Under the Skin is so aptly titled - it's very personal, very naked, and very raw, which was clearly your intent.
For sure. I just wanted to scale it down by taking the bass and the drums off for the most part and keep it very guitar-oriented by having one or two guitars doing all the work. And I wanted to keep it fairly "present" so it sounded like a record with some production value to it, not just of someone sitting in their living room.
How did you record the music for this album?
In various manners. There are two songs on there - "Down on Rodeo" and "Someone's Gotta Change Your Mind" - that actually go back a few years when I was working with Mick Fleetwood and Rob Cavallo [who's also produced My Chemical Romance and Green Day], so those were done in a studio. Some songs were done on an old 48-track machine I had at home, but mainly, the bulk of them were done on the road when I was touring with Fleetwood Mac [in 2003-04]. I had a Korg 16-track portable digital recorder and a Roland guitar delay that I used on my vocals, so it was all done in an orderly, overdubbed manner, but with just the limitations that I wanted to impose on the tracks.
Skin is the kind of record you put on for people to hear how an album can sound good with just a voice, a guitar, and some overdubs. Actually, all of your solo albums have quite the reputation in sound-quality circles. How come?
I think a lot of what I find interesting works very well with less. There's a tendency to make things too dense when I'm in a Fleetwood Mac situation - where we're talking about John McVie, a bass player who has a very melodic style, and Mick Fleetwood, a drummer who has a very fat sound. It was kind of freeing to be able to overdo the vocal effects and processed guitars yet have the sound be so transparent. I just went for what excited me.
There's a sense of atmosphere and space to this disc, and a lot of guitar/vocal records just don't sound like that.
That's right. You do get records that have a pared-down idea, but not that many go this far with the production. That was the hook, the twist of the whole thing.
One of your most classic recordings with Fleetwood Mac, 1977's Rumours, was remixed in surround sound for DVD-Audio. What was your reaction to that?
What's cool is, not only are you revisiting something that you wouldn't normally have a tendency to listen to again, you're also reexamining the work itself in a nonconventional manner. It was pretty exciting to open up that mix and have it be so spatial. It's almost like a different album, because things now play differently off one another. You forget how subtle some of the parts were that you put down in the original mix, and then you find they can be used in a more obvious way. After I heard the new mix, I thought, "Oh, gee, did I do that?" [chuckles]
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