A prolific songwriter, spurred on by some notable studio mavens, pulls off a musical hat trick for the ages.
BY JOHN B. MOORE
When Aaron Smart set out to record his debut under the moniker Silverplanes, he didn’t initially set out with an agenda to pull off a wholly ambitious series of releases. He was simply looking to put out an LP.
But, thanks to a prolific nature, a little extra time, and an inspired suggestion by his producer, Jack Douglas (John Lennon, Aerosmith, The Who and Cheap Trick), he turned in an impressive trio of 5-song EPs, each mixed by a different veteran producer with a combined resume that could fill the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Gulfstream, the first EP, was mixed by Shelly Yakus, whose extensive resume includes albums with U2, Tom Petty and Lou Reed; Bombardier was mixed by Jay Messina, known for his work with Aerosmith, KISS and Supertramp; The third and final EP, Lear, was released on June 8. It was mixed by Geoff Emerick, who worked on some of the Beatles’ most innovative releases as well as albums by Badfinger, Elvis Costello and Jeff Beck.
Smart, prepping for the final EP release in the series spoke with Blurt recently about this endeavor, how he was able to lure in such an amazing set of behind-the-scenes talent— and how he’s going to top it.
BLURT: So how did you come up with the idea of a series of EPs for your debut? It’s obviously a pretty novel approach.
SMART: We recorded 15 songs for an album and were editing down to 12. We were done with it and shopping for a label to put it out and then we just kept recording. And another nine months went by and we had another 18 songs and realized that things had evolved in a really cool way with Jack’s vision and my tastes and with the music landscape the way it is. Tough for a new band to get heard so figured let’s spread this out and put out most if not all of it
Jack Douglas has an impressive background. How did you convince him to produce you?
I had met Jack nine years before when he worked on a record at my old recording studio. I decided I wanted a badass producer to work on my next project and began searching. During that time Blake, Jack’s son, said why don’t you ask my dad to do it. I answered, “Yeah, sure your dad.” Blake responded, “Send him a few demos and see what he thinks. I think he will be into it.” I emailed him a few and he got back to me. Asking me, “Who is this? Someone you recording at your studio?” I told him, “No, it’s me.” He came back with “Why didn’t we do a record nine years ago?” And that was that.
Did you know all along that you want different engineers for each release?
No, originally, we recorded 15 songs and when we got to the mix time Jack threw around the idea of having Shelly Yakus mix it. But he wasn’t available as he was setting up Aftermaster, his new studio. We kept recording and I said let’s have Shelly mix this and Jack and I had just had dinner with Geoff Emerick in LA and Jay Messina a few weeks later in New York and Jack said this is serendipitous. Let’s have these two and Shelly mix five songs each and you can put them out separately – a 3 EP series. I said “Uh, yes please” (Laughs).
Was it difficult to figure out who you wanted to mix the songs?
No, once Geoff came into the picture. Jack had a long history with Shelly Yakus and Jay Messina.
So, do the trio of EPs tie together under a unifying theme?
Not really a unifying theme like a “concept” or what not but definitely a unifying sound. Vintage meets modern. Jack Douglas’ sonic signature is probably the unifying thread between them all.
Do you plan to tour with a band now that these albums are out?
Yeah have been rehearsing just about to book a debut Los Angeles show.
Now that this project is finished, what’s next? Do you plan to continue recording under the name Silverplanes?
Yes, Silverplanes is just in its infancy. I’m building a new studio in LA with an old friend that used to be at El Dorado. Going to be collaborating with a bunch of friends and tracking a new Silverplanes full length for 2019 release. Gulfstream is out; touring will begin for this second EP Bombardier, which released on March 30th and third EP, Lear, mixed by Geoff Emerick that will he released in mid-May. Then a double vinyl of all the EPs and five new tracks will he released shortly thereafter