David Mobley Interview
It’s a little known fact but the word “Legend” actually has a silent “davidmobley” right in the middle of it. Weird huh? Check the Googles. Mr. Mobley is a world renowned music producer who collects lifetime achievements like you collect parking tickets. His career spans five decades and he has worked with basically everyone worth working with. If you’re interested in a fascinating chat with an icon of the music world then you’re in for a treat. If you’re not I hear there’s a new twerk video on gotwerkyajerk.com.
It seems like everyone’s mom, dog and next door neighbor thinks they can be a producer and musician these days. What’s your take on the current accessibility of basically everything due to the level of technology.
It’s really crazy…. There’s more technology and power in everyone’s cell phone than we had back in the 60’s and 70’s – and probably most of the 80’s… I’m sure most everyone who keeps up with the world of music understands the upside and the downside to this. Upside being that that like you said – EVERYONE and they’re mom, dog and neighbor can make and record music for a fraction of the costs it used to be and have access to just about anything they need at the snap of a finger…. A person can single-handedly write, record, mix, master and upload a song to the market for sale within a few short hours. The downside to all of this is of course the fact that EVERYONE is doing just that!… The music industry is completely overwhelmed and flooded. Everything has become so muddied up that most Artists can no longer make a dime on recorded music – meaning CD’s/albums, etc.. In today’s world – it’s get onstage and tour or go hungry…
LOL… I really wish I had the ‘inner tech geek’ in me that most people think I have. I’m in complete awe at most of the engineers and music techies that I have worked or simply sat in session with!… Here’s a short list of what I work with or have access to:
Yamaha DM2000 96 channel digital console 24 bit 96 KHZ capable with moving faders. Serves as a very flexible and high quality front end and controller for Pro Tools.
Avid Pro Tools HD 12 HDX System with: Avid HD I/O, 192 Digital I/O, Apogee Big Ben reference clock
Tascam DA38 (4)
Sony PCM R-700 DAT
Tascam 122 Mk-II
API 3124+ 4 channel Mic. Pre. / Direct Box
Grace m905 Reference Monitor Controller
Audient ASP008 8-Ch Mic. Pre.
UREI 1176 Compressor / Limiter
Rupert Neve Designs 5012 Dual Mic. Pre.
Rupert Neve Designs 5043 Dual Comp.. / Limiter
DBX 160XT Comp.
Focurite OctoPre Mk II Mic. Pre.
Neumann TLM 103
Neumann KM184 (2) Matched Pair
Neumann / Geffel M582 w/ RFT M58 and M94 capsules.
RFT CM-7151 Bottle Mic with Neumann M7 capsule and mods by Tracy Korby
Earthworks QTC40 (2) Matched Pair
Sennheiser MD403 S HN
Sennheiser MD421-2 (2, both the rare grey models, no switch)
Telefunken MD421-2 (rare grey model, no switch)
Audio Technica: 4033
Uber Sonic Audio USA-MK-1 Matched Pair
Electrovoice Model 726 Cardyne 1
Shure: SM57 (5), SM58
Genelec S30-D (pair), Genelec 7070A Subwoofer
Hearback system with hub and 5 mixers for individual headphone mixes
Rane HC6 Headphone amp. Headphones by Sony, AKG, Sennheiser, Shure, Extreme Isolation
Mac Pro, Dual Quad Core Intel Xeon 2.4 GHZ processors,
with 16 Gig ram and 24″ cinema display
Protools HD12 with perpetual license so we’re always up to date.
Sonnox Elite package
TL Space TDM Convolution Reverb
Celemony Melodyne Studio
All Massey Plug-Ins
Joe Meek compressor
Waves Diamond Package
How do you balance analog vs digital when recording?
The best I can recall – unlike many – we went pretty much from analog tape recording straight into digital recording once it became affordable and doable. This was probably sometime around 20 years or so ago. These new digital recorders were a life-saver and made file moving, do-overs, erasing, cutting and pasting and over-all editing a breeze. And digital recording has obviously gotten better and better with each passing year. I know there still may be a few hard core skeptics out there that believe analog delivers better and ‘warmer’ sounding recordings – but with the advancement that digital has made – especially over the past 10 years – it’s really hard to not be recording totally digital. These days – it’s really hard to tell much of a difference – if any – in a well recorded digital track versus a well recorded analog track – again – in my opinion…
What do you look for in a band/musician before deciding to work with? Have you ever had a band not be able to deliver performance wise in the studio? There’s a guitarist-Viagra joke in there somewhere.
