Interview January 28, 1997
"My social life's a dud, my name is really mud!" snarled Sean Bonniwell on the Music Machine's "Talk Talk," the most radical single to be heard on Top Forty radio in late 1966. Against a succession of grinding two-note fuzz riffs and key changes that rose and rose until they hit the ceiling, Bonniwell spewed and growled a rally cry to social alienation with a mixture of sarcasm, rebellion, self-pity, and paranoia. "Talk Talk" was one minute and 56 seconds of garage psychedelia at its most experimental and outrageous. "Chinese jazz," Bonniwell has called it, perhaps because nobody knew what to call it when it first came out.
Bonniwell wrote a bunch of other great songs for the Music Machine, but most of the world would never get to hear them. Gross mismanagement and a series of bad breaks broke the spirit of the band after a year or so; by the beginning of the 1970s, a disillusioned Bonniwell had quit the music business. What's most galling, though, is that the Music Machine have now been tagged by many rock historians as a one-hit wonder, a garage band that said all they had to say in two minutes. Careful examination of their repertoire reveals them to be more properly classified as one of the top experimental-punk-psychedelic groups of all time. Their relentless invention in the studio was matched only by the restless metaphysical probing of Bonniwell's compositions.
How was it that you made the transition from being a folk singer to the hard rock of the Music Machine?
I think the propelling motive in inventing my own style of rock'n'roll was a combination of things. The first that comes to mind was the conservative nature of folk music. Not the lyrical content, because the lyrical content was definitely anti-establishment at the time. The Smothers Brothers and a lot of the single folk acts that refused to compromise the truth as regards the government's part in social tyranny and what have you. But the conservative musical style of the times built up in me a frustration that I could really do nothing to stop from releasing. Even in the latter days of the Wayfarers and the latter days of the folk era, when I was on the road with them, I started writing and planning the Music Machine, although I hadn't thought of the name yet. The image and the sound and the musical approach was taking shape even [in] 1965. The Wayfarers were held to a standard of what they perceived as commercial conservatism, in keeping with their image. This wouldn't allow me to express myself in terms of arrangements and approaches, although some of the music, you can hear in the latter part of the third album for RCA, you can hear some of my radical influence in the arrangements, especially in the last album.
You knew Roger McGuinn before the Byrds took off.
Roger formed the Byrds. Crosby was doing a single in the folk era, and (laughs), I remember him as a single folk artist, he had a very peculiar attitude on and off the stage. He treated the audience and everyone he knew with unbridled contempt. So by the time he got into the Byrds--and I first saw them--I was playing with the Wayfarers, and Roger was playing bass for a duo called Jackie and Gail. Jackie was then John Davidson's wife, or she became John Davidson's wife, she was Randy Sparks' wife at the time. And McGuinn was just playing bass fiddle.
We were up at the Marin County Fair. Jack Linkletter, Art Linkletter's son, was the host, and there was a number of folk artists up there. And McGuinn asked me for a ride back to L.A. So when we were coming back to L.A., we were singing Beatles songs, and doing this. And he told me about the Jet Set, which became the Byrds, and I told him about my group, which would become the Music Machine. He said folk-rock is what I want to do, and I said, well, I don't know, I want to go to the hard stuff. And so we parted company.
Then the next time I saw him, the Byrds were at the Troubadour, and I was just putting the Ragamuffins together. He had just put the Byrds together, and they were the talk of L.A. They were so loud--they were just incredibly loud. It parted your hair right down the middle. So I went to backstage to see Roger, and McGuinn was glad to see me, said hey, yeah, because it had been about five or six months since I'd given him that ride from San Francisco. Crosby was just absolutely insufferable. He was ego gone mad. I'll never forget that. Of course I forgive him for that, I shouldn't hold it against him. But it was like, how dare I come into his presence unannounced. I can't explain it to you any other way. Of course he's a tremendous talent. He's a great organizer is what he is, and he's got a great ear for harmony, as his subsequent success has proven. I'm sure that he's mellowed and has appreciation for his fellow human beings. He's humbled somewhat. But it was just an experience, at the time, that is indelibly marked into my memory. Because I remember thinking, I never want to be like that, I just don't want to be like that. In fact, McGuinn says to me, "don't pay any attention to him. He's even like that with me."
But we had a nice talk, McGuinn and I, and wished each other luck. Of course, he hit the charts with the Byrds real soon right after that. And I saw McGuinn years later. We played pool and listened to jazz at this little club in L.A. someplace. And we talked about what it was like to lead a band and everything. It's too bad somebody didn't get that interview, because we sat there and drank wine, ate cheese, played pool, and listened to jazz. And we had one hell of a conversation.
