Two Days at Paisley Park Changed Everything: Part 1

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courtesy of Medium

In Summer 1992 I wrapped up a semester at Musician’s Institute in Hollywood a bit early* and left Los Angeles for Minneapolis, to play drums for the up-and-coming grunge band, Bone Club. Heavily influenced by grunge stalwarts like Soundgarden and Nirvana, as well as Minnesota legends Husker Du & The Replacements, Bone Club was on the verge of signing a deal with Imago and it seemed like a great move. Imago was a major indie label at the time, well funded and falling under the very large BMG distribution umbrella. The label had Aimee Mann, Kyle Minogue, Love Spit Love. They’d also just signed Pere Ubu and had released Henry Rollins breakout End of Silence album.

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After less than a year, a two month tour in Europe, some Midwest mini-tours, various label showcases, and a few recording sessions with the band, I parted ways with the band but one of those recording sessions really stuck with me.

More than 20 years later, the memory is still quite vivid, and the experience was a lot of what made me want to get into music production. Why? Because the recording was at Prince’s acclaimed Paisley Park Studio with Purple Rain producer David “Z” Rivkin.

The state-of-the-art equipment included high-end gadgetry that I hadn’t seen before. Although we recorded in analog (24 track) to 2 inch tape, David composited multiple vocal takes seamlessly using an early digital editing system.   Although the idea now seems totally commonplace, at the time it was basically like I was an Ewok watching C3PO fly around in a chair.

The other thing that blew me away was sitting at my drum set and getting to dial in my own mix during the tracking…even adjust it on the fly for the quiet part of a song where I wanted to hear my articulation of snare drum grace notes better.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic

Aside from all the technical stuff, the overall experience at Paisley Park was completely surreal. While we were there, George Clinton was producing a 19-year-old female singer in the Studio across the hall and we got a chance to hang out with the funk legend for part of the afternoon, and listen to him tell stories about the old days of P-Funk, and about producing albums (like the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Freaky Styley. Listening to him talk was spellbinding. He also told a bunch of jokes and stories about sex, which was generally hilarious. Part 2 where I talk about seeing Prince in action, is coming soon.

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