Eye In The Sky, Ammonia Avenue, Don’t Answer Me are only some of the more popular songs by the band. In fact, not only has Alan Parsons Project recorded 10 albums, but Alan Parsons himself, is credited to have worked as a producer or sound engineer for music bands that continue to make our hearts go pop. The Beatles and Pink Floyd are only two of those names.
The band also taught us what seamless production was all about last week at Johnnie Walker The Journey, held at Mehboob Studios in Mumbai. A day before the show, we chatted up with Alan Parsons who, incidentally, turned 60 on December 20. One of the most successful international sound engineers and music producers, Parsons’ story is one that is most interesting and requires at least a few hours to understand, which we clearly didn’t have. Excerpts from the interview…
You’ve been a songwriter, a composer, an engineer and producer, and even a singer. If you had to retire today, would you say you’re retiring a content man?
Oh very much so! I have had an incredibly lucky journey though this business. I have managed to sustain my life, doing what I love the most. I’d be happy to retire tomorrow.
Why is it that Eric Woolfson and you never quite toured as APP (Alan Parsons Project) between 1975-1990 – a period that is considered to be the band’s golden years?
When Eric and I created our albums, it was pretty much decided that they would be studio recordings. Also, given the kind of music we did, it would be pretty much impossible for us to play live. It was only in the later years that technology developed enough to allow us to recreate those sounds on stage.
As a producer who has worked with some of the biggest names right from the beginning of your career, do you suppose life would have taken a different turn if you hadn’t started with Abbey Road?
Of course it would have been different. For all you know, I’d be working at a bank or something somewhere. Abbey Road taught me all about the music business, at least the technical side of it. And even if I hadn’t worked at Abbey Road, I am pretty certain that I would have stayed in the music business in some form or the other. I did have my eyes on being a television cameraperson when I was younger; entertainment is in my blood, you see.
We’ve read that you have, in a way, moved away from releasing music under your own name – why is that?
Yes, it has been quite a while since I released anything. We (the band) did release a new single in Europe recently, and hopefully it will be available in India soon. It’s called Fragile.
In the industry, you are rarely allowed to forget that you’d worked with Pink Floyd. Suppose you hadn’t, would you regret it?
Oh it was very fulfilling! Working with the group was a huge challenge for an engineer. They were very studio-minded, and knew exactly how to use every single facility the recording studio could offer. Just like The Beatles, they used the studio to its full potential. In fact, technology was an integral part of their compositions. I have absolutely no regrets working with them, despite the differences. It was a crucial time in my life, and had I not worked with them, things could be very different.
How has music and sound changed in the last 20 years? What I mean is — has the soul of music changed?
It’s interesting, but I don’t listen to as much music as I might have. My house is reasonably music free, unless I am recording of course. It’s not that I don’t want to, but the type of household I surround myself with, my wife and I don’t seem to spend a lot of time sitting down and playing music. Sure, I listen to music in the car and tune into radio stations. But I end up spending a lot of my free time with family and friends, and not with music.
Apart from the 2014-release of The Alan Parson’s Project Complete Album Collection, is there anything else we can look forward to in 2014?
So far, there is nothing coming up. But we do have our 11-CD complete album collection releasing in 2014. This will be the first time that all 10 of our original albums are being made available in a box set, including the 1976 debut Tales Of Mystery and Imagination: Edgar Allan Poe. The 11th CD, the Sicial Defence, was originally to be the fourth Arista LP around 1979-80, but went unreleased and unheard until this box set. So yeah, we’re looking forward to that.