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InterviewsGrammy Winner, 40 Gold & Platinum records- Neil Kernon Is A Producer's Producer!

Posted on Friday, August 10 2007 @ 15:00:43 CDT by Duncan Glenday
General Neil Kernon is one of the greatest producers and sound engineers around. He has been recording, producing and mixing since the 70's and has an amazing resume that includes all kinds of bands – from Yes to Queensryche to Dokken to Brand X to Nile to Mahavishnu Orchestra to Flotsam and Jetsam, and a million others.

Sea of Tranquility Staff Writer Murat Batmaz caught up with Kernon to talk about his career, thoughts on other producers, and music in general.

Murat Batmaz – Sea Of Tranquility: Are you working on anything nowadays?

Neil Kernon: This year has been very busy actually. So far in 2007, I've produced the new Nile album that was just released a couple of weeks ago, mixed the new Clay People record, the new Hixon album, the new Resistance album, the reissue of the Sceptre album. I just finished mixing the new Tapping the Vein album which I produced, and I did the new Aesma Daeva as well.

SoT: You were born into a musical family. What was your first instrument and do you still play anything?

NK: My first instrument was piano from age 3-4, and guitar from age 7. I still love to play both when I can find the time.

SoT: Do you consider yourself more of a producer or musician foremost?

NK: I'm a musician first and foremost, but I trained as an engineer at Trident studios back in the day, so I think I'm able to cover musical and technical fields equally well.

SoT: What type of music interested you the most? Did you ever record anything as a solo artist or in a band capacity?

NK: I love all types of music. When I first started working in the business, jazz/fusion was very popular, and that was the sort of music I was really into back then, so that was great timing, especially working at Trident, as many albums in that style came through there. I did actually do a "solo album" way back at Ringo's studio, for the most part. I played everything except for drums. Very indulgent and busy - sort of a blend of Brand X, Queen and Todd Rundgren really.

SoT: How do you think being able to write and play music helps a producer? Is it still possible to do production work without being a complete musician?

NK: There are definitely producers who do not play an instrument, but as I come from a playing background myself, I find it hard to fathom out how they manage to convey their ideas to the artist when they can't necessarily pick up a guitar etc. and just show them what they mean. To me, that's an immediate way to get an idea or suggestion across. Still, this job is all about communicating, so if you can do that you can probably get your ideas across.

SoT: Could you talk a little about your earlier years? What or who prompted you to get into production work?

NK: I was working at Essex Music, a well known music publishers, when I met both Rodger Bain and (the late) Gus Dudgeon. I had been frustrated in my current job, as I was working more in the songbook/sheet music publication end of the business, and wasn't hearing very much music at all. I asked them both their advice one day in the Essex Music canteen, and they both suggested I work in a studio, and coincidentally, they both recommended the same studio - Trident. So I wrote to Trident that night, and in about 3 months time had an interview and was very fortunate to get a job there as a teaboy.

SoT: You worked with artists such as Queen, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Elton John at Trident. How old were you at the time and what exactly did you do for these bands?

NK: I went straight from high school into the music business, at the age of 17. As I mentioned earlier, I started at Trident as a teaboy, and worked my way up to engineer over the following four years or so. I worked with Queen as a tape op and a mixing engineer, Mahavishnu as a) teaboy, b) tape op, c) assistant engineer and d) engineer. I worked with Elton John as an assistant engineer, and my claim to fame there was that I was asked to join in with the handclaps/whistles on "Bennie and the Jets". I was the phantom whistler on that song.

SoT: It seems the first progressive band you worked with was Yes. How did you hook up with them? Could you talk a bit about your experiences with the band?

NK: Actually, I had already worked with several progressive artists at Trident, including Peter Hammill prior to my working with Yes. In late '75 I was offered a job in France at Le Chateau D'Herouville, where I had worked on a Mahavishnu album earlier that year. I went freelance and started working there, but the timing was bad as they temporarily shut down the studio to rebuild the control room and re-equip it. After a while wandering round doing nothing, I decided to move back to London, where I had an interview with Brian Lane of Yes's management. He put me in touch with Jon Anderson who asked me to work with Yes as the replacement for Eddie Offord, working with them in the studio and also doing live sound.

SoT: You also worked in Ringo Starr's studios at one time which when you also collaborated with acts like Brand X, Peter Hammill, and Judas Priest. All three amazing artists, but vastly different in sound and style. How did you go about doing satisfactory work for all of them?

