This episode features Part Two of Brian Brodeur’s hour-long conversation with award-winning Producer, Mixer/Engineer, Studio Owner and Author, Bill Schnee.
In Part Two, Bill talks about getting his start in the music industry as a teenager – playing organ in the band “L.A. Teens”. After meeting mentors Richard Polodor and Toby Foster, Bill quickly found that he had an aptitude for engineering, saying “where the technical side meets the musical side – engineering came very easy to me.”
Being known as a mix engineer for many years with dozens of hit records to his credit, Bill tells Brian that “balancing is a gift.”
In the second part of this episode, Bill and Brian discuss several drummers that Bill had the pleasure to work with, including Jeff Porcaro, Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, Carlos Vega, Jim Keltner, Jim Gordon, and Simon Phillips. Bill recounts an historic recording session during Steve Gadd’s tracking for Steely Dan in Los Angeles when producer Richard Perry brought singer Leo Sayer into the studio ahead of the Steely Dan sessions to record the hit “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.”
Bill notes that producing and engineering are “servant” roles – the producer and engineer are there to serve the music. As a perfectionist and “control freak”, Bill is well suited for both roles but says “producing is more fun.”
When comparing different types of sessions, Bill said that “recording an orchestra is easier than a 5-piece rhythm section,” when you can rely on good equipment, good players and good notes on the paper.
When comparing his role as a producer versus engineer, Bill admits that he “tries too hard” when mixing projects that he produces, and “giving it over to fresh ears can be great.”
Bill’s new book, “Chairman at the Board: Recording the Soundtrack of a Generation” is a must-read for anyone interested in the music business, recording industry, or popular music of the last 50 years.
Bill’s resume reads like a a Who’s Who of entertainment including Ringo Starr, Barbra Steisand, Marvin Gaye, Steely Dan, and many many MANY more. In this conversation, Brian and Bill discuss the genesis of Bill’s new book and many behind-the-scenes stories that appear in the book – and some that don’t!
For more information about Bill, and to buy “Chairman at the Board”, visit his website: www.billschnee.com