Q & A Session with Recording Connection mentor Warren Huart at Spitfire Studio in Los Angeles
Q: What can you tell us about the music experiences that have made you a believer in hands-on learning and training?
“I’ve been in America for about 17 years now. It’s been a long time. When I came over here, it was very different than how it is now. It was the 90’s and things were very, very different to what I was used to in England. England was a little bit more of a risk-taking, and probably still is musically, it wasn’t a very traditional infrastructure like you have here. We’d go in the studio and do all kinds of crazy stuff, sometimes something amazing would come out, and sometimes it wouldn’t. I remember coming over here and first starting to use ProTools – I bought the Digidesign system with the 888. They were these black converters, before HD. I bought them and people would come to my home studio and be like, ‘Oh you got those? No, no, no, you need to have the Apogee.’ Which I actually do have now, I’ve been using it for years. I would ask them, ‘Why?’ and they’d give me some answer like, ‘Oh you know, the Q8578…’ spelling these numbers out at me, and I’d be like, ‘Okay?’
“I remember I had only been here about a year, and then I went back to England to visit a friend of mine, a pretty well-known producer by the name of Dave McCracken. and I went back there, and he was making an Ian Brown album (singer-songwriter for the Stone Roses). So he’s making this Ian Brown record, and the guy he had producing and co-writing it was a guy called Steve Fitzmaurice. Steve Fitzmaurice is a very famous mixer who mixed Seal’s Grammy award winning song, Kiss From A Rose. It was massive. He was a huge mixer at the time (and still is). So we’re in Olympic studios, which sadly is now gone, and he’s mixing in there and I’m hanging out. I turn around, I look at the rack, and I notice that Steve Fitzmaurice has ALL DigiDesign 8A8’s! He doesn’t have Apogees. I’m kinda shocked, I’m like, WOW, this guy is a Grammy award winning artist and he’s got 8A8 and he’s not using Apogees! What is wrong with the world?! So I tell him, that in America I’ve heard these things are terrible and shouldn’t be used, [they tell me] I should be using Apogees, and blah blah blah, and he’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s the difference between England and America. In America they do it right, in England we just do it so it sounds good.’ That’s a mentality I really got a lot of when I first moved here, and I get that a lot from the students who go to expensive schools. They always know how to do everything, but it doesn’t necessarily sound good.
“It’s tough. I really do prefer the real world experience because that’s the only way you can make it work. You need to LOVE what you do, you need to LOVE music, and you need to be able to ask
yourself, ‘How do I get from A to B?’ That you can’t learn from a textbook, or a professor who unfortunately never really worked in the music industry. The guys that work for me now, they know the right way to do things. It’s important to know everything (as much as you can).”
Q: What was the approximate cost of making a demo 20-30 years ago compared to now?
“Demos were pretty basic, maybe drums and a couple of mics on them. When I started studios in England I didn’t want to do demos, I wanted to do real recordings. In the days of tapes it would have cost you over a million dollars to open a recording studio. It’s not like that anymore, thank God”
Q: Have you ever been star struck?
“Being a musician, I would always be enamored more by great musicians – not necessarily musicians or players in really successful bands.
“I did a charity single near the end of last year for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital with Dick Wagner — he was the guitar player on Rock and Roll Animal, Lou Reed. Rock and Roll Animal was such a huge album, a big, big, rock album. He also played and wrote most of Welcome to My Nightmare and he was just a big guitar player in the 70’s. So when he asked me to record it, I was really happy [to do it for him]. Everybody he brought to the sessions were guys like him. Leland Sclar played bass. In general, it was those kinds of people [as far as “the stars” are concerned]. When you’re in England as a kid living in a village like I did, a guy like Dick Wagner WAS a huge rock star. What I am trying to say is, I am a
big fan of doers and workers, that kind of thing, more than being famous.”
Q: How much would it cost for someone just starting out to open up a studio similar to Spitfire (Warren’s home studio)?
“Not very much at all; all of us started in our bedrooms. Well, that’s not true exactly. The reason why I really like the idea of this program [Recording Connection] is because it is actually what I do! And what I did. I didn’t go to a studio and become an assistant. I was a musician and I had recording equipment. I just didn’t have any formal training.”
Learn more about Warren Huart .