At any given instance in time, David Bottrill partakes in one of three activities. He is either submerged in the realm of slumber, routing signals on a recording console or is seated in an airplane high above the ground. In fact, he travels so often that the next time you gaze up at the sky and see a plane scrawl across it, he just might very well be inside it. And where would his destination be? A place with a recording studio no doubt. And on an aeroplane, one can sleep.
From an early age the native Canadian found himself in the intimate work habitat of musical vanguards Brian Eno [Tape Op #85] and Daniel Lanois [Tape Op #37]. He was not only responsible for skillfully operating world-class equipment, but was also forced to push his own creative envelope. A few short years after his indoctrination into the studio he relocated to Real World studios in the UK, where he worked on such notable albums as Peter Gabriel's So, Passion and Us. Bottrill is renown for being diverse with a forte of applying his techniques to a wide range of artists: liner notes in albums by King Crimson, Clannad, Tool, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and even Kid Rock immortalize his moniker.
His exceptional talents as engineer, producer, programmer and ace of spacious mixing keeps him from staying put musically and geographically, as he constantly shuttles back and forth from his decade- plus home base in the UK to locations across North America and Europe. This is perhaps the reason why his verbiage remains free of infiltration from British colloquialisms. Well, almost. At times he is heard referring to a console as a 'desk'...
The blueprint that depicts Bottrill's entry into the domain of wires and microphones traces back to the dawn of the '80s in Hamilton, Ontario — a modest-sized blue collar Canadian city known for its skyline plumage of industrial smokestacks. "It's a curious story," begins an energetic Bottrill. "I grew up in Dundas [a bedroom community outside of Hamilton] and, like most people, I was unsure what I wanted to do with my life for the most part and tried a lot of different avenues, including going to Mohawk [Community] College for a Business Administration diploma. I never actually finished [the program] because two personal and significant events occured that kind of woke me up to the fact that I wasn't really heading down the right path."
The year was 1983. Bewildered in a premature version of a mid-life crisis, Bottrill decided to seek medicinal refuge in the ever-secure world of music. "I was always a guitar player and in a bedroom-basement band and I was always interested in trying to do something with making music. My girlfriend at the time said her uncle had a recording studio in Hamilton and said to go look if there was something there for me as an opportunity. So I went to Grant Avenue studio and her uncle was Bob Lanois [co-owner and brother of producer/engineer Daniel]. The first time I walked into that studio, having made an appointment, and looked at the control room and spent a little time there I thought, 'Well this is a pretty fantastic thing to do!' They didn't have a job for me at the time but said I could hang out to learn. So I spent the day doing odd jobs — washing windows and so on to make money so I could go in at night and assist at making coffee, sweeping up and eventually I got to plug in microphones."
In a true existential moment that combined both his intrusive enthusiasm and curiosity with the chance element of being in the right place at the right time, Bottrill stepped into a vehicle that would take him on a life long journey. "The first session I was involved in at an assisting capacity was Brian Eno and Dan [Lanois] doing the 'Apollo' soundtrack. That was a major influence in how I was to work ever since." It was no question that at that precise moment Bottrill knew he was on and in the right avenue. Next he participated in many a session "in eclectic-land" by Teenage Head (an infamous local punk band), The Parachute Club, Luba (Secrets and Sins) and yet another Brian Eno soundscape opus, Ambient #4/On Land.
By 1985, Grant Avenue studio had earned the status of fame due to its comfortable atmosphere and the aura left by reputable artists that had channeled their souls onto tape there. That year the brothers Lanois decided to sell the studio, and explored many options including the possibility of dismantling it and selling off the equipment. "We felt it had a heritage and didn't want to see the studio die," he recollects. "We began to rip out and dismantle the board and at the 11th hour Bob Doidge [current owner] came up with the money to buy the entire studio and we spent the whole night plugging it back in. Without any prior experience, what I ended up doing was finding the way the wires had been bent into each connector and tried to line it up again — it was very funny." Having been once again blessed with a continuous electrical current running through its wiring, Grant Avenue ended up as Bottrill's official place of work for the next few years. Eventually, he became promoted to official conductor of the studio's MCI console and JH-24 tape machine beginning with the recording of Roger Eno's Voices, which was followed by avant garde producer/guitarist Michael Brooks' debut, Hybrid.
