Moving to live music.
In 1991, I had the incredible opportunity to collaborate with the Mock Turtles, a band enjoying success on the UK charts with their hit song "Can You Dig It?" However, little did anyone know that this infectious track was initially overshadowed by another lackluster song they were recording called "Lay Me Down." In an unexpected turn of events, "Can You Dig It?" emerged as a throwaway tune buried on the B-side.
While at Strawberry Studios, as we recorded "Can You Dig It?" with the Mock Turtles, we encountered a challenge with Martin Glynn Murray, the lead guitarist, and his solo. Martin had a reputation for playing aimless guitar solos that seemed to go on for hours. With drums, vocals, and various instruments already filling up our 24-track limit, we ran out of time and patience.
Amidst the frustration, something peculiar happened. As Martin Glynn Murray continued shredding his guitar, Martin C (the frontman) and I was astonished at how off-key and off-beat his playing was—it was almost as if he was trying to channel the spirit of Jimi Hendrix but falling far short.
We decided to take a break and visit the Waterloo pub for a pint or two. We were infused with a renewed sense of purpose when we returned to the studio. And that's when I stumbled upon something magical hidden within the chaotic guitar solo.
Reviewing the recordings, I discovered a brief section that worked together. It was like finding a diamond in a pile of musical rubble. I knew I had to do something with it.
That's when inspiration struck—I decided to utilize the AKAI S1000 sampler, which we had been using to trigger drum sounds, to capture this minor yet crucial section of the solo. By looping it repeatedly, I replaced the parts of the solo that weren't working. And to our delight, it worked like a charm.
Reflecting on that particular day, it remains the only instance where I had to use the sampler to salvage a section of music. However, it was a game-changer and helped us create a hit song.
As I continued working in the music industry, particularly in live sound mixing for bands, I delved into enhancing the audience's listening experience. It required specialized technical knowledge, creativity, and a keen understanding of the art form. The opportunity to work closely with Moby, renowned for his unique dance-based creations, led me on a journey across Europe and the United States. Alongside Moby, I had the privilege of supporting other prominent bands, such as Soundgarden and Red Hot Chili Peppers, gaining valuable experience and learning from some of the best in the industry.
As my confidence in live sound mixing grew, I began experimenting with various techniques to elevate the audience's engagement and immersion. Drawing inspiration from the recording studio techniques imparted by Martin Hannett, I discovered the power to shape the live music experience in innovative ways.
One technique I learned from Dave Rat (sound engineer for RHCP and Pearl Jam) was signal separation and stereo imaging, which allowed me to spread the sound across the stereo picture. I could create a more expansive, detailed, and captivating sound by carefully panning different instruments or elements to specific locations within the stereo field.
Continuing to work with Moby and collaborating with other renowned artists, my reputation for creating immersive and engaging live sound experiences grew. I became known for pushing the boundaries of what was possible in live sound mixing, utilizing innovative techniques that captivated audiences. As my reputation expanded, I received more invitations to work with esteemed artists, providing me with the opportunity to elevate my skills and reach even greater heights.
John Pennington Has been a sound engineer for 34 years, bringing the techniques he learned within the recording studio to the "Live Music" scene to create effects that no one had heard before.
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