Andy Cahan Interviews

"THE PATH OF CAHAN" Austin Songwriter
"CLOSE UP" Music Connection

The Path Of Cahan
by Lindsey Eck

Austin Songwriter
Vol. 1 Number 9
November 1996

Ex-Turtle Andy Cahan talks about Nilsson, Flo & Eddie-
L.A. then & now

Andy Cahan bills himself as "the most famous musician you never heard of" As keyboard player for the Turtles (not to mention associate of Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and many other luminaries), he's seen the up and down sides of the rock-music world since the 1960s. Mostly up for Andy, who's putting together a book of his memoirs and who has released a CD of his own material, Snarfel. The CD includes polished and ruff gems stretching from the'90s (at the beginning of the disk) to the'60s (at the end). As one man's collection of songwriting in the thick of the rock n' roll business, the disk is a unique piece of musical history.

Andy was in town to participate in a John Lennon Birthday Celebration at Steamboat, as well as for other reasons, which is where I ran into him and arranged for the telephone interview transcribed here. The interview was taped on 20 October. When Andy first picked up the phone , he was panting. I feared he was about to have a heart attack till he explained he was on his treadmill as he spoke. Very California.

ASG: Who are the finest songwriters you've worked with?

Cahan: The finest songwriter number one, of course, is Harry Nilsson and Jimmy Seals of Seals and Croft. Extremely talented-extremely. And then of course I wrote with Dr. John........ those are the top three.

ASG: So, in your opinion, Harry Nilsson was a great song writer?

Cahan: Oh incredible,. He was a genius. He's a total genius. He was extremely intelligent. Like we'd be sitting there watching Jeopardy on t.v., and he would know the answers before anybody....... and he's an incredible, incredible story teller. He could talk your ear off for hours and hours........

ASG: Great vocalist.

Cahan: Oh incredible vocalist. He is the Beatles favorite vocalist. That's why when I was befriended by him for four years-the last four years of his life-we went over Ringo's house a bunch of times. We went to Timothy Leary's, Joe Walsh, and a whole bunch of different people.

ASG: So you knew Timothy Leary during some of his last days as well.

Cahan: Oh, yes, I was over Timothy Leary 's house several times.

ASG: There was allot of publicity over his illness-could you comment on that? He was planning to commit suicide over the internet, and-

Cahan: Right, right. Which I think is fantastic because he himself is an icon in history. He is Mr. LSD, Mr. Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out.

ASG: Did you know him back in the San Francisco days?

Cahan: I only met him in the '90s. When I walked into his house the first thing he did was, he walked up to me and gave me a nice, big, wet kiss on the lips. I mean, he's just a beautiful guy. He's got-he-had these nice young girls hangin' around with him in his place there, and a gigantic Gumby, you know. And his kitchen table was rainbow colored. It was like going back into the '60s.

ASG: Lets talk about Flo and Eddie { Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman of the Turtles and the Mothers} It seems that joining Zappa was a coup for Flo and Eddie at the time but then in retrospect, when Zappa got injured and they had to quit touring with him, their career never seemed to recover to the Turtles level. Is that accurate and could you give us some insight on that?

Cahan: Sure. Basically what happened is, when the Turtles broke up, their management owned the name "The Turtles." So they couldn't use {it}. So that's why they used "Fluorescent Leach" and "Eddie."

ASG: I never knew it was "Fluorescent Leach."

Cahan: "Fluorescent Leach" and "Eddie" were the actual names Frank Zappa named his road managers. So Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan used those names instead of "The Turtles." And then eventually, after two albums on Warner Brothers, and two albums on Columbia, they finally purchased, I think for like $35,000 or something, the name of "The Turtles" again. And since about 1983 they've been touring, of course, under the name "The Turtles" featuring Flo & Eddie.

ASG: Can you compare the direction of rock n' roll today versus the '60s?

Cahan: I have some very interesting things to say about rock n' roll today. Rap music does require talent, because you have to have allot of rhythm. Rap music is based on rhythm because when a vocalist is doing his rap, his vocals are like a drum solo. You know like DIT-da-DIT-da-da- da {etc.} So it's all rhythmic. Unfortunately there's no melodic melodies, and no understandable lyrics. Because I can't hear them. You know, my daughter can-can repeat back all the lyrics to the songs, but I can't.
See, in the '60s with the Animals and Rolling Stones and the Kinks, you can hear every lyric in the song, and there is always a memorable melody-hook-that you can sing. You know, {sings} so happy together or I wanna hold your hand, whatever. You can always recognize the hook. Now today there's no recognizable hooks. Maybe except for Alanis Morrisette, or Pearl Jam, or Soundgarden maybe. You know there's some groups today that definitely have some hooks but they're few and far between. Ninety percent of the music according to Andy Cahan is garbage.
And it's garbage because I'm 49 years old and I'm different from the listening audience today. I'm sure when I was in the '60s, my parents liked Glen Miller...But, just generally speaking the songs are lacking melodic hooks.

