If there is one name that pops up over and over again in Dollars To Pounds, it is Rory Brattwell. He has produced songs for loads of the bands I’ve covered here. He is our Zelig, wandering in to shot when you least expect it. After his sterling work with Male Bonding, Cold Pumas, Fair Ohs, Veronica Falls, Teeth!!!, Marina and the Diamonds, Your Twenties, Celestial Bodies and countless others, I thought it was about time I caught up with him. The Dalston Rick Rubin (and one-time/current member of Test-Icicles, RAT:ATT:AGG, Kasms) told me about how he came to work with so many awesome bands, and picked out a few personal favourites.
You seem to have produced for just about every good band in London. How did that come about?
I’ve always been in bands and hence always had mates in bands which stood me in good stead when I started. All of the bands that first started getting attention/recognition that I recorded were friends bands such as Male Bonding, Cold Pumas and Fair Ohs who I have been mates for years (and I’ve been in previous bands with a few of them) so I guess when I started a proper studio they thought they’d chance their arm and give their daft mate a shot. I definitely have to work quickly; It’s a combination between necessity due to time and financial constraints of the band and wanting to capture something lively and energetic sounding. When I first started it wasn’t unusual to record up to 10 songs in a day, which now I think about it was kinda ridiculous. Things are a bit less hectic these days.
You work with a diverse range of bands, how do you decide who to work with?
I try and keep an open mind to bands, I don’t want to just record loads of bands that sound the same as each other so I do record some stuff which I wouldn’t necessarily choose to listen to at home, but I am still quite particular, I won’t record someone if I don’t think that they’re any good, call me a snob but I can’t think of anything worse than filling my days recording pub rock bands, it’s nice to be involved in music you like and can be proud of.
Dream acts, who would you most like to work with?
I recently asked a band called Jackdaw with Crowbar, a spazzy English band that were signed to Ron Johnson records in the 80s, to record with me as I saw that they’d reformed. I’d still love to try and do something with them as their records Monarchy, Mayhem and Fish Paste and Sink, Sank, Sunk are two of my favourites. A band from Providence, RI, called Arab on Radar got back together recently too, I’d love to record them as the two guitar players in that band are two of my favourite guitarists of all time. Apparently some bloke called Steve Albini got there first though! I’d also like to record someone inappropriately massive too, Foo Fighters perhaps, apparently Kris Novoselic is playing on their next record, we could get Pat Smear down too and do some In Utero covers.
Tell us about three tracks you’ve worked on that people should hunt down.
Cold Pumas, “A Tempting Haunt”
I’d been recording for a while at this point and had recorded loads of bands that I like a lot but this is the first time Iíd recorded a song and actually thought to myself ëthis is the best song Iíve heard in yearsí, it was quite an amazing moment for me to record something that I found so agreeable and that resonated with me so much, I feel like a bit of a twat saying this but I definitely had a pretty ìstrong emotional connectionî with that song. Plus we developed a technique called ëpopping a dome on ití which is a highly secret technique that came about from their being a unearthly supernatural presence in the studio that day, the details of which Oliver, Patrick, Dan and I will take to the grave.
Spin Spin the Dogs, “Cats”
Cheating a bit here as itís not a song but an album, it was the first thing I ever recorded 6 years ago. Me and my mate Denesh saw them play one of the first gigs (the second ever I think) at the now extinct, Bardenís Boudoir and were so taken aback by them that we invested some cash into some rudimentary recording equipment and offered to record them.
We bought an old 16-track reel to reel (which I still own and use) and set up in the basement of the Marquis of Lansdowne pub in Dalston, this space was also owned and was kindly donated to us by Umit who also owned Bardenís.
It was a pretty ramshackle and adventurous project, they had a horn section at the time and we managed to blow up some amps from playing inappropriate instruments through them too loud and their singer Vincent Larkin was causing general havoc with his erratic behaviour as always (the boy is a wild prince among men). Me and Denesh sussed it all out pretty well though with a bit of technical advice from our mate (Southend based producer) John Hannon, I still think it sounds great, even if we did really piss off the old drunks upstairs that week and no one bought the record (I still have a some boxes under my bed if anyone wants one?).
Please, “Harrow and Wealdstone”
Short and sweet, Please are the best and most talented band in London right now, this song is an incredible, instrumental guitar and drum track laced with some subtle 70s synths and is coming out soon on an Upset the Rhythm 12î (backed with some recent Spin Spin the Dogs recordings I also produced), bloody lovely chaps too and Michael’s live dance moves and exquisite body contortions even made an appearance in their studio performance which I was more than glad about, that guy is sexy!