Friday, December 31, 2004

News from the recording studio...

(Photo of Phil Nicolo behind the mixing board while being filmed by Don Argott for the upcoming DVD)

So yay! Finally I got a few minutes with my son, Eric, who spilled all the gossip coming out of the recording studio this week. I'll also be posting additional pictures of the Rock School musicians in action as soon as I can figure out how to download this freaking camera...grr...where is Julie when I need her.

Anyway, the kids are recording at Studio 4, owned by producer Phil Nicolo. Phil has been telling them stories about the industry all week, and my son shared some of them with me...just great little vignettes. For one thing, Phil told the kids that the Beatles and Frank Zappa are the reason he does what he does. He's a total Beatle maniac, and he talked about what it was like doing the remix for the Lennon/Plastic Ono Band CD.

"It was the call everybody in my business waits for."

He was referring to being tapped to handle the remixing of "Do the Oz" for the John Lennon-Plastic Ono Band reissue.

Nicolo helped produce the 1999 Cibo Matto LP Stereotype A which featured Sean Lennon on bass guitar. From there, he became involved in the still-in-progress second solo album by Sean.

Yoko didn't attend the sessions, but liked the direction in which Nicolo was helping Sean bring his music. Nicolo said that Yoko's in a tricky position with the fans, especially when it comes to John's unreleased stuff. They're really curious, but in that let-me-see - no, don't show me way.

He was working in his studio when Yoko phoned him to tell him that she had rediscovered a track that the Plastic Ono Band had recorded on April 17, 1970. "Do the Oz" was a benefit for a British underground publication called the Oz. Yoko was putting together reissues of John's first and last solo records, "Plastic Ono Band" and "Double Fantasy" - and wanted to include "Oz" as a bonus track. The song had been released previously, but it had been assembled quickly and wasn't fully finished.

The only stipulation Yoko made was that Phil not add anything to the existing tracks which he was assembling from the original session.

Despite what he felt was a major restriction, Nicolo said he got lucky anyway because a horn section, led by saxophonist King Curtis, had been previously recorded that went mostly unused in the original version. John's guitar line was a constant throughout as well.

He put the parts he had into his ProTools computer software and juggled the elements to create a party atmosphere, with Yoko's vocalizations dropped in at -- ha ha -- explosive junctions.

He said that when he first met Yoko to the do the final mix, she began the session by expressing regret that she'd placed any restriction on him. She told him he could start over if he wanted to, using all of the elements and tricks in his bag.

He declined the offer. He told her he was glad she did stipulate no additional material be added, because by being forced to use what was there, he had to be creative in a different way.

And it was all there. Nicolo said he just uncovered the magic.

So that's one little story about Phil Nicolo. Eric's been telling me such incredibly interesting stuff that I can't tell you how excited I am that my kids are being recorded by this man. And the CD will be available everywhere in March, 2005! I mean, like, all over the world. And while they're recording, Don Argott, director/producer of Rock School, is recording them and all of this footage will be released with the DVD of the movie.

Happy New Year indeed.