Interview: Chi Lameo – Producer/Engineer

Sixteen Tonnes is already a fan of the constantly morphing Spider Kitten, so we asked the bands main man about his other life as a producer/engineer:

16T: When did you first get into recording and how?
Chi: I started when I was about 12. I had a little cassette 4 track that I used until the tape heads broke. I was fascinated immediately by multitrack recording. To this day I enjoy recording much more than playing live. I’ve recorded every release that Spider Kitten have put out myself and I’m immensely proud of that. I only started recording other people’s music about 6 or 7 years ago. I started with recording friend’s bands for free and I’m now at a stage where I can charge a reasonable fee for my services. It really is the best job in the world.
16T: Was there a particular record or band that really inspired you to get in to recording music?
Chi: Pink Floyd. Listening to The Wall when I was a teenager, I knew that I wanted to be Bob Ezrin as well as Roger Waters. The way the tracks segue into each other and all the sound effects, it’s like a film without visuals. My ultimate goal is to create something as powerful, challenging and as beautifully put together as The Wall.
16T: Which recording engineers/producers have had the most influence on you?
Chi: I’ve already mentioned Bob Ezrin, there’s also Jack Endino, Billy Anderson, Brian Wilson, Trent Reznor, Roy Thomas Baker and Steve Albini.
16T: Do you have your own style or technique when recording or is it based mostly on the band your working with?
Chi: I definately have my own style, but I’m also entirely open to working in different ways. The most important thing, more important than fidelity, is that the band are comfortable. Personally I like to build things up in layers, starting with the drums, the bass, rhythm guitar, vocals, lead guitar and then anything else. It gives me absolute control over how each element sounds. Most bands hate working like this and prefer to record all their parts at the same time and, as I said, their performance is the most important thing. My job is to capture it the best I can.
16T: Who have you enjoyed working with most?
Chi: My favourite person to record is Jimmy Rowe. He’s a singer/songwriter who mostly plays acoustic blues. Pretty much everything he does is amazing and he’s up for letting me experiment with different techniques and arrangements. We’ve had some fun in the past drunkenly recording washboards and inventing percussion instruments.
16T: You’ve been involved in the underground music scene in Wales for some time now. How do you feel it has changed over the years?
Chi: I think it’s got much, much better. In the 90s there really wasn’t much good alternative music in South Wales, just shit indie and lots and lots of ska. Notable exceptions were Snorkmaiden and Cementimental who were doing some pretty wacky stuff. Now there’s a lot of great bands, heavy and not so heavy. I think there’s also quite a variety of sounds within each genre too. There’s not a specific Welsh sound, which I suppose is a good thing.
16T: We hear you are setting up a new studio. What’s the latest?
Chi: I’m in the process of setting up a studio in a 100 year old chapel in the valleys, complete with an enormous pipe organ. There’s still a lot of work to do, and getting planning permission has been an almost Kafkaesque experience. I’m hoping that everything will be up and running by the end of this summer. It’s going to be great. There’ll be a nice big live room and obviously the potential for real church reverb is a pretty tantalising prospect.
16T: Finally, anything in the works at the moment?
Chi: I’m putting the finishing touches to the debut album of a band called Pus. It’s very, very heavy and nicely psychedelic. Then I’m going to be working with a crust punk band called Smiler, this will be the second release I’ve done for them. Also I’m recording the new Spider Kitten album. It’s a mammoth undertaking involving at least 2 studios and a rediculous amount of vocal tracks. I’m getting to flex my prog rock production muscles.
16 Tonnes suggest you use this guy to record your next album!

Listen to Chi’s most recent work > HERE <

Listen to Spider Kitten > HERE <

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