Bruce Nazarian: Producer, Recording Artist
Part 4 of a 4 part series
This is part 4 of a four part interview series with the amazing Bruce Nazarian: producer, engineer, composer, recording artist, radio show host, educator and all-around innovator. You can listen to the podcast and/or read along.
Interview took place on September 9, 2012.[audio:https://webdmp3s.s3.amazonaws.com/bruce_nazarian_hugh-hitchcock_120904.mp3]
[In Part 3, Bruce had become an expert on the new, up-and-coming DVD product and its technical aspects. Interview continues...]
Bruce: I was doing it in the Motown city before I did it in New York, before move to L.A. so yeah. I’m a child of the Motor City and that underpins the whole sound approach to what it is that I do and the love of the funk and the love of music in general. When you get that love at a very early age it stays with you.
Hugh: Yeah, so what eventually did happen in 2005 with the music?
Bruce: Let me see in 2005, 2005…
Hugh: You said that’s when you decided to go back to the music?
Bruce: Well, it was subconscious decision that kind of was helped by music itself, because I didn’t realize I’d been carrying around the music monkey on my back for like 15 years, and when all of a sudden it’s like the tapping just kept getting louder and louder and louder, and finally was yelling in my ear going “you idiot, you are a musician -- why aren’t you making music?” And I woke up one day and I said I can’t ignore this voice. It’s really loud. And it’s right.
Hugh: It’s loud like the babies.
Bruce: It’s loud like Baby Sinclair and it’s correct. That was the thing, like this is what I was originally put here to do, and it’s all wonderful that you’ve done all this technological stuff and that’s all fun stuff, but like your soul needs nourishment. Technology doesn’t nourish your soul -- it just nourishes the technical side of your brain. And I didn’t realize how much my soul was thirsty. So what happened was that in 2005, I started getting back to listening to music, because for a number of years I just turned off the radio because it was so bad.
Hugh: I understand, because I did the same thing man right around 1994, I just hung it up for about 10, 12 years. But go on.
Bruce: So I started getting back into listening to music, and what I found I really enjoyed besides funk (which I’ve never lost my love for) was contemporary jazz. And I think I enjoyed it a lot, because it was an instrumental version of R&B, to a certain extent. And it really called to me and I started listening to it, listening to it and listening to it. And I would be working on the computer and I have this smooth jazz station on. One day in 2005, I’m tuning in iTunes to find this smooth jazz link to the smooth jazz station that I like to listen to, and up popped a new station. And I went, oh this is interesting -- it happened that it popped up at the very top of the alphabetical listings (which is how ITunes lists all its streaming video stations). So I double clicked on it and I gave it a listen, and within like 3 minutes I’m going wow, whoever is programming this station really knows what they’re doing because this is great stuff. So I started listening to that station over and over again, day after day. One day I’m listening to the station and I hear a brand new version of an old Grover Washington tune called “Winelight”, which is a classic of what’s come to be called the smooth jazz genre. It turns out it’s this obscure Italian guy that I’ve never heard of from the Adriatic coast of Italy, and what was unique about this particular station was that every time they would play a new song, they would put a posting in their forum that says, here’s the song, here’s the artist, what do you think. And I went to their forum one day and I posted a response on the forum and I said “this is a very good version of Winelight -- one of the best I’ve ever heard from one of my favorite tunes from Grover”. And lo and behold, a day or two later there was a response from the artist himself saying “oh, thank you very much I really appreciate that!” And one thing led to another, and we started chatting back and forth. Next thing you know, I’m finding out that this artist is coming to America to visit some friends in the summer of 2006, so we agreed to meet up and say hi in person -- because what’s the next best thing to an internet friend? Take them to the next level and meeting him in person and turning him into a real friend.
Bruce: So Rocco Ventrella is this chap’s name and he flies all the way in from Bari which is located is opposite Naples on the Adriatic side of Italy. So from Italy, Rocco comes to America in June 2006 -- I meet him here, and he plays live, and he’s phenomenal! I mean, he’s playing with the CD player with some tracks on, and he’s a phenomenal musician.
