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2007 Article in Los Angeles Magazine

Los Angeles Magazine
May 1, 2007

An excerpt from the book I'll Sleep When I'm Dead - The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon by Crystal Zevon.

WADDY WACHTEL (session guitarist; member of the Everly Brothers backing band with Zevon; producer of some Zevon recordings):
The recording of "Werewolves of London" was like Coppola making Apocalypse Now. It took seven bands to record--the hardest song to get down in the studio I've ever worked on. I tried it with every combination of players we'd used on the record already--Russell Kunkel and Bob Glaub, Jeff Porcaro and Bob Glaub, Russell Kunkel and Lee Sklar ... Tried it with Mike Botts, Rick Schlosser, and with two different bass players. Didn't work. Tried it with Gary Mallaber and both the bass players. Kept not working.

Then, I'm not sure whose idea it was, but we knew who could play this song--Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. They could play it. I called Mick and said, "We have this song, 'Werewolves of London,' and we need you to play it." He goes, "You want us to play with you guys?" I say, "Yeah, man." Mick says, "Waddy, that would be tremendous."

Those guys were drunker than we were, it turned out, but they came down and we set up. It was a nighttime session, and we did a take, did a second take. Jackson and I looked at each other after the second take: "That was pretty good, wasn't it?" Mick Fleetwood says, "Keep going, keep going." Now it's like six in the morning, and we're at take 66 or something, and I looked at Mick and I said, "I think we're done." Mick looks at me and says, "We're never done, Waddy."

I'm standing on the platform with the drums where I'd been all night, and I look through the glass and I say, "Jackson, take two was pretty good, wasn't it?" He says, "Take two was still good." I say, "Sorry, Mick. We're done. Take two was good." We went into the booth, and take two was the one we used. Most of the budget for that album went to that song because of all the attempts at getting it done.

Warren and I were shattered after working on that record, and it's one of the best things he ever did as far as I'm concerned ... There were a couple songs on it I hated, "Tule's Blues" and "Frozen Notes." I didn't want them on the record. One day I showed up at the studio, and Jackson goes, "We're having a playback party tonight." I went, "A playback party? Don't you need a whole album for that?" He went, "The album's finished." I go, "No, it isn't." He said, "Yeah, man. It's done."

They had this whole party set up. We played the record, and I watched people yawn their way through those tunes, and at the end I asked someone for the timing, and it was 24 minutes. I stood up, looked at Warren and Jackson, and pointed at both of their faces. I went, "You and you. Come with me."

We went out to the piano at the Sound Factory, and I went, "Now you understand what I'm telling you? We don't have a fucking album yet. Those songs have to go. They're boring. They're folky. They don't belong with the rest of this amazing stuff we've got." I said, "I'm leaving on the road with Linda Ronstadt, and I'll be back in three weeks. Warren, you've got to write two more songs for this record." I have to say, that was one of the best things Warren ever did for me, and for all of us as listeners. When I got back, the songs were "Lawyers, Guns and Money" and "Tenderness on the Block."

...

WADDY WACHTEL: When Elektra picked "Werewolves" as the single, Warren and I just about threw up. We were insulted, depressed. Artistically, it was like a "luck you [sic]." They took that piece of shit after we gave them "Tenderness on the Block" and "Johnny Strikes Up the Band"? Meanwhile, it's the only hit we ever had, and it will still be a hit when Ariel has grandchildren. But we didn't see that logic at all.




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