Saturday, November 25, 2006
I have made it possible for you to download the "Everybody" Mp3
Ric Ocasek - Everybody
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Should this article be refiled in Noisician Magazine ? This is one of the more fact finding interviews you are going to read about Ric and his music and his philosophy. This is not the standard interview. It's a long read but for diehard Ric Ocasek fans is there any such thing ?
By David Fricke
Ric Ocasek swings back and forth to some imaginary rhythm in his swivel chair in the control room of Syncro Sound Studios in Boston, his gangly giraffe legs drawn up jackknife-style under his pointed chin. In black-and-white op-art threads with his thick black hair drawn back like a plumed helmet from his long oval face, he sits at the 24-track mixing desk with its knobs, lights and jumping needles like some praying beatnik mantis at the helm of an intergalactic space ship. On the other side of the studio window, vocalist Alan Vega is preparing his band for take-off.
The song is called "Video Babe," a pumping rockabilly drone that marries the primal minimalism of Vega's work in the electronic duo Suicide with rip snorting Sun Sessions twang. While his backing trio- all heavy hitters on guitar, bass and drums-hammer down the beat, Vega whispers, coos, screams and grunts about the "video babe" and the "neutron raiders, uh-huh!" like Iggy Presley. Back at the desk, Ocasek almost imperceptibly tweaks the echo and delay on Vega's voice and the drums, already mapping Out a potential mix while the band records a few takes live.
But Vega is not happy and the oppressive heat inside the studio (the building's ventilation is on the fritz) is not helping. Buzzing around the control room like a bee on speed, Vega listens to the takes of "Video Babe" and complains that the beat is just not right, that it is not what he calls "in that p/ace." Ocasek thinks the takes are good, almost there. To ease the tension, he gives the band an encouraging word and then turns to Vega with a sly grin.
"Don't worry, Alan. If it gets too good-he gestures at his engineer and tape operator- "we'll screw it up.
But there will be none of that tonight. Not only will Ocasek cut four songs with Vega and his band before calling it quits at 5:00 am., but he will also spring on Vega seven new instrumental tracks he recorded himself the night before with a Korg synth and a live drummer-real rock n' roll Suicide stuff-to which he wants Vega to add lyrics and vocals. Alan Vega came to Boston to cut a four-track EP Ocasek will send him home a couple of days later with an album.Ric Ocasek gets a lot of work done-writing and recording with flash popsters the Cars, producing the likes of Vega and Romeo Void and cutting his own solo LP Beatitude-because he does not spend a lot of time worrying about what critics say about him. He is not offended by complaints that the Cars are a soulless hit machine whose tenuous connections with the new wave are an embarrassment to the real thing; that his songs and sound draw on a dwindling supply of Roxy Music and Velvet Underground cliches set off by top-forty sparkle; that his outside~ production projects are his penance for raking in millions with the Cars He simply doesn't understand them.
It's like the Cars are supposed to be my AM personality and the other stuff is my underground personality,' he smiles between drags on a cigarette in the basement lounge of Syncro, the Cars jointly owned studio/clubhouse. But it's basically the same. The Cars material is just approached in maybe more of a pop fashion Yet the Cars are a thinking band. They all dig Alan Vega."
Ocasek concedes that fans who love sleek Cars singles like 'My Best Friend's Girl," "Shake It Up" and even Panorama's "Touch And Go" with its booby-trap 5/4-4/4 rhythm may not fall head over heels for recent Ocasek productions by Boston art-punks the Dark or Washington, D.C. Rasta hard-core thrash band the Bad Brains. "But that just goes to show you how we use those influences. I'm inspired by those alternatives."
In fact, he encourages them. A kind of pop philanthropist, he usually brings maverick talents like the Bad Brains, pop tart Bebe Buell, Boston band New Models and Romeo Void (whose Ocasek-produced "Never Say Never" was one of '82's great dance-club spins) into Syncro Sound at drastically reduced rates, often absorbing all the costs until the band or artist places the record with a label who will foot the bill. In the case of the Bad Brains, Ocasek even assumed the group's hotel and food expenses while they were in Boston cutting their record. At the same time, he has turned down major label offers to produce A Flock of Seagulls and German punk diva Nina Hagen.
"I feel kind of a responsibility to these other groups," he insists. "Like, Jesus, this person or group is too good to be ignored. And it's also the excitement of not having to just listen to a record after it's been done, but actually being there to watch it done.
"I pretty much pick these groups when they're pretty unique within themselves already," he adds when pressed on his production technique. "I don't like to have to enforce anything extra on them. What I often do is just sort of guide them, to make sure that the sounds are interesting and different."
A good example of his discreet influence is the second Suicide album, simply entitled Alan Vega-Martin Rev-Suicide and issued by Ze/Antilles in 1980. Previously, keyboard player Rev had been egging on Vega's vocal hysteria with nothing more than a battered Univox organ ("with maybe three or tour different sounds," according to Ocasek) and a rusty rhythm machine that sounded like it was running on squirrel-power Ocasek modestly accepts only part of the credit for Suicide II's rich keyboard orchestration and weird cathedral synth grandeur, saying it was originally Rev's idea to add a Prophet and some Moog bass lines to the basic Suicide pulse. But in fact it was Ocasek who filtered out all of Rev's possible counter-lines and counter-rhythms, brightening and enriching Suicide's stark minimalism without compromising their awesome aggression.
