This is part three in a series of three interviews on the making of a record. The first two featured Johnny O and Pat Hayes (see links below). Rico Anderson is the manager of the Lamont Cranston Blues Band and a long time friend of Pat Hayes.
Ray: Please explain the process of producing a new recording. I guess you start with convincing the band to DO a new recording, right?
Rico: Well, everyone just seems to know when it's time to start thinking about a new recording. You start bouncing ideas off of each other and getting prepared. You don't have to really ever convince a band to record, they're always ready to go.
Ray: What prompted this project?
Rico: For one thing, you don't want to let too much time go by since the last project, but you don't want to rush it either. Today, so many bands are in such a hurry to turn out CD after CD that they wind up rushing projects. It was just time for a new release. We started talking about putting together a 30th anniversary box set back in 1999 with some old favorites, some unreleased stuff, out takes and live stuff.
Ray: Why a live recording rather than a studio? Pat has enough new material, right?
Rico: Ideas just started drifting towards doing something live. We constantly have fans come up at every show and ask if the song they just played is on any CD. We've also talked about a live version of Upper Mississippi Shakedown for a long time, since RCA will not agree to press any more. A live CD was the obvious choice. Pat is always writing and has quite a bit of material, it's just that the studio process takes a lot longer and requires a lot more planning. It was time to get a new project out and the goal is always before the big summer festival season.
Ray: How did you settle on one or two CD's and on what songs to include?
Rico: We went back and forth between one or two CD's. Simply, there is just too much great material to scale down to only one CD. The goal was to include as many of the songs as possible that everyone asks for. A double live CD is also pretty unique, no one has really done it very often, especially around here.
Ray: What was your role in all of this?
Rico: Well, let's see, I'd act as a sounding board for all the guys. I'd keep track of what all the fans were asking for. Helping with planning, ideas and financing discussions. Ultimately, that led to design discussions, setting up the manufacturing and distribution deals. Finally, Pat turned me loose on all the art design and layout. Oh yeah, I also kept all the deadlines in tact, which was a huge task with a project this large.
Ray: How do you go about designing the CD cover and other artwork?
Rico: First, I asked Tom Asp to come out and take some photos of the band at the shows when we did the recordings. Pat really liked one of the shots and said it would make a good cover. Then, I got all the guys to choose the best individual shots that they liked and just started putting all the pieces of the puzzle together. I've always been pretty good at artistic design and started to run with it. Pat seemed to like everything I was doing I guess, so it just came together. I like to think that it gave him more of a chance to concentrate on the music side of things. Gathering all the photos, all the information, all the writing credits and personal credits and going over all the details just pulls it all together. All the guys seemed to like what I was showing them too, so I guess I was on the right track.
Ray: You are using photographs that Tom Asp took at the two live recording sessions. Tell me about his work and how you selected what photos to use?
Rico: Woops, I guess I just covered that in the last question. Tom is a great photographer, so it wasn't too hard to find great shots to use. I've known Tom for years and love his work. He is probably the best Blues photographer around. You can't pick up a Blues rag or Blues News without seeing his work all over it. Anyone that hasn't seen the display of his shots in Sativa Blues in Calhoun Square is missing something.
Ray: After the CD is recorded and mixed and the CD artwork is done, what comes next? Tell me about the actual making of the CD, who does that, approximate costs, printing of the artwork, etc.
Rico: Our goal was to get product out by the Bayfront Blues Festival, so I worked with Precision Powerhouse on deadlines for artwork and manufacturing. 3 or 4 trips to proof the art and dropping off the final master discs by the deadlines is what it took. I got a couple of quotes, but chose Precision Powerhouse for many reasons. They have a very professional operation, they've got a great reputation and have worked with an endless list of acts. They made the process pretty painless. They take the art and fine tune it. Then, they shoot final films. They take the master discs and burn glass masters to use in the manufacturing process. The CD's are shipped out to burn in Canada, the art work in house, and in the end, it all comes back together to package and label. Costs vary a great deal depending on art design needed, films needed, color vs. black and white, number of CD's pressed, packaging, etc. This project will come in at somewhere around $15,000 plus, keeping in mind that in essence it's a double project.
Ray: How about the distribution of the CD, how is that handled? What about pricing, etc.?
Rico: We made a deal with Cold Wind Records to distribute the CD. Cold Wind has had a hand in the last 3 releases. This is the first project in a long time that the band has really owned, we've always been under other label deals. Pricing is somewhat set based on suggested retail pricing (how many times have you heard that?). You have some say in choosing a retail price. The distributor purchases the product from the artist. Then, it's sold to the wholesaler, who in turn sells it to the retail outlets, and they set their retail price. Basically, you work from the retail price down.
Ray: What is your position/involvement with Lamont Cranston? Didn't you play drums at one time?
Rico: I manage the band. After being in and out of the scene for years, about 7-8 years ago, Pat and I were talking while driving out of town one night and he said to me, "Rico, you would make a good manager, you're good at detail, you're good with people, why don't you manage us?" I was already helping with little things here and there, merely because of our history and the fact that I just really wanted to see these guys get back on top and stay there. The music business is full of ups and downs. Pat had just added the horns back in the show and the word was catching on quick. Pat's question was a little out of the blue, but it was easy to say, "Sure". I help with just about all details; contracts, road management, travel, rooms, input on decisions, merchandise sales, projects, publicity, promotion, website design, etc. I also work with all the media (t.v., newspapers, radio) on just about a daily basis, all over the country, not just locally.
Yep, another drummer. Pat, his brother Larry and I had a band in high school called "The Moon." We played a lot of stuff by the Stones, The Animals, The Yardbirds, Cream, etc. Once we started realizing they were getting their influences from the blues roots, the flood gates opened and we started discovering Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Willie Dixon, etc. Those days were the beginnings of the formation of the Cranston style. Pat took the Cranstons more down the Chicago style blues path; Paul Butterfield, B. B. King, Albert King kind of stuff. Larry and I wound up doing stints with The Lake Street Stink Band, which was more the Country blues and Southern blues style; Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson, etc. I also eventually switched to guitar and vocals with the "Stinkers". I still get up on the drums once in awhile. There's been a few times when we were out of town, that Pat and I would get up in a bar with other bands and tear it up.
Ray: How long have you known Pat?
Rico: Oh geez, 35 plus years I guess.
Ray: Anything else I missed asking?
Rico: No, you actually asked really great questions. I guess you left out asking me about my pet peeves, my favorite color, my favorite food, my favorite t.v. show, things like that.
On a final note, I do want to say that by now, everyone has heard that we lost our sax player Rick O'Dell on July 14th. Besides the obvious, Rick being one of the 'baddest' players around, Rick was also a great guy with humor and class that will never be matched. We will all miss his humor and his craziness. Rick O'Dell, we loved you, you will be missed. Now, I'll leave you with Rick's own quote;
"A Picture is worth a thousand words, but a song is worth a thousand
Lamont Cranston Blues Band website: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/lamontcranston/
Other two parts of this "making of a record" series:
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