NK: I ran Ringo's studio for 2-3 years and was the resident producer/engineer/tape op/maintenace man there. I had worked with all three of these artists back in the Trident days. I worked on the first Brand X demos and also their debut (Brand X was almost considered to be an "in house" group of session musicians at Trident - they played on many records done there at that time) and I was a tape op on Priest's "Rocka Rolla", as well as working with Peter Hammill on the mixing of "Nadir's Big Chance". The differences between the artistic styles were really inconsequential in a sense, as it's the music that counts. I was producing Brand X's new album there (Product), and I mixed Unleashed in the East by Priest there, with my good friend Tom Allom, who I had worked with many times back at Trident, and the work I did with Peter there was as his engineer/mixer on an album he was producing (his production debut in fact) by a band called Random Hold. It was all rather incestuous in a way, as Brand X, Peter H., Random Hold and I were all managed by Hit and Run management, who also managed Peter Gabriel, Genesis etc. Keep it all in the family, so to speak. [Laughs]

SoT: What prompted you to relocate from London to New York in the first place?

NK: Funnily enough, it was after a production offer from a band from New York, Orleans. They had contacted Hit and Run, who, as I mentioned, managed both Brand X and I, and they really liked the Product album and wanted Robin Lumley, the keyboard player and already a well-known jazz/fusion producer by then, and myself to go and produce the upcoming Orleans album in New York. I jumped at the opportunity to work in the States, and as a result of that trip and several opportunities that arose from it, decided to move to NY.

SoT: It seems your work with Hall and Oates proved successful. What albums you produced got Grammy Nominations?

NK: The Orleans job led indirectly to me being asked to work with Daryl and John on their new album, via their drummer, Jerry Marotta. He and his brother Rick had both really liked the drum sound I got for them on the Orleans record, so he asked me if I would mind if he told Daryl and John about me, as they were looking for a new co-producer for their new album, Voices. That album did very well, with a #1 single, "Kiss On My List", a #2 single, "You Make My Dreams", and a #8 single, the remake we did of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling". These were my first gold and platinum album and singles. We went on to work together on the Private Eyes and H2O albums, which did even better than Voices. All three were nominated for Grammys, but none actually won. Those three albums alone sold over 30 million copies worldwide, so it was indeed a great opportunity for me.

SoT: You've worked with countless bands in a different capacity. At this point, it'd be cool if you could elaborate a little about the main differences between production, mastering, mixing, etc. There are many people who confuse producing with mixing? From a producer's point of view, can you explain us when constitutes each of these approaches?

NK: Well, there are many differences. Production actually can encompass everything in a sense, as the making of a record starts with working on the structure of the music, and ends with the album being mastered. After that, there's no more attention paid to the sound of the record - once it's mastered the creative process is complete. Here's a short summary of a typical recording/mix to help shed some light on the process:

1. Pre-production: This is usually done in a rehearsal room etc, with the musicians playing their songs, etc. The arrangements of the music are worked on and modified if necessary, to make sure that there are no "dead areas" where the listeners' attention might be lost, due to a long-winded part of a musical arrangement. The songs that are most likely to be singles or emphasis tracks to radio are given extra scrutiny to make sure they are as focused and watertight as possible. This is usually done by the artist(s) and the producer together. It's a very important part of the process that often gets overlooked. Although some editing is often possible, it's not always easy to make radical changes in the song arrangement once you're in the studio, so it's always better to have the material tight and fully rehearsed prior to entering the studio for the basic tracking.

2. Basic tracks: This is where the rhythm tracks are recorded. In the old days, there was a producer, a recording engineer and a tape operator (tape op). As time has passed, many engineers became producers as well, so that distinction became less clear. There are still producers who don't engineer, and there are also engineers who don't produce. Back in the day, those two jobs were quite distinct from each other. The drummer and bass player are often the only ones recording "keeper" tracks in this segment, and in many cases it might be the drummer recording alone, in order to focus on his parts in great detail. The rest of the band will often play along so the drummer knows where he is in the song etc. or just to help give him the vibe of the track.

3. Overdubs: Once the basic tracks are done, all the other instruments and then vocals (if necessary) are overdubbed over the basics, and this is the building part of the process. Same team as basic tracks. This is a really creative part of the process, where you try out lots of ideas, and pay particular attention to every performance.

