RS: That sounds like a Leslie
guitar sound, no?
JF: Thereís a Leslie guitar
as well. Itís actually not a Leslie, itís just going through a
stereo pedal that has like a delay. Pretty much all the electric
guitar on the album is super affected. I just wanted to take it out of
(jokingly) Ďhey! classic electric guitar!í, yíknow. And I wanted
to make it kind of a more abstract thing.
RS: What guitar was most
heavily used on the record?
JF: Yeah, well the main guitar
on the record is a guitar that I bought right before I started that
and I just totally fell in love with it. Itís a Ď74 Tele Custom
with the big Fender humbucker in the neck position. Again, not the
most sought after guitars, but I love those guitars. Yíknow Keith
(Richards) played one. So I used that and I also have Ď65
non-reverse Gibson Firebird that I love. I just love those guitars. I
have a Ď66 Epiphone Riviera that I use and then the Martin that I
had is a 00018, the little tiny Martin. But then I actually ended up
trading that and getting a D-28, a Ď65 D-28. The 00018 was a 1943.
Thatís the main guitar thatís on the album. I went really nuts
with some of the vintage guitars. But Iíve been collecting that
stuff for about ten years. And then I just sort of have a plethora of
weird pedals. I kind of collect anything that most people go, Ďahh,
no I donít want that.í And Iím like, Ďahh, Iíll take thatí
(laughter). Iím the guy that scourers the country when Iím
touring, like Ďwhatíya have in the back, that you either donít
think anybodyís interested in or youíre ashamed that you own?í
(laughter) And theyíll pull out something like a Guit-organ and Iím
like, Ďholy shit, yeah Iíll take that!í.
RS: On your take of "Iím
Only Sleeping" thereís some great electric guitar with strings.
That song is perhaps the ultimate Beatles dreamtime song.
JF: Yeah, thank you, thatís
my favorite one. My opinion changes all the time, but as we speak,
"Iím Only Sleeping" is my favorite one on the record.
RS: Is there any reason why
you ended the album with "Long And Winding Road" - maybe
thatís still looked as their big breakup song from Let
JF: I know, itís really
weird. I havenít paid much attention to that song and I also didnít
know any of the history of that song. I didnít really know that Paul
was unhappy with the finished product. That was a Phil Spector
production, right? I think it is and somebody was telling me while I
was making it, one of my Beatle aficionado friends, was saying, Ďyeah,
why are you doing that? Paul didnít even like that.í Because I
didnít know any of the baggage that came with the song. As a kid I
loved that song. The cyclical melody. It is such a beautiful melody.
And even Paulís vocal on it just kills me. Thereís a couple of
points during that song that I still will almost well-up with tears,
the way he sings that song. Yeah I agree it does sort of sound like
the book-mark of the end of The Beatles. Itís this kind of tragic
optimism that really affects me. I put that at the end just because
again, it just seemed like a book-mark for the end of the album.
Between you and I, itís not one of my favorites the way it came out
for me. So I just sort of nestled it at the end. I also made it, itís
kind of hard to tell, but I made it quieter than the rest of the album
on purpose in mastering because I...well one reason was because
hopefully the person listening to the record, child or adult, is
pretty much sleeping (laughter) by this point and so itís just a
sort of, final caress at the end of the record.
RS: Despite the album being
marketed as a childrenís lullaby album, the album really transcends
age and marketing concepts.
JF: Well Iím glad to hear
you say that, because I really feel that strongly as well. Because I
didnít talk down to my targeted audience, which was babies, itís
definitely not a kids album. Itís just a really sweeping, gentle
interpretation of these songs that we all know and love. The only
direction that I got from Sony was...the first song I did didnít
make it on the album, so thereís one out take and that is "I
Will". I did "I Will" like I would have...because it
was the first one. I think when I agreed to do this project I was kind
of resisting the intent of the project which was to lull your kid to
sleep. So the whole thing was really, strictly... gentle, putting
people to sleep. And I kind of resisted that for the first song and I
made kind of a kidís version. I did "I Will" and I was
really happy with it. And it had really simple drums that came in
about half way through. But it was kind of more a pop arrangement with
this kind of wide-stereo bass-voice thing. And it had alot of swirling
synths. It was really cool. And I sent that over to the people at Sony
and they were like, Ďwell, we love it, but itís not really what
this record isí. And thatís when I first realized, ĎOh, OKí
(laughter). I hadnít accepted what the album really was and I had to
do that first song my way and then realize ĎOK, no drums, no click
tracksí, because I didnít want a real strict sense of time in the
song so from that point on everything was done either Wurlitzer or
piano or acoustic guitar first. So everything kind of moves around.
