Engineer Drew Bang on current projects and gear
Posted on: Wednesday 20th of June 2018
“I’m not interested in orthodoxy,” declares Drew Bang on his website, and a cursory glance through his recording credits to date confirms the validity of his claim. From working with established acts like Royal Blood and U2, to helping to shape the sonic signatures of fast-rising bands The Bay Rays and Don Broco, Bang has carved out a niche for himself by adhering to the belief that it’s “all about making great music with nice people”.
In recent months this musical odyssey has taken him repeatedly to Brussels and the renowned ICP Studios, which has played host to numerous top-level rock acts such as White Lies, The Vaccines, Stereophonics and – with Bang engineering – Royal Blood. “I’ve worked a lot at ICP since spending three months there with Royal Blood,” he says. “I’ve developed a close relationship with the owners, and the gear list at the studios is immense.”
Hence the studios have become a home away from home for sessions with bands including Don Broco, a Bedford-hailing four-piece whose alt-rock sound has become evermore compelling over the course of three studio albums to date. Bang engineered 2018’s Technology and has nothing but good things to say about the group: “It was an absolute pleasure; those guys are so talented and underrated it’s criminal.”
Increasingly, Bang is producing as well as engineering his projects, as with recent sessions for The Bay Rays, a trio from Kent who have “landed a sound that seems tailored for this year’s approaching festival season,” according to a March 2018 article in The Independent. Working with emerging bands like The Bay Rays is “incredibly rewarding,” says Bang. “Helping acts develop into something previously unrealised gives a lot back.”
Bang does not have his own studio facility at present, so like most active engineer/producers he finds himself bouncing between large studios and smaller spaces as required by the client’s wishes and/or budget. “If I’m engineering on a session I will happily work with the band wherever they feel comfortable working,” he says. “There are so many great studios and environments to be creative in, and it’s a massive honour to experience established recording institutions while we still have them. If I’m working on production projects for unsigned artists or low budget and sensitive clients, there are a few rooms I like to use in London. Sometimes I’ll call in a favour with a friend and use their room in exchange for some free engineering or maybe some beers!”
Nonetheless, Bang certainly has his preferences when it comes to gear, highlighting API 512 preamps for drums – “such an esoteric colouring to the source, you can’t go wrong” – and a vocal chain that is “almost always” a Neve 1073 or 1081 into 1176 and potentially cascading into a CL-1B [compressor from Tube-Tech]. “Generally this is pre-EQ insert as I try to EQ at the mic as much as possible, then split-filter low end and attenuate any problem areas before tape. I’m not wanting to boost frequencies into the compressor in this chain,” he notes.
As for the future, Bang anticipates more time spent on projects involving both songwriting and production, as well rediscovering his dormant vocal side. “I used to sing in bands some years ago and I’m starting to find my voice and confidence with it again, so I’ll be shoehorning those BVs into productions as a signature move,” he says.
He is also excited about his involvement in the debut album from The Japanese House, an indie-pop act from Buckinghamshire that is essentially a vehicle for songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber Bain. “Sonically I think that that album is going to blow people’s minds,” says Bang. “I recorded various instruments and vocals for that project recently and it’s a sonically beautiful record. Amber is an incredibly talented producer so watch that space.”
exclusive interview by David Davies for Resolution magazine