Spinal Tap is “Back From The Dead” Got MUSIC SMARTS?

March 22, 2009

(L-R) CJ Vanston, David St. Hubbins, NIgel Tufnel, Derek Smalls

(L-R) CJ Vanston, David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel, Derek Smalls

This week at The Village recording studios I interviewed David St. Hubbins, Derek Smalls, and Nigel Tufnel — SPINAL TAP, and their distinguished music producer CJ Vanston.  With engineer Ed Cherney, they are re-recording their first album + new songs for a media blitz now under way.  It was a full on multi-camera hi-res interview which we will have online for you as soon as we do a little post-production.  Don’t worry, we won’t clean it up — even though they occasionally took out their hard mock rock angst on me.  In the course of the interview we learn about heretofore unknown factoids, such as the attempt by David’s mother to preserve his angelic pre-adolescent voice by making him a “castrati.”  Even Nigel had never heard this story before and asked, “Well, what did you say to her?”  David anwered simply, “Put that knife down, mum!”

Derek Smalls (L) and David St. Hubbins reminisce about an obscure sexual manouvre called "The Spinal Tap"

Derek Smalls (L) and David St. Hubbins reminisce about an obscure sexual manouvre called "The Spinal Tap." Click to enlarge.


BONZAI: How does it feel playing this dark metal music with one foot in the grave?
DAVID: I can think of no more appropriate place to keep one’s foot.
DEREK: What do you mean by that?
BONZAI: Well, uh, you’re not exactly kids anymore…
DEREK: But that doesn’t mean you have one foot in the grave.  To me, you’ve got a foot in the grave if they’ve got you hooked up to tubes and they put a catheter up your Willie.  None of us are in that situation, so we still feel that if you don’t look at the calendar, and you don’t look at the clock, and you don’t look in the mirror, then it feels the same.

BONZAI: Do you have any special effects processors?
DEREK: To me, all the special effects really belong to the land of guitars.  I want the bass to be clean, and loud, and strong, and dominant.  The more effects you put it through the more you get in the way of that.  Bass is basically like breath and the guitars are like speech.  So, you want special effects on the speech, but on the breath you just want it clean and pure, and straight.
DAVID: I use the Kaori X30, an experimental compressor that actually increases your guitar’s atomic weight.

Music Smarts features hundreds of quotations from a vast array of artists and industry gurus, reflecting on influences, heroes, integrity, performances, and many more critical aspects of being a music person. These gems of hard-won wisdom cover not only the highs of success, money, and fame, but also reveal the lows of missteps and rejection.

Drawn from 25 years of feature interviews by notorious studio insider, Mr. Bonzai, and edited by Mix magazine creator, David Schwartz, Music Smarts features razor-sharp insights from the music industry’s savviest artists, producers, technicians, and business execs, and showcases the brainpower that has made popular music the most influential force in modern culture. This handbook also includes a visual “who’s who” of the music biz with original portraits by Mr. Bonzai of the featured artists.

Look Inside the Book and order a dozen at Amazon.com

For more of Spinal Tap, visit my Berkleemusic Blog

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