Todd Talking 4: Someone just shouts, “Press Record!!” And off you go.

So, as Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators embark on what is their journey of the album 4, the first on on the Gibson record label I had the chance to talk to the Conspirators bass player Todd Kerns. A very pleasant 30 minutes I do have to say.

Todd resides in the warm town of Las Vegas, the city of sins, but stems from a little place in the Canadian wilderness (a bit of an exaggeration but all for a good read).

As you will see the making of this album has been somewhat different from the 3 previous ones. Sounding a bit rawer and gritty. Keep on reading to find out why:

 

How Are you?

T: Great! Where are you in the world?

I am sitting an hour or two north of Stockholm, Sweden.

I was number 2 on the list for the day of this interview, but Todd had been doing this for more or less a whole week, 30-minute interviews all through his working day. One part of the process of releasing a new album.

T: This is the only way at the moment that I get to Sweden. I get to talk to you guys over there. I´m a big fan of all the music that comes out from over there.

This is the first time this constellation has recorded an album as Live. How was that experience? And have you recorded live with other bands in the past? Take us through the thoughts and process if you please?

T: Well, when you start playing music with a bunch of noisy friends in a garage somewhere the idea of recording becomes such a bizarre concept. But in those first project you do end up recording live. Someone just shouts, “Press Record!!” And off you go. That was pretty much what this record was as well. Apocalyptic love (2012) was also pretty much recorded live but not at the same level as this.

The intention from Slash is to always be as live as possible. I know that is one of the reasons we went with Dave Cobb (Rival sons etc.) in Nashville. That is because Dave was/is so much more game to not rely upon click tracks and auto tuning, gritting, or editing drums. It was just sort of like: “Play the song!” like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Cream or Grand funk Railroad. You take your pick out of all the bands back in the day.

So, there is a certain romantic you know: “We´re going to do what those guys did! But it is not really in the anti-thesis of making a modern record. It is not like we think all modern records are stupid and we don´t want to do that. It was more a case of capturing that emotion.

Slash is a guy who really wants to be IN the moment. He really hates having to play the same solo 20 times and then edit the best bits together. He´d rather just play the solo. To his credit a lot of people would probably prefer the opposite. I want it to be perfect, so I would want it to be edited together.

It is a challenge to record live, but we were all up for it. No click, I wasn´t even wearing headphones during the recordings. The first couple of songs, I was like “Well this is what we do in the studio, right?” All the amps were in the same room as the drums, you got sound bleeding everywhere. It was madness, it was chaos it was captured and hopefully it shows what I like with it: the energy.

 

I feel the new songs are a bit more towards “Mind Your Manners” than “My antidote” when it comes to composition and style? Also, the music as a whole felt like it gelled more with Myles´s voice.

T: I think that Myles is one of the best there is. He stands in a very small group of people that does what he does. Each of the different things he is doing, it´s the same voice and the same lyricist but he´s definitely, and he has said this. The stuff that we do is more street, from the hip as supposed to Alter Bridge and his own stuff. He has to draw from different parts of his brain and psyche that way. I think that is why it works.

In the studio for this album, did Dave steer analogue or digital and did he pro-tool it after recording?

T: Even though there were digital recordings going on there was no editing of the drums, no tuning of vocals, it was all just there for capturing purposes. Dave felt like he was transplanted from 1969 into now. That is how he wants to work. His idea is about capturing moments, not so much about perfection or making sure things are slick & clean. It´s more like the overall vibe that is more important. And I agree with that in a lot of ways. I have always been attracted to things with rough edges compared to how perfect things sound. That goes more both live and videos as well. I want to see my favorite band doing their thing.

That really translates to what we are doing now. When you are sort of taking off your thinking cap, not thinking let’s put some strings on this or over dub the choir or vocals. That type of recording is something else, like a Queen recording. Which I like. But that is a whole other kind of recording. This is more punk rock. Even when growing up, I liked and listened more to bands that were rougher around the edges. Also, as a musician I never looked towards the slick guys and thought I want to play like that! I appreciate, but I´m like, nooo, I like this stuff.

Most of the song were written before the pandemic as I understand? Only 2 or 3 songs were written during the pandemic. How was that as a process? You pretty much sit on a bunch of songs, lyrics, and riff, but the outlet is limited to say the least. Promotion and live occasions have been scarce.

T: It has been a frustrating time. What usually happens with us is that a lot of stuff materialize on the road. So, during Living the Dream tour (2018-2019) all these riffs come out during soundchecks and rehearsals during the day. We were just like flush these things out. A lot of the songs that are on 4 now had already been started and planted and started to grow during that whole process. That is probably going to happen on the next tour as well. It has happened on all the previous tours so the chance of it happening again is rather great.

The record would have probably happened faster without the pandemic. We all scattered of to our own corners. I am in Las Vegas as are all the Conspirators. Slash is in LA, and we congregated there a bit and sent tracks to Myles to work on. After that we just went to Nashville and pressed record.

How much do you want to get back on the road? Is it itching a bit?

Yes, but oddly you get quite accustomed to not touring after a while. For years, we just thought of ourselves as pirates. Out on the ship, raided and pillaged. And all of a sudden you realize you are going to be home for a year, two years and you realize that this is pretty good actually. So a part of me feels like lets get back out there, but another part of me understands the idea of sitting at home. Sleep in your own bed for an extended period (Todd wore Mandalorian bed shorts for this interview).  After a while on the road, you are probably going to think about how much you take for granted being at home.

What do you occupy yourself with during tour?

I am big into vinyl shops and guitar shops. The best thing about travelling is that every city has new things to see and new things to visit. And you have the architecture, whatever the sites are where you are. That said, the road can be a lot of tour bus, gig, hotel, on repeat. But if possible I try to see as much as I can of any stop we make. I feel very fortunate to have seen all the things I have seen. Coming from a small town out in the sticks and then standing in the coliseum I can´t believe it sometimes. But some of the most exciting stuff is finding where the good coffee is in this town or a great record shop.

 

 

A few minutes before the last question was finished a somewhat nervous press officer showed up on the screen and hailed a 5 minute warning so this had to be wrapped up. Even though I was as said the second person Todd talked to that day he was running 10 minutes late for the start of mine. I can understand why. The Toddster is a man you could easily talk to for quite some time,  and not realize any time has passed. It was a truly cool and laid back interview and I give extra points for the Mandalorian PJ´s. Excellent wardrobe choice.

Todd Talking 4: Someone just shouts, “Press Record!!” And off you go.

February 4, 2022

So, as Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators embark on what is their journey of the album 4, the first on on the Gibson record label I had the chance to talk to the Conspirators bass player Todd Kerns. A very pleasant 30 minutes I do have to say. Todd resides in the warm town of Las Vegas, the city of sins, but stems from a little place in the Canadian wilderness (a bit of an exaggeration but all for a good read). As you will see the making of this album has been somewhat different from the 3 previous ones. Sounding a bit rawer and gritty. Keep on reading to find out why:   How Are you? T: Great! Where are you in the world? I am sitting an hour or two north of Stockholm, Sweden. I was number 2 on the list for the day of this interview, but Todd had been doing this for more or less a whole week, 30-minute interviews all through his working day. One part of the process of releasing a new album. T: This is the only way at the moment that I get to Sweden. I get to talk to…

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