The idea of simply plugging folk instruments into electricity was really an idea whose idea whose time had come. I think early rock'n'roll was really electrified folk music, which explains why the lyrical content of so much of the songs, aside from the pop commercialism, the majority of the push or the motive for the songs was really a need to express the changing times. Because of the folk era's intimacy with the audience in rock'n'roll by virtue of the volume and the size of the crowds, the venues were of course much different, the coffeehouses went by the wayside, so your audiences were bigger and younger. This I think, more than anything else, cornered the artist into making as concise a statement as possible in the lyrics.
As far as the musical structures were concerned, it was an open-ended proposition. It was whatever you thought would be necessary to marry the lyrics with the songs, and its sounds and style. But I don't in any way take a full measure of credit for inventing a genre. I contributed to it, that's for sure. As I said before, there was no way to refer to what we were doing, particularly to what I was doing. There wasn't anybody who could tell me, well, you really can't do that, because it never had really been done before. It was obviously exciting...well, for instance when we were "discovered" by Brian Ross, who was a novice record producer, the Music Machine was playing in a bowling alley lounge. Which doesn't sound too unusual today. But this is when bowling alleys first started doing that. We started to build a following that would come in of people who never bowled in their lives, would come into the bowling alley and after about two weeks, the management was nowhere to be found, so I simply had the band play all of my originals. We just played nothing but originals.
Actually, I have to say there was some problem with the commercial aspects of playing original music in the mid-'60s, for a band who didn't have a national identity. It's very much the same today. They wanted cover bands. It was okay if you did it in your own style, but they wanted you to play the Top 40. As a trio, which is how the Music Machine started out, as the Ragamuffins, I took a lot of flack because of the original music. But it was the original music that jump-started the machine. We could tell that the crowds....it was like a metamorphosis. They were a completely different type of audience that was coming to see us on a regular basis.
So by the time we got to the Hollywood Legion Lanes from the Ambassador Hotel in L.A.--we were playing a place called the Parasol as the trio. The only way that I could keep the gig, even though the place was--I think it was packed almost every night. The people weren't dancing, they'd sit and listen and applaud at the end of the songs. Of course, the manager of the club--he was a Mafia , Italian guy. He was just hilarious. They'd sit and they'd drink wine and maybe beer, and they wouldn't dance. Now the audience was full, but the dance floor was empty. Those guys just didn't know what to do. I ended up having to pay him $50 a week out of my own cut of the salary in order to keep the gig. The rest of the band never knew anything about it. But I had to pay him $50 under the table, just to keep us going.
The only reason why we did that was because we were going to go play Las Vegas, and we needed tuxedoes. We were playing that gig to support these uniforms we were going to get. We knew we were only going to wear them once. I mean, we looked like penguins is what we looked like. Bass-playing penguin, that's what I thought we should put on the Marquee. We played with Bobby, I can't think of his last name, but he did "The Fish." But we did all-original material in Las Vegas too, because it didn't matter. The go-go girls danced, and the people who were Mafia hooked up there too, so they didn't know what Top 40 was, it didn't matter. So by the time we got to the Hollywood Legion Lanes, we were a five-piece group wearing all black. I hadn't dyed everybody's hair black quite yet, nor had we put the black glove on. But we figured if we wore all black and played all original music, that we wouldn't have to suffer the indignity of playing the Parasol and the Ambassador Hotel or other lounges and trying to pretend like we were a cover band.
Plus the fact that one of the reasons why I ended up calling us the Music Machine was because in order to stop the managers, or whoever was in control of where we were playing, from coming up in between songs and saying play the Turtles or something, I seguewayed all the original material with musical segueways. So we would be on stage for like an hour and ten minutes, wall-to-wall music just nonstop, which is why I called us the Music Machine. It just happened that one night Brian Ross wandered in and heard us playing. And about two weeks later we were in a recording studio, RCA, in the very same studio that I had recorded the majority of the albums for the Wayfarers, studio C in RCA. And also where I was privileged to be, not a participant, but at least a visitor to a Sam Cooke recording session. The Wayfarers were across the hall and we were on our break, so I wandered into the next recording studio and sat down in the visitors area there behind the glass. I was 24 years old, and thought nothing of it. As it turned out, one of the managers of Sam Cooke told me that I was the only white person ever allowed in a Sam Cooke recording [session].
