Cale answers your queries on Lou Reed, his favourite music and making Nico cry
What do you remember of producing The Stooges’ first album?
Drew Cole, via email
It was a very small studio, very tight in there, and I was really concerned about getting separation on anything, but really that’s not what the band was about. The live show was very appealing, you know. Iggy would threaten the audience one minute, then he’d be affectionate to them the next. I was worrying about how to bring the energy of the live performance into the studio. Because, in the studio, it’s really how much do you put out in the studio, and they put out. “We Will Fall” was constructed in the studio, but it worked. They were so good – Iggy was great at improvising, so I wasn’t worried about it. Do I work bands hard? Not really. I let them work me hard. They’re in charge most of the time.
Is it true that before you left the Velvets you wanted to record the third album with all the amps underwater?
John Allan, London
No, I don’t remember that. I think that story came from when you try and play cymbals and dip them in water – that probably came up at some point from Moe [Tucker]. We spent a year playing the first album – every week we’d get together on the weekend and just play and play and play until we got the new arrangements. But when it came to White Light/White Heat we were barely able to be in the same room for more than five minutes. White Light was recorded quickly – it had to be. Lou was getting more satisfaction from writing pretty songs and he wanted to go in that direction, and he had an ally in Steve Sesnick, who was the manager, who went to Moe and Sterling and said, “Look, this is Lou’s band. You are the backing band. That’s the way it’s going to be.” So it was only a matter of time before word got round to me. Everybody knew the excitement of the first album wouldn’t last. Lou fired Andy Warhol, and didn’t tell anybody until about a week later! So, surprise, surprise, he brought in Sesnick, who wanted us to do shows in front of movies – The Visit with Anthony Quinn – and sell shirts. He knew somebody who was making frilly shirts, so he thought we could go and promote the shirts for him. No, none of us wore the shirts.
The December 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Pink Floyd, plus a free CD compiled by Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner that includes tracks by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Sleaford Mods, Yo La Tengo, Can. Elsewhere in the issue, there’s TheDamned, Julia Holter, Desert Trip, Midlake, C86, David Pajo, Nils Frahm and the New Classical, David Bowie, Tim Buckley, REM, Norah Jones, Morphine, The Pretenders and more plus 140 reviews
Uncut: the past, present and future of great music.