Paul Schroeder Interview - 2nd February 2003



PAUL SCHROEDER worked as Engineer on the Roses' debut (and Producer on Don't Stop). Though as he reveals in this interview, he worked on a little more of the Roses' back catalogue than he is given credit for (don't believe what you read on the sleevenotes !). He took over from John Leckie to produce the bulk of Second Coming, before handing the reins over to Simon Dawson, due to a prior commitment of producing his sister's LP.

After the interview, Paul kindly sent me his own - never before heard - December 1993 mixes with the Roses, as well as the Rises EP and Campag Velocet's 1999 album Bon Chic Bon Genre. See the bottom of this page for details.

Thanks very much to Paul for taking the time to give this interview and for sending those recordings. Thanks also to everyone who sent in questions.


Q1) What was your first involvement with engineering and production ? What initially got you interested in following that career path ?

I was on route to India from Canada, waiting on a friend to show up. I did not want to spend any of my hard earned cash while I was waiting so I managed to get a job, through a friend, making tea and sweeping floors, at Ollie Studios off Baker Street. I used to learn how to operate the desk in any spare downtime and try my hand at mixing anything. It was during these little mix trials that I discovered that I liked it, and that it felt very natural; my father was a good jazz pianist and my brothers and sister have always played and sung, so it seemed like a natural progression. I never got to India.

My first proper engineering sessions and productions were done at Battery Studios in Willesden Green.


Q2) Can you please detail for us how you got the job as Engineer and your first contact with the Roses ?

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Roddy McKenna, A&R at Jive Records. Because of the close ties between Jive and Battery {they both came under the Zomba umbrella} we would always be working on a lot of American Soul, R&B, Hiphop, and Dance music. I had already done some dance mixes for Roddy which he liked, so when the Acid house scene was filtering in from the States, I found myself working on it with the American pioneers of the sound like Adonis, Marshall Jefferson, DJ Pierre, Kevin 'Reece' Saunderson, and other greats like Francois Kervorkian and Mtume {Juicy Fruit}.

I know that the Roses wanted to have someone else in the control room, apart from the producer, who had a good knowledge of dance music, because they thought their sound was "club". So, Roddy suggested me. As for meeting the band, I think that the first time we did meet was the first day of recording.


Q3) What was the first project on which you made the transition from Engineer to Producer ?

It was Going Down, the first of three tunes I was to co-produce with the band in that particular session; the other two being Mersey Paradise and Don't Stop. We recorded and mixed the three tunes in a weekend, with John Leckie doing the definitive mix of Mersey Paradise later on.


Q4) Is it true that you'd never recorded any real drums before the Roses' debut LP?

No, but coming from two years in dance music, I had concentrated on getting the best sound out of drum samples and drum machines. So, I knew the frequencies, I just did not know the best place to position the mics; which is something I learnt from Leckie, thankfully. And I think that my trying to make the drums sound club and Leckie going for the natural raw sound proved beneficial to the recordings.


Q5) How much of the performances on the albums are complete takes vs. punched-in and / or assembled ?

Most of the songs were complete takes which were later added to with guitar texturing and vocals and maybe other instrumentation. This is the One was the most 'assembled' of the recordings on the first album. The second album was done in a similar fashion, where we would spend time getting the take and then do overdubs.


Q6) What is being said (and who is speaking) on the first couple of seconds of Waterfall, just as the guitar fades in ?

I think it's John, but I cant be sure. I think it might be random chat over the bells sound which was the last overdub on the tune.


Q7) Whose idea was it to make Don't Stop ? Would that be your favourite of the "backwards" songs in the Roses' back catalogue ?

It was the band's decision and yes it is, in my opinion, the best of the Roses' backward back catalogue.


Q8) Can you please detail the work you put into editing the 'backwards' version of Waterfall to create Don't Stop ? The way in which the guitars and vocals are layered is seamless and the manner in which the bass line switches from speaker to speaker at certain parts of the song is fantastic.

To contrary belief it was an old sixteen-track demo of Waterfall that was flipped over and overdubbed on. We tried to be as honest as possible doing a backward song. So, I would mic up the drums from underneath; we would use the box of percussion as a percussion instrument itself, shaking it and kicking it with all the percussion inside; we spent a good long while making sure the vocals sounded right with the backwards vocals already on tape; and I think that there are even some monks droning somewhere.

