Our Producer: RICHARD PODOLOR
To describe Richie in just a few paragraphs is impossible. To explain how much of an influence he has been on my musical career and development would be inadequate, if I spent less than an entire book to acknowledge him. Still, I have to bring it down to a few paragraphs, with the hope of saying most of it. To blow enough wind up his ass by going on and on about his genius would only touch the surface of my love and admiration for this great talent of a human being. He is my mentor. He has groomed and harvested my musical talent and shared with me a WAY to approach music that is only limited to your imagination, yet, definitely having structure and logic to it. A way to let the music tell you what it needs. Much more than that, he has given me expression in my music. He has helped me to become an interpretive musician. To become more than a musician, to become A MUSIC MAN ... and THAT, I am. He not only shared his knowledge with me, he has taught me how to use my own unique musical abilities, some that are different than his. He has done it with caring, and without intimidation, although the depths of his musical understanding could easily stifle a person, had he been lacking in his gentle manner of collaboration. This very strength of his has, on occasion, made it hard for others to gain full appreciation of his talent. This is a guy who could (but never would) say that he had forgotten more than you'll ever know. It's not his nature.
It has been a great joy of mine, over the years, to have made myself into a vessel of interpretation for him. Not just for him. For all the other guys in the group, too. But for Richie in particular. He has always candidly told me when I played something that excited him. He even suggested at times, that he couldn't play what I play and that he saw something more special in certain things I would play, more than even I realized. In time, I not only understood, but realized what a special compliment it was, coming from someone who had played with Segovia (just to drop a name) and was a major talent of a guitarist himself. More than that, when I began to understand just a little of the sensitivity to music that lived in Richie, my own perceptions began to grow. Different than his, but undeniably, ridden with his perspectives, or at least my interpretation of what I have learned from him. In learning that the fastest and slickest musicians rarely make good music, Richie afforded me the opportunity of having the "joy of music" completely take me over, much more than it had before. My playing improved. My sense of melodic approach improved and I became aware of aspects of my talent that I was previously blind to. Most people with his level of talent (and there aren't that many) do not have the inclination to promote and inspire others to excellence. Usually, the personal ego gets in the way. Like all of us, Richie has an ego, but the music rules him. It has its way with him. When the music demands his input, he comes unglued with excitement and can hardly get it out quick enough. Sometimes resembling rambling, if you don't listen closely. Know this: IT'S NEVER RAMBLING. ONLY TO THE POOR LISTENER. My respect and love for Richard Podolor has grown and grown over the years. My respect for myself has grown, as well. To this day, he points out to me the strengths I possess in structuring rhythm parts, as well as color additions. Richie polished the musical tools I possess and taught me to have faith in what the music tells me. He also told me to listen to him a few times, too, and I did. I do. He doesn't even demand that I consider his opinions as, "The Gospel" (not too often, that is). He doesn't have to. Oh, I butt heads with him on occasion, but not often. You know the most wonderful thing of all? He listens to me, too. We make good music together. He listens. Ain't that a bitch? Ain't that just the damnedest thing you ever heard of in your life?!!! When Richie listens, he hears like nobody you've ever met before. When he talks, do yourself a favor and listen. Other than that, he's not that special. That's my whole point. Other than being a multifaceted genius, he really ain't' that much! I'm not trying to say that Richie is the genius behind Three Dog Night. We were ALL integral to the process. On the other hand, I'm not saying he isn't, either. In case you can't tell, I love Richie Podolor. I am his second biggest fan of all time. Number one would be "Coop."
Our Engineer: BILL COOPER
Bill Cooper is himself, an institution in the music industry. Brilliant and musical in his engineering artistry behind the console, Bill has engineered every major hit that we ever had and den some. The perfect compliment to the "hands on" producing of Richard Podolor, Bill completes the chemistry that is American Recording Company, and dare I say it, the chemistry that IS Three Dog Night.
