The Complete Mark Pinske Interview
by Chris Michie
Pinske: Unfortunately, what Zappa got in the habit ofdoing is mix-and-matching so many things on a record. He would do arecord of some old stuff, and then he would just all of a sudden throwa couple new songs on there. He never had–like I told you about”Thing-Fish.” “Thing-Fish” was actually a really neat, slick, and trimkind of a show when we first did it. And then he kind of got intostretching it out by throwing in all those new versions of–differentlyrics to some of the songs that were on YAWYI. Just making up stuff tokind of stretch it out. And I found that kind of being–not just as Ilook back on it, but as we were doing a lot of the projects, sometimeswe would have like a really, really good two-sided album. And we’d endup making a double album out of it. And this is what Bennett Glotzer,which is his personal manager, always accused us of. We were alwaysmaking double albums. And Frank, a lot of times, wanted to give hisfans their money’s worth. But like in the case of “Drowning Witch,” forinstance, it ended up being a lot better single album.
Mix: Did he assemble it as a double album, and thencut it back?
Pinske: No. Not on “Drowning Witch.” As a matter offact, we were doing “Crush All Boxes,” that one album I was telling youabout, [as] a double album, and then his manager said the recordcompany only wanted a single album. So we kind of just shifted over anddid “Ship Arriving Too Late” then.
Mix: Now I’m confused, because I thought “Crush AllBoxes” was somehow connected to “Tinsel Town Rebellion.”
Pinske: No, not at all. “Tinsel Town Rebellion” was acollection of all kinds of recordings from pretty much–a lot of themwere before my time. We took recordings like–see, I overdubbed on alot of them. I overdubbed all these vocals on top of them, like “FineGirl” and a lot of pieces like that. We had backstage tapes from GeorgeDouglas, which was basically just the machine in the dressing room. Inoticed when I was looking through all the albums that they creditedGeorge like on some of the original guitar albums. The guitar albumthat came out later, I did. But all the original “Shut Up ‘n Play YerGuitar” albums were collaborations of different tapes, just like”Tinsel Town Rebellion” sort of was. Which was really just a taperecorder in a dressing room that we rolled in every time during theshow. And that was a whole different setup than the UMRK remote. So,when they say “UMRK remote,” it wasn’t really the UMRK remote then.
Mix: Zappa makes references to the guitar solos on”Joe’s Garage,” which he says were recorded on a 2-track Nagra, whichonly had guitar on it, and somebody would just turn it on for solos andthen turn it off again.
Pinske: I think Claus Wiedemann had something to dowith that. That was before my time, as well, when they were doing a lotof the Nagra stuff.
Mix: Then you had a 4-track out of the console, andthen an 8-track out of console.
Pinske: Not necessarily out of the console. We did dosome 4-tracks out of the console, but we ended up getting them awayfrom the console, and putting some of them backstage. Claus Wiedemannoriginally took an 8-track, and then George Douglas kind of took overthe 8-track.
Mix: And they were doing separate mixes, or theywere taking submixes from you?
Pinske: It was a little bit of a combination of both.It was kind of like the baby–like the birth of how we ended up doingthings on a much more elaborate scale later. In the experimental stage,we were experimenting how to do it. The problem we had was, number one,we didn’t have a remote truck, so we were really in a machine, so wewere splitting off the signals in multiple ways. They might take a mix,for instance, a left and right mix of all the drums, and then theywould take their own kick drum, and their own snare, and their ownhi-hat. And I would give them a stereo pair of tom-toms, all thetom-toms, and a stereo pair of overhead cymbals. For a while, we evenhad the hi-hat in the stereo pair of cymbals. And then they wouldcombine those down to just one stereo pair on the 8-track. So we wereat the mercy at however well the blend was. What happened is, themonitoring conditions kind of got out of hand. We would stick a tapemachine–say for instance we would be in a civic center orsomething–and there’d be a tape machine back in the dressing room. Andthen you set up a couple of portable speakers. Well, the monitoringconditions obviously weren’t very controlled. So you would getvariables between show to show, because there was not really aconsistency of even where we were listening, into the stuff. But wewould do the best we can. A lot of the times, Frank mainly wanted toget the solos and stuff like that. That’s what he started out with withthe Nagra. The Nagra kind of started out, in “Baby Snakes” movie–Idon’t know if you’ve ever seen the “Baby Snakes” movie . . .
Mix: I never have, no.
Pinske: Well, Adrian Belew’s wearing a wax suit onit, and he goes backstage. And he talks through a mic that’s on aportable Nagra, that was running this SMPTE time code on it, and hetalks right in and goes something like, “I don’t know why I’m doingthis. I don’t know how I ever got talked into doing this.” And it wasreally kind of interesting, because you had to take the audience mics,you had to go backstage and take the Nagra recording of him talkinginto it and kind of have the audience sound in the background, likeyou’re going backstage in an auditorium. So it was quite interesting.Frank got into that kind of stuff a lot. Like we did the airport tapes,and things like that. He’d have me record at an airport. I would recordin motel rooms. We would set up a little portable–sometimes even acassette.
Mix: Just any tape machine with a stereo mic, andyou kind of wander around with it?
Pinske: Yeah. As a matter of fact, the first time Idid the girl that we used on “The Torture Never Stops,” I think we didit in mono, and then he had me rig his motel room in stereo, to do abetter job the second time. [Laughs.] It was pretty funny. We got intosome funny stuff. But what I’m basically getting at is, a lot of therecording techniques, and the amount of money we were spending andeverything else, kind of evolved into saying, “Look, we just gotta do abetter job at all this. We want better quality recordings, becausewe’re missing some really good live performances here.” And Frank’swhole theory was, the band’s never as psyched-up–what he didn’t likeis going out and doing a tour, then bringing the musicians into thestudio. He claimed they were never as psyched-up as they were when theywere on tour in front of an audience. And they would play these songsfor three months on the road, and they come back and they just wouldn’thave the pizzazz they did. They wouldn’t play it as well.
Mix: As far as I can tell, “Tinsel Town Rebellion”and other stuff is done from tapes made out specifically, like afour-night stand at the Hammersmith Odeon, and a night at the Berkeleytheater, and a night at Santa Monica.
Pinske: The Santa Monica Civic, we took a 24-track inon that one.
Mix: Right. So there’s a lot of tracks that turn upwith those recording dates on them.
Pinske: Tower Theater in Philadelphia, Santa MonicaCivic, if I remember correctly. And those tapes were done, actuallypretty darn good, because we had a more elaborate miking setup onstage.
Mix: That was a real live-recording date, like”Live at the Roxy” or in New York. You had a remote truck and splitsand all that, right?
Pinske: No, we didn’t have the remote truck. No, noton those gigs. They were done in the Santa Monica dressing room, theauditorium concert in 1980. We didn’t have our own truck until 1981. Atthe Roxy in New York, and at one of the other shows in New York, we didrent a truck. We had the Record Plant truck one year. I’m trying toremember what other truck we used. We used the Record Plant mobile oneyear, that Allen Sides helped out with. And there was a couple of timesin there where we had the truck. But when we did the Santa MonicaCivic, we didn’t have the truck. We had a 24-track back in the dressingroom. You’ll see reference to that. There’s kind of a mistake on acouple of the credits that were done later, I noticed when I looked onthe Internet. Where they just said “George Douglas, UMRK mobile.” Itwas no UMRK mobile. If you search deeper, you find it was on mobileequipment, but we moved it around and put it where we wanted. It was noactual facility. And they were pretty good recordings, some of those.They came out rather well. But keep in mind now, that “Tinsel Town” wasthe first real album that came out of the studio, so we took the livealbums and then we sweetened some of them up, like in “Fine Girl,” weadded the vocals. We did one whole studio cut there, too, on that. Inmy opinion, “Tinsel Town” was kind of a conglomerate. It was a greatalbum. It was kind of a potpourri of things. Kind of like what thecover looked like.
Mix: You said he spent 3.5 million on building thestudio, which brings up the question, “how did he finance it?” As faras I know, Warners pretty much had him tied up. He must have had someof his royalties tied up.
