Jack Casady On Recording Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Surrealistic Pillow’

Jefferson Airplane is celebrating the 55th Anniversary of their platinum-certified second album, ‘Surrealistic Pillow.’ Released on February 1, 1967, the album was the first smash-hit psychedelic album to emerge from the San Francisco rock scene. Sharing the creation process of this album in his latest interview with Guitar World, Jack Casady said that they had an exceptional time for two weeks by shutting themselves down in the studio during the recordings.

“That was recorded right down from me at the RCA Recording Studios, and we lived up in San Francisco then, so we would fly down to do a project,” said the bassist, remembering their journey to the production studio. “I think the first album was four days, the second album, ‘Surrealistic Pillow,’ was two weeks. The first album was a three-track, and you had one track to bounce, and basically walked in there, played the material we played on stage, and played it as a set.”

He continued, “‘Surrealistic Pillow’ was the beginning of the four-track. So, just like the Beatles used it for multiple overlaying and whatnot, you had a lot more choices. That was part of the excitement of the time – having the latest/advanced equipment.”

This album was the final outcome of two weeks when they closed themselves in the studio. Casady added, “At the same time, recording ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ and all the tracks on there was really a special time. I remember it being a two-week period where you just submerged yourself in the studio. Unlike the first album – where it had been material all worked out that we had played for quite a while live – the material for ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ came in partially written, or we wrote it all on the spot.”

Airplane’s ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ made quite an impact on the music scene. But apart from that, it was a remarkable record regarding the interaction of music and the social context it was in. After the album’s release, the counterculture saw significant changes due to later exposure brought about by the band. By 1968, the resulting national media attention had led to a radically different San Francisco environment than in 1966.