TVMania

Bored with Prozac and the Internet

I had been working with Duran Duran for some time on the Medazzaland album.

We were running a very basic Pro Tools system but it provided a breakthrough in production, because it meant I could do a lot of micro editing and it allowed me to treat Nick’s keyboard parts as wave sequences.

Nick would play the Jupiter or the Prophet and I would feed what he played through guitar pedals, filters and use an H3000 and a Lexicon 224 to add sheen.

While Nick played I would do my own ‘performance’ with the knobs on various effects.

We created some truly impossible sounds.

After a number of takes, we would sit back and listen, then mark out sections in the computer.

It was an evolutionary process, the natural selection? my ears.

I arranged the parts into phrases and rhythms.

Because of the limited track count on Pro Tools, I used a SampleCell card and retriggered a lot of the sounds via MIDI, sometimes from a MIDI guitar.

It is probably the most fun I have had in a recording studio and I was given a lot of creative freedom. Out of all the Duran Duran albums I have worked on, this is my favourite, because it showcases the way I think about sound. It says more about the way I tailor noise to fit a track than anything else I have worked on to date.

I used to live in Scotland and stayed in London during the week, so it wasn’t in anyone’s interest to have a day off. We started at ten regardless of whether Simon was coming in to record vocals. Nick often waited to see if Simon would show before coming in, sometimes as late as four in the afternoon. When Simon didn’t show, it was miserable and there were moments where I spent some time twiddling my thumbs while Warren sent faxes and Nick talked to his gardener on the phone about wrapping his palm trees.

We finished at around nine in the evening whatever happened, which meant socialising was out of the question. This suited me fine because I am not very sociable.

I had been running my portable music rig on a Mac, but when Apple first switched to Power PC their laptops were useless.

I probably never would have used a PC but I bought this wonderful little Toshiba laptop and I used to crawl the internet looking for interesting Freeware and Shareware.

I was specifically looking for drum machines and TB303 emulators and it was around that time that I found a fairly stable program called Fruity Loops which let me use my own samples, make my own beats and export them to WAV files. I have used it in one form or another ever since.

We were working on the title track of the album and it was going to be an instrumental, so I was looking for spoken word sample hooks.

On October 24th 1995 we had finished for the day and I was back in my hotel room. I had the TV patched into my laptop and I was flicking through stations and recording the sound. There was a news piece about the Total Solar Eclipse in India. A man was being interviewed and his voice was really musical and he was speaking about God.

He said “he grabbed the sun” and I really liked the phrase and turned it into a loop using Emagic’s Logic Audio.

I matched it up against Medazzaland the next morning and played it to Nick and Warren.

They didn’t think it worked in the song.

The following day I had something else.

And then the next day and the day after.

Then Warren presented me with a video cassette. He had been recording Planet Fashion from the TV and he wanted me to sample it.

We ended up with over a thousand spoken word samples in sets we spread across four or five keyboards.

Nothing would fit the title track Medazzaland, so a lot of things got set aside.

Eventually Nick simply recorded a spoken word vocal for Medazzaland which begged the question “what do we do with all these left over bits”?

Suddenly my life got really busy and the days Simon didn’t turn up were filled with experiments and wonder.

I specifically remember a magical moment one afternoon, when it snowed.

We had a sample of a little girl saying “What’s In The Future” and Nick had created this beautiful Arpeggio on the Jupiter 4.

Then I looked out of the French windows into Warren’s garden and it was just one of those “WOW” moments. We opened the doors…

The amazing thing about snow is that it absorbs sound. When there is a blanket of snow on the ground it can create an eerie silence and reflected sounds occur high up in the buildings and houses.

It feels as if the ambience has been lifted up.

As if it is enlightening.

Over the next two years we created three TVMania albums. Some of the project was shelved as songs made their way onto Pop Trash. But the first album, Bored With Prozac & The Internet remains.

After asking Nick every year “when are you going to release it”? TVMania’s Bored With Prozac and the Internet was finally made available on 11th March 2013.

To find out more about the release you can listen to the interview I did with Nick and Warren for the SonicState Podcast.