producer l engineer I mixer
By Rob Putnam
Goo Dolls, Green Day, Weezer, Supertramp
Scottish L.A. transplant Ken Allardyce has been an engineer for more than 20 years. A latecomer to the game, he jumped into engineering at the age of 38, rather a late start for Hollywood, but he's made up for lost time and has worked with a range of artists including Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day - he engineered Warning and Nimrod - and Weezer. In 2003 he produced the Yardbirds' first studio album in 30 years, Birdland.
Allardyce had a long
history with Supertramp and when they broke up he moved to Northern California
with the band's singer Roger Hodgson, who'd established a studio there.
"That's when I realized what I should have been doing all along,"
Like other engineers, Allardyce notes that much of his work has been secured through word-of-mouth, personal relationships and album credits. He's found that young musicians commonly refer to their favorite albums when looking for a crew. "Derek Whibley (Sum 41 guitarist) contacted me out of the blue to engineer a project for Avril Lavigne, his fiancé then," Allardyce recalls. "I asked him why he picked me. He said, "When I was 13, Nimrod was my favorite record."
A&R reps notice bands. Publicists notice press. But engineers? They notice sound. "I think a lot of guys don't go into the room and listen to the instruments," Allardyce notes. "I was taught that very early on by (producer/engineer)Al Schmitt. He told me to listen to how a drum kit sounds in the room and try to replicate that. I think a lot of engineers don't. They end up with too much equalization, too much compression. It's cranked up so much that the subtleties in the music are killed and there's no dynamic to it."
What does Allardyce see as the primary differences between studio and live recording? "When you record live you have to nail the whole damn thing in one go, so it's more hectic," he explains. "You'd better have good sound and everything better be working. There are no retakes. But that's not unlike when you record a 60-piece orchestra for the Grammys."
What about technology? Allardyce sees that the industry has come a long way. "if you listened to Led Zeppelin now it would sound like a demo," he notes. "However, there's something to be said for the spontaneity that comes with having to make records. When you hae the ability to go back, you never really have to make a decision. The danger is that a song can become homogenized; too perfect. That's great up to a point, but I think that the foibles, the humanness in recording are what touch us more than ProTools' perfection."
Allardyce aims to open his own studio in Scotland towards the end of 2007. He plans to be largely portable to unable recording in homes or at venues. "In L.A. it seems the whole studio world has come crashing down a bit and everyone's got their own setup," he notes. "The shape has changed so much in 20 years. If you have a computer you can go anywhere. It's really the studio centerpiece now."
Recently Allardyce engineered and mixed Rock'N Roll Part 9 for French alternate punk band Les Wampas and engineered tracks for Captiol Records artist Brenden James. Although experienced as an engineer and mixer, Allardyce has broadened his repertoire to include production.
Contact: C Management
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