Since recording his first solo album in 1970, Starr has been recorded by rock 'n' roll's top producers, including George Martin, Richard Perry, Arif Mardin, Don Was, Jeff Lynne and Mark Hudson. But for his last disc, Y Not," he co-produced himself with engineer Bruce Sugar. I was a bit nervous, because I hadn't done it before," Starr said. But it worked out so well that I thought, Well, I'm gonna do the next one."
Starr's recording process is as unique as his drumming. For his albums with his previous recording band, Starr and his songwriting team would sit together and write songs, complete with music and lyrics. His writing process for both Ringo 2012" and Y Not," however, was completely different, writing and recording without a live band in the studio. We essentially work backwards," he said.
Sugar added, It's a weird process, but it works."
Working on a keyboard synthesizer, Starr will first generate a basic rhythm pattern for what will eventually become a new song.
After Starr has come up with the rhythm and chord pattern, he'll turn things over to Sugar to formalize. He'll come up with a groove and say, 'That's a cool sound' or 'I like that groove,' and then he'll go to lunch and I'll put it into a song format," Sugar said. When Starr adds his drums, Sugar added, That's when it comes alive, that's when the magic happens. You immediately know it's a Ringo Starr track."
Starr will often take a single pass at his drum track, nailing it fairly quickly. I'll try to get him to do more, but he's usually happy with the first thing he's recorded," Sugar said.