Having toured for 12 Years as FOH Engineer and Monitor Engineer I started making demos for friends (as well as my own) many years ago. My background in live sound has allowed me to be able to accomplish a more dynamic, live sound in recordings.
When I moved to Knoxville, TN I was presented with the opportunity to rent an 8,000 sq ft loft space. I decided to do it and build a studio in it. It's a cool old space (turn of the century) with exposed brick, unfinished hardwood floors, all the walls are made from random repurposed materials (old doors, pallets, etc). I offer a comfortable, no pressure space to make music in. I Produce, Record, and Mix. I only charge per song because I don't want clients worried about time. I want the best possible product to come out of it and not something that is rushed and regretted. The fact that I am still a touring engineer also means that that is main source of income so I only charge $150 / song to record & mix. And I only charge $100 / song to mix. I just like helping people to make music and only care to make enough to pay my overhead and to continually be able to buy gear and improve my studio.
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Interview with Dustbowl Recording
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I produced, recorded, and mixed Evan Stone's 'Detached and Casual' EP. We recorded it in a few days in a small bedroom with limited gear. Evan is an extremely talented and knowledgable individual. The best part of that process to me was encouraging him to do things that are technically 'wrong'... and seeing him embrace it and taking his music in a direction he hadn't gone before and being happy about it.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm currently working on HERMANN's first solo album. He's toured as a guitarist for Killswitch Engage and Paramore, as well as a singer for his old band Dear Lovely. It's an indie / pop rock / songwriter record. He's a blast to work with. Very motivated and open to try new things. It's lending itself to fun instrumentation and textures including Choirs, Strings, and even a xylophone.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: BOTH. They both have their positives and negatives. It also depends on the project and what it calls for.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: We'll keep working until it's right - whatever that is.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Everyday is different and has different challenges. I love when an artist has that moment of finding 'it'
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: When did you lose your hair? - 21
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That everything can be fixed in the mix and that I can manipulate a sound to make it exactly what we want to be. The tone needs to be there before a microphone is placed in front of it. Make the source as good as possible to begin with...
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What is your goal? What sound are you going for? What would you like my involvement to be in your project? What excites you about the record process and what makes you nervous about it? What have you liked and disliked about past experiences with recording?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Have an idea of what you're looking to accomplish and reference songs as examples of the production and styles that you're going after. Also, relax! It's going to be OK.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Assuming there is magical electricity on this island.... a Fender Deluxe Reverb, a telecaster, Macbook Pro, U87, Focusrite ISA One
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I bought a Tascam cassette 8 track when I was 14. Shortly after that I started hanging out the local rock club so I could learn how to use it. I worked there for free for 3 years. Then I was hired to be the house engineer there. At 21 I started touring with bands as a front of house and monitor engineer. As that was going on I became more and more involved in recording bands and artists. It's been such a great journey.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Nurturing and exploratory. I don't mind taking time and trying things out - if that's what you're into.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Nada Surf. I really enjoy their music and their lyrics. They're an incredible band. I've always felt that the production of their records lacked something though and I would love to help them fine tune that.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Relax and enjoy the process. You may end up down a wrong path - but that's what helps you find the right one eventually.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: With recording I have been working with sing-songwriters and indie rock artists. My touring background has consisted of Alternative and Active rock bands as well as metal bands and theatrical productions.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Excitement. I get excited about projects and watching artists realize their vision
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: It depends on the artist and what workflow makes them the most comfortable and creative. Having a background in live sound has taught me to be efficient and quick. Allowing the artist to focus on making music rather than waiting around for me to be set up.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I run an analog front end - A Studiomaster Mixdown desk (24 channels) into a Motu 24io (24 AD/DA 96k conversion) being clocked by a BLA microclock II. There is a 1200 sq ft live room, 600 sq ft control room, and 300 sq ft iso room. There is also a large lounge consisting of a griddle, coffee maker, refrigerator , and kitchenette. Exposed Brick, unfinished hardwood floors, walls made of all repurposed materials including old doors, pallets and other odd materials. The view overlooks the city skyline. And yes, the rumors are true - there is a room made of rubber. And yes, it does sound cool. And yes, there is a piano guts reverb.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Dave Sardy, Brendan O'brien, Oasis / Noel Gallagher, Nada Surf, Lucy Rose, The Beatles, George Martin, and many others. I have also found all the bands that I've worked for inspiring: 10 Years, Nonpoint, Emilie Autumn, Saving Abel, CKY, Hatebreed, Biohazard, We Are The Fallen, Dead Letter Circus, Arch Enemy, Hermann, Evan Stone, and others
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Record, Mix, and Produce