West Meets East Meets West...
The second step in the evolution of David Bottrill, the engineer, involves British Airways and Peter Gabriel. In 1986, Daniel Lanois asked Bottrill to fly to England to aid in the recording of Peter Gabriel's ground-breaking album So. The session was taking place in a cow shed near the town of Bath. This session was the first where equipment and time were unlimited, thus allowing everyone's creativity to run rampant. "At the end of 'So' [Dan Lanois and I] were supposed to do something with the Psychedelic Furs, but at that time they didn't have the songs written yet. Dan had just spent a better part of one and a half years getting songs out of Peter [Gabriel] for 'So' and he didn't want to go through that process again," bares Bottrill. "Dan is a man of the moment and likes to capture the performance and excitement and doesn't like to dwell for long periods of time, I don't think. He wanted to work on the development of the music and not on the songwriting, which he would have to drag out of people." Gabriel, like any tour-de-force, had his own eccentric approach to creation. Whether it is always compatible with an outside party is a different story. Bottrill explains the friendly clash between the two giants. "Peter likes to take much time to get it as right as he can because he has a lot of things on the go that distract him from writing lyrics. There was a time when Dan got so upset with Peter he ended up nailing the door shut from the inside of the studio where Peter was writing lyrics so he wouldn't be able to leave to make another phone call!"
The faltering Psychedelic Furs project posed a question mark that lurked over the immediate future of Bottrill's career. "Dan didn't have any more work for me and he suggested I either stay here in England and look for more work or that he would help me find some back in Canada. I decided to stay." By making that bold and fearless leap, Bottrill quickly ended up working for Peter Gabriel. He accompanied on the subsequent So tour not as a live sound engineer, but as his keyboard tech. The choice led Bottrill down a passageway which soon led him to help develop a concept called Real World, an edifice in which he deeply immersed himself for nearly a decade.
Situated in the village of Box near Bath, the idyllic Real World recording facility was the brainchild of Peter Gabriel. He converted an old mill into a hi- tech shangri-la for musical luminaries from around the world to record at. The Real World concept also grew into to the Real World recording label. Gabriel is a pioneer in incorporating obscure unconventional and unique instruments into his own music. Influenced in part by 'world-music' artists, he felt that the rest of the world should be enriched and exposed to this wide spectrum of music too. Sadly, without such a label, most of these artists would not be heard outside of their own domain. Initially the studio was armed with the equipment dismantled from the cow shed. "Peter had an SSL desk and two Studer A-80 [24-track] machines. One [of the Studers] was customized with electronics built by Colin Broad. It could have been a revolutionary machine except for the fact that it didn't work very well. Like an SSL, you could set up a gate on the output of every channel because each channel had one built in it."
It was there that Gabriel's eastern-influenced, instrumental breakthrough album Passion  was executed as the label's flagship release. The album was conceived specifically as the soundtrack for director Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ - an acclaimed and stunning feature film depicting an alternative portrayal of the life of Christ. A plethora of musicians from all walks of life and styles of music were invited to play on the album, including percussionist Bill Cobham, vocalist Youssou N'Dour, double violinist Shankar and guitarist David Rhodes.
Many of the artists involved hailed from exotic locales where their music is ensemble-based, non- electric and where the English language is non- existent. Bottrill had to innovate in a way to make sure things would work. Unexpectedly, he wound up validating the virtue that extols music as language unto itself. "The most important thing at the time was to make sure the musician playing in the studio was feeling their most comfortable in how they were able to do their performance," Bottrill explains. "We'd get them into our good-sized control rooms and turn it into a performance space. They couldn't speak English very well a lot of the time so communication was really important. We had to get Peter's musical point across.
