When the chance came to interview Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, my hand shot up. The shadow of Kevin Shields looms large over my record collection, and the fanboy in me couldn't resist the idea of talking to a guy for whom I have so much respect. But after I got the nod, I wondered if I'd spoken too soon. My love of MBV is based as much on Shields' songwriting as on the vertiginous recordings he specializes in, and I've never questioned his studio methods, chalking them up to inspired alchemy rather than technical ingenuity. In other words, my appreciation of Shields and MBV is entirely intuitive, and it seemed a discussion with Kevin required a certain amount of intellectual analysis that his music had eluded for 10-plus years. I got worried. Then I remembered an incident during my stint as a record store clerk in '91.

I put on the promotional cassette of Loveless. As it blared over the speaker system, it sounded terrifying but beautiful, like a heavenly choir of jet engines. The churning rhythms, the cascading noises, the ghostly vocals that shimmered like mirages, it was unsettling, WEIRD. Of course, my manager came over to tell me to turn it off, but his eyes seemed to be pleading — this wasn't just one of those odd rock bands I liked to throw on, this was something else and it was unnerving. Much as I loved the record, I agreed. When I remembered that moment, I realized I had some questions for Mr. Shields about the making of records.

When I think of you, I think of what you do technically as an outgrowth of what you do musically — I don't see you as a technician. [But] since you're doing mixes and remixes I'm wondering if you see yourself — at least on some level — as an engineer as well as a musician, if they dovetail for you?

I got one of the first PortaStudios, it was the 144. I got the next one, the 244, and that was in '83. There was actually a studio in Dublin based around one of those things so a lot of bands used to go in and do the bass and drums and then they'd come to my place and do all the guitars and vocals and mix it there. So I was sort of doing demos for people back then, just on this PortaStudio, but it gave me a good concept of what recording was about. Then, whenever we made our own records, you know, I'd mess around with the EQ myself. About the time we made Isn't Anything I'd gotten pretty focused on the whole process. From that point onwards, nobody was ever allowed to touch anything without me [being there]. So that was the basic rule we laid down in the studio. You know, "First of all, just don't do anything unless we ask you or, if you want to do something, just ask us first." I've pretty much always done all the kind of hands-on, EQing type stuff myself and, you know, mic stuff. I'd say I'd take anything I could get from somebody, just to see, but nine times out of 10, with guitars and stuff, I'd just wind up doing it my own way because people were always into ambiance, you know, and I was really trying to get a very up front sound, mainly because the sounds I was using were so non-up front that you needed the most up front-possible sounds to make them not sound like it's just a load of weird distant-effect type of thing. That became a real obsession of mine, just trying to get the most dry, up front sounds. Because of that, because I have such a thing about it, I'd spend hours some times trying to get the sound as clean and dry as possible. You know, people just let me do it myself 'cause they wouldn't have a clue, really, as to what I was trying to get. From that perspective I've been an engineer. With drums and stuff, you know, sometimes you can get guys who can tune drums really well — that's most of the sound really. I'd always let people do that if they can do it but, again, because of the sound we were getting, we'd kind of go for a really dry sound and they'd get really flustered and say, "Oh, I give up." So I've always had to keep control of things. I was pretty open-minded as well, but nine times out of 10 it would just lead to me doing it my own way after trying someone else's idea.

With that said, I wanted to ask you what it was like working with 16 engineers on Loveless.

We actually worked with about 45 in reality, but the 16 people we credited were the 16 people we let into the room. The rest of them we didn't even let into the room. After the first day, we'd go into the studio and kinda go [disapprovingly], "No." We didn't want the person around so we wouldn't let them make tea or anything for us. It was like they'd just be kinda locked out. The 16 people we credited were just the people that helped on the session. Maybe two people on it probably touched some EQ that would've affected the sound of it and that's Alan Moulder and Harold Burden. Basically, everyone else on it — I'd say I wanted something patched in, they'd patch it in for me or they'd get the mics for me or they'd, you know, sort out problems — but all of those guys on that record, nobody did any EQing, or affected the sound, or picked any mics for me or anything like that. It was just like they were just like assistants. When we mixed it, I mixed it just with the assistant in the studio and he was out of the room most of the time. My attitude is if somebody's there with you all the time they also affect the record somehow, you know, just their presence, their personality and all that. We worked in about 25 studios when we did that record. It was a really weird time in England because all those studios were going down and the labels, they were having financial problems so they were always sticking us in studios that were kinda doing deals with them, and most of them would be on their way out. You'd go into a studio and nothing worked properly and they couldn't afford maintenance. A couple years before that I thought, "Yeah, I definitely want to have my own studio," because the Isn't Anything record — half of that record was recorded in someone's basement studio with this Studiomaster desk and a sort of half- working 3M tape machine, 24-track where half the cards don't work. You know, they'd have to swap cards to record. So we thought if people can do that — you know, for what we're paying people to record on basically home-studio equipment — we might as well just do it ourselves.