4. Mixing: Once everything is recorded, the mix is the next phase. Sometimes the recordings are sent out to a different engineer to mix, so that a fresh perspective can be had on the project. There are many engineers who specialise in mixing, and never record a thing. They just mix. Mixing is the balancing of all the recorded tracks, so that you can hear everything clearly.

5. Mastering: Once the mix is complete, the mixes are sent to a mastering engineer to do his work. I honestly believe that real mastering engineers have the most fine-tuned hearing of everyone, in the sense that they work in the same environment all the time and know immediately if a mix needs a particular sonic treatment or not. "Mastering" has also become something of a buzzword, and there are a lot of people out there who claim to be "mastering engineers" who really don't have a clue what they're doing. It's really sad, because mastering is the final process, and an album can be ruined by bad mastering.

SoT: Which one do you like better? Being a producer or sound engineer? What is the most difficult thing about being together with the band in the studio?

NK: To me, engineering is nothing more than a means to an end. Getting the sound is very important of course, but by far the most important part is getting to the meat - the performances. I've always preferred the production aspects of making a record, probably because I'm a musician first, and I'm also something of a team coach. It's very important to put a fire under the artist when they are in the studio, to make them play better, push them to improve, perform better etc. I'm really good at that - getting strong performances out of people. I think it's probably what I'm known for the most. Of course, pushing people all the time doesn't necessarily make you very popular, so you have to find different ways to do it without causing stress or tension. I like to keep everyone in good spirits - having a laugh if possible, because that way you get a lot more accomplished without even realising it.

SoT: As a producer, do you throw them new ideas as to how a certain melody should be constructed or how the tone of the lead guitars should sound or do you leave it up to the band most of the time?

NK: Of course. I've always been an "ideas guy" as the expression used to go. It's important not to get used to the way something is, so that you can embrace change and improvement at all stages. I'll always throw out new suggestions, all the way up to the end of the mixing.

SoT: When you receive copies of the band's demos to mix, do you ever feel if you had produced that album you'd have never let them record certain parts that way?

NK: Yes of course. Quite often things sound really small and weak, and in many cases are horribly out of tune or out of time. I would definitely not let those things get past if I was doing the tracking, but that's the way it is in those cases. By the same token, some of the stuff I get to mix sounds really good.

SoT: Since you're in the States all the time, there's no way you can actually produce any European bands. So when they contact you to mix their stuff, do you just tell them to go record on their own or with a different producer, and get mailed the tapes so you can work on them?

NK: Every situation is different. Sometimes the band will come to the US to do the whole record - other times I'll get the finished tracks to mix. I always try to give the band, or their engineer, pointers and tips - what mics to use, how to track things cleanly etc. That way, it means I get better source sounds to work with in the end, and that can really help of course.

SoT: Just goes to show how different mixing and producing are. I see many producers getting flack for discs they just "mixed". It seems some people associate good sound quality with being a good producer. What do you think?

NK: I think this comes with the territory. We have no control over the source sounds of the recording. There are only so many things that can be done with EQ/compression etc. Fortunately, with some tools available today a lot of drum work can be done to make a weak drum sound sound full, or a lot more powerful. I think the listener probably expects a "sonic standard" if a particular person's name appears on a record. Personally, while I always do my best to make things sound as good a possible, I'm not fond of making everything I do sound the same. It's very important to me that the artist retains their individuality.

SoT: What if you totally despise the recording quality of their work. Do you call and let the bands know about it so they can apply some changes to final product or do you engineer the tapes anyway?

NK: Well, this has never really happened. I've had some horrible sounding stuff sent to me that thankfully I've always managed to improve upon. Simply put, it's a shame that a lot of the time that might otherwise be spent being creative in the mix is actually spent "fixing" stuff that sounds horrible. That's not my idea of taking the project to another level, but sometimes it's all that can be done.

SoT: What about the bands' touring commitments? For example, if you track the stuff together, yet they cannot be available during the mixing stage? Does that make you feel uncomfortable for fear that you may not get the exact desired result?

NK: I'm a team player, and I always like the band/artist to be around for the mix. Many engineers like to kick the band out for the mix, and a lot of labels I've worked with have asked me to do exactly that, so that the mix doesn't get sabotaged/bogged down etc. I like the band/artist to be around so that they can hear how their album is going to sound. We all worked on the tracking, so it makes no sense that only one of us is there for the mix. Fortunately, it really doesn't happen that often. Of course, I also mix a lot of stuff that I haven't tracked, and in many cases those artists can't be present.

NK: In this case, you mustn't be all that concerned about putting a stamp on the material you produce. After all, there are producers out there whose work can be immediately recognised?

