<center>Producer—David Scott</center>

Producer—David Scott

I'll admit I'm a bit exhausted after a very busy week, also a bit hung over, and it's very, very hot. Firstly, I never had any intention of working in the music industry at any level. I actually wanted to work in biochemistry but the education system in Liverpool in the 1970s’ was such that there was absolutely no chance. I can’t think of anybody from my age group who went from school to university. I left full time education in 1981 and was on the scrap heap along with the rest of teenagers from the north UK.

I had found a government work scheme, of which there were many, that focused on musical instrument repair and recording equipment. As I had been playing guitar since ‘75 I thought it would be an interesting way of passing the time and staying away from the dole. It turned out that I had a natural understanding of recording equipment, which also included the electronics of it, and steamed ahead of other people in the same position as myself. As part of the training program, I was placed with a local sound hire company. Many people in this field were obsessed with the equipment itself but I saw through it all as tools to achieve an artistic result.

The recent Brian Jonestown Massacre EU tour I was on was a lot calmer and more civilized than previous outings I've done. Also, this time my sole responsibility was the sound; I've previously had the unenviable task of tour managing as well, it was great to be back with the band and I like nothing better than touring Europe. 

Trying to be brief with who else I've worked with, I've toured extensively with Dr Phibes and the House of Wax Equations in the early 1990's. Also, The Real People, Smaller, Electrafixion (Echo & The Bunnymen), Zico Chain, Toy Horses, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, Atomic Kitten, and many others. Sometimes it was full tours, sometimes just as the go—to sound guy for hundreds of one off gigs anywhere in the world. I also did many theatre tours in the late 80's which was great for the discipline, creativity and time management experience.
As for recording production and engineering, most of the people I toured with also used me in the studio. It began with doing tons of demos but as I refined my own craft, the industry was also opening up in the early 1990's, so most of my work ended up as official releases. Some becoming quite successful. I was working on albums for The Real People and Smaller when Oasis appeared. I recorded and mixed, unofficially co-producing, the first Oasis release “Supersonic” and track 2 on the same single “Take Me Away”. I was then asked by Noel Gallagher to be the engineer for his debut album “Definitely Maybe”, so I did that. There have been so many other production jobs since then I really can’t remember them off—hand.

The biggest variations from one gig to another, when it comes to achieving consistency on tour, are the rooms themselves in terms of acoustics, and the quality of the local technicians. I really hate it when I arrive at a venue and the crew have no idea about my requirements. I send detailed technical specifications out weeks before hand and study the venue plans and lists of available equipment. It’s very frustrating when a promoter doesn’t pass this info on to the relevant local engineers. That can directly impact on the audience enjoyment of the show. Many places, especially in Europe, really have got their act together so set-up/soundchecks are kept to a reasonable amount of time. This frees me up to be a tourist in a new city for a few hours every day.

Personally, I just carry a few mics with me on tours, I never wanted to be limited to working with the equipment I could afford to own. I want to use the best gear available and I see it as someone else's job to provide me with that. It frees me up to specify the most suitable equipment for each artist and venue.

I live in Jordan and Jordan is a peaceful, second world country. It is mostly desert and in terms of natural water supplies it’s one of the worlds’ poorest countries. The recording studios are crap generally. I really want to produce Jordanian artists in the UK from now on. There is some of the latest live sound technology here but finding competent crew is almost impossible.

Everything takes 10 times longer to set up and the cable failure rate can be as high as 60%, especially in the West bank and Palestine, although there are a few very good professionals. I work almost exclusively for the artists themselves as opposed to the production companies. A lot of the companies here dread the idea of me showing up with the artist because it means that their bullshit won’t work and they will actually have to do their jobs. I love going over to Palestine because the people are very friendly and I always have a good time there.

The only issues with that is dealing with Israeli soldiers who are probably the most rude and aggressive bullies I have ever had to deal with. They are mostly a conscript army drawn from the countries’ youth so their attitude seems reflect that of Israelis in general.

The internet and social media is a huge subject and debate. I am a fan of analogue tape as a recording medium. It forces the musician to perform the song and makes the producer concentrate on what is really important, the “feel”. Because we can do so much correction in the digital domain we now tend to focus on different aspects of the recording and it is a real challenge to stay “on the ball” in terms of how the final product should be. I hate MP3. Sounds like shit. I won’t make mp3 versions of the artists work. I even refuse to have it played in the studio.

The fact that people mostly download individual tracks as opposed to full albums means that the opportunity for an album track to grow on you has been lost. Artistically that means that whole albums are produced for maximum instantaneous commercial impact rather than an album having a dynamic flow in the way an individual song might. With the arrival of Neil Youngs’ PONO player and the company he has set up, I hope we can see the death of mp3. The individual track downloading is another issue that the artist themselves need to confront.

Aside the usual gigs and festivals, I’m trying to set up my own mix facility here in Jordan. Some great new artists from the region (Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Jordan) want to work with me but their budgets don’t stretch to hiring a studio and paying for me as well. Hopefully with my own mix set-up I can cut their costs hugely and attract more clients. I’m also hoping to do some productions in the UK with Jordanian artists, and do some more international touring.

Published: In Print Issue Nº 03—2014
Interview by Vice Lesley, Thinkbabymusic Collective
Photography © Liam Gallagher by Simon Emmet