Jun 01, 2003

Recording & Remixing

The ghost of hayseed dixie

--Renaissance Recording Studio owner John Wheeler - perhaps best known to the world as 'Barley Scotch', front man for the irreverently raucous bluegrass band Hayseed Dixie - reports that he recently tracked and mixed several personal album projects on his 24-channel Soundcraft Ghost LE console. The studio, which features a large 16' x 25' tracking room, is located on the lower floor of Wheeler's house in Nashville's Edgefield neighborhood. Earlier this year, the musician/engineer used the Ghost LE to record his group's sophomore release, A Hillbilly Tribute to Mountain Love, which is now out on Dualtone/BMG. He has also now just put the finishing touches on a new roots rock side project by a band called Kerosene Brothers, whose album is currently slated for a February 2003 release.

Wheeler purchased his Soundcraft console from local Nashville dealer Corner Music back in 1995. "When I bought my Ghost, it was the only desk in its price range that had a decent sounding EQ, and it probably still is," he says. "The sweepable mids are great. You can really 'search and destroy' with them without messing up your phase.

"Just like an old analog Neve console, if you bash the Ghost's 'TO MIX' really hard, you can actually get a bit of transient compression and the related harmonic distortion that goes with it. I think that can sound pretty cool, especially on a rock and roll record where there's a good dense mix and everything's up there hitting that '+12' all the time. It gets a little gritty, but gritty in a good way!"

Although Wheeler has had his Soundcraft desk for nearly eight years, aside from occasionally blowing it out with a little compressed air, he's never had to do any real maintenance work on it. "And up until Hayseed took off, I used it basically every day," he notes. "There'd be weeks at a time where I wouldn't even turn the power off and it's still going strong. The Ghost is a quality piece."

Before Hayseed Dixie's touring schedule started frequently pulling Wheeler away from his studio last year, he previously spent much of his time at the Soundcraft working with bands and artists that he describes as "anything but mainstream country." A few of Wheeler's standout projects were for The Ex-Husbands, The Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies and singer/songwriter Rod Picott, not to mention Hayseed Dixie's 2001 debut record, A Hillbilly Tribute to AC/DC, which has already sold more than 100,000 copies so far.

Today, Wheeler primarily uses his Ghost LE in conjunction with a new iZ RADAR 24 digital audio recorder and a wide variety of outboard gear from Great River, Buzz Audio, Avalon, Universal Audio, Purple Audio, Lexicon, Crane Song and other manufacturers. His studio monitors are JBL 4028s and Quested VS2205s.

When asked what his alter ego, Barley Scotch, would say he likes about the Soundcraft desk, Wheeler quips: "Well, this here's an LE model without them fancy transport controls, so it's got a perfect amount of flat space just above the buss faders to nicely accommodate a couple mason jars full of moonshine!"

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