In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, we asked the music industry's top producers and artists why rock & roll is more vital, vibrant and awesome than ever. TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, Pearl Jam producer Brendan O'Brien and the Black Keys' Pat Carney explain why a tiny Brooklyn venue and a classic four-track recorder are responsible for keeping rock hot today:
Dave Sitek, TV on the Radio
Because There Are Intimate Venues Like Zebulon in Brooklyn That Operate With an Indie Spirit
"It's a small place in Williamsburg and a lot of really great artists in Brooklyn have gotten a chance to play there. Members of my band have played there, Holly Miranda, Kyp Malone's solo shows. It's super intimate. You can go there to get mint teas and wind up seeing a 12-piece West African band. I think a lot of different types of clubs specialize in the bands they book and they like the consolidation of venues falling under the Live Nation umbrella. But I like walking into a place that's as diverse as someone's iPod and seeing a band that's not geared towards just one type of music."
Because YouSendIt Allows Bands to Collaborate When They're Miles Apart
"TV on the Radio has used this a lot because they're in Brooklyn and I'm in L.A. We go back and forth with songs, sending each other entire Pro-Tools files. If you get a fancy-pants membership you can send some pretty big files. I think the global reach of being able to send an entire session to another country, have someone work on something and record it in hi-fi and then being able to mix it in L.A. — it's fascinating to me! It allows people to work on complete songs over great distances. It's the unspoken hero of music right now and allows for a lot of high-quality collaborations. It's so nerdy that no one really talks about it, but the remix world, for instance, definitely hinges on a site like YouSendIt."
Brendan O'Brien, Producer
Because Any Band Can Make Awesome Records with GarageBand
"GarageBand is the greatest thing because bands can get their demos done and their ideas across pretty quickly. It used to be hard to make a record — you had to have people backing you to make records and to get your music out there. But with GarageBand, you don't have to go in the studio and learn from people or intern with them. Now you can have a studio on your laptop. There's skills to doing that and it's much easier to make lousy sounding records now. But most young bands who are just starting out are fairly savvy about the recording process. Whether you're trying to sell five million records or 500 GarageBand is how most of these people are starting to make their records. It's kind of amazing, really."
Pat Carney, The Black Keys
Because You Don't Need GarageBand to Make an Awesome Record
"A four-track recorder is now a completely outdated piece of technology by most standards. But on eBay you can find these things for fifty bucks. I think anybody who is making a record on their own should start with a four track. Recording onto a cassette tape that sounds like shit — I mean, you can only make it sound so good. But you get an instant aesthetic. My biggest complaint with most albums today is that there is no real aesthetic. Everything sounds the same. The Vampire Weekend records are great, but they sound like a record. They don't have a thumb print the way an early Modest Mouse record does because they recorded on shitty equipment. I also like the idea of recording on something where you have a limited amount of tracks — you can't take 18 guitar takes for one little fill. When you end up spending months getting every drum fill or guitar thing right, you lose the soul and shit."