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"He rang me up and said, come on up, we need a bass player on a couple of tracks. So I went up to the studio and played bass, and it was Slim Dusty's album Lights on the Hill." - Rod Coe

In this episode

  • Starting as a young musician

  • Rod's early days as a musician

  • Rod's take on practising the instrument

  • Pros and Cons of being in a band

  • Rod Coe produced the legendary punk band The Saints

  • How Rod produced Slim Dusty, and later became his bass player

  • Rod's time as producer at EMI Sydney

  • Managing the double-bass on stage


About the 


Rod Coe, an accomplished EMI producer and virtuoso bass player, has left an indelible mark on the music industry. His bass grooves have graced numerous iconic recordings, including Slim Dusty.


The Production Talk Podcast - The modern way of producing music

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Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome to the Production Talk podcast with me, Yarn, of In this podcast series, we celebrate the modern way of producing music. We want to talk about all things related to songwriting, recording at home and music production. So, if you produce your music at home, this is the place to be. Please subscribe and recommend this podcast to all your friends. This is the Production Talk Podcast episode 55. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: [00:00:00] Welcome to the protection talk podcast with me. Ya of mix NA you in this podcast series, we celebrate the modern way of producing music. We want to talk about all things related to songwriting, recording at home and music production. So if you produce your music at home, this is the place to be. Rod Coe: Please Jan 'Yarn' Muths: subscribe and recommend this podcast to all your friends. This is the production talk podcast, episode 55. Before the start of this episode, I would like to make two little announcements. First and foremost, our friend Russell Cottier from episode 26, a legendary UK producer, is offering [00:01:00] an analog mixing course to all our podcast listeners. So if this is something you are interested in, head over to episode 26, have another listen or go to this episode, show notes and click the link to check out what he's offering there. It's it's a really cool course. I checked it out myself. And if this is something you're interested in, I warmly recommend that. And secondly, I'd also like to let everybody know that I finally managed to move my studio into new rooms, and I'm very happy to operate now out of amazing big rooms in Mullumbimby in the east coast of Australia. I'm now working out of a massive control room, which has been designed by nobody less than John Sayers himself. And the studio also has three completely separate live rooms. So as I get ready to, to launch this studio, I'd like to invite everybody who's interested to please contact me if you wanna stop by for a cup of tea and just check it out. Well, my email is, and I'm looking forward to [00:02:00] hanging out and showing this studio to as many people as I can. All right. Okay. That's enough about me. Let's move on to the good stuff. Here is my interview with Mr. Rod Coe. Welcome back to another episode of the production talk podcast. I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the country that we are meeting on today. The Arakwal people of the Bundjalung nation. And I would like to pay my respects to elders past, present, and emerging. Blessed love. With me today is Mr. Rod Coe producer and bass player. Welcome to the podcast. How are you today? Rod Coe: I'm well, thank you. Thanks for having me. It Jan 'Yarn' Muths: is my pleasure. Look, a couple of weeks ago, we actually met for the first time in the studio in a recording session. And you were playing double bass. Rod Coe: Yeah, it's a, it's an instrument that I'm very, very fond of. And I hack away at it and just have a good time and get to play with a whole lot of different [00:03:00] people. So, mm, yeah. It's it's yeah, it's an enjoyable thing. Well, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I noticed straight away that you were right on top of it, you know, you were just mastering that instrument and every note was played with so much control. So that immediately I knew. There is more to you that I wanna ask. So that's why I invited you. How old were you when you started playing instruments? Rod Coe: Well I learned a little bit of piano when I was 10 and 11, couple of years of that as a lot of kids did at that age mm-hmm then I sort of gave it up, but at then I went off to boarding school and I really got interested in music there and I sang in the school choir and And listening to the hit parade, you know, like yeah. In, in in, in off times and just really enjoying this is I'm talking about like late fifties, early sixties here, and, you know, the, the music scene was getting really interesting in the early sixties, particularly this is just before the Beatles. Yeah. So I came up sort with the, with the shadows and. Bands like instrumental bands a lot of pop music, cliff Richard and all that sort of stuff. And one of the real standout things to [00:04:00] me that got me really interested in music was hearing Booker tea and the mgs doing green onions. And to me that was like, oh wow, this, this, this sounded so powerful. And I really got interested in playing guitar particularly at that stage, but that only lasted a couple of years and I switched to bass. So there were too many guitarists around. Yeah. Right. And, and whereabouts was that? This is in New Zealand. I went to school in Christchurch, Christchurch, and and worked there for Oh, you know, seven or eight years before I came over to Australia. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. And so you got into playing instruments and then, you know, I guess you practiced a joint bands and, Rod Coe: well, that was the thing. I didn't do much practice cause, but, but I, I, I, I had a reasonable year for working things out. From what I heard on the radio. And of course, yeah, joining a band was the first thing getting in a band. Yeah. Because when the Beatles hit, it was like, wow. You know that I wanted to be a Beatle. So, you know, next best thing was just try and form your own band. So I just went along to, you know, met as many people as I could that played and yeah. You know, just, just joined in, [00:05:00] got involved. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: okay. And you were a young man at that Rod Coe: time, I guess. Yeah, I was I would've been, you know, 18, 19. Yeah. Perfect time to get started. It is. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Yeah. Right. Yeah. And what advice would you have to, to musicians today who start an instrument and are right at the beginning? If you, you know, think back about the person you were. Back then. What advice can you, can you give a younger musician? Who's at the beginning? Rod Coe: Gosh, that's a hard one. The things that I didn't do is practice and I, I think that's the best advice you can give anyone is that you'll never improve on an instrument unless you actually practice or play. Yeah, I suppose most of my practice was done actually playing in bands and, and figuring out baselines from records. Just, you know, rather than actually practicing the sort of technique things that most players should really be practicing just to get their hands and their body into a good shape for yeah. You know, for being able to play anything that comes into their head. Yeah. I didn't do that. I basically just went through developing my ear from [00:06:00] listening to stuff, picking out baselines, learning them and. Just the thrill of playing with other people. That's a really important thing I reckon. And a lot of players, or a lot of young people I see today don't really want to get involved in, you know, like putting a band together and it's hard work sometimes, you know, can coordinating that sort of thing. But that's so true to me. It it's the best, it's the best learning experience because the thrill of it when you, when you play together and when it really comes off, it's just magic. Yeah, you, you're Jan 'Yarn' Muths: definitely right. You know, a lot of young musicians nowadays work in their bedroom all by themselves, which has pros and cons. Absolutely. You know, the pros you don't need to argue or you don't need to make compromises. Yeah. Yeah. But yeah, I guess, you know, there's also music as a language, you know, speaking an instrument and, you know, throwing lines foreign back and. Vibing of one another. Yeah. Rod Coe: There's that? Yeah. That's and also an important part, isn't it? Yeah. And also the fact that, that, that often a good band will sound much bigger than the sum of its parts. Mm. You know what I mean? So you get the sense of power from it that doesn't just come [00:07:00] from you. It comes from the fact that you're all doing it together, which is just Jan 'Yarn' Muths: wonderful. Yeah. Fantastic. Tell me more about the bands that you've been involved Rod Coe: with. Well, I started off the first band I was in was actually a tra band and I was playing electric bass in a, in a, in a traditional, a Dixie land type band. We used to call 'em tra bands in those days. Cause There were a lot of English. They called themselves tread bands, bikini ball ACABI Chris barber, a lot of those English trade bands, you know, were, were on the hip parade and you'd hear them all the time. Yeah. And that's the classic lineup of, you know, drums based piano, banjo trumpet, trombone, and clarinet, and maybe a singer as well. So that was really good. Fun. And you learn because of a lot of the material is is old material. And you get, it's like the the, the great American songbook sort of style stuff only even earlier than that. So you get to learn a lot about music too, and the structure of those sorts of songs, which is, which is interesting, the structure of harmony. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. And were you able to translate that knowledge [00:08:00] and that skill to other genres? Rod Coe: Well, yeah, because my, my main interest was, were rock and roll. Mm. But that was that, that was a band that formed, because I had friends who were, you know, a friend who was a sax player and a friend who was a, who were a drummer. And that was the music they liked. Yeah. So I just went along with that too, but I was listening much more to rock and roll and certainly working out rock and roll baselines, you know, playing, trying to play hard, trying to play, you know, sort of much more aggressive, I suppose, than that, than that sort of music required. Nevertheless, it was a great ground. Musically. Okay, fantastic. After that I joined a rock band, you know, and we just, we just oh, we just, you know, you, you I've been fortunate, I suppose, in a lot, lot of ways where the bands I've been in have generally gelled fairly, fairly quickly and fairly easily without a lot of the issues that the bands often go through, you know, like personality stuff, and. Stuff like that. So I've, I've, you know, I've had good experiences generally in bands and that keeps you enthusiasm going too. Of course, of course. Yeah, of Jan 'Yarn' Muths: course I can imagine. That's probably not [00:09:00] always easy. You know, there's also situations of conflict, usually at some stage. Yeah. How do you work through something like this? If, if there is a clash of, you know, opinions or creative ideas, Rod Coe: I usually just gave way okay. no that's not the answer Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I expected, but. Rod Coe: No, I think, I think, you know, you it's I guess I'm not the sort of person who's ever gonna be a great band leader. Cause I, I don't really wanna lead. I'm very happy being a bass player and just going along and just doing my bit to make the whole thing sound good. Mm. So I suppose that's a, that reflects my personality. And so therefore I'm not really. Gonna go sort of head to head with anyone and get into conflicts that I don't, that, that I can avoid. Yeah. So for me, it just, it wasn't difficult at all, really. And I never came across too many people in band situations who were who I couldn't deal with, you know? Oh, good. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Fantastic. I guess that's what one learn when being in. Rod Coe: So, you know, it's part of it too. Yeah. How, how to, how to actually maintain that. [00:10:00] The primary focus of the band has gotta be the enjoyment of the music. Yes. And if it's, if it becomes about personalities, then it's not working really mm-hmm Jan 'Yarn' Muths: well said, well said, look, you also have experience in other genres. Is it correct to say that you've produced some punk in your earlier life as well? Rod Coe: Yeah, that is correct. And and I think that there you are referring to the saints. Yes, saints, first album, legendary band, and the saints were a Brisbane band of punk band. Great punk band who came out in the middle of the the Joe Biki Peterson era of state government in Queensland. And they were, they were very, very anti that mm-hmm . Recorded a single called stranded. And I think about 90, 76. With with a Brisbane engineer called mark Moffitt, who made a great job of, of that single, they sent copies all around the world, English music press picked it up. Wow. Someone reviewed it as the, the, the single of the year EMI Australia, who I was working for at the time, then got a AMI from EMI, England [00:11:00] saying, get onto this group. You know, what, why haven't you signed them yet? So We got in touch with them. And I, as one of the staff members, the production staff members at EMI in Sydney were sent to Brisbane to to record the band and get them to sign, sign a deal. They were obviously you know, quite happy to do that. So we spent two days in the studio and. It was the rawest experience I've ever had. I think it was just a little boxy little studio, concrete block not much in the way of the monitoring. Wasn't very good. I remember that particularly, cuz I found it really hard to hear what was going on. And so we just set the band up in the studio, not too much isolation or anything and the guitarist ed Cooper. Played through a a double stack PA. Oh wow. and was really, really loud. And his style was just constant. It was like a buzz saw the whole thing, Paul course. So, so, so, and the singer, Chris Bailey was great. He had a real swagger to him. So anyway, we just went in there and did take after, take after take of their, you know, probably only one or two takes of every song. The end of two days we had, we had an album [00:12:00] basically, which I then took back to EMI and Sydney to mix. You Jan 'Yarn' Muths: recorded that in two days? Yes. Yeah. Rod Coe: Wow. That's fast. Well, that was the, that was what you did in those days. We're talking analog, we're talking multi tracking, everything just goes down. And that was a band that didn't need pre-production or anything. You know, it wasn't a band that you needed to say, oh, why don't you try this part or over dub that or whatever, you know, it was just, it was just what it was. And that was what we were trying to do is just capture that energy, which we did. I. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: As a producer, you'd actually didn't work on arrangements or instrumentation parts at all, or lyrics. No, I, you just left it as raw as it Rod Coe: was. And I flew into Brisbane. Having never met the band, met up with them at the studio and we started making the record and that was it. . So, you know, was, it was sort of unheard of really, but that was the way it was sort of the way things operated in those days too. Mm. You didn't need to go. To to great lengths, to prepackaged stuff and make it all as glossy as you could. Yeah, certainly not in that genre. And [00:13:00] I'd been playing in a, in a sort of a punk rocker, Billy band in Sydney for the couple of years leading up to that. So I had a fair idea of what sort of energy it needed to be and how raw it needed to be too. Yeah. And I, I loved when I first heard the single stranded, I loved it. I thought it was great and comparing it with the sex pistols and things like that. I thought it had a, a real Authentic rough edge, which a lot of the English punk didn't have, because to me it was a little bit overproduced. Oh, okay. So, you know, that was my comparative view of, of where the saints were. And I was determined. I think also at the same time, there was a bit of a reaction because in the Australian scene there was the little river band were big and there was that. Push towards that really glossy harmony, big sounding almost a west coast sound in, in what was coming through in Australia. So I, I reacted a bit to that too. I think in, in my embracing, embracing the you know, the sort of the punk thing. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Fantastic. And so then you just flew back with the tapes and your backpack, I guess. Rod Coe: And. I can't remember whether I had a back. I think I might have had a briefcase in those days.[00:14:00] but so anyway, yeah, we, we got back to Sydney and and I went, went into one of the studios there with, with, I think it was with Richard lush, who was an ex a road engineer, one of the many brilliant house engineers at EMI records. And they had 3 0 1 studios in those days. They actually owned the studios. It was before it became 3 0 1. I think it was just called EMI. Yeah, just EMI. So yeah, we spent. I probably, we didn't spend a lot of time mixing, but I remember particularly trying to make sure that. the effect of the record was you had this really loud guitar in the front of everything and everything else was a little bit behind that. So you had to really listen to hear what was going on and somehow let the guitar wash over your past you and, and get into what was behind it. But the, but the initial, the initial blast that you heard was guitar, guitar, guitar. So it was like, it was, it was a. it was I dunno, I dunno how I'd describe it. I just wanted that to be. [00:15:00] the sort of thing that would really annoy some people who wouldn't get it, but, but it would be well worth the effort to sort of go beyond the, the initial, you know got it. Onslaught . Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, yeah. Right. And, you know, looking at the time, that was rather unusual. That was not something people were used to. No, you know, while today we've been. We've been, we've seen scrunch, we've seen heavy metal and all of these genres. So we somewhat used to read loud guitars, but it was a bit of a, a new direction. Wasn't it? Rod Coe: It was in a way. And I remember going to an EMI EMI used to have their conferences every year and talk about what the trends were and what was gonna happen. And I remember that question coming up is what do you think. Is gonna happen in the next few years. And I think this was 76. And the general prevailing opinion was that it was the little river band's style and era that was gonna be happening. But I, I said, I, I said what I thought at the time, which was no, I'm sure punk's gonna have a, an influence here too. You know, it's gonna be, it's not gonna be just that. So, and that basically, you know, punk did definitely change the. [00:16:00] Definitely. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Did you, did you experience any, any pushback from executives or so for, for heading into a new direction, doing unusual Rod Coe: things I could tell EMI was a pretty stayed company. You know, they were very conservative and I could tell that a lot of people didn't get it. And yeah, and in fact, the, the impetus for signing the band in the first place had come from England, which was much more aware. I think, of the, you know, the, the potential of punk. So I didn't really expect anything to happen much commercially with that album. And, you know, like it, it, if anything, the record, I don't think the record sold all that. Well, like, like not in terms of, you know, chart success or anything like that, but the band was working around Sydney by that stage and, and probably all over the country and creating a real name for themselves so that, you know, it became almost underground. Yeah. Funny thing was, I didn't think much more about it, but I remember going to going into London in 1980, and I thought I'd go and visit Abby road. And I walked in and someone said to me, I said, I said, hi, I'm rod co I'm from me, my Australia. [00:17:00] And someone said, oh, you are the guy that did the saints album. And I was going, yeah. Yeah. like to them. That was what, what, you know, I was somebody cuz I'd done the saints album. I mean, I hadn't, I never thought of it like that. You know, . Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Great. Yeah, that's fantastic. And we sort of skipped the beginning of the story. How did you actually end up at Rod Coe: EMI? Well, that was a, I, I I'd come over. I'd spent several years working in New Zealand as a a television technician getting into Technical production of TV shows, and I'd done all gone through all the camera work and the CCU and sound and all that lighting, all that sort of stuff. So after a while I got sick of that and I, I really wanted to concentrate a bit more on music. So I spent a year in Australia just doing odd jobs and playing in bands. And that was fantastic experience cuz that was during the American. R and R period when they were fighting in Vietnam and coming to us to Sydney for their R and R. So there were a lot of, lot of, lot of sailors around with lots of money and lots of music venues and, you know, things were really happening. So that was great. [00:18:00] I had a great time for a year. Went back to television in New Zealand, did another three years over there. Just sort of, you know, getting into it and playing in bands. I played in a local band at that stage. We had a national