ASG: Do you think they would sell more if, uh

Cahan:I don't know because the buying audience is different for each market. So my kids, my daughters, who are 18 and 21, they're gonna buy R.E.M. and Snoop Doggie Dog. And people my age are into Bruce Springsteen.

ASG: Do you think the L.A. music industry is meaner today than in the '60s and' 70s?

Cahan: Oh man it's ridiculous today because-in the '60s and '70s a songwriter could go into a publishing office or into a record company A&R room and sit down with his acoustic guitar or sit down at the good old upright piano, which was probably out of tune, and play a song for a person. And....that person could understand, "Oh, I know what he's tryin' to do, I see, I see, we could arrange it like this."...That's when you can go in with just the bare bones, ........and somebody you were playing the song for would have the musical knowledge to picture what it's like arranged in a studio. Okay? But....unfortunately, now in the '90s, all the...A&R people and the people who are supposedly intelligent musically are stupid. And they have to hear a full arranged master demo....they couldn't picture it with just a guitar and a voice ..... And the personal in these Record companies changes every two or three months. And it's always the cousin of the uncle of the sister of the brother of the owner of the company. And it's just ridiculous. It's absolutely insane. That's why I suggest to all my clients, as the Demo Doctor to go ahead and independently produce your own CD. Because, when you're sending off cassettes to people to try and get record deals, it's like going to Las Vegas. The odds are against you.


March 30- April 2, 1995
By Karen Orsi

He's played with Jimmy Hendrix and the Turtles. He's worked with Harry Nilsson and Ringo Starr. He's the original Demo Doctor, with more samples in his bag of tricks than carpeteria.
"I provide a unique and special service to the singer-songwriter," explains Andy
Cahan who is celebrating his fifth anniversary. "Most demo services
have different people who do different things. They have one guy who
engineers, then you literally have to get outside musicians to come in to
program and sequence your stuff. This all adds up to allot of money."
"But i'm a one man demo service," adds Cahan. "I sequence and program
all the music myself with my 32 track workstation. I use over 6,000,
instruments and effects."
His library of sounds include all manner of drums, percussion, guitars
(electric and acoustic), basses (electric and acoustic), synths, keyboards,
symphonic sounds, brass, double reed, woodwinds, strings, ethnic
instruments(sitar, bagpipes), as well as sound effects such as cars crashing,
babies crying, footsteps, etc. "I literally animate the song exactly the way
they want it," says

"There are several requirements that help speed up the process and help it
flow smoothly," he adds. The first involves being prepared. "When I first
started five years ago, people used to come in for a session and say, 'hey
you know that song by so-and-so?' could we get that same drum sound?
Do you have it? And I'd say, 'no I don't. Do you have a copy of it?' They'd just
be hoping that I'd remember the song from the radio.
"So my first requirement for the person coming in is to bring examples
of sounds and the groves and the style of the music they want to do.
When I grew up in the sixties, R & B was like Sam & Dave, but now
there are so many categories and subcategorizes of rock and R & B.
I tell people on the phone to
bring in examples. It could be a CD,
cassette or phonograph record. That way I can hear it and go right to my
library, and I'll know exactly what sound to use".
Another requirement is for the client to know how the song goes before
they come in. "I'm not asking them to know how the intro and the outro
and the musical bridge or anything goes, because I can do all that."
"They need the meat of the song-they have to have the verses, choruses
and bridges written," explains the demo doctor. "it is not necessary for
them to be a musician. They can stand there and sing the song acappella,
and I literally will put the music to their voice. I can also transpose the
pitch of the song, the key that it's in, or the tempo of the instrumentation.
I can do this at any time in the project.
"Lets say that we learn a song of yours," says Cahan. "you're not a musician,
and we learn it in the key of 'C.' then we play it back, and you say,
"When I come to the bridge it's way too high-it's just not in the right range.'
Well, I'm really good at that as well.
"When I'm sitting down with somebody, "continues the industry veteran, "I'm
like a vocal coach and they depend on me. I may say, that line sounds a
little flat, lets just go back and fix that.' but I'm never bossy. I always let
the client boss me around.
The demo doctor also requests that his clients have a typewritten or neatly
written lyric sheet-something which is very helpful during the
programming process and the editing process.
Cahan affectionately refers to his place as a volkswagen studio, since
it doesn't support some of the heavy hitting equipment of larger studios.
"...But the sound I get out of here is broadcast quality," he says. His studio was
recently upgraded and now boasts state-of-the-art digital equipment such
as the Alesis Adat.
In addition to fashioning the perfect sound for someone's demo, the
Demo Doctor can supply you with good contacts for graphics, pressing
and packaging. He has packages available for those looking for
a basic demo and packages for those who want something state of the art.
Whatever your need, Andy Cahan can put it together for you -and for
a reasonable price.
For more info regarding the Demo Doctor, call (818) 762 8622.

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