You keep mentioning EQs. EQ is clearly a huge part.

A lot of the impression of that record is that it's a lot of studio trickery and all that, but I'd say 90 percent of it is really just straight guitar music, very simple. Usually just one or two guitar tracks. I'd always record dry and then just use the mics for the sound. When I did any EQing it would just be really minimal kind of thing. I'd usually put an EQ over the mix and sort of get this basic frequency response out of the basic non-EQ'd mix up with the overall EQ, so if things were a bit dull I'd add some top on everything.

So you're EQing the whole mix rather than [just] the guitar tracks.

Generally I'd EQ the mix and then, invariably, everything would get a little bit of EQ at some point. Those two EPs before the Loveless record [Tremolo and Glider], they're probably the purest of that attitude of no EQ on anything, just record it with the mic. When we bring the balance up, don't really EQ the track at all very much, just a little bit of top end and a little bit of mid taken out, or whatever. And then, often, there's nothing on the guitar. It actually managed to get straight from the recording to the actual record without being EQ'd at all. I always used to be really strict about things like compression. I would never ever put compression on anything when I was recording and then, when we were mixing, we'd be doing some really extreme, radical compression.

I was gonna say, "You're telling me there's no compression on there?" 

I know, I know. The ironic part is that we were so pure about recording it but then when it came time to do the mix — like on Loveless, there's probably no track that isn't varisped.

Really?

Yeah, there's probably none. I'd say they're all probably in some way slightly — because we did pitch them so it sounds comfortable to sing to and then we'd kind of forget about it because it would be some kind of weird number and then we'd just sort of find where the vocals sounded normal again. We'd have the basic pitch for tracking but even then, a lot of the time I found that it was easier to pitch the track slightly because it sounded better — even though it was in concert pitch it wouldn't sound right. There's probably nothing on that that's in its exact natural pitch. [laughter] It's kind of these two extremes: On one hand I'd be really, really purist about recording everything really dry but then, by the time the mix came down, I'd do anything I wanted.

That makes sense. If you give it super compression to tape then you're stuck with it. Why reduce your options so early on?

Yeah.

What kind of mics were you using on all this stuff?

We used all the standard ones. Up until the beginning of Loveless when we just used nearly only valve mics — C12s or an old [Neumann U] 67. I don't really remember all the mics, but the guys in the studio were like "these are our prides, our treasures" and that became some part of the sound. Some times the guitar would overdrive the mic itself and we noticed this high-end sort of distortion that was quite nice. At that point, I would never use something like a 57, whereas before that, I didn't care about using 57s, and then after that I would use 57s. There was just a year period where I would only use condenser mics for guitars.

Loveless was when you used condensers or...

For the first half of it, 'cause all those records were recorded in different studios. Like half of it was done that way.

With condensers, you mean?

Yeah, only condensers and a lot of them were valve. And then the second half of it was all, just anything again. 'Cause we'd usually have like three or four mics on the cabinet or amp and there'd be, like, usually a 57, the [Sennheiser] 421. I decided that I didn't like 57s but I liked them [421s] because there was less of a frequency spike in them. In those days I really had this dislike for that kind of — you know the way everyone used to make mixes? The typical '80s mix, where it's sort of reverby and the drum sounds over- big and everything's sort of got this real — like the guitars have their own spiky frequency and it's all where it should be. I didn't like that, I liked it all to blend together so I used to avoid things that would make things stick out. You know, like a 57, when you stick it on a guitar amp, it does sound nice and aggressive, quite pokey. The 421 was a smoother version of it, really. A bit like the difference between KRK speakers and NS-10s. Do you know what I mean? The NS-10s are a bit more aggressive and the KRKs are more rounded.

When I first started recording, all I had were 57s and 58s and I used 58s [on guitar] because they were a bit less in your face.