We would have to use every communication technique available. Sometimes it was using handsigns, or we were pointing. Anything like that is easier when you're in the same room. We record almost everything in the control room. We were trying to make sure we could communicate and you could look at someone and that would make as much sense as it would trying to talk to someone on a talk-back mic. Giving a look does a lot more than a mic with headphones."
In order to make this feat technically possible, Bottrill conferred with the studio builders and made suggestions as to how the control room should be constructed for such occasions. "We would also modify things, like being able to change the absolute phase of the speakers so when you're recording with a mic you could put them out of phase, and it helps to cancel out more of the sound when the rest of the track is in." The 48+ individual tracks used to build Passion involved more than just an organic process. He quickly and methodically learned how to maneuver the incorporation of MIDI sequencing and sampling technologies, which at the time were still in infancy. Fortunately, the technically-inclined Bottrill had a working familiarity with programming Linn Drums and Emulator IIs and IIIs back during his tenure at Grant Avenue. Vastly employed for Passion was the MPC-60 Fairlight as well as software-based systems such as Performer and Cubase. Complexities were inherent due to the larvae-like stage that the technologies at during that time period. "Usually there was up to 64 tracks going on at any time that mainly involved peripheral programming. It was a lot more of a process to do it back then than it would be now. These days everything is done through Logic Audio and Pro Tools. Now all you do is plug in a hard disk and there you go. It's a lot easier."
When listening to the end product, one is enveloped by a sense of spaciousness that is a result of Bottrill's keen sense of microphone placement and atmospheric mixing. "It was definitely an education on learning how to record different types of instruments. All of a sudden I'd be presented with an oud, kementché, or a mazhar and I'd have to figure out where the sound came out of it and how to mic it. It opened up my ears to the new styles of music that I would never have an opportunity to hear otherwise. It was a real education." Passion is a prime specimen of Bottrill's deftness at blending and mastering the art, science and politics of music recording — a skill
that he lends to every project. The disc also functions as a quality reference vehicle for many of today's top producers and engineers. It is no surprise that his name is credited directly on the disc itself, which is highly uncommon for record companies to do. By doing that, it made Bottrill's name synonymous with craftsmanship.
Immediately following the completion of Passion, work would begin on another seminal and highly personal Gabriel album, US. The Lanois-helmed production spanned over two years as Lanois cyclically went back and forth between Us and U2. The venture was perfectionist and gargantuan in scope — it requires a dedicated article unto itself — occupying two 24-track machines and a 32-track digital machine that often ran with various other computer-based programs. "It was possibly the most intense three years of my life to date, and encompassed some of the most involved recording sessions I have ever experienced. It was the culmination of my career with Peter."
As chief engineer at the studio, Bottrill's expanding duties began to earn him the status as a 'producer' whilst engineering, mixing and editing a handful of titles for the label. These included Qawwali master Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's Shahen-Shah, Exile by Geoffrey Oryema, and the Drummers of Burundi's ensemble Live at Real World. He expresses a clear opinion on what the title of 'producer' stands for — "a 'producer' is anything from the person who puts musicians together in a room to the person who books the studio and assesses the performances to the person who is the DJ or the programmer. A lot of producers today will find a singer but the music will be the producer's. That's not my thing. There are so many ways someone can be called a producer that it's almost irrelevant to be called one because it's so wide it doesn't mean one thing. Ultimately, I use 'producer' as like being a director on a film. They help the artist to achieve the music they are trying to make. And by having worked in other studios and made albums before, the producer understands where the artist wants to go. I work with people who are good artists and musicians that write songs that I like. I help them realize that. I don't do the writing, although I will write with them if they need it, like a bridge, melody or chorus. My strength is making arrangements into a more concise format so that the song is crafted in a more cohesive way. People, as musicians, aren't good self-editors. They'll go over and over and do section after section and I'll say, 'You know what? You've said what you needed to say here and here.' I spend a lot of time in pre-production with artists doing that. You can edit down or lengthen songs when necessary. It depends on the intention of the song."
