Guy Sebastian talks about recording his fourth album in Memphis with music legends such as Steve Cropper and Donald Duck Dunn. Guy also talks about how he is inspired by Sam Cook, The Platters, Otis Redding add Al Green.
Guy: Yeah, when I was young I found records like Sam Cook and the Platters and stuff like that in my dad's cassette collection. Even back in the day there was the LP's and stuff like that.
I think it was the first time I heard Sam Cook sing. I've got a picture of him up on the wall, a little painting. Just the confidence and the smoothness of his voice and the sonic quality of how music was captured in those days, I kind of wanted to mimic that a little bit. The sounds of people like Otis Redding and Al Green and all that gritty soul.
On my fourth album I went over to Memphis and recorded in some really nice old school studios with some really nice old school gear. We recorded all to analog tape, which meant the whole bands in the room. I had Steve Cropper. I had Donald Duck Dunn and a lot of the key Memphis, like Booker T and the MGs. All of those guys. They were kind of my band. It was pretty rad. They were the band in the 60s and 70s for Otis Redding and the Staple Singers. They even played with Elvis and stuff like that. They were serious cats. To have them play as my band and then to bring them out to Australia and tour with them. Not only do the studio thing, but do the live thing with them was pretty awesome.
They were like 70 years old, those blokes. Didn't miss a beat. One take. Most of that album was like I would talk through the arrangement and talk through a couple of different things that I might have wanted to do. Suddenly we'd go, "OK, cool. Let's give it a go," and it would be that take. We'd get to the end of that take and we'd be like, "Yep. That was pretty good. Have a listen and make sure because it's all to tape."
They're just pros. They've been doing it for 50 years or something. It's in them. It's pretty cool. When you work with mus-o's [SP] like that, you kind of appreciate how they used to do it. I can sit in here and I play piano and I play guitar and stuff, but I'm not a shredder. I'm not Mozart on the piano, but I can sound great because of the editing and the ability to do 50 million takes. And then after the takes, to post edit and slice stuff up even things like beat detect. I can go and put down some drums and then use software to splice everything perfectly and quantize it. That's just stupid, beyond media doing that with audio as well. There's a lot more room for error nowadays whereas you look at them back in the day, they had full orchestras.
The Quincy Jones's and all the arrangers. They had full orchestras. The producers of those days had a lot more responsibility because they had to capture everything in one take. They had drum kits where there was a room mic and one spot mic. They'd go around and the engineers would know, "OK. That's the sweet spot. There's enough bottom in there." It was an art.
I think nowadays people take that for granted a little bit that there was a beauty, an engineering, and a real art to it. I think my musical roots have definitely taught me, don't take technology for granted. You can lose a lot of soul with that.
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