Hobbit - 2003 Interview Part 2

Lee South AfricaLee South Africa South Africa
edited December 2020 in Interviews all

INTERVIEW: Hobbit [Part 2] (Sep 2003)
The Hobbit Story - Part Two
Written by Lee Bradfield

In conjunction with Paul 'Turk' Henry and Gene Fields. It continues the 1970's and 1980's adventures of Texan AOR/pomp rockers Hobbit. This is the second installment of the Hobbit story, continued on from last month.

The reputation of Hobbit had now reached the ears of CBS Records in New York, and in 1981 the band had the opportunity to go up there and record an album for possible release on CBS.

The summer of 81 was like a fantasy, recording 'Two Feet Tall' in New York. They chose, ironically, Wizard Studios and The Hit Factory for the project. This was a giant step up from the recordings we had done in Texas, and we knew we were lucky. There we were, recording this album, and getting paid for it; and partying all we could the rest of the time.

On weekends, we usually went down into the city for some fun - and that place never stops. Sometimes we piled in and drove the old Texas Cadillac, and other times we caught a train that was nearby. We also went to many clubs, especially in Greenwich Village.

In the studio, it soon became a lot of long days - it's not easy producing and recording an album. 'Midyear's Eve was our unanimous choice to lead off. Sometime after the basic drum tracks were done and other tracks added, they cut and spliced the order we ended up with. The first side flowed together real well, but the second was more of a collection of the others. The next step was to add 'scratch vocals'; just to make the songs seem real while the long process of instrumental stuff was completed. The final lead vocals were not done until the very last on some songs.

Every night we ate out somewhere, and Turk could always leave 'em with a loud burp. On lots of nights, we went to bars and stuff and just acted like rock stars in our own ways. The next final tracks we worked on were Turk's bass, and he went through that pretty quick. We constantly listened to an updated cassette of the songs as they progressed, back at the rooms. We took great pains to get the right sound for each part, using different amps, mic setups, and effects.

Probably the most memorable part of the Hobbit project at Wizard Studios was the symphony orchestra. So when the 25 or so professional musicians showed up, the entire dead room was set up with chairs and music stands. There was at least 50 pounds of sheet music written for 'Midyear's Eve', 'Puppets', 'Love Is Forever', and 'Intensity'. There were violins, cellos, violas, oboes, flutes, French horns (these were great), a bassoon, and timpani drums.

All the music was set up for each one and numerous mics were placed around the room. It was so compact. It amazed us how they played all of these Hobbit songs without even hearing them before. A number of small changes were made as the day progressed, but it came together. It was a big time feeling watching these 'real' musicians play and record our songs.

Another cool part of the time at the studios in New York was meeting famous musicians that we had always liked. Leslie West and Corky Laing (Mountain) were also recording at Wizard. They were cool guys to talk with and had some great Longbottom Leaf. Even the OJays stopped by several times. The most impressive visitor we had at Wizard Studio was Ian Hunter.

He was the singer and leader of Mott The Hoople, that British band that did 'All The Young Dudes' back in the early 70's. Ian spent an entire day in the studio with us and we really hit it off together. The next thing we knew, his friend Frank Zappa showed up. He helped us with 'Intensity', but his favourite song was 'The Way We Are'. He told us many colourful stories of rockin' in the 60's, and the encounter was unforgettable.


At the end of the project, Hobbit and the producer were not at all in agreement over a lot of the direction we took. We always felt that he stripped too much of the spontaneous life from the songs by forcing the click track and exact order for things. He admitted afterward that he should have seen us live first. Our advice to any young musicians in this spot is to listen to what they're saying, but don't sell out.

Despite recording what many now consider a pomp AOR classic, CBS suffered a brain fade and decided not to go for it - leaving Hobbit with a great album recorded but no record deal, and legal complications around the rights to the material.

In the early years of Hobbit, we had a manager who had helped us get started, but he had limited resources. After we gained popularity in Texas, another management group entered the picture. Thus began a legal struggle that lasted over a year, each one suing the other; while we were caught in the middle.

From the summer of 78 to the fall of 85 we lived lives that few people experience. The pursuit of that dream with the music became everything. We had become popular enough to maintain a constant group of people who also existed for its attraction.It was much more than an attraction - it was an addiction. Hobbit really touched several dozen people, changing their courses in life forever. There were many moments of great excitement. Between writing and recording, playing concerts, chasing a record deal, drugs, and love affairs; the time could only be described in a word as 'intensity'. Here, let's make a point: everyone involved with management or the production of Hobbit sincerely gave it their best - let's not torment an ugly dog!

Where many other bands would have thrown in the towel, Hobbit went home and worked on recording tracks with a more 80's AOR sound, and on restarting their live performance campaign in Texas where they were now far beyond cult heroes, drawing crowds of 3000 and more as a headline act.

Through all the ups and downs, there was one thing that kept it all going - songwriting. It is impossible to describe how exciting it is to write and play original songs. For the time that we were productive, we experienced a rare bond between people. The stuff we did together was clearly better than anything we did before or after our time. It was our time. We were different, but the chemistry gave us remarkable ability to piece together ideas that each one had.

During the writing of the songs in the 'Join The Celebration' tape, we developed a style that satisfied each other's musical direction. Each of us would have several ideas and riffs going all the time. As we started piecing together a song, somebody's part might fit. Looking back, it's funny how some parts of songs started out in another, the year before.



[Part 1] - [Part 2] - [Part 3] - [Part 4]

All written content on this website belongs to GloryDazeMusic.com copyright. Duplication elsewhere on the Internet is strictly prohibited, unless specific permission is granted.

Sign In or Register to comment.