Producer Matt Wallace Opens Up About His Work With Faith No More, the Replacements + More
Music history abounds with notable examples of bands who worked with the same producer on a string of key releases. In many cases, the producer's name has become more or less synonymous with the band's, with perhaps none more well-known than "Fifth Beatle" George Martin. In the case of Faith No More, no one is better positioned to provide a comprehensive overview of the San Francisco quintet's history than producer-engineer Matt Wallace, whose history with the band dates back to its embryonic stages, long before it had even settled on its name.
Wallace has since worked in various capacities on five out of seven FNM albums, including their first since reuniting, this year's Sol Invictus. He recently sat down for a lengthy (8:00 am!) chat with us that left no stone unturned. As Faith No More's victory lap of North American arenas winds down, we thought it'd be the perfect time to look back on the band's colorful story. An edited transcript follows.
You were essentially Faith No More's in-house producer for their first four albums. What were your first impressions of the new material?
It was exactly as I expected – which was the unexpected. They're such an iconoclastic band that you can't ever expect anything with them. I was also really astounded at what Mike Patton put into it. I'm amazed at how someone who's been doing music for so long with so many projects still comes up with such unique melodies and lyrics. I reached out to him during the mixing process and said, "Man, I don't know how you come up with this stuff." But I'm thrilled overall. For me, they're always on the vanguard doing something fresh.
How close to completion was the new music when you heard it? What stage were the mixes in?
I heard the stuff maybe nine months before the mixing even started. Bill [bassist Billy Gould] came down to Los Angeles and played some of it for me. They did it all on their own, which is a new thing for them, even though they leaned in that direction on Album of the Year. I think they were just looking for some kind of reassurance, certainly on a sonic and textural level, but also aesthetically as well. I was really excited when I heard the tracks, so much so that when Bill left I wanted to mess around with the stuff and start pre-mixing it. But he was like "Hey, you've got to erase it off your drive," so I had to let go of some really exciting music. Fast-forward about nine months and we started doing a song at a time. They kinda hired me on that basis, like "Hey, mix a song, and if it works, we'll do more." It was all rough and pre-mixed or by Bill, then I took it and, hopefully, improved on it.
Billy Gould was a already proficient mixer before Faith No More broke up. One can only presume that his skill set has improved since then. Can you describe what he gave you?
The (songs) were sketched-out close to the form what he wanted. The first song I started on was "Superhero," and I was like, "Hey, let me have a few days with this." For better or worse, I took it in a pretty different direction. I was going for a much thicker, heavier, rawer sound. But when Bill first heard it, I could tell it was like "Oh boy." It wasn't what he was looking for. So he had to do a little bit of course-correcting. For him -- and I have to say, I agree -- the Faith No More sound has that roomy ambience to the drums, and I didn't have that in my initial mix. I had to learn how to expand upon what they were trying to do instead of trying to re-invent it.
Looking back to when Faith No More was on a major label, how much was the whole band involved in production choices back then? And how much did anyone at Slash records try to have a hand in your final mixes?
Well, that was back in the analog days, where you had to mix a song at a time. I would start like at 10 AM and the band would come in at, say 5 or 6 PM. They'd listen, give me their notes and then go in the other room and play pool or hang out. I'd tweak it and they'd come back and listen and go, "Okay, that's good -- maybe make a couple more changes." Generally, by the end of that evening, you'd have a complete mix. Sometimes you'd leave it overnight and everyone would take it home. I'd come back the next morning and they'd call and say, like, "Hey, bring this up a little louder" or whatever. It was a song-a-day approach and it was more unified because the whole band was present.
This record was very different in that it's really Bill's baby. I think everyone in the band has gone on record as saying that if it weren't for Bill, this thing wouldn't have happened. I would talk to Bill over the years and I'd go hang out with him up in San Francisco, and for the last 10 or 15 years, he's been writing Faith No More songs. I'd say he's got literally a couple of hundred songs or song ideas. He's always carried the torch, so this was his baby. I'd offered to engineer, produce, or co-produce, but they really wanted to do it on their own. Bill recorded it, produced it -- he was the guy. Mixing-wise, it was driven by Bill, but then we'd get Patton's vocals in, and he'd have a very specific idea of how he wanted things mixed and where he wanted things to sit in the sonic spectrum. So it was mixed 80% with Bill and then the last 15% with Mike Patton. Those two guys really drove it, and Patton actually had the final say on a lot of stuff. I think the band wanted Patton's imprint on it as much as possible. Initially, he was the new guy in the band, but now he's got a lot more command of things. As far as the label, I don't recollect them having much input on the mixes themselves, but they certainly had input on the song choices. At least that's my memory of it, anyway.