LOL. There’s a Viagra joke in just about everything these days… So – to answer your question – I would say attitude. And as we all know – attitude comes in many different forms. I – along with most Producers have had to learn to recognize these different types of attitudes. A professional Artist, band or session player may can get away with having ‘attitude’. It can many times lead to or enhance a really great performance. A novice or beginner may display an attitude thinking that they’re displaying more than they really are. A good Producer will quickly pick up on these types of attitudes and make adjustments to hopefully keep the session running on an even and smooth plane. And to answer the second half of your question – it’s an overwhelming ‘YES’!!!!! It’s actually rather common for Artists to show up for recording sessions unprepared. There’s nothing more irritating to the Producers, Engineers – and to the other Artists who have shown up prepared… The more quality of talk, planning and understanding that everyone has at the pre-recording meeting will keep most Artists from showing up without a clue.. But – it still does sometimes happen…
What can a band expect to experience when working with you? What’s the final product going to look like? IE what’s yours goals at the beginning of a project and how do you get them there at the end.
When I start a particular project with someone – it always starts with a sit down meeting to discuss and map out the entire journey we’re about to begin… These pre-meetings are an absolute ‘must’ in my opinion. It can really save a lot of heartache, misunderstandings and/or expectations later down the road…. Once I gather every possible detail, want and need of the Artist – I try to deliver as close to that as possible. If I hear something during the initial meeting that doesn’t make much sense or might prove a bit difficult for a multitude of reasons – I will quickly point that particular matter out and come to an agreement with everyone before moving on with the meeting. Once we all agree on the big picture – we get started. This really helps me deliver as close to what the Artist was looking for or visioned before he or she ever walked in the door.
You have worked with a ridiculous amount of legends but are there any you would still like to work with? Why?
With all due respect to everyone I have sat in or worked with – only one Band and one Producer comes to mind… George Martin and The Beatles. In my very humble opinion – no one – and I mean no one could hold a candle to the Beatles and George Martin and what they accomplished as a Band and Producer in their heyday… George was the most brilliant and creative Producer that the music world had or has ever seen to this very day. Regarding George Martin. It wasn’t always just ‘what’ he did – it was many times ‘what he didn’t do’ that made him so great!… What I mean by that is George knew when to step in and give advice or make adjustments as well as knowing when to let the Artist or band let loose and free range their talent. A Producer can walk into a studio and be so over-bearing that much of the creativity from the actual Artist becomes lost and never gets captured during a session. George was and probably still is the best music Producer in the history of pop/rock music.. About the Beatles… What can I say…. Without a doubt – the greatest band ever – period!…. They started it ALL… The Beatles were completely unique and talented beyond comprehension… I can’t imagine any Artist or band ever coming along again that made such impact and turned the music world upside down in such a short lifespan as The Beatles did. And their songs have stood the test of time – and forever will. No doubt in my mind…
WOW!! I can only think of only perhaps 500 or more really cool memories – lol… I’m now 61 years old and have been at this since I was 12. Although it was VERY small stuff starting out – writing my first song. Man o man – I was in heaven. It sucked – but it was still mine.. After that – playing for the first time in front of a crowd of people – grown-ups and kids… Then being on TV on a bonafide after school kids variety show playing with my band. We got to play two songs!! Now THAT was an experience I’ll never forget… I then remember later getting into more of the big time things such as my first time in a real recording studio and watching along with participating in the making of a project. If we have time here – there was one really cool incident that could have easily changed the course of my life and took place in the very early 70’s somewhere here in Texas. Maybe Dallas?? The exact place escapes me at the moment – but I was in a studio finishing up some mixing and mastering on a demo single that my songwriting partner and I had been working on. I remember needing a break to rest my ears and gather some thoughts – so I walked out into the lobby where they had a great big soft brown leather couch. I was going to just flop down on it, have a Coke and rest a bit. When I entered the lobby – a lightly bearded and little older than me guy was already sitting on that couch. He looked like everyone else did in those days. Medium long hair, unshaven, plaid shirt and jeans… And he spoke with a very at ease and calm, slow voice. We struck up a conversation and I remember him telling me that he really liked what he was hearing coming from inside the studio. I thanked him and told him that what he had heard was me and my partner from a song we had written. He seemed impressed – at least in my mind. After conversing a bit longer – he looked at me and asked if I might want to come up to New York and sit in with his band – or at least just hang out for a couple of weeks. Being younger and being I had just met him a few minutes earlier – I was skeptical and started making every excuse possible as to why I couldn’t make that trip and that I really needed to get back in to the studio to wrap up my project. He said he understood and wished me (us) well on our new demo. As I was getting up off of the couch – I remember telling him that I hadn’t caught his name. He looked up at me and said and I quote: I’m ‘Levon Helm. I have a group called ‘The Band’.. You may have heard of us’…End of quote… Need I say more… I really blew that one!!
