Haven't really seen this discussed in any of the press about the new Roky Erickson album, so I thought maybe Will would discuss here if he felt inclined.
I'm a huge Roky fan and really dig the new record. However, it's clearly very different from anything Roky's done before, even though many of the songs have been previously recorded in some form or another.
Generally, Roky's records have a pretty straightforward "rock" sound. Even with the Elevators, though the term "psych" makes them seem more expansive than they really were (which, to me, was a great reverb drenched blues garage rock band). I'm also aware that, while Roky is an awesome songwriter, his guitar playing (at least since starting his solo albums) has been pretty much one style: a constant pummeling 4-4 downstroke on a power chord. This can lead to a "sameness" to songs that aren't really similar at all stylistically.
Which brings me to my question for Will - When producing an album for Roky, what - if any - input does Roky have on the arrangements of his music? His first two solo records seem pretty much "him" to me (EVIL ONE and SLANDER) with the aid of great musicians and producers adding their touches, but his TRANCE record and the new one seem more like interpretations of Roky with Roky in attendance. Which is not a bad thing. I really like those last two records, too.
I can see where Will might say, "This song of Roky's is great, but he's playing it in that same harsh power chord downstroke thing he does...What if we changed that up? Massaged that into something different?" This seems to be the genesis of much of the new record, to me. I am wondering how, as a producer, you walk that line of staying true to Roky's songs, while opening it up to a different sonic personality. And if there is any conflict you feel as you change something of Roky's? Because, honestly, he seems like he'd just kind of go along with it. Or am I wrong? Was there a discussion with Roky regarding song arrangements? And did he ever dislike something, and you changed it according to his wishes?
At the end of the day, I want to give Will kudos for succeeding in this monumental task of producing and arranging a new Roky record. It could have been more bootlegs of crappy recordings, but everyone stepped up to make a real record for Roky. Something many of us weren't sure we'd see again.
But I have to admit, though I really like the record as a music fan...As a Roky fan I'm a bit conflicted as it seems a 50/50 record...50% Roky and 50% Will. And perhaps that's what it needs to be to even get a Roky record these days (we know Roky's doing better than he was, but judging from multiple interviews I've seen he's still not necessarily able to make a record on his own - Correct me if I'm wrong).
Anyways...I'm fascinated by what the process was for creating this record in the studio, and any light Will can shed would add more enjoyment, for me, to a record I already truly enjoy.