The way Billy Gould kept writing songs is almost like somebody who keeps writing love poems to their ex-spouse and never gives up on their hope that their ex is going to come walking back through the door.
I actually thought he was out of his mind. He kind of reminded me of "If you build it, they will come" from that Kevin Costner movie where he builds that baseball diamond.
Field of Dreams.
Yeah! Bill would play me stuff, like "Hey man, check this out," and I'd want to say, "Dude, the band's over. You really should move on and do other stuff." [Laughs.] But he really carried the torch. And, you know, he and [drummer] Mike Bordin are the guys I initially started working with in 1982 in my parents' garage when they were the earliest incarnation of the band. And I've said this many times, but even when you get up to "Epic," man, Bill Gould's demo of that song is ridiculously cool. He did it on a 4-track and all the elements are there, even the piano outro. So he's always had a very, very defined vision of what this band is and what everyone's roles are. Of course, they all had a lot of input, but I think Bill is typically the catalyst -- or the genesis -- of an idea, and then everyone jumps onboard and fleshes it out. He's the one who plants the seed, waters it, and when it starts to grow the other guys go "Oh hell, that's cool, let's see what we can contribute to that." He's been the engine in this band for a long time.
Typically, what's been your reaction hearing your mixes when they come back from the mastering house?
Starting back in '82, I was pretty much present at every single mastering session for everything I'd done. I really wanted to learn about it. I was really fascinated with how you transfer your stereo analog tape onto an actual disc and so on. I had my own little label going and had things to press, so I was really interested in the technology and process. A lot of times during Faith No More stuff, because I'd worked so closely with John Golden, he would let me jump onboard and quote-unquote "try things," even though I think I probably screwed things up more than anything else. So I've always had a close relationship with mastering engineers.
But recently, I've just stepped back and let people do their thing. Because lately bands -- or usually labels -- have a very defined idea of who they want to do it, and I feel like there's more cooks involved in that nowadays. So I'm like, "You know what? You've already got like seven or eight people involved, so I'm just going to trust it." Like, "Here's what I turned in, and you guys can spruce it up the way you want." But when we mastered (1989's) The Real Thing, I was there with John Golden at K Disc, and I was pretty much at the point where I was going to quit producing because I thought it sounded so bad. I thought it my mix way too much high end and way too much compression. I literally ended up calling my mom the next day asking her how I could get into real estate because I just thought I didn't know what the hell I was doing. I played that record on my car stereo, on my home stereo, and it just didn't sound right. It bummed me out for quite a long time -- until the moment when I heard it on MTV and on the radio. And then I was like "Holy s--t." So in spite of screwing it up for home listening, I think I made it right for MTV and radio, because it just kind of jumped out of the speakers. It was one of those happy accidents, but I was ready to quit.
There's an enormous growth curve over Faith No More's first four albums. But right around the time of their ascent in the late '80s, there was a whole "funk-metal" thing happening with bands like Primus and the Chili Peppers, so it wasn't like this hybrid of sounds was especially shocking. What did Faith No More have that separated them from the pack?
For me, the big thing that Faith No More brought to the table was heavy rock guitars, which those other bands didn't have in quite the same way. I recorded Primus in, I think, '85 or '86 on early version of "Tommy the Cat" (which featured a pre-first album lineup with Les Claypool on bass, Todd Huth on guitar and Tim Wright on drums) for the (1988) KUSF compilation Germ's Choice. I guess they had some metal in their sound, but Jim Martin was such a metalhead. He was into Black Sabbath and Corrosion Of Conformity, which gave Faith No More an edge.
What's also unique is that it was five individuals all pulling equally strongly in, not opposite, but very different directions. At the time -- certainly through The Real Thing and even up into Angel Dust  -- there was no de facto leader. If any guy tried to be the leader, the other guys would say "Screw you, you're not the leader." And so you've got one guy pulling in that metal direction, you've got Patton who was into Sade, [keyboardist] Roddy doing his thing, and so on. To me, it was this really interesting amount of creative tension. They would also go in any direction they wanted to. If one guy decided to write a song about blowjobs like "Be Aggressive," they'd all just jump onboard one hundred percent. They would always back each other. If one guy wanted to do something poppy, they would move like a unified front together. I don't know of other bands that would take such wide swaths from one kind of song to another kind of song -- and do whatever they were doing very, very seriously. I think other people would do that with a bit of cynicism, or they wouldn't be be fully invested. It would be more sarcastic. But these guys would just own it, whatever they were doing. They'll do brutal... just ugly stuff and go to something really beautiful and melodic.
