Kevin: Welcome to the Creative Futurism podcast, bringing together the worlds
of business, technology, and creativity. This is Kevin J. Anderson.
John: And this is John Best. You’ll look at the world and the future in a whole new way.
Kevin: Welcome to the very first episode of the Creative Futurism podcast. I am here with my co-host John Best from Best Innovation Group. John tell us a little about yourself so we can introduce to our listeners.
John: Sure. My name’s John Best and I’m a Fin Tech guy, I do technology stufffor banks. It’s somewhat interesting. It can be interesting now and then. I’m also big into security and things like that. And I met this amazing guy named Kevin J. Anderson who he came on my show to talk about the world, and how it’s changing, and how it’s transformative, and how the things he’s written about have come true. And I was fascinated. And we just got to talking and here I am.
Kevin: And for my own background I’m a number one international best-selling author. I’ve written 140 books and 56 of them have been national or international bestsellers. I’ve worked for Frank Herbert’s Dune Universe with his son Brian. I’ve worked on Star Wars, and X-files, and Star Trek, and Batman, and Superman, and a whole bunch of my own novels. I also wrote two of my own novels called Clockwork Angels and Clockwork Lives with Neil Peart, the drummer from legendary rock group Rush. And I’m a mountain climber and a reader and I love movies and just all kinds of stuff.
John: You are a renaissance man, that’s what you are.
Kevin: Renaissance men lived in the 1500’s or something like that. Anyway, John and I, when we talk it’s just all kinds of ideas bouncing back and forth. It’s almost like a crossfire, I’m the creative guy and he’s the business guy. But we both have skills in both of those sets as well, and we just thought it’d be a really interesting podcast to do-to discuss things like culture and creativity and business and the future. And how new technologies are changing the arts and business. And a lot of times its great stuff. A lot of times there is devastating unforeseen consequences. And we just want to discuss some of the that-the topic, and see where it goes, and make you the audience think about stuff you haven’t thought about before. And we will have some really interesting guests who are your innovators in the field or people who have gone through major C changes and major creative things in the arts and the business. To that end, we’ve got our first guest on today. Who is-I’m very excited to bring him on board, he’s a fascinating guy. He’s a good friend of mine named Doane Perry, who’s been the drummer of Jethro Tull since 1984. And I met Doane several years ago and it was one of these nuclear meltdowns of just conversation. Just every time we’re on the phone it’s like ‘Oh boy, another hour and a half just passed.’ The first time we met Doane, he flew into Denver. And he wanted to just-because he had read one of my books, Terra Incognita trilogy, and he enjoyed it and I got a letter from him. And we corresponded and we had never met but he was coming to Denver to play with Jethro Tull at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, one of our beautiful amphitheaters. And we wanted to meet and we were trying to figure out our schedules. And somewhere along the line I just said, ‘Doane why don’t I just pick you up at the airport and we’ll go out to dinner?’ And my wife and I met him at the airport and we drove him to a Brazilian steakhouse in downtown Denver. We got there when they opened for dinner and we closed out the place because we just talked so much. And then we dropped him off at this hotel. And then the next day we went to the concert at Red Rocks, met him backstage and we literally shut down Red Rocks amphitheater. We were talking so much backstage they shut the lights off on us. So anyway, Doane is a fascinating guy and I wanted him to be our first guest because he’s got all kinds of interesting things to say. And now he’s been sitting in the background listening to this very long-winded introduction. And I want to bring on board Doane Perry.
Doane: Well hello you two. I’m delighted to be here. I’m honored to be on your inaugural podcast, I’m surprised and delighted.
Kevin: Well, you’ve always had plenty of stuff to say. So why don’t you just chat with us a little bit, you’ve got tons of stories. But tell us some stuff about your early times’ recording and how it’s all changed. Because of the music business today and for artists and for businessmen and for touring groups and everything, is amazingly different from what it was when you started out. And in fact, we’ll probably talk later about the death of the album and how things have changed. So what was it like when you started out and what was it like when you kind of kicked back and sort of retired?
