TG: So that was, for sure, the most "from the ground up" we've ever approached the studio. It's kind of luxurious, but Spain is--it was affordable in Spain to do that, really.
PM: Right. And also you just get a different idea about how to live and how to make music, and how to make a record, in an atmosphere like that.
TG: Yeah. Geography often plays a part in recording, too. And certainly your environment--that's one of the reasons we record a lot at Greg Keelor's place. I mean, he's just got a little home studio, but it's in a beautiful location, and we're all really comfortable there.
PM: Wow. And after all, it's all about the vibe. I mean, you can go in and pay 750 bucks a day for a studio, but if it doesn't have a vibe, you're screwed.
TG: That's it. I've done that before. I walk in and it feels like a hospital or something.
PM: Yeah right.
PM: So what is Paco himself like? What kind of cat is he?
TG: He is great. He's incredible. He's very enthusiastic and encouraging. He's one of the funniest guys I ever met.
PM: Wow. And is his English pretty perfect?
TG: He never tied up his shoes, so he does walk around with his ass hanging out half the time. I didn't really know much about him, but he seems to be quite legendary, especially in Spain. [find out more about Paco Loco & his studio here & here]
PM: What about Gary Louris? What kind of a cat is he? I don't know the man.
TG: He's a great guy. And he's a great singer. He pushed us to sing a little harder on this record. There were times when I would think, yeah, that's what I sound like. And he'd be like, "Yeah, but you could sound a little better."
PM: Yeah, I love the guys that do that, "Yeah, that was good. Give me another one."
TG: Well, he said some funny ones though, like he would say, "Come on! You can sing higher than that." I'd be like, "No, that's as high as I can go." He'd be, "Ah you"--and I'd go, "No, I don't want to do that. If I get up that high I start to sound like I'm singing like a girl. I sound like a girl when I do that, and I want to sound like a guy." Gary is like, "Oh, come on, I've made a career out of sounding like a girl."
PM: That's funny.
TG: Yeah, it was really cool working with him. Before that, I mean, I'd done the tour with the Jayhawks. Dallas has done a tour opening for the Jayhawks with Neko Case, and got to know him pretty well on that. I'd met him on the tour for two weeks. And then we didn't see him for about two years, and then he came up to Toronto to do the live record with us.
PM: Right. I forgot about that. What part did he play on the live record?
TG: He sings "Lucifer Sam," the Floyd song, and he sings one of our songs, "Good Flying Day." And we did "Tailspin."
PM: Right, "Tailspin," that was a great cut on the live record, oh yeah, that's right. He must be a very smart cat, Louris, right?
TG: Yeah, he is.
PM: He seems like a guy that has a real musical intelligence.
TG: Yes. [more about Gary here]
PM: So which of the brothers is playing string bender on "Never Again"? Is that you? [For the general audience, it's a contraption invented by Gene Parsons and the deceased and revered Clarence White of The Byrds, that bends the string more like a pedal steel guitar, by pushing down on the strap, producing a most pleasing sound.]
TG: No, that's Dallas. He's got the B-bender.
PM: Who made that for him?
TG: Well, he bought that one. But you know the story, those are made by Clarence White originally, right?
TG: They used to be Parsons/White, now they're Parsons/Green.
PM: Oh, you mean Meridian Green?
TG: Meridian Green?
PM: I think Gene Parsons is or was married or partnered to a musician named Meridian Green. They are often and still a duo, I do believe. [Meridian and Gene are from the Mendocino area, she is also the daughter of folk legend Bob Gibson. More about Meridian here]
TG: Oh, that's cool. I never knew who the Green in Parsons/Green was. [Gene Parsons gives some B-Bender history here]
PM: Yeah. Boy, I love those string bender guitars. The welcome stiffness of the banjo and the slinky rubbery quality of a good bender, those two things just go so well together.
TG: Yeah, they do! For a while we had a steel guitar player, too, in the band. He kind of became obsolete when Dallas got that bender.
TG: Yeah. Yeah, we were kind of getting to the point where we were like, "Can you play this part on the steel?" [mimics twangy sounds of a B-bender]. He goes, "Yeah, I think I could probably do that." And we're like, "Ah, fuck it, we can just do it." That must have been a bad day for steel players when they went and invented that thing.
PM: Yeah, well, not as bad as drum machines. That had to be a bad day.
TG: Who would have thought? At that time I didn't think so, but yeah.