It is eye-opening to enter the studio and find that the interactions we musicians spend our lives learning to accomplish automatically have to be unwound, disassembled, self-consciously serialized and performed separately under the most clinical of conditions – all so those interactions can be reassembled into a single whole that captures the magic of our playing together.
This gives us a freedom to take chances and explore ideas we could never try on stage. As a producer, Kevin usually insists on the player dictating what works for his/her instrument and style in any given setting, but now and then he presses for something more. Sometimes he accomplished this through suggesting bizarre and memorable metaphors like, “pretend you’re playing a duet with Neil Young” or “imagine fluidly expanding and contracting jellyfish soaring around in a cathedral.” These images made appearances in my sessions. I was fascinated by his ability to coax veteran players out of safety to accomplish something new, amazing and even counter to their instincts. Every time I returned to the studio, Kevin would excitedly share the wonderful moments the other musicians had found.
We each keep in the corner of our minds what those breakthroughs will mean to the other players, to the music as a whole, and to our efforts to bring them all together successfully. This is what Some Assembly Required means to me.