Hugh: What instrument did you say?
Bruce: He’s a saxophone player.
Hugh: Oh, sax player, okay.
Bruce: Right. After the gig, we go out for dinner and I take him for out for the quintessential Los Angeles dinner -- Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, because it’s unique L.A. soul food.
Hugh: Oh, I’ve got to try that!
Bruce: Yeah, it’s certainly something to be had. So we are talking over dinner and one thing leads to another, and I said Rocco, I love what you do, but you’ve got to make a record because nobody’s ever going to hear of you if you stay in Bari. And next thing you know, I hear myself saying “you need to make a CD and I’m just the guy to produce it for you”. And the words came out of my mouth before I could stop them. That pesky little monkey that was on my back for the music business had just written a check that now I’m going to have to cash.
Hugh: I feel you.
Bruce: So we start making plans to do that. Rocco goes back home to Italy, we start exchanging song ideas over the internet, which is now possible to do because we both have Logic. I have Logic Pro -- he has Logic Express. We are sending song ideas back and forth, and eventually we get enough song ideas, he gets on a plane, he brings his dear boyhood friend, Renato Falaschi (Fa- LAS=kee) a killer keyboard player, we go in the studio in October 2006, and it turns out Renato is a keyboard monster -- I mean, world class Earl Van Dyke quality monster keyboard player of this generation -- and we get along famously, except for the fact that I’m the only one that really speaks English. And what’s really weird about this album while we were making it, is that Rocco is Italian, and speaks fluent Italian as you would expect. He speaks broken English, but if we speak slowly enough, we kind of get the points across, and because of both of our traveling history, it happens that we both speak Brazilian Portuguese.
Bruce: I learned it because I had a client who brought me down to Brazil in the early I think it was 2002 or so, I went down to Brazil and fell in love with a Brazilian girl, and I learned to speak Brazilian Portuguese so I could talk to her.
Hugh: Because she couldn’t speak English. (Was she good looking, Bruce?)
Bruce: We are not going to get into that. Let’s just say that she was fine as frog’s fur.
Hugh: I’m sure she was Bruce.
Bruce: Yeah, she definitely was. She was a beautiful girl and beautiful spirit. Now Rocko and I can communicate in Brazilian, but Renato lives in France now -- so he speaks French most of the time, and so I have to tell Rocco in Portuguese what I’m trying to get Renato to do, and he translates it in Italian to Renato. And then Renato sort of chimes in with his very broken, very basic English and between the three of us. We kind of complete the communication circle but what happens is that when Renato puts his fingers on the keyboard, he’s talking my language.
Hugh: I hear you.
Bruce: Now he’s talking the language, because he’s one of those world class guys that just knows what to play -- and what not to play, which is the more important part of it.
Hugh: Yeah, right.
Bruce: So we do the record for 2 months and I’ve got business in the UK, I have to go back to London, Rocco’s on his way to go back home, and we stop in London along the way. It turns out that since I started listening to this internet radio station in 2005, I have become a friend of the DJ. And in a really twisted case of how small is this world, it turns out that what I didn’t know and what he and I didn’t discover until long after he was introduced to me (as the smooth jazz producer) was that he knew Millie Scott. He’d been a club DJ years earlier and he loved music that I had produced and written for Millie Scott.
Bruce: It is a small world. So we go to London, we give him a sneak preview of Rocco’s records -- and now bear in mind, I haven’t produced a record in 15 years. I haven’t even played in 15 years. We do the exclusive world wide preview on this guy’s radio station, couple of weeks later he does his year end count down on New Year’s Eve, and there’s one of our tracks at number 14. And I’m totally thrilled. And I keep listening and holy shit, there’s another one of our tracks at number 6.
Hugh: Oh my goodness!
