Posted by Oteil Burbridge on December 13, 2013 The Grohl Sessions
What treat it was to be apart of the The Grohl Sessions with Zac Brown Band. I had some past experience and some mutual family with the Zac Brown Band. ZBB’s drummer, Chris Fryar, was the drummer in my band (The Peacemakers) up until 2007 and ZBB’s drum and bass tech, Penn Robertson, was my sound engineer, road manager, and even sang lead on the encore with the Peacemakers up until that same time. I had learned about the band and their music from them and even had a chance to sit in with ZBB at the Verizon Amphitheater in Atlanta in 2012.
I was lucky enough to record with the band the first time they had tracked in their new studio Southern Ground Recording Studios. It used to be called Masterlink and is a historic studio in Nashville. Zac refurbished and renamed it. It’s one of the most beautiful studios I’ve ever been in. Naturally I was a little bit nervous being in a new situation but Zac and Co. really made me feel welcome and at ease. I was also happy to be reunited with Chris and Penn, Eric Pretto, (who was Jimmy Herring’s guitar tech through his tours with The Dead, Allman Brothers Band, Phil and Friends, and Widespread Panic.)
About a week before I was scheduled to be at the studio Jimmy’s wife Carolyn had suggested that I watch a movie that Dave Grohl made called Sound City about the recording studio of the same name. I felt like I really got to know him watching that film. He likes to record live as much as possible. I really dug this since I felt like the bands I was with always sounded better live than in the studio. The studio can feel more clinical than I like sometimes. But as with anything, it is a mindset. I’m sure that James Brown and Taj Mahal studio sessions had tons of energy! Grohl really brought that energy and spirit to the producers chair. I also feel better knowing that the producer also is a musician. It’s not necessary but I always prefer it. The Tom Dowd’s are few and far between these days!
There was a lot of laughter and funny stories. Grohl is a GREAT storyteller and when you’ve traveled as far and wide as Grohl has, you end up with some pretty epic material. Keeping the spirit of adventure, creativity, and fun was paramount and I think it is quite evident on tape. And when I say “tape”, I mean, quite literally, TAPE. We tracked on 2″ analog tape. What a treat. It was great to hear tape rewind and watch engineers mark, cut and splice tape again. The whole experience was great and I hope I get to do a lot more of it in the future!
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