The Replacements' Songs For Slim producer Ed Ackerson shares session details
Today is the day that longtime fans of the Replacements have been waiting anxiously for. At 10 a.m. Twin Cities time, 250 limited-edition copies of what the Songs For Slim website is calling "the first new Replacements release since 1990's All Shook Down," goes up for auction. The exclusive 10" vinyl pressings of the Songs For Slim EP are all signed by Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, and Chris Mars, and will also contain rare photos, a print of the EP cover which was painted and designed by Mars, a digital download card for the EP, as well as a poster of Slim Dunlap himself, who is recovering at home after suffering a stroke last year. All the proceeds from the auction will go towards defraying Dunlap's continued medical care.
Westerberg and Stinson were joined by drummer Peter Anderson and guitarist Kevin Bowe, and the group recorded their songs locally at Flowers Studio, which is owned and run by BNLX's Ed Ackerson. Ackerson served as producer for the exclusive recording session, and we were able to ask him a few questions about what the general vibe was like in the studio, as well as how the sessions ended up at Flowers in the first place.
Gimme Noise: How did the Replacements' sessions end up taking place at Flowers Studio?
Ed Ackerson: When Peter Jesperson contacted me about the Slim benefit series, I immediately wanted to lend a hand. Slim and Chrissie have both been very kind to me since I was an aspiring high school rocker, so the least I could do was pitch in and help produce some music for this series of benefit releases.
I produced the last Replacements recordings a few years back for their Best Of compilation, so I guess it was natural to pair up again. I've known Paul and Tommy forever, so I think they feel comfortable working at Flowers. They like to work fast, capture the moment and spirit, and our studio is designed to make that sort of thing happen easily.
Did you produce the session? If so, what type of sound were Paul and Tommy looking for?
I produced the session with the band, yes, but there was no preconceived agenda of how to approach it. Basically we just set up the rock and roll band and waited to see what happened. With a great band, the best approach is often to let the energy develop naturally and make sure the technical aspects are invisible to the players.
I saw the band a lot of times when I was a kid, and my primary personal goal in the session was to capture that awesome energy, power, and humor that I remember so clearly.
Was it just a one-day session, or was it more involved than that?
We cut all the tracks essentially live in one day, and there was minimal additional work and mixing shortly after. I overdubbed piano on one track at Paul's insistence, that's about the only thing that didn't happen live on the floor of the studio.
How did the guys choose the covers that ended up on the EP?
Paul had a bunch of great ideas for songs coming in, an interesting list.
Were there other songs that were recorded, or did everything from the session make it on the Songs For Slim EP?
The band tried a number of different tunes, sometimes with fairly different approaches, but the ones on the EP are the ones that they thought turned out best.
Were Paul and Tommy getting along well, and were the sessions an enjoyable experience for everyone involved?
The session was an absolute blast. The vibe was really easy going but also very high energy and absolutely hilarious. When they want to, these guys can bring it effortlessly. To me the energy on that session was 100% vintage Replacements magic, and I think the tunes on the EP reflect it. I think everyone was happy to be there making rock, especially knowing that the end result would help Slim out a lot.
After this auction is complete, the Songs For Slim EP will be made available digitally, with a commercial vinyl release due sometime this spring. There will then be a succession of exclusive 7-inch auctions throughout the year featuring various musicians covering Dunlap's songs, beginning with a Steve Earle/Craig Finn split in February, followed by a Lucinda Williams/Tommy Keene split in March. More information on the auctions, and future releases in the series, can be found on the Songs For Slim website.