Home Studio Recordist
Des Carson at Riverside Studio.
Calling all home recordists... Here's a golden opportunity to pass on those brilliant tricks you've discovered to turn your cassette deck into a fully-blown 48 track recorder!
Well, not quite... but these columns are devoted to what you, the reader, have to say about your own method of recording, your equipment or maybe your experiences in a pro studio. So write and tell us about these or any other aspect of your recording and you may well find yourself occupying these pages.
In a quiet part of the town of Carrick on Suir in the South East of Ireland, you'll find Riverside Studio; an 8-track, multi-purpose facility owned and run by a genial Belfast man called Des Carson.
Des first became interested in the recording industry when as a young singer/songwriter trying to make it to the big time in London Richie Blackmore introduced him to Joe Meek who had a small studio over a shop in Holloway Road. Richie Blackmore was playing at the time with the Outlaws. 'Richie was one of the first people I ever saw with a Gretch Tennessee Countryman,' recalls Des.
Des recorded 'Stop Pickin' on me' at Joe's studio; the same one that produced 'Telstar' and young Carson's first effort was used on the film 'Farewell Performance'. He was all set for a successful career as a singer/songwriter, but fundamental differences over management caused Des and Joe to go their separate ways.
Des returned to live in his native Belfast where he met a young engineer called Cel Fay who boasted a modest 2-track facility. They produced a single together and made plans for an album, but the outbreak of the troubles in the North caused Des and his wife Shiela to move to her home town of Carrick on Suir.
In Carrick on Suir Des began experimenting with cassettes and an Akai 4000DS until he discovered the joys of a machine called the Teac A3440. The bug had bitten and there was no antidote!
He upgraded to a Teac A3440 4-track, invested in some microphones and began writing and producing his own demos. Very soon the word spread and Des found himself doing work for other aspiring musicians in the area. A Teac 32-2B was acquired for mix downs and he was in business. He has since been so busy recording for other people that he has had very little time to work on his own.
At this stage, the studio was situated in just half his garage. There was no control room and facilities were far from adequate. Consequently, the car was thrown out on the street to make room for a badly needed control room. The studio section was soundproofed and a drum booth built. The centrepiece at Riverside is now the Tascam 381/2 inch 8-track, though if, as Des believes is their intention, Tascam bring out a version of the Fostex B16, he says he will definitely upgrade.
Des has recorded four cassette albums for local artists. The music has ranged from Classical Violin to Folk and Country. The last production was an album which was recorded by a kidney sufferer, the proceeds of which went to the Irish Kidney Association. The studio time and the services of all musicians involved were free of charge. The album has sold over 500 copies to date.
Finding musicians to play on various sessions is never a problem at Riverside Studio. Tweed, a successful Irish rock band, all come from Carrick and are always willing to help out, and the local operatic society provides plenty of female singers for backing vocals.
Des is now considering trading in his Allen and Heath 16:4:2 and upgrading to a 16:8:2 desk. Before making this change though, he would like to buy the new Dynacord Digital reverb unit. He is at present using a Vesta Fire RV1 and a Korg Stage Echo, but feels a digital unit is now necessary.
Apart from recording music sessions, Riverside is also engaged in producing advertising jingles for clients who use the local radio station. This came about when Des began presenting a weekly Country Music show on CBC radio in nearby Clonmel. Des has also been producing 'In Coach' entertainment tapes for the local coach company.
Ultimately, Des would like to upgrade to a 24-track studio, but he feels this is unlikely in the foreseeable future. Until then, he is very happy with the way things are going.