Joey Sturgis is a renowned heavy metal producer who has worked with the likes of Asking Alexandria, Of Mice & Men, blessthefall and Miss May I. But Joey isn’t your typical music producer; he also owns two audio recording companies, Joey Sturgis Tones and Drumforge. More recently, Joey has become involved with running the innovative online recording classroom Nail The Mix and co-hosting the Unstoppable Recording Machine Podcast. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Joey about his very busy life in order learn a little more about how he has dedicated his time to helping other artists.
You have something called Joey Sturgis Tones and Drumforge which are audio recording software companies that you started. Tell us a bit more about what Joey Sturgis Tones and Drumforge do and how they can help other artists?
Sturgis: Joey Sturgis Tones is my plugin company based on the idea that plugins can be created to unleash your creativity and break down technical barriers between the artist and his ideas. I noticed a lot of bands always having a few people in the band being interested in recording and audio production, so I got the idea to create products that would appeal to them. Rather than create tools that only engineers could understand, I designed tools that any musician could use and get instant great sounding results.
Drumforge is based on the idea that the current drum sample market isn’t offering enough options in terms of how the drums are captured. So we strive to create drum samples that have a variety of engineering and capturing options in order to build a unique drum sound. The problem you get with most today’s drum samples is that when you use them, you sound like everyone else using them. So we wanted to create a way for people to build their own unique sound by giving them the option to change how the samples are captured.
You also have Nail The Mix, a monthly subscription-based classroom for aspiring audio professionals. What does this service offer that helps audio professionals learn and expand their audio horizons?
Sturgis: Nail The Mix is a subscription based service where users can download the multi-tracks to songs they know and love, and learn how to mix via the process of reverse engineering… seeing how it sounded raw and what it took to take it to final mix. We give you a month to work on the track, and then at the end of the month we host a live 6 – 8 hour show where we mix the song from start to finish, live on internet broadcast. We show you exactly how the song was mixed, what techniques were used, and build upon the foundation of mixing advice to make our users better mixers. It’s a great opportunity for users to unlock their actual potential in mixing because they’re no longer held back by poorly recorded material – they’re getting access to the real deal stuff!
You have a very interesting and unique release called Conquer All Vol. 2 which is a guitar impulse pack featuring over a hundred impulse responses. How would this be helpful to someone playing or learning guitar?
Sturgis: The thing about impulse responses that’s so great is that it breaks down the process of having to setup mics, run mics through preamps, move mics around the speaker, etc. Those things are still important to do, but imagine being able to hear forty different combinations of those actions back to back when working on a guitar sound. That’s what’s so powerful about impulse responses. You can compare setups to other setups in just seconds which would take hours in the real world. This also allows guitarists to explore sounds they might not have access to, such as cabs and mics they don’t own. We have an article about getting started with impulse responses at my website right here.
With a few exceptions, popular rock artists nowadays seem to have a limited focus on sound and audio quality. What has fueled your interest in making your career so focused on preserving and improving audio quality?
Sturgis: In music, our “product” is our productions and recorded music. I’m a firm believer in quality > quantity, and I think it’s important to have high standards in any product creation product. That’s what separates the small from the big, the good from the great, the memorable from the forgettable. This is way more true in music, especially. Not only do you need great lyrics, a great message, a great story, great vocals, great chords… you also need great instrumentation, great editing, great sonics, great mixing, and great mastering. It all comes together to make something truly great, and I think each element combines together to create a powerful impact on the consumer.
With your interest in audio and recording, I’m curious to know your feelings on the current state of audio recordings out there and how people experience music (MP3s, IPods, streaming services, etc.) Does it pain you to see what has become of the listener experience compared to what it once was with records, CDs and listening on stereos?
Sturgis: I don’t think it’s that big of a deal to be honest with you. Music is entertainment, and all the various methods of consumption are out there. Go for what you like, simple as that!
What one piece of gear do you use to obtain your signature sound?
Sturgis: Without a doubt, it would have to be my ears.
What about it makes it so important to you?
Sturgis: Decision making!
How was this gear used during the recording of your latest album?
Sturgis: It’s not your gear, it’s your ears.
How do you recreate your album (guitar/vocal/bass) tones in your live set?
Sturgis: I would run software live if I had to do this!
What are the major pros and cons?
Sturgis: Possible failure of computer would be a con, exact recreation would be a pro.
Do you have a backup for this gear, if so, what?
Sturgis: You could have redundancy with multiple machines hooked together. I wish I had a backup pair of ears!
How long have you had it, how do you use it, would you ever change it?
Sturgis: I’ve been using my ears ever since I started, haha!
Give us your best “gear goes wrong” story.
Sturgis: Swimming and then flying before a big mixing session. =(
Any final thoughts or comments on the gear?
Sturgis: Take care of your ears, they’re everything! Use protection at shows!