"Just For The Record" is a brand new section at the RockUnited site where 'DJ Urban' has a look at some old(er) records/albums in the great history of hard rock and metal. It could be some "obscure" minor record label release that simply didn't get the attention it so rightly deserved the first time around. It could also be a what you would call a "classic" album or sort of a best-seller. They all have one thing in common though. They all ROCK and and they all have at least one classy enough band member to answer our q's.
UNRULY CHILD: "Unruly Child"
UNRULY CHILD and their self-titled debut album from the year of 1992 (produced by Beau Hill). This is one of my all-time favourite AOR/soft-rock albums. Honestly, I prefer this over any and/or most of the releases from Foreigner, Survivor, Journey, etc. The superb lead vocals of Mark Free (King Kobra, Signal), the guitarwork by Bruce Gowdy (Stone Fury, World Trade), the fantastic sweeping keyboards by Guy Allison (Air Supply), and the songs, wow!! "Is It Over", is a real tear-jerker if ever and one of the best ever AOR/MHR ballads. In fact, pretty much everything from opener "On The Rise" to the closing track of "Long Hair Woman", are sharp dressed numbers with big choruses and huge bgv. Perhaps not a flawless production since Beau Hill never quite managed to get the best out of vocalist Free. Unruly Child are at this very moment in the studio together recording their comeback album with the three above mentioned musicians (original 1st CD line-up). Here to give us his insight on the debut, the keyboardist that co-wrote all the first album songs, Mr. GUY ALLISON.
How long did this album take to make from start to finish, recording-wise?
The album itself only took a few months to finish but, as with any debut, it was a year-plus in the making.
What kind of initial budget are we talking about here?
I think they (Interscope Records) gave us something in the
neighborhood of $250K to do the album. Most of this goes to the producer's fee and the studio costs. When all was said and done (and
this is completely typical, back in those days) the band only grossed
How much of the budget did you actually spend on useless equipment and other nonsense?
Good question there. In other bands I've seen useless expenditures on
various things during the recording process, but in the case of Unruly Child's debut, we were very lean. We did the work as quickly
and as efficiently as we could without wasting studio time or
What kind of 'sound', production wise, did you have in the back of your mind, prior to entering the studio?
We knew the kind of sound that Beau was capable of and we also knew what the songs could sound like if we didn't have the technical limitations of our home studios to contend with. Bruce, Mark and I really wanted to "best" the demos that we had created. In some cases I think we did, although I still have some issues with the final mixes.
What kind of input did the producer have during the process?
Beau had a technique of recording that was very in step with our own process. He took control when it was beneficial and he got of the way when he needed to. We had already mapped out production on much of this material and it just a matter of getting it done. Beau's expertise and the studio (The Enterprise) basically provided Unruly Child with an environment that would allow us to reach for a higher standard of recording and creativity.
And were you pleased with the final outcome? (sound - production wise)
Well, mostly... I really thought that the vocals, overall, were 1 to 2 db too quiet. Mark's voice really needed to be in the forefront a bit more than where it ended up in those mixes - in my opinion.We did a good job recording the tracks but if we could remix those tracks, we would. I didn't think that the "Q-Sound" that we used added that much to final mix either, but that was an experiment anyway.
Did the producer use any (weird) experimental miking and/or recording techniques?
We had our little production tricks that we reproduced from our demos. One of the interesting things we used to do was to flip the lead vocal (reverse it) and use that to trigger some reverb to another track. Then we'd take that new track, reverse it and align it with the normal track so that the reverb tail preceded the actual dry vocal. We would then create fader moves, bringing the reversed echo in and out for effect. Very psychedelic.
How much time did you spend on overdubs?
The way in which we tracked the album was such that everything we did was, in fact, an overdub. This wasn't one of those "okay everybody, here we go - 1, 2, 3, 4" kind of sessions. We had gotten to the stage where we were really creating this material from a songwriting and producing vantage point which meant that we knew what we wanted to hear and we knew how to go about getting it to tape. And in this case, it was Unruly Child doing our own "Sergeant Pepper" style of recording.
Which band member spent most of his days in the studio and why?
Bruce and I were there nonstop. Mark would certainly be there everyday as well, but on some days he might show up a bit later than us.
Which band member hardly spent any time at all in the studio and why?
Larry wasn't there until the end when he recorded his bass on "Who Cries Now". Ricky Phillips (Bad English, The Baby's) had contributed the lion's share of work in the bass dept.
Let's talk about the lyrics. Are you just as fond of them today or are they typical of its time?
Some of the lyrics are certainly typical of the time, "Take Me Down Nasty" in particular. All in, I'm very satisfied with the craft of the lyrics, especially for that time. The thing about them is that they are very personal, and that's something that gives them resonance (at the very least, for me) to this day.
How did you go on about capturing your 'live sound', or perhaps you didn't?
The live sound...Well, there are recording technics to capture a great sound that we used - micing amps, etc - but really, there was no live sound to emulate. We were creating this "identity" from scratch. The real trick was in trying to emulate, "in a live setting", what we had created for ourselves in the studio.
Did the record company interfere anything on your "sound" and "songs", considering what's 'hot and not' at the time?
I wonder? Not that I know of. Beau Hill was in effect the record company, he was one the vp's. But I don't recall any real meddling going on. The real interference came towards the end of the project, in the nature of dividing the members. This would be a great story to tell over drinks but maybe not here.
Your favourite songs off the album and why?
I still think that "Who Cries Now" would have been a great track at AOR radio had it it been given the light of day. "When Love Is Gone" and "Is It Over" could have been real contenders on any radio playlist as well. They were all very cool creations in many different ways. Really, I like them all - almost...
Any 'oh-I-wish-we-had-never-recorded' song on this album?
"Criminal" - why that was on the album is still a mystery to me. I guess Beau owed someone a favour - nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
Were there any other tracks recorded during those studio sessions that didn't make the cut?
I don't remember now. I think we recorded "Unruly Child", "Live In The Night" and "Forever" and those were not included on the release. It has been 18 years.
What's your honest opinion about the songs and the production today? Dated, fresh, a mess?
I think it holds up. Of course, knowing what we know now - we could have made it better. But all in all, it was pretty well done.
Are there any 'crazy' behind the scenes anecdotes from these sessions that you can share with us?
Are you kidding? Bruce and I have some real funny stories, but - I'm going to take a rain-check on that one right now.
Were you ever a "priority" case or merely just another release at your record label?
In the beginning, I thought so. Interscope was a new label with more than a few genres. For AOR, we were certainly (in my impression) a priority.
Did you ever feel like the record label supported you guys enough afterwards? (promotion-wise, tours, etc.).
They couldn't. Beau and the label had (how does one put this delicately) a "falling out". After that, the band was "persona non grata". Game over, record basically not supported. It was a real shame.
Any regrets whatsoever? (regarding the album of course)
Maybe that we didn't have the right politics or timing behind the album - but I think the work stands up.
If there's anything you'd like to add, say, or promote, please do:
We (Unruly Child) have been working in the studio on a new release
for Frontiers Records. Bruce and I have continually written together over the years and
these songs have found their way to various incarnations of Unruly Child. UC2 had Kelly Hansen of Foreigner at the helm vocally and UC3
had Philip Bardowell of the Beach Boys in the same position, but this is the first time in nearly 20 years that all original members of the
first band are in the studio together recording brand new material. Marcie Free sounds better than ever and everyone has had the benefit
of becoming better at their craft over the years. I'm confidant that this will be a very special release - kinda like a long awaited home-
Interview by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,