Little River Band is showing no signs of slowing down. The band continues to perform up to 90 shows a year, bringing along its arsenal of radio hits that include “Take It Easy On Me,” “Cool Change” and “Reminiscing.” To date, Little River Band has scored 13 Top 30 Hits and has sold more than 30 million records.
“Cuts Like A Diamond” is the first disc of new original Little River Band material since 2003′s “Test Of Time.” For this project, the band went for a more west coast 1980’s sound, while still embracing the harmony guitars, big vocals and contemporary feel they’re known for. The result is a well-produced album that’s easily on par with the rest of its classic catalog.
I spoke with bassist Wayne Nelson and guitarist Richard Herring about the new album and more.
James Wood (JW): What type of sound were you trying to go for with “Cuts Like A Diamond”?
Nelson: The record label (Frontiers) approached us with a sound they had in mind. They wanted an 80′s AOR Little River Band album. There’s a wide range of material that the band has already done, and Rich gets a lot of credit for creating the landscape of this record. He’s a great producer and was in charge of the guitar parts and overdubs.
Herring: We strove to satisfy the label’s request for an 80’s production, but preserved the signature sound of LRB like big vocals and guitar harmonies. That’s what people think about when they think of Little River Band; the big vocals and high harmonies. That’s the key, and the guitars play a supporting role in that.
JW: What was the writing process like?
Nelson: All of the songs came to me first, and the ones that moved the meter I sent to the record company’s ears. The road map was already in place so I knew where to aim for, but there were certainly some things about the 80′s that I wanted to leave behind, like reverbs that never end and the bad keyboard sounds [laughs].
JW: Let’s talk about a few tracks from the album: “Lost and The Lonely”
Nelson: You can stack that song up against “Lonesome Loser” or some of the others, but that’s a Little River Band chorus. The interesting story was the original arrangement of the song had the uplifting chorus, but the verses were kind of dark and followed a different path. I remember asking the writers to change the verses to match the inspiration of the chorus and they came back the very next day with what you hear on the album. The video for the song is also powerful, especially considering the times we live in now. Those guys are defending people who are lost and lonely and can’t standup for themselves, and I couldn’t be prouder.
JW: “Who Speaks For Me”
Nelson: The record label was concerned about the song’s subject nature at first, but I insisted we do it. It’s been a passion mine for years to try and do something to shed light on domestic abuse. When I started writing, I immediately thought of the kid alone in the dark and scared to death. The story just unfolded from there. A lot of people have asked if the message in the song was from personal experience. I tell them that it didn’t happen to me, but it’s happened to plenty of others and it was something I felt needed to be said.
JW: Wayne, let’s discuss ”Time Exposure,” which was the album right after you joined Little River Band.
Nelson: So much of the success and impact of that record came from George Martin (producer). When I joined the band, they were about ready to come apart at the seams. Four different people each wanted to take the band in four very distinctly different directions. No one was really getting along, and the band was literally being held together by its success. We all knew we had to do a record and suddenly, here comes the producer for the Beatles. George literally smoothed out the waters and got us through those six weeks to get the record out. We wound up getting three top tens out of it: Night Owls, Man On Your Mind and Take It Easy On Me.
JW: Rich, what’s your current set up like?
Herring: I’m using two class-a amps in stereo. They’re called New Vintage and were built in Minnesota by a guy named Nick Patullo. We were on a fly date using rented gear and they had some of Nick’s amps there. I remember playing through it and couldn’t believe how great it sounded. I bought one and started using it in stereo with my Matchless C-30. Later, I called Nick to see if he had a head version of the same thing. He told me that he didn’t have one, but he could build it! The one that he built me one sounded exactly the way I wanted it to. He didn’t have a name for it, so he decided to call it the RH-36. So I now have my own amp [laughs].
JW: Now that the album is finished, what satisfies you the most?
Herring: It’s put new life into the show. It’s also an honor for me personally to play the old hits and deliver them night after night. I like to tell people that I get to play “Cool Change” every night, and I never get tired of it.
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