Pinske: Most of that was all paid for before I gotthere. As you know, Frank was like a record machine. He put outproducts, one way or the other, whether it was through the companies.He had two bad experiences that he talked to me about a number oftimes, and I won’t get into a whole lot of detail about them, withBizarre and DiscReet Records. By the way, some of that harmonicaplaying you asked me about last time was actually Captain Beefheart.When I thought about it later, I realized what it was you were talkingabout. He started those those companies, and did a certain amount ofinvestment in some other artists as well, Captain Beefheart being oneof them, and both those companies pretty much went under.
Mix: Or disappeared along with Herb Cohen.
Pinske: Right. So by the time I got there, he hadalready made up his mind that he was going to do it differently. He wasgoing to pay for his records, but cut deals with record labels to wherethe record labels would buy the product. And most of the deals we did,we were with Phonogram/Mercury when I started out with him, and we’dgone through Capitol Records and MCA. We did a big long stint with anumber of different labels. CBS, obviously. CBS was so weird, becausewe did CBS–it was like two separate companies when you talk aboutinternationally and when you talk about domestically. We weren’ttreated the same at all. But he would do a deal to where we would payfor the record, they’d reimburse him for all the recording expenses,but they basically would do distribution, and then he would give therecord company 15 percent. So Frank ended up making, in those days,like $2.25 off each record sold. And that’s unheard of. It was unheardof compared to what somebody like Dylan–we talked about him lasttime–would make 18 cents a copy. And Frank would always say, “You knowhow many albums you gotta sell to make the same amount of money? Icould sell 400,000 albums, and you’d have to sell 3 million to make thesame amount of money.” That kind of thing. The logic was that Frankknew business really well. So what I’m saying is, he kind of set aprecedent in a way. He kind of started something that almost set anexample to original artists all around the world. By having that kindcontrol, he was able to take more money in, and not have to have allPlatinum albums. Because he knew his music was off-the-wall enough, andwouldn’t be played on radios and stuff like that, that he couldn’t getthat kind of volume. So he set up his business accordingly. He was veryclever about it. He also–don’t get me wrong–he made a lot of themoney from a lot of the first albums, even before the lawsuits everstarted. How he collected all his money, and how he saved it all up,and how he finally got enough money together to finance the studio, Idon’t know all the details of that, but I know is was just about paidfor when it was built. And then when we got the settlement, of course,everything was paid for.
Mix: Three-and-a-half million for a studio, you’dhave to make 35 albums at $100,000 in cost an album, to amortize thatoff.
Pinske: Well, the bulk of his money still came fromlive performances. He got paid well for performing, and also, he sold aheck of a lot of memorabilia. That whole Barfko Swill stuff, andBarking Pumpkin Records. Joe’s Garage warehouse out there was just aregular–whatever you could put in the mail. T-shirts, you name it.
Mix: That came a little later, though, didn’tit?
Pinske: Well, it came later in a bigger swing, butthey were doing it all along in kind of a smaller scale. Most all thestuff was at a smaller scale, and we just got better at it as wewent.
Mix: Do you know what led to him ending hisrelationship with Bennett Glotzer, who I think had had something to dowith helping him out of his Warners troubles? Or maybe he was just ahired gun.
Pinske: That part I don’t know. Bennett was prettymuch his personal manager most of the time I was with him. Frank prettymuch controlled the business. Let’s be straight about that. But I knowthat Frank also had a big change of heart near the end, when he startedgetting a lot more sick. He cut a deal with Rhino Records, I think hegot $22.2 million, or something like that, for the whole library. Ontop of the other money he had. Because he wanted to take care of thefamily and everything. And I think there was fall-outs as far as justthe way they wanted to do business. Bennett, a lot of the times, gotinto things, and a lot of it really wasn’t my business, but I would bethere sometimes when they talked about it. Like I know Bennett got hispercentage right off the gross. And the exception to that was, whenwe–the recording costs, and money we would spend recording–so when Ibuilt the recording truck, Bennett was quite upset. Because that moneycame off the gross, and then his 15 percent was lower because we werespending the money on the recording. I know for instance–like he wouldcall me up–because it was just me and Frank a lot of the time, in thecontrol room. A lot of times there was nobody else there–and Bennettwould go–I think we had like $125- or $130,000 budget we set aside todo the “Drowning Witch” album, for instance, right? And I rememberBennett called me up, and we were over budget when we decided to dothat extra song, “Valley Girl,” which I told you about last time. Hesays, “You gotta hold Frank down. We’re over budget. You guys alreadyspent $130,000. You’re on you’re way to 140,000,” when he looked at themoney we were spending for the extra musicians singing, the unionscales and all that kind of stuff. And I told Bennett, I said, “What doyou suggest that I do? You got a guy that owns his own studio.” Itwasn’t really me in control, he was just venting. So even though hevented that, he never vented about the $2.5 million that “Valley Girl”made. You know what I’m saying? I never heard about that. So, what I’msaying is, when you had a windfall like that, with something that wasthat big of a hit, all of a sudden, his percentage turned into alarger-than-life deal.
Mix: You said you actually had a budget for”Drowning Witch.”
Pinske: We tried to budget, yeah.
Mix: Is that all real expenditure, or was there apaper cost of studio time that you charged against–
Pinske: It was everything. I would keep, try to keeptrack, of accurate logs. Like for instance, if I went down to KenDunRecorders or Capitol Records or anywhere, we would have bills for allthe mastering, all the time. I would have to sign off the receiptsbecause I was the one there. Frank sent me on his behalf. So I had tokeep track of all that. Sometimes we would get the bill, even though Iwould sign at the end of every session, sometimes we would get thebill, and the bill would be larger than the ones I signed off. So Ikept track of all that stuff, and we added it all up. The price of thetape, the price of hours, how many hours everybody put in, the unionscales, the basic things all had to–we kind of had to keep our handson just to approximate where we were at there. It wasn’t like it was alife-or-death thing, it was just that we would say, look, we don’t wantto spend any more than this on making this album. And that was alwayshard to keep down, because we would be working on multiple projects atthe same time.
Mix: And then you would deliver acetates, orproduction master tapes to the record company, which would thenactually give you–
Pinske: No, no, no. We never gave them the tapes. No.I would go cut, in the case of–depending on what era you’re talkingabout, but I would go cut 27 sets of lacquers, is what we would do.Twenty-six or 27 sets of lacquers, and we would mail them all out tothe different pressing plants. Like Belgium, we’d mail them to Belgium.We mailed them to South America. Whichever pressing plants we weredoing.
Mix: And part of this is keeping control, and partof this is because you’d do the job better than they would?
Pinske: Well, he would never let anybody have histapes. As a matter of fact, we would air freight the lacquers because,if the lacquers–you probably know that after 24 hours they startexpanding and contracting. So you wanted to get them nickel plated assoon as you possibly could. Which was a problem when you’re sendingthem around the world. And if they took too long getting there, theywould expand and contract, and then you would have all this pre-echo,where the song starts before it actually starts. That kind of stuffwould all come from the expansion and contraction of the lacquers.Later on, we moved into doing things at Sheffield, because we couldjust cut the metal masters right there ourselves, and we did all themetal parts ourselves. We’d send out mothers for stampers. And that waywe had better control. And I think we–London Symphony was like–thebetter albums were pretty much like that. “Them Or Us,” I think, wasone of them. I’m pretty sure “Them Or Us” was somewhere around thattime. When we started doing John Matousek. Isn’t he the one whomastered that? Anything we did with John Matousek at Hitsville, wewould take the masters, and I would go cut the metal parts over atSheffield. And they would do what’s called “groove sculpturing.” Whenyou had dust particles and things like that, that set up on there, theywould shave them off, instead of just scrubbing them off with a brush.And you would have a lot less rumble and stuff. We took a lot of care,a lot of tender loving care to how we made the metal parts. And he paidfor all that himself.
Mix: That was how he was able to go to thecompanies and just literally give them a distribution deal. Say, “Look,I’ve got a complete master, right down to the mothers.”
Pinske: Right. And they basically had no expense init. All they had to do was take 15 percent for distributing it, andthey would get their money out of it. Providing it would sell enough.In a way, he kind of invented some of the ways of dealing with some ofthese companies, as a result of all the business things he had through.He learned a lot.