"Well, he would run through a gamut of sounds and then I would stop him and say, 'Wait a minute. don't lose that one.' Or maybe, 'Let's use that sound for this part.' He would be trying all these different lines and I would just be the other ear, to say, think that one fits instead of all those others.'"
More recently, he offered his services to the Bad Brains after being transfixed by the raw spirituality of their Reach Out International cassette release Bad Brains. (The band, acknowledged leaders of America's outlaw punk community. were naturally suspicious. Singer H.R. gave Ocasek a three-hour lecture out in the middle of Boston Common on his Rasta philosophy before he would do his vocals.) "It was almost a mono mix." Ocasek recalls, although he recorded the band on 24-track. 'We worked on sounds for a couple of hours and when it felt like the power was there, I just said, 'Go!' They all stood in a circle, looked at each other, and then bang-bang-hang, that was it."
The Bad Brains cut sixteen basic tracks. "all the fast hardcore stuff." in one day with a little extra time allotted for the reggae dub numbers. (Four of those songs are now out on a twelve-inch EP I And I Survive/Destroy Babylon through Important Records in New York.) The only reason the vocals took longer was that when H.R. came in to sing the next day, no one noticed the van-speed switch on the tape machine was slipped on. The backing tracks ran half a key higher and H.R., Ocasek moans, 'left his voice all over the walls." He recut H.R.'s vocals a few days later-only one take per song-at a studio in Washington, D.C.
"In recording, you can spend a lot of time to make sure every sound is the way it's supposed to be," Ocasek shrugs, acknowledging the speed and surprising ease with which he makes records, the Cars included. Both 1978's The Cars and the follow up Candy-O were finished inside two weeks, from setup to final mix. "I think it's a matter of focusing energy quickly. I just put the energy in the right place to get out of it what I want."
During a brief discussion of his favorite producers, Ocasek mentions Germany's Conny Plank and his work with electropop pioneers Kraftwerk, more recent synth experimentalists Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft and primal British post-punk dance band Killing Joke. "All those one-line keyboard touches in the Killing Joke records are Conny Plank's ideas. They're so minimal and yet they're so right. I like the rawness of those records, yet it still sounds so real."
In a sense. Beatitude-Ric Ocasek's debut solo album and now out on Geffen Records-is quite raw. The ten songs were all conceived and, for the most part, recorded solo in Ocasek's 8-track home studio. with extra parts and mixing done on the 24-track at Syncro There are actually a couple of rather entertaining mistakes left intact. You may catch Ocasek singing the word "flucked," for example, amid the mantric synthesizers and electronic eggbeater percussion of "Out Of Control." He explains that before recording that vocal at home, he toyed with the idea of changing the line "you fucked around and waited" to "you fooled around..." to spare Geffen airplay headaches. He still hadn't made up his mind when he laid down the vocal and in his indecision came up with "flucked."
"I lust left it like that because that vocal had the feeling, you know?" he says without apology. "I didn't even try to sing it over. I could have done it right, but I could not have done it better."
Raw, blemished in spots, Beatitude sounds all the more real for it, an inviting, involving record in spite of all the synthesizers and the dark shadows crossing many of the songs. Part of it may be the double teaming of a Linn drum machine with a live drummer, impressive newcomer Stephen George of the Midwest electro-funk band Ministry. Part of it may be Ocasek's use of first-take home-recorded vocals on half the songs.
But there is something about Beatitude quite contrary to the electronic robot sterility critics seem to hear in Ocasek's work with the Cars. With the intonations of nervous paranoia in his almost conversational vocal over the electronic locomotion of "Jimmy Jimmy" and the sultry techno-disco come-on of "Prove" (try playing this side-by-side with Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing"), he is flirting with that point of no return where the synthesized becomes the anesthetized, seeing just how far a little human feeling can go.
"I'm all for the computers and technology in music" he insists. "But the human element, of figuring out what particular line to play, the way to play it, that's something you can't compute. You still need a sense of what really makes a song move. That's the hardest part. Programming the stuff is simple." (Note: all of the synthesizers on Beatitude were manually played with the sole exception of a sequencer, which makes a brief appearance in "Connect Up To Me.")
Ocasek further complicated the man/machine tug of wills and wires by introducing a few extra human elements on the album. In Stephen George he found a drummer who could play "really hard" but with the meticulous syncopation of a drum machine. For the six Beatitude tracks on which he plays (the rest are credited to a "Miss Linn"-geddit?), George usually copied the original drum machine rhythm from Ocasek's demo while adding his own stylish muscle in collaboration with guest bassist Darryl Jenifer of the Bad Brains, who chipped in his own punky soul. On a few tracks, Ocasek mixed the drum overdubs with LinnDrum fills in counterpoint to the already rhythmic clip of his synthesizer lines.
Another neat trick was inviting several outside players to contribute parts to a song and then pick from their various throws of the dice. Ocasek would pass tapes of a basic track on to local Boston guitarists like Fuzzbee Morse from his old band Richard & the Rabbits, Roger Greenawalt of the Dark (whose nifty Ocasek produced Darkworld EP is just out) and New Models' Casey Lindstrom and tell them to write additional parts for the song without allowing them to hear the others' ideas.
"For instance, Roger of the Dark came in with a few guitar parts for 'Prove.' The one I used was a little clicky part (a scratchy guitar figure with a disorienting rhythm of its own). But he also put a chordal thing on it that was so strange I couldn't even use it. The chordal thing changed the key and the notes in the song so when I would sing the chorus, the melody was totally different. That was great, though, because I knew if I wanted something really different, I could get Roger to play it. I knew his parts would be real off. definitely from another place."