NK: As I touched on earlier, I don't like to put a sonic stamp on my work. The artist should sound like the artist, not like the last 10 albums I've produced. That's one reason that I prefer to do lots of different types of work - that way I can go from one style of production and music to another, and it keeps my ears fresh, plus it's great to be able to bring in ideas from different genres - sort of like cross-pollination I suppose. If I only worked in metal, or rock, I'd probably get really bored and start going through the motions, doing the same thing each time. I think that would be like a nightmare - almost like having a day job or something where you get in a terrible rut and can't escape from it!

SoT: Where do labels stand in all of this? Do they ever make demands on how their bands' music should sound once they've worked out a deal with you?

NK: Not really. In the old days I would work with some labels who would "suggest" that we try to change the style of the band in mid-record, in order to capitalise on a trend that might happening. I prefer to go into a project knowing exactly what we've got to do, exactly how to make the artist sound, with a lot of clarity on where we're going with things.

SoT: Back to your career... How did you decide to work with heavier bands, such as Nevermore, Nile, and Queensryche?

NK: Three different situations entirely. With Queensryche, I contacted them once I heard they were looking for a producer. I loved The Warning and aggressively pursued them to do Rage for Order. With Nevermore, they were still called Sanctuary when we met, and I was living in Seattle at the time, so we became friends. We did some demos for Epic that didn't fit with their new "alternative" vision, so the band was dropped, and we shopped those demos for a deal, and they got picked up by Century Media. The rest is history. With Nile, I got a call from Gordon Conrad at Relapse about possibly working with them. They wanted to work with someone who worked on complex AND heavy music who could make their stuff sound clear and powerful. I think we make a really good team.

SoT: You produced, recorded and mixed two Dokken albums. What was it like working with them and were you all happy with how Under Lock and Key turned out?

NK: Dokken was something of an adventure and also a circus. The guys were all great to work with, but as you know, Don and George seldom saw eye to eye, so we had numerous logistical situations to sort out. We were all very pleased with the albums.

SoT: Without doubt, one of your most interesting albums was Rage for Order by Queensryche. It is still considered many a fan's favourite release ever. How and where did you record those songs?

NK: The drums and bass were tracked in a mobile truck in Seattle, and the overdubs were all done in Vancouver, BC. The mix was done at Yamaha's R&D studio in Glendale, CA.

SoT: How come you never got around to doing the Mindcrime record with them? It seemed everyone was pleased with how Rage for Order sounded...

NK: I was supposed to, but I was caught up in the "Dokken circus" at the time. I was doing the Back for the Attack album, which was supposed to be completed in 3-4 months. However, the weird situation in the band at the time slowed things down to a crawl and prolonged the entire process, and Queensryche were forced to look elsewhere due to the Dokken album running way longer than originally planned.

SoT: Why do you think there are lots of people out there who describe your work "cold, clinical, and soulless"?

NK: I'm not really sure. I know that people called the Spiral Architect "clinical" but that was probably due to the fact that the sound needed to be crystal clear for everything to be heard properly.

SoT: Let's talk a bit about some producers and engineers. It would be cool to hear your opinion on them…

-- Dino Alden (Zero Hour, Racer X, Imagika, Cacophony, Marty Friedman, Tony MacAlpine, etc)

NK: The only stuff I know that Dino has done was the Zero Hour. Very good sounding, nice and punchy.

SoT: -- Andy Sneap (Nevermore, Blaze, etc.)

NK: Andy indeed makes great sounding records, there's no doubt about that. I can always hear everything clearly and crisply. I'm certainly a fan of his work, although I think he can put something of an "Andy Sneap" stamp on the sound - which might not necessarily appeal to everyone. Still, sonically his albums do kick arse. He seems like a nice chap too!

SoT: Both you and Andy Sneap have worked on Nevermore albums? When you compare them sonically, in what ways do you feel your works differ? I consider your production on Nevermore's Dreaming Neon Black arguably your finest work along with Spiral Architect, but it seems Sneap's production on Nevermore's This Godless Endeavor emphasizes crunch and punch a bit more heavily.

NK: Well, there have been a lot of technological changes since I did DNB. Pro Tools didn't even exist in a high quality multitrack format, so it was all analogue. Andy used Pro Tools on DHiaDW which probably made the sonic approach a lot different, especially with those two being back to back albums like that.

SoT: How did you capture that "dark" mood on Dreaming?

