Updated: 10/04/08
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Now that Tony's debut solo album is out we can finally ask - what the hell took him so long? Aside from the obvious answer (he's lazy), the making itself took some time and spread out over some six months of on/off work. The story begins in Colchester, England...........
After the break from things musical which included the splits from Fish, Positive Light and the associated studio, Tony started working on his own in the little studio he still had left just outside Colchester. Post Box Studios came into being nearly 10 years ago when Tony set up his first full recording studio in a flat above the local Post Office! Though not long after he ended up going into partnership with Mark Daghorn in a new studio, he always kept a minimal set up at home - and never used it! The first real opportunity came when he decided to keep the entire Fragmented project as "in house" as possible. Using an old Atari computer plus Notator SL sequencing set up, the initial album demos were written using the same kit as was being used live at that time (Roland FP8 piano, Roland D70, Roland JV1080 (boring, huh?), Korg N364, Akai S3000XL, customised Hammond C3 organ, Wurlitzer electric piano) and then recorded via an antique Soundtracs desk to a Tascam 38 8-track. After doing the initial drumming work via midi triggers, Tony had to finally confess once again that his stick work was not good enough (he started out as a drummer at 17, only switching to keyboards a couple of years later when he realised he wasn't good enough. This has become a personal thorn in his side and he's still not happy about it!). The result of this being that he decided to approach local studio owner and long time friend Jason Bangalot (yes, that is his real name) to help...
Jason owns and runs a small recording studio called Jester Studios (after his pet dog) in Colchester. He initially set this place up by converting part of his home; Tony sourced some of the equipment for him and with loyal friend and co-owner Pete financing it, Jason now had a fully working 24-track recording studio (for kit list see below). Added to this, Jason is also an exteremely accomplished drummer and bass player. This place and person obviously being the ideal choice, Tony took advantage of Jason's generous nature and started working there with him, mainly in "downtime" (ie. late evenings). Jason's touch brought the whole project to life and gave Tony the kick up the backside he needed to finish writing it; although some tracks had been around a while (Your Love Is An Illusion, Theme To The End), the rest of the material was new and the 18 minute epic "Trust", though musically finished, still only had lyrics of "la-la-la-la" for the last section! Transferring the bulk of the original keyboard work over from Post Box to Jester studios proved to be the most sensible starting point for most of the album; drums, bass, percussion, guitars and vocals were added progressively afterwards. The exceptions to this format were the blues-boogie tracks "Drunk Again" and "Southbank Boogie" where it was attempted to retain as much of a 'live' feel as possible. Engineering work was covered by both Jason and Tony during this work; rather fortunately because, as Jason said, "it's very hard to engineer when you're trying to record yourself playing drums in the next (ie. live) room". We would have actually used the word "impossible", but there you go.
Somewhere along the way Tony knew he would have to ask a guitarist to help; though he was playing some of the parts on the album, he wanted someone with real ability and finesse to cover up how bad he was! Enter Jon Miller, another long standing friend and chief technical engineer of Gibson guitars UK set up. Jon's pedigree was without question and was the final piece in the "in house" musical jigsaw. Once again working evenings, the guitar sessions were finished very easily, the 'as live as possible touch' finishing off "Drunk Again" especially to a fitting end; the evenings work usually ended up with food cooked by Jason's own extremely multi-talented hand (he is an excellent chef), plenty of alcohol and winding down at 2 in the morning by watching Star Wars films in a very drunken state! The whole vibe of the album was one of great fun and laughs. This, Tony says seriously (for once), can be entirely pinned down to Jason and the working atmosphere he creates in his studio. Very much one of the "Jolly Fat Men", he never lets his seach for aural perfection get in the way of making sure his studio clientele have a great experience and a good time. Anyone looking for a thorouhgly professional and reasonably priced job ought to give this place a go. Jason can be contacted on e-mail at jester.1@ntlworld.com.
After Jason had finished the mixes, the next ports of call were Pete Reynolds for the album mastering (an alien art totally incomprehensible to those not of the planet Zog), and Dave Booth of spruce songbird duo Springettbooth (Sarah Springett being the other half) for assistance in putting the cover design together. As both of these involved much consumption of wine, we find it amazing there were any results at all. Nevertheless there were, and everything was duly sent on to RPM for CD pressing. All the way down the line Tony had adhered to his "in house" policy and the only people connected with this he had not worked with before were RPM. Fortunately they proved to fit in perfectly with what was wanted and a short while ago Tony took possession of his CDs ready to unleash on an unsuspecting public...
  • Soundcraft DC2000 analogue mixing desk with full flying fader automation
  • Tascam MSR24 24-track open reel tape machine
  • Genelec monitors
  • TLA Ivory 5051, 5001, 5050 valve compressors, mic pre-amps and channels
  • Alesis Quadraverb effects unit
  • Roland SRV330 reverb unit
  • Lexicon MPX effects unit
  • Large selection of extra outboard effects and external signal processors
  • CD, minidisc and cassette decks
  • Ddrum drum triggers and controller unit
  • Yamaha drum kit
  • Standard and fretless basses
  • Marshall combo amplifier
  • Large selection of mics including:- AKG 414 (x2), AKG C1000 (x2), Neumann U87 (though not bought in time for the album......git), Beyer M201, Audio Technica AT4033, AKG D112, Beyer . Shure dynamic microphones.