When convenient, Bottrill will invite an artist to his home set-up before the main production commences, for efficiency. His home is modestly equipped with Pro Tools, Logic Audio, a small collection of mics fired by API pre-amps, valve compressors and "a small desk." For the sparkling clear, ember-warm vocals that exist on his recordings, his preferred choice of microphones is quite narrow. The Neumann M7S which he describes as having a "Nuremberg Rally lollipop-style look" tops the list. With a manufacturing period that predates W.W.II, the mic's characteristics includes a "full body" adding "presence without being too sharp." The classic Neumann U47 mic serves as an alternate.
Having been exposed to the best technological accoutrements for the recording process, Bottrill has had to rationalize in order to avoid overcome by an infinity complex that could lead a session astray. "I find myself more and more wanting to make decisions so you can spend the following days not making decisions and having to cover your ass. I'll only use up more tracks than I need if I feel I might be missing something. I have been guilty of piling it on and cutting it down later." His deduction is simple. "If you make things work in rough mixes then they should just work! If they don't, then there's more of a problem than just piling on the shit!"
The way in which Bottrill claims to have legitimized himself as genuine 'producer' beyond the job's regular clinical functions of the job happened ironically. He had been hired originally as engineer only on The First Day, a stellar 1993 showcase collaboration between ex-Japan founder David Sylvian and legendary guitar guru Robert Fripp. His duty as engineer expanded to the point where he became co-producer by contributing to the rhythmic framework. "I had to fill in as the rhythm section when their drummer was sacked halfway through," Bottrill reveals. "I'd try a bunch of different patterns and loops until they liked what they heard!"
The First Day undertaking also became a talisman and would sound a beacon that summoned two more vital projects which together would form a triumvirate of recordings that anchors the Bottrill legacy: King Crimson's THRAK and Tool's Ænima.
Thrak: the reawakening of the King.
In 1994, nearly after a decade-long truancy, Robert Fripp resurrected the mighty King Crimson, the legendary forefathers of progressive rock who first surfaced in the late 1960s. Leader and guitarist Robert Fripp assembled a new
court of established
musical entities for
the resurgence. Their
goal: perfection. The
collective included the
resilient Adrian Belew
on vocals and guitar,
bass magician Tony
Levin, drum syncopation master Bill Bruford (an original Yes man), the alchemic Pat Mastelotto on an additional drum kit, and Trey Gunn, a revolutionary instrumentalist of a "different kind" who strikes the Warr guitar. This musical apparatus functions as a tapping instrument, similar to the Chapman Stick, with a harmonic range that is just as wide.
The first new King Crimson to re-emerge was the Bottrill co-produced litmus-test EP entitled VROOOM, which was quietly unleashed onto the public by Fripp's own label, Discipline Global Mobile. "'VROOOM' was done at Applehead Studios, a very small studio in Woodstock, New York, and we had to push it beyond its limits by bringing in another multi-track" reports Bottrill. Based on the triumphant praise and demand warranted by the EP, the full-length 'THRAK' became its successor, only this time they converged at the Real World studio.
For both sessions, the task of containing the radiating collective of talent was Bottrill's prerogative. "The way Robert works is very immediate and performance based so I was required to set them up so they can play live. It was difficult because they had two drummers, a bassist, and Trey on the Warr guitar. Adrian sang and played guitar, and Robert played the other guitar, and his sound is huge. So having to fit all that together was an interesting scenario and trying to actually record it and have everyone be able to hear what was going on was another challenge. Everyone was in the same room except for Pat so as to isolate the drum kits from each other. Otherwise, cabinets were isolated in separate booths. We had a monitor engineer specifically for the headphone mix. He was able to make eye contact with the players since I couldn't see them because the desk at Real World faces the other way. I'd set up and each time they did a take it would be vastly different — sometimes halfway through we'd edit together different versions. Their discipline is to the point where they are methodical yet non-flippant with their improvisations. They spent so many years playing that they are beyond technique — the pure performance was able to come out because they were in tune and in touch with their instruments."
