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 Small Tom Rothrock Interview

The release of Action Packed The Best Of The Capitol Years was an opportunity to have a word with MOCK TUDOR producer Tom Rothrock, founder of BongLoad Records (Beck, Fu Manchu, Elliot Smith, L7). Tom is also responsible for bringing out both Mock Tudor & Action Packed ON good ol' VINYL.



FF: You produced MT. What do YOU think RT was up to when he got in touch with you (and Rob Schnapf)?

TR: We had been interested in working with Richard since about 1993 and a friend at Capitol kept bringing it up when he was getting ready to record an album. After about 6 years we got a meeting! I don't know what Richard was "up to" but we seemed to have overlapping ideas on how to approach recording.

FF: Do you think the aim was reached?

TR: We all had a great time recording. If there was an aim it was to make a record that would stand the test of time. I believe it will.

FF: On the sleeve notes of Action Packed RT is quoted about MT: "You don't hear the production necessarily". Have you been asked to be invisible (unhearable) or what?

TR: No, that's just a style, ha! No gimmicks, no reverse gated-reverb. Nothing to distance or distract the listener from the performance and song.

FF: Could you tell something about the recording process? Like: Does RT know what he wants before laying it down?

TR: He knows the song and would show it to the band, run it down 2 or 3 times and then we'd track it.

FF: Who's was the leader during the recording session of MT?

TR: Richard led the band, if that's what you mean?

FF: Who has been playing the critical-and-never-satisfied role?

TR: Most record companies

FF: How many takes were needed for each song?

TR: "Hard On Me" was the toughest song to record, go figure. Many take over several days to catch the performance that's on the album.

FF: Did you record all instruments at one time for all songs?

TR: No, Richard, Teddy, Dave and Danny T. or Atom E. on bass all Vocals, backing vocals were all overdubbed. As much of the live performance as possible was preserved.

FF: How much time did it take to finish MT altogether?

TR: About 4 weeks of recording at Capitol Studio B and 2 weeks of mixing at Sunset Sound, studio 1.

FF: What's your own favorite track?

TR: Several, I'd start w/ "Hard on Me" but add "Cooksferry," "Dry My Tears," "Walking the Long Miles," "Uninhabited." I'll stop before I run down all the songs!





Andy Graham in a recent interview with Richard Thompson: "I quite liked the production of Schnapf and Rothrock. Any chance of working with them again?"
RT: "I think absolutely - one or the other or both. We had a great time, and I thought they really served the record quite well. I thought the songs came through in a straight-forward fashion. Sometimes, you
know, it's HARD to make a record."

June 2001


FF: Who decided to leave out two recorded songs from the initial CD? & Why?

TR: We all wanted to present as concise a record as possible. This was the hardest part of the entire project! Getting a song sequence and picking what to leave off. Richard was ready to bail on "Cooksferry" and it ended up first! This was the trickiest album sequence Rob and I had ever encountered, quite a puzzle. Listening to the CD I think, what was so tough? But at the time, oh boy.

FF: What do you think has been the essential part of MT:recording,dubbing, mixing?

TR: Gotta do it all, equally important.

FF: You're involved in many recordings of different types of artists. What would you say is the difference between recording Beck & RT? In what way is experience or age counting in this sort of work?

TR: Beck has an American accent. My age or Richard's? He's been making records since I was 3.

FF: What was your role, what was Rob's role during the recording of MT?

TR: Rob and I worked together for 10 years before recording with Richard. We were both there hands on the entire session. We both have backgrounds in engineering a mixing as well as production. Four hands and four ears working as two, weird stuff.

FF: How about the vinyl-project? Why vinyl? Does it sound better, compared to CD? Is it profitable? Nice to posess? & How come you seem to love vinyl better than digital CD?

TR: Vinyl is a great format. It's very satisfying to have you work on wax. The sound is a personal choice. The vinyl is a higher quality master. It's cut from a 24 bit digital master, the CD version is clipped down to 16 bits from 24 bits.

FF: Are there any plans to work together again with RT?

TR: I recorded two songs with him a couple of months back, at Stagg Street Studios in Van Nuys, for a project some friends of his are putting together.

FF: What would you like to tell to > 600 dedicated RT fans getting together everyday on the www to talk about Their Hero?

TR: 600 a day, that's great. He's cool. But y'all have already figured that out!

FF: Dave Mattacks is sad about the fade in "That's All, Amen..." Is the original recording still at your avail? & Do you think there's a chance this will ever make it to a CD?

TR: Hey, I'm just glad that Dave is on the record! He's great! I don't know why he wouldn't like the fade, you can hear his big drum fill right at the end!

FF: Do you think you've got great stuff for an interesting remastered copy of Mock Tudor, containing outtakes, false starts, studio banter etc. to be added to an Old Fleetwood Mac-ish Boxed Set to be released after 30 years, on RT's 80th birthday?

TR: Oh sure, Capitol has reels of outtakes in some mysterious vault, somewhere.


Flip Feij (c) April 2001