Doane: Well I don’t think I could in any way say that I’ve retired, I’ve just moved laterally into about three or four other endeavors along with long time interests of mine. But along with continuing to record, I’m not on the road but I’m recording with lots of different artists in that sort of modern 21st century way that we do. Which is somewhat compartmentalized where I recently did an album with an enormously talented artist named Nad Sylvan. And he’s Steve Hackett’s lead singer who’s a guitarist from Genesis. I did my parts here. Tony Levin the great bassist from King Crimson and Peter Gabriel did his part in New York. Steve Hackett played on it and he did his stuff in England. Guthrie Govan, another extraordinary guitarist did his stuff somewhere else around the world. And Nad did his stuff in Sweden. And you would think to look at it on paper that that really doesn’t sound like a really workable way to make a record. But I came from the old analog way of making records in real time with everybody in the room more or less together. If it was something that involved vocals sometimes it was just a guide vocal. Sometimes we’d end up being the master vocal. I’m kind of glad that I had that analog experience if you like, simply because for one thing it was before the technology explosion. A long time before the technology explosion. And so, as musicians, I felt if I was going to get anywhere I really had to learn my craft as best I could and really study. Of course, that same principle holds true today, but I think people approach recording very differently. And back then I started as a piano player, and really just played classical piano for a couple years. And then the drums came along. Which is part of the percussion family-piano’s part of the percussion family? So it was an easy lateral move and a logical one. So I am probably one of those musicians whose 50% has been learned by ear. The other 50% would be studying pretty hard. Teaching myself out of books and all that. And I had teachers and I went to music school and tried to learn music properly in a theoretical way. And I’m glad that I did because that’s been a very good stead through my whole career and as a performing and recording musician. And being able to read and write music in notated form has been enormously helpful. There are some musicians that don’t that play very very well and have a great innate intuitive sense of what to do but don’t read at all. But for me, it was one of those parts of music that I considered essential. And I think that if I trace it back, it really goes back to my interest and natural ability with mathematics. Math was something that I was always pretty good at in school. And I realized that music, the theory of music and the reading of music, was really just horizontal and vertical mathematics. It’s all subdivisions of time. And the way harmony, rhythm, melody relate is very mathematical. So reading music wasn’t very difficult to grasp the concept. And obviously, there are things that in the way that you would learn a very long complicated word. Perhaps you know, 4-5-6 syllables that might contain a whole thought, you would look at a musical phrase and it would be the same thing. And after a while, you realize that it was more recognition. You weren’t necessarily doing the math or doing the subdivision because you could see an entire phrase and know what that represented musically.
John: It’s like being in the matrix, right? Eventually the role just kind of looks like code.
Doane: Well yeah.
Kevin: And some people could read the code and tell everybody else it’s just gobbity guck.
John: Right. But you know just a quick question Doane, so being a musician myself, and I want to juxtapose the analog of the situation you had with the digital. So here’s the thing, my drummer and I were really tight. We lived together, we played in our band. And when we would record you’re right, we’d be in the same room and he’d be behind a glass drum thing that baffled the sound. But we could see each other and there were ques that would come up in the visual cues that made things happen in the studio that would never happen I think if we did it today in the methodology that you’re talking about. Where somebody records these stubs, they send them over to you, you add your portion in. So can you give me a little feel for that? You know, with you being in both worlds.
Doane: Well that’s an excellent question because that is something that I have learned how to deal with and to try to create-part of my job is just to create the sense that we are all in fact in the same room together. And one of the ways that I do that and sometimes where it used to be you would go in and the rhythm section would track. And very often the pressure was on the drummer to get the master drum track within you know, two or three takes. And everybody else could then fool around endlessly and punch in and punch out. I never had that luxury because we had to play basically a continuous take. Because cymbal overhangs and cut off you know lots of resonant things that would be a giveaway that you’re dropping in and out. Today it’s very very different with pro tools. I was missing that element that you’re referring to John. And so, of what I’ve begun to do is very often I find being the last one rather than the first one-let me prefix that by saying sometimes it will start from a very basic idea that I am working on with a rhythm section. And sometimes that is-I will go to studios and do things in real time. But when people send me things I’ve developed a way of being able to respond and anticipate once I kind of learn the shape and contour of what everybody is playing. And then I can react as really in advance in perhaps referencing something that they might pick up on later. Or reflecting something that has just happened. And so by doing that, in a way it’s less improvisational, it’s more compositional in that sense. So you’re right, when you’re not all in the same time zone together at the same moment-I did try this experiment of doing something through-I was recording out here and all the other musicians were in New York. And to do this long distance with I think it was a T1 connection, whereas when something like this that we’re doing, it’s acceptable if there’s a 10-15-20 millisecond lag. It’s totally not acceptable if you’re playing music because everybody’s out of sync. So there are different ways to do that now. And I think that one of the skill sets that I’ve begun to develop is this way of interacting either anticipating or reacting to what is there. And also gluing where everybody is together. Because part of the drummer’s job on stage and in the studio is navigating this line between all of the musicians so that if let’s say the bass player has the tendency to sit middle to the back, and the guitar player wants to play in front, you need to be able to stay resolutely where you are. That tension can be fine if you both stay in your relative positions to one another. When I listen to tracks that I’m presented with I can hear okay, maybe the soloist is leaning ahead a little bit. Maybe I need to stay where I am or adjust that. And sometimes I will talk with an artist and I’ll say because very often for listeners who aren’t familiar with the recording software that is used today. These digital audio work stations-daws as they’re referred to, have a grid. You don’t have to use a grid but I’ve done that without a grid and sometimes even though you may not be deliberately wanting to play on the middle of the click in the middle of the grid. You have to be able to know how to move around it, move back to play in the middle to play in the front in order to accommodate that. And sometimes-in classical music nobody is worried about the fact that the orchestra is adjusting the tempos constantly through a performance. It’s very rare in classical music you have something like in modern music where you’ve got a BPM that starts and it finishes exactly in the same place. So I would suggest sometimes let’s move this tempo back for this section. Let’s move it forward. And I did that live on stage with Jethro Tull. I had actually this little device that sat on my snare drum. And it was a real-time metronome. What we would do in rehearsals, I would sit with-I had a metronome that I counted all the tempos off. And I would say, ‘Okay is everybody happy with this tempo number one? Okay, we all agree that this is a good tempo.’ Now let’s take into effect that adrenaline is going to kick in at some point during the performance and people might look back at any point. [CROSSTALK] That’s right. There were sections where I said, ‘Okay when we get to this section I’m going to push it ahead a little bit. Or when we get here I’m going to pull it back.’ And I could look, for instance, I hope this isn’t too technical, but like if it’s 120 beats per minute and I’m playing half of that what it should be reading if I’m playing two and four it might read sixty. But I might want to drop it back at a certain point to fifty-eight.
