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Russ Russell
Russ Russell
Russ with Napalm Death
Russ with the starlight

Russ Russell

Producer, Engineer and Studio Owner
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Russ Russell
Parlour Studios

Russ Russel has been a top engineer and producer for 25 years. In his own words, he's worked with “every kind of metal, rock, classical, blues, jazz, pop, acoustic, dub, Bhangra, country, hip hop, trip hop, sea shanty, drum & bass, psychedelic, reggae, indie, space, folk, prog, mantra, tap dance, breakbeat, glam, thrash and boogie.” Take it away Russ!

Napalm Death, At The Gates, The Haunted, Dimmu Borgir, The Wildhearts, The Exploited, Oceans Of Slumber, Outrage, and many more
Russ's Aston Gear
Origin
Starlight
I would have done it for nothing

At seven or eight I was playing around with tape machines and microphones. My father worked for Grundig so we always had gear in the house. To me, it was second nature when, as a teenager, I was playing in a band and recorded our demos onto 4-track. Later I went to a studio to record and it all just felt very familiar. I asked lots of questions and learned a lot from the engineers and just slowly got into it. I started doing live sound and recording demos for other local bands, one of which had a recording contract and were working on their second album. I just sort of tagged along and helped out. 

At the same time I was visiting other studios and meeting producers and engineers and one in particular, Simon Efemey, took me on as his engineer and we worked together as a production team for many years. 

As computers started to take over in studios I took on that role because I was also familiar with computer technology as my mother had computers at home, way before home computing was even a thing. Once again it was very natural and easy as we progressed into digital recording, but with my traditional analogue upbringing as a solid foundation, the timing of it all was perfect and I rapidly progressed. I started taking on a lot of my own album projects as producer and engineer and have never looked back.  

So it's basically something I’ve always done and I would have continued doing it forever just for the love of it. I couldn’t believe my luck when I started getting paid and it became a career. It's hard to pinpoint the exact time I crossed over from keen amateur to professional but I’d say it's been about 25 years. For the last ten years, I’ve had my own studio, Parlour Studios, where I do most of my work these days but still get to travel all over the world working in different studios with different gear and still learning all the time.

A Studio Diet

There's not much 'fat' in my studio; everything has a purpose and very little sits and gathers dust. I’m a Pro Tools guy and have been using it since it was called Sound Tools. I’ve used Logic, Cubase, Nuendo but Pro Tools has always been the one for me, but I still like an good analog console. I have a 36/72-channel Audient ASP which I love, and a bunch of cool outboard preamps, compressors, EQ and effects which all get used a lot. Until recently I usually mixed on the board and sometimes I’ll still run it back through the Audient and use the EQs and outboard and record it all back in as stems. But with the advances in plug-ins and the constant mix recalls we all have to do these days I’ve now gone pretty much in-the-box.

The Origin first came to my attention as it was recommended by a friend who is in pro audio sales and is also an engineer so I gave it a try. Often when you get a new mic you try it out on lots of different things but it usually takes a while to fit in and become part of your every-day workflow, but the Origin just became one of my go-to mics straight away. It's an important part of my drum setup these days, either over the head of the drummer or out in front as a mono kit mic. I’ve had it on the floor tom too, with no worries about it getting hit – these things are indestructible. The first time the Origin got a whack from a drum stick I was: 'oh shit is that gonna be ok?'. Then it was: 'yeah it's absolutely fine'. I wish all mics were that tough.

Waking from a Nightmare

Now the Starlights have come into the studio and are getting a lot of use on drum overheads. I love the different voicings. You can get super-clean modern sounds which is great for spot mic'ing cymbals, or you can go more retro which is nice if you’re capturing a bit more of the whole kit.

The Starlights are also amazing for acoustic guitar. The laser guidance on them is pure genius and it makes it so easy to sit an acoustic player exactly in the same spot every time. Even if they get up for a break you can put them right back in that exact spot afterwards. That really has removed a huge nightmare from that scenario for me and really was a real 'wow' moment the first time I realised I could do it. Also aiming precisely on the sweet spot of cymbals and drums from high above is fantastic, it can be difficult to do that in most other situations because you can’t get up there to look down the barrel of the mic.

You can hear the Astons at work on the drums on The Haunted's Preachers of Death. They also worked really well adding crunch and detail to the drums and crystal clear sweetness on the acoustic guitars on the forthcoming At The Gates album. The Astons really are a return to the glory days of British design and craftsmanship in audio technology

Out-takes

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?
A. “Tattooing.”

Q. What would your fantasy mic be?
A. “Indestructible U47 with laser guidance and distance measuring.”

Q. What are the 4 words you’d chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?
A. “Solid, exciting, innovative, craftsmanship.”

Q. What's the first song that made you cry?
A. “I remember buying Never Mind the Bollocks when I was eight (with the assistance of my mum as the guy in the shop wouldn't sell it to me). I wasn't allowed to play it on my dad's expensive hi-fi, only on my Dansette record player. One day he was out and I put it on his hi-fi, turned it up loud and sat between the speakers. I vividly remember the intense sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, partly from the thrill of not wanting to be caught using his hi-fi, but mainly from the explosive energy and excitement of the music, it was overwhelming. That was one of my first real emotional sledge-hammer moments in music.”

Credits

My favourite artists are... “All of my wonderful clients of course :)”

Napalm Death

At The Gates

The Haunted

 

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