I think that this was the first time that we experimented with using triggers to gate sounds in a 'transforming' style. In this case it was Reni playing his sticks on the floor, triggering the gate on the bass guitar at the end. We later used the same idea for John's guitar on Fools Gold in the outro.


Q9) What is the sharp noise on the outro of the anti-royalist Elizabeth My Dear ?

It is me playing a sample of a gun with a silencer. We wanted it to sound as if it was coming from someone behind a curtain. Treason.


Q10) What is the noise at the very start of Shoot You Down ? Is it a recording from a tennis match ?

No. The effect on the drums is a backward reverb which is probably catching a glitch and messing with the sound, making you think of an English summer.

(Post-interview addition: a visitor to my site, Ben, thinks that there is a separate "brushes" drum track running alongside the actual beat, giving it that willow trees whispering in the wind vibe).


Q11) What is the very subtle noise at the beginning of This Is The One (where just Mani's bass and Reni's hi-hat can be heard), which sounds like a UFO taking off !

It is feedback from a delay unit with the pitch being raised manually during the mix.


Q12) What unique or unconventional studio techniques did you and the Roses use on either album ?

I remember that we got some good results 'mic'ing up John's guitar amp from both the front and back which would thicken the sound. We would record the sound of John's strings on his electric as well as his amp when he did some picking to get a really brittle sound. On I Am The Resurrection John recorded an acoustic guitar on to his cassette machine and we then 'flew in', by hand, the acoustic take onto the tune a number of times which sounded good.

And I remember that Reni really liked playing drums with a delay on himself being fed into his headphones, so that he could get weirder and more wonderful rhythms.


Q13) Did Squire use his live amps (Fender Twin Reverbs) or a different amp for both albums ?

On the first album he used the Fender Twin, AC30, Mesa Boogie, and a Roland Jazz Chorus. On the second album he stuck to his Fender Twin.


Q14) What were your favourite microphone(s) to use in your time with the Roses ? How did you mic Squire's amps, i.e. close mic'd + room, etc...

Leckie liked to use these old BBC ribbon mics on the drums. We would record the percussion on really sensitive mics in the driest areas of the live room. All the other mics were conventional though and industry standard: 57's, 58's, 414's, 87's, u67's, 47's, 421's, 451's.

For recording John's amps sometimes we would close mic with dynamics such as 58's and 57's, with a 421 in the back; other times just a u67, a valve microphone. 87's were used for ambience. We would always put a number of mics out when doing guitars and then choose a combination.


Q15) Did Reni come up with his own vocal harmonies, and did he ever experiment singing lead vocals ?

Reni came up with 99% of his harmonies and no, never lead vocals.


Q16) Who are "the Garage Flowers" ? Going Down has the credit "produced by Paul Schroeder and the Garage Flowers", and Don't Stop has "another Schroeder / Garage Flower production" credit. Is this referring to the Roses ?

Yes, it is referring to the Roses.


Q17) From all your time with the Roses, are there any unheard tracks ?

Most probably.


Q18) Did the band themselves choose the running order on the first LP ? Did anyone, for example, want Elephant Stone on there ? Were there any tracks on the LP which were not universal choices ?

The running order was decided by Leckie and the band. I think that Don't Stop was the only bone of contention, but the band were adamant to have it on.


Q19) In retrospect, what are your thoughts on the production of the debut ? Do you agree with the general consensus that the drums and bass are not given enough exposure ?

I am not a fan of hindsight. I loved it. It worked, and it sounds great in a club.


Q20) Were you involved with the recording of Where Angels Play / Simone ? Why weren't the band happy with the versions that exist ?

I was there for Where Angels Play. The band weren't happy with their release because they were unfinished. Where Angels Play was recorded at the tail end of the album sessions and we were all feeling a little burnt out. We were to resume with Where Angels Play for the next sessions, but because they left Silvertone, that never happened.


Q21) Going Down stands out from that era, with the production techniques noticeably different. The bass is higher and the drums and vocals are coming from opposite sides a la a George Martin / Beatles production. Was there a conscious decision to approach this track differently than say, a Leckie production (who would have a tendency to lower the bass in the mix) ?

As this was our first co-production, without Leckie being there, I think that something different needed to happen. It was a very charged weekend session, don't forget, with Don't Stop and Mersey Paradise being recorded as well. So we just took our own lead and did what we wanted to do, without too much 'direction', all hands on deck. A proper collective.


