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A&R - Interview
Lenny Waronker Reprise Records A&R
_Mix Makers_ How did you get your start in the music industry?
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I was a record executive and a music producer. I started my career as a record maker working for my fathers publishing company. It was a great experience working for my fathers publishing company called metric music. I enjoyed the music industry in those days because the music was the most important element of producing a record; I still think the music is the most important thing. You had to make the demos sound like real records. You could not have the producer mess up the song or arrangements of the songs in those days. With very limited funding, focusing on the song's and the most important parts of the song. As a Music Producer We learned how to take advantage of moments with in a song, so it was a great beginning towards producing records. This was way back in the early 60s so in terms of technology it was limited and difficult but you have to use your imagination. When the demos were received at record labels they really liked the quality of the demos that were so submitted especially at Warner Brothers and Reprise. The two heads of a&r were so impressed with the demo that they needed some sort of A&R gopher and they wanted to hire me, yah know. I thought it would be a good thing to sort of move away from liberty records in my father's company and go work at another record company so I accepted the job. At that time I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a real record producer because I knew how difficult it was, the idea just made sense at the time.
_Mix Makers_ What did you like about the A&R postion?
What was nice is that I had two A&R executives that made records for many years that were very patient with me and also pushed me into the swimming pool. The Record Label A&R executive I worked with at that time were not very hands and expected me to learn the hard way. I picked up so much working for the publishing company that it wasn't too scary. So when I got a project they would just say go hire an arranger and do it the way you want to do it. You learn quickly when you have that kind of pressure on you. In those days it was really so much different it was really so much about the song and some artists at that time didn’t write their own songs. So I would hire an engineer & tried to get three or four songs done which would take about three hours. Luckily I found an engineer that I can trust because I didn't really want to get involved in the technical side of making records, I never thought I was capable of doing it. I worked with an engineer named Lee. I didn't want to have to think about that. I was concerned about the sound quality but wasn't over excessive about how a snare drum sounded or anything like that. To me it was always about the song, the arrangement and the performance.
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