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Geared magazine talks to Tim about...gear ! Print E-mail
Saturday, 11 December 2004

A widely circulated free music magazine in Queensland, Australia, published this great interview with Tim Powles.

With a new B-sides/rarities compilation out, an acoustic album out next week, a new album well underway, and an Australian tour that sees them playing the Zoo on Saturday, you could say THE CHURCH have been busy. Drummer and producer TIM POWLES talks tech with BRETT COLLINGWOOD.

Few bands last for 25 years, and of those,
there?s very, very few that could be considered
anywhere close to the peak of their powers. I mean
? the Stones? Exactly. So when you consider that
The Church have indeed been in the game for a
quarter-century, and have quietly amassed one of
the most distinctive and consistent bodies of work
in popular music, and have done so despite line-up
changes and shifting commercial fortunes, and
their current album is not just passable but one of
their very best, and said album is ?merely? a collection
of B-sides and rarities left over from their previous
?official? release, you might just need to sit
down for a moment. Yep, The Church is one of
those rare beasts: a long-running band that never
became shit.

In fact, the band seem to be on something of
creative spree at the moment: not only have they
just released Beside Yourself (for that is the title
of the aforementioned B-sides/rarities album), but
they?ve been squirreled away in the studio working
on not one but three album projects. Tim
Powles, the band?s producer and drummer of ten
years, explains: ?We just tracked an acoustic album
from whoa to go ? mixed and mastered in
five days ? including five new songs and nine older
tracks. We dropped that in the middle of sessions
for The Church?s new record which is going to be
released mid next year. So that?s what we?re doing
at the moment, we?re actually in the middle of that
electric record. Also I?ve just been in LA last week
supervising the 5.1 mix of Forget Yourself [i.e. the
band?s last ?proper? album].?

The acoustic album Tim speaks of is El
Momento Descuidado, which, as he says, completely
reinterprets such Church classics as The
Unguarded Moment and Metropolis while throwing
a few new tracks into the mix. Tim says some
of these songs are likely to get an airing at the
band?s gig at the Zoo on Saturday, along with a
couple of tunes from Beside Yourself, an album that
holds together incredibly well for a supposed ?odds
and sods? collection

?That tends to happen with us,? Tim admits.
?There was an extra disc with the last album [After
Everything Now This] as well, and that was a
good disc too. We have a high output and usually
when we record an album we end up with about
two albums worth of material. I?m just glad that
we have record companies that are understanding
enough that we can actually get the music out

But one release that Tim is particularly excited
about is the upcoming 5.1 surround sound version
of Forget Yourself, which is due to be released
in March next year ? unfortunately only in the US
at first. Tim was invited to LA to oversee the mixing,
and was blown away by the results.

?I think it?s a better record in 5.1, much better.
Much more listenable and really strong, and I
feel a bit bad now that I probably bagged out [the
original Forget Yourself] here and there because I
realise now what a great record it is.?
Even though Tim has a wealth of experience
in record production, it was his first experience
with mixing in 5.1.

?I mix in stereo here obviously [at Spacejunk,
his recording studio] and make a lot of records for
a lot of other people, and it?s funny, it?s not that I?ve
dumbly ignored [5.1], I just haven?t had time to go
there. I just lucked out ? the company that had
licensed our record is one of the main movers in
that kind of medium in the States. So I dropped in
for five days in Los Angeles into this environment
and learnt so much. I guess I?m starting to form my
own opinions now about how things should be mixed
in that way. There are a lot of people at the moment
who just quite simply, in a fake way, just enhance
the stereo mix they?ve got to make it slightly more
surround, but on this record we?ve gone for things
quite clearly in other speakers and quite clearly at
the back or at the front and really tried to use it. I
just thought it was a wonderful thing for this band
with the layers that we have and the guitar players
in particular.?

Tim?s interest in production was initially
sparked in high school in his native New Zealand.
?I always took an interest in fixing sound systems,
wanting my drums to sound good to the audience
- and the girls in the audience too! - and wanting
the bands I was in to sound good,? he recalls.
?Being in covers bands at school I was keen to
emulate not just songs but sounds too.?
Tim says he was lucky when he first started
working in studios to work with several experience
local and overseas producers: ?This became
the basis from which I draw everything today in
terms of approach and the quality of the end result.?
Eventually, Tim started up his own recording
facility, Spacejunk, in Glebe ? Skulker?s debut
album Too Fat For Tahiti was the first product of
the studio. Now Spacejunk is temporarily situated
under a house in Ryde ?of all places?, and it?s here
that Tim completed Iron Skies, the debut EP for
George Byrne. Read on as Tim gets very excited
about his what?s in his studio?

Give us an overview of your set-up at

It?s now minus the MCI 2? [tape] machine, and
I?m resolving the desk/what desk/no desk/internal/
external mixing issue, but essentially [the studio
has] a TDM Protools rig with a Mac and the usual
stuff; some Apogee Converters too, and I use Logic
Pro 6 as the front end. I love this program for its
musicality and global arranging ability.

Do you have a favourite piece of equipment
(mics, outboard gear etc) that
you always come back to? Why do you like it?

My most overall useful faves are a triple tie: A
matched pair of distressors ? brilliant for everything,
including program compression with the
stereo image link function; an SPL Transient Designer
- the ultimate drum shaper, absolutely -
length and attack control in a second ? what we
used to do with chains of fluttering gates etc.; a
rack-mount Sansamp - my best friend and enemy
of the commercial estate! Anything can be warmed,
enlarged, scrunched, enhanced, reduced or plainly
destroyed with analogue precision! Often a sidechain
on a mix.

What do you look for in your drum sound?

List the components of your kit. For the
Church, a musical and song-suitable sound is all
we need. This ranges from a dead and low-tuned
sound to semi-open and [traditionally tuned]. I am
a Mapex player - I love the kit they custom made
me a while back now - actually it must be almost
eight years ago, wow! It?s a huge pile o? drums
that I sort through and pick what?s right on the
day - often the sound can write the part too. [I
use] 24-inch and 22-inch kick drums - not too
deep; 18, 15, 13, and 10-inch toms - all standard,
not the power tom variety; and six or seven snare
drums including two 12-inch snares, one 5-inchdeep
brass and one 7-inch-deep wood. All get used
somewhere, sometime. The biggest surprise was
the old chrome 6 1/2-inch-deep steel shell that I
stuck a Renaissance head on (tuned very low just
under a middle D) and a big Dead Ringer-style hoop
I made. It rattles, buzzes, thumps, and punches -
very cool. I used it on the last few sessions, the
whole of Forget Yourself and the tour too ? so
much for the heady ?80s and a new head every
gig! I also use little 7A sticks, lots of mallets, [Pro-
Mark] Hot Rods, brushes, Blastix, etc and handheld

The Church play the Zoo on Saturday Saturday. . El Momento
Descuidado is released on Monday November 29

Last Updated ( Saturday, 11 December 2004 )
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