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DuranMusic.com Exclusive interview with Anthony J. Resta

Special Thanks to Duran Duran, DuranMusic.com and Katy Krassner  for letting me reprint this recent interview.  They  asked me some very interesting questions.

Member Exclusive: QandA with AnthonyJ. Resta!

Anthony J. Resta is a well known music producer/mixer working out of Massachusetts, USA. DD fans may be familiar with Anthony's work with the band on THANK YOU, MEDAZZALAND and more. We were lucky enough to snag Anthony for one of our exclusive interviews - Get the inside scoop on working with DD in studio, upcoming re-mixes and TV Mania here:

1.  Can you explain to the great readers of Duranduranmusic.com what you do exactly?

That’s not all that easy to explain, actually. I have been lucky enough to spend the last 2+ decades as a record producer, composer, and musician. The focus has always been on making records for artists in recording studios. A record producer is like the director of a movie, determining what will be in the overall "big picture". The list of responsibilities varies from project to project, from  choosing tempo, key, style, and arrangement to musicians and instrumentation. Quick decisions need to be made all day long: which vocal takes to use, which drum fill best sets up the chorus, which guitars, amps, effects pedals, and synthesizer patches to use. Most importantly is to find an approach that pairs the artist with a specific targeted demographic and results in a competitive product -  while working within a budget. Because there is an infinite palate of sound available (anything from toy piano to orchestral instrumentation to kazoo), these decisions help sculpt the sonic adventure that will be a part of the artist’s overall statement. Some artists have a clear vision of who they are while others are looking to define themselves or the next era in their career. In addition to producing, in many projects I play bass, drums, guitars and keyboards. In the end it’s an enormous responsibility that results in insomnia and lots of checklists.
 
2.  How did you get into your profession? Were you a musical kid?

I was first and foremost a music fan from the 2nd grade on. I was obsessed with everything from Pink Floyd, the Beatles, the Who, Yes, Black Sabbath, all the way to Michael Jackson, Al Green, Patsy Cline, and Sam Cooke. Every week I spent my paper route money on records, and I listened to them every day. I started out as a drummer and eventually became obsessed with synthesizers and guitars.

3.  Being a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer, mixer, and producer all in one, you've been described as one of the most unique producers of our time. Where in the world did you learn the  techniques. Did you have a mentor? 

I have so many influences and am blessed to have worked with some incredible people who have helped and influenced me along the way. Among them are engineers like Bob St. John, Karyadi Sutedja, and Paul David Hager and producers like Peter Collins, Brian Eno, Jon Brion, Daniel Lanois, and of course George Martin, whose work with the Beatles is almost like a Bible of music production. As a writer, I’ve been able to collaborate with gifted musicians like Nuno Bettencourt and Ed Roland.

4.  You are also a solo artist, creating your own compositions. Tell us a little bit about that.

I have an alter ego “Ajax Ray O’Vaque”. I write and record music for enjoyment and to work on new approaches. It’s easier to be a guinea pig on yourself than others. It’s constantly changing. I have a sophomore solo record deep in the making. I take years to finish songs.  Here are links to one of my songs and to a video.

video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_OFkSgw200

“beautiful chaos”:
http://soundcloud.com/ajax/anthony-resta-masteredbchaos

5.  How did you connect with Duran Duran, and what is your first impression of each band member?

I first connected with Warren through Dale Bozzio (we were writing at the time), then eventually met Simon and Nick in London. I met John in Boston during the  making of Medazzaland. Roger and Andy were not in the band when I worked with them. I was surprised at how polite and down to earth they all were. They are seasoned professionals who bring to the table an enormous amount of experience and good taste, and they were always enthusiastic and gracious. I enjoyed Stoli martinis and soccer with Simon on a few occasions, philosophizing about life and technology with Warren and Mark Tinley, and wonderful sonic tips from Nick, who introduced me to things like the Omnichord, Stylophone, and the Jupiter 8.  Most of what I did was post-production and mixing so I spent a lot of time working separately from them. Honestly, my recording experiences with them were some of the best of my career.

