FAX AND INFO ABOUT YOUR FAVE RAVE RECORD PRODUCER FRAN ASHCROFT

 

 



SOME CREDITS

Yes, I have worked at Abbey Road and Trident, with Damon Albarn, some Dandy Warhols, big labels, small labels both in this country and around the world, some bands you know, and a lot of bands you’ve never heard of. I’ve taken a taxi to Euston station with Billy J.Kramer, spent an afternoon in The La’s garden shed, stepped over an unconscious Pete Townshend,  had a pastie fight with Eurythmics Dave Stewart, a drink with Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols,  read several books about Bob Dylan, bought one or two albums by Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, and my Auntie Jack lived next door but one to Pete Shotton, childhood friend of John Lennon of The Beatles. Who also worked at Abbey Road and Trident studios.

Credits are not always what they appear to be. They can be bent and shaped to fit the message, and don’t always reflect the truth. They don’t say whether you or the artist actually did a good job, and you can’t base that on record sales either.We all have to use our credits as some measure of our skill, status, and experience. It would be very bad for business not to. But it really doesn’t matter what we did or who we worked with when.

I’m only as good as my last record.

 


UK

Abbey Road Studios, Damon Albarn (Blur/Gorillaz), Lee of the La’s, The Pretty Things, Thunderbirds Are Go!, PRT Records and PYE Studios, RCA Records, Trident Studios, EMI Music, The Beat Factory, Quickfix Recordings, Rob Clarke and The Wooltones, Snap Elect/Puregroove, The Monos, Boy From Space, The Midbeats, The Henry Road, Fruits de Mer Records, Lillies On Mars, The Reflections, Jess Morgan, Silver Sound Explosion, Gobuzli, Moon Visionaries, The Wild Eyes, Day Job Records, Super Best Friends Club, Cavern Records

 

USA

Spin Jupiter Spin (Dandy Warhols),Anton Barbeau,  Go-Kustom Records, The Kingsmen (Louie Louie), Elks Skiffle Group, March Records, SotoSoundz, Oysterville Underground, Persian Claws, Reivers Recordings, 7 Arcos Recordings, Peacework Records, Bracken Records, The Beat Rats, Garagepunk.com – The Cynics, Love Me Nots

 

EUROPE

Denmark: Embellish, Borsing Recording, Birdland Studios   Sweden: Peter Lindahl and Friends, Sara Rumar, Dead Frog Records  Belgium: Darling Nikkie (Lords of Acid), Roadrunner/Arcade   France: Stereotype, Joan Devos, Winter Records, Fleurs de Bach  Spain: Stay  Ukraine: Lunapark  Belarus: The Stampletons

 

CANADA

Krista Muir/Indica records, James Parker, Shane Watt

 

S.AMERICA

The Omelettes

 

JAPAN

Japan: Big Fish Music, Microstar, Think Sync Integral, Rika Shinohara, The Soundtracks



HISTORY

My first recordings as a teenager were of my own bands, using a single mic and mono reel to reel recorder. Funnily enough, I had no problem getting in the door with labels and publishers. I didn’t realize that at the time hardly anyone had demo recordings, and it was seen as a mark of professionalism!

This led to a pro job in 1974, as a staff songwriter for Intersong Music (Warners). They also funded my first real recording sessions, usually 8 or 16 track, where I’d play everything, and they’d often be impressed enough to mix somewhere decent and try and sell it as a master. But by 1976 the scene was changing, and I put together what turned out to be one of the first powerpop bands – The Monos! – signing the big record deal and all that.

Every possible mistake that could be made, we made twice, and lawsuits flew (I swear we should have been given a Golden Writ award). Another band and label or two later, it was clear that bands were not for me – making records was what I was really interested in.

So I wangled a few sessions here and there, built a respectable show reel, and went full time into record production. With credits diverse as Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds and Damon Albarn, I moved to the USA in 1989, subsequently working on projects all over the world, before returning to the UK in 2003.

In the late 90’s I launched the Less-Is-More Happybeat Studios, possibly as an allergic reaction to everyone’s records being digitised to death. I chose 4 track, a format I never got to use in its heyday. Most of my all time favourite records were recorded with very limited gear, which forced artists, engineers and producers to push their equipment and skills to the limit in a fundamentally different way to modern recording. Read Sir George Martin’s insightful comments about 4 track here.

It’s an oversimplification, but traditional recording techniques focused more on the musical aspects than technological options. I’m not saying modern methods are wrong – it all depends what kind of records you want to make.

What constitutes a ‘good’ record is very subjective, but it’s never down to frequency response; it’s about listener response. Evoking an emotional response in the listener is the secret of successful recording. If you can do that, it doesn’t make much difference whether you have a humble cassette recorder or 148 tracks of Pro Tools. Personally, I’m working my way back to mono.


1969 – when guitars were bigger

 


VIDEO

It’s gratifying that my unorthodox, back to basics style is appreciated by other producers and engineers.  It seems I’ve become the Less-Is-More guru.  The premier UK recording website,recordproduction.com, features a video interview about that in its “Leading Producers” section. I’ve also contributed video and text blogs to the site. You can take a look here.



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