From yet another place is the brainbusting guitar break by Fuzzbee Morse during the heavy metallic climax of "Time Bomb." "That," Ocasek recalls, "was a one-take guitar part And he also did the feedback track that goes underneath that part of the song. I said to him, 'I just want total feedback in A, lust let it ring and don't ever let it go down.' So he was out there in front of his Marshall amp doing this feedback stuff and I think he knocked off his headphones. But he didn't want to stop, so he just sat there with the thing feeding back right in his ear. He didn't even know if he was playing to the backing track anymore. The final result, according to Ocasek, "sounds like dogs crying or something."
Only three songs on Beatitude-Time Bomb," the plucky Cars-like "Something To Grab For" and "A Ouick One," which is distinguished by a chunka-chunka guitar rhythm often at the heart of Ocasek's poppier numbers-were wholly recorded at Syncro Sound. "Out Of Control" is a home B-track number recorded with Cars synth specialist Greg Hawkes that didn't make the cut for Shake It Up. "Jimmy Jimmy" is all 8-track except for an additional keyboard played by Stephen Hague of Jules & the Polar Bears and an atmospheric female vocal. Everything else features at least keyboard or vocal parts first laid down at home and transferred to 24-track for overdubs.
"For me, the 8-track stuff is done at the real point of inspiration, things that you can never get again. At the point of inspiration, you make mistakes. But they're not really mistakes sometimes but alternative ideas, things that just pop into your head that are interesting. Something like when I wrote 'Panorama'-you're in that 'Panorama' mood for a day or so, engulfed with it. And so there's a certain feeling in it. To come in and dissect it, relearn the parts and do 'em over could just sterilize it.
"'Jimmy Jimmy' was an 8-track tape I used to listen to while I would ride around in my car. And I liked listening to it in the car I always thought, 'God, I'm just going to keep it just like this. And that was one track done." "Jimmy Jimmy" started life as a bass line played on a Korg and the tick-took of the LinnDrum machine. Ocasek says he tried adding drums to the song later, discovering instead that the monotonous click of the Linn highlighted the sparseness of the arrangement and forced more attention to the lyrics Over the Korg and Linn he next laid his vocal, followed by synth strings swelling up from his Roland Jupiter 8 synthesizer.
"That was basically it, except for a guitar in there that lust plays little notes. The background vocal drone on the Vocorder (an electronic chorus device that sounds like a bunch of hammy R2D2s doing Rudy Vallee impressions) was the main part for me. I had the attack set real slow so that when I was singing the Jimmys, the Vocorder would swell on the off-beat for a counter-rhythm. I would put my hand down on the Vocorder, say the Jimmys, and then the chorus would swell up after it. I like doing little things like that."
Ocasek suspects his Beatitude adventures will strongly influence the outcome of the next Cars album, due to be recorded in the spring. "I'm really excited about us coming back and doing another record. Everybody will be much more expanded because they have had time off to do quite a few alternative projects." Which is to say Greg Hawkes. singer/bassist Ben Orr and guitarist Elliot Easton all have solo albums in the pipeline while drummer David Robinson busies himself producing young Boston talent. When questioned about it, Ocasek admits he fears the Cars' five turbulent years together have led to an inbred programming, a dangerous predictability, in their creative responses to each other. There is a danger that the Cars have simply come to know themselves too well.
"But that's the way it works with a band." he objects. "It always will be that way. That's not to say you can't consistently come up with new things. It just depends on how far out you want to go. It depends on if you're just doing it for the sake of change. I mean anybody can make a real strange record, if you just want to go out on a limb. And it's not to say it would make everyone happy. Except yourself."
The Rio Ocasek story is not exactly one of rags-to-riches. it's more like the Poor Farm-to-his-chauffeur's bedroom The Poor Farm was the honest-to-gawd name of a Boston area studio where in 1971, shortly after moving east from Cleveland. Ocasek first got his hands on quality studio gear, trading sweat and elbow grease while the room was being renovated for free recording time. He made tapes of his pre-Cars band Richard & the Rabbits and started his outside production career cutting demo tracks for local Boston acts. In the bar located lust downstairs from the studio, he and Ben Orr also picked up spare change playing as an acoustic duo.
The chauffeur's bedroom is a tiny studio apartment under the garage of his large, stylishly furnished home (two original Warhol portraits of Ocasek greet you as you enter the foyer) in
the nigh-brow Brookline section of Boston. Since he has no use for a chauffeur (the previous owners apparently did), Ocasek has instead cluttered the room with a surprisingly modest collection-at least given his income-of electronic toys and studio curios with which he has recorded Cars song demos and most of Beatitude. He can't tell you much about his guitars except whether they are Gibsons or Fenders-the former for leads and core rifts, the latter for rhythms. In addition to using a Roland Space Echo, he is fond of the slap back he gets in the adjacent bathroom by filling the bathtub with varying amounts of water. And he absolutely refuses to move from 8-track up to 16.
"I like all the new stuff that's out," he explains, "but there's really only a few things I need. Like, eighty percent of all effects work on some sort of delay system, whether it's flanged or phased or whatever. Even harmonizers work on delay principles. Then there's your synthesized keyboards. The most refined seem to be the Prophet and the Jupiter 8. I'm not into the Fairlight or the Synclavier, which are basically 16-track tape recorders and that's eight more than I need.
