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Rob Wheeler
Rob Wheeler
Rob Wheeler
Rob Wheeler

Rob Wheeler

Singer Songwriter
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Rob Wheeler

Rob Wheeler has been making the most of what has been a very strange year by locking himself in his private studio and producing his brand new album; Ten Embers. Beautifully intense lyrics, haunting melodies and intricate guitar work. 2021 is sure to be a huge year for this up and coming musician! We sat down with Rob to discuss where this next chapter is taking him, what he wants from the future and why his Aston Spirit and Halo Shadow are firm favourites in the studio. 

Check out Robs brand new single: https://slinky.to/AintNoLovinYou

My grandfather used to perform at the working mens clubs all over the UK

I’m very lucky to come from a musical family. My grandfather used to perform at the working mens clubs all over the UK. He was a singer and a comedian. We’re talking about the 1960s and 70s, the same era as The Two Ronnies and those kind of guys. So I’ve always been around music.

 

When I was about 16, I discovered The Beatles and I started to play acoustic guitar, just simple chords and singing for nothing other than the pure love of it. But it got me, something just clicked. I can’t describe it really. I never had any lessons, I just knew I could do it and wanted to do it. It was the first time in my life I experienced a passion.

 

I was doing A-levels in Psychology, Sociology and English at the time and I wanted to drop it all and do this music course and all of my lecturers were saying, you can’t leave this to do that because this is your career and that’s just a hobby and they rang my mum to try and get her to change my mind and my mum said “if he’s happy, I’m happy”. I can never thank my mum enough for giving me that support back then.

I’ve got a wall full of guitars

Guitars are my thing. I’ve got a wall full of guitars in my studio. Last count; 17… I’ll never sell any of them as they all do a job. Plus they look cool and thats the most important thing!

 

The problem with me is, and this is a negative as well as a positive. I don’t really play well with others when it comes to creating. I love being in bands and I love touring, I’m lucky to have a great group of guys that I play with and they are all really talented, plus they all know what I’m like so they just roll their eyes and ignore me. But when it comes to the creative process I just find that I know exactly what I want. So I learnt as quickly as I could how to go from writing the song, to recording and producing it. As then I’m never beholden to anyone, I never have to answer to anyone, I never have to try and explain what’s in my head because I hear the finished song in my head from the moment I write it and then I know exactly where I need to go. 

I’ve got some incredibly talented friends who are musicians, producers and engineers who I can call on too. I’m always happy and trying to learn and progress my abilities. Music is one of those rare talents that you can never master, you just spend your whole life striving to be better.

can’t explain that feeling.

A real joy on this album has been the guest musicians. Fred Eltringham for example recorded the drums in Nashville, sadly I couldn’t travel to Nashville; so he recorded the drums in his own studio and sent me the stems and then I mixed those into the track.

That was a really enjoyable experience because you’ve got Sheryl Crow’s drummer, who is an award winning musician in his own right; who also drums for one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, a 9-time Grammy Award winner, and this guy is sending me drums for my songs, I can’t explain that feeling. That was really enjoyable. 

 

I was also blown away to have Robbie McIntsoh appear on my new single. Robbie is so well respected as a guitar player all over the world. He has made records that are in your collection. John Mayer, Paul McCartney, Thea Gilmore, The Pretenders, Paul Carrack, the list goes on. He added some dobro and his ability is off the chart. He knows I’m a John Mayer fan so he used the same guitar he used on “Daughters” for the “Where The Light Is’ live album and DVD. Moments like that just make me pinch myself.

“Can’t” should never be a word used in the creative process

I think my love of the production and studio side of things comes from The Beatles. They were the first band to indulge themselves in the studio and really explore what the studio can do for a pop song so I think I try and emulate that a little bit when I record my songs. What can we do? What can we try? What can we change? “Can’t” should never be a word used in the creative process.

 

In terms of my favourite live performance, it’s a real close call between doing the Manchester Academy with BBMak and Gawsworth Hall in Cheshire with The Shires. The BBMak gig just because it was the biggest venue I’d played and the biggest audience I had played to. It just felt like I’d arrived. When I got to the venue my name was on one of the dressing room doors, it was a butterfly moment, the kind of thing I’d always dreamed of happening and it was all of a sudden very real. And then walking on to that stage and my mouth going totally dry thinking, here we go - now I’ve to sing my songs to a room full of people, and just getting a great reaction.

 

It was amazing to support The Shires as well because I’m a huge fan of their work. I love Country music and I think they’ve done so well to become so successful as a UK Country act. I got a standing ovation at that gig which is very rare for the support artist so that was a really amazing moment and it was actually recorded by my tour manager, so I’ve actually got it on film.

it’s really versatile and clean

My acoustic guitars are a Crafter Twin Bird which is beautiful looking and beautiful to play. I also use a Godin Art & Lutherie Legacy Denim Blue Q-Discrete. It has a solid spruce top so its really loud for a shorter scale guitar.

