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Roger Lyons
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Roger Lyons

Vocation: “It's hard to pin me down”
Roger Lyons
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Major Deranges
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Oscillator Hell

As Roger admits it's hard to categorize him but, really, he's being ultra modest because he's worked with pretty much every artist in Manchester's rich musical history and is currently on tour with the band of the moment alt-J. And where did it all start? With a reel-to-reel and a ciggy. Roar llke a Lyon for us Roger…

Alt-J, New Order, Lionrock, Freebass, Ian Brown, Bee Gees, Heather Small, The Chemical Brothers, Major DeRanges, Oscillator Hell
Roger's Aston Gear
Origin
Starlight
I fell in love with a Grundig…

My name is Roger Lyons and It's actually a bit tricky to pin me down. I do and have done many things in my various life phases, but pretty much all was and is related to music and electronics. It all started when I was about four when my dad brought home a Grundig reel-to-reel – it fascinated me. He’d record me singing and I’d gaze in awe at the reels going around and the 'magic eye' (valve/tube level meter) when my or my dad’s voice was coming out. It was, indeed, much fun for a child. I also had an uncle, Derek, who used to repair TVs and radios in his front room. He was very clever and always had a ciggy on the go with a big long ash on the end. He taught me very early some basic electronics and fault finding, and I was hooked.

I listened and soaked up music like a sponge. I learnt to edit tape and was always tinkering with old radiograms that my dad brought home. When I was 10 he helped me put two Garrard turntables into a worktop with a pot in the middle that let me passively crossfade. Voila! I’d made a disco setup before I’d even seen one!

I started singing in Manchester Cathedral choir and started guitar lessons. My knowledge was growing and so was my taste for music. The choir and guitar taught me so much about melody and timing – it was really my only real music training. Our class used to go to North Manchester music centre. We all were marched into the music room and asked to pick an instrument. I noticed a mysterious box and I asked what was in it and our music teacher said it was a tape machine. But it wasn't, IT WAS A SYNTHESISER! To be precise, it was an EMS VCS-3 and a pivotal moment for a 10 year old. The floodgates were open and I became addicted to synths…

Last of the 17-inch MacBooks

Fast forward to age 17 and I got my first band together, first playing guitar and singing and then playing synths and drum machines. I got a Roland TR-606, TB-303 and MC-202 plus an Octave-Plateau CAT. I was a programmer when no-one did it, so I started doing sessions for other people then got access to an 8-tracks setup. I was running a small PA company as a day job for no money but much experience. It taught me so much about acoustics and gigging. Then I got into real studios programming and I was away! I taught myself engineering and was soon producing stuff around Manchester. Around 1989 I had my first real band putting records out and making money too and around this time I started touring.

 Since then I’ve divided my time between being in bands (a few successful ones including Lionrock), writing music, producing, engineering [New Order, Freebass, Ian Brown, Bee Gees and many more] and building/designing/running keyboard and playback and autocue systems. I also try to fit in some sound design and have a great base of operations near my house. Life is sweet. I’m currently touring with alt-J and in two music projects: Oscillator Hell and Major DeRanges.

 I have a 12 core Mac Pro in my studio and I normally use Logic or Cubase as my DAW.

When touring I have one of the last 17” MacBook Pros maxed out with RAM and SSDs – it's ace! I’ll happily try and record anywhere with whatever I’m given but in my studio I normally go into either my Avalon 737 pre or my Focusrite ISA Producer Pack then straight into my audio interfaces or via my Amek Einstein desk.

Get your Leslie serviced

How cool is it that we now have a homegrown UK microphone company? Cool as fuck, that's how cool! There seems to be an epidemic of cheaply made clones of famous mics. These are so NOT that kind of mic!

I got to try the Origin very early on and fell in love with it immediately. It sounds great out of the box with no EQ. Unless you are doing something a little different I am not a fan of EQing much on the way in. If you're having to use lots of EQ, try a different mic or try turning it around! I have been using the Origin on my new Major DeRanges material that will be out at the end of the year.

I’ve also had a chance to play with the Starlights and it's the same again – great sound, straight off the bat. I also love the idea of being able to point them consistently at the same spot. I have a few interesting projects on the cards this year that I’ll be using the Starlights on as my primary mics.

I got one the best Leslie sounds I’ve ever heard mic'ing up my 145 with the Origin on the bottom rotor and the Starlights on the top rotor about 80cm out and 100cm between them and pointing slightly above the rotor spindle. The stereo image was massive! The only downside was it picked up all the odd mechanical noises a 50-year-old rotary speaker makes! But it spurred me onto give the poor Leslie a service and all is now lovely.

Out-takes

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?
A. “Honestly? I dreamt of being an astronaut as a kid, then a truck driver like my dad or an inventor!”

Q. What would your fantasy mic be?
A. “Hm… Something outlandish. How about a self-contained condenser with a recorder built in that is waterproof and scalable, so if you have two they’d record in stereo but with no wires. If you had more they be spacially aware so you could accurately 'map' an acoustic space whether it's a huge field or a tiny room.”

Q. What are the 4 words you’d chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?
A. “Distinctive, bulletproof, sexy!, supercalifragilisticexpialidocios.”

Q. What was the first song to make you cry?
A. "Green Green Grass of home by Tom Jones. I have no idea why but when my mam used to play it when I was very young (i.e. not walking!) it made me cry every time! - I’ve also heard some awful crimes against music since that make me cry...."

Credits

“There’s so much great music out there… my favourites…? Fuck… Where do I start? In no particular order, these are the last 10 artist I’ve played on my iPhone: The Beatles, Kraftwerk, Beach Boys, Neu!, Jean Michel Jarre, The Chemical Brothers, King Tubby, Lee Perry, Queen, Stereolab and alt-J. They are right up there creating beautiful sonic dreamscapes.”

alt-J

Major DeRanges

Oscillator Hell

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