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    Prince Guitar Player January 2000


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    Prince Guitar Player January 2000

    Post by maxim9691 on Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:59 am

    Guitar Player, Jan 2000 v34 i1 p86

    The Once & Future Prince. (Interview) THOMPSON, ART.

    Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2000 Miller Freeman Publications


    The Artist looks wizard-like in the soft glow of Paisley Park's Studio
    A. Clad in red satin and seated behind the mammoth SSL console, he cues
    up some cuts from his new album, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic [Arista]. "There's
    guitar madness all over this," he warns, firing up the title track at ear-splitting
    volume. Destined to be one of the album's sing-along hits, it features
    grinding guitar work and a lead melody that sounds as if a snake charmer
    is playing through a pair of flanged Marshalls.

    "I recorded that in 1988," he quips, pulling down the volume. "It has two
    guitars going through Leslies. One was the Auerswald [the custom symbol
    guitar shaped like his unpronounceable name]. It's made of one piece of
    wood--and doesn't have much guts-but if you crank it, it sounds like a
    car is running over it!"

    The preview continues. On "So Far, So Pleased" and "Baby Knows," I'm pinned
    to my chair by hurricane-force guitars over pounding rhythms. On "Tangerine,"
    The Artist deftly picks fingerstyle acoustic over a trippy kick and fretless-bass
    figure. As the songs unfold, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic proves to be full
    of contrasts and revivals for the 41 -year-old Artist Formerly Known As
    Prince. It's the hardest-edged guitar record he has ever made, he performed
    all of the tracks by himself (something he hasn't done since the 1982 smash
    1999), and it's his first major-label release since he jettisoned his Warner
    Bros. contract in 1995 (which involved legally changing his name to a symbol).

    There's more: Production credit on the new album goes to the now returned
    Prince (apparently The Artist's fave producer), and there are cameo performances
    by Sheryl Crow, Ani DiFranco, Chuck D, Gwen Stefani, and Maceo Parker.
    Explaining why his former personality nixed guest appearances, The Artist
    revealed, "I'm competitive, and I've definitely let my ego control me.
    But I've discovered that when it comes to music, ego has to sit down."
    Rave punctuates this collaborative spirit with a cover of Crow's "Everyday
    Is a Winding Road"--a track that finds The Artist rifling over hip-hop
    beats with a stinging attack worthy of Albert King.

    Is the notoriously sly funkster really the "brand new kid" he now claims
    to be? Perhaps. After all, a lot has changed in his world over the last
    few years. The split with Warner initiated a four-year span in which his
    only major-label affiliation was a distribution deal with EMI for the album
    Emancipation. Subsequent releases on his own NPG-label-- including the
    five-disc Crystal Ball (which sold more than 250,000 copies at $50 a pop),
    1999--The New Master (which features seven fresh versions of the hit),
    and New Power Soul--have been marketed via the Internet.

    By all accounts, The Artist has been successful at managing his own affairs.
    In fact, he talks of owning his masters (the original recordings) with
    the zeal of someone who's discovered the secret of eternal youth. But with
    all the complexities of running an operation the size of Paisley Park,
    who could blame him for inking a saccharine-sweet deal with a major record
    company and getting back to doing what he does best--writing and producing
    cutting-edge funk-rock, and playing awfully good guitar.

    As if to underscore this last point, The Artist played a video clip from
    a recent live performance that showed him shredding like a madman. When
    the solo ended, he flicked off the VCR and said with a grin, "I just wanted
    you to see that I can do it live, too."

    Why did you decide to play the majority of instruments on Rave?

    I had always planned to revisit my sound. This year felt like the time
    to do it.

    You mentioned coming full circle with your guitar playing. What is exciting
    you most about guitar now?

    Habibe [a custom Schecter guitar], and the doors that metal has opened
    for harder-edged records.

    Do you conceive songs and arrangements in their entirety, or do you play
    around with the music and lyrics until you get what you want?

    I always know what the whole thing is going to sound like. It's all in
    here [taps his head], but it's here, too [points at the console].

    Recording hardware is part of the songwriting process?

    I use punch-ins and spot-erasing as a compositional style--that's how I
    build and edit arrangements and performances. I'm quick enough with the
    Record button that I can shave a letter off a word. But that's because
    I've been doing it for 20 years.

    How do you create rhythm tracks?

    I generally build my tracks one at a time, but sometimes I use the band
    to get the rhythm down. In a way, it's more fun to get it out of people.
    You know, an idea is still yours even if you give it to someone.

    Is it easier for you to play all the instruments?

    It's not easier, but when I play all the instruments I'm not as greedy.
    I'm more greedy when we play live. [Laughs.]

    I like your solo on "Baby Knows."

    I tried to go after Chuck Berry for that one. I think I used my Tele through
    a small amp. Sheryl Crow played harp on that song--she nailed it in one

    Who's playing guitar on "I Love You, But I Don't Trust You Anymore"?

    That's Ani DiFranco. I showed her the chords to the song, but I didn't
    tell her how it actually went. If I'd told her too much, then silence wouldn't
    have been one of the sounds.

    How did you get such a massive tone on "So Far, So Pleased"?

    I ran my guitar through a Boss Vibrato and Flanger. The octave and delay
    effects are from the Zoom 9030.

    Do you double your guitar lines?

    A lot of times, I'll sample a guitar that I've recorded, and then overdub
    the same part with a keyboard. The attack of the keyboard gives guitar
    lines more impact and punch.

    Did you do that on "Man O' War"?