Bruce: And I’m thinking, no, there’s no way - what I would love to happen, is actually going to happen, and I couldn’t be that lucky. Well, sure enough, here comes the number 1 track and it was Rocco’s version of Soulful Strut that I produced.
Bruce: He covered Grover Washington’s classic hit record.
Bruce: Now, what’s interesting, if you go and listen to it, it’s all done with samples and loops except for Rocco’s playing, Renato’s playing on the keyboard, and my playing on guitar. But man, it swings.
Hugh: I’m going to have to get a copy of that too and post it as well.
Bruce: Well, I’ll email you an mp3 when we are done.
Hugh: Okay, great.
Bruce: Or you can hear it at http://www.dagnome.net.
Hugh: Is there by any chance a youtube of it?
Bruce: I think somebody posted the song -- there’s a couple of Rocco things up there on youtube because he’s usually good about posting. I don’t know if he put Soulful Strut up there, but it’s certainly easy enough to hear it if you just go to my website.
Hugh: Okay, cool. I’ll do that. I’ll do the research and we’ll figure it out.
Bruce: So that takes us back in to doing music production, which, of course, was sort of full circle for me.
Hugh: What a great thing for you to come in at number 1, and just have such a great success with that album. I mean, I would have expected it from you, but still it’s fantastic.
Bruce: Well, I wouldn’t have expected it after 15 years of not being in the business.
Hugh: Well, that just shows you man, what you got going for you.
Bruce: Well, I was grateful that in the music genre that I came to love -- which is smooth jazz, contemporary jazz -- that I was able to get back into studio and equip myself quite nicely on behalf of Rocko, who’s really the artist. I mean it’s his record, but the three of us made this thing happen, and in a couple of months in the studio -- and what was interesting about this from a technological stand point was that this was the first time that I had made a record in 15 years, and I was not using the Synclavier!
There’s a funny story about how that works. In the summer of ‘06, I started gathering all my Synclavier stuff together in my studio and the day that it was all wired up and ready to go, I walked into the machine room and hit the power button on the Synclavier, and it blew out the power supply. And I said, “I get the impression this is an omen of some kind”.
Hugh: Yeah, right.
Bruce: Because the poor little thing had been in storage for 10+years and I hadn’t done anything and next thing you know I get it out, try to make it do something and the power supply blows, and of course New England Digital had gone out of business in 1992. (And that’s another funny side story because what happened was when New England digital went out of business, all of us who owned Synclaviers at the time were totally screwed. So I worked with a guy in Los Angeles and with Mike Thorn in New York and Chapman in Chicago and we created the Nationwide Synclavier Owners Consortium. It basically ramped up service for all the Synclavier owners who had no service -- and the thing about Synclavier is that it’s a very cranky machine.)
Hugh: I’m sure it is.
Bruce: The Synclavier was a great tool, but it would break all the time, it had to have service and it had to have spare parts. And with the company bankrupt, you couldn’t get service. So now it’s summer 2006, I’m in a studio and I push the power supply on my Synclavier and the damn thing blows up. And I remember hearing in the back of my mind my friend, a guitar player whose name you will probably recognize -- Robert Troy, who now lives in Los Angeles -- and he’s one of the top dialogue editors in the film business, because he got into the post production sound industry with me when we first moved out to L.A.
Robert was telling me for a year of so about this new thing called “virtual instruments and plugins” -- and I remember seeing Logic 7 when it first was released, and I remember remarking at the time Logic 7 looks exactly like my Synclavier. I mean, it does exactly what the Synclavier does. It’s got sampled instruments inside of it, it’s got MIDI to drive external MIDI boxes if you want to use them, and it’s got digital audio. And, you can record live audio tracks inside! And this is a whole lot easier to use than the Synclavier ever was.
Hugh: Let me ask you this, have you ever played around with Reason?
Bruce: I did. And I liked it but my brain really responded to logic because it was the Synclavier.
Hugh: Right, and it was set up in the way that you were more familiar with. Personally I’m a Reason freak myself, but that’s cool.
