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Simon Delaney (Don Broco)
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Si Delaney
simon delaney

Simon Delaney (Don Broco)

Guitarist
Si Delaney
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Don Broco

Legendary guitarist Si Delaney from British rock band Don Broco has gone from playing tiny stages at festivals to selling out arenas and headlining festivals worldwide. From hilarious music videos to high energy on-stage antics, Don Broco definitely know how to keep their fans entertained. Si talks to us about using Aston Mics to record the band's eagerly anticipated new album.

One awesome symbiotic journey

"I got hooked into music by watching Later with Jools Holland with my mum and dad. I was allowed to stay up late and watch it with them. That was my introduction to loads of bands that I'd never heard of, obviously because I was a little kid. I've been a kind of lifelong fan of them ver since. That was my first introduction to a lot of really great music.

My dad had a guitar, a really difficult to play acoustic, which he used to occasionally strum. Then he bought my older sister a guitar for her ninth birthday, and she didn't really use it, so I just kind of took it, and my dad showed me the rudimentary tools and yeah, that was it. I just started playing, and then I got an electric when I was a bit older, and started playing in bands at school, and never put it down.

It's weird. I think especially when you've started writing music, the lines between all roles, producer, artist, engineer, become very blurred. Because when you're in a band you want to play guitar, so you learn how to play guitar, then you want to record yourself so you have to learn the basics of engineering. How to place a mic, how to set up to record, you start from there, figuring out the nuances of production. Once you can set up it's like, 'Okay, well, how do I make it sound the way I want it to sound, like the way that I've heard this guy make it sound? Or the sound that's in my head?' That kind of weird fusion of writing music to engineering to producing becomes one awesome symbiotic journey. I'm definitely just a guy in a band. I'm a guitarist who loves to write, produce and record his own music. I wouldn't back myself as an engineer if someone put me in a high-pressure studio environment or told me to, to mic up the kit, I'd be out of my depth."

My recording journey

"We’ve been a band for a very long time. Matt and Bobby and I have been playing in bands since we were 14, we'd always want to record our ideas. I remember the very first iteration of our demo recordings was on a MiniDisc player. I had one, and a very cheap microphone in our demo studio and throw a pillow or towel over the mic so it didn't sound too horrifically clipped by the drum kit. And that was the very first kind of recording we did.

From there, I did a music production module when I was at university that taught me a bit more about how to use a DAW and very, very basically how to capture different instruments properly. Then being in and around proper studios so much when we've been going in to record, you just pick up so much, if you've got an interest in it, you're like a sponge. You’re watching what the engineer's doing. You're watching what the producer's doing. Then you're taking all that knowledge on and applying it yourself. The more we've gone through the journey of being in a band, the more and more we started doing it ourselves because you realise that, actually, it's a lot quicker, and a lot cheaper if you can do it yourself, and you can get a lot of what you're after. You can actually do exactly what you want to do if you're not relying on somebody else's skill set. So yeah, I think that's how it started and how it's got to where it currently is in terms of my recording journey."

Iconic venues

"The first time we got to play Reading Festival, that was a really big one for us, because we'd always gone to it as kids. It was the only festival that we really cared about. We got to play the BBC introducing stage in, I think, 2011. And that was like a really huge buzz for us. We've been there three times. As punters, we've worked at Reading for Oxfam.The dream was always to be there as a musician. Then, headlining Brixton would probably be the next big one, because again, it was an iconic venue for us as kids, we went into London all the time. Our favourite venue there was always Brixton. Also Alexandra Palace and Wembley, both of those shows were very big. I guess Wembley was slightly more of a buzz for me because I went to my first ever concert there. I went to see Incubus back in 2001 on the Morning tour with Hoobastank, it was really fun to get to go and headline there.

When we first started the band properly. Slam Dunk was one of the first festivals to take a chance on us and put us on the tiny stages. It's weird. You get the promoters that put you on and then you get promoters that you actually have a really strong relationship with. Throughout our career as a band, Ben Rhodes who puts on Slam Dunk has always been a huge supporter of what we're doing and it's awesome that he wanted us to headline. It was a real humbling moment when we got asked to do it because we literally started opening on the smallest stage at Slam Dunk and now we’re headlining. It's gonna be good!"

Minimal gear that that does the job

"At the moment, I've got a very small home studio because I currently live in a flat. Having minimal gear that does the job well is my raison d'etre when it comes to home recording. I've got a really nice Focusrite Pre, one of the ISA ones where everything is on one single channel. It sounds amazing, really nice and warm and analogue and that goes straight into my Thunderbolt interface by Zoom, which is actually insane. It's the TAC-2R which I think is discontinued now. I was looking for a just a really compact, portable Thunderbolt interface, that was really important to me. It's awesome, it does the job really well. And then I run Logic at home, which is my go-to, it is really simple, really versatile, especially for writing. In terms of the microphones, I'm currently using the Aston range. The Spirit, Origin and Stealth, which are all really, really amazing to be fair.