Mix: It seems there’s always a good reason for whathe did, and there’s also some story as to what happened to him in thepast that made him decide he needed a better way of doing it.
Pinske: One of the short stories he told me aboutDiscReet and Bizarre, which is like why people like the Grateful Deadand everybody else were struggling with these kind of things, was hewould send records out. He tried to do his own distribution when youhad your own record company. Let’s say you send records out to, ohwhat, 2,000 record stores across the United States, and they take tenof your albums or twenty of your albums and they sell them, but theydon’t pay your bill. They pay Warner Bros. first because they want toget the next Doobie Brothers album, or whatever. His story wasbasically along the lines, Do you realize how many different laws thereare, and how many different states, and how much it’d cost to getlawyers in every different state to just try to collect your money?It’s a nightmare. So he learned from Bizarre and DiscReet that beingyour independent label isn’t cool. It’s insane. You don’t get theproper distribution, really. There’s mainly only three or five maindistributors. In Belgium, the same pressing plant’s used by WarnerBros. and CBS. Phonogram/Mercury, of course, is one of the big boys, sowhat he started doing is, he started playing cards with the big boys.And decided that he would go ahead and take his production so far, butwhen it came to distribution, he needed to get one of the big companiesto do a distribution deal. And that all evolved off the lessons of thepast that happened–a lot of them well before I came there, but he kindof talked to me about them sometimes when we were sitting around havingpizza or something. And he would just give me why he does things acertain way. And it was kind of just teaching me a lesson. Which Ifound fascinating. Fascinating.
Mix: I’m curious about the old masters. I knowthere were three sets, and you worked on all of them.
Pinske: I transferred all of them originally.
Mix: This is all very confusing history, becausethe first question is, I take it that the stuff on Verve and MGM hadgone out of print, but how come he didn’t have those masters? Were theytied up in the Warner’s suit?
Pinske: Yes. They were all tied up in the Warner’ssuit. Every one of them. There was, I don’t know, some–the first 13albums or something. I can’t remember. Sixteen or so. All of them weretied up. “Ruben and the Jets,” “Freak Out!” All of those were all tiedup in the Warner Bros.’ suit.
Mix: So until that was settled, he didn’t get themback.
Pinske: He didn’t have access to them.
Mix: And then you finally got them back, anddiscovered that, whether or not they were original stereo masters, manyof them were unplayable, right?
Pinske: Well, “Freak Out!” was.
Mix: “Freak Out!” was . . . ?
Pinske: “Freak Out!” was stored where some airconditioner blew on it, and the oxide fell off. I used to keep logs ofthe different types of tape from 3M and whoever. Just about everybody,you always heard that Agfa or somebody had a bad brand of tape. Almostall the companies had tape of one sort or another that wouldn’t storevery long. And if it’s stored with air conditioning blowing right on itor something like that, it would dry out too much and the particleswould just kind of fall off. That was one of the cases with the “FreakOut!” album, which led us to getting the 12-track–most of them were12-track, 1-inch masters.
Mix: So you had to reconstruct “Freak Out!” fromthe masters?
Pinske: I took all the original masters, as a matterof fact, for all the box-set stuff. Even though we had 2-track masters,I took the multitracks and striped them across onto the digitalmachines.
Mix: So this was after 1984.
Pinske: It was a very long process. And I was doingthis–the whole time, when we got the stuff back, Frank was just–hereally wanted to preserve the stuff the best way we could. And the bestway we could preserve it was to put it into a medium, and preferably adigital storage medium, that wouldn’t go south and wouldn’t spoil. Somy main first chore was to archive everything, and transfer it ontodigital, take the original tapes, of course, and put them away, andplay them as few times as I could. And then we would mix from the stuffwe transferred. And then I did digital backups. This is another thing alot of people don’t know. Chris Stone down at Record Plant had some ofthe Sony 3324 machines as well. And we used to do each other favors andstuff like that. I took his machine, I would let him use our machine.What we did was, we put together–he had a pair of them, so I would usehis machine, sometimes I would let him use our machine, so he couldjust put a digital ribbon from one to the other, and make an exactdigital backup. So when I striped the original, the 1/2-inch tape, on14-inch reels, that runs at 30 ips on the Sony, when I striped theoriginal ones, instead of us editing and rerecording and punching inand doing things on the originals, I made digital-to-digital backups ofthe originals, and the originals just got put away in the vault andthey were never played. And then the backup of the original, which isbasically a digital clone, so there was no generation loss, is what wewould use to do all our work on. We did the same thing with the LondonSymphony Orchestra. It pretty much became the standard. We would takeliterally 200 reels, and I would digitally backup the originalmasters.
Mix: So you were working in digital on thisrestoration project long before you took digital on the road? Becausein ’82 you were still doing 24-track analog live recordings.
Pinske: Oh, yeah. All analog in ’82. The digitalmachine didn’t come along ’til ’83.
Mix: And that’s when this whole old-masters projectstarted, more or less?
Pinske: Well, we had played with different versionsof it. I had put some of it across on the Studer, I’d put some of itacross on analog. But once we did the London Symphony, which was reallywhat broke us into the digital, and once we compared the simultaneousanalog recordings along with the digital recordings, we pretty muchwere ready to just throw analog out. As a matter of fact, you know whatFrank said? He made us take the two Ampex machines out of the controlroom, and he said, “Out with the Dark Ages.” [Laughs.] That’s exactlywhat he said. “Out with the Dark Ages.” So when he made the decision toswitch over, that’s the way he was. He always was wanting to moveforward. Once he decided it was good enough.
Mix: From that period on, anything that was on ananalog source was copied over to digital, and then you’d work fromthere?
Pinske: Right. And a lot of times what I did is Itried to spice it up. Like I would noise gate it. We had 85 differentnoise gates in the truck, and we’d move some of the gates in thestudio. I would gate out the noise, I would try to make the balancecleaner, so that we didn’t have to deal with a whole bunch of junkafter the balance was done. Because I figured, well, if I’m going tobounce this anyway, like a vocal, for instance, there’s no reason forme to track across the hiss the whole time the vocal’s not singing. SoI would put everything through gates, and do a real, real careful,careful bounce to ’em. I would also match–do optimum levels, andthings like that, because a lot of times the tracks wouldn’t be atoptimum levels. And I would try to balance things out so that what we’dend up with is basically a master tape that was a lot easier to workwith.
Mix: The masters you were working from, were theymore or less assembled in terms of were there lots of edits in themultitrack, or were they discrete pieces that then Frank would assembleinto the resulting albums?
Pinske: No. Depending which we’re talking about now.If you’re talking about the old archive stuff, those were mostly allcontinuous reels. The live stuff, however, we razor-blade edited overto 2-inches.
Mix: No, I’m still thinking about the first threeor four album reconstruction projects, like “Freak Out!” through “LumpyGravy.”
Pinske: For me, you must realize, that’s a lot laterin my career, because I’d already had three or four years under my beltwith Frank. So we kind of went back in time, and by that time we hadhad so many more recording techniques down, and we had improved so muchin everything we were doing, that it was almost a good thing. But whenwe did get those tapes back from Warner Bros., they were all continuousreels. We didn’t razor-blade edit those. We didn’t dare screw aroundwith those. We tried a couple 2-tracks, but they were too delicate.
Mix: Once you had the multitrack on digital and youcould mix it any way you wanted, did you then reference the originalalbums and try and recreate the original mixes, or did you just mix itthe best way that you thought?
Pinske: We did both. We would do both. As an example,I always liked the Mothers live at Fillmore. Remember, with Howie, andFlo and Eddie. Frank couldn’t even remember where he got all the editsfrom to put that together. He had edited that thing silly. So when wetried to reconstruct that album, it was damn near impossible, becausehe couldn’t even remember where he got what cut from. He editedtogether at the time, but when we played the different shows, itwasn’t–it didn’t fit. Certain parts and certain things they saiddidn’t fit. So we’d have to hunt around and say, “Jesus, where’s thisnext section?” [Laughs.] You’re kind of right. In a way, we did getinto a puzzle sometimes trying to find some of the missing elementswhen we tried to recreate stuff. And sometimes we just didn’t findthem. We were on the hunt for that thing in “Baby Snakes” for years. Ithink we finally found it at random, some little white tape in a boxthat was a Nagra tape. And sometimes the missing elements wouldn’t justalways be there, and Frank had to a lot of times go by memory.
