Chris thanks for taking the time to chat to us here at Roarrock I’s like start way back if thats ok.
1975 saw you take up for your first post at the now legendary Morgan studio ( soon to become Battery Studios ) How did this come about?
I had always had a love for music and played in local bands from the age of 13.. I was at Barnet college doing economics! and was wondering what to do with myself..my original plan was to go to the royal academy of music to study trumpet and piano but as the Rock and Roll bug bit deeper I thought better of it.It was a school buddy of mine Dave Harris who had a job as a Tape op at Morgan that suggested I try and get a job in a studio as a Tape op to hopefully then make the grade as an engineer…I wrote to every studio I could think of in the UK and eventually a position opened up at Morgan and I got the Job.
I believe you produced your first album at 21 what was the album and how was it doing it?
Gary Moore was signed to a production company that the boss of Morgan owned..I was asked to be the engineer and Gary asked me if I knew of any drummers..I put forward Simon Phillips….the band was basically Colosseum 2 but with Simon on Drums..we started the session and Gary said that i could produce the album with him…I thought he was joking but he wasn’t so i said to him Ok you play it and I’ll record it….he brought in Phil Lynott and Brian Downey to play on a few tracks and one happened to be Parisienne Walkways and the rest as we say is history…..
Reading your credits it reads like the who’s who of Rock and Metal, if you are pushed who stands out for you?
It’s very hard to single out artistes as each have their own merits but a few milestones for me were working with…Gary Moore, Phil and Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Bruce Dickinson, Concrete Blonde, Ian Gillan, Mountain, Anvil in the early days Tygers of Pan Tang……..
You worked with Phil Lynott on Solo in Soho, can you tell us about this and how was Phil to work with?
the thing was working with Phil everyday was different. He would do whatever inspired him..basically there were no rules and this made life very interesting to say the least.
You’ve worked with so many artists from different genres, do you have a favorite genre to work with?
True, and whatever i am doing is my fave for that moment but if pressed I would have to say it is Rock/metal..
Do you have any studio rules that bands must adhere too?
Basic rule is know what you want from the recording session and be as prepared as you can be, know your parts and be rehearsed.
Can you roughly describe the process you go through when producing a track and album?
Put down the drums and bass first with a guide gtr then the real gtrs followed by the vocals/solos and then any other overdubs that present themselves.
Do you have any words of wisdom for young bands about to enter the studio for the first time?
like I said before be as prepared as you can be so that time is not wasted doing the basics.
Working on Blizzard of oz, How was it working with Ozzy, and did he input a lot into the process?
Such a long time ago…but Ozzy and band were still finding there way..it just shows what great songs can do..
Tattooed Millionaire by Bruce Dickinson is another album you worked on, Any funny stories you can tell us about this?
This was a very fun time in my career, Bruce had this idea of doing a no frills R&R album and that is what we did…lots of messing around in the studio before we started the days work like air pistol practice which started by shooting all the dead light bulbs in the studio but progressed into shooting all the light bulbs..the maintenance dept were not best pleased!
Over the years equipment has gone through radical changes from tape to digital, who did you find the transition?
I was lucky enough to have started such a long time ago and saw many changes in the recording world…it wasn’t so hard to go from analogue to digital once I had discovered the sound of the RADAR machines…they sound as close to tape as you can get yet all the benefits of the digital domain…
Do you have any tips for up anc coming producers?
Have you tried farming?… it’s so hard these days to break into being a producer as your career…however people do and my advice is to find a band that you believe in and start recording their demos hopefully they get a deal and you get to produce the album…..
With so many credits to your name its hard to pick out specific things to ask, however I guess we will go back to the metal albums, Sop Painkiller by Judas Priest is one of my favorite albums what do you remember from these sessions?
This was one focused album. the band had a new drummer and new producer and the script was we have to be metal! and that is what we did…very relaxed recording sessions as I recall with great performances we all pulled in the same direction and didn’t quit till we new the job was done to the best we could do. It still is one of my favorite albums and periods of my life…
You worked on a lot of the late Gary Moore’s albums any stand out ones and how was it working with Gary did he have any funny ways of recording?
I could write reams about Gary…not only was he someone that I produced but was a very dear friend…incredible work ethic and inspiring to watch close up.
he hated headphones so he would sing in the control room and I would then spend for ever erasing all the noise in between the vocals.. I miss those days.
When you produce an album what are the key elements you deal with?
it’s all about the songs so i have to make sure the songs are presented in their best light..We go through everything from what the bass drum pattern is right up to the vocals..make sure the arrangement is as it should be..this is down to the individual tastes of band and producer…
Alot of the bands you worked with in past are back out and playing as well as ever, what do you think of the current state of music?
I love the fact that some bands have managed to keep going for so long and made a great career from music….there is no denying the fact that the music biz has changed.. I like the fact that more bands can make their own music but long gone are the days of the Iconic bands,,Sabbath, Zeppelin etc
Chris thank you for taking the time to chat to us here at Roarrock, there is so much more we want to ask so if it’s ok with you can this be part 1, and we will be in touch after the summer for part 2.