As a founding member of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Randy Bachman is one of rock music’s legendary trailblazers. His musical contributions have gracefully withstood the test of time; songs like “These Eyes,” “American Woman” and “Takin’ Care of Business” have had multi-generational appeal and have likely been a catalyst for the formation of hundreds — if not thousands — of garage bands around the world.
That part of Bachman’s contribution to music would have been enough. But in the summer of 2008, after one of his favorite DJ’s on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Channel) signed off for the last time, his career was serendipitously drawn into a completely new direction, which ultimately resulted in his own radio program called Vinyl Tap. The program, which consists of Bachman playing songs and sharing experiences from his rock ‘n’ roll past, now reaches millions of listeners each week. Bachman relies on a pair of Sennheiser HD 650 headphones to monitor each broadcast, as well as to mix his own solo projects.
How did you become involved in Vinyl Tap?
It was a total surprise, because I did the radio show as a joke. I used to listen to the show on Saturday night and the DJ said he was signing off at the end of the year and retiring. I thought, ‘How can a guy retire from playing records? It’s not like he is shoveling ditches or working construction!’ So while I was doing a show at CBC they asked me if I wanted to give it a shot and do ten shows. I said, ‘What the heck, sure.’ I thought I would just play my records and tell my own stories about people like Little Richard, Elvis, The Beach Boys and other musicians that I’ve met. These are my own stories that nobody else knows, because it is my own interaction with them.
CBC did a rating and my show came up #1. So they called me and asked me if I would continue doing the show for a full year. I said, ‘You mean the dreaded J word? A JOB?’ So I fell into the groove of doing this and liked it. Hundreds of mails from fans started coming in from all over. Now the show runs three times per week and it reaches many millions of listeners. It is the highest rated show CBC has ever had on a Saturday Night.
What did it feel like to appeal to a completely new generation of music fans?
It was a whole new thing because I would get stopped on the street in Toronto or in a mall somewhere by 14 or 15 year old kids. They knew my music, but discovered me through Vinyl Tap! I get vast amounts of emails from families who say my show has really pulled them together. It has brought teenagers closer to their parents: they laugh about it, they dance to it, then they go off on their own way and do their own thing. It’s funny, because I am a music and history teacher to a lot of these kids — they hear my voice on the radio in their house and they come up to me like I’m their next door neighbor and they haven’t seen me for a month!
The Sennheiser HD 650s are Randy Bachman’s favored headphones for mixing (click on image for hi-res).
Where does Sennheiser fit into the picture, both personally and professionally?
I have always been a fan of Sennheiser. A few years ago, I was traveling on an airplane and a guy next to me had on a pair of Sennheiser PXC BT 310 noise canceling headphones. I asked him if I could try them on, and wow! They canceled the plane noise — which is about a third of the noise going into your ears — and I could hear the music that I was working on on my computer. Then I plugged them in to watch a movie on the plane; that was great too. I ended up buying three dozen of them and gave them to everybody in my band for Christmas because we were all traveling and facing same noise issues. They were just fantastic.
How about in the studio mixing, or on the Vinyl Tap show?
I am sitting here right now mixing music and I’ve got a pair of the Sennheiser HD 650s beside me — they are just amazing; I also use them on the radio show for every broadcast. I love the velvet ear cushion. When you put on most headphones, it’s like somebody’s got you in a headlock– they are too tight and that weird plastic ends up hurting your ears. From a sonic perspective, I like Sennheiser’s open-air style headphones because they are just the greatest things for mixing. I think the sound is flatter than other brands, which is exactly what I want; I don’t want colored headphones.
I have a house in Covent Garden, Santa Monica and Winnipeg and I have the same set of Sennheiser headphones in every place I work. It’s like having the same monitor system everywhere you go — because rooms are so different now and studio environments have changed, it has all boiled down to having great headphones as a dependable reference. I trust Sennheiser — it is one of the classic names in sound.
Originally posted 2011-04-04 03:07:41.