Dr. Digital's Home Studios of the Stars
This Month: Record Producer and Engineer Don Gilmore
Lit, Eve 6
Linkin Park, Good Charlotte
Home Studio Location
An extra bedroom on the main level of Gilmore's house
I started my studio life in Seattle in the early '90s. I had been playing guitar in various unimpressive bands and doing my share as a studio musician. When some of my friends bands started asking me to produce their demos, I gave it a try. My buddy Ric Parashar had a half-inch 8-track room at his studio, London Bridge. I recorded a few things there that sounded good, so Ric and his brother/partner Raj offered me a job as an engineer in the main studio. Looking back, it was an amazing situation for me. I got to learn from Ric and other producers like Terry Date while producing local bands myself. It was a very unconventional way of working compared to how I do it now. There was no assistant engineer, no tech staff - no runner or secretary, for that matter. It was almost a home-studio vibe; you did what ever it took to make the session work smoothly.
Having gotten my start in Seattle during the 'grunge' era, I got to work on the first Pearl Jam and Temple Of The Dog records. These were defining moments for me, although it took a while for me to realize. Once these records took off I started getting more work, and eventually a producer/manager from Los Angeles introduced me to a lot of A&R people and I got a feel for how the business worked.
I've been taking a little time off after two years straight of back-to-back records, but I'm also co-writing with a few artists at home with my mobile Pro Tools setup. I'm starting to designate time to collaborating with various bands and singers as a songwriter, but record production is and always will be my number one priority.
Apple Macintosh G4 (rackmounted)
Digidesign DIGI 001
Dual Drive Bay with 18 gig wide drive
Yamaha NS10M monitors, M&K subwoofer
Line6 Pod, Line6 Bass Pod
Thoughts on Home Studios
My home setup is great for writing. When I'm making a record I want the very best for my clients. For the last two years, I've been working at NRG studios in North Hollywood. If I need to catch up on something that I'm working on at NRG, I can pull the drive and bring it home.
Favorite Piece of Gear
The Distressor is an absolute must, as it really does so many wonderful things. I've been using it for over a year and it seems like it's always somewhere in the recording chain.
At home the Shure SM7 works great. It's very directional, so we don't usually use headphones. When I'm making a record, however, I love the Telefunken 251 - it sounds great on everyone.
Pro Tools has become such a huge part of my life in the studio. It made a lot of sense to have something that I could have at home or pack up and take on the road.
On the last Eve 6 record, we couldn't all decide on the song sequence after all the mixing was done, so I had the band come over to my house for a barbecue. We loaded the songs into Pro Tools and tried every possible scenario, and we finally agreed on a great sequence in a totally laidback environment.
Favorite Software Plug-In
At the top of the heap is definitely Antares Auto Tune. It's like magic, and I don't even want to know how it works. Metric Halo Labs' Channel Strip is becoming one of my favorites, since it's like an SSL in your computer. Serato Pitch 'n Time has gotten me out of a few tight spots, and RealVerb is also wonderful, to name a few. These little babies are the greatest.
Tips for people wanting to build their own home studio
I would say keep things flexible, since you'll always be adding and updating your arsenal.
Analog vs. Digital
I like both. I always track drums to a 16 track 2" Studer, then transfer to Pro Tools and stay there for everything else.
For a home studio, digital is the way to go, without a doubt, because who wants to deal with tapes piled to the ceiling and machine alignment? Technological advances are leveling the playing field for people working at home. Right now someone is producing a hit song in their bedroom -heck, maybe it's me!