hit and. That then gave me the impetus, I think, to want to come to Australia and just concentrate on music and do nothing else. So that was right. I came to Australia and hooked up with an old flatmate of mine from Christchurch who happened to be working at Warner brothers. And he also knew the boss of EMI good friends with the boss of EMI evenly. So he suggested to me that I auditioned for this job that was going at the time as a house producer. And in those days they had a, a, an a and R depart. With head of a and R and three house producers working under them. And they had about 45 different acts, all signed up and, you know, turning over records in, you know, EV all the time. So there was plenty of work. So I applied for the job and much to my surprise ended up getting it. So and that was it. I, I just I think that my experience in in television, in New Zealand and the fact that I'd done a bit of [00:19:00] recording work as a, as a bass player, Stood me in good stead and getting that job. But the other thing I think too, now looking back on it is that, and I didn't realize this so much at the time is that production is a people job. It's a job about people. And I think having the right sort of demeanor is, you know, Also helped me get the job too. Mm. So you know, that, I think that was a part of it in hindsight, well said, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: well said, yeah, I couldn't agree more actually in all honesty, I think that's even more important than all the technical side. Mm. But can I just steer back for a second, just a moment, a few moments ago, you mentioned that , that that's fine. A couple of moments ago, you mentioned you had a national hit in New Zealand. Can you drop any names? What, what was the band's name? What's Rod Coe: what's the song title? I'd have to look that up. Yeah. There was, those were the days when you could you could Nick because there was a sort of time delay between a re a record being a hit in England, and then the local branch of the record company would get it maybe a week later, but then the, their release schedule might, it might take seven or eight weeks before it got released. So what would happen sometimes is the [00:20:00] record company would say to the, say to a local band. You do a version of this and we'll get it out before the English release and see if you can have a hit with it, you know? Oh, really. So, so that's what happened to us. We, I was playing in a band called the revival out of Christchurch and we signed Tov in Wellington, under Peter Dawkins, who was a great producer up there and eventually came to Australia and and he picked out a song. I think it was by the equals called Viva Bobby Joe. We went into the studio, recorded that with a B side. And, and it got released, you know, like very quickly and, and it just got a lot of airplay, so, you know. Cool. We did. Okay. Yeah. yeah. Right. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Look, that's an amazing feeling. I, I guess when you, you know, hear your own music on the radio. Rod Coe: Yeah. It is. It's an interesting feeling. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And you become a bit of a local celebrity yeah, of course. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Fantastic. Then at a different stage of your career, you also gained a lot of [00:21:00] experience in other genres, such as country as a musician Can you expand on that? Can you fill us in what happened there? How did you get into country and how did you make your connections? Then you ended up pretty much at the top of the country game. Can you Rod Coe: walk us through please now in those days? When I first joined Emmi as a producer, they probably had oh, probably seven or eight major country music stars on. Amongst their stable of artists, they had everything, they had string quartets, they had pipe bands, they had opera singers. They had all sorts of things. Like it was such a varied roster of artists. And of course you got experience across all those genres, just working with these people from different genres. And I worked with people like reg Lindsay and Johnny Ashcroft and Ricken fell. And some of these old names, Tex Morton, Chad Morgan, people like that. And. I actually got to I got called into a session one day. I was, I wasn't producing Peter Dawkins was producing slim, dusty, and I was downstairs in my office and he [00:22:00] rang me up and said, come on up. We need a bass player on a couple of tracks. So I went up to the studio and played bass and it was slim dusty album lights on the hill. And so I played on the couple of tracks that he wanted me to play on and thought nothing more of it really met slim, good bloke. We talked horses for a little bit, you know, cause I'd grown up on a farm too. So, and, and then. Not long after that he had a backing band from New Zealand called the Hamilton county bluegrass band, and they wanted to make an album too. And they were they'd had they'd already made lots of big albums in New Zealand, but they were working in Australia. And so I got the job as a house producer at EMI of producing their album. Now this is a bluegrass band and it's not something that I'd sort. You know, had any experience with before, but it's music, you know, it's all music and they were really good at it, you know, and it was just, there's something really fetching about that bluegrass thing too, when you got banjos and fiddles and they were all good players, you know, so we made an album in the studio and then they enjoyed, you know, the, the, the, the, the working situation was really good. We all had a good time together. They then [00:23:00] recommended me to slim and. At the time, fortunately Peter Dawkins, their, his pro Slims producer was going over to festival music, changing labels. So all of a sudden there was a, you know, an opportunity. So slim decided to give me a try and we made an album together and we actually, we, it was an album that had, had been almost fully recorded that slim wasn't happy with it. Oh he you're right. He, it was a, it was a Bush ballot album and he'd felt that That the recordings they had made of the songs had gone a little bit too far into pop and pop music with hand claps and that sort of stuff, you know, too much of a production thing. So, so when he and I got together, we sort of stripped it all back. Reapproached the songs with much more of an acoustic sort of a vibe to it and rerecorded the album. And that was called scratch. Or did you keep, we kept two songs. Okay. Which he, which he really liked, liked the treatment of yeah. The rest. So it was a 12, 12 song album. So we recorded those 10 songs again that that he [00:24:00] wasn't happy with. So that was the start of, of an association, which then lasted 28 years. Wow. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow. So you worked as a producer and also as a bass player for slim Rod Coe: dusty. I, I had I didn't work as a bass player for slim dusty immediately. Okay. Sorry. Yeah, the, the, the, the, the bass playing for slim came along much later once my kids had grown up a bit and I could G go on tour. Okay. But at the time it was like, you know, I, I took, I just took over his studio stuff hired in the best bass players we could find, or in, in the case of the Hamilton county bluegrass band. They're, you know, they were doing the backings for the first couple of albums albums. After that, it was a matter of just finding the session musicians that understood the genre. And it's a very strict genre. Yeah. That, that slim dusty style, Bush Ballard music. It's like, it's, you know, it's, the lines are laid down and you stick within them. And you know, you bring in ideas as much as you can to try and color. the whole thing in a different way, you know, so everything sounds as fresh as you can make it, but at the same time, there are, there are rules, you know, mm-hmm [00:25:00] certain things you don't do, you know, and slim was slim was at all. He was at the peak of his career when I came on board. So it wasn't difficult at all. He knew exactly what he wanted. He knew how he could do it. He's the best rhythm guitarist I'd ever heard, just an amazing player. And and of course he could sing, he could sing and he could write, and his wife could. As well, so it was all set up, you know, and I just came and enrolled with it really, but it was great. I loved, I loved the music. I loved the genre. I think that that, that style of country, music's still very close to my heart. And I, and I am still involved in playing shows with the slim dusty band, even though Slim's not around anymore, but we still do shows of all Slim's material with the same band. Wow. Hmm. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Fantastic. Well help me out quickly. When, how long ago did he pass away? Rod Coe: That's been slim passed in 2003. Yeah. Right. So it's Jan 'Yarn' Muths: almost 20 years. Rod Coe: Oh yeah. Yeah. Wow. Yeah. But the, but the, the, the core of the band, the traveling country band, which is what slim called the band in which what I eventually joined in 1988 or [00:26:00] 87 actually has always been a sort of. Like a family unit in a way. And slim and joy, his wife always promoted that feeling. Yeah. Within the tours that, you know, we were part of a family. We, we, you know, and they didn't just, they didn't choose idiots as part of their team either, you know? So yeah, it was good and we've always maintained. Through all the different permutations of the band. There's all the relationships are always, you know, still there and strong and, you know, it's like, we, we just feel like you're part of a special, special band, a special gang. Well, it's great. It's a great feeling. Oh, fantastic. That Jan 'Yarn' Muths: sounds amazing. Say when, when you work for, you know, high profile artists like this and major record companies, like. EMI, I guess once you're in the studio, there must be a lot of pressure as well. Time pressure, financial pressure. How do you manage nervousness in situations like this? You know, how do you really get the absolute best take out of a musician who comes in? You know, everybody knows we are on the clock. The dollars are literally clicking by every, every minute. [00:27:00] There must be a lot of pressure there. How do you get people to perform just naturally. Without worries. And from, from the bottom of their heart, Rod Coe: gee, that's a big question. I don't know. I, I've never really thought about that. And how pressure impacts on On your sort of demeanor in the studio? I suppose I was very fortunate being on staff at EMI, where I had the backing of a, of a major corporation with plenty of money with sales, with marketing, all the promotions, all the departments working together to, to you know, to take the pressure off really So in those early days, when I was on staff at Emmi, I didn't really feel a lot of pressure except that I put pressure on myself because I didn't know what I was doing really. You know, it was, I was new to a, it was a job I'd never done before music production, although I had tentacles in it, but I, you know, all of a sudden I'm responsible for making a product like an album. Okay. And now we've gotta, we've gotta, we've gotta record. Mix and finish and put together 12 tracks that make a coherent hole and it's gotta be the [00:28:00] best. It's. I mean, you've gotta please the artist, you've gotta please. The record company. There's all that. I didn't really how do I put this? I suppose there was pressure, but I didn't really acknowledge it as pressure. It was more like, I love working. You know. Okay. I just, you know, you just sort of do it. Yeah. And, and in the studio, when you're in the studio, those pressures disappear. Cuz you're making music. Yes. Do you know what I mean? It's like, yes. You're sort of you're in the moment of, oh, hearing a hearing a really good take and then thinking, well maybe we can do even wondering one even better and just the enthusiasm rises and everyone gets involved and it's, it's a, this, the momentum of the whole thing just carries you along. Wow. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. What's the best ratio between, you know, technical workflows in the studio and just purely creative workflows. You know, you, you need to manage very technical. Tools, but at the same time, you know, they also don't recount because all, all that really counts as is what we feel when we hear music. Did you find this is a difficult thing to manage at times? [00:29:00] Rod Coe: Yeah, I suppose so. But yeah, one thing I forgot to mention is that when I was on staff at EMI, of course we had engineers. Yes. So I wouldn't go in the studio and have to work a desk. I just sit back. I see, listen, talk to the musicians, talk to the engineer, say, yes, I like that sound. Or I don't like that sound or can we make this a bit thicker or why don't we try a bit of organ in there or whatever. So tho those were the decisions I was or suggestions I was making. Cause I, I mean, I suppose you do start off tending to make decisions about those things and hope that what you suggest works, but as you, as experience kicks in, you also realize that you only need. Suggest things when things aren't going well, you know, you don't need to sort of put your in and stir all the time. You can just sit back. Sometimes, listen, let people do their thing and, and so on and so forth. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, well said, okay, look, I guess those days are pretty much gone. Yeah. Where people actually had an engineer's role and a separate engineer and, you know, in some [00:30:00] situations, an extra tape operator as well. Rod Coe: Oh yeah, yeah. You know? Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's right. So nowadays people commonly produce all. As one person, you know, operating the gear sometimes being the musician. Yes. And also the producer. Yeah. Yeah. What did, what difference does it make? Have you worked like this in, you know, more recent times? I did. Rod Coe: I remember I made one album once where I became the engineer and I was, I, I needed help from another engineer to help me through it too, but someone else was producing, but that's the only other experience I've had of being on the other side. I've never actually produced and engineered an album together. My feeling about it is, is. A producer is it's really good to have a separate producer because you've got a separate set of ears. Yeah. And then you can allow the engineer to concentrate on what they've gotta do. They'll they can produce as much as they want within the context of, you know, as long as they're doing the engineering, but the, just the extra set of ears to just see more of an overview, slightly different perspective, whatever. I think that's really valuable in the re in record making. Okay. [00:31:00] Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Good. That makes sense. Let let's talk about, you know, playing live shows, you know, you probably played. I guess a large number of shows in your Rod Coe: life. And I've done a lot. You've probably lost count. Still doing lots. you are Jan 'Yarn' Muths: still playing life. Oh Rod Coe: yeah. How, how much do you play these days? Oh, usually every weekend, usually there's and I'm playing in about seven different bands at the moment here in the Byron area, the, you know, the sort of Northern rivers area. So yeah, I. I'm I'm happily retired and enjoying my hobby. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: well, that's a nice hobby to have. Oh, that's wonderful. Rod Coe: Yeah. Do you still get nervous? Yeah, I do. I do sometimes. And it's, it's, it's not predictable what I'm getting nervous for, but sometimes I'll just sense that I'm perhaps not in the right head space for the, for being about to go on stage and, you know Often that sense is born out. And the fact that it might be a slightly, slightly, I say slightly, probably, you know, more than slightly subpar performance. But it's, it's about I think, you know, like in my case at the [00:32:00] moment, because I'm, I'm trying to be across so many different repertoires that. Sometimes scatters my brain a little bit. And I'm perhaps not as, you know, like focused on the particular gig I'm doing is maybe I ought to be, but that's the only thing. I mean, it's not real, it's not real, you know, butterflies in the stomach and, you know, I've have to vomit before I go on or anything like that, but I've never been like that, you know? Oh, gig good. I've always been reasonably sort of confident that I can do if not a great job, at least a good job. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. I guess you've probably met all kinds of different venues or been to all kinds of different venues, different audiences. And you've probably also seen the entire range of very experienced sound engineers, but probably also amateurs, which I guess can lead to quite a few challenges. How, how involved do you get with, you know, stage sound, as you know, you've got the producing and engineering background, but then you're just a bass player. So can you. can you step away from it and say, I leave you [00:33:00] alone? Or do you need to get involved and tell the sound engineer what they're doing wrong? Rod Coe: Well, it's a funny thing. I've, I've played in, in a couple of bands where the guitarist or someone else in the band has also been a sound engineer. And they haven't been able to step away from the sound issues and they might run out to the desk and go here, try this, try this, try this in front of a, the guy that's doing sound. And to me that's like that that's an absolute no, no, because it takes away from your role, which is to be a performer. Yeah. You know, so. And I've never had any difficulty in just stepping back and going. I'm the bass player. I love the role of being a bass player. Okay. So, you know, and, and, and I certainly don't think because I have a nonengineering background that I know better than any front of house guy. I know, I know to turn the feedback off, but you know, other than that. Okay. Yeah, yeah. Right. So, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm very happy in that, in that role of being. I'm there to do a job as a bass player. And I'm there to think about the music and play music with other people. And I don't wanna have to know about [00:34:00] that other stuff, the peripheral stuff, unless it becomes a really awkward situation where it's impinging on if I can't play because I can't get a sound. Yeah. Then that then I will, I will have to get involved to try and clear things up, but it's very, you. Last resort stuff. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, I see. Mm-hmm and do you still play electric Rod Coe: as well as double bass? Yeah. I play both play electric and double. Yeah. Okay. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Cool. Double bases can be temperamental on stage. They can be. Yeah. Yeah. So What, what is your suggestion and what, what, what's the best thing you can do to prepare yourself, to get, you know, a good stage sound? What can you do from, from as a musician? Rod Coe: I think, I think the you've gotta be prepared to sort of grit your teeth and play through. Yeah. What might be. Not as good a sound as you used to when you're playing at home, practicing by yourself or whatever. I see. So, so you just do your very best at sound check, I think, to make sure you've gotta, you can hear yourself and particularly with double bass that you can hear your pitch. Mm-hmm , you know, because if, if you can't hear your [00:35:00] pitching, then you're gonna be all over the place. Yeah. And the other thing that you've gotta be very careful of, I think too, is just making sure that you're. You're not sort of overdoing the bottom end with double base double base is I I've been in, on, on festival stages where the front of house guy thinks the double base should sound like an electric base or, you know, or, or alternatively just wants to show everyone how good his subs are. So yes. So yeah. And you get this incredible flubby. Messy bottom end, which just does not work with double base. You've gotta be able to double base is a much more percussive instrument than an electric base. And you wanna be able to hear that tank on it? Yes. So you actually get the weather don't land, not, not just mm. The strength like that sound is so important. Yeah. Yeah. I agree. So, okay. So that's, that's something that I'm always aware of on stage is trying not to overdo the bottom end. I, I want hear some bottom end. I want to hear, I wanna feel it, you know? Yeah. But I, I don't want it to like, Go on and on. Okay. You know, it's like, it's, there's an envelope, [00:36:00] certain envelope to double base sound that, that I want to hear. And, you know, that's other than that, I think you it's one double base is one of those instruments where you've just gotta keep practicing it. Yeah. Because, because there's no threats and you've gotta make, be confident that your hand positions are gonna be, you know, are gonna take you where you want to go. So of course, yeah. So if you've got that, that's your. If your sound's not great, if it, all of a sudden, you know, the front of house is interfering with the stage sound or whatever, then at least you got, so you know where you are because you've practiced from, from muscle memories, muscle Jan 'Yarn' Muths: memory. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I see. So. Do you usually go through an amp? Rod Coe: Yes, I do. Do I usually do I've, I've use a on my double base, I use a realist pickup which sits below the, the the the base side foot of the bridge. And that is a fairly low level signal, but it's a nice Tight round sound. So that suits seems to suit my base and I, at the moment I'm putting it through a just a fender rumble and and that really with a 15, and that works really well for me. [00:37:00] It's a, it's just a nice, warm sound. I can hear the bottom end. I can, I'm probably not getting enough top end out of it, but that's okay. Cuz if I keep my ear close to the, to the fretboard, I'm the fingerboard I should say on the front base. . I can usually hear, hear the top end well enough. But yeah, prior to that, I used to use an Underwood pickup and that was much more prone to getting feedback. And, you know, so I've sort of, I'm very, very happy with the other one, the realist the moment. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Got it. So the choice of. Pick had a big effect on how temperamental it Rod Coe: became on voice. Absolutely. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. So you've got the am sound basically as your backup, I Rod Coe: guess if, if there's that's my stage sound. Yeah. Yeah. Right. So, so you don't Jan 'Yarn' Muths: rely on Eck speakers as Rod Coe: much? No. There are, have been a couple of stages, festival stages, particularly where fallback is important for double base because the, just the fact that you're outdoors, bigger space, all that sort of stuff. The distance between musicians is huge. Yeah. And you can, and, and you usually can't hear front of a house too. Mm. Yeah, that's true. And in a room that front of house can be really [00:38:00] important when you just to spread the sound a little bit more, you know, if you're hearing a little bit of front of house. It's nice. Have you Jan 'Yarn' Muths: experienced, have you started playing within years with, Rod Coe: in year monitoring? Is that something you've? No, I've never used that. No. Yeah. Okay. No, I've always, I put up with loud monitors. no, it's that's something that when I was working with slim, dusty, he was, he, he tried it once or twice. Because he liked stage volume for his acoustic guitar and vocals. And, you know, often that was, you know, that, that thing of where you were always on the verge of feedback and it was too dangerous, you know? So, so it was recommended that he try and ease, but he just didn't like the feel of it or the sound of it. And also the fact that it disconnects you to some degree from the audience. I think he could have got used to it. You know, it's, it's a story at a certain stage in your life. You go, why bother . Yeah, yeah, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: exactly. I've thought that so many times we actually had that discussion many times on the podcast and, you know, yes. Yes. I think everybody agrees that when people switch to in years, it puts them out of their comfort zone [00:39:00] for quite some time. And you gotta stick with this for long enough to break through it and then, then eventually get, get used to it. And it's you see, you read the benefits at the, the end. That's right. That's right. The first time you use it is just like walking on eggshells in some ways. It's really weird. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. It has advantages, you know, you can't just run around on stage. You carry your own sound. Absolutely. It stays with you Rod Coe: and you can control it too. Exactly. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: You can turn it up or down as you like, you know, there's lots of advantages. Rod Coe: I agree. Yeah. That one Jan 'Yarn' Muths: can have Rod Coe: there. Interesting. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. Most, most people are using it these days and it's, it is a good idea. Yeah. Because it saves the ears apart from anything else. Mm. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Look You've worked through so many decades of musical history. And, you know, as a musician, as a producer, you've got so much experience there. What's the future gonna bring for us for the music industry? Well, what are your predictions industry? Rod Coe: Well, it's the, the music industry is not something that's ever really interested me if you know what I mean. I'm okay. I'm, I've see myself as a musician [00:40:00] and as a, sort of a, a music creator, I suppose, but it's not the music industry has always been something which. I suppose I've just shied away from, because I'm not a businessman. Do you know what I mean? I just don't. I don't, I don't feel that that's something I can ever get my head around and have an effect on. So I don't know. I just got no idea what's gonna happen in the music business. I'm the wrong person to ask me. Okay. I'm just very happy meeting musicians, playing with them, trying to create good noise. And. Giving people a good time. You know, there's a lot of hunger to see music, to hear music, to go out and hear music at the moment, particularly after COVID. Exactly. Yeah. And, and that, that feeling that you get from. A hungry audience is just wonderful. It is, you know, when you, when you, when you're doing a gig and people haven't seen live music for a while, and they're just, the joy is just palpable. It's a lovely thing. So industry now I forget it. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: okay. So you're saying that, you know, your love for music just stands by itself. And you [00:41:00] know, the, the hunger for music is just something that's, we probably will never die. You know, that's, Rod Coe: I, I think, I think that's the case. Music, music is such a Yeah, it's, it is probably an underappreciated part of, of our sensibilities. Mm. In that, you know, it's, it's hard to sort of quantify you can't touch it. It's just one of those things that, that produces a feeling that goes much goes way beyond what our normal five senses will, will bring, bring us. Yeah. Yeah. And, and like poetry, I suppose. And and dance too. I mean, there's, there's so many of those artistic things that are, that touch a part of you. You know, the everyday world, the business world, the industry doesn't have anything to do with. Mm. So it's, that's, that's sort of, you know, oh, that's what interests me, I suppose, more than anything else. And the fact that, that if you can connect with people on that, that deep, joyous level. that's enough. That's enough. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I guess you're you're right. Yeah. You're right. Let me push [00:42:00] you a little bit more for me. With, you know, so many, so much experience today, a lot of musicians who start out young find themselves in a bit of. Difficult situations starting out, you know, their music arena on stages. And more quite, quite often people are asked to perform for very little compensation and simply just sometimes for exposure should. Young musicians do that. Should they say sometimes no to gigs, if there is really no money in it, what is your take on that? I Rod Coe: think that's a case by case basis. I think generally the, my principle would be no, not for exposure cuz to me that just sounds like a rip off. Good. But I'll do benefits, you know, like if someone's got a benefit and needs to raise money for a cause. Oh, I'm happy to do that for nothing for charity. Yeah. Or charity generally though, I, I will want to be paid. According to what I think my worth my work is worth. And I'm, I don't mean, you know, big money or anything like that. I just think that, you know, there's gotta be a [00:43:00] respect in the transaction. Yes. And and I think for, for young people, I don't see why they can't get their own exposure without having to rely on someone else to provide