Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Interview with Brian Dixon of the Aggrolites!!

Interview with Brian Dixon...some very interesting tidbits, so CHECK IT OUT!

1. So…your new album, “Reggae Hits LA,” is highly anticipated…tell us about it

Brian: We're stoked on the new album! We had three songwriting rehearsals and then went in the studio and recorded it. It has a different sound than the first two records, largely due to the fact that we recorded it in a different studio. The first two albums (along with MANY of the L.A. Ska/Reggae records made over the last 10+ years), were recorded at Signet Sound Studios in Hollywood, which sadly closed it's doors on January 1st.

Kingsize Studios is a really nice place for us to work. They have a "vintage" Neve console, with the much coveted 1081 modules. Sick!

The studio did not have the type of ribbon mics that I usually use on the drums (RCA 77 or 44). I almost rented one, but decided to try a Neumman M149 that was sitting around. That mic ended up being the basis of the "sound" of the record.

There was almost no Equalization or Compression (or any other audio processing on this record). The new album is in Stereo too. The room was small enough that it was easy for us to simulate reverb on various instruments by panning certain mics away from the M149.

2. Your new album is getting released just over a year since your Hell-Cat debut…how do you guys pop out material so quick? And why did you make us wait so long for your second album?

Brian: Sorry for the long wait! Actually, to me, it feels like we're just getting a handle on what we're doing. The way I see it, the first two albums were almost exercises in Reggae. Especially the first one. Getting a bunch of guys in a studio with no songs written and no ideas other that playing "Dirty Reggae" (whatever that is), writing songs as fast as possible (so that we don't end up ripping off old Reggae tunes) to develop our own sound and recording everything "first take" to keep the energy and vibe of that moment. Little to no overdubs (except for voicing the tracks). Lyrical content that has to do with what is going on in your life at that moment. A lot of these things, are what we interpret that might have been the way some of those great Reggae records were made. It allows us to work fast and be ourselves.

We decided that one year was a long enough touring cycle for the s/t album. That is why we put the new one out a year later. We might do the same thing next year. The momentum keeps things interesting or us. We enjoy recording.

3. I see Korey is back on the drums…where’s Scott?

Brian: Probably at Gordon Biersch.

4. I remember reading on your website that you guys were going to put some unreleased stuff on vinyl…when is that going to happen?

Brian: We've had the worst time trying to get vinyl out. The s/t album will be out in vinyl in June in Europe (thru Copasetic). Reggae Hit L.A. will be released on vinyl, but I don't know if it will be ready in time for the June 5th release date. We want to start releasing our own 45's. Our bass player J, is going to start releasing some of his own material on his label Jandisc.

As far as unreleased Aggro stuff, I'm not sure. Maybe we will be ready to focus on that by late Summer, when touring eases up for a little while.

5. You’ve guys seemed to have backed a lot of legends…from Derrick Morgan to Prince Buster to Phyllis Dillon…what have been some your most memorable moments with the legends you’ve backed?

Brian: Hard to say. One thing that I have always enjoyed, are how happy those great singers/musicians get when we show our genuine interest in their contribution to Reggae music. We'll rattle off question after question to them. Picking their brains about everything.

It was interesting hearing Prince Buster tell us that he wrote the movie "The Harder They Come" and that it was stolen from him!

6. Other than your upcoming album and your project with Tim Armstrong…what’s on the horizon for the Aggrolites?

Brian: We'll be touring, which I can't wait for. Best part of being in a band, if you ask me.

7. Alright…that’s enough of the Aggrolites for now, let’s move onto other questions…like how did you get into Jamaican music in the first place?

Brian: Since I was a kid, I always liked Reggae, but didn't know anything about it. I started buying Reggae albums when I was about 10 years old, but everything I would buy, sucked. So, I stopped buying Reggae. Around 1987, my friend turned me on to Let's Go Bowling. I loved it. Same year, Operation Ivy did an interview on Maximum RockNRoll Radio (a punk show I used to tape every week) and the played a rough mix of the song "Here We Go Again," which sealed the deal for me. I was hooked. I bought some Ska albums that had just came out and I started to discover a whole new world of music. The more I learned, the more I realized I hadn't even scratched the surface.

I took the path that many people take. punk -->modern ska -->Skatalites -->Desmond Dekker -->everything else

8. You’re also a music producer…how’d you get into that?

Brian: The band is full time now, but outside of that, I am a Recording Engineer. Not really a producer. I mean, I have certainly produced records, but you would hire me, to help your band get cool sounds and to capture the live vibe of the band. You would be more likely to hire someone like Chris Murray to produce your album. Chris is good at helping bands "punch up" their song writing and vocal performances. Which are things most bands need. Heh... if you hire me to produce your album, you had better have your playing/singing ready to go, because I HATE HATE HATE doing overdubs and will keep slight flaws if I like the vibe of the track (which drives some musicians crazy!).

I mostly just sit behind the console, pushing buttons and turning knobs and telling stories about other times I have sat behind a console, pushing buttons and turning knobs.

9. Will there be a second After Hours album?

Brian: Damn it, I hope so!!! I'm sure Brad has a gazillion songs written. We talked about it recently and he said he wanted to focus on the new See Spot album (which I'm also excited about!). My favorite part of doing After Hours stuff, is just hanging out with Brad. Super cool guy.
Oh, the new After Hours album will be called, "And Another Thing..." which along with "The Trouble With Those Guys Is..." are of course things people say when they are drunk! Brad rules.

10. Any last comments?

Brian: Keep spreadin' the Reggae!

NOTE: Don't forget "Reggae Hits L.A." hits stores on June 5th, 2007 and Tim Armstrong's "A Poet's Life" hits stores May 22nd, 2007!

Thanks to Gabe for the PIC!!

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