From: The Blue C
Subject: Alan Parsons ON Air Interview by Atle Bjornar Bratset Make a cup of hot chocolate, find the blanket and enjoy the company of the good guys... Interview done Saturday 21 of September at 1500 - 1525 hours ********************************************* Intro : Alan Parsons, welcome to Norway! AP: Thank you! ME: You're basically her to promote your new CD Alan Parsons "On Air", it's a thematic album around the subject of flying. Why this fascination about mankind, wings and hot air balloons? AP: Well the ballooning is where it all started...umm..the human endeavor to fly...with the Mongolfier brothers.... I think the fascination is what I share with most young people today, you know we all grew up wanting to be superman or peter pan or something like that...I think everybody has had this great will, this great yearning to literally just take of and fly like a bird. ME: Can you fly a plane yourself? AP: No, I wish I could...(laughing) (our man is in good spirits...) ..you know this rock'n roll business unfortunately prevents me from finding enough hours in the day to do anything about that. But ,I'd like to learn to fly...umm..probably a glider first... before learning to fly power planes. I've been up in a glider as a passenger, and I just thought the whole experience was so wonderful, I find that much more fascinating... the fact that you can fly under wind power as well as under motor power. I find that rather romantic in a way... ME: Can you tell me a little bit about the process around the recording of a new Alan Parsons CD? AP: Well, in this case it was rather special. Because not only did we make a regular stereo CD, but we also have done a separate CD-ROM to include as part of the package. Lots of artists have done CD-ROM's, but nobody has , as far as I know, done it to be released free as part of the CD package. Even if you don't have a Computer it does not really matter, because your not paying anything extra for the disc. But if you do have a computer, then it's a whole world of adventure stuff there...graphics, little video clips, text based stuff, games, virtual reality, all kinds of things... on the CD-ROM. So, the recording process on this occasion was slightly more complicated than usual, because not only did we have a regular music album to make but we had all these new sounds on the CD-ROM to contend??? with as well. So, all though we were making both projects side by side they tended to cross over into each other. And we would find, that when we had covered a particular angle of aviation or flying in a song, that we hadn't actually said everything we wanted to say in the lyrics... so we had the opportunity then to extend what we had recorded in the songs, by including extra information about the subject in the CD-ROM as well. ME: So, it all starts from picking a theme? AP: Yes. The theme was actually born out of an accident, believe it or not, which happened two years ago. Our guitar player, Ian,... his cousin was a helicopter pilot... who was flying on a peace mission in Iraq, and he was mistaken for a hostile enemy craft, and was shot down... by an American jet, believe it or not, so he was shot down by his own side, so it was a particular tragic accident...and Ian wrote a song called "Brother up in heaven" about this accident...and really it was that song, when I decided that it should go on this album, that the idea, that we should do a whole package about flying came up. Because Eric, this is the pilot Erik Mounsey, his great will was to fly, but he declined to fly for any combat reasons. He would only fly on peace missions. ME: What are you basically Alan, producer, songwriter or musician? AP: (he he ) ..if I'm filling in a form or a passport application or whatever, I would always write Record Producer, because that is still what I do. I think more recently I'm more of a musician than I used to be, because I'm actually playing live now. But I still feel that my main background is Recording Engineer and Recording Producer. And, you know the song writing and musicianship is a sort of ancillary, I wouldn't say secondary, but certainly a secondary occupation. ME: You seem to be changing vocalists like other people change their underwear, (AP: he he) ...but some have stayed with you from the beginning, what is a good vocalist for you? AP: I think it's a little bit of a trademark that we have always had new singers, and it's something which I enjoy, I enjoy the challenge of always finding new people to sing on each album. I mean a good singer is somebody who is ideally suited for "a" particular song, and we perhaps have rather more control over that. Most bands or most artist would have 1 singer or 2 singers to choose from. I have the entire music- business to choose from (AP: he he), which is a very nice position to be in. But having said that, of course, you can't get anyone you choose, because all these people have managers and they all have to be paid. Sometimes business get in the way, but you know in general I have been fortunate and managed to get the the singer that I choose. And it's normally been worthwhile chasing after them. ME: There is a serious lack of female singers in your history,why? AP: I have no idea why that is...I mean it's umm...umm... it's possibly when we record the tracks, because we're all guys in the band...and we tend to do demo vocals with ourselves, and you sort of get used to the idea of hearing a male voice on it...It's not totally true... because on the last album we had one, sung by a girl singer...ME:(and on the EVE album...) AP:..and on the EVE album we had two...but ummm...you're right, it sounds like we're sexist (AP and ME : he he)... ...in terms of our vocal choice, but it is really not intentional. It is purely a sort of sound choice rather than having anything to do with sexism or anything else... but you know..next time, next album, who knows? Maybe we will have all girls and no guys... It's possible.... It would have been rather fun if the EVE album had been just women...but this was not