Yeah. It was avoiding all that kind of stuff. It's kind of weird 'cause I lost all that kind of purity of having to do things in a certain way. I just gave up by about the mid-90s — I would use 57s quite happily then, 'cause it was a different thing. But it's not like this is my philosophy about mics or anything — it was definitely really trying to avoid those characteristic sounds that I could hear.

You said four mics on the cabinet. Would you then run four tracks in the mix or would you pick and choose?

Usually we'd just have them all across the tape because we'd only use 24 tracks — well, we actually wound up going to 48 tracks for that Loveless record 'cause of all the vocals, 'cause we'd use just one 24 track for the vocals and the other one for the music.

You're kidding me. There're that many vocals on there?

It's weird but it was just because we wanted to do as many takes as possible and then when it came to mixing the record, I found that, me and Bilinda, we had the phones on our head for so long they were nearly like singing covers of our own songs. I can't explain it very well, but basically the gist of it is it would've taken so much time and energy to comp the best vocal, prior to Loveless, prior to that period, like all the EPs and Isn't Anything, nearly every single song is like one vocal or, unless it's really obvious that there's loads, but they're all just one vocal and we didn't even comp them, we'd just pick out the one that seemed the best and it was really dry, no effects on it. Nothing. Just the vocal. And then, for Loveless record, it would be up to 12 vocals, you know at any given point. One lead, one with the treble on it and the rest with no top on it, just for the straight sound.

You'd run them simultaneously?

Yeah. A big load of vocals. Again, because of the way me and Bilinda both sing, if we sing 10 times, it won't sound like 10 people singing — it'll get this phase effect, just 'cause of the style of singing. Nearly all the vocals on that record — I'd find the vocal that sounded nicest and make that the lead vocal and then the rest of them would be like a big, thick vocal effect, but instead of getting thicker and thicker the more you add in, it gets sort of weirder, it get more phased and you get weird effects. When you only put two vocals up it sounds double tracked but when you put 10 in it sounds like this... sound, you know what I mean?

Yeah, I do. That's funny, especially for a band where it's like, "I can't hear what they're saying? Why are they burying the vocals?" and meanwhile there're a million vocal tracks.

I know. They're actually quite loud a lot of the time it's just that, again, it's the way we sing a lot of the time. So the other 24 tracks are guitar and... Yeah, I mean, there'd never be more than three guitar tracks on a tape. I'd do one, two or three takes and so, by the time it came to mixing, we'd wind up leaving two left but each take would take between two and five [tracks] for one guitar [take], 'cause every mic would have its own track. We'd mix 'em down basically so when I was mixing I could bring up any mic that was recorded. There used to be phase problems and we'd use that, sometimes, as a basic kind of effect. You'd bring one mic up and it changes everything. You'd press the phase button and it's like, "Hmm, that's better or worse." It just became more options for tone. The typical track sheet would be like the drums, maybe two or three main guitar tracks and then the overdub tracks like just for the bits when there's no singing. All the songs on that record are really kind of simple, they've just got the intro bit, then the singing bit, then the intro bit again, then the singing bit, then the ending. Very, very simple kinds of arrangements.

But I assume that's intentional.

Yeah, it was just because at the time, just to get the feeling across I couldn't be more complicated than that. In a way I was keeping the music as simple as possible. It's essentially the way the guitar is played and the way it's mixed. Because I use the tremolo arm, because it's performance, there's no special place to do anything you just do it by feel. It means that it's a random thing — you are listening to a kind of one-off event when you hear it. Because of the fact that I didn't know what I really was going to do, it just sounds that way when you listen to the record. The drummer, Colm, got really ill early on into the record and he couldn't even drum, he couldn't even use his legs properly, so we wound up programming all the drums. He played on three tracks — two that you can really hear and one that you can't really hear 'cause it's the sort of tom thing that he did.

The tympani-sounding one ["Touched"]?

No, that's him by himself, he did all that track by himself and that's all programmed. He did the first track and "Come in Alone". They're real drums and the rest is programmed.

I thought "What You Want" sounded like a live one — it's more rocking.

I know, I know. It's definitely programmed.

I can see that, though, because the fills seem...

Me, Colm, and the engineer, none of us had done this before, so we got a computer and learned how to use it. For each programmed drum track we'd have like two bass drums, three snare sounds, to make the tom rolls we'd have a one-hit, a two-hit and a three-hit and, with the cymbals, we'd have the start, middle and end samples. We varied the bass drums and snares and just do all that kind of stuff so it didn't sound too machine-like and the patterns would be based on Colm's patterns that he played. We didn't want people to sit down and go, "Oh, do they use drum machines?" We just wanted people not to think about it one way or the other.

