Bob Hillman brought together a remarkable cast of characters in creating his new Lost Soul album. His collaborators on his current work include Joseph Arthur, Venice legends Marky and Kipp Lennon, producer Peter Case and far more.
Even better, Hillman is coming to Santa Monica to THE TRiP on April 14. Here, Hillman discusses the new album, his remarkable collaboration, and the upcoming show.
Will Engel: What was the process in creating the Lost Soul album?
Bob Hillman: Except for a handful of overdubs, we recorded Lost Soul live. This was a new thing for me, since I’ve always done my singing separately from all the playing. When you overdub vocals, there’s time to get everything exactly right, but that’s not Peter Case’s thing: he’s going for a great performance, warts and all. My singing is far from perfect, but I surprised myself by getting the job done without too much suffering. The final product is, I think, more immediate and visceral than anything I’ve done before.
WE: What is the experience like collaborating with such talented artists including special guest Joseph Arthur, producer Peter Case, and your amazing band?
BH: I had a bunch of great collaborators on Lost Soul. Foremost was Peter Case, who divided his attention between the macro (overarching vision) and the micro (individual songs). A bunch of songs changed substantially based on his input, notably “Bad Business” —which started out as a mid-tempo waltz and ended up as a rocker—and “I’ll Replace You With Machines,” which started out as straightforward folk-rock and ended up somewhere else entirely.
We didn’t plan it — didn’t even figure it out until we were halfway done— but Joseph Arthur’s loops were a central ingredient in the Lost Soul sound. While I was running down a new tune in the control room, he’d wander out into the studio and experiment. The loops were great for keeping time — in place of a click track — but also added interesting textures, which we came to rely on.
That’s only two people, but the project really was a team effort. I sat in my little glassed-off vocal booth with Joseph Arthur’s guitar and Danny McGough’s keyboards turned down in my headphone mix, so I could focus on playing with the drummer (Danny Frankel) and bass player (Jonny Flaugher). But I could see Joseph’s hat bobbing up and down on my left, and would occasionally catch a glimpse of Danny M. in the keyboard room on my right. When Danny M. did something he liked, he would flash what I took to be an insane grin, an image that for me sums up the whole experience beautifully.
WE: What are you most looking forward to about the show at THE TRiP in Santa Monica on April 14th?
BH: I grew up a stone’s throw from the venue — I spent much of my youth playing volleyball on Santa Monica Beach— but haven’t performed in town for many years. So, I’m looking forward to seeing family and friends. I’m also looking forward to reuniting with the band that made Lost Soul (with the exception of Joseph Arthur, who lives in New York). Worth noting: Marky and Kipp Lennon from the band Venice — local legends whose credits range from Roger Waters’s The Wall tour to my wedding — will be singing with me and kicking off the night with their own set featuring their brother/cousin Michael.