This is an excerpt from an interview with Roger Earl [ the original article, by Shawn Perry can be seen here. He did a fantastic job! ]
In those days, you worked with a lot of hot producers. You mentioned Todd Rundgren and Dave Edmunds. You also worked with Eddie Kramer, Nick Jameson and Dan Hartman. Who, out those or maybe someone else, had the best sense of what Foghat was all about?
Hands down, there’s two of them. It would be Dave Edmunds on the first record, who in my humble opinion, made the record. He took us from an average sounding rock/blues band into something special. Dave Edmunds definitely turned the first record around. His mixing and his whole attitude with how he recorded — he made it happen for us. I really enjoyed my time working with Dave.
Dave actually started working with us on our second album. The first album was recorded in Rockfield in Wales, and he lived just down the road and it was a studio he was very familiar with. By the time of the second album, we were working virtually nonstop over here, so the only way we were going to do it was to record over here in the States, up in Bearsville. Dave came over. I don’t think he was entirely comfortable with the studio, wasn’t familiar with it, and he struggled with it.
Nick Jameson took over, and that was my first introduction to Nick. I would say Dave Edmunds and Nick Jameson — they were the ones. Nick especially because of his uncanny musical ability. Nick is one of those horrible people who picks up an instrument and five minutes later, they’re playing it. When we were doing the Fool For The City album, which, other than the first album, was the first record we actually took some time off the road to do. All the other records were done at various studios on the road, on days off, evenings even after we’d finished playing.
We took time off to do the Fool For The City album. Nick had just joined the band. Tony Stevens had been asked to leave once again (laughs). I used to live up in Woodstock, so I would hang out with Nick. He was the house engineer for Bearsville Records. We became good friends. I’d go out and jam with him out at the bar. After Tony was asked to leave again, I asked him, “Do you want to play bass in the band.” We’d already auditioned a bunch of bass players. He said, “Yeah.” Apparently, the first instrument he ever played in a band — he grew up in Philadelphia — was bass. He was familiar with the instrument.
We went to the local store, rented a bass, a Fender Precision, I think. We drove down in my car. I had a ‘67 427 Corvette with the guitar sticking out in between the seats. You had to put the top down. That started it. Rod and I had a house out here on Long Island, so Nick and I drove down from Woodstock and we had a basement, which was soundproof somewhat. And the first song to come out of there was “Slow Ride.” It was from a jam. We were just jamming. Nick had a cassette player and he would record whatever we played there. As I recall it, the whole song was written— the middle part and the bass part and the ending were all Nick’s ideas. Basically, Nick wrote the song, but we just jammed on it, and Nick cut the stuff up so it made sense as far as the song goes. And then Dave said, “I’ve got some words.” That’s how that came about (laughs).
A lot of Foghat songs came about with just us sitting around jamming and recording it. And we would take parts we liked and glue them together. A song would be formed. Actually, a song like “Slow Ride” is a John Lee Hooker riff, just played in a 4/4, as opposed to a shuffle. Thank-you John Lee. There’d be no boogie without John Lee Hooker.
I always loved the way the drums sound on “Slow Ride.” Did you do anything special to track your drums on that record?
This is in late 74, early 75. And we realized we had to do a record. Nick was the producer at Bearsville Records. He was a great engineer and producer. And he started to search for a place we could afford and rent for two or three months, get serious about. So he found this place up in Sharon, Vermont. It’s called Suntreader Studios. Nick and I loaded up the station wagon with the amps and the drums and guitars and stuff. And we drove up there.
We set up some drums and some amps and Nick went into the control room. I started banging around and playing some stuff, and we really liked what was happening with the drums in there. You could use the room — it’s a big, huge wooden room. High ceilings, drums sounded great. You close mic them or use room mics. Then Nick would come down and he would plug in the bass or guitar or play the piano, And the other engineer would take over upstairs. Or Nick would be running up and down the stairs, turning things on and then running back down and playing again. He was pretty energetic back then.
We then drove back after being up there for a few days and told everybody that they were recording at Suntreader. We rented a house for the band, about five or six miles from the studio. It was a lot of fun making that record. It was work, but the songs were crafted more than what we’d done before. We hadn’t really taken that much time, other than the first record. We actually crafted the songs and took stuff out and really spent a lot of time making the record. So that when it became this huge hit with ”Slow Ride” and “Fool For The City,” it was very gratifying. You put in a lot of work and it worked for us.
Nick was, and is, a musical genius. Prior to this, Dave had been carrying a sax around on the road and he was learning to play. So, you knew what room Dave was staying in the hotel because you could hear this honking going on. Dave also loved the sax, and like I said, he was a bit of a closet drummer. Anyway, Dave had his sax in the studio, and he would play it during the downtime when we were taking a break. Nick comes down and says, “Huh? What’s that?” Nick goes down to the local pawn shop in Sharon and finds an alto sax. He comes back and spends, I don’t know, maybe 15 minutes. Now he’s playing sax and he decides we’re going to have a horn section (laughs).
We actually did one song, it got lost. It was called “Going To The Mardi Gras” that had Dave and Nick playing horns on it. I don’t know what ever happened to that. Maybe it’s around somewhere. Nick was always fun in the studio. There was one song called “Drive Me Home” where we bought this beat-up old car for about $115 and I had to drive down this mountainside, hitting trees and garbage cans, and we had microphones recording it. After the second run, it caught on fire (laughs). I had to get out in a hurry. Yeah, we had a good time.
“Slow Ride” is still huge. They’ve used it in films like Dazed & Confused. And more recently, they played it on American Idol.