A musician himself, we used to call him "Bill the Blade," back in the not so old days, before digital recording, when everything was done on tape with a razor blade and editing block being used for editing. His editing skills were phenomenal. I say this, not to lessen your opinion of us as performers/recording artists, but to bring to public light the wonderful talent that is Bill Cooper. I spent many, many, many nights after and during our sessions, watching and hammering him into submission to help me with his techniques. Like any truly great artist, Bill has always been forthcoming and willing to share with me. A lesser talent wouldn't be that way. He is comfortable in his talents, knowing that even if he teaches them to someone else, he will still apply them as only he can, due to his years of experience and familiarity with music as a whole. An interpretive source when called upon, he also knows the value of simply just "rolling tape," so to speak. Knowing when too many opinions, even good ones, can be detrimental in the creative process. Someone special and unique in the recording industry. My friend, Bill Cooper.
Microphones? A study in itself. Design of, type of, choice of, placement of and the list goes on and on. Capturing a successful stereo image or field of sound is an art unto itself. Distance from the source, angle placed to the sound source. Surface of the surrounding area being considered. Drums? I dare you to mic a kit of drums and get a killer sound. It is a "bear" trying to get drums to sound right. It was not uncommon to spend a few hours just working on drum mic placements. Hard to conceive, isn't it? I mean, after all, all you do is just punch the record button and have the musicians play, right? Sometimes, yes. More often, there is great preparation to capture that "special performance" that may not come immediately. It may come after you have all worked hours and are way ready to pack it in for the day and try again tomorrow. This is where Richie and Bill have their most important talents to offer. Knowing when you've got "a take." Not necessarily always the most "perfect" technical performance, but the one that is special. Hard to define. I learned that from Richie and Bill. That is the truth of the matter. They've never insisted on elaborate recognition, and in doing so, have become famous. That's how you get great performances out of singers and musicians alike, by letting the artist know when you like what they are doing. If frustrated, you help them with suggestive direction to break the logjam. Not to be confused with bullshitting. Having confidence in the ears that are listening in the booth is mandatory. To know that you have a "musical friend" in the control room that is pulling for you and respects your talent, is an important key to productivity. The feeling you get when one of them comes running out abruptly, after you've been doodling between takes out in the studio and blatantly says, "Man! That was a hell of a thing you just did. What was that? Can you do it again"? This is the stuff hits are made of. Friendships forged within this environment have no comparison that I know of. When the fruits of your efforts are more than the sum of your parts, you ALL end up looking at each other with a bit of wonderment when it's done.
I live for this stuff. The smiles you see on my face when I play music, are real. The joy and the blessing of music. It makes a person wonder what the heck could I have ever done to deserve this? The wonderful people listening and enjoying the music and rooting you on. To have wished so high, and then, to have it be so. To quote baseball legend Lou Gehrig, "I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth." Not an overstatement at all. Music is my life, my choice, my love. It has given me everything. It is my friend, my home, my refuge. At any given time, it is waiting to console me, inspire me, lift me up and give expression to my sadness and to my joys. I wish it for you. I wish it for ALL OF YOU. If I could give you only one thing in this life, it would be the gift of music. I guess that's stating the "obvious" since it has been my life's work and joy. To give you music and see you wear it on your face and in your hearts. That's heaven to me. If I fall prey to personal accolades in the process, please forgive. I am human. You are very convincing friends. You fill me up with what you take from me. Your smiles say more than your words. You hear the music and you take it home with you, leaving me with more than I had before. God bless you for that. It was meant for you. It was meant for us all. It is of, and about the human condition. It can entertain, or simply be a diversion, if that's what you are needing. Recently someone wrote to me and said, "you have been the soundtrack to our lives." What a beautiful thing to say. Fan stuff, yes, but what a simply wonderful thing to say. I dare say I will never forget it.
If you find that by stressing and defining the wonderful talent of those around me, has left me looking somewhat insignificant in the overall scheme of things, ... let me say this about that: Lord knows, I'm a talented little shit and was definitely the main reason for our success. I, more than likely, personally performed every part that you ever heard that became your favorite. Any part that may have approached mediocrity was most assuredly done by someone else. (Ah, yes! That should cover it.) I know that some of my co-horts have a warm fuzzy feeling for me, too. I guess I will just have to wait a little longer for them to rave to the world at large about the genius that is Mikey Allsup. (I heard that laugh from the third row. There's still time. It could happen!)