6. Were you a Duran Duran fan while you were growing up or did you come to their music by way of working with them?

I was a fan from the beginning. I worked in a disco called Diamonds and I thought they were fab and cutting edge. It was ten years later we ended up working together. If someone had said that was in my future then I would have laughed.

7. What have you worked on  with them?

Thank You, Medazzaland, various remixes and TV Mania. Around the Astronaut era I worked on “Beautiful Colours”, a song that was not finished or released. I hope to do a remix of something on the new record, and have been in touch with Nick about that and TV Mania.

8. How involved were you with the recording of “Medazzaland”?

I was very involved with the post production and mixing. The album was basically recorded beforehand, but track by track we ended up reworking things from the ground up. I replaced and augmented drums and percussion tracks and added quite a bit of textural sound design along with Mark Tinley and Bob St. John, who was the brilliant engineer during the mixing process.  We worked in London at Warren’s Privacy studios, Metropolis, and Back in Boston at both my place (www.bopnique.com) and Sound Techniques.

9.  What’s your favorite DD track that you've worked on?

I have trouble narrowing it down to one!  Some faves are “Midnight Sun”, “Buried in the Sand”, “Undergoing Treatment”, and “Ball of Confusion."

10.  There has been much talk that TV Mania is coming out soon.  What was your role in that? Warren and Nick came up with the  concept, and then sent me all their parts. I then spent nearly two months adding and experimenting with overdubs. Besides drumming and programming I added some really complex soundscapes under their already complex soundscapes. It’s amazing that it doesn’t sound at all cluttered. It was really a fun project, I’m excited that people will get to hear it finally! There are some very interesting 3D audio effects on things that sound like they are coming from behind, above and below the listener. It’s a sonic tsunami. ☺

11.  You've also worked with loads of other artists, and are one of the few producers whose work with Indie artists is also comparable to the quality of your major artist work.  Is it difficult to put that much equal energy into such a varied roster of artists?

I suppose a lot of it is due to obsessive compulsive behavior. I can’t sleep well unless I leave no stones unturned. I want each and every statement to be the best I can possibly make it . So the big challenge is trying to do the same job often with small and shrinking budgets. It often involves my putting in lots of extra hours for no money to make it what it needs to be so I can feel proud when I play it for people, and so I can listen to it over and over in my car and not go “I wish I had done so and so”.  It’s a ton of responsibility. People are nearly as close to their music as they are to their children. Songs are like children who need to be nurtured and who eventually grow up and are sent to boarding school, then kicked out into the harsh world to be judged.

12.  What does it feel like to be associated with the sale of 10 million albums and a Grammy nomination?

Actually it was Karyadi Sutedja who made the Grammy ballot for Best Engineered Non-classical Album. (Karyadi has been my principal recording and mixing engineer for 15 years now.)  Having one’s name on so many records is an incredible honor. I have truly been blessed to be able do nothing but make records full time for over twenty years. That to me is my biggest achievement. The gold and platinum records are exciting things to be associated with, but staying  in the game is the toughest thing to do. So many burn out or fade away in this business.  It’s not easy; tons of stress comes along with the job but it beats putting wheels on Nerf toys (something I did on an assembly line as a teenager).

I love teaching and composing and really hope to be doing more of that someday as well.

13.  I heard a rumor you may be working on a project with Warren Cuccurullo, Steve Ferrone and Eric Alexandrakis, whom we highlighted a few Q&A’s ago. What can you tell us?

For several months we have all been contributing to a growing pool of masters available for film and TV placement. We are slowly building our resources and hope to start some new projects as a team as well. Very exciting!

14.  We always ask – what’s your favorite Duran Duran video? 

I would have to say “Rio” and “Electric Barbarella”.  I love sailing and the ocean and EB was a just a blast to work on.

Thanks Anthony!

Thank you, for your very interesting questions; I enjoyed answering them.