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Neil Young: "There'll Never Be Another Crazy Horse"

December 4, 2008 4:09 PM ET

This past October Neil Young sat down with Rolling Stone to discuss his Linc Volt Project and his future music plans, including his new Crazy Horse album Toast, his world tour and his endlessly delayed box set. Since our conversation we've learned that the planned January 27th release date is a "non-starter for certain" and it will be out "perhaps March or April." We'll believe it when we see it, but here is the music portion of the Q&A.

On this tour you've played a few songs like "Time Fades Away" that you haven't touched in decades. What drew you back to that material?
Well, basically I do it out of just interest in what this band can do. I have so many songs, and now with this band I can play just about anything. As you'll see in the show we're equally at home with "Love and Only Love" or "Out of the Blue, Into the Black" and then "Old Man" and "Heart of Gold." All my other bands were always one thing or the other. Some people may look at Crazy horse and go, "That was the greatest thing that ever happened, Crazy Horse. There'll never be another Crazy Horse." And they're right. There'll never be another Crazy Horse, but I won't be another Crazy Horse either. I'm not going to be. I don't want to be. I've done that, you know. What I'm feeling good about is that I have a band now that I can play anything with, but even more important, I can play anything I want to that's new. I'm not limited to what kind of new music I can make. There's no limit.

What's the status of your next album, Toast?
Toast is done. It's amazing listening experience. It was recorded in 5.1. It's a mind blowing record, and I don't think it's a commercial record, but it's great rock and roll, very moody, kind of jazzy. It was recorded in the same place where Coltrane was recorded, so there's a lot of heavy stuff in there. All of the live ambiance for everything was all recorded, so the whole thing has got a massive sound about it. I want to have a premier of it that's in a large art gallery with speakers in all four corners of the room, and huge speakers and really spend some time on the acoustics of the room, so you could have two or three hundred people in there that are in the middle of the sweet spot listening to this thing all around. So you came to a real listening experience that you wouldn't be able to get in any other location than right there.

So it was cut with Crazy Horse like seven years ago, but then you stopped the sessions? Why stop it then, but why revive it now?
Well I didn't do anything new. What we did is the same engineer that worked with me on it came back and he did the mixes with me, and then we unfolded them into 5:1 and it's just insane.

It's a different sounding record that you're usual Crazy Horse albums?
Completely. It's as different as "Tonight's the Night" and "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere" are from one another.

Can you tell me more about the sound of Toast?
It's really dark. It's got everything that the best Crazy Horse albums have had. It won't be the most commercial Crazy Horse album ever out, and I don't know much about that anymore, because the model for that has changed, and time has changed.

So why 7 years later? Why did you not put it out back when you cut it?
I didn't like it when I first made it. I went on and I did Are You Passionate?, and some of the songs that are on Are You Passionate? are on Toast.

Will you tour again with Crazy Horse?<
Maybe.

Do you want to? Is it something that still intrigues you right now?
I'm not thinking about that right now. We'll just see what happens. Something might happen. You never know. Or something else we don't even know about could happen, and that would be really good, rather than go back. But if the vibe's right to go back and grab what's back there and yank it into the future, that's a big job.

So the box set has been pushed back to next year?
Yeah.

Why?
We had some technical problems with it in the end, and the amount of time that we had to work it out was not enough. I wanted it to have a mode where you didn't have to watch it, where you could just listen to it, and there'd be like a screen saver thing up there. As simple as that seems, that was one of the areas where we were not complete. But it's a huge job, and there's a lot of stuff.

Is it going to be just BluRay, or BlueRay and DVD?
It's gonna be BluRay, DVD, CD. It'll be on iTunes. It'll be everything. But it's not coming out until the BluRay comes out, because the BluRay is the cutting edge. The BluRay is the best quality, and that's where it's gonna start. We don't want to put out the lesser stuff first and then everybody go, "Well I know what this is. We're not gonna get the BluRay." We're gonna force feed them the BluRay.

So you think early next year for it?
I think so. I thought it was gonna be late this year, but it didn't work out. It's old, so it doesn't really matter when it comes out.

Tell me about the Sugar Mountain CD.
That's one of my very first solo shows with acoustic versions of a lot of the songs on my first album, and some of the Buffalo Springfield songs. It's an interesting little record. It's very pure.

Related Stories:
Neil Young Opens the Vaults
Cover Story: Neil Young, The Open Man
Cover Story: Forever Young
The Rolling Stone Interview: Neil Young
Neil Young: The Last American Hero
Cover Story: Cameron Crowe on Neil Young
Q&A: Neil Young (1970)

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