Mix: It’s “Fillmore East” and “Just Another BandFrom L.A.” that’s basically the same band a few months apart. Were theymultitracks, 16-track recordings, or were they 4-tracks?
Pinske: Let me see. I don’t remember that one.
Mix: They’re generally considered to be not thatgreat in terms of technical recordings.
Pinske: A lot of that older stuff, some of the stuffwe only had 2-tracks. And some of them we only had 4-track. Because itwas a conglomerate of stuff. The whole thing about it is, I’d almosthave to go back a reconstruct each album, which would take way too muchtime. But I’d almost have to go back a re-live it because, like I toldyou, there was one album that was a 10-track 1-inch. Which is the only10-track 1-inch that was ever existed. And the 12-track 1-inches werefine, but we would have some stuff on 8-track, some stuff on 12-track,one of the albums was a 10-track 1-inch, “From Cucamonga.” And thenthere was a variety of stuff that would be on a 4-track and/or 2-tracktapes. And sometimes the 2-track tapes were all we had. If that was thecase, then I would bounce the songs across the best that I could. And Ieven did, even the “Freak Out!” one that was falling apart, I bouncedwhatever was good on it. We did everything from bake tapes in the oventhat were sticking together, to–it was a stressful, painful amount ofwork. I did everything I could the best I could, with what you had towork with.
Mix: Which of these albums did you know fromgrowing up? Were you a teenager when Frank’s stuff started comingout?
Pinske: I knew the “Mothers Live at The Fillmore,”because I laughed at that album a lot. But in general, I wasn’tactually a Frank fan. When I auditioned, I wasn’t all that familiarwith so much of his work. And I think, in a way, that’s what reallyhelped me, because he didn’t want a fan. He wanted an objectiveopinion, and it helped me. You can’t help but become a fan of his onceyou work with him. But I wasn’t a fan when I auditioned and when Ifirst got the job. I liked that one album, but I always thought hisstuff was really bizarre and off-the-wall. Looking at it from amusician’s standpoint or whatever.
Mix: So when you came to reassemble “Lumpy Gravy”or “Cruising With Ruben and the Jets,” it wasn’t like this was yourfavorite album from high school or anything.
Pinske: No, not at all. In fact, that got me introuble on the “Mothers Live at the Fillmore,” because I knew thatalbum word for word, and when it wasn’t right, it bothered me.Nonetheless, we got around to most of it. Frank got a kick out of thefact that I actually at least knew one of this albums that well. Butthen, I went back and listened, of course, the whole time I was workingwith him, so that I could do my job better, and I referenced to thestuff. It’s your job. You want to pay respect to it. And of course thefans know every damn bit of it.
Mix: There’s a whole section of the Web devoted tothe differences between the vinyl and the CDs.
Pinske: It was a drastic difference,unfortunately.
Mix: Presumably there are differences between theoriginal vinyl releases and the “Old Masters” final releases.
Pinske: I know. And as a matter of fact, some of thebootlegs of like “Freak Out!” and stuff that we got from Italy, some ofthose sounded really good. Frank and I spent one day trying to findthis one company, not so much to chew them out, but to figure out wherethe hell they got their artwork, and how they got the record to soundso good. Because some of those bootlegs were done very well.
Mix: In this case, these bootlegs were just piratedversions of existing catalog albums?
Pinske: That was one of Frank’s pet peeves. All thetime the lawsuit was going on, the only thing the fans could buy werebootleg versions. And of course, everybody in Europe jumped on thebandwagon and made bootlegs all over the place. There were bootlegscoming out of the woodwork. And some people would think that, when theybought the record, that Frank was getting money for it, but he nevergot a penny of any of it. And it was a shame. We tried to estimate, onetime, just how much money he’d lost over that whole period of time, andthere was no way of saying. It was all just an educated guess. And Ithink that had a lot to do with why he got the size settlement he did.Even though Warner Bros. didn’t necessarily collect the money, but somebootleggers did. Unfortunately Frank didn’t.
Mix: On tour, Ike and Ray were the two leadsingers, right?
Pinske: Yeah. They both played rhythm guitar andsang.
Mix: Can you talk a little bit about their voices,the differences?
Pinske: Sure. They had very, very obvious differencesin their voice. Ray was like a power singer. Could sing that real highvoice, high-range stuff. And he’d belt it out. He could belt outanything, like a good, traditional blues, or “Illinois Enema Bandit,”the kind of things that he would do. Ike was more like a charactervoice. I like to think of Ike more like when he was doing “OutsideNow,” or–his voice had kind of a character to it. Not just the funnystuff that he did like with “Thing-Fish,” but the songs that he wouldsing. Unfortunately, Ike pushed his voice real hard, and his would bethe first one to go kind of hoarse, and get a little bit rasp. So a lotof our recordings would have his voice a little bit on the hoarse side.And Ray was always the power singer that always held up. But when itcame to being harmony-wise, it’s really kind of magical, because theykind of knew right where to fall in around Frank. And when the three ofthem sang together, it was just a blend of it’s own that was justterrific.
Mix: For a while you had Bobby Martin also singingvocals, right?
Pinske: Right. Well, there was Bob Harris, who was afriend that I got in at “Fine Girl,” and then Bobby Martin came inafter Bob Harris. And Bob Harris did all these high falsetto things. Weused to call–remember, he had Roy Estrada in the original Mothers, whodid all the falsetto stuff, and Frank used to say he ate clothespinsfor breakfast, because his high falsetto was so nasal. He used to justmake a comment like, “he at clothespins for breakfast.” [Laughs.] Bobcame in with a real pure falsetto, and a real pure high range, and whenBob came in and started mixing with Ike and Ray, it was just awonderful three-way combo. And that’s where we built almost all thesevocal harmony blends that we did on YAWYI and a lot of albums afterthat. Napoleon Murphy Brock came in and out of there for a short spell,too. And he had an even different kind of blend with those guys. Butthen when we auditioned for Bobby Martin, we went through a whole bunchof people. Once Bob Harris decided not to do the European tour, we hadto find somebody that could take his place. Now, Bob played trumpet,keyboards, and sang. So when we ended up getting Bobby Martin, heplayed saxophone, keyboards, and sang. And Bobby Martin pretty muchbecame a permanent fixture after that.
Mix: I think he played right up to the end, didn’the?
Pinske: He did. And he was very loyal. Plus, he didthings like, he was the band director for Bette Midler, whenever he wasoff the road with us. He did other things on the side. He was a healthfreak, he was always very healthy, so his voice was always there, youcould always count on him. He was a good keyboard player, and a prettyaccomplished sax player as well, so he filled a lot of roles, and addeda lot of interesting aspects to the live sound. And of course, he sanga mean “Whippin’ Post” from the Allman Brothers. [Laughs.] But I thinkthe audition, originally he sang something like, oh, some Americanballad or something. It was always based off of, though–getting backto what you were talking about–the vocal blend. And Ike and Ray werealmost always a part, a key part of that element. Because they fit withFrank’s voice. Frank had a real low voice, and kind of a differentvoice, and not everybody’s voice would blend well with his. A lot oftimes he would take the baritone parts, when they were singing four-and five-part harmonies.
Mix: On “Tinsel Town Rebellion”, there are fiveguitarists listed. I guess that’s ’cause there’s two bands. For a whilehe had three other guitar players in the band with him. Steve Vai, Ray,and Ike. I wondered how you would mix for four guitars, or whether theyarranged their parts so they weren’t all playing on top of eachother.