If you just look at the transition from The Real Thing to Angel Dust, that's a band that's absolutely willing to let go of something that was really successful. They could've done The Real Thing Pt. 2 and probably made a really nice living, but they decided to really distance themselves from that sound that they helped create and move in a completely different direction. And their instincts were right: Angel Dust stands the test of time. People still applaud that record. But the Slash reacted by suggesting they title it Commercial Suicide. Someone there said "I hope none of you guys bought houses." No one, not even their manager, had confidence in them. Meanwhile, they were chafing at being termed "funk metal." They never wanted to be called that again.
There's no irony at all in their version of the Commodores' song "Easy." It's sincere and genuinely tender.
You're absolutely right! The only ironic moment in that whole song is right before the guitar solo when Patton goes "eww," which was a comment, not on the song, but on Jim Martin. Because there was such acrimony and tension between the band and him during the making of that record.
What was going on there?
It depends on who you speak with, but I think I come from a perspective of some clarity because I'm not actually in the band, and I didn't have a vested interest other than helping them make a great record. Just before making Angel Dust, Jim Martin's dad died. That was a pretty big thing, obviously. I remember I spoke to Jim, and I know the guys in the band did too. We basically said, "Listen, your dad just died. Let's just postpone the record for a little bit. Let's give it a couple of months, get things sorted out, and we'll get in there and do it." Unfortunately, Jim's kind of a macho guy, and he was like, "F--k you guys, I don't need you to worry about me! Let's just make the record."
The rest of the band all lived in San Francisco, but to accommodate Jim, they got a rehearsal space in Oakland, so it was closer to where he lived in the Castro Valley area. And in spite of all that, Jim just didn't show up very much, which I guess you can expect because of his dad dying, but he never made his presence really known while making that record. Plus, he kept calling the record "Gay Disco" -- everytime they'd play something, he'd say, [dismissively] "Eh, this is a bunch of gay disco." And I'd say, [agitated:] "Dude if you put your f----n' big guitar in it, it won't be quote-unquote 'gay disco.' I need you to jump onboard and do this." So it almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy for Jim, because he didn't invest the way I was hoping he would. He'd do these guitar parts, and the band would come in the next day and they'd listen and the parts would be serious, but they wanted him to be Jim Martin and do his thing. So there were a lot of yelling matches and people disagreeing with each other. It was pretty ugly.
It's long been rumored that he hardly played at all on the record, but he recently did an interview, and from his account it seems like he was quite heavily involved on the production end – even in the art direction too.
Unfortunately, that rumor was started by me. I forget what it was for, but I was interviewed, and at the time I was really furious with Jim because Bill and I would go and spend time on his 8-track at home and work on guitar parts. We put a lot of time into that, hoping that Jim would come to the table. But I erroneously and very wrongly discounted his contribution to that record. I've subsequently gone into print and, any time I've gotten a chance, tried to right the wrong. I also apologized to Jim. I said, "Listen, I was really wrong about that." Because Jim did play the guitars on that record. He and I would work on them every day. We'd go to the bar around mid-day, play pool, and then go back and play more guitar. So he definitely did play, I'd say, 95% of the guitars. And it was really my fault that there was any question about that in the past.
It's never really a surprise when different parties in a creative process have conflicting viewpoints on what happened. That seems almost par for the course. But it seems like he was heavily involved in the production prior to that, on The Real Thing.
He was really involved in the production on The Real Thing. That's why it was so difficult after that. Because during The Real Thing, he and I (and) the whole band were all in lock step. We were all moving together like this big amoeba. It was fantastic. Jim and I spent a day getting all the mics up for the guitar and we were really connected. I felt like he brought to the table what he'd always brought to the table up to that point. But during Angel Dust, there was a very, very noticeable lack of enthusiasm on his part. I mean, was he there? Yeah, he did go there and play. But a lot of times, he'd be playing these noodle-y things, and the band and I were like, 'Dude, what the hell? Play some heavy guitar s--t on this, man! We need what you do." And that's where the frustration came from, plus the fact that Bill and I spent all that time working on guitar parts on our own, and Jim not showing up at rehearsal. So there was this big, long... I mean, look, Jim set the stage and he's kind of made his own bed. There's no doubt about that in my mind. But that being said, I was wrong in saying what I said, or suggesting that Bill played more guitars on the record. I was absolutely wrong.
