Sunday, June 12, 2011


The sound of The Smiths was not just shaped by the lyrics and vocals of Morrissey nor the guitar work of Johnny Marr or the rhythm section of Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce, it was also shaped by the production and forward thinking of producer Stephen Street. Street made a name for himself as he worked with The Smiths in the 80's but he continued and built his legacy in the 90's working with Morrissey's solo material as well as Blur and The Cranberries and continued on into the new millennium and crafted the success of Babyshambles, Pete Doherty's solo work, Kaiser Chiefs and to bands of today like BROTHER (UK) and The Subways. Street has single handely crafted the sound of British indie and Brit pop for nearly 40 years and shows no sign of stopping. In an ultra exclusive interview, we spoke to Mr. Street about his legacy, favorite acts, who he wants to work with, Pete Doherty's drug use and that new Subway's record. Take a look at our interview with Stephen Street below.

How has it been working with The Subways for their recent album?

It has been a great session with the Subways so far. They can really play well and have written some cracking new songs that are going to go down a storm at the festivals this Summer.

The Subways have been unfairly pigeonholed through the years as a “One Hit Wonder,” are you going to help change that?

It will be changed by producing the best possible album so that radio can not ignore the quality of the singles released from the album and the band themselves proving what great players they are in the live arena.

How do you end up working with certain artists? Do they come to you or you seek them out?

Normally I will be approached by the band's label or management although there have been a few instances where I have made an approach the other way to my first single with Blur (There's No Other Way).

How do you go about finding the right sounds for artists you’re working with?

Most bands have their sound. Its up to me to capture it without getting in the way and perhaps bolstering it a bit!

With technology and recording changing all the time, do you still use old methods of recording?

Yes! Good microphone placement, decent studio atmosphere, band in right vibe, hit record! The advent of Pro tools just means it 's easier to edit between takes.

From The Smiths to Blur to The Cranberries to Babyshambles to Kaiser Chiefs and so on, do you ever sit back and go “wow, I made some great hits!”?

I have been very lucky to have worked with some great artists over the years. I get a lot of satisfaction when one of their songs is played on the radio or in a club and I hear it by chance. That's when I know that I've made something special.

What has been the best record you feel you have ever produced?

Hard to pick out any particular one but Blur 'Blur', Morrissey 'Viva Hate' and Peter Doherty 'Grace/Wastelands' would all be near to it.

Is there any record you worked on that you wish you could go back and re-do or wish that things were done differently?

There has been one or two that I wish I hadn't got involved with but I won't name them!

9) You seem to work with many guitar driven bands; do you feel most comfortable with them?

Yes, I know what I do best. There's no point me trying to make an urban R&B album because I don't really understand how those tracks are built from the ground up. Where as with guitar based tracks, I know how to blend the components to get the sound I want.

With Blur back together and writing and recording, are you hoping to get a call from Damon and the lads or is that chapter closed?

I would love to be involved but to be honest I don't think it will happen. Damon has done so much since we last worked together that I don't think the same professional relationship between us still exists.

Your production behind The Smiths helped define the sound of a generation, when working with them; did you know they had the magic to change music?

I knew that they were pretty special and I am extremely proud of the records we made together. However I never expected that nearly 30 years later they would be held with such high reverence. It truly is amazing!

Do you ever wish Morrissey and Johnny would reconcile and get back together?

I would love to see them working together again, but.....I don't think it's going to happen.

When you started working with Babyshambles, it seems Pete had a hard time adjusting to your technique. Now things are different and you have produced his solo material as well, are you glad that you now have a solid working relationship with Pete?

I love Peter and I feel it's my duty to be one of the people in his misguided life to try and get him out of the huge hole he has dug for himself because of his drug dependency. There is very decent human being and a fantastic artist underneath all that druggy facade and I am constantly trying to reach that person.

Who would you love to have worked with that you have not had a chance to?

Wow that's a hard one! I feel I could have made a good album with REM somewhere in their long history.

You have been in the music industry since the late 70’s, from its highest of highs and now it seems to be quickly sliding the gutter. Is there anything you wish would change about the industry?

I wish the internet/downloading thing had never happened. Once music became just a digital file that could be downloaded over the internet the magic faded away. There is a generation of people who don't know what it feels like to save up their pocket money, go down to their local record store and eagerly hand over their money for the latest release by their favourite artist and then cherish it. I think that it's incredibly sad.