The Gavin Monaghan Producer Interview took place when Gavin came to The Pool recording studio with his fellow Black Country friends Editors, in October 2008. There was plenty to be excited about from all parties: we were welcoming another top record producer and top band to The Pool’s magical environment, and they were experiencing a brand new studio to start work on their brand new album. It was a jam-packed fortnight, but we managed to grab a few spare minutes of Gavin’s time to ask him these quick questions.
Miloco: You’ve come to Miloco for the second time this October, working on new material with the brilliant Editors. How has the session gone generally?
GM: We’re all very happy with the way the session went. The songs sound great, we had a really good time, and everyone at the studio was friendly and helpful.
Miloco: We hope you’ve been enjoying what’s on offer in our extreme live tracking room, The Pool. Have there been any bits and pieces of gear which have particularly caught your eyes and ears during the last couple of weeks?
GM: Where do I start? There’s a ton of fantastic toys to play with in The Pool, aside from the incredibly diverse selection of microphones, there are some lovely preamps and vintage consoles to record everything through. Myself and Gazz (Rogers, engineer) were loving it! My own studio, The Magic Garden has quite a few vintage pieces, and isn’t exactly laid out in a standard way, so we felt right at home.
For this set of songs, we made extensive use of all the classic keyboards and synthesisers, drum machines, outboard, percussion, pianos, amps and drums on offer. In fact we virtually tried out everything in the place!
The Pool is a very inspiring place to create, in the sense that anything you imagine, you can pretty well start doing right away, and we certainly did! While we were here, we also recorded Editors’ contribution to the forthcoming “Rhythms del Mundo” charity album where various artists collaborate on Latin-styled covers with the incredible Buena Vista Social Club. In addition to Editors version of ‘Walk on the wild side’ the album will feature Green Day, Kings of Leon and Jack White amongst others, and it’s for a good cause.
Miloco: One of the key factors that The Pool has succeeded in over the two-or-so years since it was opened, is creating a particular appeal to the artists themselves. Having now worked in there with Editors, what would you say the nature of the studio can offer which more conventional tracking rooms can’t necessarily?
GM: We all had a marvellous time in The Pool, having one huge room with everyone in it is a very instantaneous way of working, after the first day of generally getting used to things, it becomes very natural and the band and I loved it! The place has a great look too, I really enjoyed the artwork on the walls.
It’s also a great way for everyone to feel totally involved and contribute ideas instantly without the often confusing and impersonal translation of a talkback system, I can see a lot of tracking rooms going this way in the future, Having got the tracks back for a listen, I’m also very impressed with how good the room sounds.
Miloco: Would you have any future recommendations for The Pool?
GM: Maybe a “Quiet” corner for editing and programming, so the drums aren’t whacking you over the head, when you’re listening intently, but generally, I wouldn’t change a thing, we definitely need more rooms like this, it’s an innovative concept that really works, top marks Mr. Hillier!
Miloco: How about the music then… Is there any particular route you’ve set out on with this Editors project, in terms of the sound you want to achieve in the recordings?
GM: It’s a definite, considered, and exciting departure for the band, though it’s still very much the Editors that the fans know and love, but with an additional few hundred surprises and land mines thrown in…. you always have to put the spider in the creme egg!
Miloco: We designated the lovely Anna to assist on your session. How was she?
GM: Absolutely wonderful, she worked really hard to make our time there special, and knew the place extremely well, so there was very little downtime, anyone thinking of using The Pool, make sure you ask for Anna, she’s telepathic.
Miloco: Besides Editors, what else have you been up to recently, whether back in Wolverhampton in your Magic Garden Studio, or anywhere else?
GM: I’ve just completed the Scott Matthews album for Universal/Island which is sounding magnificent, and features Robert Plant on guest vocals. And I’m currently working on The Twang’s second album for B-Unique, fantastic streetwise songwriting delivered in their inimitable style!
A few jovial ones to wrap things up!
Miloco: What might one find at the top of your iPod’s ‘most played’ list at the moment?
GM: “The Idiot” by Iggy Pop, “Ghost Hardware” by Burial, “Thank god for mental illness” by The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and “The Great Depression” by DMX.
Miloco: What new bands have you become acquainted with recently which you point people in the direction of?
GM: I’m hearing more great new bands all the time, but a few which spring to mind are: You Animals, Guile, Sick City Club, The High Society, Shortwave fadeand The Priory. I’m sure I’ll be visiting again with at least one of those!
Miloco: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to any young and aspiring bands, artists, engineers or producers who are just setting out in the industry?
GM: Specialise. It’s far more effective than trying to be known for twenty five things at once
Gavin Monaghan was speaking to MILC in November 2008.