Bottrill amicably departed from the Real World homestead in 1996. Backed by his enormous credibility, Bottrill ventured into another kind of real world his association with The First Day and THRAK projects would escalate him to the next echelon.
The cleanliness of Ænima.
It began with a phone call from Los Angeles. Bottrill recalls with humor and irony how his involvement with the band Tool came about. "Funnily enough, they called and asked if I would work on [their new album] and they sent me their 'Opiate' [EP] and 'Undertow' record. I listened to them and thought 'I've never done anything like this before... why would this kind of American metal band be sending me things when all I've done was English art-rock music?' At first I thought they had me confused with someone else, so I spoke to them and asked if they were sure they had the right guy. As it turned out, Danny [Carey], the drummer, was a HUGE King Crimson fan and Adam [Jones] the guitar player's favorite album had been 'The First Day.' The singer, Maynard [James Keenan] was a huge Real World music fan. A lot of the stuff I worked on happened to be their favorites even though they were musically doing different things. They thought I wasn't an 'American rock producer' but they figured they already knew what area they wanted and that I would bring something else to their music. So I met them in Los Angeles, sat in on one of their rehearsals and right away, we hit it off. It was an exciting rehearsal despite the fact that I sat beside Danny's ride cymbal, which kind of made me deaf by the end of the day. They knew what I could do, they knew what they and their fans wanted, so I went along with their confidence."
For the most part, Tool creates a genre of music that is their very own. Its fabric contains threads of epic, progressive dark compositions, yet weaves in ethereal and mathematical structures. At times the thematic content deals with 'disgustipation', oppression, struggle, rebirth and self-realization. Even though their strange biomechanic arachnid tapestry of sound makes them perfect for post-production tinkering such as sequencing and editing, Bottrill dispenses an ironical fact. "They're extremely well thought out. Nothing was done to a click track or through a computer. It was all live with overdubs."
For almost four months Bottrill and the band incubated themselves in Ocean Way and The Hook studios in regional Los Angeles before eventually sealing themselves at Larrabee for the mixing stage. From the first track "Stinkfist", with its crescendo, one is immediately brought into a spacious yet well defined environment, especially with the lively drum sounds. Bottrill reveals his modus operandi, "One of the things on that record, as well as with other rock bands I work with, is that I'll get a small PA in the same room as the drummer and place it behind him facing forwards. The close mic'd signals that are on the kit's snare, tom and kick are run through the well-EQ'd PA so you get this added volume and weight. When you use your ambient mics they pick up the PA so it becomes overall a much bigger sound with an exaggerated volume. Danny also had extra programmed electronic sounds that would play along with his drumming so we put those through the PA as well so the sounds gelled more together with the kit." The capturing of the chromatic guitars was done in a logical manner as well, allowing organics to be the backbone for the calculating song structures. "[The] guitars generally took multiple takes, doubling and tripling with different guitars so as to allow for tonal changes by featuring different guitars as opposed to EQing differently for different sections."
When scrutinizing the credits of many Bottrill- related projects, one might also discover that he has provided a touch of his own musicianship. Take for instance Passion. He is credited for providing 'drone'. Perhaps the most peculiar example of his involvement as a musician lies within the morbidly dark and humoristic track from Ænima entitled "Message To Harry Manback". The track features delicate, sparse and melodic piano playing with atmospheric beach sounds, which ironically is accompanied by... a death threat. Bottrill reminisces, "It was me playing the piano. The threatening Italian person was leaving a real answer phone message on Maynard's roommate's machine. Basically it was from a guy who had recently been kicked out of the house for being the guest from hell."
The manner in which Bottrill deals with natural sounds via his world music experience combined with dexterity in the high-tech realm suggests that he should be dubbed as a 'World Engineer', one that merges the 'best of both worlds' for which the Tool project acts as a bonafide example of. And Bottrill agrees. He considers Ænima as a monument that rests on his curriculum vitæ as a producer, engineer and mixer.