NK: It was due to a lot of different factors. Warrel was going through some personal (girlfriend related) stuff back then, which set the lyrical tone. Also, he was trying a new meaty diet!

SoT: -- Sascha Paeth (Kamelot, Angra, etc.)

NK: Not really a Kamelot fan, so I can't comment. I did listen to one Kamelot album in its entirety, but it was not by choice. [Laughs]

SoT: -- Tommy Newton (Conception, Ark, etc.)

NK: Recently I mixed an album that Tommy had tracked and the tracks sounded very good.

SoT: -- Andy LaRocque (Evergrey). It's a shame you never got around to producing Evergrey's Recreation Day. I remember it was because of you not being able to leave the USA for some reason. What exactly prevented you from working with them? How did you like the sound of Recreation Day and is there any chance of you working with them in the future?

NK: I like Andy's work, although I know him more as a guitarist than a producer. Regarding Evergrey, I was (and am still) in that same situation where I'm unable to leave the US. It's been 5 years now, so the situation has got extremely old and tiresome. My Green Card got damaged, so I applied for a replacement in January 2002, which I still have not received.

SoT: -- Terry Brown (Rush, Fates Warning, etc.)

NK: Well, I'm not much of a Rush fan myself to be honest. More of an old school English proghead if anything. The music was good. Not sure the sound was anything spectacular though.

SoT: -- Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, Opeth)

NK: I like his productions a lot. I was talking to Mikael about possibly working with Opeth on the production of Deliverance/Damnation, but...same problem...I could not leave the US. As far as Steven's other stuff, Porcupine Tree - I think I prefer Pink Floyd's original flavours. On a positive note though, his production of Anja Garbarek's album was absolutely sublime.

SoT: -- Any chance you may join forces with Opeth later on? Which albums of theirs do you like the most?

NK: I have no idea. I hope so. I do like all their work, and my favourites are "My Arms, Your Hearse" and "Blackwater Park"

SoT: -- Devin Townsend (solo, Strapping Young Lad)

NK: Devin's very talented. I like all his albums.

SoT: -- Anders Theo Neander (Pain of Salvation, Allen/Lande)

NK: I'm a huge fan of PoS, but really from a musical point of view. To be honest, I only notice production if it's either stellar, or if it ends up getting in the way. As a musician first and foremost I always go for the vibe. If that's not there, it really doesn't matter how good the album sounds. If I don't get goosepimples from hearing something then I probably "missed" the moment.

SoT: -- Have you heard their new album Scarsick done entirely by Daniel Gildenlow? What did you think of it both musically and sonically?

NK: I like the music. The sound works just fine.

SoT: -- Michael Wagener (White Lion, Skid Row, etc.)

NK: Michael's an old friend of mine. We did Dokken's Under Lock and Key together. He makes great sounding records.

SoT: -- James Murphy

NK: I only really know James for his excellent guitar playing, not his productions per se.

SoT: -- Dan Swano (Opeth, Novembre, Katatonia, etc.)

NK: I like what Dan does.

SoT: -- Peter Tagtgren

NK: Not terribly familiar with his productions.

SoT: -- Kevin Shirley (Dream Theater, Iron Maiden, etc.)

NK: He makes good sounding records.

SoT: Who are some of your favourite producers in general? Do you ever try to recapture some of their works? And what is it that you like best about them?

NK: I do have one absolute favourite in the "metal producer" realm though. That would be Colin Richardson. I think he continues to reinvent the wheel when it comes to making records that all sound killer and also retain the character of the artist, rather than become "generic" and lose their individuality. I simply can't say enough good stuff about his albums, because he just gets it. To be honest, I religiously go out and buy all his work. As a global comment, I don't normally go out and buy albums based on who worked on them, with a few notable exceptions - all listed above. I buy albums based on the music, and if the sound complements the music then great - if it gets in the way, then that's not so good. I see MY job as being much more important to be transparent than to be someone who might take an artist's character away. Character is SO vital. My favourite producers over the years are: Quincy Jones, Mutt Lange, David Foster and Todd Rundgren.

SoT: Is there a special reason why you don't have your own studio to track your music? Do you still work at Sonic Ranch?

NK: I've done 72 albums at Sonic Ranch, but haven't worked there in about a year, mainly due to circumstance. I've been busy in other places for the most part. I chose not to build my own studio simply because I like to make the studio work for me, rather than do everything the same way each time. I would hate to be restricted by only having one room to work in.