Pinske: Ray and Ike were always rhythm players. Ikewas really a sparse type player. And Ray was kind of like the mainrhythm player. You know how when you have a good rhythm guitarist, thatholds the kind of body together. Ray a lot of times was responsible forplaying the basic rhythm. The would give him an occasional solo, likein “Illinois Bandit” or something, I think he’d take a solo. Ike didn’tusually solo. So Frank would normally solo, and then when we had SteveVai, of course, he would normally solo, most of the time. So theyweren’t really conflicting with each other too much. The two rhythmswere a little bit more sparse. We actually had a little bit moretrouble with the multiple keyboards at some times. When we had TommyMars and Bobby Martin, for instance. And two rhythm guitars. Let’s faceit, a lot of this stuff would get real thick. That was one of thechallenges about mixing any of Frank’s stuff, is how do you keep thestuff separate? We tried to, a lot of the time, and you can notice thisa lot on the vinyls. I’m not sure what Bob started doing on a lot ofhis remixing, but I know that on the original mixes that Frank and Idid, we tried to create a more live feel. We would usually give a viewof like the audience looking at the stage. Frank, for instance, wouldlight the hi-hat on the right side because the audience looked at itfrom the stage. I had played drums in my life, younger, I always likedthe hi-hat on the left side, like Chad Wackerman and most of thedrummers would want it. But we would do our panorama, pretty muchobviously the way Frank would want it. So we would build a panoramicview. Like the guitars may be on your left and the right, not all theway out, but somewhat panned in. The keyboards, of course, we would tryto get as much of a stereo mix as we could on something like a stringsound, fake brass or whatever, but we would do the keyboards in a kindof a pseudo-stereo. We got into doing this stereo-ising of just abouteverything. In other words, for instance, the bass guitar. We would usean 11-millisecond delay, or a 12-millisecond delay, a 9-milliseconddelay, depending what key it was in. Then we would split theguitar–the bass up, so that it wouldn’t pile up into the center. Andthat would keep the kick drum and stuff a lot clearer. So Frank wouldknow–it was really ironic because–like if you were in the key of E,for instance, you may do 11 milliseconds, and some notes would cancel,because of the length of the sine wave. So you do one millisecondshorter, one millisecond less, it’s have to be–depending what keyyou’re in, you would set up the delay so that when they monitored themout, they wouldn’t cancel each other out. So I would constantly dostereo referencing. And we would hit the Mono button–every time we didstereo separation like that, we would watch for two things. We wouldtry not to be too far out of phase, because if you’re too far out ofphase, especially on low frequencies, the stylus would go nuts when youstart cutting lacquers or whatever, and it would chew up the stylus,and you also didn’t want to lose anything that would be in the monoimage. Especially if you broadcast of FM radio, for instance. Themultiplexes had a way of grabbing a hold of stuff, and what wouldhappen is, the stereo multiplexes would take something that’s too outof phase, and they would overreact, and you might listen to a song onthe record and hear it on the radio and go, “Well, gee, what happenedto the guitars?” The guitar levels would just about disappear. So wewere constantly monitoring the phase correlation, and, of course, therelationship of delayed times. By doing this–say we would have a monokeyboard part. We could split the mono keyboard, with just a little bitof delay, put it at say, a panoramic view, like if you want to look atit at a clock, like nine o’clock to three o’clock, maybe put him at teno’clock or two o’clock, and be able to get things out of the way, sothat the lead vocal and the kick drum, and a few things that were totalcenter image, would stay clear all the time. This is one of the tricksthat we used with Frank all the time. Because he wanted his main voiceto always be understood. We spent a lot of time trying to take–likewhat you said, a very thick sound–two rhythm guitars, two keyboards,almost always too much instrumentation, almost always very busy partsgoing on. A lot of clutter. And it was a real challenge. It was realfrustrating from any engineering standpoint to try to keep all of thatclear, and still have definition all that to survive. Especiallyconsidering the type of equipment and the [end of side.] . . . listento him. He was kind of a percussionist at heart, you know. [End ofside.]
Mix: I guess Aynsley Dunbar’s possibly my favorite,and the stuff on “Waka Jawaka” and “Grand Wazoo” just sound brilliantlybalanced to me. It’s almost unlike most of his later work, in that itisn’t very “in your face” in terms of the drums.
Pinske: No. In fact, we got a little too carried awaywith that. We got a little too “in your face,” and I didn’t argue withhim about it. I just did what he wanted. We both did that. Both myselfand Bob, depending who was doing the mixes.
Mix: There seems to be some reference in thenewsgroups to the possibility that the kick drum on the Helsinkiconcerts was kind of sampled in or something.
Pinske: It was. It’s called a Disco Boombox. It wasmade by dbx. It’s a little thing called Disco Boombox. That’s what thename of it was. You could spit into it and a kick drum would come out.[Laughs.] You could basically send anything you wanted into it and akick drum would come out.
We did do some triggering with Synclavier and some stuff like that,try to do that. It kind of got a little bit overdone in some ways. Butwe did manufacture drums out of–what I did was, I would take theoriginal drums on the Helsinki stuff–I sectioned off what wasoriginally just a stereo pair, and then I would take a graphicequalizer, for instance, and find the snare. And EQ everything elseout. And then we would use that ridiculously sounding EQ that wouldspit every time the snare played, and I would externally trigger, usinga gate and an external trigger, we’d externally trigger maybe a sampleof a good snare that we recorded in the studio. And we tried to make itsound a little bit more real. Because a lot of them sounded justhorrible. A lot of them didn’t have any drums on at all. They were justa ring-y room. And we tried to give them some definition. And it wasreal easy sometimes to get a little bit too carried away, and get theproportions a little too up front, or too far back. I think theultimate drum sound that we ever had was on the “Man From Utopia”album.
Mix: Which is part live, part studio?
Pinske: No, that’s all studio drums, pretty much, onthat one. Like “Cocaine Decision’s” an all-studio track.
Mix: And that’s all Chad?
Pinske: Chad Wackerman, oh, yeah. That was when JohnGoode–we spent three days tuning the drums. And it was just wonderful.Just wonderful. We did get good drum sounds live, like on the “Them OrUs” album and stuff like that. One of the reasons why I like talkingabout some of the newer albums is because we made breakthroughs. We gotbetter and better at the recording once we put the microphones insidethe drums, and we had John Goode tuning them, the live recordings gottremendously better. After ’81, ’82 got better than ’81. And ’83 wasbetter than ’82. Every time we went out, we did some improvement.
Mix: Whose mics were you using inside thedrums?
Pinske: All of our own. We had–depending which onesyou want to talk about, but we used AKG 451s inside of the tom toms. Weoriginally developed a Randy May system, which he made, that had SM57capsules. But what I did is, I made a deal with Randy to mount theminto a different location so we could put the longer condenser mics inthere. And we had an endorsement with AKG, and I got like $38,000 worthof AKG microphones, that they gave them all–they supplied all those.We put an SM57 Shure inside the snare, on the top head and the bottomhead. We had two capsules in that. All the other toms, we put AKG 451sand 452s, which had the roll-off and the 10- and 20dB capsules built inthem, about three quarters of an inch underneath the top head, so wecould get a good stick sound. But the head itself would filter out theleakage of the cymbals. And this allowed us to get a real nicepercussive tone. And being as how it was in the drums, you would getthe shell sound surrounding it automatically. And depending where youended up placing it. We ended up placing it about two inches, two orthree inches from the side of the shell, so that it wouldn’t ring toomuch. And we experimented with the placement. This is what I’m saying.We experimented with the placement and the capsules, and the types ofheads we used, even, over long periods of time, until we just got thisreally wonderful, kind of out-of-the-can tom sound, that sounded likesomething you might have miked up in the studio and spent two daystuning. So we ended up getting real good tom tom sounds that way. Iwould use AKG 414s on the overheads. Later on we went to the PZM–thePlexiglas–we had these Plexiglas dome mics that Ken Wahrenbrock madefor us that we used on overheads. A variety of different hi-hat mics wewent through. Normally we would use an AKG 452 on that. The 452’s areally interesting capsule mic. It was one of the only mics in theworld where you had the preamp in the canister, and you could unscrewthe cartridge. And you could put different cartridges, different typesof capsules on it. But the neatest thing about it is, you could put anelbow, a flexible elbow in there, and you could also put 10-, 20-, or30dB pads, and because of this, you could pad the capsule, between thecapsule and the preamp, so the preamp wasn’t overloaded. As you know,most condenser mics have their pad after the preamp, which doesn’t doyou any good if the capsule’s overloading the preamp. And in the caseof something like a drum, that’s real loud, you really kind of need topad it between the capsule and the preamp. So this is one of thereasons why we were able to get away with an actual condenser mic inthe toms. And then of course the benefits of it were–kind of speak forthemselves, because you have that hi-fidelity tone that only acondenser mic can give you.