When the name Remy Zero is brought up, Bottrill's voice melts with adoration and respect. If you have not heard their 1998 album Villa Elaine, or
if you perhaps have not heard of them at all, well... now you will. "Remy Zero are from Mobile, Alabama," Bottrill vehemently states for the record, "They're great songwriters who make really great interesting and credible pop music in the same area as Radiohead and are a little like the Verve. They have an amazing singer that could bring tears to your eyes. When I heard their demos it captivated me so much that I stayed in LA for 9 months just to work with them, and LA isn't my favorite place. When my friend offered me the gig I had already been itching to go back to England! I did some production and recording and Alan Moulder did some remixing on the album. Sadly, hardly anyone got to hear it as they got lost in the shuffle and weren't really promoted when [their record company] Geffen was swallowed by Interscope."
As of the past few years, Bottrill is increasingly being summoned to mix pre-recorded projects. Therefore he keeps his cochlea well-groomed for the occasion and for accuracy. He notes the
advantages to only being brought in only to mix.
"You're able to come at it from an objective viewpoint. You have no agenda attached to any of the parts because you haven't sat in the studio for 3 days working on it. Its another chance and angle to alter what you're doing as you finish things off. Of course, sometimes its a distinct process when you're working with a lot of programmed music and reprogramming and changing structures is part of the process. These days there is less of a line drawn between the record and mix process."
The fundamental components of a Bottrill mix is a grand sense of unification, transparency, a virtual three-dimensional presence, and when context dictates, force. In fact, the mixes appropriately sound so sterile that one wonders whether he wears a white lab coat when executing a mix just as his British predecessors did in the early 1960s. "What is really important is to make sure there is clarity of hearing all the parts in a song. Each thing has a meaning and music is the sum of
all those parts. If you are unable to hear some of the parts then it makes half of them irrelevant, so, you're not getting half of the music. Dimension is very important. It has to spread across the speakers but the depth has to be there. It's all about being able to catch and feel where things are recessed and when they should be up front. Both are difficult to achieve. What I usually do for depth is to use short and long reverbs, wide panning, dry on the left or right and making it reverberant in the middle or back. Somebody once said to me that they felt that when they listened to my mixes they could reach around behind the speakers and reach into the mix. When I start off a mix I'll try and listen to the style of music that the people are doing. I find out what else the band listens to and listen to that as well." The prerequisite for any Bottrill mix session involves particular gadgetry along with what the studio has. "I'll try to get gear I'm comfortable with using, like an Eventide H-3000 harmonizer and a DSP 4000 — for reverbs I like the Lexicon 480-L and AMS gear. I bring my own Anthony DiMaria stereo compressor, some nice mic pres and Pro Tools plug-ins like the Waves [series], especially the limiters, as they allow for extreme volume. Also, I have recently tried the Wave Mechanics soundblenders. Very creative plug- ins. Autotune is always useful, as is Soundreplacer and Ampfarm." Technical specifications aside, Bottrill deems that an environment and the 'make do with what you have' ethic takes pecedence. "I try to work in a studio for its sound and with what it already has so my sonic interests are kept up."
When committing a song's schematic of sounds to 2-track, Bottrill applies a strict definitive 'dogma' to the procedure. "I always mix to 2-track analog 1/2" tape. You have to. I'll mix to DAT at the same time, but its negligent to only have your mix on DAT. When DATs go wrong, they go horribly wrong." He prefers Sony's 7030, R500 or R700 models, and at times Prism A/D converters or the newer Apogees, which he really likes. The 1/2" machines of choice are an ATR, Studer or Otari machine loaded with Quantegy GP9. He embraces 24-bit technology for its increased clarity. "You don't need to go much further than 24-bit. After that it becomes a question of storage. You get conned into buying more storage space!"
