An interview with producer, TV composer and Cinderella drummer Fred Coury.
Fred Coury worked and played for:
Guns N' Roses
"I can't believe that I waited so long to upgrade THE MOST IMPORTANT part of any recording rig! I had no idea of what I was missing. These things sound incredible. I was using API, Chandler, Great river etc. but couldn't really hear great differences and on one occasion actually told Michael Wagener that the API's sounded ok but not as great as I remembered on drums! What an idiotic statement. Once I got rid of the old stuff and got the FF and DS, I could hear the pre's doing what they do and man, it's sweet. I actually recorded a friend of mine, playing my drums and I recorded them flat just so I could learn totalmix and get an idea of what RME was all about. I couldn't stop listening to the tracks. They sounded amazing. People that come in to my studio keep asking what the tom samples are and when I tell them that they aren't samples and that they're recorded flat without eq or compression, they flip! "How?" they ask, and I just point at the RME's."
Fred, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your career and musical background? Did you start your musical life very early?
I was born in upstate New York. My family and I spent time in the mountains of Lebanon on and off for most of my childhood. I started playing violin at age 5 and my parents were very strict with my practice schedule. When I was 11, I wanted to play trumpet and the deal was that if I got a trumpet, Id have to add an hour to my violin rehearsal. Next came Drums and the rest, as they say, is history.
What were your biggest musical inspirations? Any artists, who influenced you a lot - artists without whom you wouldn't be where you are today?
Of course my Mom, who is a pianist and my Dad who was a violinist. Then I heard Rush. A cousin from England was visiting and she brought a cassette of closer to the heart. I was hooked!
Can you tell us more about your career with Cinderella?
I auditioned through a suggestion from Eric Singer who is now in Kiss. He was with Lita Ford at the time and told me about the band. I contacted them and they sent me 10 songs and asked me to learn 4 of them and they gave me a week to do so. I loved the music so much upon hearing it, that I charted all 10 songs and called them the next day and told them that I was ready. I auditioned and got the gig a couple of weeks later. It has been, and still is, the most incredible experience of my life. I think God everyday for making my dreams come true!
Which music and artists do you like or listen to at the moment? What are your inspirations for your own productions?
There are so many artists that I like to listen to. I listen to everything from Country to Speed metal. I really like the new Black Eyed Peas song Boom Boom Pow. They are masters of simplicity and they have the formula for hooks. I like the new Green Day record as well as the new Ice Cube, Nightwish and Nickelback records. My inspirations for my productions and from everything I hear. I learn so much from the radio. All types of music. What to do and what NOT to do.
Can you please describe your studio and the equipment used?
I have a small studio in Los Angeles at a well-known rehearsal complex. It has a control room, small vocal booth and a drum / live room. Equipment: RME FF800 and ADI 8 DS, API Lunchbox 1 has 4 API 512cs and 1 Purple Audio Biz MK. Lunchbox 2 has Great River MV 500, API 550b, Chandler TG-2, 2 DBX 586, DBX 160SL. Currently the Mics on my drums are Sm 57 top and bottom snare, AT-4050s overheads, AT 4041 hi hat, Sennheiser 602 Floor Toms, AT ATM 23 Rack tom, Sure Beta 52 and Sm 91 Kick drum. Also use Neumann U87, AT 4047, 4060, 2500, ATM 25.
Do you have a special workflow in your studio work? Analog and/or digital?
Only that I go into my system through my pres analog, Thats about it. Every session or project is different. Sometime its all live instruments and sometimes, it all programmed and sometimes a hybrid of both.
What is your recording software of choice?
I use NUENDO. I also use Reason.
As a very experienced drummer, do you think the latest developments in drum editing and all those timing tools have a big impact on young drummers and the art of playing and recording drums?
Yes. I used to have to practice to hip hop and rap records and def leppard because the drums were programmed and the timing is perfect. It developed a very strong sense of meter. These days, it seems that everyone is using Beat Detective for their drums and the performances seem to be incredible! Drummers can practice to almost any bands music and have virtually perfect tracks to play along with. The downside of it is that some drummers cant pull it off live, and thats not good. As far as engineering drums in the studio, there are quite a few people that just get a good signal to tape (whats that?) and then just sound replace. That is not the way to do it. Sometimes I like to use samples but only to fix problems from outside mixes that I do and when Im doing my own stuff, I like to add the sample to the real drum sound. Just makes them pop a little more. Along with, not instead of!
