Whilst at a recent album launch gig in the heart of Kettering Town, Northamptonshire I bumped into music producer Russ Russell.
Russ is well known in the Metal/Alternative scene for multiple, fantastic albums with great artists such as Dimmu Borgir, Evile, The Wildhearts, The Exploited, Napalm Death and many many more. So being nosey I asked the man behind the music for an interview. After several beverages he started to seem willing. Several beverages more and we finally forgot about the interview. However with the following day he clearly was not too hung over as we finally did the interview.
OR the other question is do they have a massive bag of money? In which case “Welcome, come on in” hahahaha no I’m joking, that never happens….maybe sometimes….no no of course not….often…often enough hahahaaaaa
Working with Dimmu Borgir on recording their live show with orchestra and choir was a real technical high point, there was something like 140 microphones, 5 or 6 mixing consoles, 3 recording trucks, it was a crazy day.
Then there are other bands that are just simply shit, and the weird thing is they just can’t see it, they’re blind to it. You listen to them play and the songs are dreadful, the playing is terrible and I’m somehow expected to make a blinding album. I always try to be polite about it and constructive with my criticism if I think they could improve with time and effort, but theres some you just have to say “give it up, go do something else…please” hahahaa!
What are some of the biggest differences in the music producing you have seen since you started out? Well obviously the internet arrived and changed everything, some for the better, some for the worse. It’s a great thing for marketing and for artists to directly communicate with their fans. People who embrace it and make it work for them are doing well. People who just sit on Facebook and moan that it’s all killed music are just a bit out of touch and will fail to sustain a career in music.
Technology within the studio has also changed a lot too. I was there at the birth of the digital revolution as computers took over from tape machines. It’s mindblowing what can be done with the tech these days; it would have been unthinkable 25 years ago. It does seem to mean the old school ethos of studio engineering has been somewhat lost but hey times change and jobs change.
How do you go about capturing the energy of a live show when recording in the studio? That can be very difficult. It’s not just a case of recording the band live. It has to be so much bigger and heavier and more impressive simply because you’re not listening to it at gig volume, in a dark room, with flashing lights, surrounded by the energy of a crowd. You have to compensate for this and add elements to enhance and build energy and excitement, and not kill the vibe. You have to make sure it still sounds like the band. Don’t take them too far away from their essence, don’t make it clinical and unhuman; enhance the dirt and personality.
What festivals you looking forward to working at this year? I worked at Download with Napalm Death this year, that was great to get back in the hot seat with them.
I did some work at Glastonbury this year too although not live sound, I had a go at lights which was immense fun. Coming up next is Bloodstock where I usually help out a few bands with sound, this year I think I’m there with Evil Scarecrow and Kill II This and maybe another one or two.