    Yeah. I also had my CryBaby cracked halfway open for that one.

    Do you have any special ways of recording acoustic guitar?

    Sometimes I record the guitar and vocals live--just sitting here at the
    console. That's how I recorded Truth [the acoustic-only disc on Crystal

    Speaking of Crystal Ball, how did you get that eerie lead tone in "Animal
    Kingdom" and the incredible rhythm guitar sound in "Da Bang"?

    If I told you, you'd have to die.

    Are you still playing the Cloud guitar?

    Yeah, but it's painted blue now.

    Who built that guitar?

    It was made by David Rusan.

    Do some instruments have a more spiritual vibe than others?

    I'm spiritual by nature, and I appreciate the time it took someone to make
    an instrument. It doesn't matter if it's a guitar or a synthesizer, someone
    still had to take the time to make it.

    What's one of the most important qualities for a musician to have?

    You have to respect your spiritual base. You have to respect the instrument.
    The volume and tone of an instrument is so important.

    You've recently produced albums by Chaka Khan and Larry Graham. Are there
    any guitarists that you'd like to produce?

    Carlos Santana. I love his playing-- especially on his early albums.

    What guitarists have most influenced your funk rhythm style?

    Sonny T. [one of the early members of The Artist's backup band, New power
    Generation], Freddie Stone [Sly Stone's brother], and Tony Maiden [of Rufus].

    How do you create such freedom in your songs without sacrificing the groove?

    God gives you everything, and one of those things is freedom.


    Hans Buff claims he's not quick enough to keep pace with The Artist, but
    this native of Germany certainly put himself on the fast track far a world-class
    engineering gig. Buff completed a one-year recording course at Music Tech
    in Minneapolis in 1993, and immediately gained a staff position at Minnesota's
    Pachyderm Studios (where he assisted tracking Live's Throwing Copper album).
    He soon became an assistant engineer at Paisley Park, and signed on as
    The Artist's main engineer in 1996.

    "This is a very rock-oriented record, so we worked a little harder on the
    distortion tones," says Buff, when asked about the guitar-recording process
    for Rave. "There were a couple of tracks where we just plugged straight
    into an amp--typically a Peavey Delta Blues 1x1 5 or a Tech 21 Trademark
    60--but The Artist also had his complete guitar system in the studio so
    that he could use all his pedals. I'd often mic the [Dutch-made, Celestion
    Vintage 30 loaded] Koch 4x12 or Peavey 5150 4x12 cabinets with a Shure
    SM57 and an Audix D2 placed on two different speaker cones. Sometimes we
    used a room mic to capture some depth--usually something fancy like an
    AKG C12A, a Neumann U67, or a Neumann U47 FET.

    "We also recorded guitars direct. The Artist's favorite funk setup is his
    Hohner Tele copy equipped with Fender Noisless pickups through either a
    Countryman or an Avalon direct box, then into a DiMideo mic preamp, and
    finally through a compressor-usually a tube Urei LA2A.

    "The Artist has interesting ways of building guitar tracks. For example,
    on `The Greatest Romance Ever Sold' [the Adam & Eve remix], there's a guitar
    solo that sounds kind of Queen-like. He played a straight solo, sampled
    it with a Publison Infernal Machine, and then played it back on a keyboard
    an octave higher. For the straight-up rock tones, he mostly used his pedals-a
    Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion, a Boss BD-2 Blues Driver, a Boss DD-3 Digital
    Delay, a Boss OC-2 Octave, a Boss FL-2 Flanger, a Danelectro Fab Tone,
    a Dunlop CryBaby, and a Dunlop Rotovibe. Stompboxes have always been part
    of his sound--it's all creative abuse of pedals.

    "We don't spend much time working on sounds. The Artist isn't a gear head,
    and we never spend, like, six hours checking out different amps, guitars,
    or mics. I never have time to set up tones that you take for granted in
    most recording situations. The board is always set up for mixing and overdubbing
    simultaneously. Studio A has an SSL 8000 G+ console with Ultimation, and
    Studio B has a custom DiMideo with APl components that I believe was used
    to record much of Purple Rain and Sign O' the Times.

    "We usually build tracks with The Artist programming a groove with his
    drummer/programmer Kirk Johnson. The Artist then puts down a melodic instrument--usually
    a keyboard--and records his vocals. In all the time I've worked with him,
    I've never seen him record his lead vocals--he always tracks them by himself
    with an AKG C12A that hangs over the console.

    "Drums and vocals are typically recorded on an analog 24-track machine,
    and I'm a fan of that approach because you can get more punch out of analog
    tape. All the arrangement stuff is recorded on digital, so I go analog
    about half the time and then transfer the tracks to a 48-track digital
    deck. Digital tape is ideal for The Artist because he works very fast and
    al ways records lots of tracks. Digital makes everything easily accessible--the
    punching is fast and you can copy tracks quickly. Our hard-disk recorder
    is an old Akai DD- 1000 2-track--and that's only used to sequence album

    "When working with The Artist, it never ceases to amaze me that he can
    write a good song, fill it up with great playing, and then stand back and
    look at the whole thing without being attached to those parts. He's the
    king of the rough mix. He doesn't like things to be subtle. He once told
    me that mixing is like making a music video-when you see finger cymbals,
    you've got to hear them, too. So, he biggest problem I have in mixing his
    stuff is when I have to make 25 parts sound similarly loud in order to
    live up to that ideal video scenario."

      Current date/time is Sat Mar 23, 2019 7:12 pm