How do you like to record your stuff? Also, do you have a favorite mix strategy?
I like to record everything with a strong signal. The sound comes from the source. I try to mix efficiently and I try to top myself with every mix. Its always a learning process.
Do you want to work completely native from a special point or do you still want to go "outboard" in later production stages?
I never go outboard once Im in. I may as my studio grows. Maybe out through some nice analog compressors, but not at the moment.
How important is sound? Do you have your own unique "sound" or a "sound" you want to "capture" in your recordings? Are there any reference productions you listen to a lot?
The MOST important thing to me is sound. I seem to like the big deep ringing toms that hang over the next bar for rock. Im always learning and try to get the analog fatness in my recordings.
What do you think is the most important part of your studio?
Front end. I learned the hard way. DA/AD. I always used to get good drum sounds on analog tape, but I was going through nice pres WITH the beautiful tape compression and warmth of tape. Not until I got the RME gear, did I realize how much I was missing. All of the tight lows and the smooth highs and punch. Everything in my room, all of a sudden, sounds real.
How did you find RME? Had you heard about those "devices from Germany" before?
I am constantly on the forums such as gearslutz and pro recording forums and always heard about RME. Everyone loves them. My friend Joel Singer used them while with Effanel and always commented on how good they were. This year I was doing a show in Las Vegas and I walked into the NAB convention and the first booth that I saw was RME. I met Brian and I told him what I needed for ins and outs in my room and he suggested the FF800 and DS. A few days later, I called him and ordered both.
How do you use it? Please describe some examples of your use of RME equipment in your productions.
It is mostly my front end. Everything goes through it and it makes my work come alive. I am excited to get to the studio every day to do more work. Before I had RME, it was harder to listen for a long time. My ears would get fatigued much quicker. A respected mixer came to my studio shortly after I got the RMEs and said, wow, your high end doesnt hurt my ears anymore.
What do you like most on the Fireface and the DS? What don´t you like? Do you have some suggestions for improvements?
The sound is #1 for me. Nothing that I dont like yet.
How is TotalMix working for you?
Total mix is good but there are some issues and it does have a bit of a learning curve. I like the no latency feature, but if youre using a plug-in like gear box on the input channels in Nuendo, I dont hear the gearbox, only the clean direct tone. Ive managed some workarounds and I always feel that I can call RME for tech support. (the customer service is rated # 1 by all of the people on the forums!)
Have you convinced any friends and colleagues to come over to RME yet?
I sure have. My studio partner from my SSL room in Nashville is going to switch to RME for his DAW. I seem to get a little over excited when telling people about RME.
What are your plans and ambitions for the future?
Hopefully be able to turn out good mixes for a long time! Im starting my first score for a film next week and look forward to a long career in films.
Are you noticing a change in the music business? Do you see some important trends in studio work?
The music business as we once knew it is gone, but Im busier than ever. There are so many new avenues to explore. Television, film, etc. This is now a singles based business not unlike the 50s and 60s. Small studios are now competing with the big ones and turning out the same sonic quality. With that, small studios are working very quickly, so the days of taking a week to get sounds for a record are over. I have requests from TV networks for music to be written, recorded and fully produced in 1 day. In this day and age, to compete, your work has to sound incredible and have a very quick turn-around time.
Do you think the current economic crisis has an influence on the business?
Concerts are still drawing people and people are still wanting music for TV. Id imagine that for a demo studio or a commercial studio, its pretty rough.
Where do you see yourself in 15 or 20 years? Do you want to still be playing live gigs, working in the studio as a producer and engineer or doing something completely different?
I love music. Thats all Ive ever known and all Ive ever done! Wherever God wants me to be in 15 or 20 years, Ill be there. (I sure do hope its still in music in some way, shape or form though!)
More information: www.fredcoury.com