Q&A With Dwight Yoakam

Sep 1, 2012 9:00 AM, Mix, By Barbara Schultz


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Dwight Yoakam

Dwight Yoakam

Mix’s September issue includes a feature on recording Dwight Yoakam’s 3 Pears (Warner Bros.), the country star’s first studio album of (mostly) new material since 2005. The self-produced release was created in a handful of L.A.-area studios with a little help from songwriting collaborators Ashley Monroe and Kid Rock; from Beck, who co-produced two tracks; and from several engineers, including Marc DeSisto, who did the lion’s share of the recording and mixed three songs. Yoakam had a lot more to say than we had room to print. Here’s our complete interview.

Congratulations on finishing a great new album.

It was in no small part thanks to someone like [engineer] Marc [DeSisto] who Joe Chiccarelli handed to me. Joe worked on a track or two, but his schedule wasn’t going to permit him going deep into this. I owe Joe a call of great thanks, because Marc stayed with me through the rest of the project. He and I babysat this thing till the wee hours at various studios all over the city. Then Marc ended up mixing three tracks, too. He mixed “Trying,” “Dim Lights,” and “Ring of Fire.”

But a lot of other people worked on this, too. The reason I was late for this interview is I was handed the booklet copy to read right before this and told I needed to look at it right away. I am going track-by-track and individually saying who played what, and who recorded, who assisted. My creative director on the project said that, because of this, giving a little breathing room to the lyrics was a bit of a horror. But this record is about the recording of it I think, because of the way it came together.

How is it being back at Warner Bros. after a dozen years?

Lenny Waronker executive produced it with me, but I almost never went into the building in Burbank. The only time we went in, Marc and I brought a drive over there to sit and listen to the mixes and do the final sequence. Lenny and I did everything else in my car actually. Every couple, three weeks I would go over and I’d pull up in front and say, “Can you come down?” We’d sit in the car at the curb in front of the Warner building. It was sort of a relived adolescence, just out there thumping away in the car.

But this one time, Marc and I went into the basement. They have a couple different mastering rooms in the bowels of the building, and so there we were in the famous Warner Records/Reprise building on Warner Boulevard in Burbank, the building with the palm trees like you see on the records, and we glanced over and pick up a box that’s just laying there, and it’s Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Crimson and Clover.” I guess the house engineers had been doing something with it, and because of the sonics on my record, it was ironic to find it there. On the song “Rock It All the Way,” there’s an homage to Tommy James in the breakdown. The melodic stuff on this record has a lot of influence of that kind of guitar rock.

But we were chasing ghosts all over L.A., it felt like, at times. We started recording in EastWest, which was the old United Western studios where [The Beach Boys’] “Pet Sounds” was predominantly recorded, and the Mamas and the Papas worked. And I cut some things over at Sunset Sound, where the Stones did “Exile.”

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