Home News Discography Biography Byrd Guitars Amplification
Ask Byrd Reviews Interviews Lyrics Soundclips Links
Fan Forum Merchandise Sign Guestbook View Guestbook E-mail Webmaster

Brian Hutchison - 2001
By Andy Craven


When did you first hear of James Byrd and his music?
I first heard of James Byrd and his music a few years back through a friend of mine who was playing on the same label James was on.

How did you hook up with James for 'FLYING BEYOND THE 9'?
I met James at a local music store, where a mutual friend was manager. We met to talk about his project, and decided to start working on it together.

How did James present the material to you?
One of the amazing things about James, is that he has all of these musical works completed and stored in his brain, for recall at a later time. What he did to present it was play each part on his guitar .

What were your first impressions upon hearing 'FBT9'?
I thought it was great! I was thrilled about working on FBT9 and couldn't wait to start.

I believe the majority of the album was recorded at your home studio, what kind of equipment was used for the recording and in what order were the instruments recorded?
Yes, initially we worked quite a bit at Byrd's home studio during the writing phase. Using an MMT8 sequencer and an Alesis S4+ sound module for reference, we laid out the parts one at a time usually starting with some chords on an instrument such as piano or strings along with a click track. Then added the other parts one track at a time. At my home studio I have 24 tracks of ADAT and a PC running Cakewalk Pro Audio 9.3 with a Gina sound card having 8 analog outs (added for the lead guitar tracks was a Lucid D/A converter from the Gina's SPDIF outs for a total of 10) and it's all locked to SMPTE. I have 2 MMT8's and I would leave one (along with a sound module) at Byrd's so he could review the songs as they progressed. The original audio tracks were printed directly from the sound modules to ADAT with some compression used for vocals and bass/drums. The vocals were recorded using an ADK A-51 microphone. I have a collection of Neve mic pre's and other tube mic pre's and optical, tube, and FET compressor limiters, which help get the front end solid. Once my instrument tracks were recorded, the vocals came next. James worked with Michael so that he could convey the melodies to Michael and develop harmonies. Lastly, James would do the actual recording of the guitar tracks. He decided to keep the recording chain simple, recording the pure sound of the amplifier/ guitar rig using a single microphone.

How was this worked out in regards to different bass lines, drum tracks etc, was it all James' ideas or did you get to throw your suggestions into the ring?

For the most part all of this music was as I said, pre arranged in Byrd's head and he would just recite it to me. I would play things on the keyboard, and if James heard anything he thought was cool, we'd use it.

With the complex symphonic backing on the tracks its must have been difficult to achieve a good balance between all instruments, how did you get the album to sound so good with the perfect balance of instruments on playback? Sonically it is massive!
Thank you! The instruments were many, so we would record them as if they were instruments being recorded in a live concert setting. We panned the instruments as they would appear on a stage, and in the mix process used Cakewalk Soundstage plug-in to process each instrument section individually whenever it was called for. This is a very cool little program that allows one to place a sound source anywhere within a user determined space, and what you hear after placing it is the resultant pan, distance, and ambience of that space. Much more realistic than just a reverb. We also developed most of our own presets to use with it. That, combined with careful choosing of sounds that blended well together helped achieve this balance.

Did you give any suggestions to the 'symphonic' backing or where they all entirely from James' ear?

James had done his homework pretty well in regards to the symphonic backing, and we wanted to create a stage of instruments as one would usually hear them. We stayed pretty structured throughout the project with the "stage" concept.

Which was the hardest track to record and why?
Oh, probably Avianti Suite, if only for the sheer amount of things going on in that piece. It's easy to take that one for granted because James makes it sound easy, but if you listen you'll hear that almost all of the guitar melody lines are being doubled by the strings and orchestra. Add to that all of the other parts, and it gets pretty time consuming.

What were you aiming to get out of Byrd during the recording of the tracks? Did you have to push him to get the best take out of him?
No, he recorded the guitar himself. He puts a lot of time into perfecting his takes, and I had no doubt he'd be pushing himself hard enough. The only thing I wanted from him was some amazing playing and I think he came up with the goods!

James' guitar sound is the best its ever been on FBT9, did you have any impact on his 'new voice' so to speak?

Well, not so much his "new voice" as much as just trying to reproduce his real voice as it should be represented. In other words, he already had his "voice", the Super Avianti sounds great through his Marshall! We just worked on getting that voice captured best we could.

You run/own the microphone manufacturer ADK, I presume these mics were used exclusively on the album, would you like to tell the gear heads here what you think makes your mics unique and what has your company set out to achieve?
Yes, my partner Larry Villella and I started ADK [www.adkmic.com] with the intention of putting good microphones into the hands of the many talented people that in all honesty can't afford to go out and blow $5,000.00 for a microphone, vintage or not. There are specs on the website if anyone's interested.

Can you give us an insight into your musical upbringing? You play a multitude of instruments on 'FBT9', how did you learn all these instruments, who are your primary influences?
I am self taught on all the instruments I play. My influences are many, from Beethoven to Hendrix and the Beatles. I love all kinds of music and I find that it all influences me to some degree. My house is filled with musical instruments from all over the world, and I'm fascinated with them in general, as well as their origin.

I would imagine 'mix-down' would have been pretty intense with all the different tracks, what do you think you personally gave to this phase of the album and what was your main role during this time?
BWe had things laid out pretty well, all I had to do was simply be there to help engineer and mix.

Have you got any favourite performances or favourite songs on the album?
I really like "Unity". Its odd time changes make it a fun song to listen to. FBT9 gave me a little freedom to experiment and was fun working on also. "All of Me" is one of my favorites. Its beauty is in its simplicity. A lot of people comment on this song. Byrd seems to have pulled this one out of his heart more than his head, and it is self evident.

Finally how would you sum up your experience working with James and Michael Flatters on FBT9 and would you do it all again? :)
I would sum up my experience working with James and Michael as educational, exhausting, and gratifying. I would do it again.

Thank you Brian for your time, it is truly appreciated.

Totally my pleasure Andy, thank you, and God bless.

Home News Discography Biography Byrd Guitars Amplification
Ask Byrd Reviews Interviews Lyrics Soundclips Links
Fan Forum Merchandise Sign Guestbook View Guestbook E-mail Webmaster