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One Voice: Steve Gadd & Edie Brickell

steve gadd and edie brickwell

DRUM!: Going back to the demos, Edie, you mentioned that most of this came from demos that you brought in. Was that mostly just singing and playing guitar or did you have any drum tracks or samples on those?
E.B.: Oh, no, not at all.
S.G.: Most of those were just her singing and playing guitar. Some were written with piano …
E.B.: … And some that evolved out of Steve’s drum parts. After one long session everybody was packing up and leaving, and Steve started to play this drum pattern with his hands. And I walked in the room to say goodbye, actually, to everybody, and heard that, and got very excited, and said, “Ooh ooh ooh, keep playing it, keep playing it.” And I got my recorder and started singing. And within one hour, they turned everything on, and we recorded “Don’t Take All Day.” So that song was recorded off his drum part, then recorded with that super fresh, live energy of having just been written.
S.G.: And you know what happens, at least the last time we were in the studio, it’s like a zone that happens creatively and Edie just gets … while we’re working on finishing a basic track after we just got done tweaking it, Edie will be out starting to write another song. It’s like the creative process gets very fertile, and it’s just nice to be a part of that. It’s a good place to be in. You know, it’s like you don’t get a lot of sleep but you don’t need a lot of sleep. Because you’re so into what’s happening and so excited about it. And that feeling doesn’t happen all the time, so when it does happen, it’s nice to be able to go with it.
E.B.: Yeah, and “Meat On Your Bones” was an improv between takes of a song called “Freddy.” In between takes Andy starts playing this little riff and I just immediately – I don’t know what happened, it just comes out. So we started playing to it and then we stopped and Steve said, “Go ahead, keep doing that.” You should have seen the look on his face through the glass. Steve was like, “What did you stop for? Keep doing it!”
So we all start playing it and we go through it one more time, and then we start and Steve’s like, you can hear him [on the record], he says “That was a good one.” It was an improv. And I love Steve’s choice to put that first on the whole record because it sets the vibe and the energy that’s so lose and creative and fearless and fun. It’s rare to get that with a band – they just roll. They just play, and they’re so good they know how to just get it right the first time because they’re feeling it. It is so cool.

DRUM!: Edie, I didn’t realize that you’re writing lyrics in the studio as well. I figured you might have had all that stuff done ahead of time. It’s great that that process is also part of that give-and-take, living, breathing moment.
E.B.: Oh, yeah, it is. I’m very lucky because lyrics flow out like a melody of an instrument. It’s that similar kind of jazz sensibility where – I think it’s a lot about just trusting what comes and just letting it flow. And then listening back later and say “Well, look at that.”

DRUM!: And I’d also read that you were trying to get everyone in the band to do a little backup singing?
E.B.: As much as possible. I just adore it when you hear musicians’ voices as well as their instruments because it’s just so spirited. It makes me happy. It feels like everybody’s bonded. It brings a different kind of element into it that has a greater personality for a vocalist to relate to. That’s what I meant earlier when I said my first experience joining a band, they enlightened me to the personality of the players and how it could be so vastly different and what made other players special.
If you add that kind of musicianship and a voice, too, for me you get that bonus layer. I just love it. Because musicians are usually so cool and laid back.”

DRUM!: Steve, are you comfortable singing and playing drums at the same time or is that something that does not come naturally to you?
S.G.: It isn’t something I normally do, but, you know, where all the guys are singing, I’m a part of it. And Edie doesn’t let anyone slack off when it comes to that. She cracks the whip [laughs] and makes sure we’re all singing. You know what I mean? And Edie brings that out of us. That’s when Edie takes over, and has a vision and an idea and we just trust enough – even though we’re not singers – to try, and it works out.
This band is very kind. I did it years ago when I was in college with this band that we had and the parts were really difficult and I never really felt comfortable and it sort of poisoned the well for me to continue to try to do that. But with this group and with Edie, it’s a very safe environment, and even though I’m very skeptical and frightened of my own singing, these people make me feel comfortable and loved, and then it just becomes fun. And as long as it’s fun and joyful, that is what becomes part of the music. You know what I mean? It’s beyond notes.
E.B.: But Steve keeps a lot of this stuff too, from the live tracks. For instance “Corruption.” You know at the end of “Corruption” where Pino is just tearing it up with those licks at the end? And I’m walking around and I hear it and I’m going, like, “Wooo!” because I can see them through there. And Steve says, “No, we gotta keep that stuff on there. We gotta keep that.” [laughs] So he keeps all the little “wooos!”. Now in future recordings I gotta be careful with that. [laughs]

DRUM!: This is kind of a cliché question, but if you were to pick your favorite part of each other’s playing on this album, do you have a moment that really stands out?
E.B.: I like the whole thing. It’s just hard to pick.
S.G.: Yeah, every song is a little bit different and I love it all. It’s hard to pick one. We had a hard time even choosing songs to not put on the album. You fall in love with everything, you know?
E.B.: Yeah, there’s the double record. [laughs]. We were going to make it a single. We couldn’t eliminate them, so we had to make it a double record.

DRUM!: Yeah, I don’t hear any clunkers here. I feel your pain.
[laughter]
E.B.: Thank you. To me, uh, the genius Steve made me learn is that he can make the drums sing. Like, he makes the drums have melodies. They don’t just go bang in rhythm. He makes ’em – have a tone and, and sing. And I never understood that before. Nobody ever made me pay attention to it like that. And I’ll put on the headphones and then I’ll hear the subtleties of what he does with cymbals and I just think, ’Are you kidding me? [laughs] Somebody can - somebody can do this? All at once?’ And then, he - you know, so I’ll check it out. I’ll-I’ll listen to our playbacks, you know, ten, fifteen times, g-get accustomed to the way that he plays, really tune into it; and then get in the car, you know, with my kids, and they turn on the radio or they put on their stuff and - or I’ll put on music the way that I even I used to listen to and think, ’This is so crappy.’ [laughs] I cannot believe - I-he’s got me totally spoiled now. It’s like, you know, once you eat at that nice restaurant, have that good meal, you just don’t want to go through the drive thru anymore. [laughs] And I used to eat at the drive thru all the damn time.

DRUM!: Well, Edie, I will say, on behalf of every drummer on the planet, now you know how we feel.
[laughter]
E.B.: Yeah.
S.G.: Well, I appreciate that. Thank you.

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