"I could get bogged down with all those sounds and all the keyboard variations. I'm not really a keyboard player anyway-I only play with my right hand so I can move the controls with the other. And when it comes to writing songs, I'm basically a purist. I just usually write it on a guitar, bare, on a cassette or sometimes on my 8-track machine with a couple of instruments."
That seems strange anti-tech talk from someone who spent his teenage years in the family basement building 2000-watt ham radio transmitters and by age sixteen had passed the grueling FCC examination for a First Class Engineer's license. But Ocasek says he did not get his first cassette machine until he was in college, and although he and Ben Orr noodled around in a couple of Cleveland recording studios in their early days. he claims the Poor Farm experience was his first real interface with multitrack recording. And even then he didn't go equipment-crazy. Ocasek confesses that the 1977 Cars demos (including a prototype "Just What I Needed"), which received saturation airplay on Boston's WBCN and later led to their Elektra contract, were unmixed live 2-track tapes cut at the Poor Farm
"Back then, it was all totally off the cuff. I considered everything a demo. It was just to hear what we were doing. But there was quite a bit of tooling around with the songs, to try to get some Kind of a sound. I remember trying to get as much ambience in a room as I could on drums, just putting mikes way far away and putting a lot of compression on the ambient mikes. There were different echo effects to elongate the sound on the snare drums.
At that point, it was more messing around than even caring about the songs. Then it sort of reversed itself, where I got more into the songs and that recording experience just fell into place."
These days Ocasek busies himself while at home with a TEAC 88 8-track tape machine connected to a Sound Workshop 1280 B board in turn hooked up with two Orban 622B equalizers (the board is also equipped with its own parametric equalizers. For keyboards he swears by his Prophets and Roland Jupiter 8. using a Korg Lambda for orchestral coloring and often calling in an assortment of little Casiotones for reinforcement. He probably has more drum machines than anything else-both the old Linn LM-1 Drum Computer and the new LinnDrum. a Korg KR 55, five Roland units (including a TR808. CR8000 and a Dr. Rhythm), some old Univox rhythm gizmos and a drum machine yanked out of a Hammond organ "that has the Liverpool beat." the kind of insect clicking you hear in organ shops in suburban shopping malls.
"Guitars? My favorite ones are always Gibsons. Fenders like the Jaguar I'll use on stuff like 'My Best Friend's Girl.' clicky stuff where I'm lust playing eighth notes. The Gibsons I like for more distorted, bigger, raw kinds of sounds." One of them is a '54 Fretless Wonder; the others arc mostly late 50s and early 60s Les Paul' TV models he picked up on various Cars tours. Curiously, Ocasek's guitars all come in red, white or black finishes except for a lone acoustic Martin. "I can't use a guitar with a natural finish. I don't like the look of wood guitars." Whatever their color, they all go through a 50-watt Marshall amp. Everything else is plugged straight into the board.
(More guitar gab: he doesn't usually play it, but Ocasek is really in love with a bizarre orange Gretsch model outfitted with leather binding and little bows and arrows and guns inlaid in the wood in a rockabilly cowboy motif. For a time he' played a Dean Elite onstage and Elliot Easton also designed a black-and-white Dean for him that came with tiny light-emitting diodes in the fretboard so that on a pitch-black stage "you can tell exactly where your hands should go for the next chord.")
Outboard gear consists of the Roland Space Echo, the Eventide 949 harmonizer, a Lexicon Prime Time, a digital reverb by Ursa Major called the Space Station and an MXR digital delay, "which is great for putting drum machines through, turning it out of phase so it makes swishy sounds in the background." Speakers are a mixed bag of Ureis, JBLs and Auratones while Ocasek can't even remember what microphones he's got. "I generally just end up using the same mike for everything. And," he laughs, "a compressor over easy. There's a couple of noise gates, an Otari half-track, and"-he pauses thoughtfully-a mood. And away I go."
Beatitude aside, Ocasek should share his 8-track tapes with the public more often. I remember being particularly transported by the original demo of "Panorama," an even darker, more intimate version with a black velvet wraparound synth and stuttering guitar that Ocasek popped into a tape player during a 1980 interview. He admits he occasionally prefers his own home versions of Cars songs, citing "This Could Be Love" from Shake It Up as one example.
But there is something in Ocasek's soft whispery speech and quiet church-mouse demeanor, in the anonymous way he goes about his Cars and production business, that suggests what goes on in that chauffeur's apartment is very intense, deeply private business. For someone who is likely to record a complete 8-track demo in one night or lay down six or seven new Cars songs at a time on cassette, whipping off a couple of Bad Brains and Alan Vega records must seem like a regular vacation.
"Actually. I use those outside things as a way of escape from working at home, from writing. It's good for me to get away like that and get totally involved in some other project. And then when I come back, I feel full of ideas. Some may be inspired by groups that I work with, some lust inspired by not doing any work."
He smiles brightly, as if another good song idea has just gone off in his head. "I'm always anxious to do something constructive.
