HIT CHANNEL INTERVIEW: June 2011. We had the great honour to talk with one of greatest record producers ever,Mr Terry Brown.He was producer to Rush during their classic era ‘75-‘82,from “Fly By Night” to “Signals”. It isn’t coincidence that after the end of their collaboration, Rush never made so monumentary albums as to those they did with Terry Brown.He has also worked as producer with Fates Warning, Klaatu and Voivod among others. Earlier in his career,he was recording engineer at legendary Olympic Studios in London and has worked with Jimi Hendrix (“Axis:Bold as Love”), Traffic (“Traffic”), The Who (“Substitute” single), Rolling Stones, Eagles, Barbra Streisand and many others. Read below the very interesting things he told us:
Which are the current projects you’re involved in?
I produced a band, RIVER SEVEN, which is just launching in the UK – they are a three piece, great tunes, cool vocals, all writers. And solo singer-songwriter, JOSH TAERK, who has a big career ahead of him with an album full of great melodies and lyrics. Lastly, BLURRED VISION, famous for re-recording ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ and re-naming it ‘Hey Ayatollah leave those kids alone!’ (with Roger Waters’ blessing). We are close to completing the full CD which is full of great tunes.
During the last years you prefer producing indie bands.Is this more liberating for you or just happens because the major labels are on the way out?
I have always gravitated towards indie bands (RUSH was indie at the time I started to produce them ). It gives me so much more freedom to produce the way I like to and not have to mould the production to the limitations of commercial records.
No, it was clear they wanted to move into the uncharted territory of big synths and electronic drums – that was our main reason for parting company.
How hard had to try and think to create a so signature sound in Rush albums?
It was something that evolved out of the nature of the song-writing and available instrumentation i.e. making the most of guitar and bass plus the addition of synths. It’s all in the arrangements which were tight and to the point – no fat !
Who are your influences as producer,except the obvious reference to Keith Grant? Is George Martin a major influence to you?
I don’t feel I was influenced by any one producer, but drew from all the experience I got working on countless hit records , working with many talented musicians and arrangers and watching how hit tunes came together. It all starts with the song; no song, no hit production.
What was your first reaction when you heard that the legendary Olympic Studios you worked for years, closed down?Are you dissapointed that British goverment didn’t save these studios as did to Abbey Road?
I was disappointed when Olympic closed, but life is full of disappointments. I have fond memories of the original Olympic in Carlton Mews, just off Baker St., where I spent my formative years in the recording world. It, too, closed after many years as one of the most successful independent studios where we made hit after hit including THE WHO, MOODY BLUES, DUSTY SPRINGFIELD, MARIANNE FAITHFULL, DONOVAN, THE TROGGS, BARBRA STREISAND and many more!!
What memories do you have from the recordings of ‘Substitute’ by The Who?It was one of your first contributions re producer/engineer..
Pete (ed:Townshend, The Who leader) was producer, Keith (ed:Moon,drummer) was wild, John (ed:Entwistle, bassist) was dark and intense, Roger (ed:Daltrey, singer) sang great and the whole day was a blast.
You were the producer of Klaatu and you did fantastic work with them.Their first album ‘3.47 EST’ spread then the rumour that was a secret Beatles reunion album. Did you enjoy the albums you made with Klaatu? Whose idea was the ‘secret Bealtes album’ rumour? A Capitol Record’s one (Capitol did the same in 1974 with Phantom Divine’s Comedy which promoted as a secret Doors reunion with Morrison on vocal)?
The ‘rumour’ was a complete accident, but a happy one since it catapulted the band from obscurity into the limelight. The KLAATU album 3.47 EST was a pleasure to make, in fact I just re-mastered it from the original tapes which were captured at 176.4 KHz 24bit sampling rate. It really is a great album- one of my favourites from that era – a pre-cursor to ‘2112’ by RUSH, but with a much larger palette of instruments and colours.
What would you say is the most important you learnt after so many years working in music industry?
The most important thing is to treat every project as the most important one to come across your desk (mixing console ) – I agonise over most of my projects at some point or another – it’s never a walk in the park. If it becomes easy then it’s time to stop.
You have worked with everyone from Hendrix to Jim Matheos. Is there any musician you’d like to work with and hasn’t happened yet? Maybe with Scott Walker?
I think I have had my share of great artistes to work with – there are only so many hours in a day.
Do you think rock’n’roll is dead and now everything is about contracts,managers and percentages? So,Jim Morrison was right again?
I hope rock is not dead, but we are going through an odd stage of mediocrity. Music is fashion based and fashion changes so I anticipate a change for the better just around the corner !
What music do you hear this period? Do you think Radiohead is the top band of our days?
How about MUSE and ELBOW (ed:I agree with Elbow. I disagree with Muse)?
Have you ever been in Greece? Send a message to Greek listeners .
No – Greece is one place I have never been. My message to Greek listeners would be good luck getting through the next few years of austerity, work hard and listen hard to good music. It will help them get through it.
A huge thank you to Mr Terry Brown.