From the outside, the assumption would be that the band was going in a direction that his style didn't fit. But it sounds like they wanted him to be more like himself.
Yeah. For myself and the band, we always relied on that weight that he would bring. Because, if the band went and played something melodic, and if it sounded a little light and wasn't grounded or didn't have that heft, Jim was the guy that we counted on to come with his big, obnoxious, larger-than-life personality and this really awesome guitar sound and give it the weight and heft we needed so that it didn't sound like a light, fluffy pop band. And he refused to do that. He would come in and start playing these little note-y things. Bill and I would show him ideas from Bill's demos and he'd be like "F--k you guys." It was challenging.
Going back to the first two albums, 1985's We Care A Lot and 1987's Introduce Yourself, what did then-frontman Chuck Mosley bring to the table?
I just listened to Introduce Yourself again and I think Chuck had an innate talent for writing songs that had a lot of emotional resonance. He did a really good job of doing that. It was very easy for him to put it out there and wear his heart on his sleeve. He was more of a limited singer. In fact, on our early demos I did with the band at my old studio, he basically just did like this screamo thing over all the songs. The band said, "Hey man, do something more like Frank Sinatra," and then he came back and started actually singing, which was really cool.
His limits are a big part of the charm of his vocals.
Chuck had a certain kind of charm. I think he was really genuine. What you saw is what you got with him. That's certainly appealing. He was willing to put himself out there, but I think he was either afraid of failure or afraid of success or something. He was always the guy that would quote-unquote "get a cold" when it was time to do his vocals or show up late for a show. I don't know if he was fully able to invest himself.
You produced Introduce Yourself with Steve Berlin, who's got such a wide production palette and was there on the ground floor of the early L.A. punk scene. What was working with him like? What did you learn from him?
Faith No More and I had already made a bunch of recordings prior to working with Steve. We'd done We Care A Lot in six days, so we felt like we could just make the record on our own. I think Slash records brought him in more for insurance to make sure we didn't take the money and run to Mexico or get hooked on heroin or something. They wanted to have someone like Steve -- who's very, very talented -- onboard to help guide us. But the reality of the situation was that the band were pretty demonstrative in how they didn't really want him around. We just wanted to do our own thing, so I think what happened after a certain point in time was that Steve just got tired of making suggestions because the band would invariably shoot them down. It was unfortunate, because I think Steve's got a lot to bring to the table. And he was very, very gracious to even share credit, the producer fee and the (producer royalties) with me. He was really a sweet, amazing man to do that. But when you have a bunch of young guys, sometimes they don't want to be bothered with any outside influence. After a while, I think he just shut down, like, "They're not going to take my ideas anyway." It's too bad, because he's really talented, but again, this is a band that just knew what they wanted to do.
So when Mike Patton joined, the music for The Real Thing was already written, correct?
Yeah, there was a time when the band was actually a four-piece with no singer. I have photographs from when we were rehearsing down in L.A. The songs were basically formed by the time Patton got ahold of them. Because they were already kind of an established band, when Patton would say, "Hey can we make this section longer or change this?" they'd say "No. That's the way it is. Write the lyrics to the way it is." Patton was definitely the new guy in town and probably got a little bit of hazing in that regard. Of course, it was completely different on Angel Dust, when Patton had a lot more input in song structure, content and what the aesthetics were. But, from the time he joined, it seemed like he was really willing to make things happen with Faith No More, even though, of course, he was still tied to Mr. Bungle.
When you started pre-production for Angel Dust, at what point did you say to yourself, "Okay, this band has grown tremendously"?
For me, it was the moment we started working. They were taking many, many more unique musical approaches and risks. Yeah. At the beginning of touring for The Real Thing, I saw them in L.A. and I thought, "Eh, they're alright." But they came back to L.A. after going across the country a couple of times and the transformation was amazing. They were ferocious live – so in tune with each other. They were like this unified sonic presence. The nice thing was that, at the beginning of Angel Dust, they started with that. And Patton came up with these harmonies and melodies that I thought were mind-alteringly unique. He absolutely stepped up and was doing stuff that nobody else was doing at that time as a heavy rock vocalist. I know this because, after that record, I had so many other bands that wanted to work with me like Korn and Hoobastank and a bunch of bands that were like, "Okay, we want to do what he's doing."
