Part 2: Be Here Now
Did you hear the demo tapes of Be Here Now recorded in Mustique? If so, could you comment on how they sounded? Did they include an unreleased song called Slow?
Pretty sure Slow was on there, yes. I did hear the demos and used them to gauge the setup for the initial recording session at Abbey Road. The demos were great and had an attitude and feel that I could instantly get a feel for where they were going. They were stripped back compared to how the album ended up, but the attitude and intent was evident.
Which songs were recorded at Abbey Road?
We didn’t really finish anything off at Abbey Road. We recorded quite a few of the backing tracks. A lot of the tracking was done there but a lot got redone elsewhere. We started with It’s Gettin’ Better (Man!!), D’You Know What I Mean?, Magic Pie, and The Girl in the Dirty Shirt.
What was the atmosphere at Abbey Road like? Noel has said in interviews that they were asked to leave after playing too loudly. Did this have anything to do with the band hiring in a huge PA system to monitor their mixes (and play back all the Beatles’ albums in order of release!)?
The atmosphere started off great. It always was amongst the band and crew during these sessions at Abbey Road. It just didn’t suit the band at that point though, and this soon changed the vibe. The incident with somebody storming in and complaining that they had bottom end all over their cellos caused by us playing back too loud changed the mood in the studio and it was best to leave soon after this. We were pulled up on the volume. There were other things contributing. Some very funny, but you couldn’t beat playing back those Beatles albums in the Live room. Got everyone buzzing.
Do you recall why there was a change in production style during the recording process? In an earlier interview for Q Magazine Owen Morris said that they had initially planned a more stripped-back approach, before deciding to fill every channel on the mixing desk to create a huge wall of sound.
I think Owen would be best to explain the reasons but I maybe don’t think it was intentional. It wasn’t like we decided one day that we should ditch the stripped back approach and create that wall of sound. It had been said at the start by Owen that we would aim to keep it stripped back and I remember thinking “Yeah right”. The songs just kind of grew and grew and we were experimenting with lots of amps and pedals and seeing how far we could push the layers. It just kept going from there. Owen really is great at it. I was really inspired by his creativity and his determination to use up all 96 tracks! He’s a legend! Noel too. He really got some great guitar sounds on that record. He spent a lot of time going through the mass of amps and pedals.
Can you say which tracks were recorded at Ridge Farm, Air Studios, and Master Rock?
We worked on bits from the whole album at these studios. Only guitar and vocal overdubs at Master Rock; drums, bass, guitars and vocals at Ridge Farm and Air; and the strings were recorded at Air, of course.
Did you attend the mixing sessions at Orinoco and, if so, what are your memories of that process?
I did go to some of the mixing. The studio was great. I remember there was so much on the tracks and Owen really had his work cut out to fit it all in and still get the songs across. Not really any easy mixes on that record, but he pulled it off and managed to throw everything at it. Monitoring was a lot quieter compared to the 4k PA rig that we carried around with us for tracking and playbacks! I’m still suffering now.
Thanks for your time, Nick.