Neil Young knew he wanted to make a purely solo album -- just himself and a guitar -- when he recruited Daniel Lanois to produce the upcoming "Le Noise." That it finds him primarily playing electric guitar, however, came as a surprise.
"It evolved from being solo acoustic into being solo electric," Young tells Billboard.com. The singer-songwriter says that after a few acoustic songs were initially recorded, he pulled out "The Hitchhiker," an autobiographical song Young first wrote around 1975, and began working it up for "Le Noise." "Then I thought to myself, 'This is definitely going to be better electric than acoustic," Young recalls. "So we tried it and it sounded really interesting and really good and strong...So I went home and got my white [Gretsch] Falcon out...and I wrote a sound or two like that and then brought them in and that kind of opened the door for us."
Lanois adds that the transition to electric "was not a deliberate move or anything. Neil was able to go off and write some additional songs, and I think there was a subconscious force at play that brought this material to the table for us."
Young and Lanois and his team recorded "Le Noise" at the producer's home studio in Los Angeles' Silverlake area, recording a couple songs at a time during full moon or new moon sessions. The sessions were also filmed by Lanois cohort Adam Vollick, who created films to accompany each of the eight tracks on deluxe versions of "Le Noise," which comes out Sept. 28, and on a Blu-ray disc due in November.
"We've been developing this simple philosophy that, as the magic moment is unfolding musically, let the lense capture it with one camera," Lanois notes.
"Le Noise" will also be released as an App that Young says "is based on my 'Archives' Blu-ray set" with a variety of interactive extras including original lyric manuscripts, photos, a career timeline and possibly alternate or live takes of the songs, the latter of which come from preview performances while he was on tour earlier this year. "What it does is bring you back to the album cover experience we used to get when the album cover was something tangible and big enough to actually read and see," Young explains. "(The App) creates a version of it for the iPad or for a computer or a smart phone."
Young will likely continue to play some of the "Le Noise" songs at a run of Gulf Coast region shows that start Sept. 20 in Panama City, Fla., and will include food drives as well as a donation from Tyson Foods. Young also performs Oct. 2 at Farm Aid's 25th anniversary concert in Milwaukee and hosts his annual Bridge School Benefit shows Oct. 23-24 in Mountain View, Calif., where he'll reunite with surviving Buffalo Springfield members Stephen Stills and Richie Furay for the first time in 42 years.