it. Mm. Because you know, the social media, all the avenues are open to everyone, basically. Yes. So I don't see any, any advantage really. Having said that I'm not across all the ins and outs of social media. And I'm sure there are some advantages with connecting with some people who have big followings and can. You know, allow you to access that following. There's probably all sorts of reasons why you, you could say yes to that, but I think you've gotta be very astute about what is valuable to you, you know, and what, what gives you value for what you are giving. That's a good point. So, so yeah. Yeah. That's all I can say to that. Really. I Jan 'Yarn' Muths: like that you brought up the, the word respect here. Yeah. Because you know, I, I find it very disrespectful for, for some businesses. Venues to ask for musicians to play without any compensation. Rod Coe: Yes. It's completely devaluing the, the, the the creativity of it. Mm-hmm Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah. Yeah. [00:44:00] I agree. I agree. So look, I'm always for, you know, in, in favor of everybody pushing for certain minimum standards there, you know, so for free shouldn't happen, unless there's no, a very Rod Coe: good reason. It's the, the, the state of the state of live music is, is you know, like, Some gigs that I'll I'll do them, but, but really, because I wanna play with the, with the guys I'm playing with, but I'm not getting paid any more than I was 40 years ago. Mm. So, you know, to me, that's, that's, that's wrong. The whole thing is wrong that yes, that, that, you know, like I've, I've put 40 years of experience from that time to now, but I'm still getting the same money for it. And I mean, the alternative for me is okay, don't play. But to me, that's not an. Okay. Yeah, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I see Rod Coe: now I, I, someone, someone, someone more hard line than me could say, well, you can still play. You just shouldn't go out and play in front of people if they're not gonna value what you play and they're right. Because, you [00:45:00] know, you can rehearse with people. You can just, you can have jam sessions, you can do all that, but there's something really nice about having an audience too. so, yeah. So please. So I I've found my own accommodation, I suppose, with that. Yep. You know, the sort of. The bad state of of, you know, the financial rewards for music. And I'm in a fortunate position too, where I'm, you know, I'm not exactly relying on, you know, the money I make from playing to provide me with a living. So that's a good position to be in. I'm fortunate. Well, you know, that's the retired position, basically. Yeah. Yeah. So. yeah. I'm I am Jan 'Yarn' Muths: fortunate. Okay. Have you got any gigs scheduled over the next couple of weeks that you would like to announce here? , Rod Coe: The gimpy muster I'm playing playing four shows at the gimpy muster, which is the end of August. That's the the big festival up at at gimpy in the, in the national park, about 30 Ks inland from gimpy, which if it's raining could be an absolute mud Fest, like Like splendor or if it's, if it's, if the weather's good, it's fantastic. A lot of people camp there and set up their bars and their barbecues and [00:46:00] it's quite a scene anyway. That's a good, good, good, good fun festival to go to it's it used to be called a country music festival, but they have all sorts now. Yeah, it's a, it's a real mixture. Cool. And, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: and locally, any shows in the Rod Coe: locally, what am I doing? Yeah, I'm playing with a new band called steam at the Byron markets on Sunday. Cool. And that's a guy HL, Azo, bell Rex Carter and myself, a quartet of all experienced musicians playing good funky country. Please send by regards to guy. I will lovely fellow. He is. Yeah, he is great musician. Yeah. And a good singer and a good heart player too. Yeah. Right. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And are you on social media these days? Do you have your website or any, any I'm on Facebook? Any Rod Coe: profiles? I'm on Facebook, that's all, but, but I'm, I'm not. I I'm not really, I haven't got anything to sell, but really other than just the gigs I'm doing. So I see, I don't, I don't set up a music page or anything I'm not, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: but would you be open to, let's say studio sessions if somebody needed ah, Rod Coe: yeah. I'm always available for studio sessions. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. [00:47:00] Yeah. So. But it just seems that a lot of people are doing their own stuff these days, and they don't particularly want a you know, a freelance electric or double bass player. So probably more for double bass because it's a, more of a rare situation, but there's a lot of guitarists who play base a lot of keyboard players who play, but bass. So, you know, people doing their own recordings, don't usually want. That sort of thing. I see the country music scene still does have a bit of a production line thing going where, you know, some studios will concentrate on country music and use, bring in different bass players for, you know, different singer songwriters, you know? Mm. Okay. Well, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: good look. If you're okay with this, I'd like to maybe put the social channels into the show notes. So if anybody wants to hire you for a studio session or for live show yeah. They can find you Rod Coe: contact me via Facebook. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. That's it. Via Facebook? Finish the episode, go to the show notes, scroll down and click the button. That's how easy it is. rod. Thank you so much for sharing all your wisdom with us today. I think that's re enlightening and you know, I wish everybody could just see the pure [00:48:00] joy on your face when you to share these stories. It's quite enlightening for me. Thank Rod Coe: you so much. So it's been lovely talking to you and thank you. Thank you. Cheers, man. Bye. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow. What an episode? So many great stories. Rod, thank you so much. I got a lot out of it for myself and I really hope that all our listeners a send, wrote this episode. So thank you so much for. Also big, thank you to all of you, the listeners for sticking around for now over 50 episodes. I think it's quite amazing to see that this podcast is going so well. So thank you so so much. Please go to the show notes and visit rod social channels. Also, please subscribe if this is your first episode, and if you feel like it had over to Facebook, to the production talk podcast community. To join and discuss episodes. Just a little reminder an open invitation [00:49:00] to everybody who's in the area on the east coast of Australia. If you feel like a check of my new studio rooms, I'm super excited about it and would love to meet all of you in person. If you can make it just hit me up. It's a U that's Y a R N. Mix Or contact me on my socials on Insta or Facebook, send a message and we can definitely arrange something. Okay. That's all for today. I hope you all have a fantastic week. I shall speak to you again in a week's time. That's all for today. And bye for now.
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