I also think it helps the feel, to a degree, where it's so solid it doesn't distract from the feel. Where, if you had Keith Moon drumming, for instance, he'd be a live drummer but he'd be distracting from the vibe.

Yeah, but it's weird, that's the whole funny thing about Colm is that he was a sort of Keith Moon-y style drummer, once upon a time. Like, if you listen to stuff on Isn't Anything, the drums are so different. They're that much more alive and free.

Well, they're different songs, too. I mean, I don't know what your intention was, but to me they're different records in terms of the feel of them.

Oh, totally, yeah. The Loveless one was just basically one, giant definite feel in itself — it's just one big mood. Whereas [Isn't Anything] is lots of different moods and stuff and trying out ideas. They're nearly different bands, in some respects, I mean a lot of that Loveless record was by myself. When I did the other one, everyone was around and there was more of a band atmosphere.

It seems like that mood you made [on Loveless] you're still making it for other people or helping them achieve it. "MBV Arkestra" [on Primal Scream's XTERMNTR] to me, strikes a similar mood. The remix of [The Pastels'] "Cycle" hits that mood but they sound very different. Are you still trying to make that mood?

No, no I mean, not consciously. Um... No, not at all. That's the thing about when people make music: Everyone else can hear what's similar except for the person that's doing it. When it's yourself you think, "This is really different, I wonder will people think it's even the same person?" But other people just immediately hear the connection and that's the funny part of all that. It's kind of interesting — if people do hear the connection, then good.

Well, sonically they're different, but in terms of the vibe, they're similar. They're all kind of a bit like, if you're kind of, in your own mind if you're dreaming — a bit like a hallucination. When it's all focused but you can't see the edges.

They’re all kind of a bit like, if you’re kind of, in your own mind if you’re dreaming — a bit like a hallucination.When it’s all focused but you can’t see the edges.

What kind of compressors were you using? Do you have a preferred compressor? Or you'll take it wherever you get it.

Yeah, it's more, "I'll take it wherever I can get it." Actually, the typical compressors were Drawmer compressors 'cause they were the kind of studios that were very cheap. They might have one good compressor. But we actually prefer the Drawmer compressors. Any of the really over-compressed sort of sounds, where the whole mix sounds really compressed together, it was just put through a Drawmer compressor. It's got a kind of lo-fi overall sound. We weren't trying to be lo-fi ever, but I hated adding top end just to make it a bit more pleasant — and bottom end — and all that crap. I just like midrange. Just focus on the mid and play it loud and it'll sound right. It's just if you add top or bottom it sounds loud or quiet. It's just the typical production technique: You add your top end and your low end and you don't add too much mid, otherwise it eats up all the energy. I didn't really follow those rules. I sometimes feel bad when I listen to my own records and I think they sound so quiet because they do, really, compared to other people's records, but it's the only way you can do that. Or, the only way I knew how to do it, which is sort of paint pictures with music.

I hear you're building a new studio again.

Yeah. It's based on our old studios that we had for quite a few years down in South London.

I'm sure you know that there are horror stories that have circulated about the things you had to go through with your studios...

Well, it did go a bit wrong 'cause we bought a desk and it didn't work at all. It was the pots. For argument's sake, say you always turn a pot to 4 kHz — that would disappear. As you turned the knob the [piece] that knows it's making contact with something was wearing away. So we'd take a channel and it'd sound totally clean and we'd turn it back and forth, back and forth 50 times and you'd hear little gaps and little strange things. So we were totally fucked and it took a year of fighting with them to get our money back. It was a really bad start. Then we got a DDA desk, this AMR-24 which is like a real typical midrange studio desk in England.

I've never heard of it.