He was talking to the people, and he was trying to get a certain rhythm. I had an L.A. Times rolled up in my arm, and he said, do you mind if I borrow your newspaper? I said no, sure, fine. I even spoke to him, as naive as I was, as a peer. I said, why don't you hit it on the drum kit on the seat, and put the mike over here? And here I was telling him what to do! Or suggesting, actually. So the whole thing turned out to be about a 20-minute, really wonderful...I got to see him take control of the recording session. His free creative spirit, it just flew. It was contagious. This is the kind of environment that I wanted very much to be a part of, and I think in some way influenced my recording demeanor in the studio with the Music Machine.
The Music Machine's influences are very hard to pin down, especially in comparison to other bands of the time. It's pretty easy to hear where, say, the Byrds or the Rolling Stones might have gotten their influences, but not so easy to hear antecedents to the Music Machine's sound.
I don't mean to sound as if I had this clear vision that I refused to compromise, because it wasn't anything like that. It was something that was already in my head. I have no explanation for it. You're right, there really wasn't...I really didn't think much of the Beatles. I enjoyed their musicianship, and I thought they were marvelous harmony singers, and of course great writers. But I really didn't think they were hard enough. I didn't demean them in any way. They were a different standard for the direction that I was going in. All I knew is that I wanted to do something completely unique, and by virtue of the background that I had, which led me into the '60s genre...
I think it's best understood in the context of the fact that there really wasn't anybody imitating anybody else. I mean, not consciously doing so. It was a wide-open proposition for everybody. If you could give the people something they couldn't get someplace else and it was recorded with a fair amount of professionalism, you had your chance. I mean, Sunset Boulevard was wide open in L.A. All the record companies--you could walk in and knock on the door, and the secretary would say okay, you've got three and a half minutes. Lemme have your tape. And the guy would sit there...you'd introduce yourself, and he'd sit there and listen to it. Most of the time he wouldn't get beyond 12 or 15 seconds, and he'd say yes or no. If he said no, he'd shake your hand, thank you for considering us, good luck. But you had a chance. The doors were wide open for anybody who walked in who had one in the grooves.
As a matter of fact, there's a really funny story. When we did "Talk Talk" at studio C at RCA, it took two takes. And it took one take for "Come On In," which was the original A-side for the record. Because the Wayfarers had taught me...we used to rehearse eight to ten hours a day, the Wayfarers did. So this standard, this pursuit of excellence, was something that was very much a part of my persona. So I rehearsed the Music Machine mercilessly. So when we got in the studio, we were really fine-tuned. I mean, there's just no question about it. The whole session cost $150. Only took three hours.
Then I took a copy of the tape over to Dot Records, which was then on the brink of extinction. This guy wouldn't let me out of the office. He yelled at me, he said, that record is so bad it's good! This is before bad was cool. He said, I have no idea what that is, but I know it's a hit. He almost threatened to lock the door to his office until I signed a contract. Of course, I couldn't, because I'd just signed a producer's contract with Brian Ross. But I did say that I'd be back. But he was a wildman, he really was. Of course, Brian had gone to his friend Art LaBoe at Original Sound and had made a deal.
This guy said, I'll give you 15%, which was unheard of at the time. Even to this day, I can't believe the exploitive nature of the industry against its artists, especially songwriters and their royalties and their publishing. Without the song, you haven't got anything. Nobody makes any money. And yet the songwriter, for the most part, is treated with like he's dumb. He's just a necessary nuisance. It's always been that way, I don't know what it should surprise me. But it does, and it still continues to do so. But he made an 8% deal, of which Brian took half, Brian Ross, the producer.
I remember that night. We're sitting in that bowling alley lounge, and decided to record those two songs. I was just rehearsing the songs with the band before we went in. Brian gave us all the wrong advice--be sure and change your strings. Well, you don't do that before a recording session, because the strings take time to stretch, and instruments are going out of tune all the time. So I sat there with him after everybody was gone. It was like three o'clock in the morning in this bowling alley. I told him, how do you expect me to keep my group together, splitting four cents five ways? And he just didn't care. He was zeroed in his profit. That's all he cared about. And I have to tell you that that was true for the duration of the Music Machine. Nobody gave a damn about how I wrote my songs, how we recorded them, the longevity of the band--nothing, from our management to the record company. They could care less. They never made any time at all for...