SoT: Spiral Architect's A Sceptic's Universe is one of the most amazing albums you have done. Do you have any memories to share with us about how you put it together? How did you achieve that sound separation on a record which is possibly busier and more complex than anything else you've done.

NK: Thanks a lot. It was a tough album to put together, mainly due to the band being from Norway and me living in the US. We had a lot of time constraints in Texas due to the small budget and the fact that everything needed to be as perfect as possible.

SoT: Now that Asgeir has his own studio, would it safe to say you won't be involved in their next album if they ever decide to make one?

NK: I don't expect to be asked to produce their new stuff, but who knows, maybe mixing isn't out of the question?

SoT: What are some of your favourite death metal bands and what do you go for first when mixing/producing their albums?

NK: I really like Cannibal Corpse. It was great fun working with those guys. I also really enjoy working with the Nile guys. It's tough music to work on technically. Getting clarity at those crazy speeds is a real challenge. I also really like Macabre - fun music and great guys!

SoT: Do you feel there are any amazingly talented bands whose albums you did that slipped under the radar? Ion Vein and Degree Absolute come to mind.

NK: Joji Hirota, Simon Townshend's Moving Target, The Clay People, Twisted Into Form. I'm halfway through a new Ion Vein record. This will be a huge step up from the last album. Also, there's a new Degree Absolute in the works, which I hope to be involved with from the beginning.

SoT: What exactly happened when you worked on Labyrinth's Sons of Thunder?

NK: I had been asked to do the Labyrinth album by their manager, who assured me that the new material was "really heavy" compared to their past stuff. I wasn't really into the Euro power metal style, so I thought that this newer "heavier" stuff might be more up my alley. So, I asked to hear demos. Again, to cut a long story short, I never got any demos, and after several radical rearrangements of my schedule, during which time the band was supposedly working on these demos, I flew to Italy hoping that the new stuff would indeed be heavier as promised. Well, it wasn't. By this time I had already lost several projects due to the rescheduling so I opted to continue on with the album rather than fly back and sit idle for weeks. In hindsight that might have been the best thing to do, but there you go. I tracked the album and about half the vocals prior to flying back to the US, and then mixed the album a few weeks later once the additional recordings had been done. At that point, once it was mixed, everything was approved by Brian Slagel of Metal Blade, and I sent the band the mixes which they told me they were really happy with. So, once I got their approval, I had the album mastered and the band approved that as well. Then a couple of weeks later they (or perhaps Olaf) had a change of heart, and decided to remix the album themselves. Apparently my mix can be found out there on the internet, so it is possible to hear the different versions.

SoT: Did you get paid in the end for your work though? And the released version was the one Olaf did himself? He never told you what it was you didn't like?

NK: Initially the band was happy with my mix, so I did get paid. The released version was the one that the band remixed. I'm not sure if it was Olaf or the band who decided that they wanted to do a remix. Olaf stated publicly on several internet message boards that my mix was too heavy.

SoT: Too heavy?

NK: What can I tell you. That's what they said. It's metal right? I thought it was supposed to be heavy. [Laughs]

SoT: What do you think of your work on Shadow Gallery's Legacy and how do you feel does it compare to Tyranny and Carved in Stone musically? Have you heard their last album?

NK: I enjoyed working on the mix of Legacy. It was a bit rushed though, due to the vast number of tracks and the short amount of time I had to mix it. I haven't heard their other albums.

SoT: Are there any power metal bands you like?

NK: I'm not really sure exactly what power metal is. It seems to be lots of different styles of music, depending on who you talk to, and I find that a bit confusing.

SoT: What are some of your favourite recent progressive bands and albums that you'd recommend to our readers?

NK: One band I really like, who I just finished working with is a band called Captain Cutthroat. I listen to a lot of different stuff, often not metal at all. Jazz, ambient, hip hop, all sorts of things that help me keep my perspective. Some artists I'll recommend - Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Stina Nordenstam, Bjork, Dalek, Mariza, Cristina Branco, Curve, Scorn, Meat Beat Manifesto, etc.

SoT: One last question. If a band wants to send you a recording to be mixed, in what form must it be? How do you usually go about working with bands overseas?

NK: It can be either on tape, or on CDs/DVDs or hard drives. I usually discuss that with each artist as the situation comes up. It's not usually a problem - files can be changed into many different formats.

SoT: Thank you very much for your time. Is there anything else you'd like to say?

NK: Thanks for having me on your show. Hi Mum!!!

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