Bruce: But remember that Reason didn’t have live audio recording until Record came along a couple of years later.
Hugh: Right, and Logic did.
Bruce: Right. Logic had live record -- live audio recording, it had MIDI and it had samples inside. It had sampled live sounds to die for. So I said, okay, plan B on making this record, we are going to do it all on the Macintosh – we’re going to do it all in Logic Pro.
So I reached out to a couple of friends, I got a copy of Logic from Apple because I’d been an Apple consultant for many, many years, and they were kind enough to send along a copy. I reached out to the guys who run Spectrasonics, who I thought were doing the finest job of making libraries for logic. And as it turns out, I ran across an old friend there named Paul de Benedictus who used to work for Opcode, and who I met many years earlier when I was in the studio with film composer Charlie Gross in New York.
Hugh: That’s a good program too I used that too. Opcode.
Bruce: Right, so a lot of us did along the way but Opcode it soon became kind of non-existent, and Logic had become the big player on the block for the Macintosh and also on the PC. Paul was kind enough to hook me up with the entire library from Spectrasonics.
Hugh: See, that’s amazing and then you have all these resources. Most of us we go out and get a computer and we get a program and then we play around with what’s in it and then we make go and try to buy a library or download one. Or you just go right to the source because you know all these people.
Bruce: But I didn’t know that I knew Paul, I didn’t know that Paul was at Spectrasonics and that he was the artist relations manager -- he was the guy in charge of who they endorsed. I just fired off an email to customer service and said I’m doing a presentation at MacWorld about Logic, and I would love to show off the Spectrasonics library because I think it’s phenomenonal. I eventually did that presentation in January of the next year. In the meantime, I explored the library, and a lot of what’s on Rocco’s record is stuff that came out of Spectrasonics. A lot of the bass patches came out of Trilogy, a lot of the core sounds came out of the Atmosphere synth library, and a lot of it was RMX -- especially the drum loops on Soulful Strut. Those were part of the Stylus RMX library, but just put together the way I heard it.
Hugh: I’m looking forward to putting my ear on that record so that I can hear all this stuff.
Bruce: Well, I think you are going to enjoy listening to it man, this thing really rocks.
Hugh: And you didn’t have a live bass player?
Hugh: Oh okay.
Bruce: But I didn’t play live bass, I played logic.
Hugh: Right, loops or whatever?
Bruce: Well, I played the samples sound, but I played it on keyboard the way I would play it on bass.
Hugh: I understand.
Bruce: And then I overdubbed the guitars and then I put the basic keyboards down, and Renato came and put the ear candy on from his stuff. Renato and I collaborated to do the basic keyboard parts. Rocco had programmed a couple of them, and we used some of those in the sequence together, but it was a collaborative effort. And what wound up happening was that the magical CD came out of “we three nut cases” being in the studio for a couple of months. And the next thing you know, we are sitting in London listening to the record being exclusively previewed – and by the end of the year, Soulful Strut was the number one track on Sky FM smooth jazz channel which, as it turns out, is programmed by former club DJ Jimi King – and he’s become a very dear friend…
Hugh: Not the Jimmy King that I know?
Bruce: No, not Jim King, the keyboard player from the Automatix.
Bruce: This is James Kingman, who goes on radio as the famous Jimi King.
Bruce: Jimi was a club DJ many years ago in London, and that’s how he got to know the Millie Scott stuff -- so it turns out he knew me even before he really met me with Rocco!
Hugh: Right, well that was very serendipitous for this.
Bruce: We didn’t find that out until like years after Rocco’s record had made it. We were casually chatting one day and I happened to mention Millie Scott and “Bing” the light bulb went on.
Hugh: That’s amazing. So did you continue from there to do other projects?
Bruce: I started to do more, and I got off into producing another CD on a local singer here in L.A. -- a Bossa Nova CD done kind of the same way, which was using a certain number of live musicians, but primarily programmed and using loops and stuff, and sequences.
