Interview by Robert Baker
The Midlands is synonymous with being a hot-bed of musical talent and melting pool of some of the most talented musicians and performers known within the world of music and across the globe. But even the mighty Sabbath would’ve only achieved so much without an equally talented mind behind the mixing desk capable of capturing the intensity and magic the band controlled and nailing it onto vinyl.
Quickly establishing himself as one such dexterous director behind the digital desk is Gazz Rogers of Buffalo Music Production, a multi-talented mixer making music and waves right in the heart of the Midlands. Ungulates aside, we sat down with Gazz to find out more about Buffalo Music Productions and his work as a producer.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Gazz Rogers and I’m a Recording Engineer/Producer/Programmer at Buffalo Music Production, and occasional guitarist!
Tell us the brief history of your company.
It is brief as Buffalo Music Production only started last year (2012)! The story started a long time ago though. Personally I’ve been recording music for 20 years and still write my own material when I’m inspired to, professionally I’ve worked mostly at Magic Garden Recording Studio with Gavin Monaghan as Assistant Engineer with some great artists and in some cool studios! I’ve written music for dance companies, mobile phone app’s, websites etc and recorded singles, E.P’s, albums and even Audiobooks. I’ve just finished an album at a new studio base for me too so things are definitely going pretty well so far. I’m working freelance now so it’s a bit of a change but loving it!
What drives you to continue being such a renaissance man in the studio?
Working with artists like Robert Plant, Scott Matthews, Editors and The Twang and Ocean Colour Scene, Paolo Nutini have all been great experiences and challenges and that’s what I’m about. Keeping a professional but relaxed attitude is key in my opinion and I do my best to be that way myself. I also love working with new/younger musicians as there’s a little more freedom creatively speaking, defining a band’s sound and sticking to it while adding a few ‘magic sprinkles’ for the listener is a particularly rewarding thing to be able to do for a ‘job’.
I’ve worked in a few great studios including (then) Moloko in London with Editors, Rockfield Studio for the OCS album ‘Saturday’ and newer Vale Studio with The Red Bullets Band for their recent album ‘Drama in the Drawing Room’ featuring Stu from The Twang on guitar.
Most other bands – until last year – were recorded at Magic Garden in Wolverhampton, probably the best studio in the Midlands if I’m honest! Gavin’s a great producer and I picked up a lot in my 6 years there. As I mentioned, last year I started ‘Buffalo’ and have had the pleasure of working with several great artists already. I have a mobile recording rig so can go wherever the artist needs to be. So far these sessions have mostly been with singer/songwriters as the portability of the gear allows greater flexibility and can be more financially viable than studio time. However recording quality can tend to suffer slightly. ‘Home’ type recordings are rarely going to be better than a track recorded in a proper studio, but they can still sound professional. To get over this hurdle I’ve recently made friends with Dave Anderson (Groundhogs, ex Hawkwind) who happens to own an awesome studio up in the hills of Mid-Wales, near Welshpool so not too far away from the Midlands. There’s a cottage for bands to stay in too that sleeps up to 7 with pool table kitchen, entertainment centre… When I need a studio for a band recording or anything else I go to Foel Studio. Dave’s built an awesome studio into a converted barn type building, it’s been going for 40 years next year and I’m blessed to be part of the team there now. Foel in-house engineer Tom Wild is a great guy too and seems to be able to keep up with the way I work! I’ve recently finished production with Voodoo Johnson on their upcoming album, it’s the first complete album I’ve Co-Produced under Buffalo and I have to say it’s gone great considering some of the problems we had to deal with! The files have gone to a mix specialist in Denmark and are just starting to come back. All I’ll say is; keep an ear out for VOODOO JOHNSON’s next album! I’ll be posting more info as I get it on my Facebook and Twitter so keep an eye on that. Now, if I could only find you something to touch, smell and feel we’ll have all the senses covered!
What would you describe as being typical day for you?
I’ve not had a ‘typical day’ since I left school! If I ever got into a routine I think I’d go sane! When working with musicians it’s half about catching them at their best time, so I have to be pretty flexible day to day to work around them and be ready for the greatness, haha – unless, of course, there’s a time constraint; then I work them like dogs!
Given the quality of your work I imagine you’re in much demand?
Thank you! yeah, I’m happy with progress so far but there’s always room for improvement, as they say? I love being busy! I’m really looking forward to taking some more bands to Foel this year!
Which artist have you worked with that’s been the most memorable?
Well this album with Voodoo Johnson is definitely going to be memorable! I’ve had a great time helping craft the songs and get some great sounds in there. Oh and laughing at stuff I probably should feel guilty about… hahahahaaa.
I remember recording Paolo Nutini backstage at V Festival the day before Oasis split up; we were in a porta-cabin backstage trying to record vocals on a laptop in a very hot cabin with all the windows closed trying to keep the festival music out! Steve Cradock of OCS was in there too and it was a bit mad – got a bit ‘smokey’ in there but the vocals came out great!
How do you promote your company?
So far from my Facebook pages, although a website is in the pipeline and hopefully won’t be too far away. Other than that, word of mouth and getting out to gigs whenever I can.
And how close are you to where you want to be?
Miles away, but on the right path for now and picking up pace! I’ve got some new gear coming soon which is top secret stuff. It’s going to have a fantastic impact on my recordings. You are always learning in this business, every day almost a school day.
What’s your outlook on the changing face of the record industry?
The record industry will always be changing it’s simply the nature of the beast. I think people experiment more now with different types of music and have more eclectic musical tastes too. With how easy it is to get music digitally, it’s made it a wide open market, and I could easily get on a soapbox and chat for hours about this.
For the audience it’s a good time, there’s plenty of music around and lots of ways to find it. For the artists there will always be more and more ‘competition’ but with the passing of the ‘super labels’ Universal, Sony etc., more independent labels are emerging, and I think eventually it’s going to be easier to get exactly what you want to hear as well as easier for the bands to get support from smaller labels to promote their tunes. Then again, way back in time before the iPod, who could have predicted we’d be where we are now? We just don’t know what’s round the corner; it keeps it fresh by default.
What’s your biggest claim to notoriety so far?
I think it was caught on CCTV, but I couldn’t tell you about that, haha! No, in all seriousness, I’m not sure I have what you’d call ‘notoriety’, just the drive to become the best I want to be.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to follow in your shoes?
If music is in your blood and nothing else fits right then do it with your every fibre of your being. Be prepared to study, practise and fail, but out of this learn to get right back up and at it! I’m not going to promise anything in this game will be easy but if you don’t try how are you going to know? I love it! Oh, and if you can cope with some of the most random working hours you can imagine, that’s definitely a plus.
If the phone suddenly rang and a voice on the other end said they wanted you to work with them, who would it ideally be ?
Tough one. Cake have been my long standing favourite band but not many people have heard of them, they’re lo-fi, American stuff. But if Slash called I’d be ready!
What are the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered so far?
One thing at the moment that’s an issue for everybody is the economy: for most bands who do it for the love, rehearse in damp lock-ups for hours on end after working all day, they’re finding it harder to find places to play. Entertainment venues have taken a hit since the recession, smoking bans, cheap alcohol even! When there’s less venues there’s less people out there supporting bands by buying CDs and band merchandise and so recording becomes an expensive game, essentially a luxury for many musicians I’ve met. To survive you have to be able to overcome these obstacles and keep doing what you love doing. And to the music loving, band supporting, merchandise buying public? I Salute you! Don’t stop!!
What’s the best and worst thing about doing your job?
The best thing… Working on great music with great people who have the passion for music: working on a piece that makes the tiny hairs on the back of your neck stand up. And the worst thing would be not working; I love my career and hate when I can’t be working on tunes.
Have there ever been any disasters/incidents you would care to share?
To be honest I try not to focus on negatives, but to be fair I don’t think I have anything to report here, fortunately! Besides, I couldn’t name and shame haha!
And finally; what does the future hold? Any future plans or announcements on the horizon?
I have no idea what the future holds, but hope it brings plenty to keep me and my loved ones happy healthy and busy. And loads more great musicians to work with!