Paul Rodgers: 'The Music Industry Is Using Too Much Technology'

"You can correct everything to an insane degree," says the iconic frontman.

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The iconic Free/Bad Company frontman Paul Rodgers recently discussed the effect technology has on music these days, calling it somewhat of a double-edged sword.

During a chat with Guitar World, Rodgers confessed that today's cutting-edge tech exceeds his "wildest imaginations" when compared to the way things used to work back in the day.

"It has good and bad elements," the singer pointed out. "One good thing is that the communication all around the world is fantastic. It's great that we can instantly communicate. But one of the things in the studio that I find is that the industry is using too much technology. You can get to the point where you mix the balls out of the thing by overproducing it."

He continued, "Now you can actually correct everything to an insane degree. Auto-tune things, you can correct wrong beats and all that, but a lot of the slightly out-of-tune and out-of-beat stuff can really be a part of the spirit of the music. A lot of those early blues records and soul records were pretty much live. It was what it was, and they had goofs and mistakes, but it still kept its charm. We have to remember to keep the feel. It's so important.

"It's so tempting when you're in the studio to fix a little teeny mistake, but when I listen back now to my early records, there are all kinds of goofs, and I think, 'Holy smokes, how did we let that one go?' But no one ever complained. I never heard anyone say, 'You made a mistake in the second bar on the second chorus' or whatever."

Rodgers then focused on what he thinks matters the most, which is essentially the emotion and the magic a tune delivers.

"As long as the feel was there and the overall sound touched people and moved them, that's what we cared about. So we have to remember that the groove and the feel are so important."

The frontman is currently busy with a double-headlining tour featuring Bad Company and southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd. A string of confirmed US concert dates is set to keep the two acts busy well until the end of July.

