Speaker When we did set the Twilight reeling, the record, we did it up at Lou's apartment house studio combination.

Speaker And we, the three of us, Fernando and myself, get together and get it to like Lou would have several versions of the tune and he'd come up with the version that he really wanted to work on. And then we'd work on that tune and flush out flush out the arrangement. And once we hit the groove, you know. And Lou was really comfortable and smiling and, you know, yelling and screaming, you know, just doing what he does best and like, you know, his thing. And then we would we'd say, that's it, you know. And Lou said that said. And. And we would we would record. And Steve Rosenthal was there. You know, and he was the person that called me into the whole thing, too. So.

Speaker It's unusual for someone to record. Hear, hear. Mm hmm. It sounds like right. Wait, wait.

Speaker Right. Well, he wanted a pure sound, you know, he wanted to to make sure that I mean, it was amazing because, I mean, he definitely knew what he wanted to hear. You know, as far as, you know, the he was really into the different miking techniques. I was I was you know, I was really amazed because I was learning a lot of, you know, I was going, wow, that's like, you know, that Mike does. And Lewittes said, oh, that's that Mike. That's the Coles that's, you know, is there you know, how many degrees is it, you know, from from where it should be? Is it off axis or what? You know? And, you know, usually you go in the studio and microphones are thrown out. You turn on the amp, you know, you get behind the kit and go. But this was this was so meticulous because it was to get it usually.

Speaker Right.

Speaker Right. OK, well, usually you go in the studio, the microphones are thrown around. You know, you get behind the kit and you start playing and, you know, guitar player, bass player sometimes, you know, whereas about the sound that comes in the control room, hears it on the speakers and says, yeah, that's that's OK. Well, we'll get it better. But in this situation, it was so meticulous, you know, that where Lou's thinking of, like, how to put the mikes and how to get the you can get a great guitar sound. And he was trying and he really got an amazing guitar sound, you know, on this record set, The Twilight Reeling.

Speaker So, you know, you can do that like. OK. OK.

Speaker All right. Well, usually on a studio, you're in a kendzior in the studio behind the drums, the amplifiers are turned on, the microphones are there. And you you work through the session to get the sound. But I'd lose place where we were doing the record. He was so meticulous that as far as the mike placement and trying to get a great guitar sound to which he did get it, incredible guitar sound on set, the twilight reeling that I was totally amazed at how he was going about things. And, you know, so basically I was about it, right?

Speaker Yes, that's right.

Speaker Else there anything about the song? Well, maybe just if you could even talk about when you're playing the drums for what happens at the end or something. Right. Right.

Speaker Well, I mean, we at at one point well it during the during the end of the song, that's when we really release it. Okay. So when we're thinking about what we're speaking about, set the twilight reeling at the very end, it just goes wild.

Speaker I mean there's a there's a there's a thing at the end. Well. All right.

Speaker All right. At the end of set the twilight reeling. It really goes wild. There's a there's a thing that we used to do on there on the road. And Lou would turn to me and I would be like, you know, with the bass drum and he would be with the guitar. Then Fernando would be, you know, hitting eighth notes on here and it would just take off to another level. The song was such a beautiful song and then it would transcend into that level. So, you know that that was a very powerful song that.

Speaker Briefing. Right before you go. Right. Yeah.

Speaker Well, developed into a ritual. Just before we go. OK. All right.

Speaker Well, just before we go on to play, we've sort of created a ritual where we all stand together and we class patterns as far as like one hand over the other like this.

Speaker And, you know, you know, it's it's like a team spirit. It's sort of like, let's go, you know. And so then we go out on stage and we kill. Yes. Yeah. It's you know, it it's we all say different things, you know, like when we you know, we put our hands together. Let's leave them to dust. Let's rock on. Let's you know, you don't really think that they're heavy pep, you know, high sometimes say let's reduce them to dust. It's you know, let's like, you know, let's let's leave them. So, you know, it just sort of they just left, you know, in ah. And then when we go out because, you know, most of times that we when we've played we've done five on course, which is like which is like, you know, I mean like you know we do one or two one cause it's OK.

