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Un diamant pour vos sillons ?

Jim Diamond & Didier Bozzi 2014

Jim Diamond avait mixé et masterisé les albums « Too much to forget…so little to remember » de Bratchman et « Too much too soul » des Zemblas. Laurent, bassiste des Pony Taylor, m’avait avertie que Jim devait être à  Marseille le 13 juin 2014. Date que nous avions fixée pour la sortie de la seconde compilation de notre association : « 1966 – Back in the South of Nowhere ». J’ai donc invité Jim à nous rejoindre au Poste à Galène pour cette « Release Party ».  Il accepta l’invitation, fort simplement. Grâce à un guide local de qualité, notre autre membre Christian-Luc, nous nous sommes retrouvés facilement. D’abord autour d’un taboulé de légumes fort copieux et de quelques boissons (private joke), ensuite nous avons profité naturellement des concerts de nos « AveTheSounders » et de leurs inévitables galéjades.
Tout début juillet 2015, Jim est revenu dans la cité phocéenne, mixer en studio le nouvel album des Keith Richards Overdose (sortie prévue en octobre 2015 chez Closer Records), groupe dans lequel officie à la guitare notre cher Paul (Sonic Polo). Lors de joyeuses agapes à la maison, nous avons convenu de faire une interview écrite. En effet, j’avais constaté que malgré sa respectable carrière et son illustre studio Ghetto Recorders à Détroit, cet ingénieur du son et producteur de qualité demeurait peu connu en France. Sachant qu’il souhaitait travailler davantage dans notre pays et en Europe, j’ai pensé (cela m’arrive) qu’il pouvait être pertinent de présenter un peu plus, ce sympathique et talentueux producteur sous la forme d’un entretien, à tous ceux que la fuzz émoustille. Dans les pédales comme dans les enceintes. Cet automne, Jim sera de nouveau de retour dans le sud de la France.
En attendant de nouvelles pérégrinations musicales. A suivre donc.

TP

P.S : l’interview ci-dessous sera traduite bientôt en français.

The Zemblas LP Too MUch Too Soul The Bratchman LP Keith Richards Overdose LP

MEET JIM DIAMOND…

Jim Diamond is a studio engineer and a great music producer. He was a singer, played guitar or bass in bands such as The Neo Plastics, The Wayouts, Beatosonics, Herman the German, Das Cowboy and The Dirtbombs. In Detroit, he created his own recording studio, Ghetto Recorders. Diamond has worked with several well-known indie rock performers, including The Dirtbombs, The Sonics, The Fleshtones, The Pack A.D., Electric Six, Left Lane Cruiser The Laundronauts, The Witches, The Legendary Tigerman, Bantam Rooster, The Gore Girls, The Mooney Suzuki, The Compulsive Gamblers, The Ponys, The Silencers, The Go, The Hentchmen, Screamray, Thee Emergency, The Charms, They Come In Threes, The Sights, The Volebeats, Andre Williams, Oh!Gunquit, The Cambodian Space Project, The Love Me Nots and more… He worked mastering and/or mixing with Titty Twister (Japan) , Steve Gemos (Greece), Exploding Eyes (Ireland), The Nones (USA), Baronen and Satan (Sweden) ,Grinding Eyes (Australia) ,Autoramas (Brazil), Viv and the sect (Mexico), Brandon Habermas (Detroit), The Rejecters for Terbutalina (Spain), French bands such The Zemblas, Keith Richards Overdose, Holy Curse, Sonic Angels…

Jim Diamond & Sonic Polo 2015 at Ave The Sound

TP – How are you, Jim?

JM – Right now it’s 7.45 am and I’m having my espresso. Looking forward to returning to France!

Past…

TP – What kind of the music did your parents listen to?

JM – Oh, God, stuff like the Ray Coniff Singers. I know when they were younger they had some good taste, I found all my mother’s Chet Baker EPs and some Charlie Parker 78s. So that helped. 

TP – What kind of music did you first listen to? And nowadays?

JM – I was listening to rock and roll starting about age 4-5. My grandmother would buy me CCR, Beatles and Shocking Blue 45s. I would hear them on the radio and ask for them. Now? Left wing talk radio, haha. Indonesian 60s, post-war jazz, my girlfriend is introducing me to a lot of pre-war blues that I didn’t know. Many things. 

TP – Do you remember what the first record you bought was?

JM – The first record I bought with my own money was Queen « Night at the Opera »!

TP – At what point did you become a collector of records?