John: So you had like a speedometer on your drum set.
Doane: That’s right. But that also helped because when a sequence would come in out of nowhere I knew that when we got to a certain section and sometimes this happens in long pieces of music, I had to be right on the button. So if we were playing slightly behind I would move it up. And sometimes I would get to that section and I would immediately change it because that felt better to do that. But you have to have a reference point. My eyes were not glued to this but-and you can certainly use it to play in all kinds of odd meters you have to just get used to the numbers reading 27-48-59 or whatever it is that makes up your bar of seven. And that ended a lot of discussions on-postmortems about it sounded too slow or too fast. Because they would trust in the fact that I was paying attention to that. And maybe they had a little too much coffee or not enough sleep and that accounted a bit for the variable.
John: But wasn’t it also-your job like if the guitarist really liked this song, and he gets to the part where he’s been looking forward to it, it’s almost like you’ve got some sort of rope on him and you’re trying to pull him back, right? Keep him in the pocket.
Doane: That’s right. And I had-this was a lightbulb moment for me in music when I was very lucky to play. There was a great session bass player named Chuck Rainey who many people have heard on Steely Dan albums and Aretha Franklin and just tons of stuff. And we were doing quite a bit of recording in the 80’s and at one point he asked me to play in this live band called the Chuck Rainey coalition. And to me, he’s one of the world’s greatest bass players and just was a delight to play with. Now in the studio, we were generally playing to clicks and stuff so that tended to be the governing factor and everybody related to it as they did. Whether they were a middle of the beat player or back of the beat or front of the beat player. But when we played live after the first set I felt like I was dragging behind Chuck and I said, ‘I’m really sorry I think I-I just feel like I’m constantly behind you.’ And he said, ‘No, no no no. That’s what I love about your playing is you play to the middle to the back of the beat. I play the middle to the front of the beat.’ And he said, ‘I like that tension.’ And he likened it to two cars traveling down the freeway. One slightly ahead of the other, but traveling at the same rate of speed. As long as the two cars maintain their relationship and the car behind is not trying to catch up with the one in front or the one in front is trying to lean back to the one behind, that tension can be wonderful. Suddenly I went oh the fact that-because clicks were becoming more and more prominent then, not everybody has to play exactly bang in the middle of the beat. It’s not even necessarily musical or human that we do that. And so when you maintain those relative positions, that wonderful tension in the music which sometimes can give it a toe-curling tension because of that. I can think of loads of examples. That was as I say, one of those lightbulb moments where I went that was one of the most useful pieces of information that I was able to apply to what I do.
Kevin: I just want to point out to our listeners that for those of you who watch Spinal Tap and think the drummer’s just a dumb guy who bangs something, I think Doane just kind of put that to rest there. I mean there’s really a mathematics and a science behind doing it. And most listeners know that I’ve spent a lot of time with Neil Peart the drummer from Rush. And we came backstage before a concert and he was going through an instructional video himself trying to learn to get better as a drummer. And it just kind of blew me away. I said, ‘Well what are you doing Neil?’ He said, ‘I’m learning how to improve my craft.’ And this is a guy who’s widely recognized as one of the best drummers ever. And he’s still learning stuff. And I want to throw in one last thing about the remote recording that you were talking about, first I ever heard about that was in a bad way sort of the legendary Beatles album Let It Be that they all recorded it separately in the studio. And we all thought that that’s a terrible thing that they’re a group and they’re not recording it together in the studio. And now I’m assuming that’s how most of the tracks are done on many things. So that’s just a change in technology because it doesn’t really-it makes things more straightforward because you have people who are in different parts of the world recording different things.
John: It mixes those things. I mean these YouTube performers they get together with other YouTube performers, and Doane I’m sure you’ve seen these types of things. There’s magic that comes out of that when some other artist takes a Jethro Tull song and does something just no one would ever think of with it with two other people from two other parts of the world. So I don’t want to discount that. I was just wondering how you found it. Because that would be the thing that I would struggle with is without those visual queues. Not only that but the emotion of it. Like just being next to my drummers name was Bim, you know there was an energy there. So you have to sort of work yourself into this energy without the rest of the band around.