Speaker But then you know, if you're constantly called back and they'll never leave some of the places, they never we did five UN cards and they never left. They were still out there stomping on the ground. And it was like, do we do now? Well, okay, well, we'll leave them wanting. You know, Lou, Lou, Lou, one place in South America they sang, you know, we weren't going to do, say, walk on the wild side, we're gonna do it. And all the whole audience started to go, doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo. I mean, the whole audience, I mean, it was like thousands of people and they were all doing it together, you know, I have.

Speaker So, you know, you guys tighter when you get.

Speaker But it's not it's not tense, it's in the music.

Speaker Well, when we play right. Well, working with Lou as as a group, as a whole, it's very intense, you know, but I mean, it's not tense. It's there's no tension. There's no like, you know, there's and there's tension is where you can't, you know, reach out to play your drums or you can't get the chord you need. It's not it's not it's not tension. It's intense because there's a lot of there's a lot of eye contact. There's a lot of body movements. A lot of times that when Lou is facing the audience at one point and I am looking at his at his back, I'm my focus is on him completely know. My focus is on everybody else. You know everybody else as well. But I mean, Lou will want it will if if Lou wants to take it in a different direction, he may not turn around and say, I'm going to take it a different direction. He may just, you know, do this or may, you know, and it's like it's gone on to a different direction. So it's an it's an intense focus and it's a wonderful focus. It's you know, you're really kind of exhausted, but you're also exhilarated when you're through when you're through with the set. So there's no tension there. Otherwise you'd be like, you know, you'd be a nervous wreck. You know, if there was tension, no, it would not be fun.

Speaker And it's like, you know, it's very weird.

Speaker Right? Well, if it you know, if if it was tension, then it definitely wouldn't be fun. And we've had fun in so many different ways. I mean, we've had fun from the electric. We've had fun from the acoustic. I mean, in every way that we've put you know, we put something together to go play. It's always been fun. It's been real fun. So, you know, and it's like I think I remember Lou was saying, was it last week or something like, what do you do during the day if you're not doing this? You know, so you gotta do you you know, you would like to do this like 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, you know, because it gives you such a thrill.

Speaker I'm sweating. That's that's a hotline.

Speaker Yeah, that's right.

Speaker Well, you know, I think he has a wide and varied interest in all other music and musicians for.

Speaker OK. OK. All right.

Speaker Well, in my opinion, Lou loves all kinds of music. And he used a horn orchestration or the individual who who did the orchestrations for the horn arrangement on New York City, man. And it was it was amazing where tonally where it was coming from.

Speaker And I mean, this this has to be from some you know, he has to have listened to a lot of different musics. So, you know, I'm I'm.

Speaker Interest rate you got to talk about. All right. All right.

Speaker Well, you know, it just sort of did not not so much just talking about different music. But it's it's it's like all of us are from a lot of different backgrounds, you know. So what we do is we bring all the different kind of musics, you know, that that we do together. We find out, you know, it's so it's a core. You find out where the core is and then you sort of, you know, add on to the core, you know, and then it it makes it it makes it for real musical experience, you know. So it's a it's a sharing of that. Those type of ideas.

Speaker Mm hmm.

Speaker Right. Well, I mean, again, what I'm talking about is it's a core, you know, in other words, if you as a song writer, you know, as an art, as an artist, if you are as as you know, like I say, as a songwriter myself, you know, I listen to other songwriters and join them on their journey where they're going.

Speaker You know, in other words, if if you're going on the same train, you know where where they're going, then maybe, you know, along the way you can say, hey, listen, you know, like, check this out. And they say, oh, yeah, check this out. And then you get you know, you have you know, I have a nice journey together. If you get on it, you know, a situation where you're you're on opposing tracks, it doesn't work, you know. So, yes, there's there's a there's a definite core. So, you know.

Speaker If that makes sense, makes it sound checks, how important?

Speaker Soundchecks, Vivarium sound soundchecks are very important because sometimes you get into a venue where, unlike another place that you've played like the previous night, it's a different shape. Hall, there's a maybe there's is wood here where there was cement before. There's like a deadening. So sometimes unless you're doing places where you can't get to it, you know, quick enough to do a soundcheck because of of distances that you're traveling from, you know, from place to place for the previous night, that soundchecks are you don't doing. But soundchecks are really important. Let me do that again.

