The S&V Interview

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Mike Mettler  |  Jul 09, 2014  |  0 comments
“We don’t want to shut the door, we want to open it.” John Hiatt has just described the up-close and personal vibe that’s spread all across his new album Terms of My Surrender, out July 15 on New West. Surrender was cut live with Hiatt and his bandmates ensconced around each other in Studio G in Nashville, and the intimacy is intrinsic to every note. Stomps, claps, and a taut kick drum set the tone at the outset of “Long Time Comin’,” as Hiatt murmurs, “Mmm-hmm, let me see” before he begins strumming his acoustic guitar to lock into the groove. And the über-deep, practically resigned breath he takes before diving into the starkly personal “Nothin’ I Love” just adds to Surrender‘s core honesty. Hiatt, 61, and I recently got down to jawing about knowing when a final master sounds right, how he consistently fails at properly sequencing his records, and trying to convince his dad that stereo was a cool thing. Says the masterful singer/songwriter about Surrender, “The goal was to make it feel like we were all together on the back porch.” Pull up a chair and join the unbroken circle.
Chris Chiarella  |  Oct 28, 2005  |  0 comments
"I put a good deal of thought into how my movies will look on home video."
Mike Mettler  |  Jun 14, 2017  |  0 comments
John Mellencamp has never been known to pull his punches. “I saw through the music business very early, with the ‘Johnny Cougar’ thing,” he says, referring to the cringeworthy stage name given to him by a former manager in the 1970s. “I had the reputation of being very difficult—but I’m not, really. I’m just doing what most guys don’t do, which is stand up for yourself.”
Mike Mettler  |  Oct 28, 2015  |  2 comments
Standards: Somebody has to set them. And when it came to creating the 20th-century template for how to properly sing popular music, one need look no further than Johnny Mathis, the romantic, soulful tenor whose range and control remain just as vibrant today as when he began taking lessons in the San Francisco area in the 1950s from opera singer and vocal teacher Connie Cox. And now, seven decades (!) into such a storied career, it only seems fitting that a four-disc collection called The Singles (Columbia/Legacy) brings together 87 of his best-loved songs, including such timeless, indelible classics like “Chances Are,” “It’s Not for Me to Say,” and “The Twelfth of Never” alongside rare but chart-busting gems like “Wonderful! Wonderful!” And it’s certainly no accident that the following phrase appears in the upper-right-hand corner of the cover, right underneath the gleaming old-school/vintage Columbia logo: “Guaranteed High-Fidelity.” Mathis, still quite spry at 80, called me from his residence in Los Angeles to discuss harnessing his influences to create his original vocal style, his singular microphone techniques, and the songs he still loves to sing. Chances are, you already know many of them by heart.
Mike Mettler  |  Nov 11, 2015  |  0 comments
Creative sparks don't always fly when veteran musicians get together to collaborate. But that's exactly what happened when two progressive titans, vocalist Jon Anderson and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, came together to form the Anderson Ponty Band, a.k.a. APB. Their oh-so-apropos debut, Better Late Than Never (Liaison Music), mixes fine, edgy originals with rearranged and revamped covers of classic material like Yes's "Roundabout" and Ponty's "Mirage" — renamed here as "Infinite Mirage," as it now features Anderson singing new lyrics he wrote just for the song. “We work together like family,” marvels Ponty, 73. Agrees Anderson, “We’re musical brothers, you know?” I called Anderson, 71, during an APB tour stop to discuss working with Jean-Luc, our ongoing mutual love of surround sound, and the ever-escalating legacy of Yes.
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 06, 2020  |  3 comments
Forgive the imagery, but Jon Anderson is like the Energizer bunny of progressive music—he just keeps on going and going. The legendary founding Yes vocalist/lyricist forges ever onward like a man perpetually possessed by his muse, whether he's adding to his own solo canon or collaborating on shared-name releases with the likes of violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, Flower Kings guitarist/vocalist Roine Stolt, or his former fellow Yesmates in the short-lived but quite well-loved musically acrobatic acronym known alternately as ARW, or YES Featuring Jon Anderson - Trevor Rabin - Rick Wakeman.
Mike Mettler  |  Mar 12, 2015  |  1 comments
To modify a phrase, fingerpicking guitar maestro Jorma Kaukonen just keeps on innovatin’. For over a half-century, Kaukonen has followed his own path and applied his folk roots to variations on psychedelia with Jefferson Airplane and free-form blues with Hot Tuna, not to mention his own solo rock and unplugged outings. On his acoustic-driven new disc, Ain’t In No Hurry (Red House), Kaukonen continues to push forward on tasty, intense tracks like the hopeful timelessness of “In My Dreams,” the traditional riches-to-rags lament of “Brother Can You Spare a Dime,” and the down-home grit of “The Terrible Operation.” Observes Kaukonen, “One of the cool things about the way the album is mixed is that there’s this magnificent, transparent presence of all the instruments, no matter who’s playing and where they are. You can hear them all; they’re there.” Kaukonen, 74, and I got on the phone recently to discuss his recording techniques, his mastery of Drop D tuning on an iconic song, and the hi-fi gear that’s served to enhance listening experiences all throughout his life. The man may not be in a hurry, but he sure is getting somewhere.
Mike Mettler  |  Feb 25, 2015  |  0 comments
Being appointed one of the queens of the alternative music scene was never one of Juliana Hatfield’s goals. But there she was, right in the thick of the then-burgeoning movement — first in the alt-rock trio Blake Babies, then as a titular solo artist known for meshing expressive vocals with intrinsically catchy melodies fueled by a combo punk-and-pop sensibility. “I was very moved by melody and harmony from a very early age,” Hatfield says. “It affected me very powerfully.” She recently reunited with her Juliana Hatfield Three compatriots, bassist Dean Fisher and drummer Todd Phillips, for the uber-catchy Whatever, My Love (American Laundromat Records), a 40-minute ride through Hatfield’s world of melodic, introspective angst, from the acoustic lament of being “Invisible” to the moth/flame dance of “Push Pin” to the odd-meter frustration of “Wood” (the latter of which features a cool, feedback-laden outro guitar loop). Hatfield, 47, and I got on the horn to discuss her vocal techniques and recording goals, her natural sense of melody, and her ongoing struggles with communication. Whatever and ever, amen.
KIm Wilson Photographer Connie Palen  |  Dec 05, 2009  |  0 comments