Hugh: And the Bossa Nova flavor, you were able to carry from the smooth jazz over to that?
Bruce: Yeah, easily. And there are beautiful libraries out there with a lot of samples and percussion stuff and Latin loops, so it was easy to put that together.
Hugh: Let me ask you a question, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt. Go ahead.
Bruce: It’s your interview.
Hugh: No, this has nothing to do with the history. I wanted to ask your opinion on something because I see these people, a lot of people who really disparaging the fact music is made with computers today. What do you think about that?
Bruce: It’s not the tool, it’s the artist.
Bruce: Well, I shouldn’t say it’s not a tool like the craftsman.
Hugh: But I mean, you hear some of the most amazingly crafted things out there and people will just say, wow, that was just made with the computer, it’s not real music.
Bruce: Yeah, music made with the computer is real music. What does it sound like?
Hugh: When I first started working with Reason, and the guy that kind of got me started on that whole thing, said whenever you take a loop and put two loops together, it’s music. Even if it’s somebody else’s loop.
Hugh: That’s sort of how I take it.
Bruce: Well, look, whatever the library is, let’s go with the different analogy. All of the sounds and samples in the loops and patches and everything -- they are artist’s paint colors. And no artist paints the same way as any other, at least that’s not my experience. Even if you start with the same tubes of color, you are going to mix them differently -- you are going to paint with them differently, your brush choice is going to be different. What winds up on the canvas is going to be different. Now whether it’s crap, or whether it’s great, that’s something that the audience has something to say about. But if you are an artist, you are really creating for yourself -- not necessarily for the audience. If the audience likes it, that’s great.
Hugh: I mean, when you think about John Cage walking into on stage and releasing a bird from a cage, and calling that music…
Bruce: Or sitting down the piano with the silence for 4 minutes and 20 seconds and calling that composition.
Hugh: Right! I mean that sort of puts this loops concept a little bit further along in the spectrum, wouldnt you say?
Bruce: Well, it’s all art, whether it’s musical or visual or whatever is -- it comes from a creative source, and is in the eye or the ear of the beholder. Now, it really becomes a question of how many people recognize and say that it’s great -- or how many people listen to it or recognize it and say it’s mediocre. Or, how many people can you touch and reduce to tears. It’s all about tapping into the emotional part of the listener. And whether you’re tapping into rabid emotions of ravers on the island of Ibiza, with four on the floor dance music at 120Bpm, or sweaty dancers in Studio 54 or Paradise Garage, or the limelight around the corner from my studio in New York, you are tapping into something. And most film composers know that, because that’s really what they do. They tap into the emotions of the film viewer and enhance or twist or move it along, or reinforce it or amplify it or diminish it. It’s all about creativity.
Hugh: Yeah, I learned another term while studying Composition at the University of Michigan’s School of Music (which I attended) which I think applies, which is called ‘cultural context’ as well -- because something that might bring some people to tears in one part of the world, may totally not be understood in another part of the world.
Bruce: It’s true. And a lot of what passes for American pop music works kind of in many places around the world, but there are a lot of places where it doesn’t necessarily work. So that kind of gets us up to almost modern day. The last sort of most interesting kind of career inflection point was in 2010 or so. Along the way, I had made friends with a number of people in the music business. I got back into it in 2006, 2007, 2008 and made friends with some folks in the radio business. And it turns out one of Rocco’s friends was a British saxophone player who now lives in Los Angeles named Mike Parlett.
Hugh: I’ve heard that name a lot.
