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Complete unedited transcript of Walter Becker in conference in an America Online Chat Room on November 17, 1994.

Subject: walter backer -aol-11/17/94

OnlineHost: Copyright 1994 America Online, Inc. All rights reserved.

OnlineHost: Center Stage is the largest gathering place on the service, bringing celebrity guests right into your home, and offering a host of entertainment events led by a team of talented emcees. It's capable ofaccommodating hundreds of guests and is truly the showplace of the service.

OnlineHost: Experiment with the menu. You'll find many powerful options including one which permits you to interact with other members present in the Auditorium. The interaction "rows" text is prefaced by a number shown in parentheses: (1), etc., which is followed by the text sent by members in that row. Unless a "row" is being "broadcast" your hosts cannot see interactive text. Try it. You can't break anything!

OnlineHost: Your emcee for tonight is LindaSG.

OnlineHost: He hooked up with Donald Fagen to form Steely Dan. That was twenty-odd years ago. Their first album "Can't Buy a Thrill" quickly went gold. The group went on to record a total of seven commercially successful and critically acclaimed albums which included "Pretzel Logic" (1974), "Aja" (1977), and "Gaucho" (1979) as well as numerous hit singles.

OnlineHost: About 1980 or so, Steely Dan was kaput and Becker found himself sorely in need of a change of pace. He moved to Hawaii, gave up smoking and strong drink, etc., married and became a father of a son, Kawai. He hoped that his process of physical and spiritual regeneration would carry him into his fourth decade and beyond. And it has.

OnlineHost: So why does a 40 year old veteran of the recording business suddenly decide that he wants to make his belated debut as a recording artist/vocalist? Walter Becker of Steely Dan feels that producing is less than a satisfying job in most respects.

OnlineHost: "Now that the thing (11 WHACKS OF TRACK) is finished," says Becker, "I realize that writing words and music is the most enjoyable and satisfying part of the process, and something I was missing in my life. Now that I'm doing it again, I kind of feel like I have rediscovered some of the excitement I experienced in the beginning of my career."

OnlineHost: America Online is pleased to present Walter Becker directly from Hawaii for his first online appearance, promoting his solo album, "11 WHACKS OF TRACK." Now, meet Walter Becker! Aloha!

CSEmcee3: Welcome, Walter Becker!

BeckerLive: Hello, everyone!

OnlineHost: If you have a question or comment to send to the stage, please select the "Ask a Question" or "Send a Comment" feature from your menu. Type your message then use the "send" option to send it to the stage. All items sent are received sequentially, first-sent, first-received.

BeckerLive: Let's go right into the questions!

CSEmcee3: Here we go!

Question: I saw you in Houston at the Woodlands last year, Walter. Great concert as always. But why must you insist on injecting your leftist political views during a concert? Do you think we really care what your narrow mind thinks?

BeckerLive: I take the leftist political views to be a reference to the lyrics to a song that I sang that night called "Fall of 92." There's two things that I would like to point out. One is that the political views expressed by the character in the song are exactly that-namely the perspective of the character and not mine and two Bush was equally reviled by people from all positions in the political spectrum. But again the point of the song was to tell a story about a 80's yuppie who had fallen on hard times and blamed his failed romance on the recent economic downturn.

Question: Will Walter work with China Crisis Again?

BeckerLive: I don't know if China Crisis still exists as a unit. I've kind of heard that they don't.

OnlineHost: If you have a question or comment to send to the stage, please select the "Ask a Question" or "Send a Comment" feature from your menu. Type your message then use the "send" option to send it to the stage. All items sent are received sequentially, first-sent, first-received.

Question: What was the inspiration for Deacon Blues?

BeckerLive: It was an outgrowth of a specific mood that pertained at a given time.

Question: Where are you? Walter (always been a huge fan). What single piece of work has been most satisfying to you?

BeckerLive: Funny that this question should come now right after the question about Deacon Blues. Because I remember the night that we mixed that one thinking that it was really good and wanting to hear it over and over which is never the case.

Question: Did you go to the Berkley School of Music in Boston? Or what kind of musical background did you bring when you started performing?

BeckerLive: I'm a self-taught musician aside from what I've been able to pick up from other players, especially Donald. Who went to Berkley?

Question: After seeing your great concert in Orlando, I'd like to know if we can expect to see a "Steely Dan" album anytime in the near future?

BeckerLive: Not in the usual sense of near future, no.

Question: So what's the deal with Bard? We still haven't lived that song down. Was it that bad?

BeckerLive: It was great! If I could re-enroll and be right back where I was I'd do it!

Question: What is your favorite song to play?

BeckerLive: "Josie".

Question: Do you hang out with Larry Carlton?"