Mix: What did you do with the kick?
Pinske: The kick drum we would use two mics. In fact,it was a double-miking technique that we actually developed withJonathan Moffatt, that John Goode and I experimented with when–oh,geez, I don’t know if it was when he was first getting ready withMadonna, or if it was the “Thriller” tour. We tried these combinationsof a AKG, a D-112, and an SM57. And you put them out of phase from eachother. The SM57 would get the center beater noise, so it was morecentered. And the D-112 would be aimed toward the side of the shell, sothat we would get the low frequencies off the shell.
Mix: Are they both inside the drum?
Pinske: Yeah. Both inside the drum. Mounted insidethe drum. And what we would do is, you’d blend them together, to where,if the 57 cartridge out of phase with the AKG, you could blend themtogether to a certain point, where you would have a nice, solid low endand a real punchy high end at the same time, without cancellation. Andyou kind of lock it into that kind of position, and you almost had–itreally worked well as far as gating and everything else was concerned,because it had–when you gated it, it would have the full low end andthe full high end that you wanted. And it kind of started out alreadywith such a good sound, that all you had to do was fine-tune the EQ alittle bit. And we developed that system. I think Randy May startedusing it later. I think he sold his systems that way. I think he stilldoes today, as a matter of fact. I think he still uses the–you know,when you buy a Randy May, if you have Randy May outfit your kick drum,he’ll outfit it the same way that John and I did. So we fine-tuned. Westarted it off with Jonathon Moffatt, but we fine-tuned it with ChadWackerman. And this gave us a real consistent kick-drum sound.
Mix: Going back again to YAWYI, which was the nextalbum after “Tinsel Town Rebellion”, right?
Pinske: That’s the first studio album, mm-hmm. Allstudio album.
Mix: Even third movement from “SinisterFootwear?”
Pinske: We played all that in the studio. “SinisterFootwear” was put together on a thing we called “Squidget,” which was anickname for Midget, which was a big E-mu thing that we did. And weperformed it all, yeah, we performed “Sinister Footwear” all inthere.
Mix: Then the band went out and did bits of thealbum on stage live, because I know on one of the live YCDTOSA, there’s”Society Pages,” “I’m A Beautiful Guy,” “Beauty Knows No Pain,””Charlie’s Enormous Mouth,” all in sequence.
Pinske: Oh, we did those tour after tour aftertour.
Mix: Whereas Zappa made the point that they wereput together with monstrous overdubs and crazy edits, and that was halfthe fun, was trying to get the band to do all the edits.
Pinske: Well, yeah, segues, basically. He would dothat all the time. They weren’t done necessarily in any of that kind oforder. We did that particular tour, we paid a lot of attention toYAWYI. But after that tour, when we went into other tours, it was morelike just kind of revisiting it. Like one night, one session, we woulddo two or three of the songs on there. We never actually did all ofthose songs together again, for the most part. He would have a habitsometimes of doing “Jumbo Go Away,” and “Suicide Chump” or something,or “Charlie’s Enormous Mouth,” that he would kind of just want to stickin there in some kind of special segue.
Mix: That was the last album Arthur Barrow was on,I guess. I guess he shows up later with “Tink Walks Amok.” But that wasan old track.
Pinske: Tink, yeah. Tink was his nickname. “TinkWalks Amok” was–he would come in the studio and overdub. Artie was theone who overdubbed a lot of the forward bass parts on “Ya Hozna” and”Won Ton On.” He would come in every so often and play a little bit inthe studio for us. Him and–we even got Patrick O’Hearn coming in thereand playing stand-up bass one time, which was a real thrill for me. Itwas a real thrill for me to get together with, when we got Jimmy CarlBlack back in, and Motorhead. Just being able to record with thoseguys, that I hadn’t recorded with before. When they came back in to dosomething, it was just a real thrill for me to be able to be a part ofthat.
Mix: I guess the three albums that Warners put out,after “Live in New York,” “Sleep Dirt,” “Studio Tan,” “OrchestralFavorites,” they only came back to you after the Warners suit wassettled, right?
Pinske: No. I’m trying to remember those.
Mix: Because “Studio Tan,” which was aninstrumental album, wound up with Thana Harris, Bob Harris’s wife,she’s overdubbed on “Spider of Destiny,”–
Pinske: I know what you’re talking about now. Thatwas on “Sleep Dirt.” What had happened is, Frank had never–we workedquite a bit with Lisa Popeil, tried to sing those songs. And Lisa kindof almost got it. Frank would always say, “Almost, but not quite BoyGeorge.” But he just never was totally sold on her voice. And he wasreally frustrated, because every once in a while, when we tried to workthose recordings, because he always wanted to finish them, so we’d pullthem out from time to time and get somebody to sing on them. Well, Imade a suggestion to him that Bob Harris’s wife sang really well. SoBob and Thana came up to the studio. I called them up and they came upand they sang a little duet for Frank, a cappella, and he recognizedsomething in Thana’s voice that he really liked. So we gave Thana achance to sing on that stuff. And she was–Bob, of course read musicperfectly, but Thana wasn’t necessarily a music reader, so we let hertake some of the tapes home, and then had Bob work with her on–becauseyou know they were not exactly easy things to sing. And she came backin and we tracked them, and Frank just loved her voice. So we got hersinging all that stuff. “Spider of Destiny.” “Flambé.” She did agreat job on “Flambé.” And I tracked her voice on all of thatstuff, but we didn’t necessarily mix it at that time, but we did haveit in the can, so to speak. We had the tracks done. I think Bob did alot of the remixing on that stuff, if I remember correctly. I mainlyjust tracked all the vocals and got a lot of it in the can. We didrough mixes and stuff.
Mix: Looking at the album cover, it says,”Copyright 1979 and 1991, Barking Pumpkin,” so that kind of impliesthat it was–’79 was obviously the original release, and so it didn’tcome out again until ’91.
Pinske: It didn’t come out until ’91, but we finishedall that stuff in about, oh, that must have been ’83, ’84. When theygot tired of Lisa, we tracked Thana. In fact, we did some mixes then,and put them in the vault along with the “Crush All Boxes” stuff that Inever saw again. And I know that Chris, what’s his name? Skip Clouseau?The engineer that they hired after both Bob and I were gone?
Mix: Spencer Chrislu?
Pinske: Spencer, yeah. His job was to take a lot ofthat stuff that we had in the vault and recompile a lot of that stuff.He would just take stuff that we had done with Frank over all theseperiods of time, and try to take a lot of the stuff that we meant to bereleased. Like they did that John Lennon tape on one of the albums. AndFrank always said he was never going to release that. Because he alwaysfelt it was taking advantage of John. But I remember doing three orfour mixes of the 16-tracks of “Baby, Please Don’t Go.” It was a greatlive moment. Except when Yoko would squawk in the background. We’dalways joke about that. But John Lennon sitting in at the Fillmore,man. It was unbelievable.
Mix: There’s also a note on some of the Web sitesto the effect that “Orchestral Favorites” wound up with the stereoimage reversed between the LP and the CD. Do you know anything aboutthat?
