Every once in a while you are able to converse with a pioneer of music that has truly changed your musical being. In this case this musician’s talent is outweighed by what a sincere and rad person they have and will always be.
Anyone that has chatted musically with me knows that Berry Oakley is by whom I rate my bass players. This is in the snarl and rumbling force of their tone and that essential groove that make you feel like a 747 took off on your chest and you totally and utterly got off on it.
Groove is infectious and many times is overlooked. When you find yourself with a bop of the head, a tinge in your gut, I would like to introduce you to a little something called the bass guitar.
The reason I am discussing the power of the low end, the almighty thump, and a cementing foundation is because I was lucky enough to chat with one of my Barry Oakley’s, Mike Dean of COC.
Enjoy my chat;
Gaff- Thanks so much for taking the time to chat about the new album.
MD- No problem at all, Thank you.
Gaff- Can you talk to me about what you were going for with this album?
MD- We really wanted the album to reflect how we sound live and I think we achieved it.
Gaff- What was the process.
MD- We all had songs coming in, we set up everything, had all the mics placed and recorded to pro-tools. A few times I would just say to the guys let’s just play through these songs and see what the feel is. I would not say I tricked them at all but we used some of these tunes as the feel and performance were so good. No headphones, worrying about bleed, just did it. Sometimes you can sabotage yourselves in the studio by thinking too much so we just set up and did it.
MD- Yeah, straight to pro tools with no usage of plug ins what so ever and we mixed and recorded right in the box.
Gaff- This album has a great groove and a nice 70’s sound quality. Were you listening to anything in particular for influence?
MD- Well, we referenced Paranoid a lot. For balance is it a nice documentary piece on what a three piece in a studio can come up with; what, or is there a right amount of bass, balance, or mid range that can be used. Therefore, Sabbath was a nice reference.
Gaff- For me, the bass has such a great tone, are you a Berry Oakley fan?
MD- You shitting me, that is when my brothers record collection really helped and also my mom could listen to the Brothers. Sure man, Fillmore, Eat a Peach, Brothers and Sisters. Being from North Carolina you grow up on that. Yeah, I love Barry.
Gaff- I definitely get that vibe when I hear and see you play; especially on the new album.
MD- Thanks that is a nice comparison.
Gaff- What bass gear was used?
MD-I was using a nice old 1975 SVT head. The thing is, it is more of what the player can do than the gear in the studio. You can have the best tools in the world as a carpenter or a mechanic but if you do not know what you are doing it is going to look or run like shit. Whereas, you can have a 5 dollar screwdriver and it can come out looking amazing. Do not get me wrong, I love using nice gear but too many people forget it is the player that is making the music. It is the feel and the togetherness in the studio that is what people want to hear. Listen to the album of the 70’s, they did not have all the gear there is today but they used what was given to them and what was given to them was made to sound great. It is all about the song, playing and truly enjoying it.
Gaff- So true, can we talk about the songwriting process and is it a democracy?
MD- We all come in with songs written and some are already finished. Reed will come in with stuff. Woody also, we do not argue over petty bullshit or who get s credit or what. Sometimes it is more consultation than democracy. We really want what is best to come out on the album and I think this album shows that.
Gaff-I really like everything about this album, can you talk about how it was to record after playing with Vista Chino?
MD-Those guys are so talented they can take you into a trance like state. It definitely made me step up my game.
Gaff- I talked to BA NANA in Berlin at Desertfest about how is it doing sound for you, he told me, “I let Mike plug in, set up and go, his tone is amazing and a great guy to work with.”
MD- He is the man, great at what he does and so easy to work with.
Gaff-Speaking of touring, what is in store for COC?
MD- Well actually, right now, we are trying to put together some really great shows but I cannot talk about them yet until they are fully booked or I would have to kill you.
Gaff- Truly understood. I take it many people would be happy and many cities and countries would be happy?
MD- Oh yes.
So, go out and buy the new album COC IX, as you will be very fucking pleased, see them on tour, let them show you why rock n roll is needed. They are also doing a nice little Hands of Doom teaser that the kids are digging these days and please support these three bad motherfuckers.
One thing I will say as I prefaced earlier, my interview with Mike was at a time when I needed it and I needed to speak with a no bullshit guy. Mike and his musical projects and his being, really help people more than he knows. If there were more Mike Deans around, the world would be a much better place. At least there would be better music to listen too.
Thanks again Mike and I will have your Cider waiting for you.
“Last Sunday morning the sunshine felt like rain.” Gregg Allman
Words & Interview by: Marc Gaffney
Thanks to Mike for talking to Gaff here at Sldugelord HQ.
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