Music Producer, Mastering, Mixing and Recording Engineer

Abbey Road / Six.Point.Five session

Milton Keynes ska-punk-funk-metal band Six.Point.Five were awarded first prize by viewers and an expert panel for Community Channel's talent show 'First Up'. The prize (in association with Channel 4) was 5 days recording in Abbey Road with a producer of their choice. I was very pleased to be asked to take on that role!

We undertook some pre-production - but with the band having A-Levels only 2 weeks before the recording, the pressure was on. Things were made more exciting when the band decided that 2 of the 3 songs would be new ones! Some frantic recording and exchanging of mp3s, we got the songs ready for the studio...


Neve VRP Legend and Pro Control


The first day of tracking was in the legendary Studio 2. The control room is equipt with a Neve VR console and Quested monitoring. Engineers Paul Chivers and Mick Ritchie had arrived early to get the Pro-Tools rig (kindly supplied by digidesign) set up, assisted by Abbey Road engineer Chris Bolster.

We recorded Hi-Res 96KHz on an HD3 system with Pro-Control control surface.

We loaded in the guide tracks that the band had prepared prior to the session, and got the drums set up in the live room, widely regarded as the best sounding recording space in the world...

As soon as you walked into the live area, you could hear and feel the great ambience.

With the drums set up in the centre of the room, the sound was too big, so Chris opened up one of the acoustic dividers, which gave a tighter sound. The Mapex kit sounded great there.

Drummer Dave put in some great performances, and we put down drum tracks to 3 songs.

Six.Point.Five getting ready to rock! Or at least they will be after Chris plugs in that mic and Dave takes his seat...


SSL J console in Studio 3


Day 2 saw us move to Studio 3 - Abbey Road's state of the art studio, ideal for mixing. It houses the largest SSL J console in the world.

The live areas are of a modern design, with the aim of being very flexible.

We recorded the elaborate guitar arrangements and bass parts, falling slightly behind schedule. (cabs set up in the dead booth, heads and musicians in the control room) .

With each layer, the songs came more and more to life, so all in all a very rewarding day.

The session was made even more exciting as the band bumped into Sir Paul McCartney, Sir George Martin, and members of Travis and Texas!


Andrew warming up


Day 3 and we were on to brass. Intonation of the instruments meant that this was quite a task too, but again the results were justifying the work put in.

Our target had been to finish all the recording today, to leave 2 clear days for editing and mixing. Things weren't going that way, the band estimating a whole day on vocals, so we had to think hard and make some difficult decisions.

In the end we decided to shelve one of the songs for now, and concentrate on completing the other two.

Paul assessing the biscuits


Chris makes bassist Simon an interesting proposition...

Rob considering his last vocal take

Dave and Muzz think


Day 4 was vocals - Rob and James on leads, Max on harmonies, backing, and everyone on gang vocals.

Despite having to put one song aside, everyone was in great spirits and gave fantastic performances. The songs were really coming together.

Mick computes


Max and Rob take a break from Donkey Conga in the lounge


Last day - the mix!

Abbey Road has great modern and vintage outboard, and we did our best to make the most of it!

As is often the case when you are pushed for time - we encountered a number of technical problems (computer crashes etc), but everyone gave 110% or more, and we got there in the end!

Definately spent less than ideal amount of time on the mixes - but I am pleased to say we lucked out and the mixes sounded good the next day out of the studio!

Mixing late into the night


Dave Chang being interviewed for 'First Up'


Photography by Paul Chivers, Ade Lawrence and Dave Chang