Doane: Well think of it this way John, if you had no sight and you were only relying on your ears, when I put on headphones in the studio and I’m playing to a track as I told you we tried to do this one thing in real time with the musicians in New York. But until they can get the technology so we can do it with zero latency, I just think of yeah the guys are just in another room playing, I just can’t see them. And I think that when you remove the visual cues that perhaps you relied on you can still respond in the same way. But I take your point about well there’s a give and take, I suppose you’re just responding to them and because you’re the last one in they’re not necessarily responding to you. That is absolutely true. But I think that’s where the artistry of being able to blend things that are recorded in different places at different times together and make it sound like a seamless interactive performance is where there are some craft and artistry in letting that happen. Because in this world today things in technology is moving so fast that you musicians don’t even relate to the concept of like four, five, or even eight people playing together at the same time in the same room. It is not something they’ve probably ever experienced. So I’m glad that I’ve experienced both ways. But I think they’re all valid ways of making music. It’s like any tool, if you had a Ferrari and you gave it to a very inexperienced driver, you’re not going to get great results.
John: It’s the difference between a shovel and a backhoe. You know I tell people if you want to dig a hole, I bet I could beat you. Because it will take you more time to figure out the back hoe then it will for me to figure out the shovel, right? But once you figure out the backhoe you’re going to dig a lot more holes. But one thing I want to get onto this album thing that we were talking about. So I’ve been reading this book called Mindset by Carol Dweck. And what it’s about is a fixed mindset verse a growth mindset. And it seems to me Kevin that you’ve been surrounding yourself with these people who are growth mindset. I listen to Doane here say, ‘Well I’m going to learn to read music.’ A lot of drummers, that’s not a thing. We used to have the joke you mentioned earlier, what do you call that guy that hangs around with all the musicians? The drummer, right. But point is is that he has a growth mindset and so does Neil Peart. He’s backstage going, ‘I’m going to continually learn.’ And the fact that Doane has figured out how to work with this digital model is really really cool. And it’s perpetuated his art, his craft, and probably energized him to learn it. And it’s just amazing.
Kevin: Well it’s kind of all of the arts, I mean it’s always a moving target. That you have to keep pushing yourself and trying something different. Otherwise, you’re that guy that just sits there, makes reproductions of the Mona Lisa and sells them to hotels. You don’t want to do that. Well I mean there’s . .
John: There’s probably good money in that.
Kevin: Well I guess. But there’s also-well I mean Jethro Tull and Rush are good examples of people who just kept producing music and kept doing interesting stuff rather than I’ve had my hits I’m going to play the state fairs and just play the hits and never come up with something new. The technology itself has changed music kind of fundamentally in that-Doane you and I were talking before and I’ll let you kind of retell the story about . albums we used to listen to albums. And the album was a unit like buying a novel, like the whole thing that there might be some great tracks and some like filler tracks. But it was still the album. And you know Aqualung is not just a bunch of little songs and Kansas Leftoverture and Sticks the Grin, Rush 2112, I mean these are-Jeff Waynes War of the worlds. I love that one. And Rush 2112, I mean these are on iTunes and they just download this song and that song and you were telling me a story Doane about it, it was your daughter’s boyfriend or something coming in and had never seen albums before.
Doane: [LAUGHTER] Yes. Well, I think that this also addresses a wider issue which is the proliferation if like of ADD. First of all, part of this goes back to something you can lay more at the feet of current day media platforms. And I think Attention Deficit Disorder is becoming more and more of a problem. Not just with younger people but even older people because-and I will circle back to this but it’s steady to that anecdote Kevin. Because people are so accustomed to everything being-whether it’s Twitter and it’s 171 characters, whatever. And TV and movies and so many quick edits which probably was courtesy of MTV. And even books-and this is . .
Kevin: Even short chapters, you can’t have long chapters anymore.
Doane: No, and people don’t tend to read as much as they did. And music it’s the same thing. This idea that an artist would make a record that is a linear statement from beginning to end. And it’s been thought about in terms of how it’s sequenced to give-and now let me say that I’m going back to the way records and I’m talking about how vinyl records used to be made. They are probably made in a much more a la cart way these days. But what Kevin was talking about and this addresses this point, is that unfortunately the attention span if we’re just talking about music, most people will download a song from iTunes and that might be the only song they have of that artist. So one day there was a friend of our daughters who had come over and brought her young son and walked into the living room. And I’ve got a whole big section of vinyl. And he looked at those and he goes, ‘Are those records?’ [LAUGHTER] And I said, ‘Yes Harry, those are records.’ And he goes, ‘Wow. Like I’ve never seen one, I’ve heard about these things called records.’ And I just sort of chuckled to myself and he said, ‘Can I look at one?’ So I pulled out something that had a wonderful fold out sleeve. And it had artwork, and the lyrics, and the credits, and who played what, and the engineer, and where it was recorded, and all this information. So I said a very silly thing to him. I said, ‘Well I suppose you’re just part of the CD generation.’ And he just looked at me like what? What are CDs? I was oh my God I’m really going back in time showing my vintage. Because he had only really experienced music at one track at a time and probably while he was on his skateboard with his earbuds in with a bunch of ambient noise around him. And I said, ‘Listen, take it from a crusty old musician. I’m going to give you a piece of advice.’ Because his mother was saying to listen to him because she came from the era of vinyl and listening to records as an entire experience. I mean if you want to make the analogy of saying you don’t go to a movie and then an hour into a movie expect to get the point of what’s going on. You really have to see the whole thing. And I said look there were many artists. I won’t say all artists because before the era of what we refer to broadly as the concept album. Which in a lot of ways I think of the first one being Sargent Pepper. The Beatles were the original progressive rock who made the first progressive rock record in a lot of ways. And it was something that suddenly-those songs they did stand by themselves as songs on their own. But the whole album as an experience that was the first time I remember listening in an unbroken period of time to a piece of music in exactly the way they sequenced it. And that changed forever my listening habits. Though I will say in classical music this has certainly existed for a much longer time. Maybe you know there’s some symphonies that are fifteen minutes long. There are others that are sixty minutes long. In modern popular music, and that was the popular music of the day. People also had the attention span and the willingness to sit through something like that. So to go back I said look, take your favorite artist that you have a song by, do yourself a favor, buy the entire record. And listen to it in the sequence that the artist has chosen. Turn off all the lights. Put on some good headphones or listen to it on the speakers. Don’t be on your phone or whatever. Just listen to it in a very focused manner. And you might find that the experience that you have as a listener will be forever altered by experiencing music in this way and not as just some background noise. Whether he ever did that or not I have no idea. But that kind of speaks to this epidemic of lack of attention that seems to be a growing problem.