Bruce: Yeah, he’s got a radio show on Solar Radio out of the UK. And I got to meet Mike because he was one of Rocco’s Facebook friends. And then we got to be Facebook friends and the next thing you know, we got to talking about this and that and the other thing and it turns out that Mike and I share a lot of interests in similar music. And so along the way, I would catch his radio show on Sundays every now and again when I could tune in. Somewhere along the line he found out how deep my musical history went, and one day he said, why don’t you bring some music over by the studio and come on in? And we’ll talk about music and you can play some of your favorite tracks and we can do this and do that. And I said okay, fine. So I dig out a couple of my favorite CDs and I went over to his studio on the west side of L.A and sat in the control room, and we did a live radio show for 2 hours. And when we were done, we looked at each other and said, that was fun, we should do it again. And he said well, can you come next week? And I said yeah. So next week became next week, and the week after and the week after that, and what was wound up happening was that I became his co-host. And around October-November-December of 2009, I was pretty regularly co-hosting his radio show on Sunday and we were bouncing music back and forth -- he plays his favorite tracks, I play my favorite tracks, we would do interviews with various artists, etc. And it’s like internet music radio at it’s finest.
So, November and December we are doing the show and one thing led to another and there was one Sunday and I’m at the studio getting ready and I get a panic phone call from Mike going “I’m stuck and I can’t get out and you are going to have to do the first hour of the show,” and I said but -- but -- but -- but -- I’m a CO-host. I’m not THE host. He said, it’s a piece of cake. All you need is to do this and this and this, start the stream going to London and then just push the faders. You can just push the faders and the mute buttons -- you’ve done this your whole life. I said well yeah, but never on radio. He said, just do it. So I said okay, well it’s going to be a fiasco, but what the hell, I mean, so one thing led to another and I did it -- and I’m sweating bullets, but I’m finding as the first hour goes along that I’m kind of getting into the groove. And kind of enjoying it, and kind of finding things to say that are relevant about the various pieces of music that I’m playing -- and by the end of that show, I went “I’ve done this, it was fun.” Well, it turns out that the guys in London who run the radio network heard the show. And within a little while, I got some contact from them, and they enquired if I would be interested in having a radio show of my own. So, first of February 2010, I went on the air.
Hugh: That was a nice call to get right?
Bruce: Yeah. It was kind of interesting to hear that, because people have been telling me for years “you have a voice for radio, have you ever thought about doing radio?” And I go “I don’t want be radio DJ, I like making music too much.” Okay, so 30 years later somebody calls on the block and says would you like to have a radio show? And at that point in my life I said, yeah, this should be fun. Because I think I can bring to a radio show a lot of good music that people might not ordinarily hear, and help educate people along the way about great music that they might have overlooked over the years.
Hugh: You are the guy to do that for sure.
Bruce: Yeah, damn it -- that’s exactly what we started doing, and that’s what I did for 2 and a half years -- pretty much nonstop every Monday, until several months back the show got moved to Sunday. And I started doing it on Sundays rather than Mondays.
Hugh: And that was The Digital Guy?
Bruce: Yeah, The Digital Guy radio show. I think when people hear the name “The Digital Guy show” they might think that it’s like Tech TV or something, but it’s not.
Hugh: When they hear the name yeah, but that’s not what it is.
Bruce: Right, it’s about music. And it gradually, I came to grips with the fact that I like smooth jazz and contemporary jazz, but I really love funk. And little by little, month after month, I played more and more funk, it started creeping into the play list, and it was a lot of fun. Anyway, I went on hiatus a week or so ago because it just took too much time on my schedule -- and I realized that the time I was spending on the weekend doing the show was actually time I would really rather be spending on the weekends making music. I might take a little time out from the radio show, and make some music, and then who knows, maybe…
Hugh: And you are on that right now, that’s where you are at right now right?
Bruce: Yeah, that’s exactly where I’m at.
Hugh: Okay, well I’m looking forward to hearing what you come up with and I want to go back and review the stuff that you’ve already done because it sounds really fascinating.
Bruce: Like I said, check out http://www.dagnome.net and in the studio G on that website is a flash player with a lot of the music that I’ve done over the years.
Hugh: Okay, great.
Bruce: Event he Automatix, believe it or not -- which I don’t know if you’ve ever heard much of.
Hugh: I heard a little of it over the years. I saw the album cover, pretty cool.
Bruce: Yeah, it was pretty cool. That was Lindy’s idea to do the Chevy.
