Since its inception in 2007 ‘The Studio’s In The City’ has been home to some of Australia’s finest acts, producers and engineers. At the helm for the past decade has been none other than founding Shihad member, legendary producer, VVV Mgmt (Killing Heidi, The Vanns, Dear Seattle, Darren Middleton, Eliza and the Delusionals) and Signal Artist Development Accelerator head honcho plus general all round top bloke Tom Larkin. Tom answers a few questions for Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles about celebrating ten years under the rebranded Homesurgery Recordings.
Ten years under the now rebranded Homesurgery Recordings do you feel incredibly proud of what it has become?
I’m stoked – immensely proud of the work we have done over the past 10 x years and the way both the room and the team have evolved the studio into what is there today.
What are some of the highlights that stand out most for you?
I think the first band we did there ‘ which evolved into High Tension was a special moment. There was a lot of development work we did around acts like Calling All Cars over 3 x albums that was an interesting
After being in Shihad did you think you would eventually make the transition in to being a producer?
That was actually a pretty obvious transition – My first studio experience as a musician was a huge moment – I remember it being like a cocoon of sound where you could shut the world off and make your reality one in which there was nothing but music in a very compelling environment – I basically never wanted to leave, So from that point onwards I sought out opportunities to be involved as a producer and paid particular attention when we had the opportunity to work with great producers with Shihad. Eventually that created a situation where I bought my first mobile rig and pre and mic and from there the studio grew.
Being in a band then being a producer do you thinks that makes the task easier as you can see things from both sides?
Ultimately yes. But there is a perspective that comes from having done it a few times – I no longer want to produce or engineer my own band – it’s better to hold your ground mentally and musically as an artist and create from that position.
I feel although I have gained many skills but I don’t think producing my own band has been demonstrably better than getting someone else to be involved and taking that role. Certainly for me – I think splitting my attention and energy between the two jobs is ultimately counter productive.
That being said – if there is a problem I feel confident to help find the solution and certainly being empathetic to an engineer or producers position is very helpful in not unnecessarily making the process more difficult and supporting their mission to find novelty or driving to get the best out of us.
Is there a certain quality you look for a new upcoming band that you might produce?
I’m always looking for great songs, passion for creating something great, some kind of manifesto or defined identity that exists alongside a curiosity or openness, High levels of skill and a degree of comfort with being uncomfortable.
What’s the best advice you can give up and coming talent?
Make a clear decision about weather you want to play music for it’s own reward or you want to build a business around it. Defining that clearly can avoid a lot of confusion and suffering long term.
If you do decide to do it with professional expectations – make sure you triple down on your strengths and find people to take responsibility for what else needs to be done. You can often find a good mix of those skills within a band so long as everyone is clear on their strengths and weaknesses and self aware enough.
Are there any exciting projects coming up that you’re excited about that you can mention?
There are a ton of bands coming up – a couple I cant talk about yet and some great producers coming in to use the studio as well – plus there are some other initiatives around the management company VVV MGMT and The SIGNAL Artist Development Accelerator to be rolled out later in the year.
The studio set up looks awesome, how much thought has gone in to the layout and the gear to put in there?
Thank you! That’s over ten years worth of continual refinement, trialling equipment and picking out the best and most effective pieces for how we make records – we also make sure we have a large amount of backline on hand as we want to make sure artists have access to really great equipment for performance as well.
Also over that time we have found that the gear really falls into two camps – either hi end, pristine incredible audio pieces or grimy filthy lo fi equipment that allows for us to take the audio in any direction we chose – its that sonic palette and often the blend thereof that really sets the tone that we produce out of Homesurgery Recordings
We’re also really committed to the mode of working with an analog console – after installing a vintage NEVE and then seeing how the workflow a console brings to the process is the most natural and responsive way to record, but also recognizing how vintage equipment requires a level of upkeep and patience that is a liability to the creative process – we installed an API 1608 console that provides an old school 1970’s console tone but has modern facilities and flexibility. Just makes life easier….. and more stable.
Is Shihad still simmering away in the background?
Yes!! Shihad is on hold until AUGUST 2018 – when we will fire up the engines again and hit the studio – we have most of an album written its just a couple of members have babies and projects on the way that require time off.
Will Shihad ever return to Adelaide?
I promise we will!!
Interview by Rob Lyon
For more information about Homesurgery Recordings head to http://homesurgeryrecordings.com/