March 1, 1996 -- Back in music news, record producers are more than just knob twiddlers and level riders on the modern pop scene -- they also polish up songs, and shape material, and generally make themselves pretty indispensable to the hit-hungry novice act. Take Glenn Ballard -- still basking in the extended glow of Alanis Morrisette's Grammy-winning "Jagged Little Pill" album -- in the making of which his extensive expertise was a key element.
MTV: Glen Ballard is the producer/song writer who has helped Alanis Morrissette convey her anger, frustration and artistic vision. Ballard has also written or produced songs for decidedly tamer acts such as Paula Abdul, Michael Jackson, soap stud Jack Wagner and vocal trio Wilson Phillips.
GLEN BALLARD: I make no apologies for the fact that I've been involved with things that are really more of entertainment type music because I think if nothing else I can apply a certain amount of craft to it about what I know about music, arranging.
Obviously what I prefer to do is to delve deeper in an artistic statement. But, I can only go as far as the artist is prepared to go.
MTV: Not exactly known for holding back, Alanis Morrissette would seem to be an ideal artist to collaborate with Ballard. In the early 90's Morrissette had a brief stint as a Canadian pop-star. When her career started to wane she began looking for inspiration in a song writing partner. After a series of failed pairings she hooked up with Glen Ballard.
ALANIS MORRISSETTE: I didn't feel any synergy with anybody and didn't connect with them on a cerebral level or an intellectual level at all, until I met Glen.
BALLARD: She didn't come in and sit down and say I want to go in a rock direction. We just sat down and we went there without really talking about it. I liken it to putting our hands on a ouiga board and it just kind of went that way.
MTV: In 1994 Ballard and Morrissette began a series of highly productive demo sessions.
Since Alanis had no record company at the time looking over her shoulder, the two felt free to experiment musically.
BALLARD: We weren't encumbered by anything other than our own very high standards in terms of what we were creating.
MTV: It was a rapid process for Morrissette and Ballard. Songs were written and recorded in the same day. They were so excited about the immediacy of the demos they decided to keep the original vocal tracks for the finished album.
BALLARD: We almost felt compelled that it had to be recorded, at least the vocal, had to be recorded then. We didn't change anything.
MTV: The pair continues to collaborate. In fact if you catch Morrissette live you may get a sneak preview of the new album. With three of the tracks already written, Ballard says they will continue to rely on their instincts when it comes to music making.
BALLARD: I don't think it will be an intellectual or calculated... There's that word again: calculated.
I don't think we're gonna calculate where we're gonna go. I think we're gonna feel where it's gonna go.