to be, and we can't rewrite history. ME: Alan, I'm on the Alan Parsons Mailing list on the internet (AP: Oh Yeah? mmm mmm )..and they really seemed very pleased with the new album, those who had bought it. (AP: That's good...) You call those fans "Projectologists" (he repeats it and continues with a warm laughter...)ME : Are those fans important for you? AP: Of course, yes! ...it's very important... ME: And they are very loyal? AP: Yes! I just found out (laughing heartily)... that there is one web site, I don't know which one it is...that they managed to find my own e-mail address and put it up there somewhere, so I would have to change that now...You know I generally read through the stuff and I accept the criticism...you know, it is not always positive...you get quite genuine opinions about stuff on the internet, which is good. And the internet is wonderful, for instance when we started rehearsing two weeks ago, I realized that we were lacking printed lyrics for the songs, so I went on the net, and there they were, all the lyrics beautifully typed up. So, I printed them out. And then we had lyrics for the singers... :-) ME : Are you not concerned about the copyright? AP: I think it may become an issue in the future.. AP asks ME : You mean the fact that the lyrics were on the web site? ME : Yes... AP : Ohhh I'd like to find the music publisher that considered it to be a problem, I think it would be the opposite..free advertising... ME : So it's a resource? AP : Yeah.... ME : Why and when did it dawn on you, that you really should get out some more and finally decided to start playing live? AP: I think it's no accident that it coincided with me splitting up with Eric Woolfson. Somehow when we were working together it never really happened. The only thing that happened as far as audiences were concerned was a musical that we did that was called "Freudiana" which was not a successful record, but quite successful as a musical, although it only ran in one city, it ran in Vienna. The album/musical was about Freud, so it was appropriate that it would be staged in Vienna...and it convinced Eric that that's where he wanted to be, and that's what his future lay in, writing for the theater. I was less comfortable in that environment, and decided that I would continue making records and form a working band, and taking not only the new material on the road but the old as well. And I'm very glad I did, it's been a tremendously good fun experience. I can not tell you how much I'm enjoying it. ME : Many of the young people today have never heard of "The Alan Parsons Project"..(AP : Many of the weren't even born!!! )(WE LAUGH)(PAUSE)... but one thing that get's them listening is when I tell them that you are the Steven Spielberg of music. Do you see any familiarities? AP : Yes, I mean I have always made the comparison between a Record Producer and Movie Director, in fact I think the title is wrong, we should be known as Recording Directors because that's really what we do. We direct rather than produce. The producer is the guy who makes the phone calls and deals with budgets and makes arrangements and all that stuff. Directing is very much part of what a Record Producer does, so I've always made the comparison between Spielberg or Scorcese, or any of these big name directors, they are the stars of their product, but the are unseen, they don't appear in their movies, but they are the people behind the scenes that make it happen. ME : Do you feel that you have been making musical films? AP : In a funny sort of way, yes. It's very similar... ...it sounds a bit cliche like, but I think it was Sir George Martin who once said ; ..."making records is like painting pictures with sound..."and that's very true, I think. ME : How do you see the CD as a music carrier in the future? AP : We are going through a very interesting period that's about to happen. Not only with stereo CD's and CD-ROM's, but with multi channel systems. We are very soon going to release a multi channel mix of the album as well. In a system called DTS (ME : DAMN THOSE SYSTEMS???) ;-) ...Digital Surround... a discrete 6 channel system... So instead of two stereo channels you have 6 channels of sound to listen through. And this is a kind of a spin off of home theater, which is very popular in America at the moment. Basically Laser Discs with very high quality sound tracks are doing very well in the states. The problem I think we have with sound carriers is the space that we have available. I mean there is a new format being released either late this year or early next year called DVD. Which is a new system for reproducing sound and pictures for a full length feature film on a regular size CD, but the problem with all these things is that the miniaturization always comes at a cost, and there is always this slightly reduced quality by trying to squeeze all this information into this small space. I really wish that the CD as we now know it, was actually a 12 inch disc. Like the old albums were. Because you get so much information, and get such good quality out of it. I also think the record artwork has suffered greatly through having been reduced to CD size. If you bought an 12 inch album you really felt that is a good piece of artwork. Something you could stick up on your wall and be proud of. But the CD is just to small I think. ME : Will there always be something extra on new Alan Parsons CD's, I mean, there is no turning back now? AP : (he he) ...well it depends on how well this one does. We have made a considerable financial investment into this CD-ROM. And we are passing all that investment over to the record buyer, the record buyer not having to pay for it. So, we are going to have to recoup our investment by selling lots of records. By virtue the fact that it is probably a god send to a marketing person. We are very hopeful that it will do well. It's no doubt that if you give away a CD-ROM for free, that you are going to get attention for doing that. ME : I want to go back to a little bit of history now, what Alan would you