BeckerLive: No. I haven't seen him in many years.

Question: Do you ever regret breaking up Steely Dan?

BeckerLive: No.

Question: Are you still collaborating with Mr. Fagen or are you mainly focusing on your solo career?

BeckerLive: We still collaborate and in fact my solo career is a collaboration to a certain extent with him. Hopefully we'll get to write some more songs together soon!

Question: Will there be an album of the 93 Steely Dan Tour?

BeckerLive: Yes. Hopefully the 93 and 94 tour with something from our Japan tour in April of 94.

Question: Mr. Becker, do you feel you've gotten a new perspective since you've become a father? I'm referring to both your music and in general.

BeckerLive: Definitely. It's a guaranteed Paradigm shifter.

Question: Have you been online before this? And can we expect Walter Becker to be a presence online regularly?

BeckerLive: This is my first time. I haven't had a chance to hook up in the last year because I've been too busy. I will connect in the next few weeks and then we'll see how it turns out. In theory it's a very appealing idea!

Question: Did you know Donald Fagen while he was at Bard College?

BeckerLive: Yes. That's where we met.

Question: Do you plan on releasing an interactive CD in the near future?

BeckerLive: We don't have any plans yet but there has been some talk which may amount to something.

Question: Is there ever the chance of seeing another album from Steely Dan?

BeckerLive: A sure possibility. Alas I'm not at liberty to say more at this time.

Question: What type of music do you listen to and who are your mentors?

BeckerLive: I listen to a mixture of old jazz, contemporary, pop, some world beat stuff and various odds and ends. My primary influences were the best jazz players from the 50's and 60's and later some of the pop people from the same time period along with the better of the well known blues musicians.

Question: Do you know if any enlightened company plans to release "Apogee" on CD? It's a great recording with superb production!

BeckerLive: An enlightened record company? I don't think so!

Question: Walter, since your skills and Donald's compliment each other so well, are you going to work together more again? and if so, WHEN? :)

BeckerLive: Yes. Soon, very soon. Maybe.

Question: How did you end up working with China Crisis?

BeckerLive: I had told Michael Ostin an A&R person at Warner's that I liked their music. Word filtered back to them and they asked me to produce their record when it turned out that their first choice, Brian Eno, wasn't available.

Question: Walter, why did you go to drum machines on "11 Tracks of Whack?"

BeckerLive: I wrote the songs on my computer sequencer for the most part. I found it difficult to capture the mood of the sequences with a live band.

Question: Is it true that the "Reelin' in the Years" guitar solo was done in less than one hour?

BeckerLive: I can't really remember if it was done in an hour but it was done fairly quickly.

Question: Enjoyed the production of Michael Franks. Who's next to produce?

BeckerLive: I don't have any projects of any type lined up at this time. I'm gonna take some time off and maybe travel a bit with my family.

Question: Walt, the Eagles just made $50M in a tour. Are you guys next?

BeckerLive: I sincerely doubt it!

Question: Of all the guitarists you worked with on the Steely Dan albums, who was your favorite?

BeckerLive: There were so many great guitarists it would be impossible to single one out above the others!

Question: What happened with Gary Katz?

BeckerLive: He's alive and well and living in NYC. He and Donald are partners in a recording studio there.

Question: Can you name one of your songs that was generated from personal experience?

BeckerLive: Pretty much all of them were personal experiences but there are a couple of songs on my new record that are more literal than others, particularly "Surf and or Die" and "Little Kawai."

Question: Why did Steely Dan move away from their original guitar oriented sound?

BeckerLive: The music that we were writing became more jazz oriented harmonically. This suggested that we feature keyboards more prominently.

Question: There have been a lot of rumors. Why have we had to wait 20 years to see you guys live?

BeckerLive: I don't know! It just took that long. :-) But I would love to hear the rumors!

Question: We have all been dying to know: boxers or briefs?

BeckerLive: Yes! When I can find them! What kind of interview is this!

Question: How do you like Hawaii?

BeckerLive: Very, very much!

Question: How did you come up with the name Steely Dan and what does it really mean?

BeckerLive: The name comes from William Burroughs novel "Naked Lunch."Steely Dan is a "marital appliance." I thought everyone had heard that one by now.

Question: Will there be another "best of" album coming out in the near future?

BeckerLive: If there was going to be another compilation it would have to be a worst of. We've done so many best of.

Question: Was the information about equipment on "Katy Lied" due to frustration or pride in the production?

BeckerLive: It was an attempt at humor more than anything else. The design and notes were a parody of a 50's Atlantic jazz LP.

