Don Airey, Martin Gore and Tony Hymas
"In the beginning we had to use keyboards, because of the problems the back-line was posing us — we had to cart around amps and things. With synths we could DI, which made it a lot easier when we were having to travel up to London. We prefer the sound anyway, there's so many different sounds on the synth, whereas with the guitar you're stuck with the sound."
Live: Yamaha CS5; Studio: PPG wave computer. "The PPG is really different, the sounds are so clear on it. Before, we were using things like the JP4, but with the PPG the sounds are so clear, you can go through the waveforms on it — it's just so much better. It all comes up on a little screen — you can see exactly what you're putting in. When you play your recorded sound back, your program number, all the things you've used come up on the screen so you know exactly what's in the sound. We're not too sure about it yet, we're getting to know it. We work with Daniel (Miller, producer) on that, he knows a lot about synths and helps us. In the price-range, the PPG was by far the best that we went to see.
"At the moment there's a lot of trouble with the compatibility of sequencers and keyboards — we've had a lot of trouble linking things up. If manufacturers could make them all interchangeable it'd make things a lot easier. Obviously they want their sequencers to work with their keyboards: it's a problem."
An "old ARP sequencer"; Roland MC4.
Korg KR55; snare drum trigger from KR55 to drive sequencer (pulse through voltage inverter in ARP 2600 because of incompatibility).
Blackwing/Eric Radcliffe, John Fryer. "As well as knowing exactly what they're doing, they're really friendly, which helps a lot."
Teac 3440: "We bought it recently for the last tour — I don't get the time to use it as much as I'd like to, we're never at home!"
"Keyboards are a pretty dominant factor in my music at the moment, and when I concoct tapes at home they're obviously very keyboard-orientated. But on the other hand I'm trying to get sounds that do sound a bit natural and do have sound pictures associated with them. So I suppose it's the terrible thing of the keyboard player trying not to sound like a keyboard player. In search of an answer, I plough on."
Bechstein grand piano; Prophet-5; Rhodes Suitcase 73; Minimoog; ARP Odyssey; Oberheim OB1. "Somebody brought a Prophet round once and I fell in love with it — if I really like the look of something I'm afraid I have to go and buy it. I found it difficult to come to terms with my first synth, the ARP, so I went and got the OB1 which you could preset sounds on. But for lead work I end up using the Minimoog a lot, and the Prophet funnily enough. I came to the Minimoog quite late, I only picked mine up about nine months ago when I realised they were gonna stop making them. It's got a marvellous sound all its own. I still love the sound of the Rhodes, too.
"One criticism: I wish the knobs on the Prophet didn't have such a large area for parallax problems — the mark on top of the knob's at least ½in away from what you're lining up to. It should be flush, like Moog's."
Roland CSQ600 (to OB1).
"I've tended to use Amcrons on tour, which have all been provided. At home I just DI everything."
Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress flanger on Rhodes "still makes a great sound". Great British Spring reverb.
Roland TR808. "A digital readout for tempo would have been useful, it's extremely difficult to fine-tune accurately with the knob."
Ramport/Will Reed-Dick. "I'm very happy working there, we get on very well."
Fostex A8 8-track; Fostex 350 mixer; Revox stereo.
"The finest keyboard to me is a grand piano — playing multi-keyboards, there's so many problems with balance and you're always compromising. I think that makes electronic keyboards difficult to play, but I don't know what my life would be like without a Minimoog or a CS80, they open up so many avenues to you as a performer."
Hammond B3 'customised' + two Leslie 147 cabinets; Yamaha CS80; Minimoog (stable oscillator boards, sync on oscillator 2, sequencer input mods); ARP Odyssey; Hohner Clavinet C; Rhodes Suitcase 73; Roland Vocoder Plus; Oberheim OBXa; Casiotone 201. "I get a lot of my sound from the B3 and the CS80 together, a real meaty sound for heavy rock. I could go on for hours about the CS80, the rich sound of the oscillators, it's an absolute masterpiece of design and I'm really surprised Yamaha have given up that direction. I've had the Odyssey six years and never had it seen to, ARP say it'll be good for another six — an amazing machine. The Clavinet's a real old one, beautiful sound. The Vocoder I use mainly for its strings, nice little machine, and the OBXa I prefer to the Prophet or OBX; it's made a great impact on me. The Casio's a good hotel-room practice keyboard.
"But I'm dismayed at the kind of product coming out, there's so much rubbish. I don't think we've made any real progress since the 60s in the kind of sounds you can get from synths."
Sequential Circuits 800 (to Minimoog).
Two Moog Synamps and cabs.
Lexicon PCM41 digital echo; H/H Tape Echo; MXR Flanger; CS80 in stereo through MXR Stereo Chorus, "a subtle, harmoniser-like effect".
"An old Hammond drum machine."
Morgan 1/Chris Tsangarides: "I seem to spend a lot of my time there, I always enjoy playing there." Marcus/Pete McNamee: "Marvellous studio, very fine engineer."
Teac Portastudio; Revox stereo. "I'm thinking of buying an Otari 8-track."
Feature by Tony Bacon
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