auditions in 1979, they finally hit upon Graham Bonnet, who sang lead on Rainbow's breakout track, “Since You Been Gone.” Bonnet got on the horn to discuss his new solo album The Book, where he likes to hear his vocals in a mix, how he transformed “Since You Been Gone” from a pop song into a rock hit, and coming to grips with living in the streaming universe.
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).
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.
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.
Mike Mettler  |  Nov 02, 2016  |  0 comments
Photo by Travis Shinn.

Gary and Dale Rossington have been making beautiful music together in their special union for over 35 years and counting — much of it as fully integrated members of the extended Lynyrd Skynyrd family. They've now further cemented their musical bonds by stepping back out on their own again as Rossington to produce a heartfelt, soul-grabbing, and absolutely blues-tastic new album, Take It on Faith. I called Gary and Dale during a Skynyrd tour stop in Dale’s home state of Indiana to discuss the genesis of Faith, Gary’s guitar-tone mastery, and why Skynyrd’s music must endure. Turn it up...

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  |  Oct 19, 2016  |  0 comments
Rik Emmett is an artist who’s always reveled in the creative benefits of teamwork and collaboration. The former guitarist/vocalist of Canadian power trio Triumph has forged quite the formidable and far-reaching solo career since he left the band in 1988, but he’s quite adamant about the all-for-one, band-centric, and exhilaratingly electrifying flavor of RES 9 (Provogue Records), the forthcoming album from his new four-man collective that’s been appropriately dubbed Rik Emmett & RESolution9. I called Emmett, 63, to discuss the sonic impetus behind RES 9’s audio identity, how life experience informs his songwriting, and the ongoing impact of Triumph’s Allied Forces, which was released 35 years ago this past September. “I got a burning heart/I got a hungry soul,” Emmett sings on “Human Race.” RES 9 more than RESolves the pangs of those cravings.
Mike Mettler  |  Oct 05, 2016  |  0 comments
Rickey Medlocke's latest pet project has been to shepherd the next-generation incarnation of his beloved Blackfoot, who have committed their hard-charging sound to the grooves of a new album, Southern Native (Loud & Proud Records), that beautifully meshes traditional tones with modern sensibilities. I got on the horn with Medlocke to discuss the genesis of Southern Native, keeping true to his analog-centric inclinations, and what it was like working with his grandfather Shorty Medlocke back in the early days. It’s a highway song that keeps going on and on...
Mike Mettler  |  Sep 21, 2016  |  1 comments
Charlie Daniels is an American treasure. Still going strong on the cusp of his 80th birthday, the man best known for fiddle-driven story songs like “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “In America,” and “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” has just released a long-gestating passion project, Night Hawk (CDC Records), which covers all different shades of the authentic cowboy lifestyle. “It was a long time in the making,” Daniels recounts. “Night Hawk is an album I’d always intended to make for many, many years, so I had been collecting songs for it for a long time. I wanted it to be an album with songs about the working cowboy, because that culture still exists.” I got on the line with Daniels, 79, to discuss the changes in recording technology over the years, the art of storytelling, and the many ways his band transforms other people’s material into Charlie Daniels Band (CDB) songs. With Night Hawk, the Long Haired Country Boy finally comes full circle.
Mike Mettler  |  Sep 07, 2016  |  0 comments
Emerson, Lake & Palmer were always at the forefront of progressive music, and being original has been a hallmark of ELP ever since their adventurous self-titled 1970 debut. Now, the band’s sonic legacy has been distilled into a nice three-disc collection, The Anthology (Manticore/BMG), which also serves as a 39-track sampler of a full-bore catalog reissue series, which recently commenced with three two-discs sets, each complete with outtakes and bonus cuts, for 1970’s Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1971’s Tarkus, and 1971’s Pictures From an Exhibition. I Skyped with ELP vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Greg Lake, 68, across The Pond to discuss how effectively ELP utilized the stereo soundfield, why he prefers the analog format, and what the ultimate key is to making good records. Ooh, what a Lucky Man he still is.
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 17, 2016  |  0 comments
These days, Billy Sherwood — the multi-talented, multi-hyphenate musician who cites bassist, vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, producer, mixer, and engineer as being among the many caps he wears in his sonic haberdashery — is spending the bulk of his time as the bassist in Yes, having been handpicked by the late Chris Squire to be his replacement. As rewarding as being in Yes is for Sherwood, his passion project is his other band, Circa, in which he plays guitar and sings lead vocals. Sherwood, 51, called me to discuss his goals for the overall sound of circa's new album Valley of the Windmill, what it’s like backing up William Shatner, and what the future may hold for Yes.
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 03, 2016  |  0 comments
It’s one of the Top 3 moments of smashed guitars in music history, right behind Jimi Hendrix at Monterey Pop and Pete Townshend at Woodstock. But this one happened in a movie — namely, in the 1978 comedy classic, National Lampoon’s Animal House. That man on the stairs whose guitar was so violently gutted by Bluto (John Belushi) was in fact noted singer/songwriter Stephen Bishop (“On and On,” “It Might Be You,” “Separate Lives”). I called Bishop, 64, at his homestead in Los Angeles to discuss the literal sonic blueprint for his eclectic new album Blueprint, the give and take of writing with Eric Clapton, and confirming some heretofore unrevealed tech specs about that infamous Animal House guitar.
Mike Mettler  |  Jul 20, 2016  |  0 comments
It’s an intriguing concept: Get a number of recordings artists who made their initial impact in the 1980s to record new music in the style of that decade for Fly: Songs Inspired by the Film Eddie the Eagle (UMC), an album to accompany a movie directed by Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class, Kingsman: The Secret Service) and starring Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton about the titular, underdog British ski-jumper who gave his all at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Among those up for the challenge were Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys of OMD, a.k.a. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, who collaborated with project coordinator Gary Barlow on a vibrant throwback track, “Thrill Me.” McCluskey, 56, called from across The Pond to discuss the genesis of “Thrill Me,” why electronic music continues to thrive and how OMD get modern/retro synth sounds, and wrestling with the concept of streaming. It’s the ultimate discovery.
Mike Mettler  |  Jul 07, 2016  |  3 comments
Just typing out the name “Rick Wakeman” instantly conjures up indelible images of flowing capes, huge banks of keyboards, synths, and pianos, and a cavalcade of great-sounding organ compositions. Currently, Wakeman is putting the finishing touches on the 5.1 mix for The Myths and Legends of King Arthur 2016 and is also readying for a fall tour with his former Yes bandmates, vocalist Jon Anderson and guitarist Trevor Rabin, as ARW. I called Wakeman, 67, across the Pond to discuss his affinity for surround sound, his unique in-studio game plan, and his thoughts about the passing of his friend and onetime collaborator David Bowie. Ground control to Grand High Wizard Wakeman...
Mike Mettler  |  Jun 22, 2016  |  1 comments
To say it’s been a banner year for Chicago might be a bit of an understatement. Not only is the band in the midst of its (yes) 49th consecutive year on the road, but it’s also celebrating a well-deserved induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which took place back on April 8 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. “Rather than limping into our 50th year, we are sprinting uphill,” observes Chicago co-founding member and trumpeter Lee Loughnane (pronounced “Lock-nane”). Not only that, Rhino has just released Quadio, a collection of the band’s first eight studio albums plus their first greatest hits compilation in 192/24 DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 mixes on nine Blu-ray discs. Recently, Loughnane, 69, called me to discuss quad and surround, the challenges of mastering digitally, and the unique way the band recorded its most recent studio album, 2014’s Chicago XXXVI – “Now.” In many ways, it feels like it’s only the beginning.

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