Bruce: Our manager.
Hugh: Okay, Lindy. You mentioned him before in the narrative.
Bruce: Lindy was the Red Hot Chili Peppers manager.
Hugh: Right okay, here we go.
Bruce: So there you go, so that’s pretty much the full gamut of how it got started, and how it got to the present day -- and now here we are, years later, and I’m back into playing guitar and back into producing, and back wanting to make music again, and kind of come full circle -- and I finally shut that monkey on my back up!
Hugh: That’s fantastic, that’s amazing -- and I would sit here and ask you a bunch of more questions, but it’s been almost 3 hours, can you believe it? Absolutely! I appreciate the time so much. Before you go I just want to touch on a couple of names that we have in common. Randy Jacobs? [AKA Randall Jacobs]
Bruce: Yes, Randy Jacobs.
Hugh: He’s a great friend of yours I think and…
Bruce: Yeah, absolutely -- in fact I just talked to him a couple of days ago. Randy and I were both guitar players in the ‘Was (Not Was)’ family. Randy is a very unique guitar player in his own right, and became a member of the Automatix in its later day incarnation. And Randy is on the Automatix LP.
Hugh: Okay and he’s also well known for being with Michael Henderson and many of other hits that Michael produced. He’s also gone on to work with Dave Koz of course, and some other big names.
Bruce: Yeah, Randy is like the first call live guitarist for many of the smooth jazz stars. He has been for an awfully long time. To give Randy his full props, he co-wrote Wide Receiver with Michael Henderson and he also co-wrote Walk The Dinosaur with ‘Was (Not Was)’.
Hugh: Exactly. I actually congratulated him for that when it came out, and then they took that song and they used it for the Ice Age theme for the Ice Age movie.
Bruce: It doesn’t surprise me.
Hugh: So he did great with that. And of cause I worked with him when I was in Norma Jean Bell’s band.
Hugh: And I did a little article about that. Randy was crazy, man -- he was always running off the edge of the stage with huge flying leaps with his guitar unplugged and stuff.
Bruce: He still does that now -- on Dave Koz’s stage show, believe it or not!
Hugh: I do believe it, and I’m sure it’s amazing!
Bruce: Yeah, once a rocker, always a rocker.
Hugh: Another guy that we work with that I may have introduced you to, in fact, is Luis Resto.
Bruce: You may very well have, although I do need to remind you that Luis was part of ‘Was Not Was’ family. We kind of crossed paths not only through your introduction, but also through the ‘Was Not Was’ sessions, because Don Was collected a rather eclectic group of musicians -- I don’t know if that many people really know the story of how ‘Was Not Was’ came about -- but it turned out that it was late night recording sessions. At 2 in the morning after the bars closed, we would all leave our bar gigs and go over to the Sound Suite studio and do these insane recording sessions until the dawn’s early light - much of which became the first ‘Was Not Was’ record, and Luis was big part of the ‘Was Not Was’ family from very early days. And still is. And of cause Luis was a very talented guy who now works with Eminem, and he won an Oscar for writing one of the songs for Eight Mile [the movie] and he is just a monster musician.
Hugh: Somebody recently reminded me, well I haven’t seen it lately but they told me that on 8 Mile, the movie, the music credits are given to both Eminem and Luis Resto equally.
Bruce: It doesn’t surprise me. Luis is one of those guys that is very much not necessarily a star out front, but he’s very much a powerful engine behind the scenes, not only for ‘Was Not Was’, but also for the Eminem crew, and all the other artists that they have been working with.
Hugh: And of course he had his moment in the sun a couple of years ago when he received the Grammy for Eminem, right?
Bruce: You are catching me at a loss because I don’t know if he got a Grammy, he may very well…
Hugh: He accepted Eminem’s Grammy.
Bruce: That may very well be the case.
