Elton John World News: An Interview With a Former EJ Producer

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Monday 27 March 2006 @ 17:11 - GMT

After 30 years in music, after working with two Beatles and Sir Elton, producer Tom Pearce takes on Streamline's upcoming Xbox Live Arcade game, HoopWorld. Here's what Pearce had to say at Ign.com:

IGN: Tell us about your past work experience.

Tom Pearce: OK. Where to begin? I began life as a "tape jockey" in various studios in London in the early 1970s. My job description included running the tape machines, cleaning, demagnetizing and lining up the record heads etc., setting up microphones and generally being useful. It was valuable experience though and I got to make coffee for many (at the time) well-known artists, some of whom went on to become quite famous. By the time I had mastered the espresso machine I was allowed to assist on sessions with the likes of Paul McCartney, Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Status Quo and others as well as on many orchestral sessions with the London Symphony Orchestra.

In those heady days I also supplemented my income by playing as a session musician (Bass, Guitar and, oddly, Mandolin and Banjo, I just happened to have a feel for them) and by the mid 1970's I was tackling my own sessions as an audio engineer, playing bass in my band - Scarlet - and doing a lot of live technical and audio work in various venues in and around London.

By the early 1980s I had risen to the dizzy heights of studio manager and "senior" (only!) audio engineer for Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame in his own private studio outside London. It was there that I learnt how to work with film scores during sessions on the Death Wish movies for which Jimmy composed the music. It was also here that I met Elton John for the first time while working on his "Ice on Fire" album in 1984 and from this I went on to join his personal staff as audio engineer in his private studio, technical engineer on all of his album projects and as back-line crew chief for all of his tours. I held that position throughout the rest of the 1980s and into the early 1990s when I went freelance as a technician and engineer from my home base on our small farm in Northern France. I toured the "world and elsewhere" with Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Jeff Beck and, of course, Elton again until I moved to Holland with my Dutch wife, Christine, in 1995 where I set up my company, Practical Music.

Since then I have been active producing various young and talented artists - Lorna Marshall, Some, CrapJam, Smitty in the Sun etc., scoring and recording music for video and TV and going on the occasional tour (my last one being South America with Jeff Beck). I also occasionally take on stage management roles, the last one being for the Romeo and Julia musical that toured Holland and Belgium last year.

IGN: What programs do you use when making the audio for HoopWorld?

Pearce: My main program is Digidesigns ProTools, both the full TDM system in the studio and the LE version I use at home. It is incredibly flexible, handles video synchronization with ease and, for me, feels a lot like working with tape the way we used to all those years ago. If you really want to know I am currently using version 6.9.2 on Apple OSX Tiger together with a large assortment of audio plug-ins - Trilogy, Atmosphere, Stylus RMX, Reason 3.0 and Ableton Live as well as a number dynamics and effects processors such as Reverb One, Lexiverb etc. etc. I rarely use sample CDs as I prefer my work to have a degree of originality and so ProTools is also used to record custom sound effects
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