say were the Projects finest hour? AP : Well I have always regarded the finest hour as our first album actually. It broke new ground , and it was my first attempt at making an album under my own name. I was very proud of it, and I still to this day feel it was the strongest of all the records. AP : ASKS ME : Do you disagree? ME : No, (THINKING) but...it didn't go down hill from there...???? AP : No, I would say that probably the world wide peak was "Eye in the sky" which was about 6 years later. The public know what they want, and I think they rightly chose "Eye in the sky" as being one of the best and one of the most popular. ME : Any regrets concerning the Project? AP : I don't think so.... really...only possibly the comparative lack of success of the last album, the "Try anything once " album, which was a disappointment. So I mean, disappointment rather than regrets. I have never been one to regret anything very much in my career. But it was a disappointment that the last album did not perform as well as most of the previous ones had. But, I know already from the reaction that we have had from this one, that we are going to way exceed the success of the last studio album with this new one. Because the reaction has been amazing to say the least. ME : What do you make of pop music today, Alan? AP : Too many types of pop music (Laughs). There is too many categories, too many radio stations playing different formats. I don't know where your radio station fits in in terms of categories of music it plays, but if it is anything like Radio 1 in the U.K. which is very,very narrow minded...but basically the problem is you get one kind of station playing dance music, rap, trance, techno all that kind of stuff, and you've got another kind of radio station playing Mariah Carey, Michael Bolton, Whitney Houston and a third playing Pink Floyd, Genesis and Alanis Morisette...you know there is so many different areas of taste now, and I think it probably coincides with age groups to a certain extent. But it's very hard to know which area of music to appeal too. ME : Do you think the song writing is alive and kicking? AP : Song writing I think is very strong at the monument. I think Alanis Morisette has made her mark as a songwriter and well as a performer. ME : Could you produce her? AP : I doubt it (Another Deep Bear Laugh ) ! I would love too, I think she is hugely talented ...but... I don't think she needs me... ME : Can you and Eric write something together in the future? AP : It is not out of the question. I mean Eric is busy working on two new musicals in Germany at the moment, and I am touring and making my own records...when we both find a period where it would seem to make sense for us to come together and make another record, then we will do it, yes. We don't have any problems with each other, it's purely that we decided to go in different directions. So yes, I am not saying that the last Alan Parsons Project album has been made. It may very well come to making another one in some future time. And none of us are getting any younger. (he he) ME : If I'm not mistaken Alan you produced "The Dark side of the Moon" (AP : Engineered) ok...are you still making money of that monster? AP : I never did! ;-) ...no no, if you are a producer you get rich, if you are an engineer generally speaking you don't. ME : What you make of that album? AP : Ohhhhhh it's not a bad album! (We both laugh). No, it was obviously extremely important to me. I mean it was a milestone in my career and Pink Floyd's career. And I have a great deal to thank them for... ME : What have the Project in common with Pink Floyd? AP : I think, the fact that we both were doing concept albums. I mean "Dark side of the Moon" was the ultimate concept album I suppose. That was one thing. I don't try to deny that there is influence there, the things I learned from Pink Floyd about how to use the studio in certain ways was....very much....you know I took that with me into the Project. And I would be crazy to try and say that it was any other way. I'm a Pink Floyd fan, so if I want to aknowledge that I like somebody , you know Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as they say. ME : You have always given people value for money when it comes to the artwork on your album covers, is it almost as important as the music? AP : I think it is important to grab the attention, and I think the guy that I work with Storm Thorgerson is always very good at grabbing the attention on an album sleeve. The problem these days is to get people who have been buying my music over the years into record stores. 40 year old's don't go into record stores unless it is to take their sons and daughters, I think these days. We have to look at new advertising media to convince them, and if you have a strong image on the cover it obviously helps. ME : Who would you say you are making music for, Alan? AP : Well I think it is unlikely to appeal to audiences much under 25. Because these guys were not around in the early days of what I was doing, and essentially I have been doing the same kind of music all along. Rock music is a youth oriented thing and for the young there is always some new kind of style of music which will attract their interest. There is no good reason why they should suddenly become interested in a sound born in the 70's. I mean, essentially our roots are in the 70's and probably always will be. ME : What about the future for Alan Parsons, will you be making music in the future? AP : Sure! As long I can keep my head above water I'll carry on making records, yes, sure! And I also want to take the live show further, as well. I want to start thinking about doing some large scale things. (*** After the recorder had been stopped he mentioned that this project had something to do with the pyramids***) AP Continues : Perhaps not quite on the scale of "The Wall", but certainly in that kind of area. ME : Playing on the Moon maybe? AP : (he he)...you never know... he he... ME : Alan Parsons, thank you! AP : You are most welcome, thank you!