Bruce Springsteen's longtime engineer Toby Scott gave a behind the scenes look into the sessions for the new album, Western Stars, which hit Number One in the UK and entered the Billboard 200 at Number Two. Scott, who began recording the E Street Band during the sessions for 1980's The River, spoke to Uncut about how "The Boss" works at Stone Hill Studio, which is housed on Springsteen's Stone Hill Farm, explaining, "He’s very easygoing. Doesn’t get mad. Doesn’t get frustrated or upset. You make a mistake and he’s like, 'OK, let’s do it again.' Just very casual."
He went on to say that pretty much everything Springsteen lays down these days could be considered the basic track to a master take, admitting, "We don’t really do demos. What am I gonna do? Use the bad microphones? As I said to Bruce, 'You don’t do demos either. You sing in key and in time while playing the guitar. We just make recordings that don’t get released.'"
Although Western Stars has an expansive orchestral vibe throughout, the album — like most of Springsteen's studio work — started out much like the others: "He doesn’t have any preconceived conceptual ideas for most of these songs. He has them in his mind as an acoustic guitar and a vocal. He puts that down and then goes from there. He’ll try different instruments and different parts. If it doesn’t sound good, he’ll say, 'Eh, just delete that Forget it.' We both know what we’re doing, and we worked very well together. We might complete a song in two or three hours, something like that. We may re-approach it two days later and add things to it or else we’d continue on."
Toby Scott revealed that some of the signature orchestral parts on the album were originally sketched out by Springsteen on the synthesizer: "Some of the parts were good, but they were only an indication of what they could be. He did some of the parts on a synthesizer or sampler, but they wanted to fix those parts up and use real strings and horns."
Western Stars had been awaiting release for several years while Springsteen wrote his memoir Born To Run and performed his long-running Springsteen On Broadway theater run. He recently revealed that his song ideas have always had long shelf lives and eventually find their way out through a variety of projects: ["Y'know, I have groups of material that I carry around sometimes and I'm always, when I have some free time, I'm like, 'I wonder what those guys are doing?' And I'll go over and I'll visit a group of songs. I got one I keep going back to that's 20-years-old. 'Born In The U.S.A.' was thrown off Nebraska, y'know (laughs)? So, y'know, that's kind of, gives you an idea, sort of that (of) the parameters that songs can make it or not make it at any given moment, y'know?"] SOUNDCUE (:27 OC: . . . given moment y'know)