We talk a lot about “paying your dues” in the music business. Producer/engineer Matt Wallace paid his back in 1988 when he produced The Replacements’ raw, charming and clever album Don’t Tell a Soul. “I was basically hazed for most of that record,” he says.
Wallace had relocated to Los Angeles from San Francisco in January of that year. “I was hitting a wall in the Bay Area,” he says. “I kept making demos for bands that would get signed, but ultimately I couldn’t get hired because I wasn’t a big enough fish in the pond.”
Wallace signed on as a staff A&R rep/producer for the Slash indie label, where one of his early claims to fame was producing a song by the so-called New Monkees.
“Warner Brothers was working on a Monkees reboot,” Wallace explains. “They had four guys who were ready for TV and a bunch of writers. Obviously, it never really broke through, but I got to know the people at Warners. Then I heard The Replacements were making a record, and I started calling and saying, ‘Hey, I’m a fan and am interested in working with this band.’ But they were like, ‘Well, Tony Berg’s doing the record, sorry.’”
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Consumer alert: I'm a huge fan of the Replacements, and if you're reading this here blog presumably you are too, but be warned: after reading that piece, I sort of concluded that they're not particularly nice guys. Let's just say that if I had been Matt Wallace, I would have come away from his experience with the band thinking they were very large, unpleasant assholes.
On the other hand, they made the above record, which is such a magnificent work of art that I guess pretty much anything can be forgiven. Hell, given "Be My Baby," I've forgiven Phil Spector, and he actually killed somebody.