Q22) You mentioned that you worked on Mersey Paradise, yet you received no credit for this (the sleevenotes credit John Leckie). Can you tell us more about that and any other songs you worked on that you were not credited for. Why weren't you given a credit ?

I have absolutely no idea why this happened. It must have been an administration error. Leckie mixed it. As for other tunes that I worked on but did not receive a credit for, there was One Love, Fool's Gold, What The World Is Waiting For, and Something's Burning.


Q23) I was speaking to you on the phone regarding the Hacienda footage of I Wanna Be Adored and Sugar Spun Sister. You said that if footage is ever released of the entire gig, we'd see something funny during I Am The Resurrection !

Yeah, me throwing 'ready-rolled's on stage just before they did a blistering version of Resurrection.


Q24) Regarding the sleeve credits for Fools Gold (and What The World Is Waiting For), the first top ten the band achieved, you were uncredited despite working on it ? Can you tell us a bit more about that ?

I thought that I had done enough on the tune to warrant a co-production credit. Leckie and his management thought not. It was impossible to fight the power on this occasion and I ended up with no credit, the only thing I was after, and a slapped wrist.


Q25) Do you know exactly why the Fools Gold / One Love / Something Burning direction was never followed up properly by the band ? An album made in this vein would have eclipsed the first even, in my opinion.

Five years had passed and they were on a different tip.


Q26) On my 7" of Fools Gold / What The World Is Waiting For, there is a beeping noise during the first couple of seconds of WTWIWF. What is that noise ?!

It is leak of a click through headphones.


Q27) What are your memories of the FM Revolver paint splattering incident, when you and Leckie were sat waiting in the studio, and the Roses turned up covered in paint, 48 hours late for that session ?

I seem to remember them coming in both cheekily and triumphant. Leckie and I had used the time to mix, I recall.


Q28) Can you tell us about your involvement in One Love / Something Burning ? The sleevenotes state "produced and mixed by John Leckie", but nothing about the recording.

I was invited to join the One Love session in Wales, and stayed with the project to the end. I even think I did a mono punk mix (of One Love) that was never cut. As for the sleevenotes, it's almost a conspiracy of administrative errors. It is enough to make one paranoid.


Q29) So presumably you worked on the full length versions of One Love, Something Burning and Fools Gold (all to be found on the Turns into Stone compilation album) ?

Yes.


Q30) How much of a change in attitude and feeling for each other was there between band members, between the first and second albums ?

There was no real change. It is just that five years had gone by and a couple of million pounds had bought them all different lifestyles.


Q31) In interviews, when asked about the hiatus, Ian often mentions that the Roses would just jam for hours on end in the studio. Can you back that up ?

Yeah, absolutely. They were phenomenal live and could jam a song for hours. Breaking Into Heaven and Breakout were two different approaches to recording them jamming. Breakout was recorded on to two-track and then edited down before over-dubbing took place. And for Breaking Into Heaven we had two 24-track machines running, one at a time, so that we could record the whole hour-long take before editing the 'best take'.


Q32) When making Second Coming, did the Roses ever make reference points to the first album ? Specific sounds, etc ?

Only that they wanted it to have the general feel of Don't Stop.


Q33) How much work was done on Ian's voice for Second Coming ? In the live shows immediately following the release of the album, his voice is very suspect. Yet on the studio versions of songs (Ten Storey Love Song, How Do You Sleep, etc) it sounds perfect.

I initially recorded his voice normally {voice-mic-tape} whilst simultaneously feeding it through a guitar amp. However the amp sounds never made it to the mix-down. We made a point of using just whole takes for his vocals on most of the album.

As for the live shows, I can only say that Ian has always sounded great in all the studios I have worked with him in. I can only put it down to the live monitoring he has been given on stage.


Q34) On Second Coming, while you were tracking, was there any discussion of possible fan reaction to the musical direction of the new material ?

How do you follow up a debut like that ? That was received like that; with magazines telling us that we had made a better album than Public Enemy. We were always going to get slated, so we never thought about it. We just made the album we wanted to.


Q35) What input did you have on Ten Storey Love Song ?

I created the electronic rising 'lift' sound in the intro and outro. Apart from coming up with the intro lift sound, I produced everything except John's guitars, which we decided to keep from Leckie's recording.


