Thanks for doing this! Your career has been long and impressive. Since I record mostly live in-studio performances, I'm very interested in your approach to tracking.
What is your typical order of work? Does your approach change by genre? Has it changed over time due to equipment or clientele? How does your vision influence processing decisions during tracking?
Perhaps a large question, but any words of wisdom would be appreciated!
Big question - bear with me... In hindsight - After training through Glynn Johns and Eddie Kramer at Olympic in the late 1960's - all live projects - and with sessions in Canada with my brother Terry Brown - I did have a 'formula' for the first 6 years of engineering at Island. Toms (single skin) U87, Overheads U87, Snare AKG 224, Bass drum AKG D20 or D12. Bass D/I and Amp D20, Guitars U87 or AKG D20, Steinway Piano U87 or KM84. From 1976 I threw away that set up and went with the flow (I needed to change - getting too comfortable)...Bass Drum AKG D20 - hard to beat, Snare Shure 57, Toms Steinheiser 421, overheads - varies from project - Coles, U87 (still), KM84, RCA. Guitars Coles, U87, D20/30, Piano - Coles, U87....Ok that's the tech stuff out the way. Back to your question; It varies from project to project - mic's used - is it 'dark' - 'pop'?? But like most engineers I start with the drums - its the foundation in many ways - bad drum sound or playing and its all over - a quick drum sound - maybe 20 min's, then bass, guitars, keys, eyc. I usually want to be plugged up with basic sounds and ready to go within 2 hours. Then when the band are all playing together I can 'fine-tine' sounds - I will go round and tweak, drums, bass etc. this might entail positioning mic's or changing mic's - but its only when I can hear all the important elements that I can pull it together. Great sounds on their own mean nothing. I guess I would at this time go for any ideas and sounds we might have talked about for the project - adjusting things accordingly. Some great ideas don't always work out. Technology always influences the way we work. I watched guys record 50 pice orchestras to 2 tracks of a 4 track machine, I made records on 8 (mono drums) and 16 track (3 or 4 tracks of drums) leakage of instruments with a 5 piece band in small live rooms. - to today's 'unlimited' tracks and FX. Still can't beat 4/5 guys in a room playing - I love it.