Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The work experience boy - day two: the real coffee challenge.

Day two: Having screwed up yesterday and getting lost in Hammersmith, I could feel a bit of dread and fear in the pit of my stomach travelling in for my second day at Assault & Battery studios. I arrive in reception to find Drew eating Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, having spent another night in the studio. Again, I feel a mix of admiration and fear – is this what it really takes to make it as a producer?

It’s clear – and completely expected – that I spend much of my time sitting on reception, grabbing every solitary cup and plate from the sink and putting it into the dishwasher almost before the owner has fully released it from their grasp, offering tea either too often or too infrequently (why do the studio assistants keep making it – that’s MY job!) and even gluing down the carpeted skirting boards which are hanging off due to being kicked by irate indie frontmen (well, perhaps). Being asked to go out and fetch lunch again – takeaway English breakfasts for the unnamed American singer upstairs and her band – makes for some sort of highlight.

The day is genuinely brightened up by the affable Howie B, however, who is in the mastering suite playing what sounds like a brilliant piece of dirty electronica. I ask if it's one of his own tracks and he says yes. Apparently the album is due out in September and if the track is a fair reflection of the album it'll definitely be worth getting hold of. Howie (whose production credits include Bjork, U2 and Tricky), has a laugh that’s not so much infectious but viral and says it’s taken him four hours to do the one hour journey into the studio because it’s such a beautiful day and he kept having to stop off to go to the pub and soak up the sun. Yes, nice work if you can get it you may think, but you can bet that he’s had to spend years making tea in the warren-like, sun-impoverished environs of the studio to earn the right to take such so-called liberties now.

In A&B1, Big Pink finish their six-week stint with Alan Moulder and his two assistants make it clear that they’re relieved it's over - not because the band were particularly hard to work with but because it's been quite a laborious process getting the right sound that the band are happy with.

The only other point of note is making my first ever ‘real’ coffee in a cafetiere (good job I Googled it the day before). This may strike you as a bizarre admission for a 33-year-old man but as a staunch tea drinker who’s not allowed near a coffee bean any more, this is quite a moment – especially as it’s for Alan Moulder who I’ve been told is quite particular about his coffee. Having accidentally taken credit for the coffee his assistant made him in the morning, I say, ‘I hope it’s to your liking,’ as I place it shakily on the table next to a few thousand pounds worth of hardware in the studio. Alan replies, ‘I’m sure it’s fine. It was earlier on,’ and I cringe a bit inside as I walk out. It’s not just the first time Alan asks me to make him coffee, it’s also the last.

Originally posted on http://blog.ianroullier.com on 7 June 2011.

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