Pinske: There was some serious mistakes made on someof the mastering. I don’t know if somebody just got too tired, or whathappened on that. But I know when Bob ended up redoing some of thoseCDs, see he wasn’t aware, because I had left, Chad and I had left, oh,what was it, in ’87, and went to work with Men at Work. We went on tourwith Men at Work, Chad Wackerman and myself. So Bob was kind of left todo a lot of that stuff for Rhino, and he wasn’t really there when wedid a lot of the original stuff, so he was just kind of flying by theseat of his pants, and just doing it whatever way he felt like doingit. Unfortunately, what they did do, I think, is I think–in hisdefense–I think they put him under a lot of pressure, and he had tocome up with a big library really quick. And as you know, when you’vegot a library as big as Frank’s, and you’re just supposed to all of asudden take all these masters and make CDs out of them, they probablyran a lot of them through what’s kind of a normal compression setting,or something like that, and just kind of passed a lot of them throughreal quick. And that’s what a lot of them sound like, too. They gotmastered too quick, basically, with not necessarily all the bestinterests at heart. Which we had when we were doing each projectoriginally. It was only that album we were thinking about. So I thinkwhen they started doing those CD releases, they kind of got–I thinkFrank used to use the term “homogenized.” Or “cheese food.” They endedup kind of sounding all too–thrown together in a way. Not to mentionthat, when we did have 2-track analog masters, we did so many differentvarieties, whether we had Telefunken C4D on some of them, not too manyof them, and then we had Dolby encoded. And then we had half trackmasters that had no noise reduction, well all of those analog tape onesthat weren’t done on digital suffered from being stored so long. So Iimagine that the original dynamic range, and the tone of the cymbalsand everything else all suffered by the time he ended up trying toremaster some of it. Which is kind of a shame. Because some of thatstuff should have been archived that wasn’t, after I left, which isstuff I hadn’t gotten to. Should have probably been put into a digitalmedium immediately, in its original shape. See, my theory was this: Ifyou take the original tape, and you put it into a digital medium, asclose as you can, as well preserved as you can, you can always crewwith it later. But at least you have the original recording, the way itwas. Preserved in the truest sense of the fashion of the way it wasdone originally. Because there’s always something there that comes out.And if you screw with it too much when you do these transfers, you endup losing al lot of the essence of the original recording. So I alwaystried to transfer stuff in its purest form, and then just screw with itlater when you mix it.
Mix: Got any stories about how Scott Thunes andChad Wackerman wound up in the band?
Pinske: Chad auditioned. And we actually auditioned31 drummers. We had auditioned him twice. We couldn’t find a drummer toreplace Vinnie Colaiuta. Scott, however, when we auditioned for him,Artie Barrow had left–actually, he came in, too, at the same time, wehad Jeff Berlin in there for a short time. We never made it on tourwith Jeff Berlin, but Jeff Berlin was in there playing with VinnieColaiuta. Both of them decided they wanted an enormous amount of money,and special treatment, and all this kind of stuff, which didn’t kind offit in to the book. And I think Vinnie, to Vinnie’s defense, he alsogot a lot of contracts in town, playing on television shows, and filmsoundtracks, and that kind of thing. He was pretty much a hired gunaround L.A. so he had some very good paying jobs with lots of royaltiesand stuff.
Mix: Did the band make money when they were workingfor Frank? They were paid sensibly, presumably, but were theypaid–
Pinske: They were paid very well. They made moneywhen we went on tour very well, and they made money when we did sessionwork. But keep in mind, I was the only one on salary, so when we cameoff the road, a lot of the musicians’d have to go on unemployment orsomething. They didn’t get salaried around the year. They only gotsalaried when we traveled, or when they did studio work, they got paid.So a lot of them really wanted to do studio work. Well, unfortunately,more of the live recordings we did meant that there would be lessstudio work. Because we would use a lot of the live tapes, and we mightbring somebody like Chad in, or somebody to do some overdubbing, likeEd Mann, or Artie Barrow. But for the most part, most of theoverdubbing was done for vocals with Ray and Ike and Bob Harris, orwhoever. And of course, Steve Vai was the master of overdubs. He wouldjust sit right next to me at the board, and we would invent guitarparts. [Laughs.] And he could play anything. It was unbelievable. Thatwas a really joyous time on that. But the musicians got paid prettywell. Not millions of dollars, but thousands of dollars a week. Plusthey got their per diem and their expenses all covered. It wasn’t likethey weren’t paid well. But as you know, if you’re making $2- or 3,000a week on the road, and then all of a sudden you come off and you’regetting nothing, it doesn’t take long for that to just dissipate. Andwith guys like Bobby Martin, he would have another gig lined up. We’dcome back, and he’d go out with Bette Midler. And some of the otherguys. And Bob Harris went and did Warren Zevon, and some of these otherpeople. So the real smart guys would go out and do some other tours.And of course, Chad Wackerman would play with Allan Holdsworth, I didone Alan Holdsworth album, “Road Games,” with him. He would go out andplay with Allan Holdsworth all the time. Not to mention different jazzgigs and stuff like that. So most of those musicians would keepthemselves busy.
Mix: Scott Thunes, was his first thing doing thebass overdub on “Valley Girl?” Oh, no, you said already, it was ArtieBarrow who did that, wasn’t it?
Pinske: No, no, no. I think “Valley Girl,” I thinkwas Artie, wasn’t it? Yeah, that was Artie Barrow. Yeah. Arthur Barrowplayed the bass on that album. No, Scott’s first thing wasn’toverdubbing. He came in about the same time Chad Wackerman came in, todo live bass, to do live gigs.
Mix: So in ’81, it looks like.
Pinske: No. Scott would have been later than that. Wewent to the European leg, maybe. Let’s see, when did Vinnie leave? I’mtrying to remember, because–
Mix: Vinnie left and came back again, right?Because David Logeman started the tour in–
Pinske: Actually, as a matter of fact, you may beright, because what had happened is, ’82 is more I think when Scottcame in, because Scott did play on the “Drowning Witch” album, andthat’s where Artie Barrow kind of phased out. See, Artie went andworked with Giorgio Moroder, and Artie and I did a couple thingstogether, too, by the way, on the side. When he was doing the”Flashdance” movie and that kind of stuff. And Artie went and playedkeyboards for Giorgio Moroder down at his studio, and he kind of gotpulled away to do film soundtracks and stuff. He wasn’t like quittingthe band, or anything, he just had other stuff he was doing. So Scottkind of came in at the end of ’81 and then ’82. Right. That’s when hecame in. He came in pretty much right around when Chad did. Because Iknow we were making this joke about having three 21-year-olds in theband. Three 20-year-old and 21-year-old. Both Scott–you had ScottThunes, you had Chad Wackerman, and you had Steve Vai, and they’re allyoung guys.
Mix: How old were Ray and Ike? 20s?
Pinske: Now you got me. I think Ray was pretty muchmy age, and Ike was–Ike was young, too. Ike was young when he startedwith Frank, but Ike was a few years older. Like when I did the firsttours with Ike, we were always kidding him, because he always wore ahat, and he was like the kid of the band. And then, of course, onceChad and–that was when we had Vinnie and Tommy Mars and everybody, andEd Mann, but once we got off that European tour, and the other guyscame in, well, Ike wasn’t the kid anymore. So he was three or fouryears older than them. And then Ray, I think, was another three or fouryears older than Ike. Kind of between Frank and Ike. He didn’t show hisage, though. He wore his age very well.
Mix: How old are you?
Pinske: I was born in 1949.
Mix: So you’re older than me.
Pinske: I’m older than you are, probably. Andprobably ten or twelve years younger than Frank. At that time, anyway,I was pretty much in my prime, but 51-year-old.
Mix: I know, it creeps up on you, doesn’t it?
Pinske: Yeah. [Laughs.] I remember this stuff like itwas yesterday, though. Because it was such–it was such a joyous job. Ienjoy what I’m doing now. Now I’m general manager of two divisions hereat Peavey. They’re both professional divisions that do professionalcore products, and also professional digital DSP products.
Mix: When did you start at Peavey?
