Chris Thomas Talks About Recording Early Roxy Music In Mix Magazine 1988 - Wed 26th Oct

Chris Thomas Talks About Recording Early Roxy Music In Mix Magazine 1988
26 October 1988

Edited from an interview with producer Chris Thomas in Mix magazine in 1988.

..well, I was doing some stuff at AIR with Procol Harum when Bryan Ferry came by to look at the studio. I met him, then the thing with John blew out, so Bryan asked me to produce them.

Q. Now there was a band that had a strong frontman in Bryan Ferry, but also assertive and original musicians such as Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay. How in control was Bryan at Roxy sessions?

A. Totally. Well, maybe not totally in control. He tried to be totally in control. But for instance, when we did Stranded [1973], the way we worked mostly was first we just put down backing tracks of keyboards, bass and drums. 'What's this one called?' 'Number 3.' 'Oh, okay, that's inspirational!' Half the time there were no lyrics written for these songs. Then, Phil would go in and put guitar parts down, and that actually was the point for me where the songs would turn into something. Then we'd build up these backing tracks to flesh it out, and that was always tremendous fun. Then Bryan would come in at the end and put his vocals on.

Q. That seems like a real 70s way of working. It was that way in America, too, with a lot of bands – the lead vocal being put on the last day of the sessions as the record company awaited delivery of the record ...

A. That's right. Of course, until you have the vocal, you usually don't have the full melody there, so it's difficult to make everything else sympathetic to what the song's going to be. So it made it a little hit-and-miss sometimes.

Q. Did Bryan always write the lyrics?

A. Oh yeah. He did all the lyrics. And the lyrics he was writing on those first albums were just outrageous – they were fantastic.

Q. What do you get from working with a band for five or six albums in a row like you did with Roxy? Obviously something happens after the first album you do with a group that makes them want to work with you again ...

A. And then by the third or fourth album you hate each other's guts. [Laughs] From my standpoint, the reason I'd want to keep working with an artist is because I think I can still make a good record with them. That's the only reason to do it in the first place, so if that applies on record five, then you do record five, and if it doesn't, and it seems like it's going to be a waste of time, then you don't.

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