How did you feel when they elected to work with different producers for King For A Day and Album of the Year?
I thought it was fantastic. For Angel Dust, I was the producer, the engineer, the assistant engineer and -- since the studio wouldn't answer the phone for us -- we had our own phone line and I had to answer it. By the end of making that record, I said, "Listen, you guys either need a new producer, a new guitar player or both." And then I took two months off and didn't work on any music for a while. It wasn't out of any anger or anything like that. I just thought I'd taken them as far as I could and I wanted to let them not feel bad if they wanted to work with somebody else. I thought, "Yeah, it would be great to see who else might be able to pull some good stuff out of them."
What was your reaction on hearing that they broke up in 1998?
Of course I was disappointed. I felt -- and I'm sure the band agrees with this -- that they'd finally gotten to a place where they could capitalize on some of the hard work they'd done and maybe connect with more of an audience and make a better living. But -- typical Faith No More -- they broke up right when they had the chance to push things even further. But I guess they did what they had to do.
Interesting, because they've been quoted recently as saying that they weren't drawing well in the States in 1997 and 1998.
With Angel Dust, their U.S. audience dropped off pretty substantially. But in the U.K. and Europe, people got it. Several years ago, when Kerrang magazine did their list of the most influential records of all time...
Angel Dust is No. 1 on the list.
Yeah! When I got that issue, I started in '50s and went through thinking, "Hey, maybe one of my records made it." So I went through the '40s, and when I got to the '30s, I thought, "Okay, none of my records made the list, and I obviously suck." It was a lovely surprise and it blew my mind that Angel Dust was No. 1. I was like, "Really?" It's interesting because they influenced a lot of bands, but didn't sell a lot – certainly in the States.
Let's talk about some of the other artists you've worked with: the Replacements are remembered as this constantly-drunk shambles. As a producer, what did you have to do to get performances out of them when you produced their second-to-last album, 1989's Don't Tell A Soul?
Oh man. Look, the whole [Paul] Westerberg and the Replacements thing is this: you never give 100 percent because, if it fails, you can't be that invested. You need to hold something in for yourself so that it won't hurt you that badly. So they would always give, you know, a C+ or B-minus effort. And it was always very, very frustrating with those guys because they could just dive in and go, "We're gonna do this all the way." I mean, I had to hide booze from those guys while making that record. And I was the third producer. They had Tony Berg for about two weeks or so and then he either quit or was fired. And Scott Litt was slated to work on the record, but apparently they duct-taped him to a chair and he said, "I'm not gonna do this record." So I think it was kind of do-or-die time for those guys.
I obviously had no track record that would even make me a candidate to do that record, except that I was a fierce fan of the band and I knew the people at Warner Bros. and kept pestering them. Literally every week, I'd say, "Hey, I wanna work on that record." So, by default, it finally got to where the band was like, "Oh, we're in trouble." The label put me on the phone with Westerberg and he said, "We like to drink a bit." I said, "I don't drink at all, so it'll be just fine." But I'd seen them play live, and the worst show of my life was a Replacements show. They started really good and they just went to full-suck. Their whole thing was, if one guy went south and wasn't doing well, then they all chased each other down. [Laughs.] That was the aesthetic of that band.
And they were really competitive with R.E.M. It was like, "Why does R.E.M. always have success and we don't?" And I didn't say anything, but I wanted to say, "Listen man, they're not a--holes," you know? If you've got a record company person working on a Friday night at 6 PM and someone says, "You need to do extra work for two more hours for either the Replacements or R.E.M." they'd be like, "I'm working for R.E.M. because the Replacements are a bunch of dicks!" [Laughs.] And I'm friends with Paul. I still talk to him 20 years later. I talk to Tommy. I did Paul's first solo record, 14 Songs -- I love those guys, but they just don't know how to run a business.
How much smoother was it working on Westerberg's solo album?
