By Carsten Weide.
With the Baked Potato Super Live album in 1982, Greg Mathieson released an album that will last forever. Read more about this and much more when Carsten Weide talks with Greg Mathieson.
– Don’t you miss the old sound from back in the late 70’s and the early 80’s when the west coast sound was at it’s highest?
I don’t miss “the good old sound” as much as I miss playing live with real players all at the same time. With todays technology there are many albums that I play on and I never see the drummer, guitarist, singer or any other musician. This is because a lot of albums (CD’s) start in a computer some where and then everybody puts their part on separately. Back in the 70 & 80’s the rhythm section always played the song together at the same time. We also didn’t always use a click track so the songs breathed a little more. So what I miss is seeing, talking, “hanging with” and playing with all the great players there are in L.A. Back then I got to play with two or three rhythm sections a day. Now I’m lucky if I get to play with one a week.
– Do you think it would be possible to make a record today with the “good old sound”? Are the instruments too “clean” in today’s sound? Back then the sound was softer and I think the sound was better in a lot of ways. There are of course a lot of great sounding albums today that would sound strange with the old sound. What do you think?
What’s changed in the “sound” from today as compared to the late 70’s and early 80’s is the technology of recording. Today we listen to Digital CD’s and back then there were vinyl record albums (and with those albums you had big covers with more art work). It was also recorded differently. Back then everything was recorded on analogue tape and today everything is done digital. I don’t think intruments have changed that much except for synths. Today we have digital synths and back then we had analogue synths. Today we have MIDI so synths can do so many things. But I still play the same Hammond B-3 and acoustic piano. The real drums,guitars and bass are the same so I think it’s recording technology. I think there were some great sounding records from back then and there are some great sounding records now. I like them both and besides that it’s too late, technology is here and is only going to improve.
– It is almost the same “cats” playing today, but why do you not have the same kind of touch? A lot of us miss the old sound. Did you take more chances back then or what is the difference?
I think your still talking about technology. Today everything is cut to a click track or to a drum machine. Back then if the song sped up or slowed down we called that “feel”. Today people think that is a mistake so if the drummer goes out of time they put him into “Pro-Tools” and the make him sound perfect. (Not Human) The Keys are MIDI and are quantized. The vocal are run through Auto-Tune and ect.,etc. They take out all the little mistakes and so everybody sounds perfect and the same.
– Is it because you have more experience now and you know what you can do?
As much as I hate to admit it I am older so I think my playing is better and more mature. I know more about music and how to play with other musicians and how to fit in. I feel more comfortable with my self and I think that that’s good.
– Don’t you get a little sentimental when you listen to old records like Toto 4, Bill Labounty, David Roberts “All Dressed Up”, Chicago 16, 17, Marc Jordan ect. ?
I miss the kind of records you have mentioned but what or who I miss the most is Jeff Porcaro and Carlos Vega. I miss the look in Jeff’s eye and his great groove and attitude. I miss hangin’ with “Los” in the back of the Baked Potato his groove and sense of humor.
– Do you know what David Roberts is doing today? As far as I / we know he only made that one album you produced. (That album is a true mile stone).
Thank you for liking this album so much. That album had a lot of the musicians from Toto on it and it was a lot of fun to make. About three years ago David called me about doing another album but nothing ever came of it and I haven’t heard from him since. I’d like to know what’s going on with him.
– What music do listen to when you relax and what music do you listen to for inspiration?
I’m usually in the studio everyday so when I want to relax I don’t listen to anything because I need to give my ears and soul a break. Lately I’ve been listening to old Lee Morgan records (The Sidewinder) and some Bill Evans. Last father’s day I put together a CD of the best of Charlie Parker, Dizzy and Monk for my father and so that was some great inspiration. Old Miles, Herbie Hancock, and John Coltriane is allway’s good. And then there are always the musicians around me, they are great!!! Also what ever is going on in my life.
– Who or what is the greatest musical influence on you?
The greatest influence on me was Miles Davis. (I named my son Miles.) Especially the early 60’s band that had Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams and George Coleman or Wayne Shorter. “My Funny Valentine” and “Four and More” were my favorite albums.
– If you could choose between any artist or group that you have not worked with (living or dead) who would you like to play with?
It would be Miles Davis!!
– What is so far the greatest moment for you as a musician?
That is a hard question to answer. There have been so many. What I choose to say instead is that I’m so LUCKY to be a musician and to still be making a living playing music. I’ve seen a lot of great musicians give music up and take up other professions and so I thank god everyday for the life I live.
– You have written a lot of top hits for other artists, is there a special song that you are very proud of?
Right now there are a couple of new songs that I’m really proud of. They’re not out yet so you’ll have to wait to decide if you agree. The last Al Jarreau single “Just To Be Loved” is pretty good.
– The Baked Potato Album from 1982 became a “must have” album and has become a masterpiece. Did you ever imagine that?
No I never thought it would become a “cult” album. About three or four years ago I played a gig in Germany and after that gig a fan brought a 1982 vinyl record album cover for me to sign and it was already singed by Steve, Jeff and Pop’s and I would make it complete. I don’t have that and I wish now that I did.
– The latest recording Baked Potato 2000 is now released and 18 years have past since the 1st release. You seem to like these live recordings. How were the sessions?
Now lets talk about what you brought up before. This album is LIVE. There are no overdubs or fixes. What you here is four musicians playing together without the technology. No Pro-Tools, computers, click tracks or machines. We mixed it by hand (old style) not with automation. For me recordings like this are the most truthful. This is the way we sounded in the club with all the great moments and with our mistakes. For me this is the ultimate in taking chances because you get to hear us raw and not polished.
– Your album “for My Friends” from 1989 is your latest solo studio album. Do you have plans to release a new studio album?
I’m working on it right now. I’ve demoed eight songs including two that I wrote with Bill Champlin and he’s singing on the album. As far as the musicians, of course my brother Abraham will play and Vinnie and maybe Abraham’s son “Cito” and …………….
– Everybody is talkin’ about your amazing organ playing. When you play live today, do you use old hammond stuff or is it some of the new clones?
I used on the Baked Potato 2000 album a combination of old and new. I still own a 1968 Hammond B-3 and a 122 Leslie speaker. But because of the room on stage and my musical needs I used a Hammond XM-1 module with a drawbar controller sitting on my main keyboard and I run that into a Hammond adapter for the XM-1 and then into my 122 Leslie speaker to give it the real sound. This way I can play piano and organ at the same time.
– What are your plans for the future?
First there is the new Duet Album Laboriel/Mathieson. It’s Abraham and I playing like we do without any frills. Check it out! Next there is my solo album that I mentioned before. Look for that in January or February. Finally I’ve talked to the Baked Potato band about making a studio album in the 1st of the year that would be 10 new songs but short enough for one CD. Then in the 2nd half of the year record the same songs only do them live at the Baked Potato and let everybody solo etc. and release a double CD