The typical mid-range studio in England, by the time we were making records, would be like an [Otari] MTR- 90, DDA desk, NS-10s and then some decent outboard but not much. Like half the studios were that kind of line up. And that's kind of why we got the DDA, 'cause we just wanted something that worked and they were relatively cheap new so that's what we got. Then we got an MTR-90 24-track. We have an Ampex 1/2" which is really nice, you know. And the rest is just like Focusrite mic amps, we've got one of those four-unit ones. Had a Focusrite EQ but I got rid of it because I didn't use it that much. The EQ I really like is the Summit stereo. It's just got bass and treble really but it's got a really, really good sound — you can overdrive it slightly, that's part of the sound I've used a lot. We have a Manley compressor, one of those variable MU ones and a Drawmer 1960 compressor, which I like a lot. Quite a lot of Drawmer compressors 'cause I used to love Drawmer stuff. I don't know why, it just was quite extreme and quite cheap and because I only ever used them I thought that was the best stuff, weirdly enough. We have one of those U-67 reissue mics and then all the typical mics, like 421s, AKG 414. I don't have any stereo mics set up because I never really like stereo drum sounds. It's weird, I mean I don't mind having stereo two channels, left and right, but I quite like using different mics, which I know doesn't make sense. I just think in real life you don't hear in stereo, you've just got two mono ears that make up the stereo — you know what I mean?

Yeah, I do. So, for overheads, you use one overhead, you use two different mics?

Usually the 67 is a mono overhead and then we've got cymbal-y type overheads that take care of cymbals and the overall drum sound. We've got a Beyer 740, it's a condenser mic. For guitars I often use the 67 or a 57 or a 421 typically.

So you've gone back to 57s now.

Yeah, I'm not prejudiced against anything now. Funny, though, but I'm pretty interested in getting one of those Royer mics if it works the way it's supposed to work.

What're you using for monitors?

KRKs. The ones that the E8s are based — 700s maybe? They're more like the NS-10-sized versions.

Do you track with your compressors?

No, no. Not really.

Do you use the board to track and the Focusrite for guitars?

We don't use the desk channels at all [for guitars].

So how many preamps do you have or do you just track one instrument at a time? 

Yeah, we only have four preamps. I'm thinking about getting some more, a couple more mic amps just to make it easier — because the DDA is really good for toms, it's just a very warm sound, but the Focusrite, in comparison, is more open but also colder compared to the DDA, which adds a sort of low-mid boom boost sort of effect. So, for toms and all that, the DDA is good for like the bass and snare and overheads, that's what we've been doing really.

So you don't record live, ever. It's never the band laying down a track.

It's usually just the drummer playing and me playing a guide guitar with the drums. Generally speaking, that's how I always did work, and will be working for a while. Again, it's just sort of things done separately, 'cause it's kind of written as I go along. In the future, I really would love to do stuff in a group kind of context, make a whole record of just a band playing. I'm kind of getting tired of programming computers. Since we made those records I spent years and years and years fucking around with computers and it does get a bit boring.

How do you fell about hard disk recording compared to tape. Do you care?

We have SADIE hard disk. It's not really like Pro Tools but it's pretty similar. A trick I've used a lot with hard disk things is, everything sounds great but you have to add one more thing in, say we might have a mix and it sounds great but when we add the vocal in it doesn't sound good because the way the compression's working over everything it sounds really good but you add that last main thing, the hook bit or something, and it doesn't sound right. I've been getting into this weird habit where you make a stereo mix of something and then you overdub digitally, put the bit that you found difficult to stick into the stereo mix. Say you had like a vocal at the end of the track. By putting the vocal into the mix it somehow, because the desk is overdriven so much, the compressor's are driving — it sounds right like that — but when you add something that has to be quite loud at the end, that sort of ruins the whole chain of events. To keep that sound we make a stereo master of that and then put a separate track of the vocal or guitar overdub and then in the digital editor I'll just sort of merge them together and make a new stereo master. It just helps instead of spending ages trying figure out how to get that sound and not affect the instruments.

So you'd do it all in analog and then fly it over to digital and marry them together?

Yeah, yeah.

So basically it's an editing tool.

Yeah. I'd hate to do that thing where people fix things. It's like a mixture of not having patience. It's like I can't keep the subconscious thing going if I'm thinking, "Right, where does that vocal sound wrong and I'll take that bit where it's out of tune and fix that bit ..." I'd just much rather leave it in like that. Especially playing guitar, I don't think I've ever in my life done more than two or three takes. It's just the first few, they're the best anyway. You need to make a massive mistake where you play the totally wrong chord, and that hardly ever happens.

So what's your tracking room like?

Well, I don't have it yet but I've got the plan of it. I found this place that's really central and it's quite small. It's already got an overdub booth in it but you could hear airplanes flying overhead and stuff, so we're gonna do quite a bit of work, spending about nearly 10,000 pounds just building a room in a room. It's not gonna be very big, it's only going to be 14.5' by 17.5', which isn't massive, but it's big enough.