Hugh: Eminem didn’t go to the ceremony and phoned his friend Luis and Luis showed up with long hair and trench coat and…
Bruce: I definitely know that Louis was at the Oscars accepting -- and a well-deserved honor it was, too, because he was a very talented guy. And in some ways, it’s a lot harder to win an Oscar for music than it is to win a Grammy for music.
Hugh: You know what? I don’t even know if it was an Oscar or a Grammy, I thought it was a Grammy but maybe it was the Oscar for 8 Mile. That’s what I’m talking about.
Bruce: He won an Oscar.
Hugh: Okay, that’s amazing.
Bruce: Hard to do in the music business .
Hugh: And then, I don’t want keep you too much longer so touch on one more name which is of course, our friend Jerry Jones.
Bruce: Jerry Jones.
Hugh: Amazing drummer, all I knew when I first got with him was that I was just so thrilled, because he played with the Funkadelics, so he played like the Funkadelics. He was so funky. Incredibly strong drummer.
Bruce: Jerry is an amazingly versatile drummer, and as you say, a very strong and powerful drummer. We call him “Le Foot”.
Hugh: Le Foot.
Bruce: Because Le Foot would definitely drive the band -- but Jerry is a very interesting, another cross characterization of musical experiences -- because he could rock with the best of them, he could play soul and funk and R&B with the best of them. Jerry was originally a Philly guy before he moved to Detroit.
Hugh: Well, what I remember with him is he’s amazing kind of inverted funk grooves that he would do -- you know what I’m just talking about, like…
Bruce: I know what exactly you are talking about, and it can be upside down.
Hugh: But it still sounded like it was right side up even though it was upside down.
Bruce: Correct! And it takes a hell of a skill to do, and Jerry Jones is one of the few who could do it. I put him right up there with great studio drummers of the world like Yogi Horton and Steve Gadd, and the late Tony Thompson from Chic and Power Station.
Hugh: Yeah, I was going to mention Gadd too because Jerry, I say he could hang with Gadd definitely.
Bruce: Yeah, that was the beauty of working with great studio musicians -- it’s like once you are at that level, you can kind of hang with all the other guys at that level. And it was always a great pleasure to work with Jerry, and not only in the studio, but I’ve got some live recording tapes where Jerry and I and Rudy Robinson were doing club dates for a number of weeks around town in Detroit. And it’s really interesting to go back and hear what happened, what three guys can do live.
Hugh: I’d love to hear that too.
Bruce: Yeah, the groove was very strong. And I keep those under wraps, although there is one Automatix recording that’s up on youtube that’s from our last live date with Shaun Murphy.
Hugh: Oh, I can’t wait to hear that.
Bruce: I found a recording for it and I digitized it and stuck it up on youtube, so check it out -- you’ll enjoy it.
Hugh: I definitely will. And if maybe if we are lucky we’ll get Jerry on the Funkatologist, and Luis and couple of these other people.
Bruce: Well, you definitely should. Jerry’s got a very great story to tell, and of course so will Luis.
Hugh: Yes, and I’m in touch with all of them on Facebook, so I think it’s just a matter of time before they sit in the seat that you are in now.
Bruce: Great, it’s been great fun.
Hugh: Yeah, let me wrap this up, if I may. I just want to say Bruce, thank you so much for spending this time with us. It’s a lot of time to take out of your daily schedule, and we really, really appreciate it so much, and we are honored to have had you spend this time and tell us all about your illustrious career -- so thank you so much, Bruce.
Bruce: Well I’m flattered that you would care enough to call, and it was a great pleasure working with you back when we did, and it is now an equally great pleasure to work with you as you build the Funkatologist.
Hugh: Thank you so much -- the pleasure is all mine as well, so I’m looking forward to talking to you again soon Bruce -- and again, thanks so much. And we’ll be in touch about the other arrangements and stuff.
Bruce: Okay great. Call any time.
Hugh: Thank you. Bye bye.
[Stay tuned for part 4, in which Bruce discusses his long-overdue, successful return to the music production business, this time out of LA. Coming soon...]