I mean, we recorded the Turn Onalbum after a 30-day tour. Mark's fingers were literally bleeding. I could hardly even speak, much less sing. We recorded the bulk of that album at three o'clock in the morning, after having pulled into town about seven that night, after a 30-day tour, every single night in a different town.
So that accounts for some of the throaty vocals on the first album (Turn On)?
Yes, definitely. There's a definite foggy timbre to "Hey Joe," because my voice was exhausted. But it also put a nuance to it that it probably needed. I can tell you that the slow version of "Hey Joe" had never been heard before. And that I had heard it with a guy who played with...I heard the concept from a guy who played with the Big Three. I met her off and on the folk circuit many, many times. And Tim Rose was playing in the Big Three, along with another guy. We kept on running into each other, and we would sit in the dressing rooms and jam and mess around. He said, that song really needs to be slowed down, and he started messing with it. So we were messing with it together, and I think it was about two years later that I put it into that rock venue. And then of course Jimi Hendrix had a hit with the slow version in England. But that was long after we recorded it. Probably about the same...who knows when it was recorded. I don't know where he heard it--maybe he heard our version, maybe Tim Rose had a version, who knows.
Hendrix released his version at the end of 1966.
Concurrent with my version, then. Recorded at the same time, 'cause that's when we recorded the album, at the end of '66. I think in August or September. In time for Christmas sales. The only reason why we had cover songs, like...well, "Hey Joe," I didn't really regard that as a cover song. I regard that as a new arrangement of a folk song. But the "Cherry Cherry," "96 Tears," "Taxman"--that came about by way of the fact that we were the house band for 9th Street West, the real Don Steele. I'll tell you, what a violent man. He was frightening, he really was. We were the house band. Every Saturday, we would go in and record. They said okay, you can do one of your songs, and then you gotta do a Top Ten song. So I would just pick...as a lark, we'd go into the studios there at Channel 9. They had a four-track studio, and we'd go in and record those songs that we were going to lip-synch to that were on the Top 40. That's how that came about.
LaBoe--I remember just telling everybody, why are you doing to me? It's not that I don't have enough material. I'm trying to establish the group and myself as a singular voice. Those aren't my songs. I simply arranged those Top 40 songs because that's what 9th Street West wanted us to do. They're not meant to be on any of our albums. Oh no no--this will help sell the album for Christmas. People will know these songs, because they're already hits.
There were a couple of songs from the early Music Machine era that only came out on a flexi-disc with a fanzine in the 1980s, "Point of No Return" and "No Girl Gonna Cry." [Note: The first song is now on the Sundazed CD Ignition, and the latter song on the Sundazed CD Beyond the Garage.]
"Point of No Return" will be a single, out this summer, from Sundazed. "Point of No Return" actually marks the true power transition from electrified rock to power rock. When you hear it, I play the acoustic 12-string. That's the perfect transition in my mind from electrified folk to power art-rock, because that's what brought the Ragamuffins...the band was just becoming a five-piece at the time. This was pre-Brian Ross. That's when I really was experimenting. I've got about two albums worth of songs that I wrote for the Music Machine and never recorded [even as demos]. I've still got 'em, and I'm really seriously considering recording them. In fact, I'm looking into analog recorders now. It's amazing, because those old eight, 16-track, four-track Ampex and Ataris--their value is now only being appreciated. Because they capture the warmth and the presence, not only your vocals, but also guitars especially. Because with the digital realm, you lose an intimacy that the '60s recordings, it's very very evident in them. So there's a way to do that.
But I also have to fight the fact that I've evolved as a songwriter to a great degree. I would hope that I have, anyway. And I have songs now that I really do want to record, that aren't in the '60s genre. But there's more of a...that's what I'm more or less known for, so I have to...and it wouldn't bother me at all to one day go in the studio with a revival Music Machine and do the whole...I know I could do it. There isn't any problem with that. If I could find the right equipment, I could record it, and no one could tell the difference. I'm sure of it. And then the next day go in and do something much more progressive and more in keeping with who I am musically today.
I would say "The Point of No Return" is probably, as I say, my own personal vanguard. But the motive to be unique is not something I consciously work on. Each person is unique in their own way, and I have no way of knowing what the influence was. I started out as a trumpet player, 'cause my father was a trumpet player. He worked on the side as a jazz artist who went on the weekend and played with various bands while he was in the National Guard as a captain. I don't know how in the world an ex-trumpet player turned folksinger turned rock'n'roll songwriter...
What kind of recorded sound where you aiming for on the Music Machine records?
