In CONTROL with JAM & LEWIS Engineer Steve Hodge

JAM & LEWIS Engineer Steve Hodge
The fingersnaps, used on such ballads as "Let's Wait A While" and "Funny How Time Flies," were from the sidestick output of the Linn 9000, softened by reverb. "In fact," Hodge remembers, "we put the Lexicon 224 concert hall program on everything in the album version of 'Let's Wait A While.' We've been doing some new mixes to everything on Janet's album, usually adding live, reverberant drums to replace the Linn. We feed live drum samples into our AMS digital sampler, and trigger them with the Linn."

More than sounds and treatment, Hodge cites Jam's knack for coming up with memorable drum machine patterns as the key to their rhythm tracks. "He never uses a sync tone, and he never programs a song per se," he reports. "Instead, he'll program a few basic patterns on the Linn 9000, then switch them live as he's recording them. From time to time he'll play fills as it's going down, or he'll orchestrate rather complicated breaks, like on 'Control,' where he'll stop the machine, play a lick, start the machine on another pattern, play another lick, then get back to the original pattern. He doesn't sit around and agonize over the drum machine programs; he comes up with them on the spur of the moment, and plays them live. That's why Jimmy is one of the greatest drum machine players I've ever seen."

BabyfaceWhat sequencer do you use for the bass part?

"Everything is still Linn 9000. Always, period. We did use the Akai-Linn (MPC-60). The sequencer on that one is pretty good, and the drums sound is great, but it doesn't have as good of a feel, especially in the swing mode, as the Linn 9000 does. Still, that Akai-Linn does capture and play my feel even a little better than the 9000, so sometimes I'll use the 9000 drum machine and the sequencing of the Akai."

Their hard-edged work with Bobby Brown on 'Dance! . . . you know it' reflects the Dou's fresh interest at that time in their Roland D-110 and Korg M-1, their new Emax orchestral hits, and the Forat F16, whose drum and cymbal sounds left an indelible impression on every little step and on our own. Much of the bite in the drum hits on 'Giving You the Benefit', the first single from Pebbles' 'always' album, comes from the tried and true samples on Baby Face's Linn 9000.

Copeland How that's going to help anything.

Wouldn't it preserve your dynamics?

Yeah, it could do that, now that you mention it. For dynamics, there's a real good feature on the Linn 9000, the Repeat-Hold button. The Linn 9000 really give you the most fluid rhythms of any drum box I know of because of that one button. You just hold that button down as you're playing back the hi hat part, and very the pressure on the hi hat pad. You can get an incredible flowing feel from that, a very real sounding feel. It's great for the tom toms too.

What about the fact that lots of drum machines now have touch-sensitive pads? They might not have the Repeat-Hold feature, but they can generate different velocities depending on how hard you hit them.

Yeah, but there's something about when you've got one finger on the Repeat-Hold button and one finger on the pad, and you're just varying the pressure there. It's much easier to be controlling that than it is to be hitting (the drum notes) separately and to hit one slightly harder than the others.

That Repeat-Hold button, combined with the sensitivity of the individual pads, really puts the Linn 9000 in a class of its own—let alone the MIDI sequencer and all that jazz. The reason I bought it was for the button.

What features would you advise people look for in a drum machine?

Well, that's one. But it automatically costs you x thousand dollars, just for that one function. Exactly. Since I was playing the guitar and the drums, I'd have something to put a click down so I could play the guitar to it. Then Roland came up with the programmable drum boxes. I got the first one they made that you could actually write your programs into, but it was really hard to program. Then they came out with the next one, which was slightly better, and then Oberheim came out with one that was even better than that, and finally I got the Linn.

Janet Jackson The most obvious drum treatments on Control happen on "Nasty," with its heavily gated Linn beat. "That was Jimmy being creative again," Steve Hodge recalls. "I believe there are some congas in there, tuned down as far as they can go. I may have used a lot of the reverse program out of the 224. I was using the AMS non-linear echo program a lot, but not on Janet's album until we got to the remixes. I was using more of the 224, hitting it real hard with the signal and then gating it to get that grainy sound. The syncopated percussion part is from one of the Linn sidestick chips, and the Mirage plays the industrial noise and almost everything else."

Return to Forat Main Page

All content 1986-2017, Forat Electronics Corp., All rights reserved