In this brand new condo, the homeowner required something simple, primarily to watch TV and DVDs. He had a complex automation system installed by an inexperienced integrator in his previous residence and found it too cumbersome and complicated to operate.

"Simplicity and high quality components were the client's two main requirements", said Chris Abbott, the Project Manager for Abbott's Technology Design Group of Las Vegas, Nevada. "Normally we don’t do 2-channel systems but this was a long time customer with a very specific wish list."

Mike Mettler  |  Nov 12, 2014  |  0 comments
Bruce Hornsby could never be accused of being an artist who rests on his laurels. "I’m such a different musician in every way than I was 20 years ago," he admits. Prime evidence of the master pianist's ongoing creative evolution can be found all over the double-disc Solo Concerts (Vanguard), where Hornsby explores a variety of styles from behind the keyboard: everything from blues ’n’ boogie to New Orleans funk to the tenets of modern classical music. He also recasts the character of some of his best-known songs, such as turning "The Valley Road" into a blues vamp and giving "Mandolin Rain" an indelible bluegrass stamp. Here, Hornsby, 59, and I discuss how he "makes friends" with new pianos, when and when not to use reverb, and his philosophy of A/B'ing to find the proper live SQ baseline. Pushing the creative envelope — that's just the way it is with Bruce Hornsby, and we hope it's something that never changes.
Mike Mettler  |  May 29, 2019  |  0 comments
Keyboard maestro Howard Jones got on the line with us from his homebase in Somerset, England to discuss the genesis and evolution of his new studio album Transform, his love of vintage gear and surround sound, and why he’s all-in when it comes to mastering his music for vinyl.
Mike Mettler  |  May 02, 2018  |  0 comments
Post-Genesis, keyboard maestro Tony Banks has focused on his writing skills via a trilogy of classical-oriented releases, including his latest, 2018 effort, 5. We got on the line with Banks to discuss the evolution of his orchestral compositions, his ongoing appreciation for the surround sound mixes of the entire Genesis catalog and his solo material, and what he might (or might not) tackle next.
Mike Mettler  |  Mar 25, 2015  |  0 comments
To borrow a song title, things can only get better for Howard Jones. Known for such indelible synth-driven ’80s hits like “What Is Love?,” “No One Is to Blame,” “New Song,” and “Everlasting Love,” Jones has focused his efforts in recent years on his inherent talents as a songwriter and arranger, not to mention his knack for creating multimedia-driven live experiences. All of his musical gifts are on fine display with Engage (dtox music and arts), a two-disc CD/DVD set that features a vibrant 5.1 mix on DVD by Robbie Bronnimann, Jones’ longtime sound designer. Jones, 60, and I connected across the Pond to discuss the Engage project, the possibility of future high-resolution remixes of his storied catalog, and his thoughts on vintage analog gear. Jones is one man who knows how to put his dream into action.
Mike Mettler  |  May 15, 2019  |  0 comments
Kiefer Sutherland called us before heading out to a band rehearsal to discuss the songwriting process for his fine new album Reckless & Me, his love of vinyl, how playing music live has informed his subsequent acting choices, and what kind of music Jack Bauer and Tom Kirkman might have on their personal playlists.
Mike Mettler  |  Jan 02, 2018  |  First Published: Jan 03, 2018  |  0 comments
Photo: Jim Summaria

British blues-rock pioneers Savoy Brown continue to fly the flag quite mightily on their current album, Witchy Feelin’. Kim Simmonds, their bandleader/guitarist/vocalist for over 52 years and counting, got on the line to discuss the importance of incorporating hooks and riffs together in songs, what he specifically listens for in order to garner creative inspiration, and why he can never relax as an artist.

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