The S&V Interview

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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.)

Mike Mettler  |  Mar 21, 2018  |  4 comments
No one had ever seen or heard anything like it before. When Roxy Music released their self-titled debut in June 1972 — ironically enough, on the exact same day their spiritual brother-in-creative-arms David Bowie released The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars — the art-school-tempered British sextet instantly ushered in an immediate sea change for both the style and sonic character of an already sagging rock scene...
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 06, 2014  |  0 comments
Sagacity, definition: Exhibiting acute perception, foresight, wisdom, and sound judgment. Tenacity, definition: Holding together tough and firm, with a tendency to stick or adhere. Two words could not better describe Saga, the longstanding Canadian progressive collective that continues to up its game with every release. To wit: Sagacity (earMusic/Eagle Rock), which crackles with confident energy, from the heavy propulsion of “Go With the Flow” to the anthemic uplift of “I’ll Be.” As an added bonus, Sagacity includes a second disc, Saga Hits, where the band muscles through nine of its best-known songs during a set recorded at the SWR1 Rockarena in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Germany on June 22, 2013 that includes the perennial powerhouses “On the Loose,” “Humble Stance,” and “Wind Him Up.” Lead vocalist Michael Sadler (with arms folded in the above band photo) and I recently got together to discuss modern-day recording logistics, the fine art of mixing, and some surround-sound wishes. As you’ll soon see, when it comes to having Sadler talk about harnessing great sound, once you wind him up, he can’t stop.
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 02, 2017  |  1 comments
The very idea of an Isley Brothers–Santana mashup appears to be quite the sonic dream team on paper, and I’m more than pleased to report the proof is abundantly clear in the grooves of Power of Peace’s baker’s dozen of tasty tunes. I sat down exclusively at the fabled Electric Lady Studios in the heart of Greenwich Village in New York City with both families — i.e., the Santanas (Carlos and Cindy) and the Isleys (Ernie and Ronald) — to discuss the best way to listen to Power of Peace, the DNA behind the album’s sonic template, and what each family plans on doing next.
Mike Mettler  |  Dec 12, 2018  |  0 comments
Scott Kirkland of The Crystal Method got on the line with us to discuss getting back to his core electronic music values on The Trip Home after parting ways with his longtime collaborative partner Ken Jordan, his thoughts about remixing new and catalog material in Dolby Atmos, and refocusing his goals following brain surgery.
 |  Feb 22, 2017  |  0 comments
“Give the drummer some” is a phrase you hear a lot in this business of ours, and it often refers to shining the spotlight on a band’s timekeeper during a specific drum break or extended solo section. In the case of Free and Bad Company founding drummer Simon Kirke, however, it’s time to give the man different kind of spotlight as steps out on his third solo album, All Because of You (BMG/The End). Kirke and I sat down in an open-air lounge to discuss the making of You, how music can connect you with your kids, streaming, and loving Ringo. The sun and moon are definitely shinin’ on this skinsman.
Jamie Sorcher  |  Nov 25, 2008  |  1 comments

Constructing a theater from scratch in a custom-built home can be a challenge, but remodeling a room in an established home can sometimes be even more demanding.

Mike Mettler  |  Jul 05, 2017  |  0 comments
Sonny Landreth is the consummate slide player’s slide player. His smoky, swampy, down-home, Nawlins-certified slide playing carries such a unique blend of influences and originality that the phrase “slydeco” was coined just to describe it. I got on the horn with Landreth to discuss his SQ aspirations for the double LP Recorded Live in Lafayette, respecting and building on music history, and how learning to play wind instruments influenced his guitar style.
Mike Mettler  |  Dec 18, 2013  |  0 comments
“That’s the cartridge you want — the one that’ll get you kicked out of the house!” And that’s Derek Trucks, empathizing over the price of high-end audiophile gear, both in terms of how it affects your wallet and your personal life. “I’ve had that conversation too,” he adds with a chuckle. The good-natured Trucks — seen at the center of the above photo, with his arms folded — drenched his sweet-toned slide-guitar stamp all over one of 2013’s best albums, the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Made Up Mind (Masterworks; you can read my 4 1/2-star review of it in the Discs & Downloads section.) Here, Trucks, 34, and I commune over his favorite gear and LPs, how good Mind sounds on vinyl, and its thematic album-closing parallel. (Hint: “Darling, won’t you ease my worried mind” is a line from said album's title track.)

Bob Ankosko  |  Jul 11, 2014  |  0 comments
When someone says “invisible sound,” the first thing that comes to my mind is an in-wall/ceiling speaker hidden behind an inconspicuous grille. ClearView Audio has a different take on “invisible” with its stylish Clio Bluetooth speaker, which uses acrylic glass to create sound. No domes, no cones, except for a tiny 2-inch “woofer” hidden in the base that supports what you might call its sonic windshield. We asked CEO Stefen Bokamper to tell us about this unusual speaker.
Dan Yakir  |  Feb 22, 2003  |  0 comments
When he agreed to direct a sequel to his megahit Men In Black, Barry Sonnenfeld was determined not to repeat himself. "We had to bring back Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, because so much of what made that first movie work was the relationship between them," he explains. "They're like Abbott and Costello. You can't have one without the other . . . there's a karmic thing between these two. The audience likes to see them bicker. The first movie takes place over three days and MIIB over two, so they only know each other for five days—but it looks like they've been together for 30 years!"
Mike Mettler  |  Mar 02, 2015  |  0 comments
Al Kooper has been a mastermind behind the board of many a storied session over his half-century career, but his prowess as a multichannel mixmaster has been largely unheard — until now. Audiophile circles have long been well aware that Kooper had turned in “interesting” 5.1 mixes to Sony for a pair of albums he personally had stakes in — Blood, Sweat & Tears’ trippy big-band-influenced debut, Child Is Father to the Man (originally released in February 1968) and Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, and Steve Stills’ still influential jam amalgamation, Super Session (July 1968). Both mixes gathered multichannel dust on the corporate shelves until almost a full decade later, when Audio Fidelity released them from captivity by way of a pair of Hybrid Mulitchannel SACDs. Here, Kooper, 71, and I discuss his surround mixing philosophy for both of those classic releases, why he’s not a fan of mono or streaming, and his alternate, Bloomfield-centric mix of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” (on which Kooper played the infamous improvised organ riffs). There are no longer any 5.1 secrets to conceal.

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