Oh, it was absolutely not smooth at all. It was not only his first solo record, but his first sober record. But, to give you an idea, he hired the band and he hired Susan Rogers, the engineer. Our first day, we recorded a song, it went really well, and I was like, "Oh, this is really great." And the next day, I walk in and no one's there. I was like, "Whoa, am I early?" He goes, "Nah, I fired everybody." I'm like, "You what? But you loved the track they did." He'd fired the engineer and the band. I was like, "Oh my god." So I ended up being the producer, engineer and, for parts of it, sketchy musician. He was sober, but I think he was in kind of a dry-drunk mode – either that or whatever issues that made him drink were still there, unfortunately. I love the guy, I think he's great, and I think he's fiercely talented, but man, it's such a struggle sometimes. He and the other Replacements guys would just shoot themselves in the foot. He's erratic and I think it comes from a place of really deep pain. I think some stuff happened to him when he was younger and his coping mechanisms were just to drink and distance himself from being hurt again. And it's too bad, because he writes these beautiful, beautiful songs. But it's just so hard for him to navigate the whole music industry part of it. There's a famous example where he had some MTV special with him. They had everyone down there filming and they take a break and Paul says, "I gotta go to the store to get a pack of smokes" and never came back. You do that stuff and you wonder why people aren't rooting for you when you're throwing logjams in front of your forward progress.
By the time you worked with John Hiatt on 1993's Perfectly Good Guitar, he was already highly respected as a songwriter's songwriter. How did you approach working with him?
I was a fan of his from way back when he was kind of an angry, almost like an Elvis Costello-type character. Apparently, he would drive his son to school, and his son's the one who played him the Faith No More stuff and said, "You should make a record with this guy." So that's how I got the gig. [Laughs.] I think John at the time was kind of going through a musical midlife crisis, where he wanted to try some new ideas. He'd worked with the usual suspects, fiercely talented people like the Little Village guys [guitarist Ry Cooder, multi-instrumentalist Nick Lowe, and drummer Jim Keltner]. I said, "I want you to work with some young bucks." So I brought in some guys who did their very first sessions ever on that record. I wanted young people who were going to breathe a lot of life into what John was doing. I wanted to get that kind of energy and not go with that more staid, old-school approach.
You turned down an established band to work on Maroon 5's 2002 debut Songs About Jane. Who was it?
It was Days Of The New. Right around that time, they were getting ready to do the follow-up record to their hit debut. There was a lot of pressure on them, and I met with Travis [Meeks]. They had a much healthier budget and a really nice studio, gear and everything. I was offered twice the amount of money to produce that. And then I heard the Maroon 5 stuff and it was a tiny budget, unknown band, unknown label, unknown manager -- everything was against that band. There was a lot of nu-metal on the radio and a lot of people, when I'd play them the music, they'd be like, "That's just a Jamiroquai ripoff -- that band's not gonna do anything." But I was like, "Man, these songs are so good -- if nobody blows it, it's gonna be a really big record." That was the biggest longshot I've ever taken in my career. I mean, it was a long, long, longshot. But I believed in that record.
You just worked with 3 Doors Down in Nashville. What's next for you?
Hopefully a little bit of a break. Right before 3 Doors Down, I did three weeks straight of work without a day off. But there are some up-and-coming bands and baby bands that are looking for me to work with them. I'm going to try and slow it down just a smidge. [Laughs.]
So it doesn't sound like you're looking to get your realty license just yet.
Not yet -- but I will say that, earlier this year, I was going to sell my gear because things had slowed down so much. I was like, "It's probably time to go into construction or something." But things really turned around. I had like five records come out in the span of a month and a half. I did a band called New Beat Fund, I worked on the Faith No More and 3 Doors Down records, a band named Los Angelics that came out and the two Faith No More reissues of The Real Thing and Angel Dust.
How involved were you in those reissue packages?
Not at all. I think they just found the tapes and put those together. But I just got the reissues. I was looking through them and there's all these interviews with me in there, which I'm gathering they culled from various magazines and such from way back when. I was like, "I don't remember doing that interview!" [Laughs.] But that was over 20 years ago. And there's a bunch of mixes I did, alternate mixes for singles that are now included on those two records.
How did you feel hearing those alternate mixes?
Oh man, I loved it. The alternate mixes for The Real Thing are spectacular. Warner Bros. hired me to do "Epic" and "Falling to Pieces," and I mixed them the way I wanted that record to sound. It's big and thick and it's got low end -- it's just gorgeous. Everything about it just sounds fantastic. I was so excited, but I guess by the time we did that alternate mix, the album version was already being played on the radio so much that the label was reticent to go with the new mix. But it sounds really nice. It's very hi-fi and wonderful sounding.
So what did your mom say when you called her that time?
[Laughs.] She thought I was crazy, because I'd been doing production for some time then. She was willing to help me, but I think she was like, "Yeah, my son's high on crack and he'll come around and go back to the music thing." I think she realized that I'm pretty hard on myself. Every time I turn-in a record, I'm never fully satisfied with it. I'm always like "Ah! This could be better." I've never walked away and been like "Yes! I got it!"