JM – I have never really been a collector, I would pretty much buy records I wanted to listen to. Never been into rare pressings or anything like that.

TP – What was the first instrument you played?

JM – I think the guitar? Some organ? I was around 8-9.

TP – What was your first band called? (How old were you? Where?)

JM – First band was when I was 13, I played bass and it was called “Inferno”. We did Kiss, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent and Lynryd Skynyrd covers. Good times!

Jim Diamond bass with Inferno, 1978

TP – What did you study at school?

JM – In university I studied audio/video production and music. But I didn’t really learn much until AFTER university.

TP – When did you decide to become a (sought-after) engineer and producer?

JM – Sometimes in school. I almost went into sound for musical theater, as I enjoyed that quite a bit but then it occurred to me, who would I rather hang out with? Musicians or actors?  Musicians!

Bric-à-brac

TP – I read that you dislike the divides in Rock and roll. Why? Could explain what you think about the common divisions?

JM – Well, what I don’t like is when people are so stuck in one genre that they close their mind to all others. I think that is what I mean by divisions.

TP – Do you miss playing guitar or bass in a band?

JM – Sometimes, yes. I don’t miss rehearsing! I was playing with the Cambodian Space Project last summer that was a lot of fun. We didn’t do any rehearsal except one time in a hotel room in Marseilles. Perfect! I am bringing my bass back to France, maybe I’ll play with some people eventually.

Jim Diamond with guitarJim Diamond guitar with TigermanJim Diamond bass with Cambodian Space Project in St. Etienne.

TP – What are you not good at?

JM – Baseball. Basketball. Sports like that. Waiting in lines, in a queue.

TP – Your main quality?

JM – Patience, I would say. Sometimes not personally but always in my work. 

TP – Your favourite food?

JM – Oh jeez, too many! My grandmother’s Greek cooking! I like to try so many different foods… Hmm, maybe BBQ ribs?

TP – Your favourite drink?

JM – I have many things I like. Good beer, Campari and soda, good wine, good whiskey. And I love St. Yorre!

Jim Diamond 50th birthday.

TP – Your favourite activities, hobbies apart from music?

JM – Good food, good drinks, I LOVE to travel and see new places and cultures. Bicycling. Old, classic films. 

TP – Do you listen to another kind of music than rock and roll?

JM – Oh ya, I  love so  much traditional country, Buck Owens, Ray Price, Faron Young, some classic jazz, mostly post war up until the mid-60s, some African, Southeast Asian, I  love a lot of different ethnic music, some Mexican norteña, so much different stuff.

TP – Your 5 favourite records? (I know it’s simplistic but which 5 records are you never tired of listening to).

JM – Oh, man, it always changes. Hmmmm…What are they today? 

After Bathing at Baxter’s – Jefferson Airplane

Under the Big Black Sun – X

Any mid-60s by Buck Owens

Today -The Beach Boys

Revolver – The Beatles

TP – Your favourite motto, your recurrent adage?

JM – “Don’t worry, it sounds fine…..” or maybe “Well, let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks quite yet” from Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction, hahaha.

Jim in Ghetto Recorders control room

Recording, mixing, mastering…

TP – What was your first recording? Did you have the jitters?

JM – Oh God, it was 1989, some horrible Motley Crue wanna be band called “Easy Access”.  Of course, I was nervous when I first began my career. 

TP – How many recordings have you worked on? 

JM – I have no idea, 100s I would guess. 

TP – Which of the albums you’ve recorded is your favorite? Which one you are most proud of? 

JM – So many, The Dirtbombs “Ultraglide in Black”, The Witches “Universal Mall”, the last one by The Sonics. No way can I think of them all.

Ultraglide-In-Black The Dirtbombs This is The Sonics LP The Witches Universal Mall

TP – Could you explain what the signature “Detroit sound” mean?

JM – Not sure if there is a signature sound, maybe it’s a simplicity? No bullshit approach? I guess that’s MY Detroit sound. 

TP – What is the “Jim Diamond Touch”?

JM – I would say patience, making the band feel comfortable, having fun in the studio, working fast and efficiently.  It’s a great pleasure to make a record! I want the band to feel this as well. 

TP – Your favourite quality in a musician, in a band?

JM – To not be hung up on the technical aspects of playing. Have fun, feel it in your heart, not all in your brain. Having an open mind. And listening to me!

Jim Diamond Ghetto Recorders 3 Ghetto Recorders Jim Diamond 2 Ghetto Recorders 1 Jim Diamond

TP – What is the ideal equipment for a recording, for a mastering?