What's the height?

Nine feet to 10 feet. It'll start at nine and go to 10. And then it's got an overdub booth that can just fit a drum kit and another space that you can also have a drum kit set up in and that's it. Quite small and compact but the place is quite cheap and I want to start kind of as basic as possible again. If I get lucky enough to get a bigger space, eventually I will.

Your brother thinks you're going to start a record.

Yep. It's all set in motion. Basically it's kind of based around the fact that we're going to be using this engineer, well it's pretty likely we're gonna use this guy, Alan Moulder. He's going to be making the new Nine Inch Nails record but they've decided to work for two weeks then take a three-week break and work for another two weeks and then take another three-week break. So whenever he's having his three-week breaks he's gonna work with me for about two weeks at a time.

In the new space or another space?

In this space.

Is it gonna be ready in time for him?

Yeah. Basically, the electrical side of it is all sorted from the last studio. What we did when we took the studio apart was we just marked everything. The wiring was the hardest bit because we thought, "Oh, we'll just wrap it up and stick it in a flight case" but it took three people to carry it. Physically, it was a lot more than I imagined. We didn't take it apart so we'll just stick it back together again. I'm just gonna get a few more midfield monitors. You know these Mackie speakers? I think nine times out of ten I do things with nearfield monitors. I used to have these ATC 100A monitors, the kind of large midfield monitors but self powered but I didn't hardly ever use them.

Can we trust you to not throw this record away?

Ummm, no. No. That's the only thing I have learned over the years, it's that I don't really know. I really want to make a record, it's not gonna be a My Bloody Valentine record, it's just gonna be a record.

Is it a Kevin Shields record?

Yeah, yeah. I'm gonna make up a different name. I just want to make a record. There are a lot of ideas I want totryoutandjustdothat.Iwanttotryanddoit quite quick and that's why I'm using Alan and this bass player, Mani, from Primal Scream. I'm getting him to play bass. Just using people like that will dictate 'cause, you know, they don't like hanging around anyway. I just want to keep it a relatively short record, like 40 minutes long. We'll see. I've said so many times over the years, "I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do that" so it doesn't really mean anything.

So many broken hearts.

Well, yeah. You can say that again. I'm still tied to other record labels as well, which is a real drag. Especially since I haven't had any money from them since '97. So there's nothing really good about being signed to a label when they don't give you money. The only good thing about being signed to a label is that they can give you money.

What kind of record do you think you're going to make? Or do you have any idea?

No. I'll tell you what it won't be like. It definitely won't be like Loveless, in the sense that it'll be looser. I'm really trying to get into more spontaneous, loose things. It won't sound like it's gone through some big process, you know what I mean? I might be a bit more open and a bit more eclectic sounding.

Have you got a drummer or are you gonna program?

Well, my brother drums [Jimi, who was in Rollerskate Skinny]. I'm absolutely not going to use programmed drums. That was out of necessity on [Loveless] and we didn't mind because we were into dance music a lot so it wasn't such a big deal. In the end, I kind of prefer live drums.

I have one last question for you. I think of you as a producer. You have all these musical ideas. I would think, if I was recording a record with you, that I would want you to say, "Hey, why don't you put the Midiverb here or why don't you try doing this with the guitar," but you seem to only be doing mixing. Why aren't you a producer? Has no one asked you? Do you not want to do it?

I didn't really want to do it. I haven't really been asked that much, either. There is an American band called Joyzipper and I'm gonna hopefully do a couple tracks with them. Probably the main reason people don't ask me to produce them that much is that, even though people might like the records I make, my reputation is for taking forever and being a bit irrational in the studio and I think people get afraid of that. They kinda think, "Nah." Part of a producer's job is to make records and that's not something I can do.

Is that how you feel or is that the perception and you're not going to try to change it?

'Cause I haven't done it very much, I don't know. When I do mixes for people and all that stuff, if they have to have it by a certain time I just do it. It's not a big deal. I always used to do stuff quite quickly up until the Loveless record and then everything just slowed down dramatically to an absurd degree with that record. Then, when we built our own studio in South London, as I said, the desk didn't work for a year. Which seems really surreal, you think, "How can you be signed to a major record company, have a desk that doesn't work, and then spend a year trying..." do you know what I mean? Wouldn't something happen? But nothing happened. Hard to believe but true. People just left us to it.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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