Here's the Link For you Archivists: Ric Musician Magazine 1983
Friday, November 17, 2006
Rock For Tots My Space
Rock For Tots. com
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
The late great rock promoter has recently unlocked the vaults containing his treasure chest of archived audio shows. There are a couple hundred of live shows to choose from but two which should concern Ocasek fans. The first one is a performance that originally aired on the syndicated show "Rock and Roll Tonight" it featured songs from Ric's first solo album Beatitude. It was recorded live at Perkins Palace in California. Ric's three man band consisted of himself, Greg Hawkes (Keyboards,Drum program) and Casey Lindstrom (lead guitar)
The second performance is somewhat of a mixed bag. It contains mostly The Cars performing live in 1978 at the Palladium in NYC while opening upo for Cheap Trick. Mixed within this live show are two performances of "Misfit Kid" and " Gimme Some Slack" which originally aired on the King Biscuit Flour Hour syndicated radio program in 1980. The set includes some really rare live happenings. Candy-O w/sax , NightSpots w/echo, and the aforementioned rare Panorama tracks.
Follow this link For Ric Ocasek Perkins Palace 1983
Follow this Link For The Cars At Palladium 1978 and KBFH 1980
Sunday, November 12, 2006
When The Next solo CD coming out ?
It can all be found in Sunday November 12th's New York Times.
"Reggae, the Ramones and Keane: Just What He Needed
by Winter Miller
“Muzik” (Basic Replay) is a reggae record. I don’t know much about White Mice; I went to Other Music and bought a bunch of records. It was the cover; the guy on the cover looks about 10. The reggae is beautiful, really well done. There’s hardly any info on the record, no liner notes, nothing about him. When I got it, I thought, Oh God, this is really great. Reggae is one of my favorite kinds of music; I never get tired of that beat on three. I think he’s breaking ground. On the cover he looks like he is. He doesn’t have any dreads, he’s got a bow tie on.
I love “Under the Iron Sea” (Interscope). Tom Chaplin’s voice is really beautiful. They don’t sound like any other band out there, and they’re consistent. I saw them perform live once, and they were just completely real about it; there was no fake show. The guy could really pull off the vocals. He sings some stuff in falsetto. I really like the song “Atlantic”: it’s a catchy pop song — could be a hit — but it still has integrity. It’s not schlock pop.
“Echoes of the Past” (Sub Pop) is a compilation record; it’s got 50 songs on it. It’s a band hardly anybody knows about. Every song sounds the same, kind of like the ’60s band the Seeds. It’s a band that will never be commercial, never see the light of day in that sense, but it does have a devout following. It’s almost like Robert Plant singing, but it’s kind of straight-out old rock ’n’ roll riffs. It’s kind of raw, but I really like it.
Albert Hammond Jr.
He’s the guitar player from the Strokes. He writes phenomenal songs. I was really shocked another member of the band could write as well as that. I heard snippets of “Yours to Keep” (Rough Trade) before it was out, but once it came out, I was really pleased with what he did. It looks like Albert has a future making records. It was arranged really well.
This is from 1982. It’s real raw. That band is probably the No. 1 punk band in the world. They probably influenced every punk band there is. There’s not a lot of footage of them at all; they were hard to pin down. As the years went on H. R., the lead singer, got hard to deal with. He wouldn’t do the hardcore stuff anymore, he started to get crazy, he wanted to stick with the reggae. But when he did do the hardcore stuff, there was no one who could even come close. There wasn’t much you could see; even if you went on YouTube, you wouldn’t see much. But “Bad Brains Live at CBGB 1982” (Music Video Distributors) is the real deal; its really what the Bad Brains were like. This is a phenomenal thing to have out.
The Ramones DVD “Raw” (Image Entertainment) is really comprehensive, far more comprehensive than “The Cars Unlocked.” It’s more of a traditional documentary. If you really wonder what the Ramones were all about over the years, if you’re a Ramones fan or even if you’re not, it’s phenomenal video. I liked every bit of it. It’s fun to see all the Phil Spector stuff. You heard stories, like Phil Spector had a gun in the studio, and you didn’t know if he did, but you watch it, and you find out he did. It’s a great retrospective of them.
Peter, Bjorn and John
The songs are great — the arrangements and the general vocals. It sounds a bit British. The chord structures are slightly different: they don’t play a C chord like everyone else. A lot of British bands use a different chord structure. They may learn to play things on the guitar different. It’s a hard thing to pinpoint. The album’s called “Writer’s Block” (Wichita), which I never understood because I never had it. I never put that pressure on myself. I always have stuff to write.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
What's your favourite of the two Weezer albums that you played on?
Oh wow, I don't know. They both have great memories to them, and terrifying memories. I remember sitting in the sound booth trying to do the back-up vocals on the Blue album and Ric Ocasek was on the other side of the glass and I'd never made a record before at that time, so everything just seemed like a television show. And he was going "Oh, your vocal is flat," and at that point I'd never really sung much before, and I just couldn't figure out what they were talking about, or how to correct it and what to do about it. And Ric was sort of one of the biggest icons from when I was growing up, so to have the guy looking at you going "You're wrong, you're flat" even though he was gentle about it, was just so terrifying and such a horrible feeling. So I guess there was that, but also the excitement of making the records. On both albums I just had this feeling of being so grateful to be there.
Back during the early days of The Rentals, you were very cagey about what specifically your single "Friends Of P" was about. And it still seems like you avoid the subject in current interviews. So how about giving ChartAttack the scoop? It's time to unlock the mystery. What is that song about?
