Thursday, 4 August 2011

So much news, so little time to inform you of it!

24 hours in a day is NOT enough, and I have felt that more than ever the last couple of weeks. I've been desperately trying to juggle between rehearsing/recording/gigging in three bands, recording bands at the studio, recording bands NOT at the studio, mixing said recordings, moving into a new flat in Sandgate (and trying to survive when half of our stuff still hasn't been delivered), adopting a cat (he's called Alan), participating in a photo shoot and so on...

Anyway, I've managed to find a few minutes between tidying the flat and leaving for the studio (for more tidying before Zorzilla arrive) in order to update my blog, at the request of Thom from Ruby's Wishes/Yes We Canada!

So let's start there: the new two-track recording from Yes We Canada is being mastered today by my good friend Oz Craggs, I'm looking forward to hearing it. I recorded it live early last week up at the studio - everyone in one room, amps cranked up to the hilt, it sounds dirty as hell thanks to some serious compression combined with the URS 'Saturation' plugin across the mix buss. As if that wasn't enough dirt I've then run the stereo mix through two channels on the desk with the gain cranked up into the red on the way in, and a nice bit of the DDA channel EQ which has tied the mix together nicely. You can expect to hear one of those songs on my radio feature on Academy FM next Monday (105.9), and it'll be on my website MP3 player soon too!

The Ruby's Wishes mixes are nearly finished, just one vocal bit to record and then I can finish them off. I'm really pleased with the way they sound, can't beat a '4 mics on the kit' setup either! Yes, it was just a kick (D112), top snare ('57), floor tom ('57) and a C414 (mono overhead). You can expect to hear those songs in the next couple of weeks.

Today I have the awesome Zorzilla in the studio, laying down a couple of new songs, they should be really fun to record - we're going to go for that whole Dinosaur Jr/Hum HUGE guitar sound, out comes the JCM800 then!

Loads more stuff lined up over the coming weeks, including Tony King, new Blaise Paisel recording, the largely anticipated new Chutes EP, the new Jairus EP and a cool Rockabilly band in next week!

I'm also going to make the effort to do some more 'solo' stuff - I have a little recording setup at home by the beach in Sandgate and am looking for people to collaborate with me, interested?


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

This week I have been mostly listening to.....

1977 by Ash! I bought this record when it came out in early 1997, I loved it then and I still love it now, and to think that Tim Wheeler and co where only 15-17 when they recorded it shows you how some people are just 'born with it'. Compare them with other bands of the late nineties (popular or not), such as Saves The Day and Braid - also fantastic musicians and songwriters. I don't want to sound old fashioned, but they just DON'T make them like they used to. Or perhaps they do, but there are SO many bands around nowadays who are willing to do whatever it takes to sell records, that the genuinely good/unique ones often get left to fester under the dark scaly underbelly of the underground music scene. Perhaps they're better off there though, with the music scene in its current state.

The reason I love this record is that it sums up everything about being young, in love, enjoying the Summer but without the hideous cheesy element of bands who sing about similar subjects (we can all think of a few). The age of the band at this point certainly has something to do with it, it's REAL. The production is AMAZING. 1977 was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales (also where Sepultura recorded Chaos AD, and Oasis recorded Definitely Maybe) - it was produced by a favourite of mine, Owen Morris, who is a pioneer of the 'brick walling' technique where everything is recorded as LOUD as it will possibly go! You can hear that everything is in the red, but it suits the band so well, and again seperates them from bands writing about similar subjects but having the horrible clinical 'clean' and synthetic production! What a record!

Onto to other things anyway, studio related of course:

ANCHOR BABY TV has now put it's first episode up for your viewing pleasure. It's a 100% live recording + HD video service being offered by myself and Stretch (bass player from Yamaharahara). If you're interested in something like this for your own band (location can be anywhere) then please e-mail - you can see the first episode here: and also our 'pilot' test episode here:

The studio has been really busy over the last few weeks, with recordings from The Fix, Magnets, Tener Duende (live video), Blaise Paisel, Project Plenty, Ruby's Wishes and more. Plus, a load of cool bands coming up including Yes We Canada!, Chutes, Penthouse...Nice!

More news, and brand new recordings up online soon!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Rock Kent TV!

I now have a video feature on Rock which you can view here: - it was filmed on Sunday June 26th, in the BOILING hot studio. As you can see, I look a bit hot and uncomfortable!

In other news, I did my first radio broadcast on Academy FM (105.9) on Monday, which will be a regular feature at 3pm every Monday! I will be talking about local music/the scene in depth so please listen out for it, I am aiming for it to be something that people find entertaining, as opposed to me just playing music by local bands. Although I will be doing this, it will feature a lot of discussion about music too!

Word has it that the Penthouse stuff is back from mastering (thanks Oz), I am picking up my copy tomorrow and can't wait to hear it!


Sunday, 26 June 2011

Forget the gear, WHO is recording you?!

Over the last 6 years I have not only recorded, produced and mixed possibly thousands of individual songs (which is what happens when you do it full time), but I have also had the pleasure/pain of mixing other peoples material, or advising 'established' recording engineers on recording/mixing things properly.

I have heard tracks recorded in a basement or garage on an 8 track tape recorder, Garageband, Audacity or Reaper - using one of two cheap mics, and they sound absolutely fantastic. And in contrast, I have heard recordings done at 'top' studios via nice Ameks, Calrecs and God forbid even an SSL Duality (£280,000 please) that sound like absolute s***!

I have a selection of work-experience students who believe that if they know the basics of recording, then all they need to do is go out and buy some ridiculously expensive mics and they will be rivaling the recordings and mixes of Kevin Shirley, Chris Lord-Alge and Jack Joseph Puig. Well, the answer to that is: OH NO YOU WON'T!

