Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
When my old band, Radio Empire, had the opportunity to spend as much time in the studio as we needed, we took full advantage of it and put together an album that we were all proud of. I was the lead singer, lead guitarist, and songwriter - so seeing my songs come to life and NOT being rushed by budget/time constraints was amazing. We pulled a lot of all-nighters and got a great product when we were finished.
What are you working on at the moment?
Another album of original indie/rock songs! Very excited!
Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
Andrew Timothy is a swell guy!
Analog or digital and why?
Both! Analog can bring a certain warmth and "vibe" to the overall sound that may be great, while the use of digital technology can increase the limits of what can be done. It all depends on the artist and the project.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
I promise to pour my passion into your project.
What do you like most about your job?
The fact that I can be creative and make a living. There's nothing better in the world!
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
There's never a "typical" situation. Some may ask for very specific things, while others might ask me very vague questions. Usually, the number one question is "how much will this cost," and "when can you have it finished by?"
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
When people think that I should do it for free simply because I love it. Sure, I love it, but I need to eat, too!
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
How soon do you need this done, what exactly do you want done? I ask them to be as specific as they can, and typically ask for "reference" tracks.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Don't be afraid to ask for specific things that you need me to do, and don't be shy to ask me to "fix" things and revise. You won't hurt my ego by asking for what you want :)
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
Fender Bassman amp, Fender '72 Telecaster Deluxe, a great condenser mic, a computer with infinite hard drive space and power supply, and a great audio interface so I could record. Obviously, some of this is impossible, but a man can dream...
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I started playing music at the age of 8 (I am now 29). My first band formed in Middle school, and I've been gigging and recording for the past 15 years. I've gotten a Master's degree in Commercial Music performance, lived in Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, and Nashville. I've been on the road, spent countless hours in the studio, been in professional choirs, and more. You name it, I've probably done it! Right now my career has me staying put in Nashville, working on the creative side of the business, and I love it!
How would you describe your style?
Melodic and musical. I avoid being overly flashy.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
I would love to spend some time with Radiohead in the studio. They always find interesting and creative ways to make new sounds, and they slave for weeks and weeks just to get it "perfect." I imagine I would get a lot of inspiration seeing their creative process.
Also, I wish I could go back in time and spend some time with the Beatles in the Sgt. Pepper/Magical Mystery/White Album years. The stuff they were doing in the studio at that time was groundbreaking for the music business. Seeing them work within their technological limitations would be truly incredible.
Can you share one music production tip?
I wish more producers and musicians would learn how important it is to play simply and leave space for the other instruments or vocals. If everything sounds muddy and you can't hear each part well, don't just turn up the parts. An easier approach is simply taking something else out to make some room!
What type of music do you usually work on?
Anything in the commercial mainstream: pop, rock, modern country, contemporary Christian, and singer-songwriter styles. I also really enjoy getting creative with indie/alternative sounds and have a huge ambient/shoegaze influence in addition to a background in punk and hardcore music, so if you need anything from screaming guitars to layered ambient effects, I can do 'em.
What's your strongest skill?
My ear, my ability to listen to something and know what to play and how to play it. I have a knack for figuring out what sounds will add to the song, instead of cluttering it up with extra noise.
What do you bring to a song?
Tasteful, musical melodies. I write parts for songs that serve the song first and foremost. I let the vocal have space to breathe. I don't "shred," I write melodies that help to make the song's message get across stronger. I try to bring the element of surprise, too - adding things and taking things out in order to keep the song interesting as it goes, which helps the listener stay attentive and never skip to the next song.
What's your typical work process?
For guitar sessions, or anything involving tracking instruments on someone else's song, I first will get a copy of the song from the client, and ask for any specific notes of theirs regarding what they want. Right up front, I'll ask for any pointers, including reference tracks that sound like what they're looking for. Once I've got arrangement ideas figured out, I'll listen through the song a few times and write out a chart that I can follow, and play along with the song and adjust my tones/mics to get the right sound. Then I'll start tracking. I typically do rhythm parts first, followed by leads and then the finishing touches, which I call "sparkles." Those finishing touches are the small volume swells and ambient effects that accent other parts. Once it's all done, I'll send an copy to the client and ask if they want any revisions.
Tell us about your studio setup.
I run a small home studio, big enough for one guy. I have a collection of condenser mics, dynamic mics, a few guitar amps, a couple guitars (electrics and acoustics), a variety of guitar effects pedals, as well as all of my on-board gear paired with Logic Pro (my DAW of choice). I run a very clean and clear Saffire Pro 40 Firewire Interface, and sometimes use a JoeMeekThreeQ preamp, but most of the time I can get the sound right before I even mic it. I keep backups of everything on an external hard drive.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
As for guitar players... I love Prince, Warren Haynes, and Keith Urban. They play simply, tastefully, and have great tone. When I get a little "wild," I try to channel a bit of Jack White, too! I love the production work that John Leventhal has done (Shawn Colvin - Sunny Came Home is a great example). It's dynamic and rich, but if you listen to each insrument, much of it was recorded to sound "quiet." When all parts come together though, they form a puzzle that sounds full. I love making dynamic recordings where you can hear every instrument clearly. I also LOVE everything that Radiohead has ever done - every album they make, they pour all of their creative energy into it and come up with something truly new and unique.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Most of what I do involves tracking guitars, however I've done other things like producing demos, mixing, etc. As for the guitar session work, an artist will send me the track that they want guitars on, and after a couple days of work (at most) I'll send them an mp3 of the track WITH guitars, but I'll also send them high-resolution wav files of each separated guitar track so they can mix how they want. If they want a whole song produced, I'll have them send me a high quality vocal track along with a scratch acoustic or piano, and then I'll record all of the instruments they may want. After that, if they want to mix it, I will send them each isolated part OR if they would like me to mix it, I'll mix it together for them and send a high resolution file of the completed song.