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Producer · Engineer · FOH
Tom Beaujour

Tom Beaujour

Musician, Producer

Tom Beaujour spread out from his career in music journalism and now produces and performs music that other people write about. His credits span producing Nada Surf, Guided By Voices and many others through to co-creating, and performing in, the fictional TV band Side Boob...

Nada Surf, Guided By Voices, Juliana Hatfield Three, Valley Lodge, Jennifer O’Connor
Tom uses:
All in

Tom was the editor of some heavyweight USA publications, working for Guitar Player and founding his own heavy metal magazine, Revolver, and the luxury, lifestyle guitar magazine Guitar Afficionado. Concurrently he was finding time for playing and producing:

“Being an Editor in Chief gives you a little bit of freedom so I was touring with some artists that I’d produced and I had a studio that I started in my basement as an enthusiast.

I was doing guitar overdubs with Matthew Caws from the band Nada Surf, when the tracks went to the mixer and he said ‘Man these are some of the best sounding guitar tracks!’ and at that point I just thought ‘well maybe I’m good at this!’

This was about 12 years ago. I actually took the same approach I took to learning guitar. I spent every weekend practicing mixing, like you would practice guitar, just spending hours learning, like, ‘what does 300Hz mean’. It wasn’t like saying ‘I’ll take up cycling, or jogging, and it sticks for two seconds, with this I was all-in. It was a pretty fast learning curve but actually started getting a decent amount of work.”

As the magazine business became “more and more dicey” he decided to try making a living producing bands.

Sucking brains

“I still play. I’m in a couple of the bands I produce and we have a songwriting team, we’ve done stuff for Orange is the New Black, the TV show Girl Boss and a bunch of other commercials. I’m also working on a book, so multi-tasking all the time!

The book, a project with co-writer and fellow guitar journalist Richard Bienstock is an (as yet untitled) oral history of the hair-metal bands of the 80’s due for release late in 2019.

Poison, Motley Crue, all those bands who were basically destroyed overnight by Grunge. We’ve interviewed over 150 people at this point. It’s a massive undertaking but it’s a labour of love. I’ve interviewed Bob Rock, Michael Wagner, who did Skid Row and mixed Metallica’s Master of Puppets, Tom Werman who did all the Cheap Trick and Motley Crue stuff.

I’ll spend the last fifteen minutes of the interview sucking technical tips out of their brain that will never end up in the book. For me talking to these guys is gold, each one of them sold 10m records and you’re asking them which of the cymbals they spot-mic’ed. And they tell you! That’s been a real bonus of the book process.”

The new black

“A landmark for me was to get to co-produce the last Nada Surf record [the 2016 ‘You Know Who You Are’]. I’d worked on all their other records, I’d done guitar overdubs, mixed a track for them, a lot of vocals, and I’d been friends with Matthew Caws for a long time but that didn’t mean he was obligated to give me the keys to the car, so to speak. Being entrusted with that really made me feel like I’d arrived where I’d wanted to be when I started in the basement.

I’ve worked a lot with Jennifer O’Connor, I’ve done two records with her and subsequently ended up playing in her band. It’s been a great experience of a sustained creative relationship which is something I really value.”

Tom and his songwriting collaborators got hired to write and perform all the music of the  fictional rock band ‘Side Boob’ who appear in the show Orange is the New Black.

“Stylistically it was all kind of Black Crowes except for one song which was about sorcerers so for that one we went more in a Judas Priest direction. We were actually the band on screen in three episodes, lip-syncing. It was great fun! And I get infinitesimal artist royalties now!”

In search of the perfect space

Tom’s studio, Nuthouse, was housed in a building which also housed Water Music studio, (where producers like John Agnello worked with artists including Sonic Youth). After two four year stints in different rooms the opening of a power lifting gym beneath prompted Tom to start looking for new premises.

“If you solo certain tracks you can probably hear a couple of bar bells being dropped. You could spend $10m dollars on sound proofing and you wouldn’t stop that.”

The building has now been sold and Tom is currently using an old jazz studio in Hoboken while he weighs up the pros and cons of new facilities which, he says, is a ‘tough equation’ today.

“Even at Nuthouse the isolation room wasn’t really isolated and the control room got really warm. I think the future of recording will be making records in not ideal spaces.”

He says working without a permanent facility makes him more reliant on his go-to microphones

“I like reducing variables. I like to know ‘this plus this equals that’. When I read these mic reviews where the guy says ‘I tried this mic on a session’ that seems to me like the most terrifying thing! Can you imagine getting half way through a session and be reviewing a mic and saying ‘this thing sucks!’.”

The collection of mics Tom feels he can rely on includes Aston’s pencil condenser Starlights.

Stress-free mic’ing

“I have the Aston Starlights in the box of my stuff that I know how it sounds and where and how I want to point it and I can depend on it. It makes a huge difference in a world in which I’m now moving around.

The Starlights are part of my go-to set for acoustic guitar mics that I throw up first. They’ll either be there or on overheads and I kinda know this is going to be cool. It removes one level of stress.”

The core of Tom’s recording kit is Pro Tools although he doesn’t feel the need to be on the latest version:

“I’m a bit of a luddite, I’m still on Pro Tools 10 HD just because I have a couple of soft synths

M Tron Pro and a couple of Kontakt synths and something called Alicia’s Keys which isn’t available any more. They tell you it will reboot but I’m not convinced it will. They’ll do something to me soon – they’ll get me!

I got completely sucked in to the world of Universal Audio so I have a UAD Octocard in my computer and my mobile rig is an Apollo interface. I really like those plug ins. The thing I miss most from my old studio is that I had a real EMT 140 plate reverb - although UAD’s plug in is close.”

Music store hype

“When I’m tracking drums I try to go through APIs, and Neves for guitars and my default vocal chain is a Shure SM7 with a Cloud Lifter through a Neve 1073 into an 1176 with really slow attack and release. Someone needs to make a phantom-powered SM7.

Especially in the realm of mics that don’t cost a bazillion dollars, what manufacturers do is hype it so it sounds exciting in a music store. It doesn’t work in the pro world. You can hear that EQ curve that was designed to sell mics but not to sound good in a record. I want to point a mic at something and have it sound like what I’m looking at.

I really like the Starlights on acoustics. I want acoustic guitars to sound like a Rolling Stones or Nick Drake record, I don’t want them to sound zingy, and with the Starlights I get exactly what I need.

I like using the laser – and it really does take the guesswork out of it if I’m aiming for the twelfth fret. I like the recallability but mainly I like the fact you just put them up and it sounds real.

I like the Starlights for overheads too. I don’t want bright overheads. When we’re tracking an album in two days you can’t be changing overheads every song.

The whole game for me is to get it coming in right.”


Q. Who are your favourite artists
A. Guided By Voices, Cheap Trick, Big Star, Nada Surf

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?
A. Probably teaching French somewhere. I’m fluent in French so it would be the path of least resistance!

Q. What would your fantasy mic be?
A. A phantom-powered SM7 [You need to check out the new Aston Stealth!! - Ed.]

Q. What are the 4 words you’d chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?
A. Cool-looking, Demented, Bold,

Q. What is the first song that made you cry?
A. The Kids are Alright by the Who

Sunshine in the Rain

Painted Doll


Royal Arctic Institute

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