Even during the finalizing period that is the mastering process which involves tweakage and assembly of the final running order of a project, Bottrill's rabid obsession with achieving THE mix will continue when dealing with the mastering engineer. "We talk about sonic problem areas from wherever it is that I've mixed. I have the fortune or misfortune, I'm not sure which, that every project I
do I usually end up mixing in a different studio. So I try to learn a new studio every time. When I go into mastering I say, 'Well okay, what do I need to know about this studio that I just mixed in — what the sonic problem areas are'... and so on. I like to rely on a mastering engineer who has good ears and knows his room and he tells me what to work on in my mixing technique in terms of strong and weak points. I like [the mastering] stage because I can listen to the music as a whole album and learn from them each time. I hope that stage never goes away!"
His voyages have taken him to world landmark studios such as Olympic, NRG, Bearsville and Abbey Road. His recent accomplishments include mixing for London-based the Infidels and Belgium's dEUS, which he describes as "a curious blend of angst rock and Abba-style pop." He recently returned from a stint at The Warehouse Studio (owned by Brian Adams) in Vancouver to mix the aptly named Unified Theory, featuring members from the defunct Blind Melon. "They have a lot to offer," concedes Bottrill. He travels next to Paris to work with Spor, a loud beat-driven Belgian band that incorporates some rap/rock elements with "interesting sounds." Although constantly busy, he still manages to find time to listen to other's work. He respects a multitude of fellow producers and engineers, and cites Kevin Killen as somewhat of a mentor, from whom he admits learning a great deal during the recording of So. Alan Moulder, Flood [Tape Op #117] and Tchad Blake [Tape Op #16] have also left an imprint on him. "Tchad's stuff doesn't sound like anyone else's. You put it on and you have to listen to it. Everything has a character to it and his sonic characteristics have a sensibility of how sound ought to be. They have a real sound. It's ear candy."
Bottrill's amassed a wealth of expertise and working familiarity with top-notch consoles such as SSLs ENG, J and 9000 series — the Neve Flying Fader and the Euphonics systems. He is smittenly inclined towards the new 24-bit Sony Oxford digital console for its ergonomics and proficiency. At the time of printing, only four are known to exist worldwide. Peter Gabriel acquired two of them, which logically means that the two have reunited for yet another collaboration, this time for the Millennium Dome in London. "It is a structure on the bank of the Thames river as a celebration and exhibition for tourists and family outings. Peter wrote the music for a performance that goes on three times a day and is kind of a bit Cirque du Soleil and a bit musical show with floor dancing and aerial flying and the like." Given the console's capability for spacious 5.1 or 7.1 (an addition of left center and right center channels) mixing, Bottrill was the ideal choice for creating a surround sound mix of the music during the dome's construction, thereby adding an eccentric irritant edge to the job. "It was mixed inside the Dome while two huge cherry pickers, angle grinders and cranes worked away — it was an adversarial process. The project was mixed down to Pro Tools, and plays back from that for the show. The subsequent mixes for the album of the show's music was mixed to the new Sony [professional PCM9000 Master Disk Recorder] Magneto Optical drive." Usage of the device is standard practice at Real World and Bottrill observes that it seems to sound better than DAT especially with its depth and bottom-end characteristics.
Dawning upon nearly two decades of experience in the recording studio domain, David Bottrill appears to be constantly moving forward, having bypassed any signs of succumbing to a tiring or detrimental formula that some artists might fall victim to with time. His demeanor seems to be devoid of a crippling ego, (one wonders why he doesn't speak in the third person) which no doubt serves as a passport to merge with other craftsmen worldwide. By osmosis his exposure to the planet's finest talents pushes his creative envelope, and the end result manifests in a highly enveloping experience for the rest of the world that listens. In spite of the fact that he ventures to a potpourri of locales, his Canadian identity remains relatively intact as the avid skier tries to keep up on the progress of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team. "Shit! The Leafs lost to the Senators!" he griped, interrupting our conversation at one point (upon learning the final outcome of the game).
In any occupation diversity is the key to survival. Authoritatively, Bottrill stresses a straightforward reasoning — "If a band hears what I do and they want to work with me then that is where I get my inspiration from. I'd rather feed off the band and their sound and put a little character into it. I want good quality but it always has to sound different. I mean it's good to have a 'sound' , but if it goes out of fashion, you're out of work, aren't you?!"