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Gabe Dixon

A Conversation with Gabe Dixon (continued)

PM: Before we get even further into the record, maybe you'd tell me the story of how you landed a keyboard spot on McCartney's Driving Rain, and maybe say a little bit about The Melodious One.

GD: Sure. Paul is one of my heroes. He's one of the reasons I started playing music and singing. The band and I had just graduated from UM. We moved up to New York. And within a few months we got a record deal with Warner Brothers Records. And our producer and A & R guy--

PM: Who signed you?

GD: David Kahne. He saw us play in a club, and he loved it, and he signed us the very next day. So we flew out to L.A. to do this album. He produced the record, and was head of A & R at Warner Brothers and everything.

PM: Wow.

GD: It just so happened that he was producing Paul McCartney's album the very next month in the same studio. I came back in to do an organ take on one of our songs. And he was like, "Man, that was really good. Do you want to play on Paul McCartney's album?"

PM: [laughs] "Umm, lemme think..."

GD: Yeah, exactly. It's like, "Well, what do you think I'm going to say?" And so, sure enough, I booked the next month in the studio with Paul. And then a few months later I spent another three weeks with him, and got to hang out with him and watch him work, and see his process. I learned a lot. It was just one the best experiences of my life.

PM: I hear that he's really a very nice character.

GD: He's genuinely a good person, a very sweet man. He's got that Liverpool sense of humor. He's the way you would expect him to be, if you've seen him on TV and stuff. He's just a really good person, and funny, and witty, and a really charming guy--and very talented, of course.

PM: And I’ve heard he'll go out of his way to make everybody feel comfortable at the table because everybody is freaked out because they're sitting with a Beatle or something.

GD: That's true. I met him for the first time, and for about five minutes I wasn't sure if I could even go through with this.


GD: I couldn't wrap my head around it. I was freaked out and nervous. But he's just got this way of putting people at ease. I don't know what it is. It just made me feel all right.

PM: Are you aware of or a fan of NRBQ?

GD: I'm aware of them, but I have to say I haven't really heard their music much.

PM: Well, the bass player is a buddy of mine who's really amazing, named Joey Spampinato, a real pop genius. He's got a bass that's signed, "To my favorite bass player, Paul."


GD: Really.

PM: Yes. And he'll take it on sessions and stuff. And I'll say, "What the hell do you have this bass out of the case for? Why haven't you re-finished over the signature?" He goes, "I don't know, man. I just got it because it's the best bass to play..."

GD: Wait, so it was signed by Paul McCartney.

PM: By Paul McCartney, "To my favorite bass player, Paul."

GD: Wow.

PM: Are you and Hornsby friends? Or have you crossed paths?

GD: I've never met Bruce Hornsby, no.

PM: Because doesn't it seem like there would be a great affinity there, personally as well as musically? I met him one time, and he reminds me of you; not only how you play, but how you feel to talk to and so forth.

GD: We sort of opened for him one time in Charlotte, North Carolina, but I didn't get to meet him. I think I was too nervous to meet him.

PM: Yeah, I can imagine.

GD: I can see why you would think that--we've got some of the same influences. Yeah, I'd love to meet him someday. He's incredible.

PM: Tell us something about your co-producer/engineer/mixer, Neal Cappellino, another huge talent.

GD: Neal is someone we just know from being around Nashville. We were friends with Neal before we ever really knew his work very well. We were at a point a couple years ago where it had been too long since our last album had come out, and we were really itching to get these new songs out to people. We didn't have a record deal, and we weren't sure if we were going to have one. So we approached Neal and said, "Hey, you're a really good engineer, we love what you do, and your philosophy of recording to tape, and trying to get live performances, and that kind of a thing, and so would you be interested--we don't have much of a budget, can you help us out, and help us get something really great for a low cost?"

PM: Wow. So you brought it home cheap, too?

GD: Well, not ultimately. We had it set out to do this kind of on the cheap, but real quick, and like something kind of home grown that we would put out ourselves. Then we landed the record deal with Concord Records. We had already been through preproduction with Neal and had really started to vibe with him on a common goal for the record. So we convinced the label and management that Neal was the guy.

PM: Wow, that's very interesting that you didn't switch horses at that point. So many people would have screwed up right there.

GD: [laughs] Yeah. You bet.

PM: It happens all the time.

GD: It's tough to do in this business sometimes, but we try and stay as true to ourselves as we can.

PM: Right.

GD: It's a balance of following the industry's advice and following your own heart. And fortunately, between management, Concord Records, Neal Cappellino, and ourselves, we were able to get a pretty clear, in-sync vision for it. We knew we wanted to make a record that was reminiscent of classic records from the '70s, but wasn't just a nostalgia piece or like some kind of copy thing, but that was also relevant today.

PM: Yeah, and I think in every way, it's all the way there, all the way there.

GD: Cool. But once we got the deal, then we were able to say, "Well, maybe we want to go record in Blackbird Recording Studio."

PM: Right. And why not?

GD: Exactly. So we spent 10 days there, and then we took the record over to my house and overdubbed for a couple months, and then we mixed it and done.

PM: I like that. You brought it to your house and overdubbed for a couple months...

GD: Yeah.

PM: Because that's where you just get it right. And it takes a lot to get it all the way right, as right as you’ve got it here.

GD: Thanks, Frank.

PM: I'm an old fan of hers, and I've never heard Mindy Smith any better than her duet on "Further The Sky." Wow!

GD: Oh, cool. Yeah, she really delivered on that song. And it was between maybe five or six female singers. And for partly logistical reasons of her being in Nashville--

PM: She was around.

GD: --yeah, she came in and just soared on it.

PM: Cool person, right? [check out our interview with Mindy from a few years ago]

GD: Yeah, she's something. I felt bad because at the time that house we were in was pretty--

PM: Oh, that's right, you were overdubbing in your house!

GD: Yeah. So she's singing in a booth that's made out of an upturned couch--

PM: [laughs]

GD: --foam and a blanket draped over a speaker stand.

PM: Fantastic!

GD: And the heat was barely working. I was a little embarrassed. But she really did a great job.

PM: Hey, it's not like she's never sung in that situation before.

GD: Yeah, maybe you're right.    continue

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