27 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Jesus_Dean
    "As long as the feel was there and the overall sound touched people and moved them, that's what we cared about." I remember the first time I sang live in front of a large crowd. I was a little scared (well, actually a lot) and in the general excitement I didn't really register the crowds reaction after the song. I was just glad it was over. We had a friend tape the show and I watched it the next day. I cringed all the way thru my song and swore never to sing live again, therefore I was shocked to hear the crowd cheering after my song. My vox had woke up a lethargic crowd. The chick we had on lead vox at the time was a perfectionist, but lame. No feeling, no sweat, no ooomph! at all in her voice. That's when I figured out what most crowds want. You give it all you got and no one gives a fck if you didn't nail it.
    Lord_NecropsY
    Well as someone who records my own guitar all the time when u tweek shit to fix mistakes - it always sounds worse its always gonna sound better when u nail it legit auto tune sounds like shit regardless
    SeventhFrost
    M. I agree about people auto-tuning and correcting every little beat, and everything. I prefer tracks recorded in one go and not changed in any other way other than being timed with the others as a whole. I can certainly see the temptations though, as with many heavy bands that are instrumentally intensive, a certain perfection is expected by many fans within the album pieces. And while that could be facilitated by changing the track around, I find redoing it better to be taking the "high road" one could say.
    Emilym80
    I agree. In my opinion, sometimes it's the imperfections in a piece of music that make it human, as much as the music itself. A perfectly recorded piece of music is pretty much unrealistic and a lot of modern recordings suffer from almost being too perfect.
    Nero Galon
    OK OK OK I just had to do this. Paul is 63. 63!!!!! Christ he is looking good for his age.
    MaggaraMarine
    Using technology and overproducing are two different things. And I think Paul talks more about overproducing, not about using technology. You can use technology so that it sounds good but you can also use it so that it sounds overproduced.
    joestrat5000
    Didn't The Beatles and Pink Floyd use all the technologoy at their disposal?
    UniformRecon
    Yeah, but the Beatles still didn't have Pro Tools. The technology was a lot different back then.
    LaughingWater2
    Porcupine tree, Nine inch nails, Rammstein and loads more use DAW's and software as a big part of their sound. Not to mention Opeth, Dream theater, Sylosis and hundred of other bands record into DAW's. I can see why Paul rodgers said what he said, because the amount of over-produced stuff you'll hear now is insane but that doesn't mean its the technologies fault because it was up to the artist to decide whether or not to use auto tune or other things. Furthermore by removing the technology out of the equation its not going to suddenly make pop music better by any means. I think the problem is with the artists themselves not being creative enough nowadays. I think the technology is a easy thing to blame when really the problem lies with the artists themselves. Good music can be made with anything. A true artist could make a great song out of anything and that includes DAW's and software too.
    skyfire322
    You are definitely correct that both bands used the technology to their disposal, but I think the technology that Rodgers is mainly talking about is the computer editing, auto tuning, etc.
    DickHardwood
    That's a tough one. On one hand, I love the analog sound way too much, on the other hand you now have the opportunity, if you invest some money for recording gear, to make high quality recordings at home and create a whole array of sounds. I guess it's cool if people used it the same way as, say, Radiohead but it's too convenient to pass up easily; it does indulge musical OCD more easily but these are probably the same people who would do 100 takes of something to come out "perfect" anyway, at least on 95% of the cases.
    dewitt
    I think you missed the point. He didn't say anything about people being able to record at home, digital vs. analog, or doing take after take to get the right one. Actually, that's likely what he would rather - for people to keep trying to get that 'perfect' cut, not tweak the less-that-stellar one you've got until you've butchered it into a compressed sequence of mechanically adjusted noises. That's how people used to do it. They would rehearse their music before going to record it (unless it was written on the spot), and they would record multiple takes until they got the 'right' one -- sometimes settling for one of the earliest takes after trying over and over, losing that magic along the way. Many times, they would even splice together the best sections of multiple takes. That's not what he's taking issue with, though. He's hitting on the fact that everything is adjusted (auto-tuned and realigned) to be mathematically perfect, as opposed to letting it retain its human element. That sort of thing leaves a lot of modern music with a bland sort of feeling, topped off by all the compression that sacrifices all dynamics for a constant volume.
    DickHardwood
    No, I didn't. It's all tied to new technology, I pointed out the biggest advantage of the whole new gen recording crap, that's all.
    ryancide
    sounding good and sounding perfect are two different things. if you're worrying about every little mistake, late beat, out of tune note, etc. then you're not enjoying the music.
    M3tal747
    Bucketheads Who Me ...is the only song i have ever heard that mistakes in the track.i was like wth? but in the end it was just a goof just like paul said.
    theking4everr
    I agree but like almost everyone here, i also feel that this a tough argument. There are artists today that use technology in some of the most creative ways possible. Wind In The Trees by Joe Satriani off his BS&WW record is a great example. The intro is perfect and he cannot obviously play it the way he does on the record. Possibly because he used 'auto-tune' or the producer corrected each note in the recording. The perfection sometimes adds a mystique to it and i think it kind of forces to play those things perfectly and that can't be a bad thing. If you hear a song and it sounds perfect, you wouldn't want to learn it any other way.
    Kueller917
    As some mentioned, he's not really talking about technology, or being blindly nostalgic, but talking about a bit of an issue in production. I fully support new recording technologies since it has allowed easier access for more people to make music (one of my favorite albums was recorded on an Mbox). But it is true the ability to just change and edit forever can be a downside, at least for the more rock side of music. Most high end mixers I've seen swear by the idea that if you can't get a good recording going in you won't get a good product no matter how many plugins you throw at it. Essentially, new technology should be an enhancement and not a crutch.
    DaniArrow
    Totally agreed. I don't like perfection in music. It takes the soul out of it.
    A/R/T
    Just listen to many of those underground bands from the 80s and you will see what playing strait up really is meant to sound like. Its sad really how everything sounds so... Adjusted and twinked a little (a lot!). To me it was the raw sound of those old 80s metal bands (and 70s rock) that was the true spirit of what music was to sound like. paul has a good point here and i respect that about him.
    Eidologaia
    I think this is just a matter of preference as there is no such thing as "standard way" of creating or playing music. Yes, you can get criticized by many by applying too much technology on your music but it is only because those critics doesn't prefer doing those, and it doesn't justify that their preference is the "standard way"