2005 - Eddie Ashworth Interview w. ChopAway.com
Q: Can you please tell us something about recording Take A Look At The Guy w/ Izzy, Ron Wood & Ian McLagan?
One of the great evenings of my career. Someone had been in contact with Ronny and found out he was open to recording with Izzy. There was this big release party for Ronny's "Slip on This" album at A&M Studios one night, so we got set up at Total Access studios in advance to record a song with Izzy and Ron. Then we all went up to A&M and hung out the party for a couple of hours. It was a real Hollywood scene. Even Phil Spector was there, holding out his hand like a pistol and pretending to shoot people who pissed him off!!
Anyway, as the party was winding down, I got the word that Ron would be ready to record after the party. Charlie and I drove back to Redondo and waited, for quite a while actually. Apparently, Ron went back to his pad and decided to watch "Spartacus" in its entirety, while Izzy, Jimmy and Alan waited.
Finally, we got the call at the studio that the movie had finished and everyone was on their way down. This was sometime after midnight. Finally, the crew showed up. Ron's charming wife, Jo, helped him carry in a bewildering array of alcohol (a fifth of vodka, case of beer, some kind of expensive brandy). We were already set up with everyone else's sound, so we took a few minutes to get Ron dialed in. I believe we recorded the basic track of Ronny's "Take a Look at the Guy" live in a couple of takes. Izzy and Ron's vocal were overdubbed live simultaneously. That was kind of tricky, because they were in the same room and Izzy sings kind of quietly and Ron is loud, so there was a lot of Ron in Izzy's vocal track.
I will never forget the playback of that track after we recorded the vocals. I was sitting at the board, adjusting the faders as everyone listened. I felt a tap on my shoulder, and it was Ron, grinning like a loon with his drink swaying precariously in his hand, giving be a big thumbs up. Quite a thrill!!
Ian's keyboards were recorded a couple of weeks later during his sessions at Total Access. Kind of funny, it took him a while to remember the parts that he originated.! He is such a great guy, very charming. Izzy and I went swimming at his place in Texas after we recorded his overdubs on the River album. Another great day.
Q: Please tell us about work with some other artists and albums that you have been working on. Any particular projects you are extra proud of?
I am really happy with my work with Eastern Youth, an incredible trio from Japan that plays highly melodic, emotional punk-emo music. It's all in Japanese, but has universal impact. Meow Meow, LA based Beatles/Beach Boys/My Bloody Valentine/Flaming Lips/Sparklehorse/Wilco influenced art rockers I just finished a record with this summer I am also really happy with my work on Long Beach Dub Allstars album Wonders of the World
Also, I am very happy to have had the chance to work with Sublime and Pennywise, thought I can't exactly call that my best work from an engineering standpoint.
Q: Do you still have contact with Izzy, and have you worked on any projects together recently?
The last time we worked together was on the "River" album. I recorded the basic tracks in Seattle, and then Izzy and I went to Austin to record Ian.
I got a call from Izzy a couple of weeks later to do some more recording in LA but I was already working on another project and had to pass.so Izzy went ahead and finished the record with someone else. Haven't heard from him since!!
Q: When producing 'The Ju Ju Hounds" were you given the opportunity to "do your thing", or did the band have a general direction already planned?
There was no real plan. Jimmy, Rick, Charlie and Izzy just played the tunes and sorted out their parts till it sounded right. During recording, we all put our heads together to select the master take that felt the best. The basic tracks were always live takes, with Charlie, Jimmy, Rick and Izzy all playing together.
During overdubs, Rick would generally play a few takes of his solos and leave it to me to composite the best bits. Izzy would check out the comp and would generally like the result. There were a couple of songs (Somebody Knockin' in particular) where Mark Ford played on them as well and I had to sort out his and Rick's parts and make them fit together. The first solo on the song is actually a comp of Mark and Rick-if you listen closely you can hear where one switches from one to another.
Some of the overdubs Izzy left to me to do (the Water's sisters vocals on Come on Now Inside, for example) and was very open to my suggestions that I put mandolin on a few songs.
The main thing about that record was that Izzy wanted it to make it sound like a Faces or Stones record. That was the first time anyone had asked me to do something like that, so that was true fun.as a fan of those records, it was kind of an honor to use my skills to make a modern version of those recordings.
Q: Similar to the above question I guess but were Izzy's songs already worked out before entering the studio or does most of it happens on the spot?
It varied. Izzy always has songs that he has been working on over time. Some of them are fairly well done, some are worked on in preproduction (a lot of the songs on 117 Degrees that I produced were done this way) and some are put together in the studio. The Groper on Ride On was such an off-the-cuff studio concoction.
Lyrics were generally the last thing to happen. Izzy seems to like to put together his lyrics right before he sings them.
Q: If there was ever to be a Ju Ju Hound Re-Union would you be on board for producing again if called upon?
I would be surprised if the JuJu Hounds ever got back together. This is unfortunate, as, in my opinion, Charlie, Jimmy and Rick (with Ian) comprises the perfect line up for Izzy. Not to denigrate the fine work of Taz and Duff on Izzy's subsequent records, but there was a unique, ensemble sound to those guys playing together that was the perfect complement to Izzy's songwriting and singing. Could have been the great, rootsy, Americana meets Brit rock band of all time. Too bad things worked out the way they did.
Anyway, if such a reunion were to happen, and if they would have me, of course I would be thrilled to do it.
Q: Do you think the 'Ju Ju Hounds' album has stood the test of time? What are your thoughts on the album looking back now?
That record is a magical combination of a band being born and an artist finding his voice, with little or no interference from the record company (Izzy paid for it out of his own pocket, and was reimbursed after it was delivered.) I listen to it now and marvel at how contemporary it sounds, and how many current bands are traveling down the same musical road.
While my personal favorite it 117 Degrees, in part because that is the record I had the most input on, Ju Ju Hounds probably best captures the promise of Izzy's post GNR music in all its enthusiasm and innocence.
.... And one last question that I would like to submit:
Q: I noticed that you are now a music production teacher at Ohio University. When teaching do you like to include references to your own work as examples?
Yes. Along with recordings by others that I feel are good examples for my students.
Two things I would like to add:
First, regarding the JuJu Hounds record-Jimmy Ashhurst is truly the unsung hero of that album. He assembled the band, co wrote some of the best songs and generally was a big creative influence for that record. Without Jimmy, it is unlikely Charlie and Rick would have been involved. Just wanted to get that out.
Also-not to open a can of worms-but to set the record straight, we did record a few songs that did not appear on the Ju Ju Hounds record or on any subsequent release:
Gotta Wanna Go-great funky, almost New Orleans kind groove, cool lyrics, excellent playing by the Hounds. DEFINITELY the lost track that should have been on the album. The guys played it live off and on, so some of you might have heard it.
Silver and Gold-acoustic song with a great melody and lyric, also inexplicably left off the album and never released. I seem to recall that Izzy didn't feel like it measured up to the rest, but I remember it as being very strong.
Outta Yer Blood-very raw blues rocker with Izzy on slide. This is the song where the Izzy sings something that sounds like "ju ju hound" and where the band and album name come from
Mile Away-mid tempo barnburner with some nice Ian organ stuff.
Plus a couple of short instrumental pieces.
All the other stuff recorded at that time that didn't make it to the record ended up on EP's or as B-sides.
Also, I personally listened to all the tapes that Izzy had recorded prior to our starting on the 117 Degree album and can say there that to my knowledge there is no "lost" Izzy tracks from that period.