The S&V Interview

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Mike Mettler  |  Jun 25, 2015  |  First Published: Jun 24, 2015  |  0 comments
Jac Holzman, the founder of Elektra Records, believes the key to The Doors' sound lies in how the band and its ace production team — producer Paul A. Rothchild and engineer Bruce Botnick — all pulled together to make sure the integrity of the band’s sound was preserved on record. “We made albums so carefully,” Holzman notes. “I think the attention to the detail and the fussing over getting everything just right and not letting it go out otherwise are some of the reasons The Doors have held up over time. We had it right to begin with.” I rang Botnick up in California to discuss how he helped orchestrate The Doors’ formidable sonic legacy, how he translated said legacy into surround sound, and why he also still digs vinyl. Their music is your special friend, until the end.
Bob Ankosko  |  Jun 21, 2018  |  10 comments
15 Minutes with David Solomon

Move over Tidal. Qobuz (pronounced “ko-buzz”) is coming to the States this fall, armed with a 2-million-track arsenal of hi-res music and a web portal that makes Tidal’s slick homepage seem confined. We checked in with AV industry veteran David Solomon, newly appointed Chief High-Res Evangelist for Qobuz, to learn more about the music service and its unusual name.

Mike Mettler  |  Dec 21, 2016  |  0 comments
Rainbow was looking for a hit, as bandleader/guitarist Richie Blackmore wanted to hear his songs on the radio. After scores of vocal auditions in 1979, they finally hit upon Graham Bonnet, who sang lead on Rainbow's breakout track, “Since You Been Gone.” Bonnet got on the horn to discuss his new solo album The Book, where he likes to hear his vocals in a mix, how he transformed “Since You Been Gone” from a pop song into a rock hit, and coming to grips with living in the streaming universe.
Mike Mettler  |  Mar 20, 2019  |  0 comments
Keyboard maestro Reese Wynans called us from his homebase in Nashville to discuss how he and producer/partner Joe Bonamassa decided where his organ should appear in the final mixes of his first ever solo album Sweet Release, why he began listening to vinyl again, and how he had to instantly be on his A-game when he first joined up with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.
Mike Mettler  |  Mar 11, 2016  |  0 comments
Sir George Martin passed away at the age of 90 in Wiltshire, England on March 8, 2016. Best known for his indelible, enduring, and daringly innovative studio work with The Beatles from 1962–70, Martin also produced a wide swath of artists including Peter Sellers, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Shirley Bassey, Ella Fitzgerald, The Bee Gees, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, America, Jeff Beck, and Cheap Trick. (The list could indeed go on and on and on...) Perhaps ELO mastermind Jeff Lynne (and onetime latter-day Beatles producer himself) said it best: “His productions were brilliant. He created his own sound.” I reached out to a number of musicians and producers to get their impressions of Sir George’s legacy from behind the board, as a trusted collaborator, and as someone who forever changed the way we listen to pop and rock music.
Mike Mettler  |  Jun 06, 2018  |  0 comments
Photos: Herclayheart

Some vocalists turn everything they sing into pure audio gold. One such vocalist is Jennifer Warnes, who brings originality, style, and grace to everything her voice touches, as her new album Another Time, Another Place readily attests. Warnes got on the line to discuss the meticulous process she goes through in making her song choices, her special relationship with Leonard Cohen, and why she feels her voice continues to resonate with her listeners.

Mike Mettler  |  Dec 21, 2018  |  0 comments
We got on the line with iconoclast guitarist Richard Lloyd to discuss the vinyl-intended sonic template of his new laser-sharp solo album The Countdown, why Television’s seminal 1977 debut album Marquee Moon remains perpetually influential, and his take on creating sound in outer space.
Mike Mettler  |  May 18, 2017  |  0 comments
Richie Kotzen is a human dynamo. The prolific triple-threat songwriter/guitarist/vocalist has just released his, yes, 21st solo album, Salting Earth, on his own custom label, Headroom-Inc., but he doesn’t view that somewhat stunning stat as any kind of milestone. “I started making records when I was 18 [circa 1988], so it all makes sense to me. I’m persistent and consistent.” I got on the horn with Kotzen, 47, to discuss how microphones and preamp choices are critical for getting the sounds you want in the studio, why compression is a good thing, and his views on streaming.
Mike Mettler  |  Oct 09, 2019  |  0 comments
British keyboard maestro Rick Wakeman called us from across the Pond to discuss the current (and future) status of that cherished Yes/ARW collective, why he continues to endorse surround sound and vinyl listening, why he needed to get Brian May’s approval to cover “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and when’s the right and wrong time to wear his signature cape onstage during a performance.
Mike Mettler  |  Oct 05, 2016  |  0 comments
Rickey Medlocke's latest pet project has been to shepherd the next-generation incarnation of his beloved Blackfoot, who have committed their hard-charging sound to the grooves of a new album, Southern Native (Loud & Proud Records), that beautifully meshes traditional tones with modern sensibilities. I got on the horn with Medlocke to discuss the genesis of Southern Native, keeping true to his analog-centric inclinations, and what it was like working with his grandfather Shorty Medlocke back in the early days. It’s a highway song that keeps going on and on...
Bob Ankosko  |  Mar 09, 2017  |  0 comments