 

For recording as you know I only use Aston Mics, I’m not saying that just for the benefit of you guys, that is true. I use my Aston Spirit for vocals and guitars and bass drums, it’s really versatile and clean.. I’ve got the Starlights that I use on overheads. I’ve got The Halo Shadow, I think that is one of the best inventions you guys have come up with! I’ve used reflection filters before and my annoyance has always been they are a C shape so they never have a top or bottom on them, and I love how this has a rounded shape which makes such a huge difference. I’ve got it in front of what I call my dead wall. I like a less claustrophobic recording environment, I prefer everything to be open plan, a little bit like a mini Abbey Road.

I’m a creature of habit

I always use the Aston Spirit, I am a creature of habit and I do love it so much and I love the look of it. I remember when I was first researching what mic I was going to buy to record the first album, I saw an article with Noel Gallagher talking about the Aston mic and I’m somebody that buys with their eyes first and I thought it’s just such a beautiful piece of engineering and honestly, it instantly makes you think of Aston Martin cars and I just thought that is awesome - I want that mic.

 

I did some research into it and all the reviews were just so gleaming and the price was almost too good to be true. The reviews were all saying; and this is something that I would definitely agree with, the price doesn’t reflect the quality of the mic. Then you buy it and you realise it’s as good if not better than most of the mics that are up in the much higher price category. I’ve used mics of £2k/£3k that don’t touch the Spirit. I was over the moon. It’s been on every single recording I’ve ever released including my new album. I don’t see that changing. When do I get my personalised one?? What always pleases me is the clarity is so good, it captures everything so crisply it then gives you so much scope for post-production because you’re not having to put anything on it to make it sound good, it already sounds good.

It’s a beautiful, beautiful piece of equipment

I also use Beyerdynamic headphones, I think they are without a doubt the best studio headphones and I’ve got 4 or 5 different sets of Beyerdynamics which I use for various jobs.

 

The most expensive thing in my studio is my computer because I invested into the iMac Pro which was £5k. I also am currently the custodian of my uncles 1973 Fender Strat.. Valued at around £4-5k. I treat it like its made of glass but its probably the sturdiest piece of equipment in my studio second only to the Aston Spirit!!!

 

I’m just hoping for a much better 2021

The big thing in 2021 is the album. We are just in the final phase now of BV’s which I always enjoy because not only is it the final phase of the album, but also because I get to be the one behind the desk. I love recording vocals, it’s one of my favourite things to do but recording your own vocals is a miserable experience, it’s the only time I don’t enjoy recording in the studio because I have to be in two places at once. I’ve used a vocal engineer for this album, he’s a very close personal friend, very talented and very trusted and he worked on Dido’s album and and he has done an amazing job.

 

I’m just hoping for a much better 2021 for the music industry all around and hopefully we can get back to touring and some of the support spots that were lined up for 2020 will hopefully happen. I think everyone is so ready to get back to gigs, both the people on stage, back stage and the people in the audience - we can hit the ground running.

 

My new single “Ain’t No Lovin’ You” is released March 5th.

Outtakes and Credits

Q. Who are your favourite artists?
A. The Beatles, Nick Drake, John Mayer, James Taylor

Q. If you weren’t working in music what do you think you would be doing?
A. I really love cooking and I’m not half bad at it so I probably would have liked to have done something like a really cool gin bar that does some cool halloumi chorizo kind of thing going on.

Q. If you could have a fantasy microphone, that could do absolutely anything, what would your fantasy microphone be?
A. My fantasy microphone would be an Aston version of The Beatles classic AKG mic.

Q. What are the four words that you’d choose to describe Aston or your experience with the brand?
A. Performance, style, clarity, quality.

I’m going to tell you this now, I’ve got that written down! I didn’t even know you were going to ask that question and it just so happened I had four words written down because I emailed you an artist review and those are the four words that I used.

The clarity is perfect all the time, you can literally plug it in, turn it on, turn it up, flat EQ and it just sounds great and there are not many mics that do that certainly not for in the region of about £300 which is what I think the Aston Spirit retails at. They are so robust and well made. I mean I am one clumsy guy, I have dropped that mic about 15 times and it’s left dents in the floor, it’s built to last and again that’s something you don’t get these days. It’s like a tank.

Q. What was the first song that made you cry?
A. Blackbird by The Beatles.

I remember it very vividly. I was about 16 and they did a 100 Greatest Albums of All Time on the BBC. I watched it and I was really interested because a lot of these albums I’d never heard of and it was during those formative years where you really start developing your own personal taste in music, as opposed to just listening to what’s on television and radio or what your friends like so that you’re part of the gang. Number 10 in the list was The White Album and there went on to be 3 more Beatles albums in the top 10 and it was just this video of Paul McCartney playing this song. They became my favourite band that night and they’ve stayed there ever since. 

I started to collect the records, and I just kept listening to this song over and over.. I think it was like an early venture into drinking and feeling very emotional as you do at that age and yeah, it just brought me to tears and I remember thinking the day that I can play that song on guitar is the day that I know I can play guitar properly. I even named my studio after it.

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