It’s no secret that Nottingham has one of the best hardcore scenes in Europe, and Stuck On A Name Studio lies right at the heart of the city’s musical centre. When not playing music himself, recording engineer Ian Boult has helped out on records by Army of Flying Robots, Moloch, Internal Conflict and even Eyehategod’s Jimmy Bower, in addition to putting on numerous shows at the studio too. M3 contacted Ian to learn more about the life of a recording engineer…
M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Ian – I’m Ian Boult (Boulty), I run Stuck on a Name Studio as the sole recording engineer. I put on shows in Nottingham under the name Songs for Speedcore Lovers with a friend Eddie where we focus on the nastier side of heavy music, ranging from slow doomy sludge through to grindcore, and I am in a couple of new bands too (Huffin’ Paint and Death Tripper)
What inspired you to focus on music? What is your own musical background?
I was a bit of a late comer to being a genuine music fan, probably 17/18 when I first started to genuinely fall in love with music, before that I was more of a casual listener but I discovered a whole new sound of heavy underground music around then and it changed my life really. I started to play in bands and just started recording my own stuff to 4track tape which is where I fell in love with recording and working on that side of music and it has only expanded since then.
Many people have claimed that there is no longer any money in record sales, and that touring is the most efficient way to earn an income as a band. How much truth do you think there is in this sentiment?
It’s an area I am not massively involved in myself as I’ve only ever been in one band that has put out a record. I would say that I am recording a lot of bands that are still releasing vinyl and CDs, so people must still be buying them. I think the people this is affecting are bigger and major labels that, for the most part, have spent their time ripping off bands and artists anyway. One thing I do notice is a lot of bigger bands are releasing a lot more merchandise so I guess this is a way for them to recoup if there are a lack of music sales.
How has the internet affected what you do? Would you say it’s made your job easier, or more difficult?
I would say that if anything the internet has helped me, a lot of my business is word of mouth and the internet is the biggest mouth out there. Bands actively mention where they record and include links to my website or page which makes more people check out my place and what I do. For the gig promoting side of things it is great too and again, it’s easier now to reach an audience of people that will be into the music and they can readily check out the bands via YouTube or Bandcamp or anywhere else the bands may have their music on.
What would you say are the main challenges facing an up and coming concert promoter in the 21st century?
I don’t think there are any specific challenges, just make sure you put hard work into it. I know of promoters that think just sorting bands out and a venue is all you need to do, there is a lot of leg work involved in making sure people know about the events. Go to as many shows that might have a similar audience and flyer, poster everwhere to get the word out and spread the word of the events over the internet too. The more people promoting correctly the better a town/city is going to be known for good gigs which in turn would provide a better audience for those gigs.
What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
My preferred medium is vinyl and that is nothing to do with any digital verses analogue debate, my studio is digital and I think you can get a great sound in digital media. My main preference for vinyl is that I feel I listen to the music more as it actually takes time to get the record out, put it on and play it, just feels like a more active listening experience. I love my MP3 player as I can listen to my music anywhere but I do find I don’t listen to it in the same way as I do when I put a record on.
Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
I guess that coincides with my previous answer, I think it is getting to more of a point that albums are less of a focus and people are selectively listening to just specific songs as opposed to an album as a whole. It is a shame and makes music feel more throw away at times but the genuine music fans are still going to sit there and take in a whole album as it should be.
Similarly, do you feel that the abundance of recorded music that is easily available on the internet has led people to place more importance on the live experience as the ‘authentic’ way to hear music?
I wouldn’t say it makes the live experience more authentic but I would say that as it allows people to hear more bands, they are more likely to go to underground gigs as people have more access to underground music than ever before. At least that has been my experience in promoting as I can easily link a song of a band I am putting on and if they like what they hear they will be more likely to come to the gig than if I just say ‘oh they are powerviolence or doom’ or whatever.
What is your take on the current SOPA/ACTA controversy?
I think it’s disgusting and is just a front to control the internet more, it will start with the shutting down of websites that contain copyright material but then wouldn’t stop there until the internet is fully monitored and controlled with subscription services that make it more like a TV/cable service than the freedom we have at the moment.
Finally, what does the future have in store for Stuck on a Name studios?
I’m hoping to expand the studio with a bigger premises and more gear plus I am currently looking into starting a label that would be vinyl and free digital download only in the vein of Throat Ruiner records, a label I have massive respect for.