At the time, the recording technology, and even the speakers, didn't produce that thump in the chest from the bass and the bass drum. It's a hallmark today, it's something we all take for granted. But at the time, you really couldn't capture it on tape. And I really wanted that bottom power punch. I wanted more of an integrated color to the sound. So I would separate the...I don't want to say rumblings, but the bass...it's hard to describe into words. But I just kept on experimenting until I finally got it. 'Cause the Farfisa, I had Doug play way up on the Farfisa, so that the sound was spliced and separated as much as possible. I remember experimenting with Ron's bass drum. Of course I told him, never play the cymbal. We used them only for accents. It took a long time for him to acquiesce to that. But he finally did. He finally realized that it was...it really started onstage. I said, I can't compete vocally with those cymbals, 'cause they wash everything out. They just wash the sound out, and I said, I'm gonna destroy my voice trying to scream over those cymbals. So we started working on inventive hi-hat rhythms.
What did the other members contribute to the sound?
I was fortunate to find Ron. The story of how I found Ron, as a matter of fact, it's in my autobiography of course. It's a fascinating one. At 18, he was almost a virtuoso drummer. He was a jazz drummer, that's what he wanted to play. In fact, I used to have to get him mad to keep the backbeat. I did...I'd stop the song, wherever we were playing, and I'd demonstrate what I wanted with sounds over the microphone. He'd sit there, and he'd fall back into it, and he'd start doing this and mad as a wet hen. Then people would get up and start to dance. And when he'd wander off into never-never land, I'd stop the song again. Finally, he said okay, alright, I understand. He was wonderfully gifted. And all I had to was just demonstrate what I wanted. I'd say Ron, I want...all I'd do is do it one time, and he'd just duplicate it like that. Same thing with Doug Rhodes--I'd give him a countermelody on the piano, and he'd hear it and play it.
In the early days with Mark, I had to literally teach him the guitar lines that I wanted him to play. After a while, he became very inventive in the same genre that I was in. I was fortunate to have such gifted people with me who could share my vision. There was no restrictions, which is very important for a band if they can play together with the same voice. And they could. Only occasionally...occasionally Keith would say, how do you hear this, or you want something special here, or so forth and so on. But once Keith got locked in--in fact, once the whole band got locked into it, they were really led by my enthusiasm. Because even to this day, when I'm working in the studio, I'm like a kid. I get captured by the creative fluency and that spirit of creating something new. It's really something I can't do without. I've had experienced in the studio, and I just walk out. I say, cancel this, you're just wasting time or money.
But I won't give up easily. With the Music Machine, I never had to battle them for a unified effort, for the pursuit of excellence. They'd stay with me just for as long as I wanted to be in there. They would go over and over and over, until they finally got it. Maybe there would just be one or two little glitches that nobody else could hear. But after just a very short time, we'd listen to the playback--I wouldn't even have to say anything. Keith would like me and say, yeah, okay. And Ron would so, I shouldn't do that right there, I know what you're going to say. And they'd just go and they'd just do it. It was totally marvelous, it really was. Of course, that just buttressed the creative enthusiasm that we had.
When Art LaBoe and Original Sound rushed us into the studio to do the first album, and then put those cover songs on that album, it really broke my heart, it really did. It's very depressing to me. I'd have to say that it help solidify the group, though. People probably can't appreciate what it was like to tour the country with a hit record. And I want to tell you, "Talk Talk," 'cause it was a minute and 56 seconds long, was played on Top 40 radio constantly. They'd use it for going in and out of newsbreaks at the bottom of the hour. Every half an hour, they'd have a three-minute news break. "Talk Talk" was perfect for going in and out of 'em. Often, that's what you'd hear. I remember going down Sunset Boulevard before we were leaving on tour one night, and I punched five radio presets on the AM, and "Talk Talk" was on every single one of them! It was truly a great feeling.
But the solidification of the image and sound of the Music Machine was very startling, and it was very very powerful. It was like...I remember feeling an odd virility to it. It was there even when we were offstage, because we still dressed in black, and I had the band put the other glove on that they didn't use onstage. The damn things were so expensive, they were kid gloves, unborn calf. We went through them, because we would perspire, and when they dried, you couldn't get 'em on again. So the other glove, we used for social, whenever we went out and we weren't playing, we would put the other glove on. It was a remarkably powerful image.
I think it's unfortunate the Music Machine has often been categorized as a one-shot garage band. You had a lot of material that was quite diverse, and in production, songwriting, and production skills, you were way more experimental and on a much higher level than the typical American '60s garage band.
