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Old 5th May 2007
Originally Posted by recall View Post
Hi Russ,
I was just flicking through some old records today and noticed that you recorded and mixed this record. I find this record to be as dense as some of the Bitches Brew era Miles, and whilst I don't listen to it often every time I do listen to it, it is a strong, strong record which gets you thinking.
So my thinking is this:
Do you have any thoughts or recollections of this record? How hands on/in the studio was Rick Rubin?
AND.....does saul speak like this in normal conversation?!
Cheers Iwan
hello iwan,

nice one man! this is the first full record i did after voodoo. remember, i was on voodoo for 3 years and i hadn't worked with anyone else since we started the album. rick rubin heard "devil's pie" when it was released and just loved it! (this was before we were finished with the full album) rick was in new york and stopped by the studio with chris rock in tow. he expressed how much he loved devils pie and D and I were both bursting with excitement! he asked if we could play him any other songs that were mixed. we played him "playa" (which i played off the desk as i was in the middle of mixing it), "one mo gin", "the root" and "untitled". can you imagine how we felt having rick rubin listening to the songs, sitting right in front of us and watching him bopping his head? that was a great moment for us.

D kicked off the voodoo tour at the house of blues in LA and i was there to record all 5 shows. i got a voicemail message from rick saying he knew i was in town and wanted to meet with me! i was shocked. i met him at his house (which was like walking into a dark museum that reeked of good incense). his "puli's" (a breed of dogs with long hair like dreadlocks) greeted me at the door. he guided me to his library where he does all his listening. he played me the demos of saul's music and i thought, wow, this is some intense sh*t! after we listened i immediately agreed to do the project.

he explained to me that it was a small budget and he needed me to not only mix the album, but also get some of the wrinkles out and tighten up the songs. saul had recorded most of the tracks on his own in smaller studios and honestly, they were not recorded very well. so i re-recorded some of the drums and replaced some of the bad sounds with more beefy drums. and generally tightened up the rhythm section and did guitar, bass or keyboard o/d's to support some of the samples he had. we got chad smith from the chili peppers in to do drums on "omniamerican". i think i did the best job with what i had to work with and what rick wanted. overall i'm happy with it but i think, had there been a bigger budget to work a bit longer on it, it would have been much more focused.

i would basically start getting the track happenning and rick would leave us alone for a good part of the day and he'd come in to listen to the progress. (rick listens loud...i thought the NS-10's and pro acs were going to blow up!) he would write his comments down as he listened which were usually lots of detailed things like, "saul can come up on the last line of verse 3", "the guitar should ride up real loud in the choruses", etc. then he'd be off and we were left to get all his requests accomplished by the time he came back for another listen. it was like, i better get this right before he gets back or i'm dead! to me it was like a real passive aggressive way of producing. i don't normally get star struck but rick has been such an influence for me and the whole music industry that it was hard not to feel like you had to give more than ever before. he's got an aura about him that's intense and passive at the same time.

saul he is an intense cat but also very cool. he's really an amazing poet and very socially aware. he know's music and he's a huge hip hop fan. we got along really well and had a lot of fun working on that album. it literally took me about a week after we finished to completely absorb the things he was saying. as i was working on it, i was conscious of his lyrics but the depth of them didn't hit me until after. and musically it was a big fusion of styles. to me, it was very original and possibly ahead of it's time. it's definitely not an album that's easy to listen to so some people will just not get it. he's rapping but he can be so abstract that most people can't equate this as being hip hop. i'm hoping we'll get together soon for another album.

this was an amazing experience for me. fresh off the success of voodoo, working with rick rubin (he absolutely loves the way voodoo sounds) and having another totally original artist like saul to work with and my whole career wide open in front of me. this for me, was like finally being free from voodoo and i could finally apply some of the things i learned to another project. i remember the incredible energy i felt during that whole time in my life...

all the best