Pinske: I started at Peavey two years ago. Just alittle over two years ago. I came up here and interviewed for a job. Ihad built a studio down in Florida, with some of the money I’d madewith Frank and whatnot. The studio’s still there, Skylab Studios.There’s a link to it from my site. My ex-partner there is running theplace now. I still have some equipment in it, but I’m pretty much notinvolved with the studio at all. I got soured out on doing all thestudio stuff. Especially doing more amateur recording, you know what Imean? Building a studio out of the way in Florida was not the greatestidea I had. I went back out and did a lot of touring. I went out andtoured even in 1995, with Terence Trent D’Arby. And I’d go out and dosome tours every so often, just for fun. Steve brought me back out withDavid Lee Roth in between on one tour, the “Eat ‘Em and Smile” tour. Soevery once in a while I’d go out and do some tours, but I was mainlydoing studio work, and I just, to tell you the honest truth, I got sobeaten up by recording so much. I lost track of how many albums I did.The last time I counted was somewhere around like 160, 184 albums. Notthat I wouldn’t want to take my name off the first 20. But I had done alot of death-metal albums, a lot of rap albums, stuff like this thatcame through. Every so often some good stuff would come through. Likewith Tico Torres from Bon Jovi came and recorded down there, on AlDiMeola’s percussionist Gumby Ortiz’s album. And every once in a whilewe’d do a good project. I got to do River Phoenix, before he died. Idid all his recording for him. And I had spurts in there that were alot of fun. But for the most part, I just got saturated with it. Istarted listening to talk radio, and I got real tired of the musicbusiness, and I decided I’m just not going to do any of this soundstuff any more. So at that point, I kind of went back to my otherroots, that I talked to you before, when I worked at Quad-8 electronicsout in California. And I ended up running a manufacturing line there,and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed working with audio product, becauseaudio products is what I been around all my life. The touring gear,speakers, amplifiers, processors, and of course being with somebodylike Frank, you were always trying to stay on top of the latest, newestdigital processors and stuff. So my knowledge of always working withthe latest, greatest gizmos, that kind of started very seriously, andhaving a chance to experiment with the most expensive stuff, kind ofbrought me in to where I wanted to be able to help design someproducts, use my background, and see if I could help manufacturersbring some stuff out that’s a little bit more hip. And a little bitbetter quality that the real, true engineer, or consultant, if youwill, or contractor, would really appreciate. Being able to have stuffthat might have a little bit better quality, a little bit finer tuningincrements, things for doing time aligning, whatever. So I was able toget involved with Peavey because they had a couple new divisions thatthey were developing. Architectural Acoustics, and Mediamatrix. Well,Mediamatrix is pretty much well on its way. It does all the mainstadiums, and the Olympics, and House of Representatives, and this kindof stuff. It’s all digitally controlled routing systems. And it’s got apretty good reputation. But Architectural Acoustics needed some help,so I came in and helped them design some speakers to go after EAW. Idesigned some things, some different amplifiers, some new amplifiersthat were very good amplifiers that would give you a lot more power forlower price. Things that would be competitive in the marketplace. Ireally kind of got my teeth into it, and things went well the firstyear and a half, so they kind of promoted me up. To where I was generalmanager of the whole architectural acoustics division, and then justrecently, about two months ago, they put me in charge of the mediamatrix division as well, so now I’m over all the DSP development, aswell as the regular analog core products. And this is really kind of afun challenge for me. You could tell by talking to me that I’m able touse a lot of the chops that I did in the past and put it into a productthat some other young engineer that’s like me ten, twenty years agothat could probably blow my socks out of the water, may get some pieceof equipment that I helped design or helped bring to them, and reallyappreciate it. I do little things, like, we got a DSP device we callthe Digitool now, that’s only going to start shipping in about anothermonth, where you’ll hear about it, you’ll see it, we advertise it inall the magazines starting now, but it’s a DSP device that isn’t like alot of them you buy. You know how you buy a multiprocessor, and itdoesn’t have the increments you want. You might have a reverb settingmaybe 1.2-second delay or 800, you go, “I want something between this.”And you go the lesser of two evils. The setting you want isn’t reallythere. So I put out a device that does all of this stuff, where theequalization you can adjust one Hertz at a time. So if you have a ringat 1627 Hertz. No screwing around. And it isn’t until somebody getstheir hands on it and say, “Wow, somebody really thought of this.Somebody’s giving me a tool now that I can use, that wasn’t like thisother thing I’ve always had to put up with. I can go to the exactsettings on my compressor, on my noise gate, on my equalizer, on mydelay.” Delay, for instance, on this device, goes up to 5 seconds,increments of 1 millisecond at a time, and fine tuning at 999milliseconds–microseconds. So if you want to time align a pairspeakers, you can get right down to the exact microsecond. Now somebodywon’t appreciate that until they’re actually doing it, and they’ll say,”Oh, man, I don’t have to jump 10ms up or 10ms down, I can actually setit exactly where it needs to be, to where the phase matches up.” So Ikind of was able to get those kind of things kind of off my chest. Youknow how you have that chip on your shoulder all those years, and nowI’m able to put some of the things I learned into a device. And I findit very rewarding. They’re giving me good support. Allowing me to dosome things. You may say it’s an overkill, or an off-the-wall, but whenyou’re a professional, such as yourself, you know we have specialneeds, right? [Laughs.]
Mix: Now you’re back in a management role–twodivisions, and you’re working with designers and manufacturing,marketing, and pricing.
Pinske: The whole cigar. Being the general manager,I’m over all of it. But I kind of get to go around assembly lines if Iwant to, and sit down with the engineers and knock out everything fromthe looks to the–this whole new device I’m telling you about, thisDigitool is 8 in and 8 out, it’s a device that had everything fromnoise gates to parametric EQs to compressors, and the whole thing’sgoing to sell for 800 bucks. So we’re talking about something that’srevolutionary.
Mix: Are you going to debut it at NSCA, or beforethen?
Pinske: Oh, NSCA we’re going to demonstrate four ofthem, in a big demo room. We’re going to have it, and we have our own,I also developed a thing called the Freak Out, which is a feedbackeliminator. But it’s way more sophisticated than your typical Sabineproduct. If you put a whole bunch of filters in on Sabine product, andthen you talk through it, your voice’ll sound one way, and you hit thefilters in and it sounds like somebody put a hand over it. What we didis we came up with some real sophisticated algorithms with 16 separatefilters that only filter out the necessary marginal part. It’s only 3dB needs to be filtered out. Once you program it, you hit the filters,and you don’t actually hear a difference in tone, and it works so fastyou don’t every really get a squeal. You get nothing more than a chirp,just sticking a microphone right in the speaker. So we had some of ourbest algorithm designers spend, oh, Lord, eight months alone justtweaking the algorithms on this thing. So we’re real proud of it. It’llbe a device you get for a couple hundred bucks. Some of those kind ofthings are going to be, hopefully become used a lot, and make adifference.
Mix: You stopped working for Frank in ’87, becauseyou moved on, or you got bored, or do you want to talk about it?
Pinske: A couple of different things. He wasn’treally planning on doing any more touring, even though he ended upgoing and doing the ’88 tour, he wasn’t really–he started to get alittle bit ill, but the main thing is that we just kept recycling a lotof the old tapes, which as you know went on for years even after Ileft, and releasing the same old songs, and the same old things. And Ihad a chance to make a considerable bit of more money, is whathappened. I went and worked with Men at Work, and then I went andhooked up with Bobby Brown and Bel Biv Devoe.
Mix: As engineer, or live sound?
Pinske: I went and did live sound with thoseguys.
Mix: And you could make more money?
Pinske: It was great. They paid me a huge amount ofmoney, and I just flew out and did the Budweiser fest with them. Afriend of mine called me up and said they needed a paratrooper, they’dgone through something like five or six sound men. And the New Editionwas having trouble, and they needed somebody that could go to thesedifferent shows and work different systems. Like I would go into a fairand there would be a Showco system, or Audio Analysts or Clair Bros.They didn’t travel with their own sound–the systems were all waitingthere for them.
Mix: This was for New Edition?
Pinske: Yeah. The first thing I did was, Chad and Iwent off on a little tour, we went down to Australia and worked withMen At Work. We did that for quite a while. And then right when I gotoff of that tour, I was down there like 12, 13, 14 weeks or something,we were down there, and then this production manager that I used toknow on the road called me up and said that New Edition needed somebodyto come out and do some stuff with them, and I went and did them offand on for the next two-and-a-half, three years. And I also went in thestudio with them. I did some recording with them. And then I did–BobbyBrown was pretty much asked to leave the band, and then he did his own”King of Stage” album, so I went and did a “King of Stage” tour withBobby Brown. And got to know those guys pretty well. Then what I didwas, we were down in Florida, and I went back to Gainesville, Florida,which is where I went to college, originally, and I built a studiothere out of some of the money I’d saved up, and kind of overspentbuilding a studio, which is now called Skylab Studios down there inFlorida. …read rest of Day Three Pinski Interview