Question: In the intro bio you are quoted as enjoying the product over the production. What single product have you gotten the most pleasure from? (product = song/composition)

BeckerLive: That's a good question! The answer would have to be various Steely Dan tunes and maybe a couple of outside production things as well. Ricky Lee Jones and Michael Franks come to mind.

Question: Have you ever heard "The Minutemen" cover of Dr. Who?

BeckerLive: No, but I certainly would like to!

Question: Talk about cryptic lyrics. What was the "wolverine" that you took back to Annandale? Where was Annandale? Was this in reference to college days in NYC?

BeckerLive: The wolverine was the name of the particular train that went from NYC to Annandale which was the nearest station to Bard College.

Question: Do you still or plan to work again with Michael McDonald? I hear so much of Steely Dan in his music?

BeckerLive: I would like to work with Michael at some point. We did tour together with the New York Rock and Soul revue.

Question: How often do you and Donald interact?

BeckerLive: We talk on the phone once a week and more when something is going on.

Question: I saw you on tour with Drew Zing on guitar. What do you think about him?

BeckerLive: Fantastic!

Question: How do you feel about the Eagles saying that Steely Dan was the inspiration for "Hotel California" (the song)?

BeckerLive: As I recall, at the time we had referred to them in a song lyric ("Everything You Did") and I was delighted that they returned the compliment!

Question: Who were your two to three favorite session drummers over the years?

BeckerLive: Bernard Purdie, Steve Gadd and Jim Keltner and Jeff Porcaro. They come to mind right away!

Question: Did you have any reservations singing "solo" on this release?

BeckerLive: Yes, but I overcame them!

Question: Steely Dan was a group with such a different sound. Did you ever wonder if it was a "marketable" sound?

BeckerLive: We thought that it was. We hoped that it was.

Question: Any chance of your old Fagen/Becker album "You Gotta Walk It Like You Talk It" being re-released?

BeckerLive: I think it has already been released on some fly-by-night label.

Question: Walter, is there any underlying theme for "11TOW?"

BeckerLive: No. There is no overall theme to the album.

Question: What do you think about interactive music like Todd Rundgren's "No World Order" CD ROM?

BeckerLive: Haven't seen it yet!

Question: Do you have any advice for us future musicians?

BeckerLive: Play what you enjoy! Try and find your own musical identity.

Question: Do you have any degrees other than musically? Do you think it is necessary in your field to have a good education?

BeckerLive: I don't have any degrees. I was a dropout. So I guess it's not absolutely necessary!

Question: You always had such great studio musicians on your albums. Is there anybody you weren't able to get to record with you?

BeckerLive: Illinois Jacquette.

Question: Walter, do you subscribe to the "Steely Dan Internet Digest?"

BeckerLive: Never heard of it! Sounds delightful though!

Question: What did Donald and you provide for each other when you collaborated?

BeckerLive: Partnership.

Question: What do you think is your greatest work?

BeckerLive: The song I'm working on now!

Question: Why the long hiatus between your and Donald's albums during the late 70's and your latest release? We've missed you!

BeckerLive: We were taking a break. Now the break is over!

Question: How old is the picture of you on your album?

BeckerLive: It was taken in June of 94 about a week before the album was finished.

Question: Have you read "Reelin' in the Years," the book about Steely Dan?

BeckerLive: The author sent me a copy and I looked at the pictures in the center. That's as far as I got.

Question: What is it about the song "Josie" that makes it your favorite to play?

BeckerLive: I like the groove and I like the fact that it's blues based.

Question: Why did Steely Dan break up?

BeckerLive: We had taken what we were doing at the time to what seemed to be its logical conclusion, maybe a bit beyond.

Question: How do you feel about this form of interacting with an audience?

BeckerLive: It certainly is a novelty. And it's great to be asked questions by people who are not professional journalists.

Question: Why don't you regret the breakup?

BeckerLive: Because it was time for Donald and I to go our separate ways to fulfill our own destinies.

Question: Mr. Becker, you are a fabulous artist. Thank you for sharing your vision with us!

BeckerLive: What a delightful compliment. All I can say is "Thank You" for your continued interest and appreciation!

OnlineHost: All Good things must come to an end. Time is up for this event.

CSEmcee3: Thank you so much for this great conference, Mr. Becker!

BeckerLive: Thank you, Linda!

CSEmcee3: And thanks to our audience for joining us here in the Coliseum. Good night, Everyone!

OnlineHost: Our thanks to Walter Becker for sharing some moments from an interesting musical life. For a permanent transcript of tonight's event, be sure to download the finished transcript when it goes "live" tomorrow. You'll find it using keyword: "CENTER STAGE." Thank you and good night!

OnlineHost: Copyright 1994 America Online, Inc. All rights reserved.

Transmitted: 95-06-11 00:27:19 EDT

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