15 Minutes with Dirac Founder Mathias Johansson

Mathias Johansson, CEO and co-founder of Sweden’s Dirac Research, has devoted his professional life to developing technologies that improve sound quality—whether that sound is music heard over headphones or car speakers, or an intricate Dolby Atmos soundtrack played over a high-end home theater system. “Our passion is to invent new sound technologies that offer a better sound experience regardless of the sound system,” he says. “We want to be a quality seal for good sound, and we want to achieve this through scientific methods.” If the accolades the Dirac Live room-correction system has garnered among enthusiasts is any measure, Johansson is not only on the right path to elevating sound quality but making tangible progress.
Mike Mettler  |  Oct 19, 2016  |  0 comments
Rik Emmett is an artist who’s always reveled in the creative benefits of teamwork and collaboration. The former guitarist/vocalist of Canadian power trio Triumph has forged quite the formidable and far-reaching solo career since he left the band in 1988, but he’s quite adamant about the all-for-one, band-centric, and exhilaratingly electrifying flavor of RES 9 (Provogue Records), the forthcoming album from his new four-man collective that’s been appropriately dubbed Rik Emmett & RESolution9. I called Emmett, 63, to discuss the sonic impetus behind RES 9’s audio identity, how life experience informs his songwriting, and the ongoing impact of Triumph’s Allied Forces, which was released 35 years ago this past September. “I got a burning heart/I got a hungry soul,” Emmett sings on “Human Race.” RES 9 more than RESolves the pangs of those cravings.
Mike Mettler  |  Sep 12, 2018  |  1 comments
Photo: Elliot Landy (1968)

Released 50 years ago this past July 1, The Band's Music From Big Pink immediately set the world of popular music on its collective ear, and it's now being celebrated in a super-deluxe box set that includes a 24/96 5.1 mix of the album on Blu-ray. We get on the line with Band mastermind Robbie Robertson to discuss the secret to the overall intimacy of the Big Pink recording itself, the key elements that make the 5.1 versions of “The Weight” and “Chest Fever” instant benchmark reference tracks, and what Band album he’d be interested in having remixed in 5.1 next.

Mike Mettler  |  Aug 26, 2015  |  0 comments
It’s hard to believe, but the eternally youthful blues maestro Robert Cray is celebrating five decades of plying his craft with the imminent release of 4 Nights of 40 Years Live. So, uh, Robert, do you mind if we call you an “elder statesman” at this point in your career? “Well, we’re doing what we do, and I’m having fun doing it. To me, that’s the most important thing,” says Cray. “It’s funny; whenever it’s mentioned that we’re ‘getting up there,’ I always revert back to my heroes — John Lee [Hooker], and B.B. [King] — and I just think about those guys as being ‘the guys.’ I never consider myself as being on the same ship.” Sorry to disagree with the man, but Cray is most definitely onboard with being on par with the masters of the blues art form. I called Cray, 62, at his hotel during a tour stop in the Pacific Northwest to discuss the sonics of 4 Nights, the ongoing merits of vinyl, and why live woodshedding is vital for bands who want to improve. “Oh yeah, there’s been a lot of change over the years,” Cray observes about his storied career. I guess he showed us.
Mike Mettler  |  Sep 27, 2017  |  5 comments
Ronnie Montrose. Photos courtesy Bill Towner.

“His guitar speaks for itself.” It’s a phrase that could be applied to many a dominant and influential guitar player of the rock era, but it’s no accident it was also stickered on the front of albums bearing the name of Bay Area guitar legend Ronnie Montrose. Montrose initially made his mark laying down indelible riffs for the likes of Van Morrison (“Wild Night”) and The Edgar Winter Group (“Free Ride,” “Frankenstein”), but when he joined forces with a then-unknown Sammy Hagar to form Montrose in 1973, he shepherded a band immediately described as America’s answer to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple, all rolled into one. (“Rock the Nation,” indeed.)

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