Monday, January 22, 2007

Mandatory Ric Reading

Sometimes an Interviewer asks the right questions instead of asking the same generic Ric/Cars questions that we all get tired of hearing. Daniel Robert Epstein who writes for Suicide IS one of the good ones. He interviewed Ric about a month ago on some various topics that I found both direct and noteworthy.

Here's The interview

Daniel Robert Epstein: How long has the Unlocked DVD been in the works?

Ric Ocasek: Off and on I’ve been putting it together for a couple of years now. I’d go through a period of doing it for a few months and then go back and take some time off and then go back and do some more. I had to look through a lot of footage so it took quite a long time and then the rest is just putting it together and deciding what to put there and what not to. There’s quite a bit of stuff. I must have had a couple hundred hours of footage or something.

DRE: I read your son was working on this with you.

Ric: Yeah, because he’s an editor. That’s his job. He acts too but he edits when he’s not getting any roles.

DRE: Where were all these tapes?

Ric: They were actually all in my basement. It was just stuff I collected when we were back on the road from various gigs. Some shot on VHS, some Betamax, some just things that were shot by our lighting designer. Some things that were shot by the bigger halls that we played in to show on the big screen.

DRE: I just spoke to Stewart Copeland a couple weeks ago about a movie he cut together from old footage of The Police. What is coming around that is making guys like you and Stewart do movies like this?

Ric: Everybody must have thought “Oh it’s a good time, about 20 years. Let’s just do this” [laughs]. Also there isn’t much out on DVD on The Cars. If anything. There’s just one, Musikladen, which I was never crazy about anyway. So at this point it seems like everybody switched formats and now it’s all DVD. Also being able to edit things on Final Cut Pro rather than go to a studio gives you the luxury of time, that and technology made it a much easier thing to do.

DRE: How much time did you spend tweaking all that audio and video?

Ric: The audio was pretty much stereo tracks. I didn’t really have multi-track tapes. So it’s pretty much what it was. I EQued it a bit as a stereo track like a mastering engineer would. Some of the video got color corrected or was boosted a little considering how old the footage was. If it was really horrible looking we just made it black and white, like the interview stuff.

DRE: Did this all come out of your pocket?

Ric: Yeah it pretty much came out of mine.

DRE: Who owns The Cars music?

Ric: Well I wrote all the songs so I own all the songs. As for who owns the tapes, I guess it depends on how you look at it legally. I guess I own the tapes because they’re here. You have to get permission from the other guys in the band. But that wasn’t too hard to do.

DRE: So everyone in the band gets along?

Ric: Well not great. A couple do, a couple don’t.

DRE: Is that stuff over old band stuff or is it because they’re out there doing The New Cars?

Ric: Well it was old band stuff, because the band broke up. The New Cars is just what it is. That’s a thing where you can either decide to make waves about it or you can let it go and let it stand on it’s own two feet if it will. There’s so much war going on these days it’s like, how many more wars do we need?

I never had any intentions of going back out with The Cars first of all. I do so many other things that I really didn’t want to do some reunion tour. If I would have, I wouldn’t have done it like that. I just didn’t think it was a good idea personally. Some people might think it was, but I didn’t.

DRE: Since you do have a MySpace page, has there been a resurgence in recent years with people getting in touch with you about The Cars?

Ric: I don’t know. I’m not paying attention on a daily basis. Someone writes the stuff on the MySpace page for me. But I’ll certainly look at it. I didn’t get any old lawsuits or any old people looking for me that I know.

DRE: How did you decide what was relevant for the DVD and what wasn’t?

Ric: First of all, song wise, I looked at every concert we had footage of. For a song like Best Friend’s Girl I had about ten or 12 versions of it. From that I tried to decide which one had the best overall sound and visuals. I wanted to put in something from all the different tours so I would make a decision based on that as well. That’s how I went through it and that’s what took a lot of time. But I used handheld stuff and the backstage stuff that I thought would be fun to see. I didn’t want to do a straight documentary thing. I tried to keep it a little bit obscure.

DRE: I read that the CD that comes with the DVD has four songs that never came out before. Is that right?

Ric: No, that’s not true. I knew that got into the press, but there are no songs that have never been out.

DRE: That’s what I thought. I was like, “This band broke up a long time ago.”
I was always more of a casual fan of The Cars. I never heard that there was a myth that you didn’t really sing lead vocals that much. What’s up with that?

Ric: I read that somewhere too. I think I would probably say I sang more than Ben [Orr] did, but it doesn’t matter to me. Ben was my best friend and a great friend but if you were to look at the albums, I probably sang more than him but we did try to keep it even.

DRE: Could you give me the short version on how The Cars got together?

Ric: I guess it was a potpourri of other bands. When I went to Boston in 1972 I had about three or four bands before The Cars. Some of the people in the earlier bands remained in The Cars like Benjamin, Greg Hawkes and Elliot Easton. The last member to join was David Robinson and that’s when we changed the name to The Cars. By then we started getting airplay on local radio and that’s what kicked it off.

DRE: Is there a short version of what was the final straw for the band to break up?

Ric: Well, we toured a lot. We were on the road ten years. For me there started to be some weirdness between people. It was supposed to start off as a long break but then it ended up being…

DRE: A really long break.

Ric: A real break, yeah [laughs]. So that’s the reason. There weren’t any fistfights or anything. It was just one of those things.

DRE: Earlier this year you got written up as one of the one hundred unsexiest men in the world. I think it’s jealousy because of your wife

Ric: [laughs] Yeah, it’s ok. They can say what they want.

DRE: Are you still a music executive?

Ric: No. I went to Elektra for a year to do A&R. I wanted to sign some cool bands because I was going to produce for them. So they said, “Well as long as you’re going to produce, why don’t you sign some bands with us.” I tried to bring in some pretty evil, weird stuff but obviously I found out that corporations don’t really do that stuff. I was trying to bring in Devendra Banhart and Le Tigre. They didn’t really understand that stuff so I left.

DRE: This year you produced Brazilian Girls and Pink Spiders. Did you find them?

Ric: No, I didn’t. They found me.

DRE: When someone wants you to produce, what is it they want you to bring to the table?

Ric: Probably that one hundred least sexiest men in the world image [laughs]. I’ve produced a lot of records. People know I’ve been in a band and they think that I’ll be diplomatic and probably understand what they really want. I’m going to be sensitive to their art and sensitive to their music. I’m not going to work for the record company. I’m going to be on their side. I’m not going to change their sound. I’m going to just try to propel what they’re good at and I’m going to have a critical ear and I’m not going to let them do anything silly [laughs].

DRE: Is there more Cars material out there that you could do something with?

Ric: Well, I could probably do a part two but I’m not going to do it right now. If I ever do.

DRE: How many videos did you guys do back then?

Ric: Maybe 20.

DRE: You should do a collection of those.

Ric: That would be pretty good. We did win the first MTV award ever for You Might Think. So we had some pretty good videos but most of them you wouldn’t want to see [laughs].

by Daniel Robert Epstein From Suicide

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I take it that your new "friends" at the other boards have been leaving you commments. ;-)