Your recording discography as a producer is most impressive. This also applies to your musical career, where you have gone from bands like Sabbat and Hell to now playing in of Britain´s biggest metalband, Judas Priest. Is this the perfect mix for you or do you prefer one over the other?
– It´s actually a great mix. I got asked to help out with Priest right at the last minute. I don’t think people realise how down to the wire it was, so it was really hard work to jump back into guitar playing and learn 25 songs to begin with in such a short space of time. I had a couple of weeks at home, three afternoon rehearsals with the band then first show to 6000 people. But it came along when I was feeling a little bit burnt with studio stuff, I’d done Priest, Saxon and Accept all back to back and it allowed me to step back a little, which I think is important if you are trying to be creative.
Would you say that being a professional musician has helped you to be that successful producer you are today?
– Absolutely, I think doing albums and sessions as a musician in the 80´s really helped me realise how to communicate with bands on the same level and see what made people tick in the studio. Most producers have an insight from that point of view, it´s kind of a natural progression. I was always a gear freak too, so the technical side always fascinated me.
You have a reputation creating your own kind of metal studio sound? How would you characterise it?
– I think any good producer has his/her own stamp they put on things but also allow the band´s character to come through. Really I just do what I think is right and I guess people hear that. Whether they like it or not, to be honest, I can really only do my thing, my vision and try and realise what the band is going for. There´s no point trying to copy another style, maybe take a few ideas but you’ll alway come in second best and be second guessing. I try and get it powerful with clarity.
Do you have a certain studio rig setup that you use for all recording or do you also use the stuff the band bring?
– No I actually like it when bands want to use their gear, if they’ve got something that sounds great. It makes it way more interesting. I’ve got some kit I’ll turn to if I feel something isn’t working but I’ll always hear the band´s opinion out first. It is their album after all.
You have a guitar with the True Temperament Fretting System which I understand you mostly use in the studio. What is your opinion of the TT system?
– It´s great for the awkward (chord) inversions, we just used it on the Saxon album because we were having real problems with one particular riff and straight away, there it was in tune! So it´s a great tool to have in the studio for sure.
What other gear do you use in the studio? And live with Judas Priest?
– I´ve been using the Kempers mainly, and I’ve got the EVH with EL34 and 6L6 Stealth that will be out on the next run also. I find the mid range of the EL34 more suited for classic metal. Guitar wise I’m using ESP and Gibson, I’m endorsed by ESP but I keep finding old guitars I like on shopping trips around the world and like I said, I’m a sucker for gear so it´s fun picking old stuff up.
Any favourite gear you can´t do without?
– Not really, I´ve done great recordings on 8 tracks of Adat and a Mackie in the past, so it really is down to the song and band at the end of the day. Gear wise sometimes the lack of gear can make you think outside the box and give you interesting results and it can be more fun too. Obviously I’ll use the best stuff I can use, I don’t like to make life difficult for myself.
If you were to design your own signature studio guitar. What would be the specs for that?
– I wouldn’t bother, I’ve put so many different guitars together, some have been great, some have been rubbish. But, well maintained classic guitars as V, Strat, Les Paul, maybe a Floyd guitar, Evertune and True Temperament for the troublesome bits and that should cover most bases to be honest.
In your opinion what are the basic premises as a band to get the best studio production possible?
– Rehearsal, rehearsal is key. Bands tend to be lazy these days with computers and the internet. It makes a massive difference having everyone playing through the songs. Finding the correct tempos, little twists and turns, the way people feed of each others ideas, massive difference. It gets everyone´s confidence up and you get to know whats working best.
– Randy Rhoads would be No1, but all the classic players from the 80´s. Glenn (Tipton) and KK (Downing) were both players I looked up to growing up, Adrian Smith too, very thought out and great note choice.
Which is the best sounding album you have ever heard? And why?
– Easy! Back In Black (AC/DC), they just got everything right there. Still stands up. Mutt (producer, Lange) is brilliant! Bob Rock too! The Black album is a masterpiece of production. I really enjoy his approach and overall vision. Ulf Zackrisson©