Kevin: Well your comments Doane though about taking an album sitting down in a room, those are mainly pitched towards a Jethro Tull album or a Rush album or something. I’m not sure that current musicians make albums that way because they know that they’re just going to be chopped up into-
Doane: -I’m not sure they even get to pick the order anymore.
Kevin: I know some of them, in fact Styx just came out with a new album after several years and I’d say big concept album.
John: You know who’s been putting out a lot of concept albums is people like Kanye or Jay-Z. That seems to be a medium where they do it now. But things like Rush, they just-I remember you know where I exposed [the rush album] 2112? Guess?
Kevin: At a laser show?
John: Yes Bishop Planetarium in Tampa Florida. And we went to see it. And I
had to go to a record store the next day and pick up 21-12. I had to have it because I wanted to hear the story again. And then now a part of that stories been immortalized in the movie that’s about to come out by a great book.
Kevin: Ready player one. By Eric Cline.
John: Yeah and so but that’s coming back. You’d have to understand
that whole thing.
Kevin: Well and it’s branching out in different delivery systems. It’s kind of cool that you can just go on iTunes and say I want this one this one this one and then get it instantly. It’s nice to go down and spend the afternoon in a record store, flip through albums. And I would keep going there going I wonder if Kansas has a new album out because you didn’t get an email when they came out. You didn’t know any of this stuff, you just had to keep going. And I lived in this small town in Wisconsin and like once or twice a year we’d get to Milwaukee and we’d get to go into Music Land. And then stand there for hours in Music Land, flipping through and that was it. And here’s another sales thing about albums. I’m a science fiction guy. I like science fiction, I read Lord of the Rings. And I would flip through and in fact, the reason that I got into Rush was that I didn’t know anything about them. But they had like science fiction artwork on their cover. And if you remember the Steppenwolf albums and things, they were just fantastic covers. And now I mean even yes I’m still insisting on buying CD’s because I like to get the booklet. But the booklet you practically need a telescope to read the little print that’s inside there.
John: You do. You know my favorite record album is for art, you know the first
Asia album. I love that logo and the snake. And when you opened it up it was brilliant.
Doane: You’re talking about something that I think is maybe not as important as the music but such a compliment to the music. And the experience of listening is lessened when the artwork of the company-the whole experience. Or perhaps reading along with the lyrics and getting the story. I also love knowing who played what, who wrote what, who engineered it, where it was recorded. Anything I could absorb was fascinating to me. So that was all part of the listening experience. And Kevin I think you’re right about something you said a minute ago, that this is not the idea of doing things in a long form if you like. In terms of connecting a series of a family of songs together. It’s not something that artists worry about these days. And John you might be right that perhaps what we’re seeing is that that is being utilized more by people like Kanye West or Jay-Z. Now I’m glad that that is living in some form. Because I think that the notion that we live in this universe of sound bites and we’re so deloused with media overload, we all are. I mean and the problem is I’m a sponge for information. I always read my whole life and just the internet is the most amazing repository of information to learn everything you could possibly imagine. And things some of you couldn’t even imagine. And yet what happens is then people jump from one thing to another. And I think 100 years ago or 50 years ago or 30 years ago the average attention span of people because we did not have this daily onslaught of media coming at us from every direction was different. People were able to focus for longer periods of time. I would like to think there are artists carrying that forward. And if that’s in the rap community or in sectors of the rock community or the jazz community. I mean there’s actually some jazz albums being made almost as concept albums. So the notion that that will still exist, as books will still exist, as movies in a long form. If you think back-this is an obscure reference, but I believe it’s a movie called The Passenger that was made in 1971 and it opens with this long shot that’s inside of a room and it’s looking out through the bars of a window at some place in Europe in France perhaps. And suddenly the camera where you’re looking at these bars, you’re thinking it’s going to go up to the bars, the camera seems to pass right through the bars out into the courtyard. And the opening shot-or one of the opening shots was this long unbroken three or four-minute excursion, a visual excursion that you went on. Now you don’t see that in movies too much these days, or at least the big budget movies in the summer blockbusters. It’s got to be so many car crashes per minute, whatever it is.