It's about Paulina Porizkova, who is Rick Ocasek's wife, who used to come down to Electric Ladyland studios when we were recording the Blue album. And she would read our palms, and she was pregnant and she would just hang out. And we were like, "Wow, a pregnant supermodel is reading our palms." And then she would complain about how only bands like Warrant and all these '80s heavy metal bands are the only people who would write songs about her. And so she was really bummed out that nobody cool was writing songs about her now, so I wrote that song for her while we were at Electric Lady as an attempt to get her out of the '80s hair metal rut she was stuck in.
Matt Sharp Entire Article
Friends Of P. Song
Thursday, November 09, 2006
While Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes tour as the New Cars with Todd Rundgren on lead vocals, Cars founder Ric Ocasek has spent his time making the ultimate home movie.
Digging through years of privately shot video, Ocasek has put together The Cars Unlocked - The Live Performances, a DVD full of live music and behind-the-scenes footage.
"I thought it would be interesting for people to see," the reclusive Ocasek says from his New York home. "We weren't too vocal about a lot of stuff, which was intentional on my part, because I wanted to preserve some mystery."
The Cars Unlocked has that, with lots of home footage mixed with feeds taken off the big-screen system at certain concerts.
There were no overdubs, with all live music. "I didn't have much choice. I didn't have any 24-track tapes to mix from," Ocasek says.
It's a tribute to the original band, with drummer David Robinson and the late Benjamin Orr, who co-founded the band with Ocasek, well-represented.
AND THEY'RE OFF!
• On the first album's signature guitar sound: "I only had one amp and one guitar. I think Elliott had one guitar and one amp. The other thing was, Roy Baker was a really great engineer. The first album was an album we did in 12 days and barely had time to learn anything. It was just very quick. I'm sure he close-miked, but I know he set mikes in the room as well. He was very into ambient sound."
• "David (Robinson) did all the (Cars album) covers. He did collages for them that were re-photographed. This was way before PhotoShop where you'd have to do things by hand. In the beginning, I remember talking about wearing black and white onstage because it was easy to find. People started noticing, so we kept doing that, then brought red in to the picture. It was all part of a visual thing."
• "Some tours were long, especially the first two, maybe eight months out of the year, Europe included. Then tours started to get a little more reasonable mentally. They were around four months long. That was mostly for sanity reasons, at least for me personally. I had to write the albums, too, so I had to have some time. The first two were really great fun. But then it became a little redundant."
STEP AWAY FROM THE CARS!
• Approve of the New Cars? Disapprove? "It's somewhere in the middle." But honestly, wouldn't you have liked to tour? "I have this reputation for not liking to tour, and I can't say I do love it. I certainly didn't want to do a reunion tour. There were different factors why I didn't want to do that. I don't feel like I need to be revived. I've got things to do."
• "If I'm not producing, I'm writing albums, and if I'm not doing that, I'm doing artwork or something. I think some people were born to perform. Some people are better performers than they are songwriters or musicians. Once I saw the world and once I understood the reaction that was always going to be there, it was not as gratifying for me anymore."
WHY? WHY? WHY?
• "I've been doing this (DVD) project for a few years now, off and on. I wanted it to be there because I work with a lot of new bands and they'd say: 'I've never even seen The Cars. I love your music, but I wasn't born yet. I wish I could have seen it.' I always had that in the back of my mind - what about people who have never seen The Cars?"
• "I always use a Les Paul SG. The one I primarily use is from 1962. I bought it on the road once. The first guitar I ever had was an SG, and I had it painted and it had pinstripes on it. That's the one I used on the first album, the whole album. That was before I changed guitars. That would be the one I would grab if there was a fire."
Here's The Link : Rocky Mountain News
Reviewed by Noel Murray
November 7th, 2006
For the past several years, The Cars' frontman Ric Ocasek has been digging through his video archives to assemble The Cars Unlocked, a DVD that's part concert film and part kaleidoscopic look at what it was like to live and tour with one of the most distinctive power-pop bands of the '70s and '80s. Drawing on performances from multiple eras and some charmingly amateurish backstage footage, Ocasek has fleshed out the personality of a band best known for affectlessness. Ocasek recently spoke with The A.V. Club about the process of preparing the DVD, The Cars' philosophy, his second career as an in-demand producer, and his reaction to his bandmates' recent decision to record an album with Todd Rundgren under the Cars name.
The A.V. Club: Did you enjoy going back through all this archival material, seeing it again?
Ric Ocasek: Enjoy? [Laughs.] It was kind of interesting, because I hardly remembered what I had. Certainly some of the home movies, I hadn't seen for so long. The footage was taken from VHS and Betamax. I remember buying our first camera on the road, when they first came out.
AVC: There's actually one scene on the DVD where you show somebody reading the manual to learn how to operate the camera.
RO: Yeah, like, "White balance? What's that?" [Laughs.] It's funny how bad the quality is. You see all the light trails and things they don't even have anymore. You couldn't get a light trail on a new camera if you tried. But our lighting designer, he'd follow us around, and he really didn't know what he was shooting, and we didn't know what he was shooting. So I didn't know what I was going to find. It took me quite a long time, on and off for a few years between producing other people, just to log everything. So it was kind of fun for me, and also enlightening to go back and look at all that stuff.
AVC: How so?
RO: The performances, I thought, stood up pretty well. There were a lot of performances to pick from, like 10 or 12 takes of the same song, but on some, the quality of the video was really terrible, or the quality of the sound not so good. A lot of them were just tapes for us to look at after a show. And considering it was all from two-track, I didn't really have anything to mix from. But I kind of didn't want it to be too slick anyway.
AVC: That's sort of the aesthetic of your videos from back then, too.