From that point on, everything I handed in they were like, Ďyes,
next, perfect.í Iíve been really lucky when I hear about other
peopleís situations, going back to when I was on Elektra with the
two records I did with them. You know I never had anybody ever tell me
what to do. I kind of demanded that I be put in this position where Iím
left alone. It can come back and bite you on the ass, too. When I did
the first record on Elektra I was playing that whole, Ďnobody
listens to anything, no tapes go out, Iíll only play finished mixes.í
And I did this whole thing, yíknow? And I think because I never
involved an A&R person, I never involved anybody in that record,
people didnít think they had any involvement in it so they didnít
really feel any pride when it came to the record. Theyíre basically
playing this guy thatís signed to the label who they have nothing to
do with. And the pros of that are obvious in that I had total artistic
control, but the cons I hadnít really considered. And those are that
nobodyís gonna go running around their city saying, Ďthis is my
new boy, this is Jason Falkner, I told him to turn the guitar up right
thereí (laughter). People need to feel like theyíve contributed
and if you shut them out of that, those are the consequences you pay
unless the record just blew up on itís own. It takes alot of people
to work something.
RS: How come your name isnít
on the cover of the CD?
JF: Well that was my choice.
They said whatever you want. Basically because it was a project that
had a specific intent and it came from this idea to be an album that
you play for your child, I didnít feel at first like it was the way
I would have done the record had I been left to my own devices. So I
said thatís fine, itís a Sony Special project thing and my name
will just be on the back or obviously inside. Now that the recordís
been released I regret that I also didnít take a little bit of
control over the packaging and also have my name on the cover. But I
think itís the kind of thing that, anybody whoís aware of me is
gonna find out about it anyways and the other people who arenít
aware of me, which make up the other 99% of the population, are going
to either like it or not like it and it doesnít matter who did it.
It doesnít really bother me but I do kind of in retrospect, wish
that it did say Jason Falkner on the cover. Like I said the main
reason was because if I had done a cover of Beatles songs it wouldnít
be exactly like this. I would have done some that had drums, for
instance, and some that had a little bit more of a dynamic range...
RS: Iím a big fan of your
last pop album Can You Still Feel? But I went back to Can
You Still Feel? and Iíve been playing the song
"Revelation" quite a bit during these past few days. On
a related note, the most recent pop album to move me in a similar way
is the new ELO album Zoom, which was almost totally performed
by Jeff Lynne with a little help from George and Ringo. Perhaps
itís more than mere coincidence but youíve also contribute a new
cover of "Do Ya" to the Jeff Lynne tribute CD on Not Lame.
JF: Itís pure coincidence
but some people donít believe in coincidence and Iím kind of on
the fence, so whether I believe in coincidence or not I just think itís
all related yíknow? People who think similarly and who try to live a
certain way are sort of tied in to this sort of consciousness and
those people end up having something to do with each other however
random it may seem. I certainly feel like thatís why I got the call
to do this record. Anybody could have been called. They could have
called Jeff Lynne, you know what I mean? (laughter). To do this Beatle
album. I feel so privileged and just proud of the fact that I got to
do it and that it came out the way I like it. Iím really proud of
RS: The Beatles album or the
JF: The Beatles...Iím so
proud of it. The implications are outrageous that whoever buys this
record and plays it for a baby or their kid or themselves...you know I
might be the introduction to my favorite band in the world for a
generation of kids, which is amazing! It completely freaks me out.
RS: So I guess youíre a big
Jeff Lynne fan too. How did you come to work on the tribute CD?
JF: Itís pretty simple. This
friend of mine who owns this label, Not Lame. I met him when I was in
The Grays and we were up in Aspen. He just called me about this Jeff
Lynne thing and it was hard because I didnít have alot of time,
because this whole year Iíve been devoted to playing with this group
Air. The "Do Ya" thing, I had like 3 or 4 days off here, and
I just had to go for it. There was a time when I thought I wasnít
gonna be able to do it. I was getting ready to go back to Europe. Yeah
it just came together like that. "Do Ya" was not my first
choice. I was talking to them about doing "Eldorado", or it
was something that was a little more of an obvious choice for me. Well
they were like, Ďwell we kinda thought that if you want to do
"Do Ya", weíve been kinda saving that for you.í And I
listened to it and I was like, Ďmy God, yes of course!í ĎCause I
hadnít listened to that in a long time.