Q36) Did you have any input into the electric version of Tightrope that was recorded (before the band opted for an acoustic version) ?

I was the main advocator for the acoustic version. I thought it was classic and brave and right for the feeling of that album.


Q37) You attempted two versions of Love Spreads before the Roses made another version with Simon Dawson. Can you please tell us about each of the two versions recorded. Didn't Barry Sutton (guitarist of The La's) say that he preferred your version to the final one put out by the Roses ?

Yeah, he did, but I think he was just being nice. It wasn't uncommon to re-record whole songs a number of times to get it right, with the Roses.

Waterfall on the first album was the third recording I recall. So the first two recordings of Love Spreads were, you could say, good demos. There is not a lot to say about them except that the final version out-rocked the previous two, which had a darker urban feel to them.


Q38) What was your own opinion of Bill Price's work on the second LP ?

He is a great mixer. I always thought the record could stand to be dryer and funkier sounding, heavier on the drums and bass. But if you're not there you have no voice.


Q39) Can you please detail for us the exact state of play when you handed the reins over to Simon Dawson circa Second Coming ?

I'd say the album was about 84% finished.


Q40) Were you surprised when Reni quit ?

No.


Q41) After the album was more or less finished, did you have an opinion about the future of the Roses ? What a third album might sound like ?

I didn't think that they would make another record for a long time.


Q42) Can you please talk us through your work on a choice Roses track, Breaking Into Heaven ?

When I arrived at the studio, the intro had already been recorded by Leckie. A truly inspirational opening. The next step was to record the main part of the song. So we set up a system that would allow them to record continually. This incorporated using two 24 track machines. When one reel was coming to an end the other machine could be put in record with a blank reel so that nothing would be lost.

By working in this way we managed to catch a take that would enable us to carry on from the intro into the song with a great feel going, via a top fill from Reni. I think that we used Ian's live take for the lead vocal. The only overdubs were some of John's guitars, solo and textures, and some backing vocals, and some control room sound effects.


Q43) What engineering / production advice would you pass on to anyone entering these fields ?

None, really, except get a good team of people around you. Manager, lawyer, musicians, friends, and get good advice.


Q44) Did you go to many Roses gigs ? Which was the highlight for you ?

I went to a fair few of the earlier gigs. I enjoyed the Hacienda gig seeing them on home soil. But the highlight was the Alexandra Palace gig in London because they took over London that night.


Q45) Can you tell us about how you came to work on the U.S. version of Ian's Corpses In Their Mouths ?

Through his new A&R man at Polydor, Paul Adams. I felt a certain pride that a lot of other people would have felt seeing and hearing Ian doing so well. It was the mix for radio with a harmonica sound disguising the word "crack" which apparently is a no-no in the U.S. Whether it was released in its own right I don't know but they usually end up as track 4 on the CD single.


Q46) What were the last occasions on which you spoke with each member of the band ?

I haven't spoken to any of them since the album except Mani, who I still see around town from time to time.


Q47) You saw The Rub at London's Camden Underworld, a gig which I also attended ! Your opinion of the gig ?

That reverb on his voice took me back to earlier days. I think that one day he is going to make a record that truly reflects his talent.


Q48) What would you cite as your proudest musical achievement to date ?

I have a few, like my work on Don't Stop and Fools Gold, but one album that stands out for me is the Campag Velocet debut called B.C.B.G. [Bon Chic Bon Genre]. "Music for others" is how we describe the sound.


Q49) You are currently working with a band called Rises ? Can you tell us about that ?

They are a six-piece from Blackburn, all early twenties with a fine eclectic taste in music. They are currently unsigned, so we are making the album in their kitchen on a couple of Trident desks. We have the first EP coming out in February / March, which I'll send to you.


Q50) What is your opinion of John Squire's debut album ?

I liked it on first listen. Weird voice, but strangely pleasant to listen to.


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In April 2003, Paul Schroeder sent me his own, never before heard, December 1993 mixes with the Roses, as well as the Rises EP and Campag Velocet's 1999 album, Bon Chic Bon Genre.

Clocking in at 51.13, the tracklisting of the December 1993 mixes recording is as follows:

1. Breaking Into Heaven (11.18)
2. Driving South
3. Begging You
4. Daybreak
5. Good Times
6. Tears ('1st half' - electric guitar, lasts 4 mins)
7. Ten Storey Love Song
8. Love Spreads


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