We have a tour manager who's also a front of house guy, and I was on the road with him. And I was talking about basically wanting a really versatile mic, not just for vocals, but for basically anything I can stick a mic on, but I didn't have a colossal budget. I wanted something really solid and really decent. He’d been using Aston mics, Origins I think, on guitar cabs. He told me about Aston, and said you should check out these guys because they're making waves and are in an affordable price bracket. The quality of the mics is heralded as being pretty unrivalled for the price. So I talked to my manager, Dan. And I said 'do you know these guys ‘Aston’?' to which he said he absolutely did. And I was very lucky enough to be able to get in contact with you guys and start chatting about Microphones."

The Origin and Spirit

"I've got the Spirit, the Origin and the Stealth. The Spirit and the Origin are really interesting ones to me. They're the ones I started with. We've got two vocalists in our band, Matt and Bobby, who both have very different voices. Bobby's got a really low boomy kind of voice, where you always have to spend quite a lot of time EQing it to make it sound nice in the mix. Matt has a more, I'm not going to say feminine, but it's definitely more of a high register. Not squeaky but a kind of thinner tone. I've been quite lucky to have these very different vocalists to try out different mics on.

It was interesting I found the Origin works really well for Matt, he's got this cutting tone. I find the Origin a little bit smoother, it softens him slightly in the top-end that can be too abrasive in a lot of mics. It just sounds very flattering on his voice. I find the Spirit better for Bobby. He needs a little bit more clarity in the top end. I actually find the High Pass very useful on that mic as well. I stick it on for Bobby as well as the 10 dB pad because he sings so loudly. So I'll just whack on the pad and then I'll drive it slightly harder on my pre and it sounds so awesome. I'm very stoked to have this pair in my arsenal when it comes to recording those two lads."

All the characteristics that I want in an acoustic

"Stealth is awesome. The main thing that I'm using Stealth on, is acoustic guitar. It sounds great on the vocals, but when it comes to the vocal recording, I actually have all three mics set up constantly. Because I'm recording all the lads so frequently during the demoing, the Stealth sits on my stand dedicated for acoustics. I can literally turn around in my chair and start strumming and it sounds awesome. I've had numerous comments on what I'm using on the acoustic. I use it on the guitar voicing mode on the mic. It's just very honest, it sounds really clean, really sparkly. and it brings out all the characteristics I want in an acoustic. Obviously placement's important, but you can get a lot of ‘Woom’ - if that’s the industry term - but the Stealth's just great for avoiding the undesirable acoustic darkness.

The Halo is awesome too. I think, for people like me when you're in an environment that is acoustically less desirable, which my flat certainly is. There is a lot of plasterboard and a lot of corners and a lot of things that you wouldn't want in the studio. The Halo basically is just a little trump card, a secret trick to getting a really nice clean sound on the vocal. You don't get any of the dark reflections which in the rooms I was recording in are very prevalent. But it's interesting, I see the halo a lot. My mates in home studios are using the Halo, but I see the them in massive studios as well. Pretty much every studio I've been to in the last year is using the Halo reflection filter. So I knew it was going to be good for wherever I end up. Whether it's in my little box room at home or if I managed to upgrade my studio and get something even bigger that you can acoustically treat. I'm still gonna want this thing."

What's next for Don Broco?

 

"We’re currently writing and recording our fourth studio effort, which we're very excited about. It's hopefully coming out at the end of this year, or beginning of next year, with new material hopefully in the very recent future.

So we're kind of churning away writing as much as we can and looking to make a pretty big splash around Slam Dunk with some new material."

 

Outtakes and Credits

Q. Who are your favourite artists?
A. Prince, Radiohead.

Q. If you weren't working in music, what do you think you would be doing?
A. Something creative. Definitely realised that. My passion is creativity in some form. So, whether that would be something artistic or something in film, maybe? Yes.

Q. What would your fantasy mic be? 
A. Wow, that's a very good question. I think my ultimate fantasy mic would be absolutely tiny. So to have like all the kind of versatility and functionality that you have in those, you know, iconic microphones, but literally something that was so small, I could put it in my back pocket and not even know is there. So when I was anywhere I could literally just whip it out and not need a fancy preamp for it or anything like that. Just plug it straight into a USB and start recording.

Q. What are the four words you would choose to describe Aston or your experience with the brand?
A. Stylish. I get a lot of comments and I personally think the mics look insane and very different.
Friendly, everyone I've met and had contact with us and has been very lovely and very supportive of what we're doing.
Versatile, because, I mean, I'm using the mics literally on every sound I'm trying to capture and they're doing an amazing job on all fronts.
Pioneering, I've never had something like Stealth, for example, I've never had a mic that has so many different options, different voicings, and delivers that degree of quality, without compromising anywhere.

Q. What was the first song that made you cry?
A. Purple Rain – Prince There are very few songs which can make me cry but definitely Purple Rain.

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