Have musicians attitudes in the studio changed as a whole over the years? Any crazy stories? You don’t have to name names if you don’t want to.
Have musicians attitudes changed over the years – no – not really. I‘ve grown up along side many of my childhood heroes so I got to see us all evolve from what we were back then to what we are now. When I meet new Artists these days – they all seem age wise to still be the same as we all were at those same ages – if that makes sense… You start off crazy and wild and then mellow and hopefully get a bit wiser as you age. I still see that in everyone – well at least MOST everyone – LOL…. Most of the whacky ‘do anything’ artists from the old days are mostly still just that today – just a bit slower..Ha…. The majority of the craziest stuff I ever saw took place in northern Colorado at Caribou. It was a big ole barn converted into an amazing place to record. Many – and I mean many of the top Artists of the day recorded some of the greatest classic rock and pop/rock ballads ever written and recorded. So it wasn’t just fun and games – but me being behind the scenes when I had the chance to be there was well worth it. I got to see a lot of musical history made right before my eyes….
How do you challenge and push an artist to deliver a better performance? And sell them on an idea of yours that they are resistant to but is obviously superior to theirs?
I still do that the ole fashioned and best way I know how. If something gets off track or doesn’t sound just right during a recording – I immediately stop everything – very calmly and with a smile walk up to the Artist, put my hand on their back or shoulder – and very nicely tell them ‘you can do this better’… Once they agree and say ok – I ask them to ‘give me what I want to hear’… I do this because I know it’s what they will want to hear later during playback. Many Producers let little things go thinking they will just fix them during the mix. The mix is only as good as the recording. I would MUCH rather spend the time, effort and money getting a good tight recording rather than hope to fix something later during mix down and edit. It’s much more rewarding for me and for the Artists knowing that we got the very best out of them – and it’s real – not a manufactured ‘fix’…. Yea – it can get a bit tense doing it this way sometimes – but as long as everyone keeps their cool and understands what we’re trying to accomplish – the end results are SO much more appreciated…
What are some of your all-time favorite albums? Why?
There’s SO many great albums over the years. I loved hundreds of them – including ALL of The Beatles albums – but – here are four of my absolute favorites – and surprisingly – none of the top 4 are from The Beatles… #1. ‘Days of Future Passed’ by The Moody Blues. The first album that I can remember that successfully blended really cool rock music and pop ballads along with a full blown symphonic orchestra. Just a beautiful album – cover and all… #2. ‘Pet Sounds’ by The Beach Boys. Brian Wilson’s masterpiece. Pop music at it’s best. I loved each and every song… Still do… #3. ‘Fragile’ by Yes. Each member of Yes added his personal flavor to this one of a kind album. The entire ‘fantasy’ and ‘atmospheric’ concept just blew me away!… Still one of the most complex written and recorded albums to date in my mind… #4. ‘Deja Vu’ by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Where harmonies really started having some real meaning to me. These songs blended light, folksy countryish type music with rock and pop – and superbly so I might add. It’s still to this day in my opinion THE album that ended the 60’s and ushered in the 70’s…You might say it was the perfect musical segue from one decade to the next…
What current producing projects are you working on?
After wrapping up the Dave Evans ‘What About Tomorrow’ CD last Christmas (2014) – I have mainly focused on my ‘Oldies Goldies’ Radio station…. I’ve owned and Produced several radio stations and/or shows over the past few years – but ‘Oldies Goldies’ is by far the most interesting and fun radio I’ve ever done. I not only get to help keep the great music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s alive and on the air – I get to work with and pal around with a ton of my music heroes from the past….. I’ll be turning 62 later this year – and this just may be the most fun I’ve had since the early 70’s – musically speaking…..
Why did you launch your radio show? How do you choose the playlist?
