Alex: There's a band from California called The Pressure (who I think I am doing an album with) who I think are awesome. Also a band from LA called Icarus Line. There's great records out by Kent 3, Shallow North Dakota, Carlos, Tongue, Penthouse.
Check the "Bands I Like" section on my website. I always try to add to it when I hear something really good.
How has Alex Newport/musician affected Alex Newport/engineer?
Alex: I think an engineer with musical experience is way more valuable than one without. I certainly believe in the technical side of recording--which is obviously very important--but in the studio I find bands don't always know how to verbalize what they are looking for. Being a musician makes it a lot easier to relate and comprehend what another person is trying to do with their music.
You're in a unique position where you started a band at a young age, achieved credibility through your music, put up with and survived the industry bullshit that devours so many, all while still maintaining a creative vision of what you wanted to do. You're now on the other side of the music process recording bands who are on the music business roller coaster ride for the first time; a similar situation you were in when Fudge Tunnel formed. What advice do you have for the bands you record?
Alex: I can, and frequently do, talk to bands for hours about the whole situation. I feel very strongly that bands should do as much as possible for themselves without relying on the "advice" of managers or record labels (who typically know nothing about music anyway). I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with having a manager or agent, but I think bands shouldn't rely entirely on those people. I've seen friends in bands make some horrible mistakes because they were prepared to do exactly what their label or manager told them to. Keeping artistic control within the band is of paramount importance.
What advice do you have for people wanting to learn more about the recording/engineering process?
Alex: That's another area of the music business that is fraught with hearsay and bullshit ideas. I would definitely warn against anyone attending a recording school, as I don't believe a "record-by-numbers" approach--which is usually taught--is conducive to creative recording. I think you can learn way more by simply starting to record, even on a small level such as 4-track. Technical recording information is freely available in books, on the Internet, equipment manuals, etc.
Are you playing with anyone at the moment? Do you have any plans to?
Alex: Funny you should ask. I think I have just found a drummer for the new band. I'm quite excited about it as it's been a long time since I've done a serious band. I actually avoided playing music for a while, because a) I've been really busy, and b) I wanted to leave enough space after Fudge Tunnel to be able to do something a little different. Obviously there will be certain similarities as I'm fairly limited in my playing style, but I didn't want to do another band in that same style.
I don't think you're limited in your playing style. I think you have a recognizable sound, but I don't consider that limiting. It seems the more technical you get the more soul you lose. Steve Vai, Joe Satriani...they're brilliant technicians, but they have no soul.
Alex: True. I think it's way more interesting to create textures and sounds. I think the new band will be a lot more minimal than anything I've done before, a lot less guitar. Things have a more noticeable effect sometimes when you don't play, as opposed to a constant wall of noise.
Look forward to hearing it. Have you coined a name?
Alex: No, band names are always a problem for me. I have to come up with a name better than Fudge Tunnel!
I remember the first time I heard that name. Died laughing!
Alex: Of course. There are many that never ever got the joke.
That's part of why I laughed so hard. I was trying to imagine the expressions of all the people that wouldn't be able to laugh at it. Damn funny, I thought.
Alex: My dad recently figured it out. I don't think he was too amused.
Melvins vs. Tad.
Alex: Melvins. They never tried to write a pop song or sing melodies.
Led Zeppelin vs. Black Sabbath.
Alex: The Zep, hands down. I like Sabbath, but they just don't have the depth of Led Zeppelin.
Captain Beefheart vs. Frank Zappa.
Alex: Ouch! Ermmm... Beefheart. Zappa has too many solos.
Marilyn Manson vs. Rob Zombie.
Alex: I hope there is a real contest and they kill each other so we are rid of their evil fucking horrible fashion music gen X crap!
Bauhaus vs. Joy Division.
Alex: Oh boy. This is tough!!! Er... I would have to say Bauhaus, just because I have been into them since I was twelve or so. I didn't really get into Joy Division till a few years after that. Sorry Ian.
Prodigy vs. Pitchshifter.
Alex: You know I'm gonna have to say the Shifter 'cos they're me mates. Also, that Keith Flint prat gets on my nerves, but I do like some of their stuff.
Fugazi vs. Helmet.
Alex: The 'gazi. Helmet only had one really good LP (the first one) and then they got really repetitive, but Fugazi consistently turn out interesting, varied quality music. I think everyone can learn from them. They prove that you can have control, quality and "success"--have your cake and eat it too!
Godflesh vs. godheadSilo.
Alex: Godflesh. They have a decent drummer.
Okay, one more: Chuck D. vs. Henry Rollins.
Alex: Have you seen Rollins' neck?? Even I wouldn't fuck with that guy, although we can all do without the Mac commercials and Hollywood bit parts.
Indeed! Anything else on your mind?
Alex: Bill Hicks.
Care to elaborate on that one?
Alex: Nah, leave it for people to discover Bill Hicks for themselves.