Kevin: C-C-P-M, it’s car crashes per minute. It’s a unit of-
Doane: -A new unit of measurement, I need to remember that.
Kevin: I’m in a class right now about writing essays. And another one called flash fiction which is like fiction that’s 700 words long. It’s a new skill. It’s been around for a while but in one of the textbooks that I was reading, had a whole section about it on like in the early 1900’s there were not that many forms of entertainment or distraction all the time. So that when you finish your dinner at night you sat down with a book and expected to read for four hours and think about what you read. And nobody sits still for four hours anymore. So, therefore, you could get these Charles Dickins tomes that the first line is I was born or so I was told. And then it goes on to tell the guys life from the moment he was born. Now I don’t want to see Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator describing how John Connor was born. Well actually that might even be relevant to that story. But it’s a different faster paced and immediate input, immediate gratification. Your ADD analogies perfect but I might even be the channel changing analogy. That if somebody sits down to listen to your music, and if you don’t do something to keep them interested they will switch to something else. And so you are constantly trying to keep them interested and engaged. You yourself are also using MP3’s and stuff long before-at least Ian Anderson he told me about how he didn’t know what the iPod was or why you would want it. You found a great use for it, why don’t you tell us about that.
Doane: Well this also is kind of addresses something I wanted to circle back to eventually about you were referring to technology earlier. This is one of the downsides and upsides simultaneously of this technology. I remember we were in South America on a tour, Ian came into my dressing room and he said do you know what this is? And he’s holding a CD, and I said ‘Yeah, it’s a CD.’ He goes, ‘No, this is our entire catalog of music. Everything we’ve ever recorded to this point is on this CD. And it’s in this thing called MP3 format.’ And he said, ‘This is going to be-this is going to be a real problem.’ Really before MP3’s took off, at that point it was the beginning of I think it was Napster might have been the first one that was-and all these bit torrent sites.
Kevin: File sharing services.
Doane: All the file sharing stuff and it has ruined our industry and what used to be quite a reasonable income that would come from royalties, mechanical royalties, publishing royalties has now really completely disappeared from the landscape. But shortly after that we were somewhere else on tour and he saw I had one of these white iPod’s and he goes, ‘What would you want with that poxy thing?’ And I said, ‘Look, I’ve got-and I showed him first of all, I had like every one of our records that was on CD.’ And I tended to be the band arc of arrangements and stuff, and I mean we would decide on what we were going to do but I had live versions. We would do perversions of things that combined different bits of the music in maybe in one longer piece. And so because I kind of kept track of it I would put it into my iPod. And I had all of the records and I said, ‘Look, if we want to do this song, because sometimes we would rehearse something in sound check that was new. Because at the time that computers came out, we began to input every single set list for every single city that we had played in as far back as we could go. So that when we got to that city we’d go, okay what did we play the last time we were here? Let’s do something different. Unlike maybe Frank Zappa’s band, we had to have a recall of a lot of the repertoire. And the repertoire of Jethro Tull’s music is probably at least 300 pieces of music. And I’m not saying we were all fluent in 300 pieces of music, but we had to have some aquaintanceship with it and be able to brush up on it and then work on it in sound check and maybe play it that night. We would begin to adjust what we were playing depending on where we were playing. But the point of that is he said, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do with this. My daughter gave me this for Christmas and it seems like-,’ I don’t know if he thought it was a toy or something. And I showed him, ‘No, no, no. This is actually a really useful practical thing to carry around all of your music. Because I used to have this thing that was kind of the size of a pack of cigarettes. And that was absolutely marvelous and kind of liberating that I could have not only all of our recorded stuff but previous live shoes that I had put into there as well as all the other music that I listened to for inspiration and interest. And the technology, Kevin you made a remark earlier just about the recording technology and how that has kind of changed the way we make records for better or worst. Now there are times I’ve done some records and I did a film score a couple of months ago where we were pretty much all in the room at the same time playing in real time. And it actually sounded just as good but not necessarily better than the way we’ve gotten used to doing it in this other more a la carte fashion. I find that the advent of all this technology to be enormously liberating, particularly as a composer. I’m sitting in my studio now and the last five years I’ve been studying all orchestration very intensely and I’ve been able to put together in here before anybody could even hear really a fully realized piece with all the parts of the orchestra being represented there. Before anybody would actually play it for real. But this is in the past when I would write charts out for a band that I was working in, something that I wanted to do but I had to sit there and write it all out. And then Universal might go ugh no it should have been a B flat or whatever and you are kind of learning on the job. Now this is allowing me to-sometimes I will play everything myself, sometimes I play certain things myself but have reference points of things I’ve already played. And it sounds pretty much like what I want it to sound like or what I expect it to sound like. I think that’s wonderful. And the fact that you have to learn a lot more. You have to begin to expand your skill set because you have