RO: It dates everything in kind of a cool way. That's the way things looked, and that's the way things looked when you videotaped them. I kind of like that aspect of it.
AVC: Did you find, looking at the backstage bits especially, that you remembered much?
RO: It was kind of a big haze. But I thought that people should see what we did to keep from getting bored on the road, and I also tried to edit it in a way that wasn't too serious. I think bands, when they're on the road, they keep their sanity by developing an internal sense of humor. I don't know if this comes across on the DVD, but I do think this footage comes from a time when The Cars were having some fun. As time went on, I could see the whole band changing in a way.
Also, I felt this flowed in a way that was slightly chronological, but not too much biography. I didn't want it to be too biographical. I thought this was a little more artful.
AVC: Did the other members of The Cars help you with the DVD at all?
RO: No, I have to say they didn't, really. It was pretty much all my thing. Although David Robinson, the drummer, designed the package. And I'd send him rough tapes of things, and he'd make comments. I didn't really want to make it a democratic type of thing. It's my vision of what we did that I wanted to portray.
AVC: As far as you know, they're not opposed to it, though?
RO: No, no. Everybody's seen it. Everybody likes it, as far as I know.
AVC: Any lingering hard feelings over the Rundgren affair?
RO: I don't know, you know? Why make trouble? That will stand or fall on its own. People can decide for themselves.
AVC: Was there anything in your old performances that you look at now and wish you'd done differently, like the stage design, or your costumes, or your hairstyles?
RO: No, there's really nothing I regret. Because the performances were usually consistently, as far as we were concerned, pretty good. The band was actually pretty competent. We were a band that kind of did just stand there, and that's the way we wanted it to be. I didn't feel like gymnastics were part of The Cars. I certainly philosophically didn't want to prod the audience to react to anything. To me, it was more like negative theater. We didn't really talk to the audience. I didn't see that being a part of this band. And some people liked that. Bands do it now and don't get criticized for it. The Killers don't move much. Different kinds of bands do different things. Some people dance and run around and yell and try to get audience reactions, and some bands kind of play their music.
I thought the set designs were cool. The same person did all of our set designs. He was a performance artist from San Francisco who was the type of guy who would wear trash bags to the concert, and staple pieces of steak to them. So no, I didn't really care what people liked. It was kind of a funny thing, I guess, the way we looked. I guess it was new wave. [Laughs.] First we were punk, you know? That's what they said. Then we were new wave. I think we were too soft to be punk. Plus, we weren't too punky. It's funny how you get that label. We used to joke about that a lot.
AVC: Those early Cars albums don't really sound like anything that was on pop radio at the time. What was it like dealing with the label when you had a sound that wasn't necessarily familiar?
RO: Things were more open then. We were lucky enough to get radio play with our demos, before the band even broke. So that was kind of a nice coup for us. I think we really wanted to be different. It wasn't something we could have contrived. The songs and the arrangements came out the way they did because of the people in the band. And after the first album, the label didn't complain too much. [Laughs.] They really, totally left us alone. I never saw an A&R person coming in and checking to see if everything was going all right. We just did what we felt like in the studio.
Now, producing a lot of new bands like I do, there's so much pressure from labels. I have to lock them out of the room. It's not as free an experience, unless you're making indie records. In those days, they really left us alone. I think Elektra was probably just happy that they had a hit. They didn't want to destroy what it was. And I don't know that we would've listened to anybody anyway. There was really nothing for anyone to say.
AVC: It's hard to pinpoint any hard influences on The Cars besides old-time rock and maybe krautrock. What were you listening to then?
RO: As a songwriter, oddly enough, my influences were people like Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground, and Buddy Holly. Some psychedelic stuff, too. Back then, there wasn't a lot of press on bands. There was Creem and Rolling Stone, and that was about it. There certainly wasn't the Internet. You would stay in your basement and create something and then come out. You didn't have anything to rub off on. You didn't know what the band down the street was doing, because you couldn't look it up, and you couldn't see it on TV. I think people tended to come out with things that were different because they weren't influenced by their environments as much. I find these days, you almost have to force yourself to stay in a vacuum to become different—if you really want to be different. Maybe you have to have something different inside of you as well.
The Cars—we all liked different things. Greg [Hawkes] and Elliot [Easton] liked The Beach Boys and The Beatles, and certainly I did as well. Other people in the band liked other music. We didn't usually cross-collaborate. We never said, "Oh, this should sound like this," or whatever. We were in sort of a hole, and we tried not to pay too much attention to what was going on outside.
AVC: Were you collegial with the other bands of your era?
RO: Since the beginning of our career was in Boston, there were a lot of Boston bands we knew, of course. But we didn't really hang out with other bands much. We were in that little Boston scene, but the names of those bands escape my mind, except for Aimee Mann's band, The Young Snakes. I was kind of looking for something new, but there wasn't a lot. But it was a fun scene in Boston then. Radio was real supportive of local bands. I don't know if Boston's ever been as influential as it probably was in those times.
AVC: Until recently, it seemed that The Cars were one of the few great bands that hadn't had a lot of influence on modern rock, but now a lot of bands sound at least a little like The Cars.
RO: I see that written a lot. I suppose it's true. There's more keyboards in bands now. I would certainly never take credit for it. It's funny, sometimes I read about a band that people say sounds like The Cars, and I think, "Oh, it doesn't really." Maybe little twinges here and there vocally. But it's flattering if it's true.