I had never ever come close to thinking about doing a radio show or owning a radio station – that was always for someone else – not me. I happened to attend a 3 day get-together with Todd Rundgren and a few more very talented Artists up in Sacramento a few years ago. Many of the very talented Artists that attended the gig were there to try out for a chance to play on Todd’s new album. I was invited to attend and went just to hang out and pal around the studio. I had a blast and met many new friends… HotMix106 – a radio station out of Sacramento was there doing a ‘live’ remote during the event. The owner of the station was there as well. We did meet each other and spoke briefly but really nothing more than that. After the event was over – I flew back to Dallas and was getting ready to release a new album that my studio band ‘Crosswindz’ had just finished recording when I received a phone call. It was the very nice lady that I had met in Sacramento who owned the radio station that did the remote. She asked me if I would like to have my own one hour show on her station to be broadcast worldwide. I obviously was floored. I have a VERY intense Texas accent – plus the fact that I had NEVER attempted to do a radio show of any kind… I think I was as scared as I was surprised. But I thought – why not. I’ll try anything once – especially if it’s music related… So we put this thing together and called it ‘The Songwriters Webcast’… It was a hit success. I immediately had Artists from around the world that wanted to be on the show. I had found something outside of writing and producing that really turned me on – musically speaking of course… One thing led to another and the show soon evolved into my own radio station and then into several radio stations up until early this year. I was knee deep in projects and just couldn’t handle it all – so we settled on keeping the one station that was airing what I consider was the best three decades of rock, pop and R&B music ever written and recorded. The 60’s, 70’s and 80’s… The station – which is now a little over a year old is called ‘Oldies Goldies’ Radio… It’s considered to be one of the top 10 most listened to oldies stations in the world. I have many very famous artists that have recorded promos for the show. In fact – when someone tunes in – a whole array of famous guests welcome you to the station. I chose the playlist of songs for this particular station early on and very easily. I simply decided to play my personal favorites from those three decades. I figured what were my favs would be a ton of others favs as well – and that would become the stations core listening audience… I guess I was right. It took off like a rocket and is still growing in listeners monthly. The easiest way to tune in is on my official website at: www.davidmobley.net Hope that little plug and link is ok – LOL…..
What equipment are you using these days music wise? Let the tech geek run free again. Any recordings of yourself coming up?
Well – the recording and mixing equipment I named earlier is pretty much what I use today. Now if you mean what brand of guitar I’m playing these days – I’ll be more than happy to plug it. I play nothing but Tom Anderson’s. There is nothing like them on the planet earth in my opinion. I love writing songs on them – but I mostly just like sitting by myself and playing it alone with my thoughts. Very relaxing. Smoothest guitar ever built. The fretting action on it is just plain crazy effortless. Ask anyone who plays a Tom Anderson. Once you pick one up – you rarely go back to what you were playing. Regarding any new recordings or projects – no – not really. Not at the moment. Of course – things change like the wind around here. I’m keeping myself occupied with making ‘Oldies Goldies’ radio the #1 oldies station in the world.
Tell me about the charity you work with?
Without tooting my own horn – I very much enjoy helping out all of the young up and coming kids that are into music – no matter what the genre or what instrument they’re interested in. Many can’t afford to attend really good places such as The School of Rock which has locations all over the place. There are a ton of other very good music schools, camps and individuals that I help fund or work with in other ways to help make sure these kids get a running start into the world of music. I remember how I felt about music at their age so I can easily relate to their wants and needs. It leaves me with a really good feeling to be fortunate enough to help in some small way…
Besides music what are you into? Feel free to geek out again.
That’s easy… Business and boating. I own several businesses and love inventing and watching those inventions grow into something big and worthwhile. Plus it helps create jobs and employ many people. When I need to just stop and get away from everything – I head straight to my boat. It’s big enough to have all of the ‘live aboard’ amenities a person could ever need. It’s my sanctuary.
Name two people cooler than Evil Knievel? Why?
That’s gonna be a tough one. I met Evil back in the 70’s when he did a jump about 5 miles from where I lived. Even got his autograph on my motorcycle helmet… ABC’s Wide World of Sports was doing the coverage that day. I read somewhere that that particular jump was one of Wide World of Sports top 5 all time sports telecasts. I sure believe it. There was a TON of people out for the event. And Evil didn’t disappoint. He crashed into a thousand pieces. Thanks goodness he survived – but that’s what made him who he was. Evil was the real thing – no fake going on there. He was COOL – period!… Now I never met this one in person – my wife did – but I would imagine that Elvis was super cool. A bit wild and a bit eccentric – but really cool. The way he held himself along with his stage presence just turned everyone into jelly – women AND men. Now THAT’S cool!… I always thought Sly Stallone was a really cool guy – at least on the big screen and in the characters he created like Rocky, Rambo, etc. etc.. I didn’t realize that he was in real life – all of those characters wrapped into one until I met him in person and had the chance to chat with him at a party in Las Vegas. He had just wrapped up his latest new character and action movie ‘The Expendables’… At the time of this interview – I just finished watching his third ‘Expendables’ movie. He’s still got it.. And he’s still as cool as ever!…
Cheers to you as well and Thank You so much for having me. I really loved your great questions!… Getting to do this was fun and was an absolute pleasure…