Rock Around the World October, 1976   27

Across The Board


It’s hard to imagine any serious rock aficionado whose listening tastes do not include some group or individual artist touched by Ken Scott, engineer/producer extraordinaire. Scott’s career associations have run the gamut from the Beatles to David Bowie to Lindisfarne and more recently The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Supertramp.

Before embarking to Amsterdam to assist in the production of Cat Stevens’ next LP, Ken sat in for this interview with RATW correspondent Chuck Marshall of sister station KWST in Los Angeles.

RATW: How did your career begin?

KEN:   I started out in the tape library at EMI Studios booking tapes in, making sure that the tapes were at the right studio at the right time, keeping an eye on the tape machines; things like that. From there I went on to cutting masters, then to engineering and production.

RATW: How would you define your role as a producer?

KEN:   Well, in the first place, I’m a bit different from most producers because I also engineer my own sessions. Generally though as a producer I try to get the best from the artist, making sure that they don’t become too introverted . . . just trying to keep an objective mind.

RATW: What are your first recollections of rock and roll?

KEN:   At a music lesson at school at the age of nine or ten the teacher invited everyone to bring in records. I hadn’t been into records at all up to that point, and a friend of mine brought in an Elvis Presley record and a Bill Haley record and I immediately freaked and borrowed them.

RATW: Could you tell us a bit about your first day as a tape op for EMI?

KEN:   I started in the morning with an artist named Ralph Harris, who used to be pretty big in England. That wasn’t too bad, but in the afternoon they began work on A HARD DAY’S NIGHT; I was terrified.

RATW: Perhaps, as one who was there day to day in the studio with the Beatles through much of their career, you could comment on the rumors that they still have whole LP’s of material locked up in the vaults?

KEN:   Not whole albums, but I’d say that there were probably one or two songs per album that were finished, but never issued.

RATW: Would you draw any comparisons between the production of George Martin and Phil Spector on their (Beatles) albums?

KEN:   (laughing) None at all really. George and I would start early with the title and run it through seven or eight times and it wouldn’t quite be right. Invariably Phil would come in and say you need a little top on this, a little bottom here, etc. We’d go ‘yeah?’ and sure enough it would be right.

RATW: Are there any unreleased Jeff Beck albums around?

KEN:   I’d thought there were a couple. Yet there was one I did some work on in Motown studios at one time. As far as I remember they were instrumental versions of some of Motown’s classic songs. It was


RATW: How different is your approach to someone like Billy Cobham and Stanley Clarke as opposed to more commercial pop?

KEN:   In conventional rock you usually build the track from the ground up, whereas in ja77/rock it’s much more instant. You have virtually all of the musicians in the studio at the same time and you can hear what it’s going to be instantly. There are fewer overdubs.

RATW: (Related to his work with Supertramp) The emotional pitch of SUPERTRAMP, their first US release was up and down throughout. Do you try to get the artist emotionally charged before a recording?

KEN:   No, but I like a lot of variation in an album. I hate it when you play the first track of an album, and by hearing that track you hear the whole album. So I pursue a varied sound in the studio, just as I have during my career as evidenced by the artists I’ve worked with.

RATW: You’re leaving soon to begin co-producing Cat Stevens’ latest album. Why co-producing?

KEN:   All of my efforts are co-productions, because they are. It’s the artist’s album, so naturally he’ll have a lot of ideas on how it’s to sound, so it’s a coproduction.