to learn a lot more about engineering. And so, when people send me a track, there are times where it is easier when I go to another studio all I have to do is simply play drums and percussion. And the engineer does his thing and then we button up the file and send it off to wherever. And then there are other times where people send me things and I am my own engineer, my own producer, and I have to play every part and do all of the editing. And I’m glad that I’ve learned that. I mean that way probably being somewhat being relatively evenly split between left and right brain has served me reasonably well. But there are times where it’s a lot more work. But having said that I think that’s something where some musicians are maybe just right brained. And I mean I think Ian is probably a very evenly split personality of being left and right brained and move quite easily between both hemispheres. But some musicians resolutely stay on the right side, but the managers and the accountants and all that take care of all the other details. Which if you’ve got the right team can be fine. But I’ve seen a lot of musicians who because they weren’t paying attention to how the business of what we do functions. They had no idea where these royalty streams were coming from. Just being connected to the inner workings of the business. I mean we say art and commerce don’t always mix and sometimes that’s true. But they don’t necessarily have to in the-
Kevin: -And it is what our podcast is about what we’re trying to . . and like the same thing for me being an author working for big New York publishers but also running my own publishing house and doing a lot of independent stuff. We have to be a one-man band too so it’s not like that. We’re getting close to the end but I want to throw one more question at you about your feelings-I mean iTunes did the you buy the tracks for $.99 or $1.99 whatever it was, and that was kind of the solution to Napster at the time. That people were stealing it but if you charged small enough amounts that people would pay for it. But now that’s transitioning into these micro micropayments like Spotify and things that you pay a fraction of a cent for every tune you play these songs. And I’ve heard several artists who were just vehemently complaining about that. Although that’s what consumers seem to be going for more and more often now. But I think the dollar amount that goes into the artist’s pocket ends up to be a lot less. What are your thoughts on that Doane?
Doane: Well it’s certainly gone and may be non-existent because I was just thinking about this recently in terms of YouTube and Spotify. I mean I do get royalties that are filtered through iTunes but when I look at-I mean YouTube would be-I know that at a conservative estimate I’m probably represented on hundreds of videos. Some of which are officially sanctioned and had filmed by a broadcasting company for television or whatever. Some of which I’d never seen before, I didn’t even know they were being filmed or had forgotten. And then things that are every-so many records that I’ve played on with lots of different artists where I perhaps had a royalty’s stake in and I don’t think I’ve gotten-you know I’m pretty sure that I can say unequivocally that I haven’t gotten one statement or one line on a royalty’s statement that says YouTube performed its royalty or Spotify or anything like that. Because-and I know that a lot of my work is presented on those two and Facebook and many other platforms. That’s the problem, I think that’s an enormous problem that we have not worked out in terms of how is remuneration working? Because you know those companies are making a lot but I don’t see any of that being passed on to-not that I can see. I do understand where they talk about-I saw some YouTube video where you’re saying well I’ve got 100,000 subscribers so that entitles me. They send him a little wooden plaque or something.
Kevin: You can’t eat that.
John: So Doane, you seem like a guy that really likes to learn. So, I’m going to tell you how technology’s going to fix that for you. So you’ve heard of Bitcoin, right?
John: Okay, so this has nothing to do with Bitcoin. But everything to do with Bitcoin’s underlying technology. The underlying technology is something called a distributive ledger, also known as a blockchain. And what we’re seeing is that it’s an excellent way to copy write work. And to track it. If you think about a ledger and you said you’re a business guy so you know a ledger is nothing more than a list of transactions order. So every time your music gets played, it should go on the ledger somewhere. Which is why you want to see it in a statement. The challenge is where is this ledger and who’s in control of it? So what’s going to change that you’re going to be able to take and put your music, and when I say your music, it’s going to get really wild. Like I’ll be able to distinctively determine it’s you playing drums on this track. Regardless of whether you intended it to be on that track. You follow me?
Kevin: If somebody steals his own drum track?
John: Right, and so I have the technology right now to go in and isolate Doane’s tracks. And if I isolated his track I could take his underlying drum beat, use it in my own song, and move on. And so the new technology is going to allow us to take the signature of what he has, be able to detect it, check in this distributive ledger, to see if there’s IP around that and then one notify Doane that someone owes him some money and to charge them. And so this is already happening. For instance, in a world of Photoshop, I could take a picture and I could go in I could add a dragon to it. I could make it look so real that it would be very difficult in a court of law for anyone to trust any pictures. But if we have this distributive ledger, and keep in mind when I talk about a ledger I talk about multiple people have this ledger. So if I took a picture and I digitally described it down to the molecular level, if I could say this picture looks exactly like this. It’s made up of these molecules, put that in the ledger, and then if someone ever altered it then it would not match the definition in the picture. And so, this is new and I know you love this stuff so here you go, I’ve just given you something to let your brain go work around.
