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Grammytech 4: A Conversation With Geoff Emerick, Plus Brooklyn's Leland Sundries (Exclusive Streamer)

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EXCLUSIVE STREAMER: LELAND SUNDRIES - THE FOUNDRY EP

On February 21st, Leland Sundries' new EP, The Foundry, will be released, featuring Nick Loss-Eaton on guitar, banjo, harmonium, harmonica, and vocals. These Brooklyn indie-folksters recorded the project in an old creamery building, and it follows their debut, The Apothecary EP, which The New York Times picked up on: "Leland Sundries, a band from New York led by Nick Loss-Eaton, is dedicated to storytelling in a way that recalls Woody Guthrie and his Folkways brethren. [Their] scrappy Americana will get you longing for empty two-lane highways and kudzu-encased back porches."

A streamer of The Foundry is presented here for HuffPost readers.

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Tracks:
1. Airstream Transmission
2. Monitor Arms
3. Giving Up Redheads
4. Apparition
5. Bywater Rag
6. VFW Hall

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A Pre-Grammy Conversation with Geoff Emerick

Mike Ragogna: Geoff, how did you feel about Paul's Grammy rehearsal?

Geoff Emerick: Unbelievable. I saw the rehearsals and they were just amazing - he's in really, really good voice. The new song, "My Valentine," is unbelievable live.

MR: Are you ever surprised how great his live performances are?

GE: Well, no. I'm surprised in a different way. I've known Paul since 1962, so I can read his mind. I can't really explain it, but I'm never really surprised.

MR: Did you run into any challenges mixing the performances?

GE: No, actually. It's amazing how it all sort of comes together. During the rehearsals, I was surprised at how clean and tight it sounded. I told Paul when I heard it that the vocals sounded really great. It helps that he's doing it in a live atmosphere so he's pushing the vocals out a little bit more. It sounded really good.

MR: Are you pleasantly surprised that Paul's voice has remained this strong after all of these years?

GE: Well, with a lot of singers, the voice never really seems to change. I mean, it does with some singers. But sometimes, if you look after your voice, it can just continue to improve. Robin Zander of Cheap Trick has the most amazing voice also, and it just improves.

MR: Geoff, can you tell us a little about your book Here, There, and Everywhere: My Life Recording The Music Of The Beatles.

GE: Basically, the book begins when I was about six or seven years old and fell in love with music and goes through the age of sixteen, which is when I started at Abbey Road Studios. I always wanted to be involved in new music in some way, so I didn't necessarily want to be a recording engineer. I also didn't know the system of physically making a record.

MR: Were you also responsible for new talent that was picked up at EMI over the years?

GE: I wasn't necessarily responsible because the production department was primarily responsible for that. But I ended up recording at a very young age. I worked with the likes of Matt Monro, Ken Dodd, and many others over the years.

MR: And you worked with some great talent including Kate Bush.

GE: Yeah, I did work on Kate's first record, I'd left Apple by that point.

MR: You went to Apple right after Abbey Road, right?

GE: I left Abbey Road and went to Apple where I stayed for four years and built a studio. I did a Stealers Wheel album there as well and then went back with George Martin.

MR: Now, you were very much a part of The Beatles throughout a great deal of their success. Did you sense that the group would have the success and impact that it did?

GE: Oh, absolutely. I knew that from very early on, mainly because their whole mindset at the start was sort of anti-establishment and that was different back then. I personally knew that there was something there simply through listening to John and Paul's songs while hearing what everyone else in the industry was doing. Revolver was obviously a huge step forward, even from the technical side. When we did Sgt. Pepper, we knew that it was something special - it was mind-blowing. But there's no way we could have imagined that it would be what it became.

MR: And as their sound and they as people evolved, you became a part of each of their solo careers.

GE: Yeah, but I was mainly working with the songs and the structure of the songs. I would embellish mistakes on the original rhythm tracks to make them more quirky, things like that. I suppose that's how a lot of the arrangements turned out the way that they are...they were mistakes, you know? They're not normal.

MR: Pretty wild. Geoff, What advice might you have for an artist that's just starting out?

GE: I always look at this job in visual terms. From a recording engineer's prospective, it's like making a film. It starts on the studio floor. You rehearse and rehearse, then you start on your camera shots, which might be the solos, then you go for the take. Now, when you're recording, you record it all together and try to piece it all together. They don't go for that "magic take" as we used to call it. I never got into the business of technicalities. We had to make all of those sounds ourselves with bits of tape and God knows what else. (laughs) It's such a shame. I'm looking at it from an artistic side. It's as if you have a pallet of paints and a brush, and you're painting a beautiful picture with sounds, painting it with sounds that are in your head. That's the way that I perceive it. I'm not interested in how we get back there, but it has to happen. It's like with the new computer animation compared with hand-drawn animation. There's no pigment in the computerized drawings, and there is with the hand-drawn. That makes all the difference.

MR: Looking back on your own career, what piece of advice would you choose to give yourself?

GE: I don't know. I don't want to stop doing this, but I do want to continue searching for the next thing that's mind-blowing. We've gotten into the lull of content, so I would love to find some incredible content from somewhere and make another album that will be amazing and everyone will want to go and buy it, you know? The album used to be like a stage performance, even down to the fact that the songs that they played were strung together by the keys that they were in. Bands used to spend days, once they finished recording working, on how to segue the album from song to song. It was a piece of art. When you buy an album these days, you can just purchase a bunch of individual tracks and it doesn't make any sense.

MR: Do you think there will come a time when people will start to demand that artists make those sort of albums again rather than continuing with the single track download mentality?

GE: I think that has to be retaught. That would have to go all the way back to music education in schools again.

MR: Is there anything coming up in your immediate future?

GE: Well, I am hopefully going to be producing a soundtrack for an upcoming film, but I can't say what the film is. That'll be fun to do though.

MR: Any words for artists and HuffPost readers out there?

GE: Just enjoy it, you know? You're trying to capture a moment when you're recording. Of course, I'm thinking of recording in the old sense when we rehearsed and put things together piece by piece. But you're supposed to be capturing a moment in time and that's why it's often said that the first take has a certain magic to it that can't be captured if you're doing take after take. Why is that the case? I don't know, it just feels good.

MR: Having lived through the phenomena that was The Beatles, do you think that there's another band that could have the same amount of influence as they had?

GE: Probably, because if you think about it, Mozart's music was the pop music of his day and it became our classical music. It's similar for my generation because The Beatles' music was the pop music of our day, and in 100 years time, it will be the classical music of their day. Music will continue to evolve.

MR: How would you describe The Beatles' place in history from now into the future?

GE: I think it will continually evolve.

MR: Do you think it will become more important or more mythical as things tend to do?

GE: More important, I would think. If all goes the way I hope it does. Hopefully, their music will be a standard when people look back at the great songs and the way they were structured because I don't hear anything today that comes anywhere near that music, which is a shame.

MR: Well, here's to the future. (laughs)

GE: Indeed.

MR: Geoff, thank you so much for taking time to chat with us.

GE: It's been my pleasure, Mike. Cheers.

Transcribed by Evan Martin