THE LOST ART OF THE 'FRONTMAN', Who was the ultimate front man? Jagger, Iggy, Kennedy…?
When I found myself in the studio with two pretty good ones, Michael Hutchence and Joe Strummer, the question was: What do we do? I’ve always approached musical performances on records (mp3s?) like casting a film; put people in a position were they can’t fail, and not only draw on their strengths, but with a little luck exceed them.
So in the excitement of the moment when you ask Joe Strummer to come to the studio and piss on tape, at some point, usually a few days or weeks later, you are faced with what the what-the-fuck-do-we-do moment? One thing that’s been pretty consistent in all my experiences with bands is regardless whether it’s the Rolling Stones or some no-name band in a pub; everyone’s fighting over the same shit. There’s just more at stake. This can be applied to life in general. Politics, business, etc. Whatever.
The same premise holds true creatively whether it’s two guys from local bands ("Hey man come jam on a tune”), or whether it’s Joe Strummer and Michael Hutchence, two internationally known musical stars lounging on a plush leather sofa in a $200/hour recording studio. Same shit, more at stake.
Listen to 'Let Me Show You' BELOW:
Ultimately back to the story… So we’re in the studio: A) trying to figure out what song for Joe to sing on and B) what the fuck is he gonna do?
We have this track called "Let Me Show You," and then lightning strikes (most likely thanks to a powder of some sort). At this point, the truth is I don’t remember much from those days in detail. Luckily, one of my closet friends, “ARRY da DOG” was there that night. That’s the good news. The bad news is, as a result of all the brain cells that have blissfully dissipated along the way, this recollection may just be a figment of my imagination; regardless, this is the way I would like to think the magic moment went down:
Ok, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” is one of my favorite Clash songs (yeah I admit it). The truth is, from B.A.D to “Lost In The Supermarket,” I love me some Mick Jones. But, in my opinion what makes that track special is Joes anthemic ranting - no one was better at screaming on a track than Joe. That was Joe’s thing. It’s like asking Joe Pesci to play a bad guy. Hello. There’s Joe’s role clearly defined… The artistry in it was to reinvent the obvious and make it new - which at the very least is the impetus of all creativity I suppose.
So, after this epiphany, it all became very simple: “Hey Joe, just go in there and repeat Mick’s (Michael’s) words.” Joe’s done in one take, and to this day I love what he did - as did Mick. The moral of the story is: When you’re in a tight spot, musical or otherwise, and you need something outta someone, use a little intuition to recognize those intangibles that create the best possible opportunity for success - then make it happen.
Danny Saber remix of 'Big Time' by Four Words
Ken Roberts and Mark Damian were part of Detroit’s music scene with the electro rock band sweatysuedelips in the early 2000’s. The pair have continued to work together producing and writing for various projects; Roberts residing in Detroit and Damian in Los Angeles.
With their latest effort, Four Words, they return to their heavy weight roots of aggressive synths and driving drums with PJ Dawson providing the guitars and the voice by NY/LA DJ/Vocalist Denise George on the debut single “The Big Time”.
“The Big Time”, Remix by Danny Saber, listen BELOW: