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Producer · Engineer · FOH
Robin Adams

Robin Adams

Producer, Engineer, Musician

Robin Adams started his musical journey playing guitar, drums and singing in bands at school before deciding he was more interested in recording the music than performing it. Whilst studying music production he began touring as a vocalist for the new wave progressive metal band Red Seas Fire. Now, as a producer and mix engineer he has extensive credits, including working with the multi-award winning band Architects. Robin records vocals using an Aston Origin and Halo reflection filter. 

Architects, Blood Youth, Blackpeaks, FOXHAUNT, Red Seas Fire
Robin uses:
Origin
Halo
From stage to studio

“I feel a lot of people get into engineering firstly as musicians. They want to hear their own works brought to life the way they hear in their head. I started out playing guitar and drums in local bands when I was a kid, eventually learning other instruments to make my home recordings more complete sounding. My first ever DAW was Dance eJay, you dragged and dropped pre-made samples to create songs but there was also a record feature. I’d record guitar parts I’d written over their built-in drum loops to create songs, eventually, I realised I’d have to learn drums, bass and to sing if I wanted them to sound more like the bands and music I was listening to at the time; it all stemmed from there!

For the bands I was in at school, we’d only ever heard our songs in rehearsals or live, so having started to record ideas and things at home, I ended up recording my band's EP and started to really enjoy the experience of recording.

My dad played in a band in the ’70s called Kukulkan who played with bands such as Son of a Bitch, who later became Saxon. We’ve always had guitars and amplifiers in the house, I can credit my interest in music to him. He’s an electronics engineer, so when I was 13 he handmade a small 4-track mixer that allowed me to record straight into the microphone jack of my old computer. It was pretty nuts. Some people would have to save up and buy an interface but my dad just went, "I’ll build you one". He’s been so instrumental in facilitating everything I’ve done musically. He built my bands first PA system and he’d transport it around for us to all our shows, we used to turn up these tiny venues with a full-blown P.A. It was brilliant.

I liked the idea of being a producer more than being on stage. I was more interested in how to achieve the professional sounds I heard on the songs I liked. I kind of made that decision around sixth form, which caused me to apply to do a degree in music production.”

Working for the band

"It was at Bath Spa University I met Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood, now one of my closest friends and one of the most sought after metal producers in the world. I was introduced to him by my course mate and mutual friend George Lever as Adam’s band ‘Red Seas Fire’ were looking for a vocalist, I auditioned and joined in 2010. Adam is the reason I ended up working with Architects, he’s been a huge part of my career so far. The last Blood Youth record was a big moment for me; it was the first full-length record for a label I engineered and produced.

After the success of Blood Youth’s first record, there was a lot of pressure for this album to be the best it could be. I put Nolly’s name forward as a mixer for the record and luckily the band were on board. To know I could finish the recording process and hand it off to Nolly to mix was a huge reassurance for me.

With the bands that I work with my approach first and foremost is to work for the band. I know a lot of producers come in and they say ‘here’s what you do, here’s what you don’t do’, they impose their own tastes from the get-go, which in some situations is definitely the desired route but I usually want to try and figure out what the band wants first. I’ll ask, ‘what sound are we going for?’ If I can, I’ll usually travel to the band, they can show me pre-productions (if they’ve got that far) or if they haven’t, to get references like; ‘what are we aiming for?’ Usually there’s one member in a band that has an extremely strong idea of what they want, and it turns into working with them to figure out how we’re going to achieve the sound in their head. Sometimes bands want you to be heavily involved and that’s cool, we just need to establish what’s expected from the beginning.”

Close-up and personal

“I have a pretty minimal set-up; my main components are my Adam S3X-V monitors, Logic X and my Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt. I also run an Apogee Ensemble Firewire which every now and again I can slave for more inputs - especially when doing on-location drum recording. I have a few choice pieces of outboard gear; my Serpent Audio SB4001 stereo bus compressor,  Empirical Labs Distressor and an AMS Neve 1073LB preamp. I have a range of Mayones guitars that I use for tracking and a Peavey 5150 block-letter head (one of the original ones before Peavey got sued for the EVH logo looking too much like another company’s). I’m also running a rack-mounted Sansamp Tech 21 RBI model that I get a lot of my bass sound from. Then lots of other little bits, tonnes of sample libraries a few pedals and my re-amp box, I’m always re-amping things through my 5150 and bass amp, like synths and FX.

For my vocal chain, I’ve been favouring the Aston Origin over anything else at the moment, and I’m using a Halo of course. The Halo is just so good at getting that close-up-personal vocal sound without any of the bad reflections you hear on a lot of amateur recordings. My go-to vocal chain right now is: Origin > AMS Neve 1073LB > Distressor EL8.”

A ton of drums, guitar and bass

“Working on Architects ‘Holy Hell’ record was an incredible experience for me, not only because I was, first and foremost, a fan of the band but also because of where this album was placed in the band’s story. It was the first record they were to put out since Tom Searle, their guitarist and lead songwriter had tragically passed away.

I originally got invited to the studio by Nolly to do some general assistance on the album. They were recording at Middle Farm Studios and when I arrived there was a good amount of drums, guitar, and bass to edit, so I started working through those. A few days in I was asked to take a look at one of the vocal sessions as that’s one of the areas I specialise in. I edited up a full song of vocals on the last day I was there and they ended up really liking what I’d done. They asked if I’d be available to help with the full record and I immediately accepted.

I returned a few days later to Middle Farm to complete the rest of the time the band had booked in the studio with them, I was down there in November but my involvement in the album didn’t end until April of the next year. They’re all super talented and lovely guys. For me and my part, it was about how I could assist in helping bring their vision to life.”

Feeling flush with an Aston Halo

“I’ve doing a lot of collaborations recently for American record label Fixd who specialise in future rock / electronic music. I originally met them through a collaboration I did with Joe Ford and Celldweller. In terms of future projects, I have a few albums coming up this year, a few drum sessions and some other stuff which I’ll leave ‘to be announced’.

Joe Ford was my housemate at one time. He’s one of the best sound designers I’ve ever encountered. He’s a Neurofunk producer who, as well as his original works, produces sounds for cinematic trailers, so he’s constantly creating interesting sounds. The picture on my Instagram of the Halo over a toilet was after showing me a particular bass sound he was working on, we joked that it sounded quite toilet-like as it had this very ‘gurgle-y’ quality to the bass.

We then wondered aloud what our toilets might sound like mic’d up as we each had a bathroom in our apartment. So as a joke we mic’d up each other’s toilet and there was definitely a noticeable difference between the two, his had a way more aggressive flush sound than mine; mine had slightly more bass to it overall. I can’t remember if the recordings ever made it on to anything but we were left with crystal-clear recordings of a toilet being flushed, haha.”

Out-takes

Q. Who are your favourite artists?

A.
There are just so many but some of my favourite at the moment are Northlane, The Midnight, Lauv, King Crimson (got to see them live last year), Linkin Park.  

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?
A. I really like drawing (I’m terrible at it though) so maybe I’d have spent a lot more time doing that - so maybe graphic design?

Q. What would your fantasy mic be?

A. Maybe like a microphone built with a specific frequency curve best suited to my voice? All the frequency peaks of the microphone are in all the right places, kinda like what Sonarworks is to headphones, someone could measure recordings of a voice though different microphones and amalgamate that together somehow. 

Q. What four words would you use to describe Aston?
A. Robust, Polished, Workhorse, British. 

Q. What was the first song that made you cry?
A. I can’t remember the first, but shortly after Chester Bennington passed away I heard a live version of ‘Crawling’ in which he sung the first note of the chorus was slightly flat and there was just something about that, maybe the imperfection of it, the reminder that he was human, I balled my eyes for a while over that. 

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