Lisa Sharken of KNAC.COM recently conducted an interview with TESLA guitarist Frank Hannon. An excerpt from the chat follows:
KNAC.COM: Tell us about "Real To Reel". What prompted TESLA to do an entire album of cover tunes and how did you go about selecting the material?
Hannon: We were thinking about doing a covers album and we thought it was just going to be real simple to do quickly. But we wanted it to be the best covers album to come out, so we allowed it the time to develop. We started off having each guy in the band bring in their favorite songs and going through them. But then we realized that some songs just weren't going to work. We were trying everything from GOO GOO DOLLS, NIRVANA to current music. We were trying to be clever, because usually when bands do covers, they try to be clever. So that's when the idea for "Real To Reel" came in. We wanted to keep it as real and honest as possible, and in order to do that, we had to do songs that are from our roots — songs from the '70s that we grew up on. So we experimented with songs that are more guitar-driven, more '70s-rock-oriented and real to us, and we filtered out all the baloney.
KNAC.COM: Of course, this isn't the first time TESLA has recorded covers.
Hannon: We've always done covers, like on "Five Man Acoustical Jam", and in our shows we've always done BEATLES tunes, FRAMPTON tunes, and we've always experimented with covers. For this record, we spent almost two years trying out songs. At first, when Tommy Skeoch was still in the band, we recorded some covers over at Brian's studio that are eventually going to end up on a box set. We recorded them digitally in ProTools at Brian's studio, and then we decided that for this album we wanted to go full on analog and keep it as real to the '70s sound as we could. We decided to record in a fully analog studio down in Texas — a place called Sonic Ranch. The owner, Tony Rancich, has a ton of vintage guitars, amps and pedals, and all kinds of really cool '70s gear that we used on the album.
KNAC.COM: How did you and Dave capture all of the guitar parts in the studio?
Hannon: All of the guitar tracks and all of the music was recorded live. What we did was rehearse the songs in the morning and then record them when we had things down. Typically, the first take would be awesome and we'd be really fired up. Then we'd try a second take and try to beat it, but nine times out of ten, we wouldn't. So then we'd try it one more time and do a third take. The guitars are panned so Dave is in the left speaker and I'm on the right — so it's like what you would hear when you see us live. Dave and I were each using multiple tracks to record the different amps we played through, but it's all one performance. It's not double tracked. Since we were only doing 24 tracks and we were each using three guitar tracks, there was no room to overdub stuff. So everything you hear is pretty much live and all one take from the band. I was using two 100 watt Hiwatt heads. One was stock and has a really bass heavy sound, and the other was modified and has a lot of gain. Both of them are probably 1979 DR models. I was also using a 50 watt Marshall JCM900 head. I had three separate cabinets — one for each head. One cabinet was an old purple Marshall 4x12 with 25 watt Celestions that Tony had in the studio. Another was a Marshall 4x12 with JBL speakers. And the third cabinet had 100 watt Celestions. We miked each one and assigned them to their own tracks. I also used a Leslie 360 rotating speaker cabinet, so I burned a few more tracks on "Thank You" and "Bellbottom Blues" on the first disc, and "Do You Feel Like We Do" on the second disc. Dave [Rude] was using some 100 watt Marshall plexi heads that belonged to the studio, and his Marshall Slash amp.
Read the entire interview at KNAC.COM.