PRODUCE THIS: IN STUDIO WITH TOM DALGETY
CREDITS: Band of Skulls, The Maccabees, The Family Rain, Killing Joke, Turbowolf, Royal Blood, Cat’s Eyes, Smoke Fairies, Dinasour Pile-Up (the list goes on).
Music is more visual than we realise. We’re all familiar with the frontmen, the bands, even the cover art - it’s all part of the appeal. We took a step behind the scenes with Tom Dalgety to see how the musical magic really happens.
How did you get into the production side of music?
I was in a band and I was always more interested in the recording side of things, rather than gigs and stuff. I had a cassette portastudio setup at my parent’s house, where I tried (and failed) to make my band sound half decent. We went in to do our first ‘proper’ recording with a producer called Steve Evans (Robert Plant, Goldfrapp). At the end of the session I just didn’t want to leave the studio - so I didn’t. I got on great with Steve and started by assisting and making tea on sessions with him. I then went on to engineer loads of records with him.
Who are you working with at the moment - did you pick them or did they pick you?
Right now I’m mixing some new tracks for Band of Skulls. I worked on their last record, so I guess they picked me… but I’m a big fan also!
How do you normally approach each studio session?
Well I’ve been lucky enough to work with a number of bands that I’m a fan of (Killing Joke, Band of Skulls, Turbowolf). It’s always cool to listen to their last record to get in the zone, or if they’re a new band - go to a few gigs. I love being sent demos of new material, no matter how shitty the recording quality is. Just a voice memo from a phone or something - I love starting to envisage what the song could become.
What are some strange techniques you’ve used to get a particular sound?
I like doing weird shit with boundary mics: putting them in dustbins, gluing them to polystyrene blocks. I tried dangling one in a bucket of water once. It worked, but the sound it made was utterly useless.
Are there any particular recording techniques you tend to revisit with each band or is it different each time?
There’s a few I stick to. I’m a big fan of the 'Glyn Johns’ technique for drum overheads - it just always sounds the best! Ribbon mics on guitar cabs too, I usually do that.
How long does it usually take to record, mix and perfect an album?
I like to work fairly fast so that things stay fresh, especially when tracking the basics. But it can vary a lot. To record AND mix an album - somewhere between one and two months would be optimum I reckon. It’s different every time.
On a personal level - what are some albums from over the years that you don’t necessarily always listen to, but that you always come back to?
There are quite a few records that, because they’re so classic and generally overplayed, you maybe don’t listen to them as much as you should. Like 'Led Zep IV’ and 'Dark Side of the Moon’ - you probably think you know them better than you actually do!
You’ve obviously got an ear for music. How do you go on the dance floor?
Awful. At weddings and stuff you’ll always find me as far from the dance floor as possible. I can’t stand it.