Rick Visits . . . David Johansen Page 3
"You seem to have a deep knowledge of all kinds of music. Do you have your own archives? Do you collect LPs, 78s?"
"No. I got a bunch of records, but I very rarely listen to them. This friend of mine is in the estate liquidation business, and I asked him to just keep his eye out for one of those hi-fis with the changer, so you could put like 10 records on it. I got one of those now, and I listen to records on that."
"Yeah, I know. Mostly those records will be a Ronettes record or something like that. Some records were made for that kind of situation. Also I got a lot of old Cuban records, which I started buying when I was 17 or 18. I used to go to this store on 14th Street where this guy had all these parakeets flying around and there was like bird shit on all the records. I was into Cortijo and Ismael Rivera. That, to me, is the greatest group. Still. That bomba music.
"So I used to go in there and buy those records. Cachao, Cuban jam session...remember those records? Descarga records. I'd take an $8 record with canary shit on it. 'I'll give you $5 for this.' The guy would say, 'What, are you crazy man? Dat chit from Cuba man. You can't get dat chit no more, man.' He was really volatile about the records, so I would wind up giving him the eight bucks. I still have a lot of those records, but they're scratchy, so it's not something that you want to necessarily listen to on a high-end system. And also, that needle, it's the one that came with the record player, so..." [laughs]
"So not exactly audiophile. Do you hear a difference between LPs and CDs?"
"Yeah, I'm very aware of the difference between analog and digital. A lot of this music that the kids listen to, I can't take it. I'll be surfing, just to see what's going on, and in an eighth of a second, I'm like, 'Digital-I-don't-want-to-hear-it. Next!' Because it's so fucking brittle, you know what I mean? Even if it would be an artist that I'd be interested in.
"I remember when we were doing the Latin thing, Gloria Estefan had that Latin record out. It had a lot of roots stuff on it. I thought, 'Let me see how she's approaching it.' So I bought the record and we put it on, and 'Uhh.' I'm not talking about the music even; I'm just talking about the sound. It's like a fucking razor is cutting you as opposed to getting hit...with a marshmallow or something. But the kids, they don't know the difference. If you play them an analog record, they'd probably think there's something quaint about it or something, subconsciously. They're used to that kind of brittle numbers thing."
"You prefer analog, yet you listen mainly to CDs."
"I'm also aware when they do analog onto a CD. It's better than all digital. A lot of music I've got is analog music. Even if it is on a CD, it's still far better. And yeah, I like analog, but if you're making records, what the heck are you going to do? It's like being in Russia and still being a Communist! What's the point? Hey, it's kind of over. [laughs] You have to learn how to work with it because you're going to put your shit out on a CD anyway."
"True. Now you've recorded with Chesky. Was that a big difference from what you're used to? Their records are certainly very high-end."
"It was all a surprise to me. But now, I think this is the only way to make records. As far as the sound? I can hear it. I mean, it sounds like you're there, which is really cool. You always hear stories like, Bob Dylan goes into a studio and makes a record in three days. I used to think, 'Oh, man, that's the life,' because I really hate the studio. I get used to it and I accept it and I make the most of it, but it can be really tedious. So this has spoiled me a lot. It's something that you can remember every moment of the session, instead of being lost in this process where you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel."
"Does traditional studio recording kill some of the creativity and the freshness of the music?"
"I don't know about that. It just gets tedious. But when you record this way, there's no mixing! So there are no tracks, which is cool, because you can't really agonize over shit. It's what it is. When you agonize over shit and you work at it too long, you can get away from your original vision and forget what that was, until, maybe a year later, you put the CD out and go, 'Wait a minute, that's not what I was trying to do. That wasn't what the idea was.' "