While the band smears mud on a couple
tracks, Live It Out is a mostly clean endeavor, with just
enough smudges to remind us of the band's gritty club origins. The
willingness to take chances comes in part from guitarist/producer
Jimmy Shaw, who talked the label into letting him record the CD
in a studio he built on the second floor of a Toronto bank.
"I was asking a lot of people to trust me," Shaw said
from the band's Toronto rehearsal studio. "I didn't exactly
have an enormous track record to back it up. I spent all this money
on vintage gear -- a '70s-era two-inch recording machine, old pre-amps
and tube mixers from the '60s. A lot of things could have gone wrong."
But they didn't, and with the moral support of mixing engineer
John O'Mahony (assistant to legendary producer Andy Wallace), Live
It Out made it past Shaw's own apprehensions. "John would listen
to songs that I didn't want on the record and say, 'This is perfect.'
I needed to hear that."
Blame Shaw's ingrained perfectionism on his degree from New York's
prestigious Julliard School, an experience he says that has done
nothing for his career. "I stayed for my dad," he said.
"He begged me not to quit."
Shaw detested the school's rigid approach to music. "I hated
that world and didn't want to be in it," he said. "Here
was the best music school in the world filled with kids that have
no idea what they we're doing. They just sat in a practice room
and learned one person's interpretation (of a piece) that they will
perform the exact same way for the rest of their life. It blew me
away how uncreative the environment was. Total mathematics. It made
me rebel against everything I heard up to that point and play as
loud and obnoxiously as I could.
"I don't know where the diploma is," Shaw concluded.
"I'm not part of that world at all. One day, when my Fender
twin has blown its last power tube, I'll just pick up my trumpet
and play it the rest of life."
Published in The Omaha Reader Oct. 19, 2005.
Copyright © 2005 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.