Recording and mixing starts with having a good set of ears. At my level I'm no Andy Wallace, but I have a lot of experience with recording and mixing, I have done my homework, and have enough of a good portfolio and requests from other engineers to warrant airing my views on the subject. So here they are:

YOU NEED A GOOD SET OF EARS! Reset the mix on your DAW so everything is at 0, and everything is in the middle. Can you balance the faders and pan them on a basic rock track so that each instrument sits roughly where it should be? If you balanced it so it's all guitars and no drums then you're screwed from the start, listen to Nimrod by Green Day at a low volume and see how loud the drums are! Same goes with the bass guitar!

If you can see/hear in your head the final product before or whilst you're tracking then you're off to a good start. If you can hear WHERE to go, then you can learn HOW to get there.

A good recording engineer knows how to make the best of what he's got. If you can't get a useable guitar/tom/snare sound out of an SM57 then it's not the mic that's the problem. An MD421, Heil PR30, 414, e604 is a lovely mic to have, but it won't save you if you don't know what you're doing.

A friend of mine gets fantastic recordings out of a MOTU 896HD, some mid-range mics/monitors and whatever rooms he can find to track in.

I guess the bottom line is: Don't be under the illusion that studios with expensive gear will make your recordings and mixes better!

This brings me to the next point:
Whenever a work experience pupil contacts me, I ask them to take a listen to my recordings - and if they like the sound of them I will teach them. Unfortunately, a lot of people see pictures of a nice studio and assume it would be a great place to learn/record/whatever, but again it all depends on the person working there.

Bands: If you book a studio, make sure that you have heard SEVERAL examples of work that has been recorded or mixed by your chosen producer/engineer. There are plenty of people who work in studios because they have the right qualifications, rather than being admitted to these posts backed up by a ton of great mixes and practical experience.

I would always say that learning the basics, and learning them WELL is the most important factor, who cares if you can name every mic that's ever been made?!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Just when you think things were quiet...

...They pick up again, and that means a massive back-catalogue of stuff to mix. It also doesn't help that I've been ill for 10 days! Some of the females amongst you, if not ALL of you, will call it 'man flu'. I can assure you it's not, I never get ill, and this was bad!

Anyway, I'm back now - back in existence under the dark, slimey underbelly of the local music scene, and I have some more bands to tell you about:

Folkestone-based 4 piece Blaise Paisel came up to the studio last Saturday to lay down a new song - I am in the process of mixing it, and once it's done I will be sending it off to Pink Floyd man Andy Jackson for a lovely mastering job, expect to hear it on my website soon!

Sunday saw Magnets (3 of) and myself descend upon SPACE gallery in Folkestone to record some drums and guitars for another song 'Horses' on the new EP. I'm surprised we got away with it to be honest, the drums were SO loud and the Sunday-shoppers would definitely have heard them from right down Rendezvous Street! You can see a picture at the top of Andy giving his drum tracks the 'all clear'.

On Monday of this week I recorded an amazing band called ATM. They sound a bit like Pele, but with vocals and a little heavier! I will be mixing that record (3 tracks) over the next couple of days and will DEFINITELY be posting one of the tracks up on the website soon!

Friday of this week I will be the subject of a video interview for - this will be a general feature on me as a producer/musician. Cool!

Don't forget, I have a list on my website of other services I offer within music. If you'd like to hire me as a producer but already have an engineer then please get in touch, or if you'd like tuition/my mixing skills etc. Have a read!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Chutes and Ladders!

I am very pleased to announce that Chutes have (again) managed to secure a 'hottest record of the week' on BBC Kent Introducing for their new single Brighten Up, due to be released via the web on June 1st, for which the event invite is here - it's great to see a band you've worked so closely with, who are on your doorstep and are blowing up into something bigger right in front of your eyes, well done Chutes.

The new material from Centuries is now mastered and sounding like Godzilla, smashing its way through a quarry full of corpses!

The Penthouse stuff is very nearly mixed, and once given the 'ok' will be off for mastering and popping up on the Anchor Baby website.

This week will see me doing an interview with the Canterbury Times for their 'Canterbury Tale' section, where I will be talking about my recording business, musical endeavours and bands that I have had in the studio, watch out for that soon.

In other news (non studio related) I have joined the legendary Babies Three (now sounding like a cross between Black Elk and Dinosaur Jr!) from Margate as their drummer - so as soon as we're ready you can bet your bottom dollar that some earth shattering recordings will be appearing online ;)

Off to the printers now to pick up some new posters, designed by Calfyn Ap Bryn and looking bloody marvellous.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Guitar sound of the Centuries ;)!

Good afternoon, from Googies - again.

The week before last saw new Folkestone metalcore band Centuries in the studio to record two tracks, and what a guitar sound! The good old JCM800 2205 again, through a Marshall 4x12 (with Celestion Greenbacks) and a bit of help from an API compressor - it is earth shatteringly heavy! The songs are being mastered on Thursday and will no doubt be online later that day, check their video out (featuring a rough mix of the song) here:

In fact, in the spirit of videos: Check out Penthouse, a new Dover-based band who were in the studio on Sunday. Absolutely amazing stuff, and the songs are of epic proportions! I am in the middle of sending them over a first mix now. Once it is given the 'ok' and mastered you can be sure that it will be appearing on the Anchor Baby website!

And last but by no means least, Yamaharahara have finally uploaded their video for 'Ribbons' - all filmed during the recording process at Anchor Baby last October, enjoy!

And as if those videos weren't enough, NEXT week I will be filming a 'drum mic placement' tuition video, with the incredible Symon Minter playing the kit! Nice!