Ron Saint Germain at home with a few of his Gold & Platinum Creations…
1. Breakdance or The Tango?
Breakdance through life! Think it’s the most original, creative & exciting form of dance in the last Century! Tango (as in, “it takes two to..”) in THOSE moments.
2. Plaid or Argyle?
Neither, but if I MUST choose between them, Plaid.
3. favorite pair of shoes or bare feet?
Stilts or Bare feet in warm sand!
4. Best makeout song ever written?
“Sacred Love”, Bad Brains.
5. Jukebox or the Dj?
Jukebox definitely… (I like to be in CONTROL of what I am listening to, especially when I am paying. Or I like to have the option of NOT hearing anything, too)!
34 Years in the Record making business & you’ve only just begun. Tell us about your new studio & what mayhem you’ve been up to lately?
It’s 39+ years now. Studio is in my daylight basement. Although I have tracked entire albums there, I built it mainly as a mix room. I have the best “plug in” I’ve EVER heard installed, the Neve/Amek 9098i. Also have racks of other great analog & tube “plug ins” as well in addition to 2”- 24 track & 1” 2- track Tape for those who care; Pro Fools for those who must either for a lack of budget, a preference to ‘see’ music rather than ‘listen’ to music, or for those in the business who have abandoned good audio simply because the masses can’t tell the difference. TONS of daylight and an amazing creative energy coupled with a VERY spacious control room (1,000 sq. feet) make work a joy. I feel I am doing my best mixes EVER in this studio. Really nice to have that familiarity back of a room that you know so well and trust!
Been doing a lot of over dubbing & mixing here on a broad cross section of music styles from Nels Cline (Initiate 1 & 2) in the experimental/jazz/rock corner, hard rock (Living Color, ‘Chair in the Doorway’), modern rock/reggae (Streetkind, ‘Medicine Man’), Pop (Skylar May, ‘Married on the Moon’).
18 Grammy Nominations with 12 winners. Do you instantly know when it’s Grammy Good? Or is it sometimes a genuine surprise?
Those 18 nominations & wins are for the Artist’s! I always get goose bumps on my arms when I’ve mixed a hit. That has become my ‘geiger counter’ over the years… a totally involuntary reaction and very dependable. Although the goose bumps have always INDICATED a ‘hit’…, all of the songs which I have gotten the goose bumps on do NOT BECOME hits. Having a HIT song is but ONE essential INGREDIENT in the hit maker machine (this is a entire separate interview!). The ‘dozen ‘wins’ (for the Artists) is always a surprise only because of the TOTAL randomness of the entire ‘Grammy’ process. MOST surprising to me was through all of those 18 nominations with 12 wins, I did not hear a single… ‘thank you’!
You are known for taking up & coming artists & moving them into the rock’n roll history books. How do you choose the music you want to work with & what inspires you into creation mode?
I started as a drummer in the 6th grade, then picked up the guitar & vocals; in & out of bands through my early 20’s so the musician in me hears the music first. I listen for the ‘signature’ first in the vocals, then in the musical identity. I LOVE all music & do not limit myself to one genre as many in this business do. To me that would be like eating ONLY your favorite food because it WAS your favorite… I genuinely like variety and am inspired by inspired musicians.
The fact that I am drawn to younger Artists is probably because I love their youthful energy, their malleability, their lack of premeditation, their innocence, their HUNGER in addition to the fact that their FIRST album has taken the sum of their life up to the point of our production to write! They are not under the ‘pressure’ of a major ‘Hit’ coming off of a successful world tour and all the other garbage that comes with fame and ego to distract and burden their creative juices. Actually, I have found that if it is not a ‘first’ album, I much prefer to produce a band’s ‘third’ album because it skips their ‘sophomore’ effort. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule, but TYPICALLY it takes about three albums for a band to become ‘unknown’ on a national level (with a significant amount of touring, press, promotion, etc.). I also thrive on the creative exchange because I KNOW that the sum of the parts is GREATER than the whole.
The list of musicians you have worked with is IMMENSE. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, 311, Muse & U2 just to name a few. Did you see yourself in that Grammy Award Winning chair early on? Or has it surpassed even your wildest dreams?
Firstly, the Grammys meant absolutely nothing to me growing up and were NEVER (then OR now) a motivating factor for my decision to get into music. I KNEW at a very early age that my life would be in music. Like a lot of people in MANY fields, I sort of stumbled in to engineering, producing & mixing along my life’s path. I was SO inspired by the music I grew up with in the late 50’s, 60’ and 70’s and all I knew was that SOMEONE had to make music and it may as well be me! EVENTUALLY I was able to pay my rent and it snowballed from there. My dreams were to make music on a world class LEVEL like those musicians I grew up with. To that end, my dreams HAVE come true and I am grateful to the unbelievable artists I have been blessed to work with and hope that they, too are happy with the results of our collaborations. By the way, there are still MANY more Artists that have NOT worked with that I would LOVE to work with.
A pilot & flight enthusiast!! When did your love affair with the Blue Skies begin? And what is your latest flight adventure?
My Dad was career Air Force (B17’s in WWII, night flight physiological research in fighter jets for the Korean War, etc.). I grew up around flight my entire life, staring up into ‘Blue Skies’ as a kid in recess watching paratroopers jumping out of C-47’s over my school yard. I went to every air show the Air Force and most of the other branches of our Military would put on and got to crawl into the cockpits and through the belly of everything that they had flown and were flying at the time! It was COMPLETELY natural for me to become a skydiver and pilot, which I promptly did as soon I was able to afford to do so!
My most recent flight was last week when a bass player friend of mine picked me up in his Cessna & we flew up to Kingston/Ulster airport to go visit the Clubhouse Studio right over the Kingston bridge.
And lastly, What is in store for The Saint in 2010?
I just finished mixing a 26 song debut album for a German label for a very unique band known as ‘X-PATSY’S’ made up of some very talented and accomplished Artist’s: Vocalist Barbara Sukowa (an amazing award winning actress who played Lola in the ORIGINAL film of the same name by Werner Fassbinder!), her husband/guitarist Robert Longo (an accomplished NYC painter/artist who recently had his own showing here in the NY MOMA) and the well known sculptor/video Artist Jon Kessler, also on guitar.
I have a couple more album mixes already booked and am in negotiations to produce/engineer & mix two new young bands. One of which you MAY have heard of… PLASTIC PARACHUTE? (Although I think it is a very cool name for a band, I definitely would NOT make a jump out of a perfectly good airplane with one!)!
Best & Blue Skies! Saint
Thank YOU Saint!!! & Yess BLUE SKIES ahead Indeed