George Duke, Ross Middleton, Salvator Mulligan
"The sound of the instrument is, of course, extremely important to me. I've been going back to a lot of natural sounds, not so many effects, getting to the real sound of the instrument. I'm trying to clean up everything I do, to make it as clear as possible."
Prophet-5; Emulator; ARP Odyssey; Mini-moog; Rhodes Stage 88 (modified pre-amp etc.); Castlebar Clavinet (with pitchbend bar).
"Sequential Circuits have made me essentially a remote Prophet, the ideas coming from my Clavitar that Wayne Yentis put together — they changed the guts so I could have a programmable Prophet from anywhere on stage. I've always been changing my Fender Rhodes around: for looks onstage it's in plexiglass. The neoprene tips are all hard to achieve more harmonics and attack. A lot of people think the Castlebar Clavinet is a synth — it's like a guitar, bending the pitch up or down. The next thing I hope to get into is the Fairlight or the Synclavier. I'm probably going to have to go to computer school — eventually I'm going to have to get into that area. It's something I've been avoiding because I've been more involved in production recently.
"I think what's going to happen in the future is it'll come down to one or two instruments that can do anything. It's getting too expensive to carry all that other stuff around, and you don't really need it."
Oberheim, but, "Not recently."
Three-way speaker system: Gauss, JBL. Crown amps, "They don't ever break."
Tape echo in studio; analogue or digital delay live. Also Yamaha pedalboard live.
Linn on recent Larry Graham production.
"My own studio, LeGonks West in LA. Tommy Vicari is my favourite engineer. I've been mixing at Fantasy D, sometimes at Sound Lab. I use the Mitsubishi digital 2-track for my masters now, from the analogue multitrack."
"We don't call ourselves a synth band: I'm a guitar player and Gary's a saxophone player, even though our first single's very keyboard-oriented. We tend to use synths cautiously, we don't know a great deal about them technically, we just like the noises they make. We don't let them overwhelm us."
Sequential Circuits Pro-One; Yamaha CS20; "Various Casio keyboards." Studio: Roland System 100; Roland MC8; "The normal variety of string synths and so on."
I think the Pro-One is great for the money. We wanted a small synth for home demos, and at first we wanted to get the Rogue, but with the sequencer and all the rest we decided on the Pro-One. The first synth I ever had was a CS5 — the CS20 is good, convenient, and easily operated. They're making synths smaller which is fine. We find you can get a good sound from the Casios for home demos, especially if you put them through a harmoniser or something. The combination of an acoustic instrument like saxophone, which has a lot of expression, going through a synthetic instrument can be really good.
"I think they could do with standardising technical terms for sounds or effects which tend to have different names on different synths. I'd like to see the built-in sequencer becoming more common in fairly cheap synths, it's such a useful thing to have."
System 100 in studio: "It's tempting to make everything sound like Giorgio Moroder."
"We could easily augment ourselves to play live — there are plans."
"Not much on demos; I like chorus on bass guitar."
Roland TR808; Linn in studio.
Genetic Sound/Dave Allen. "Martin Rushent is so easy to work with, very quick and very efficient."
Two Portastudios; Fostex A8 8-track. "Extra money goes back into equipment."
"I'm a sound freak. If I'm laying down several sequences I'm doing what the rhythm guitarist used to do, so I'm leaving more freedom for our guitarist and more room for the drummer and bass player. The other three can play from the guts, whereas my keyboards are from the head: very methodical and straightforward."
Own: Roland JP8; Roland SH09; Moog Source (mod for Roland interface). Studio: Polymoog; Minimoog; PPG Wave II; Sennheiser 32-filter vocoder.
"I'm thinking of having the JP8's oscillators slowed down slightly, they're quite high. The PPG has the most incredible sounds; it would be the one that I'd really like to have, but the JP8 is a bit more practical for live. I chose the SH09 because there's the facility to put a polyphonic keyboard into it and use a trigger to gate it through — its top end is good too. The Source for the opposite, it's got a fantastic bottom end. Also, it's very easy to use live, you've literally got one control. We use a Roland guitar synth to control the vocoder, not keyboards.
"If the interfacing problem was solved you could play around with any combination of keyboards, but that's the key to why people sound different, the way they get round that problem."
Roland CSQ600; ARP (in studio).
Roland PA80 mixer/amp; trigger track to keyboardist and drummer; additional tape/sequences. All DI'd.
Roland Space Echo, "All the time. A lot of splitter boxes." E-H Clone Theory; MXR Flanger.
Roland TR808: use trigger outputs to control sequence gate. Simmons kit.
Studio Jean-Jaures/Jean-Pierre Massiera, "A total nutcase." Studio St Nom la Bretche/Christian Gence, "He plays the desk."
Roland mixer/amp as live, to Akai 2-track.
Feature by Tony Bacon
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