Speaker Yeah. Yeah. Right.

Speaker Mm hmm. Well, soundchecks are pretty much critical to everybody, you know, because if you don't get a sound check, you know, in a wet year, you go there and you go, oh, yeah. Like hear my hear my drums. Okay. Okay. They sound terrible. Oh, I don't have any time to. I can't do anything about it. I'm gonna play the gig and then I'll do something about it the next day. So therefore soundchecks really are critical therap. You know, they're they're critical to Lou because first of all, he's got you know, he's you know, if his guitar sound, you know, in his placement because he's singing he's he's singing the songs and playing the guitar. And if the guitar and the voice come together and get across, then everything is great because it's built around that, you know.

Speaker Mm hmm.

Speaker All right. Well, it's built around the voice, but it's also you know, it's also the combination of the two, the combination of the of the guitar. What? You know, what he's playing, you know, and and the voice, the voices, you know, to get the words out. But the guitar was with the you know, with the backing and then to get, you know, to develop everything around that, you know. So that's like, you know, we've you know, we sort of it's our focal point right there.

Speaker The idea that you have a lot of music, but it's also somehow he manages a lot of voices. And really, you can hear him right here. You say, yeah, you can get this right. And we're talking about soundchecks. Voice, Right?

Speaker Well, I mean, he's a lyricist. I mean, to get a poet. I mean, his his it's very important to get his voice. And also getting the lyrics across and then, you know, the next coming in the guitar and then next coming the rest of the band. So, you know, we are supporting that. But it's very important for that to be the focal point. I have that in my monitor. I have the voice and, you know, the voice, the vocals in my monitor and the guitar and my monitor. So, you know, so that we are in sync. Everything is everything is in sync. If he changes, I have I want to change with him. And, you know, instantly if he's if he's saying something and I can't quite hear what, you know, what that lyric is, then I'm coming down instantly so that I can hear. Because if if I can hear it, then the audience can hear it. If I can hear it, then they can hear it. I don't have I don't know what's happening out in the out of the audience, but as long as that's transcending on the stage, then I know that it's transcending out of the audience.

Speaker Perfect. Well, anything else you want to say? I haven't gone through my questions pretty much accessibility of this. Any thoughts on.

Speaker What do you mean as far as you call it?

Speaker Well, any thought of that maybe, you know, here's someone who has had 30 years of writing. And what's it like for him to bring up an old song like he brings up, say, come on, baby.

Speaker So how does that come about?

Speaker What's it like? Well, it's more so defined. And then you guys are playing.

Speaker Well, they're all different. I mean, like if you look at something, say, 15 years ago or 20 years ago, there was recorded. It was recorded, you know, with that feeling.

Speaker You mean you can never say. You can never like you can ever say, well, I'm going to do it exactly like it was done 20 years ago. I mean, the only thing that you can hope to do and me as an artist, we try to approximate what? No, it's not that we don't try to approximate what the Velvet Underground did. It's just it say there was a moment 20 years ago when that was done. And now say 20 years later. What I try to do is when I hear any music that I'm gonna go in and rehearse or learn. I'll listen to that. Listen to the tape. I'll write it out so that I know where it is. I'll practice it. And then because I know when you go in there, it's gonna be. Well, maybe the artist who recorded it 20 years ago, maybe that's what he owned. That's what he thought about 20 years ago. And he's had 20 years to think about it. Maybe he wanted to do something else, like, wait a minute, I wanted to do this, you know? So now he's got an opportunity to do that. If you stick to that and say, oh, no, well, you didn't do that, then you're not a mean that then sometimes it just doesn't you know, it just doesn't come across. If you learn the parts, in other words, like a friend of mine used to say a long time ago, cop the groove, you know, go in there, cop the groove, then everything will be fine. You cop the groove. And then if if you want to change the tune, at least you're doing the tune, you know, as you know it. And then go exploring.

Speaker Say 30 years. Yeah. Has had enormous influence on other music. But when we play those folks today. All right.

