In The Trenches with Winds of Plague's Andrew Glover of Sound Temple Studio
Andrew Glover’s been making records that you may have heard now for about six years, although you might not know him for that particular skill. This is probably because he’s also the very visible bassist in Winds of Plague when he’s not down at Sound Temple Studio in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Largely responsible for the actual sound of the finished product, Andrew has been flexing his audio engineer muscles (working those ears and that computer keyboard!) to not only make professional modern productions, but to highlight what the bass guitar is capable of within the heavy framework of metal.
Having recently wrapped up a 2-day live seminar with CreativeLive on the essentials of recording bass guitar (which can be viewed here), Glover took some time to answer a few questions from Metal Underground to enlighten readers on the subject.
Frank Serafine (Progressivity_In_All): You say that bass is “one of the most misunderstood aspects of modern rock recording.” What led you to that conclusion?
Andrew Glover: I think that many people think of bass as something that you "turn down in the mix." I've had many people come into the studio and proclaim that bass "wasn't important," because you're not supposed to hear it. However, a lot of the time, 50% of the "guitar tone" that people are hearing on heavy, abrasive records is actually distorted and gritty bass. Other genres have less of a blurred line between the bass and guitar, but it is definitely an issue in heavier genres.
Frank: How long have you been active as a professional audio engineer with Sound Temple Studio?
Andrew: Sound Temple has been around since late 2008. It's grown exponentially since then and changed a ton, but 2008 is when I first started REALLY working in and developing my space.
Frank: What are some really special albums that you remember working on fondly?
Andrew: Winds of Plague – “The Great Stone War” which was the first "real" record that was done here. It was recorded with Daniel Castleman who really helped me understand what went into really making a record (ie not just pressing play/record.) Another pretty incredible experience was working with a pop punk band called Seasons Change. They recorded an EP about a year ago and I ended up working as a manager for the band. They are currently signing to one of my favorite record labels and preparing a full length that I know is going to be incredible. The Sleeping Giant records that I've been a part of here have been insane. They are some of my best friends so being a part of their records is awesome and so much fun.
Frank: Do you recommend the DIY way of approaching recording music?
Andrew: I recommend bands learning as much as they can about all aspects of playing, writing, recording, marketing, promoting and so on. Do whatever you can yourself, but don't be too proud to ask for help. I've encountered a lot of bands that think they can record themselves, mix themselves etc. I understand that they are trying to save money. However, if you're putting out music that's 50-75% of its potential sonically, you're shooting yourself in the foot.
A lot of bands reach out to me looking for a manager, not realizing that I run a studio. They'll send me some fizzy, hissy, quiet demo and say that they're trying to tour, get signed etc. A great record is going to do more for a band in a year than the greatest manager in the world pushing a garage recording could do in a lifetime.
Frank: Do you see the modern trend towards DIY affecting the overall quality of audio recordings in the industry?
Andrew: If people aren't good at recording, then the music is going to suffer. That's the bottom line. People can record themselves on minimal gear and release incredible records. Periphery is/was a shining example of this. Their early records were tracked on a very humble set up and sounded insane. The thing is, they had developed the skills to be able to make that stuff sound great. They weren't some dudes with dead strings and a cracked copy of Logic.
Frank: What are some frequent walls, or barriers to quality audio engineering, that you see DIY engineers hitting all the time?
Andrew: The biggest mistake I think DIY engineers make is trying to rush or take shortcuts. Good records are records that are well played, tracked well, and cleanly edited. The main focus should always be getting great takes from good players playing good instruments. Crap in = Crap out. There aren't shortcuts when it comes to quality.
Frank: What’s one thing that you wish an audio engineer had told you before you first started working on records?
Andrew: Other than the "crap in = crap out" thing, I wish I would've learned more about gain staging and tracking with a decent amount if headroom. I would constantly try and record everything as hot as possible and that would result in takes that had clipping all over them.
Frank: Which part of the recording process is the most important for a band to pay attention to in order to translate themselves well onto record?
Andrew: Songwriting. Bands come in with ideas that they think are songs or songs that they don't really know how to play. At the end of the day, what matters most is the music. A decent instrument with new strings won't hurt though!
Winds of Plague are scheduled to start The Northern Watch Tour with Unearth and Texas In July on April 11th in Sherbrooke, Quebec at LE Woodstock.
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