JM – Well, a good mixing desk helps. An analog tape machine helps. But then I have made some good recordings on shitty equipment, it’s really all about the player and the songs.

TP – What is essential in a recording session? 

JM – Positive attitudes, good songs, open minds. 

TP – What is essential in a mix session? 

JM – Not having the band there, haha. A room to mix in that doesn’t sound like shit. Silence.

TP – How long does it take to record an album (recording, mixing, mastering)? 

JM – It varies so much. The fastest record I ever made was by these kids called “Dead Stream Corners”. 10 songs in 6 hours. All mixed! And then you can spend a few weeks on 10 songs as well. There is no set rule.

Jim Diamond bass with The Sonics

TP – Are there any differences between recordings for independent bands and rock stars, for big labels and small ones? 

JM – Well, with bigger labels, sometimes a person from the label will want to sit in on the session and hear what’s going on. I hate that. Stay the fuck away.

TP – Which band or artist do you want to record but haven’t yet?

JM – There are many bands I would like to work with, The Strypes, Les Grys Grys, The Liminanas, The Gentleman’s Agreement, The Jackets…There are many and I do not want to offend anyone by excluding them. I want FUZZ!

TP – What kind of hints could you give young recording engineers?

JM – Listen to many different kinds of music! Remember the sounds you hear. Be patient with the musicians. Make them feel comfortable, you will have a better performance if the musician feels good. 

TP – What kind of hints could you give young bands? 

JM – Write some good songs! Never feel as if you know everything, keep an open mind and have fun making music, it’s the best job you can have!

Do you have any crazy stories that you remember…

Kim Fowley at Ghetto recorders

TP – What is your best recording souvenir?

JM – Maybe when I was starting Ghetto Recorders, in the summer of 1997 I had Kim Fowley and Andre Williams back to back. Kim was one week, then Andre the next week, a little crazy but great fun.

Jim Diamond and Andre Williams

TP – What is the funniest thing that happened to you in a studio? 

JM – I can’t name one, it’s usually a lot of fun. Sometimes, too much! 

TP – What is the worst?

JM – I had this band in from Montreal and the guitarist used to date the singer and now he was dating the organist. A lot of arguments and the singer finished her vocal and quit the band and flew back to Montreal!

Recording engineer vagabond…

TP – You had to leave your studio at Detroit (it was chicken processing factory… in the 1920s and 30s). Could you tell us what the problem was? You scattered your equipment, your personal affairs as you were able to do. Now you are like a tramp. Happy tramp, but tramp. You haven’t got your recording equipment in your luggage. How do you work? Can you work serenely? (Maybe you could have a travelling studio…a big truck…Hahaha…)

JM – I would love this truck! Ahh, the owner of the building wanted me to leave for a few years. He raised my rent, he wants to develop a bar and restaurant next door. My building was a real shit hole. It was time. If I decide to stay in Europe, I will bring over enough equipment to have my own room to mix and master and use other studios to record. 

TP – Travel broadens the mind…You are often in France and Europe over the last few years. If it goes on, could the vagabond of sound you have become could set up in France?

JM – Yes, currently, my plan is to stay in Europe, I am not sure of France, Spain, Belgium? I don’t know.

TP – Did you notice any differences between the American, French, Spanish ways of thinking about recording, mixing, mastering?

JM – I have noticed that some European engineers are a little too careful with the sound, too many microphones! It also may have to do with recording on computers instead of analog. I love the limitations of analog. Have fun! Don’t worry so much about the microphones!

TP – A few decades ago, recording was expensive. With computers, indie small bands can easily make a decent demo recording. If you are a smooth talker how do you sell “Jim Diamond”? Are your rates prohibitive for an independent small band? (Hahaha…).

JM – Well, I can give you my opinion about the music and the song and create sounds, things that have taken years of experience to develop. Also, I get a lot of recordings to mix and master but I prefer to make the recording from the start. I can get a good drum sound, hahaha.

Jim Diamond at Ave the Sound

TP – If a band you don’t know wants to approach you, what is it important to achieve before clinching a deal with you? (Corrupt you with good wines? Hahaha…). How should a band contact you?

JM – Send me an email, get me drunk, write some good songs, have a good attitude! (jmosrite@gmail.com or jmosrite@hotmail.com) 

TP – Do you have anything to add?

JM – Thank you so much.

Thank you Jim.
See you soon.