Adam “Nolly” Getgood is a producer from Bath, UK. He has worked with bands such as Periphery, Sikth, Devin Townsend Project, Animals As Leaders, Bleed From Within, Rise to Remain and many more.
He’s also the creator of GetGood Drums. We spoke about the scientific approach of engineering, which album he’d like to hear remixed, what piece of gear recently blew his mind, how to stay healthy during recording and much more!
1. What was the thing that got you into Music Production?
I suppose I’ve always had quite a “scientific” approach to things, and from when I first started playing music I was fascinated by working out why things sound the way they do, trying to imitate them then eventually implement those sounds in my own way. I studied Music Technology in 6th Form (that’s high school to all you non-Brits!) and loved it, then a few years later started demoing my own music but was shocked at how bad everything I did sounded compared to the rock and metal bands I loved listening to. I suppose at that point I got hooked trying to figure out how to make my demos sounding better, and pretty soon was obsessed with learning more and more about engineering and production using the music of my band at the time as a testbed for my ideas, and spending all my days scouring forums for more information and tips.
Along the line I’d become friends with Misha [Mansoor, Periphery], and somehow when it came time for Periphery to record their second album, he managed to convince the band I’d be a worthwhile person to be on hand for the process. I was totally out of my depth, but that session changed my life – it was my first real professional production gig, and led to me joining Periphery as a bassist too.
2. What’s your stance on the digital vs analog battle?
When I started out I had no chance of affording outboard gear so I worked entirely ITB, which in hindsight was hugely lucky since once I started working professionally I was also touring heavily with Periphery and mainly mixed from my laptop while we were on the road through necessity, with nothing more than an iLok and a pair of headphones. Nowadays I’ve stopped touring but I still mix ITB out of habit – I’ve found my sound this way and it’s so useful to be able to take mix sessions away from my home studio and work on them anywhere and anytime.
All that’s for mixing, but for tracking I’ll happily make use of the analogue equipment on hand at the studios I work out of! That said, it’s mainly due to the convenience and satisfaction of recording sounds that are closer to being mix-ready rather than feeling there is an inherent mojo I can’t achieve any other way.
When it comes to modelling plugins, I won’t say that digital is exactly the same as the analogue counterparts, but I think that these days it’s close enough to where there isn’t an objectively better sound to be had. Of course some pieces only exist in the real world, and if you want that sound you’ve got no alternative!
Ultimately I don’t care too much which route it takes to get to the desired sound. I can definitely appreciate the romanticism of “real” gear, but for my purposes it’s an added hassle that doesn’t pay off enough to warrant the trouble. I’d be genuinely happy to eat my words if I experience otherwise in the future though!
3. Do you think one day software, emulation-hardware etc will surpass the real thing?
I guess it depends what you mean by “surpass”. In some ways I think it has – the ability to add functionality that can only exist in the digital domain, to be able to have as many instances as your computer can handle, etc.. Ultimately though, in terms of sonics, a plugin emulating hardware can only hope to equal the original, since that’s technically the ideal goal.
I’m more interested in whether they sound great to my ears or not – to me, most of the recent plugins do!
4. How do you see the current Music Production scene? The pros the cons, what we might be missing/what we could improve?
I think it’s an exciting time! What I’m seeing is that some of the new generation of professional engineers and artists have interest in going back to the older way of doing things with real drums, real amps, in proper studio spaces. In a time where it’s become very easy to learn the technical sides of engineering and mixing through online resources, I’d like to see more emphasis being put on the crucial songwriting and people-management aspects of working as a producer.
5. What’s the latest piece of gear (hardware/software) that made you go bananas?
That’d be the Suhr Reactive Load box. When you run a great guitar amp head into that thing and use a high-quality cabinet IR, I swear it is as good as identical to the sound and feel of a mic’d up cab. The amp “thinks” it’s seeing the changing impedance from a real cab/speaker, so the power section gives you the low end movement, the right top end bite etc. It’s so good to be able to track with my prized guitar amps silently, it’s made guitar recording a joy again for me!
6. Let’s say we could get the brightest of the brightest and smartest of the smartest to come up with a piece of gear (software/hardware) and it could eliminate one annoying thing, what would it be (could be audio or anything, physically impossible or possible)?
PLEASE, someone invent the equivalent of an Evertune guitar bridge for drum lugs! It would be my dream to bring out a snare drum, tune it up perfectly then never have to touch a lug again for the remainder of the drumhead’s life…
7. If you could give one piece of advice to a young starting home-studio producer, what would it be?
Speaking strictly about the technical side of record production: take advantage of the amazing resources for learning that exist online now, then practise as much as you possibly can. You’ve got every tool you could possibly need to mix like a pro at your disposal even with the stock plugins in your DAW, so don’t get too caught up in what the hot topic on the internet message boards is.
8. If you could go back in time to remix/master/record one album, what would it be? (Can be your own production or someone elses production)
That’s a pretty difficult one. There are plenty of albums I love that sound terrible, yet I couldn’t imagine them any other way! The most appropriate one that comes to mind is Deftones’ latest album “Gore”. I can’t make sense of how they ended up with a record that sounds so abrasive and unbalanced, especially since they say they rejected mixes from some big name engineers. Maybe it’s exactly as they want it to sound, but I can never listen to that album for more than a couple of minutes because it’s so fatiguing… and I’m a big Deftones fan!
9. How do you stay healthy during recording process? Exercises? Diets? Things to avoid? Things to remember?
This is still a work in progress for me! The most important thing I’ve learned is how crucial it is to maintain your mental state during sessions, and how to disconnect and give yourself space when you’re not working. I’ve spent many sessions doing nothing but working, then thinking about working, for the entirety of every day, and that’s a horrendously unsustainable way to live!
10. What’s the 1 item that a new producers shouldn’t be cheap with?
A good chair. My back gives me a lot of discomfort these days from years working with bad posture, but I recently got a Herman Miller chair and that’s made it possible to work far more comfortably for long periods of time. I wish I’d had one from the start!