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Updated: Jan 20

Chucky hates bad mixes

Whenever anyone would ask me what I did, I used to say professional babysitter. It’s not been far off the truth sometimes. I think part of this job is looking after people. Sometimes it will be the artists, the producer, assistant, sometimes the studio owner and sometimes your own ass. In what other job would your drunken client steal a case of beer, trip over the mantle of the doorway, and face-plant into the studio floor knocking himself out cold? Of course, this guy chose to rob the store directly opposite the studio, so I had to hastily return the beer and make apologetic noises to the irate Indian shopkeeper who was on the phone to the police. If nothing else, this job will help you develop your people and/or zoo keeping skills. You may have to try to rescue hapless kids transporting gear across a road which happens to be in use mid-marathon. That was good. A double bass stack weaving its way through a torrent of half delirious runners is a sight to behold. City marathons, really...why is that a good idea? We have rock & roll to make.

There are also really serious things that happen. The longer and more weird the session, and the more remote the studio, the weirder it gets.

I remember once recording in a remote farmhouse in Wales. About 4 hours after we arrived the police arrived as the post office got robbed shortly after our wasn't us, but we were viewed with deep suspicion after that. I'm glad they didn't come back as the band had discovered mother nature had decided to place us in a field full of magic mushrooms, and things didn't get any less weird that week. My former recording school lecturer who came along to see how I was doing in the recording world would march in every twenty minutes or so and say ”Eat these.” handing the band a dose of freshly picked magic mushrooms. It turned into some kind of lord of the flies sh*t.

Another time I recorded a record with a famous band who I loved since I was a kid, but it was miserable. The singer was no longer into it, didn't want to come to the studio, and seemed to only communicate via his wife. The rest of the band were feeling as if it was game over, and mortgages, lives and so on were on the line so that felt like one long counselling session.

The singer DID show up after a number of false starts, and we got on great as it happens, which didn't seem to sit well with the other main musical force of the band who wasn't really allowed in the room when we were recording. Pretty quickly I got the singer to engage in the game of "What would this guy do" - loosely speaking develop an alter ego freeing yourself from your own constraints, then performing as THAT guy. For me it was the best part of the process, actually fun. So, we managed to wrap it up, then they left, got someone else to mix it (badly) and I never spoke to them again.

That's another thing; the anxiety at the end of a project. There is relief, sure, as by the end you're tired and have usually had enough (easily fixed by taking a few days break, but you never do!) but there's also a sense of loss as you have been with people 24/7 become close and now...nothing. I'd hold all this stuff inside me and assume it was my malfunction, but I remember sitting at an airport about to fly home with the producer I was working with and saw the effect having a simple conversation with the lady at the check in desk affected him. Even two weeks with a lack of feminine energy can mess with your head.

Now there is another tale of Julian tripping on LSD at Rockfield and chasing the band across the fields with a loaded shotgun - which the studio owner gave him. I got on well with Kingsley, the studio owner but his mind seemed a little conveniently fuzzy on the topic. Next time I was working with Copey I asked him whether it was true, and he told me to never confirm or deny anything so can't comment on whether or not that happened. I know for sure a few cars were left upside down in ditches during the odd recording session, and yes - at least one singer died on the way to the studio on my watch. I have spent a lot of hours in the studio surrounded by the weirdness. Sometimes it's fun, sometimes it's hell. As long as it leads to people making some good music, it's possibly worthwhile. It's also one of the reasons I prefer to mix, rather than produce these days! If you are considering a mixing engineer for your next record - I know a guy...ME! Drop me a message anytime and let's talk about your next project.

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