When the Chris Duarte Group hit Colorado in June of 2000, just after recording the new album "Love Is Greater Than Me", I was chomping at the bit to hear how it went from Chris. Unfortunately, his voice was bothering him. He was drinking lots of warm tea with honey and trying not to talk much. I was gonna’ e-mail him some interview questions instead of buggin’ him, but backstage at the Fox Theater gig (a rippin’ show with screamin’ vocals) guess who plopped down on the couch and wanted to talk about the “LOVE>ME” sessions?!





Was it real comfortable working with Doyle?

It was extremely easy. If his suggestions didn’t work out, he was the first to admit that something wasn’t sounding right. There were several suggestions that sounded great until we tried ‘em, like when he wanted a bow for John’s bass on “Metaphor”. If it wasn’t happening, he’d go, “O.K., throw that one out!” Doyle had suggestions for about half of the material. He really breathed a lot of life and a lot of hooks into the songs. It was real refreshing to work with Doyle.



The recording sessions went real quick. Were many songs already worked out going into the studio?

Yeah, it was fast, but all my album projects have been fast. I just wish I could have a month in the studio. We’ve never done that, it’s always been 2-3 weeks. And then mixing takes a week. Fortunately I’d say about 75-80% of the material was pretty much already set and then it was up to Doyle to give us suggestions on what to do with the arrangements of the tunes. There was only a couple songs that we didn’t really have worked out—two, maybe three. “Badness” was totally new when I went in. I was so surprised that we knocked the album out in basically 4 days, the mixing of it. A lot of the tunes, some of the blues tunes like “Brand New Day” and “How Long?”, didn’t have a lot of things recorded on them so they didn’t take much time.




Were you more involved in the mixing this time?

Oh definitely! “Tailspin” I pretty much just sat there in the studio and didn’t really stand up and say to do this or do that. On this one I actually said I wanted something to sound like this or asked for someone to do that. It was Jared Tuten’s job to do what I was explaining. Jared was a really good engineer. We really lucked out getting him! He was a great Pro-Tools engineer—the whole album was recorded with Pro-Tools—he’d get great tones from his microphone placements. He was sort of a last-second thought. Max knew he could run Pro-Tools, so he called him up. We originally had three different guys that were gonna’ help engineer the album. After we worked with Jared for 3-4 days, we realized he was our man. He was good to work with and was always paying attention. Sometimes I was so vague—and he’d still do it! Like at the end of “Metaphor”, when you listen to it with headphones, how it pans from one side to another. Jared’s steadfastness and attention for detail also landed him a gig with Doyle. Doyle’s going back into that same studio and record with Pro-Tools. Doyle is sold on Pro-Tools. He thought it was so cool, the way you can fix things and that everything sounds really great.


On the rough mixes I noticed a lot of the songs are about 4 minutes long. Were they longer going into the studio?

Yeah, we whittled ‘em down to make ‘em more radio-friendly, but we actually try to do that in all of our sessions. Doyle did it a lot, too.




So the basic drum and bass tracks were laid down first and then you came back in?

Drums and bass were done in about a week and then I came in the whole next week. It was basically me, Jared, and Doyle laying down the stuff. And then we brought in those extra musicians, the tabla and riq player. The riq was this little tambourine thing. John had actually thought about having a tabla and he knew the tabla player, Erin Foster. It really sounds great! After we got that on, we yanked the drums right out. We had originally laid it down with Jason playing mallets on the drums, but It sounds great.


Well Chris, are you happy with the album?

Yeah, I am. It’s actually a pretty good recording. I think it’s got a lot of strengths to it.




Have you got a title for it?

“Love Is Greater Than Me”. I also suggested “Azul Ezell”, but I think they’ll run with “Love Is Greater Than Me”. It’s spelled out like the math formula, “Love>Me”. It’s about finding love, getting my act back together, that helped me get another record project and stay with it. If I was still doing drugs I would be in terrible shape, probably in jail or worse.


But hey, hey, hey, it’s a “Brand New Day”!

(groan.) That’s right!


(And with that little gem, we’ll bring down the curtain!)


For more interviews on the
"Love Is Greater Than Me" sessions, click on...

John Jordan or Jason Patterson