Pete was having a tough time personally during the making of …Cork Tree. Did that come across to you at the time?
“I’d love to say that he told me about all these things and I was on board and understood what was going on and we worked through it together, but honestly he kept a lot of that to himself. I found out more about that later, after working with them for many years. He didn’t come to me and say, ‘Hey, I’m really depressed.’ I did find that out of the group he was probably the most up and down. The studio we were in had a very large lounge that was separate from the control room, so he spent a lot of time there, when he wasn’t recording bass, and I assume he was talking to friends, and probably doing a lot of MySpacing.”
Pete and Patrick had a big fight over Sugar, We’re Goin Down. Patrick wanted to completely re-do the chorus, and Pete who was documenting the making of the album, stuck a camera in his face, which Patrick ended up punching… were you there for that?
“I did not see that (laughs), but I can tell you there was always tension on every record at some point. Typically, that would come in the form of Pete writing the lyrics and Patrick editing and putting them together. If Patrick sang it with Pete’s general approval of, ‘Yeah, I’m down with these lyrics,’ then after we worked really hard doing all the performances and getting it just right, Pete would come in and go, ‘You know, I wanna change this line and this line and this line…’ and Patrick would really blow a gasket, because he’d worked so hard on the performance, and the harmonies. His harmonies are very intricate and take a lot of time to develop, so he wasn’t happy re-doing stuff like that. Pete was more of a big picture guy. He didn’t wanna be in the studio for 12 hours a day. He wanted to come in with fresh ears. He’ll tell you this himself: he had the ears of a 13-year-old girl. That’s how he heard music. So I think that having that fresh perspective was helpful for him.”
It could be said that FOB’s success is totally down to the relationship between Pete and Patrick and how well they work together. Did that occur to you at the time?
“Oh absolutely. It’s rare, but it happens – Bernie Taupin and Elton John, and Rush – where different band members that aren’t the singer write the lyrics, so it’s an interesting thing, both for Pete to be writing the lyrics and for Patrick having to sing ’em and sell ’em onstage. Pete doesn’t necessarily write a whole song, he’ll write paragraphs or phrases, and Patrick puts things together. Sometimes there can be a whole song, but other times it’s, ‘Here’s some lines I really like and I think work with this song, let’s put this together.’ So Patrick can become the editor. And as you can imagine, if you write something and your editor gets a hold of it and completely changes it, you’re like, ‘No, that’s not my intent…’ then all of a sudden they’re going back and forth.”
Pete recorded the spoken-word part at the end of Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying… in the toilet, because he was too shy to record them in the vocal booth with everyone watching. It’s hard to imagine Pete being shy like that…
“He was shy. It was one of the last things we recorded, when I was mixing the record, and there’s a bathroom right off the control room. It’s tiny, and I mean really tiny, like an airplane bathroom. He came to me and said, ‘I wanna do this transition piece, but I don’t wanna do it in the vocal booth,’ he wanted to be in the dark and didn’t want anybody to see him, so I just threw a [mic] in and he crouched in the toilet. I’ll have to look for it, but there was a picture taken of him, just as we were closing the door to lock him in there (laughs). He’s not the most comfortable performer in general – he played all the bass on the album, but when he came to vocals I think he wanted to be shy. He didn’t wanna be in the vocal booth right where the glass is so everybody could see him. Being in the studio is already so clinical, as opposed to when you’re live in front of an audience, then literally having people watch you, it’s tough for him.”