Speaker Sure. I have me I mentioned third I'd mentioned 20 years ago, you know, but I was I was I don't know if I was I was just 67.

Speaker Maybe I wasn't necessarily mentioning like a velvet song. So, you know, because, you know.

Speaker Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I see. Right. Right. All right.

Speaker Well, when you look at the Velvet Underground of the music that Lou did with the Velvet Underground, you can look that at that as a moment and say, okay.

Speaker When you look at the Velvet Underground and Lou playing with the Velvet Underground, look at that as a as a moment when we play the songs. Now, as I say, I, I, I learned the parts and listened to the songs that Lou wants to do, but I sort of rely on Lou to take it where he wants to take it. Considering that he was the you know, he was the player then, you know, who was who was playing it in that moment. And so, you know, he's gonna play it. He's going to play that moment. And he's also going to say, well, now I've had all these other life experiences, you know? Let me let me throw that into there. And it's really interesting to see where he's going to take those songs, you know, because he he doesn't take those songs like like where that moment is because, you know, it's it's Lewis had millions of moments. It's like, you know, here's this moment and now, wow, I'm going to take it over here for a little bit. So, you know, I say, I've got that part. I know that here. So let's see where we're going to go with it. And it really ends up some some interesting avenues to take a song like out here.

Speaker All right. Well, is that right? That's right. All right. So different from the Transformer version, right? Right. All right.

Speaker Well, Wildside is a you know, I've always loved Wildside, you know, so.

Speaker But the way that we play it is really kind of a mood. Now, that's that's good.

Speaker OK. All right. Well, the song Walk.

Speaker All right. The song Walk on the Wild Side when we play it. I remember it when I you know, when I first heard the song, but we played it so drastically different. It's like it's sort of like we play it towards towards the mood of the audience. You know, if you would you know, it's it's like when when we were in last year in South America, we were playing it at a at a one one of the theaters was actually a huge theater. I think it was more like, you know, and it was not a theater but an auditorium. And we went off for for an encore. We'd finished one set of on course.

Speaker And then all of a sudden we heard doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo. By the entire audience. And it was like, you know, and they are all, you know, they were harmonizing. They were in, you know, in nice tempo. And what we did is we came on stage and we played Walk on the wild side. We didn't we didn't you know, we didn't stop the flow. We just went into where they were. And it was like it was perfect. So it's more of it's to the mood now. That's why I say that it's because of that life experience and that that that being able to come on a stage and, you know, and play this kind of music or come home on a stage and do a reading, you know, of your lyrics or just, you know, just be so flexible that and those are all life experiences. So, you know, that kind of a song, Walk on the Wild Side is directed towards the audience.

Speaker The last question is really, what's it like? In my opinion, it's like all these things that you get know. Right. All right.

Speaker Well, tell me what you know.

Speaker People that are living now, reading their lips sinking and kind of thing, lyrics, or is it just people that sort of know?

Speaker Well, you know, like a lot of people, you look down when you look in the audience and you see them, you see them, that they would be left singing some of the, you know, some of the lines. But they're also interested in.

Speaker I mean, if you talk to if you talk to to a lot of audience members, a lot of people afterwards, they are, you know, when when you when you go to see a concert, it's like if you see somebody do exactly what they did 20 years ago, you know, without any growth, it's almost like it's almost like, well, you know, that's what they did 20 years ago. So I don't have to go see him for another 20 years, you know, but if you see if you see an artist who's up there and he's like, you know, he's your lips sinking, but he's also but you're also seeing in their eyes, they're going like, wow, you know, like where he went with that, you know? And it's just like, wow, that's a great you know, to them, it's like that's a great idea, you know? And so, like, then you have to come back. You that's what perpetually brings an audience back is because, you know, it's like his ideas are always changing.

Tony "Thunder" Smith
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
" Tony "Thunder" Smith, Lou Reed: Rock And Roll Heart." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 27 Oct. 1997,
(1997, October 27). Tony "Thunder" Smith, Lou Reed: Rock And Roll Heart. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
" Tony "Thunder" Smith, Lou Reed: Rock And Roll Heart." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). October 27, 1997. Accessed January 23, 2022


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