RS: Your cover of The Left
Banke classic "Pretty Ballerina" on the Japanese import of Everybody
Says Itís On is really great. Even though youíre not old
enough to have lived through the Ď60s British Invasion, you
obviously have a great fondness for the Ď60s pop music that us aging
hippies used to listen to on our trusty little AM radios. Do you
distinguish between the different periods of music since the Ď60s,
Ď70s and so on?
JF: Yeah! I donít really
distinguish. I guess thatís the answer. I have such a fondness for
the sort of Ď60s British invasion stuff mainly just because thatís
when the whole thing opened up. I mean that was the beginning and I
get a feeling of that when I listen to that stuff. I get a feeling of
this kind of urgency and this uncharted territory that these guys were
starting to mine that is such an infectious feeling. I just really get
off on that for the same reason that I get off on some of more melodic
post-punk stuff like The Buzzcocks or some later Wire stuff. But I donít
differentiate between any of it. I mean if I hear something that moves
me I donít check the date. I mean Iím pretty well versed in like
years of when everything came out and all that stuff Ďcause Iím
just kind of a geek like that. For the most part itís not really
important to me. I donít know why I was so transfixed on the Ď60s
pop culture stuff when I was in my teens and through till now but
really I immersed myself in that stuff in my late teens and early 20s.
RS: I like your rocking cover
of Joni Mitchellís "Both Sides Now". I like the way you
revved it up while keeping the songsí emotion in tact.
JF: Thanks. That song my mom
used to play, but she used to play the Judy Collins version of that
RS: You also do the Kinksí
"Wicked Annabella". That was a pretty strange choice from Village
Green Preservation Society. Are you a big Kinks fan?
JF: Oh yeah, well thatís my
favorite Kinks record hands down. And that song is just so much fun to
play live. Itís so mischievous with that paranoid, perverted vocal
(laughter). At first I was going to do "All Of My Friends Were
There". I just opted for the more rocking thing.
RS: That was one of the most
rocking things on Village Green. "Big Sky" was
another favorite of mine.
JF: Oh "Big Sky" is
brilliant. I wouldíve probably done that one as well had I not heard
a version by The Mock Turtles earlier that year of that song. It had
been covered so it was tainted for me (laughter), Iím gonna cover
things that have never been covered before, obviously with the
exception of "Both Sides Now", which has been...Neil
Diamond, Bill Withers, everybody. I used to sit around and record,
when we first got a VCR that was the size of a microwave oven
(laughter), I used to record the Ď60s programs that were on like
A&E. There was a thing on the year 1967, a big documentary had all
the footage of the bus driver, driving a bunch of sort of older
tourists through the Haight-Ashbury and theyíre all just appalled at
the haircuts and the drugs and everything. I just felt a real alliance
with that movement. I really did. The heart was in the right place. I
donít think that there has ever or will ever be a youth movement
thatís that unified and that has the right intentions for the most
part again. So maybe itís kind of me looking for this idyllic place
and the only real way to find it is to kind of look back way before my
time, because I was born in 1968. My dadís record collection really
impacted me in a huge way, because I was a little kid. I was really
musical. I learned how to play piano just by ear when I was barely
walking, I was playing the piano. I was playing Elton John songs when
I was 4 years old. Playing "Crocodile Rock". The first
record I ever bought was Endless Summer by The Beach Boys. I
had some of my first real emotions as a person to that music.
RS: So with all your great
music, whatís it gonna take to get another Can You Still Feel? or
something better from you?
JF: I gotta get a record deal!
(laughter) I gotta get somebody to give me the money! (laughter). Thatís
really it. I have about three quarters of the album finished, as far
as written. And I have pretty elaborate demos done on my 16 track, one
inch tape machine, but I wanna re-do all of those. They donít quite
have the focus that I want the record to have. But Iím definitely
ready. Doing the tour this year with Air was a really good thing for
me Ďcause it kinda lit the fire under me again to not be apathetic
and sitting around going, Ďhow did I lose my record deal?í... Who
cares about that, I mean thereís so many complaints about the music
business and I have only a few of them...