HIT CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: October 2011. Hit Channel had the great honour to talk with a legendary record producer: Tom Werman. He was A&R man and producer in Epic Records for 12 years (1970-1982) when you signed artists like Ted Nugent, Cheap Trick, Boston and R.E.O Speedwagon and he has received more than 20 gold and platinum albums in his career.He produced classic albums for Ted Nugent (“Ted Nugent”, “Free-For-All”, “Cat Scratch Fever”, “Double Live Gonzo” and “Weekend Warriors”), Cheap Trick (“In Color”, “Heaven Tonight”, “Dream Police”),Blue Oyster Cult (“Mirrors”),Motley Crue (“Shout at The Devil”, “Theater of Pain”, “Girls,Girls,Girls”),Twisted Sister (“You Can’t Stop Rock N’Roll”, “Stay Hungry”), Molly Hatchet, L.A Guns, Stryper and Poison among others. He is owner of Stonover Farm, a lovely Bed & Breakfast in Lenox, Massachusetts. Read below the very interesting things he told us:
I love living here and doing what I’m doing. I work outside on our 10 acres for three seasons and basically hibernate and travel in the winter months. At this point, I don’t miss recording at all.
As a young folk musician you turned down an audition from Brian Epstein (The Beatles manager).Do you think this was the biggest mistake of your career?
Possibly. It was a rock band in college – but I always rationalize this decision by saying if I had become a rock star I would probably have died of an overdose of something.
Which was your first reaction when you saw Ted Nugent live? Did you expected that he had the potential to be a sucessful musician?
I was surprised that no one else was interested in signing Ted. I knew right away that I could make hit records with this guy. I related to his guitar work, and we turned out to be on the same page musically.
Certainly not politically – but definitely musically. Also, Ted has a healthy sense of humor.
‘Cat Scratch Fever’ in one the best records you have ever made.Had you realized then that it will be proved a timeless one?
I remember when I first heard it live in Atlanta at the Omni. After the concert I called the head of A&R in New York , and told him that Ted finally had a hit single.
I get continuous thanks and praise from fans. I got reasonable credit from the press. The band itself – particularly Rick (ed:Nielsen, lead guitarist and leader of Cheap Trick) – was extremely disappointing – they tend to blame everyone else but themselves for anything they didn’t achieve. Rick has created his own private version of what happened during the recording of the three albums I made with them. I usually respond by asking why they didn’t get rid of me after the first album, if they were so dissatisfied. With some artists, it’s always all about them. I was very disappointed to learn that the band had turned against me. I really enjoyed making those albums. They were a great band.
Do you think that Cheap Trick’s ‘All Shook Up’ album produced by George Martin proved that you were right trying to make them hear like The Who instead of the Beatles?
Not really. I was, however, quite surprised that even the most famous producer in the world at that time – and a man for whom I had the utmost personal respect – could make an unsuccessful album with a band with which I had made three hit albums.
How difficult is to do an iconic album like Motley’s ‘Shout at the Devil’ with a band consisting of technically mediocre musicians? (Eddie Kramer told me that’s the reason he admired so much Stones’ producer Jimmy Miller that he made some of the greatest albums ever made with them).
Very challenging indeed. I worked with several bands who had individual members who were not very instrumentally capable. Few people understand how hard it is to make a hit record with these bands.
If you work with a band like Eagles, you can literally sleep through the whole project, and the band’s talent will insure a hit. Not so with many others. It’s very hard to have hits with some marginally talented bands.
Did you face any problems at studio with Motley Crue because of their ‘sex,drugs and rock’n’roll’ lifestyle?
Yes, but not anything that serious.
I’ve heard that your originally tried to produced Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Appetite For Destruction’ album but it was impossible for you to work with them. Which is the truth?
I was asked to go see them in rehearsal. Axl wasn’t there. I asked where their singer was. They replied “He doesn’t rehearse with us cause we’re too loud and he can’t hear himself”. So I said I needed to hear the vocals in order to evaluate the songs. I said I’d come back when Axl was with them.Shortly afterward, Duff McKagan told an interviewer in a rock magazine that I had “put my hands over my ears and walked out“. For some reason known only to him, he felt he had to put me down bymaking up his own version of the truth.
The Who, the Eagles and the Foo Fighters.
Do you think rock’n’roll is dead and now everything is about managers,deals and percentages? So,Jim Morisson was right again?
I think rock & roll MUSIC is not doing so well, which is one reason why younger generations still listen to and purchase music from the 70’s and 80’s. And the music business has ALWAYS been about managers, deals and percentages.
Have you ever been in Greece? Send a message to Greek listeners.
Not yet. I sincerely hope you can emerge from this financial crisis in good shape.
A huge “THANK YOU” to Mr Tom Werman for his great answers.A dream came true!