It's a litany of misconceptions. First of all, we were the hottest band on the charts on the time when it was going to soft rock. The whole genre was on its way into a softer, more palatable commercial sound. Because, although the Doors cut their own niche. The Iron Butterfly imitated the Music Machine, and to be honest with you, the Doors did to some degree as well. But my songs were much more...there was no way to pigeonhole them. There was no way to say that's this, or this is that, because they were little unique entities all their own. Plus, because there wasn't a lockstep category for us, we were given categories by people who knew nothing about categories, if you know what I mean. I mean, what category would you put "Talk Talk" into? It barely fits into classic rock. Or "The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly."
There wasn't a category that we could be pigeonholed into, and we were called the American Rolling Stones, which is a ridiculous thing. It was totally ridiculous. Dick Clark never really tried to put us into a category. We did twelve American bandstands, and I remember him asking the same question: How would you categorize your group? I really didn't know how to explain it, and I still don't. It was an expression that needed to be communicated. So it was by necessity unique, because of what made the reason to make it unique its own purpose. That is really a convoluted sentence--if you use that [for your chapter], you're out of your mind! It's like, I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous.
I hear some similarities between the Music Machine and the Doors, particularly in the dark mood and the organ. Do you think you might have influenced them?
I don't think it was so much...I have no way of knowing. My intuition tells me that it's electrified folk music. Morrison's writing style is based on a three and four-chord passages utilizing relative minors, very much like folk music did. And he was a storyteller, very much like the folk era glorified, told a story. I think in that way, there was some similarities. Now the sound...I don't know. You can listen to some of the early Machine recordings, and you can hear the similarities. But there was really only the Rhodes electric piano, and the Farfisa organ. There wasn't any electronic devices or keyboards or synthesizers or anything like that all.
One similarity to me seems to be how both the high and the bottom really jump out at you, with the Doors and also the Music Machine.
It was necessary to separate the sounds, because of the recording. Remember most of them only had four tracks. The one-inch Ampex four-track recording machine was the industry standard at the time. So it was instant mix, so to speak. You really had to separate the sound, because you couldn't do it later in the mixdown.
At Original Sound, where the Ragamuffins did their experiments, studio inventions, four songs of which are coming out on a CD on Sundazed supposedly later this year--Paul Buff was the engineer there at Original Sound. He was, at that time, constructing a ten-track machine. There was only two of them in the world. They were completely unheard of. One of them was in New York, and one he was working on at Original Sound. Paul Buff was an engineering genius, little known at all. We never really used that ten-track machine. I think we tried to use it on... I can't recall now. But for the most part, we recorded on four tracks. But Paul had a way...
I would tell him...Brian contributed to some degree to maintaining the bottom. He recognized what it was that I was after. I knew that I couldn't be in two places at once. I couldn't be out there in the studio performing the songs, and in the control booth monitoring the sound. So he did make sure that that sound was captured. He recognized the Machine's style, and he did what he could to preserve it. But I doubt that it could have been messed with. It wasn't something that could have been altered or overlooked in any way, 'cause it was something we had been developing for a half a year constantly, especially when you tuned the instruments down. It's got to be there. Necessity becomes the mother of invention, basically is what happens, and that's what happened there.
But Paul Buff and I spent a lot of time in the studio together. And I'd tell him, no, this doesn't sound right. The notes are right, but the sound is wrong. It sounds right in the studio, but it's not coming across the tape. We would do this and do that, and he would tweak that and tweak this, and open up the bottom of the cabinet where all these wires were. He was completely ingenious, and yeah, yeah, there it is, that's what we want. Wonderful engineer--never said a word. He was a slave to what you wanted. That's all he focused on, was giving you what you wanted. So I was very fortunate in many ways, and that was one of them for sure.
The songs were so finished by rehearsing and by live performance that by the time we got into the studio to record them, we could do them backwards, literally. So it was just simply a matter of recording that unity and that unified style and sound. It really isn't that difficult, if you've got the right engineer and the right equipment. The idea is to stay out of the way. Of course, then all of a sudden...like with the Buffalo Springfield. What an incredible band! But those people did nothing but fight in the studio. I mean, they spent a fortune recording. Because they experimented and they ranged, and they'd sit there and get high, and they'd argue, and they'd jam. I didn't want to have anything to do with that, because I knew that there was no clear vision there. Of course, I regard their work as far superior to mine in almost every way, there's no question about it.
FOR PART TWO OF SEAN BONNIWELL INTERVIEW, CLICK HERE
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