AVC: How have your experiences as a recording artist affected the way you work as a producer?
RO: It's a big advantage, because I think I understand what bands want, just from having made records myself. I understand what it takes to get a good vocal sound, or to make people comfortable in the studio. From minor things like their headphone mix—and if a singer's singing, how they should hear themselves—to how to make people feel that they're getting exactly what they want. All those things, I think, are an advantage, especially the part about having done it myself. I'm not just an engineer who records the sounds well. I'm not afraid to take chances.
And some of it's just band politics. I've been in a band, so I understand the politics. Sometimes the bass player doesn't like what the guitar player is doing, and you have to sort of even that out. But I've also always loved the technology part of it. I've always loved the studio part. Making albums. Besides writing songs, which has been my primary thing, making records would be second. Obviously, touring would be third. Touring wasn't my favorite thing to do, but the first few tours were pretty fun. Seeing the world and everything.
AVC: Were there places you looked forward to visiting? Like, "Oh boy, San Francisco!" vs. "Oh crap, Houston."
RO: Certainly. [Laughs.] Houston was pretty good, actually. There were about eight cities in America that I would be excited to play. And of course it was always fun to play in Europe. We only did that a couple times. There were some places that were always very fun, and then there were some places that you kind of dreaded. It didn't matter what year we went to San Jose, they just spit on us. [Laughs.] Even when we sold out there! It was funny. I think we sold out so that people could spit on us. It was always fun to go to Los Angeles and San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago. Mostly the big cities. But I guess once you've seen the world, you don't really need to revisit it.
Here's the Link : AV Club Article
After being impersonated for about a year the real Ric Ocasek has taken command of his myspace account.
How do we know this ?
Well, first off the page has two never before heard demos on it and secondly the real Ric is a lot busier to post than the previous imposter. The myspace page also features two videos from Ric's own video vault. Two songs from the upcoming video compilation project Different Times can be seen there. " All We Need Is Love" and "Not Shocked" live.
Ric has promised art and poetry as well. The demos I previously mentioned are incredible. One is the Ric only Demo for "Let's Go" and the other a recording of him and the late great Benjamin Orr doing a cover of Buddy Holly's "Everyday".
Make sure you bookmark this badboy, it is essential to any Ric Ocasek fan.
Ric's MY Space Page
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Comedian Stephen Colbert has developed a spoof like version of Wikipedia entitled Wikiality. It works exactly as Wikipedia except that the content goes totally unchecked and is designed to be a parody of Wikipedia's. Wikiality contributors are encouraged to post absurd facts. It's basically a jab at Wikipedia for not being a reliable source for information because it's facts are posted by basically anyone who has internet acess. Ric's Wikiality is a gasser, check it out.
Here's The Link :
Monday, November 06, 2006
Good bad or indifferent I have put up Links to reviews for the recently released The Cars "Unlocked" DVD. In the upcoming weeks I will have my own review of the Ocasek made documentary about his former band.
Full Vue Drive-In
I Miss The 80's
Boston.com (Middle of Page)
Ric's Inverse label has been put on hold because of all the recent turmoil concerning the Sanctuary Record Group ( Inverse's distributor).
Sanctuary's Chief executive Andy Taylor was fired recently because Sanctuary's 2006 projected financial losses were far greater than predicted. This has resulted in Ric's Inverse being put on what's let's hope is a small haitus. Bad news is that Ocasek has no way to distribute the Hong Kong's new album " Slow Motion Gets Around" through Inverse so the band is seeking other labels to do so.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
New York's Brazilian Girls released their new album "Talk To The La Bomb" on September 12th. Ric was involved in the project but not as fully as we first reported. It appears Ric had produced some tracks for the CD but not all.
However, Ric did lend his guitar to the Brazilian girls sound which earned him a guitar credit in the billfold. Something I haven't seen since he played on Alan Vega's "Saturn Strip album back in the early 80's. Ric for sure produced one of the more critically acclaimed tracks on the CD entitled "Last Call"
The Hong Kong, Ric's initial signing to his own label Inverse has recently released a song called "Tongue Tied". I suspect this is the first song from their forthcoming album " Slow Motion Gets Around" which is also produced by Ric. This is the first track to make it's way to the public. The song is fantastic and the production is outstanding.
However, according to The Hong Kong's keyboardist Shawn King because of Inverse's dilemma with Sanctuary ( read two posts up) Inverse's fate is on hold.
Because of this The Hong Kong themselves are presently shopping the new album around to other labels.
The Hong Kong's latest release "Tongue Tied" also has a video that accompanies it which has recently won the best Music Video at the Crossroads Film festival in Jackson Mississippi for both the band and its director Sera Rogacki.
The Hong Kong are great peeps and an good band to boot.
Download their first album "Rock The Faces" Here
Take a look at the Video Here.
The Hong Kong - Tongue Tied
Friday, November 03, 2006
Ric Amazon.com Interview
Ric recently was shown in the running gag on The Colbert's Report "Rescuing Steven Jr. The Eagle" bit. Ocasek during this latest skit is a vital member of Colbert's "Col-mando's" who have been given the task in this important eagle saving mission. Ric has been chosen because of his New Wave Rock and Muscle. Colbert also adds that Ric resembles a bird. Colbert then unveils a Ric Ocasek tracking system which reveals that Ric has strayed from the mission and is now stalking Todd Rundgren.
Ric in Col-Mando Bit