Doane: That’s going to help a lot of people who have already had their work
appropriated via samples. This has been going on as you know for a long time. A lot of different rap artists got in trouble for taking samples and not acknowledging the source or providing any remuneration either. The technology like that would be so useful in solving those kinds of disagreements. And these kinds of things regularly get brought into court and if it can be proved-now there’s other things that then become a gray area such as you remember one of the first big cases was supposedly plagiarism. It had to do with George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord. That they said really he’s so fine. But there’s also things where okay when it gets to chord progressions or melodies and what defines that and what makes them so unique that it would constitute an infringement. I mean I can think of there was-and there’s a story that Ian told quite famously on stage about the song called We Used To Know, that was on the second Jethro Tull album. On that particular tour I think that there was an opening act and that opening act was the Eagles. And they used to watch the band from the side of the stage. And it was many years later that somebody pointed out to Martin or Ian that said, ‘You know that song Hotel California is precisely the We Used To Know progression.’ Which is kind of an unusual chord progression.
John: It is because it has the E minor and a major E in it.
Doane: And it just follows-I mean obviously it’s a different melody it’s in 4/4. I think they-but he would joke about that. He wasn’t really bothered and said, ‘Well they could’ve at least took me out for a curry dinner.’ But he wasn’t fussed about it in that way. You recognize that somebody will hear something and go okay well there’s only so many if you’re talking about chromatic music. And there’s going to be certain things that are going to be repeated at some point. Whether it’s a melody rhythm. A lyric might be a little more specific. This technology that you’re referring to though could at least eliminate the gray area that exists in things that are actually things that somebody took from somebody else and then has appropriated it and put it in their own stuff.
John: I could think of three recent cases, right? Marvin Gaye, he went after Alan Thicke and Pharrell. And Marvin Gaye’s no longer with us, the estate of Marvin Gaye. And then that was followed by the estate of Marvin Gaye going after Ed Sheeran for Thinking Out Loud. By the way, you were talking about the push and pull of the beat, that song has that in spades. And then Ghostbusters Huey Lewis and The News.
Kevin: Well then you know this is another three-hour podcast to talk about it. But just for me I’m the writer guy here so let me throw in there the devil’s advocate argument of but creative people always inspire each other and take from each other. Star Wars took a whole bunch of stuff from Dune. I happened to work in both of those universes and there’s all kinds of things that you go either he ripped me off or oh you read my book and it made you think of something else.
John: And what Doane’s saying is we could separate that. [CROSSTALK]
Kevin: Stealing is one thing and being inspired is another thing.
John: Right, and he’s saying the technology could help you figure that out.
Doane: That’s right and Kevin to that point, it might have been somebody like Stravinsky that remarked about the fact that good writers are inspired, great writers steal.
Kevin: [LAUGHTER] Well I’m not going to say whether or not I’m a great writer.
Doane: But he was saying was that partially facetiously but the thing is you’re right- all of us, we don’t live in a vacuum. All of us whether it’s subliminal or not are inspired or informed by things around us. But somehow the filtration system, the way it comes out through you Kevin or you John, or myself or anybody not some kind of creative person is going to be unique to that individual. You hope. I mean sometimes there’s things whereas you’re learning your craft you realize you’re imitating. But then you hope to get past that at some point so that whatever you produce is an amalgamation of your influences but not necessarily like any of them. And I think that you absolutely are inspired. I listen to so many people, I think God, I’m just an amalgamation of all these crazy influences. And not all of them are drummers at all. They come from everything from violinists and keyboard players to other drummers or percussionists or even vocalists the way they phrase. So I think defining what that is is probably great.
Kevin: That’s probably more than three hours. It’s probably many days in court or something like that. When I first talked to John about having you on I said that we were not going to have any trouble filling up an hour conversation with Doane. I think we’re kind of wrapping up and you were the best guest we’ve had so far absolutely. But it’s a good way to start our whole talking about arts and business and the future and changing things. We want to thank you greatly for being on our show. And we want all of our listeners to go and sit down in a dark room with headphones on and just play a good Jethro Tull album.
John: So Doane, where could people find you if they heard this and they want to check out other things you were talking about.
Doane: My website DoanePerry.com. There’s a lot there but I’m also going to be putting a lot more content up in the next month. But there’s a contact page. Only with this coming out I did write on there-I get quite a bit of email through there and I do read it all. Sometimes it’s pretty hard, I can’t quite respond to much of it because there’s just a little too much for me to keep up with in my day to day email. But I do read and appreciate when people write something and on occasion, I might respond but that’s a way to find out a bit more. But there’s a lot of stuff out there but you know there’s all kinds of various information that’s a little closer to the truth. I’m delighted to be on and I’d be happy to come back anytime and I had lots of ideas about the future of where I see some things going that we didn’t even get a chance to talk about.
Kevin: And we’ll put up these links on the website. Also links to my own website and stuff about my current projects, and some links to John and how you can get in touch with us while we both do a lot of speaking gigs. You can pick either one of us to come to your-well John likes to dress up as a clown and come to kid’s birthday parties.
John: Anytime you need me to.
Kevin: And we’ll be back in two weeks, we’ll have another quest, another very interesting guest which is a surprise. And John . .
John: creativefuturism.com. Doane, thank you so much.
Kevin: Thanks again Doane.
Doane: My pleasure. Have a wonderful afternoon and yes to everybody out there in your audience.