Sunday, November 4, 2012

Genesis Studio Revisited

My initial reason for coming to the UK was to play and participate in a charity concert event that Francis Dunnery puts together each year in his hometown of Cumbria, England to help children with health issues and diseases such as cancer. This time Steve Hackett was going to be the special guest of the gig and we were going to play a few Genesis songs with him in addition to some of my favorites of Francis’s. But coming all the way over to England I figured I might as well pack the other days with productive stuff for Sonic Reality sample and music projects.

The studio I booked for the next day after the Hackett release party was Fisherlane Farm which coincidentally happens to be Genesis’ studio. The chance session there occured because I was talking to the people that book it about an alternative studio option to Abbey Road for another session I was planning a week later with Alan Parsons since you can't sample at Abbey Road (one of the few studios that doesn't allow it because they do their own sample libraries). I needed to find another studio that had an old EMI TG mixing desk like they had at Abbey Road when Pink Floyd and The Beatles used to record there. The people I was talking to deal with a lot of studios around England but for that specific need they didn’t have anything. Then I asked out of curiosity if The Farm (Genesis' studio which I've recorded at before) was available. It turned out that it was! I was also emailing back and forth with Nick Davis, who I worked with on the album I did with Simon Collins. I thought we could at least meet up for coffee and tea. But then when I heard The Farm was available I asked if he was available too so we could work. He was!

Back at The Farm! My second home (by the sea)

So I booked Nick and the studio not knowing what I would do besides my session with Dorie Jackson recording vocals for a Sonic Elements version of “Great Gig In The Sky” by Pink Floyd. I had just finished co-producing an album called “Chalk Lines” by Randy McStine’s Lofi Resistance which featured Colin Edwin of the band Porcupine Tree on bass. Since he lives in England I booked a session with him that day as well. He played bass on the Sonic Elements version of “Time” which features John Wesley (also of Porcupine Tree, the live band) on vocals and guitars. But he also brought some basses to sample! That’s including his big upright bass. Then, with the rest of the time I was either going to mix a song or two or sample drums again in the stone room they have there. Well, two Phil Collins kits just fell into my lap courtesy of on line friend Garaham and Phildas. Plus the songs I wanted to mix weren’t quite ready so… the plan became to sample drums at the end which was the best use of time since Nick Davis could leave and we could carry on sample into the late late hours… which we did.  

Squids on a train

Poetic to pass Battersea Powerstation when I was about to go record a Pink Floyd song.

I had to listen to "Blood on the Rooftops" over and over because I was going to be playing it with Steve Hackett. You couldn't ask for better visuals to go along with it than this Wind & Wuthering train window view.

My arrival in Surrey

Dale Newman picked me up from the train station and drove me to the studio. It was nice to see him. He and Geoff Callingham look after the studio .They’ve both worked with Genesis since the early 80s. Nick arrived and then Dorie. The plan for the first part of the day was to record Dorie and I live in the studio with me on piano and her on vocals. We did the end section of Great Gig in the Sky completely improvised. Then we sampled her voice singing “oohs and aahs” which made her dizzy by the time we were done. She was fantastic though and a pleasure to work with.

Nick Davis sits in the old early 80s Genesis chairs that are still there...barely.

The incredibly cool Dorie Jackson

Nick Davis, Dorie Jackson and me (Dave "Squids" Kerzner)

Then Colin arrived. Here’s another person I had worked with over the internet but hadn’t met in person. Immediate chemistry there as well and we had a great time. I’m sure I will be working with Colin again. In fact, we’ve already started a project that I can’t talk about yet but it’s very interesting! Sonic Reality related.

Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree

About mid-day the drums arrived. I met a guy named Graham Collins on the V-Drum forum, a place I used to visit to try to understand what electronic drummers were looking for in sample libraries. He had mentioned years ago that he owned Phil Collins’ old Pearl single head kit. He used to be part of the crew with Genesis and has some great stories – including some around the time of the full 5 man reunion they did called “Six of the Best”. I would have loved to have seen that! Anyway, Graham not only brought his Pearl kit but he also picked up a Phil Collins signature Gretsch kit that luckily the ‘turbaned drummer’ Phildas owned. I knew of her from the old Genesis Music forum. She lent us her cymbals the last time we sampled drums at the Farm with Nick Davis but her full kit wasn’t available then. It was this time! So we sampled the Grestch and the Pearl until the wee hours of the night. Nick had left at around 10 pm but everyone else carried on until about 5am!

Graham setting up Phil's old Pearl kit with Nick Davis

A young Graham Collins with a young Phil Collins in 1982

I slept at The Farm in this little cottage they have. I ended up hanging out most of the next day before I had to catch a train up to Cumbria in the way upper North of England. I borrowed Tony Banks’ Arp ProSoloist to sample and also work out my parts for “I Know What I Like” which I’d be playing later with Steve Hackett. I was tempted to ask to borrow Tony’s Arp for the gig but that would have meant me carrying around a SECOND keyboard and it was brutal enough that I was trying to get around trains and the Underground with my luggage and Nord Wave keyboard. So I just used my samples instead. But there was a certain charm to the idea that I could have done that! I’m so grateful that I know these guys and in turn I know they love what I do with Sonic Reality and IK Multimedia. So it’s a cool thing. They actually look forward to me coming to visit so I can bring them up to date on the latest gadgets and software. I left a few goodies from IK and SR for him to give to Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks. Apparently several people wanted the iRig Keys mini keyboard that works with both the iPhone/iPad and Mac/PC. I only brought one with me initially for Tony. It was barely available and I had my own traveling around with me. I figured I’d bring one to give to one of my favorite all time keyboard players.

When I left Fisherlane Farm I remembered the first time I visited there. Nick Davis who I had befriended in the most unusual way (through my old bandmate Nick D’Virgilio’s appearance on the Genesis album “Calling All Stations” back in ’97) had invited me to hang out while he was mixing the Genesis box sets in 5.1. That’s the day I first got to meet Tony Banks, a keyboard player I grew up being influenced by and wanting to meet some day (the top three people I wanted to meet were Tony Banks, Woody Allen and JD Salinger… as odd a list as that may be!!!). Later on I would program sounds and provide software for their reunion tour and writing set ups, do a Genesis cover with Simon Collins and co-write a song called "The Big Bang" featuring his dad Phil, do sessions at The Farm with producers Hugh Padgham and Nick Davis, co-write and co-produce an album with Simon Collins and Nick Davis, play on Steve Hackett's Genesis Revisited 2 album, perform some Genesis songs with Steve Hackett and Francis Dunnery live plus many other things less than 6 degrees away from one of my all time favorite bands growing up... not that it was necessarily my plan to do so (I do like other bands and my own music as well!!!!) but things just unfolded that way and I'm grateful for the experiences. As for The Farm, I'm one to always feel ‘at home’ in any great recording studio but visiting this place has special meaning to me and I'll miss it. 

Leaving The Farm in October, 2012

The first time I met Tony Banks in 2004

Recording at The Farm with producer/engineer Hugh Padgham (Genesis, The Police, PC, PG...)

Me with Simon Collins and Genesis at rehearsals for the Turn It On Again Tour in 2007


  1. I feel ecstatic I found you website and blogs.
    online mastering

  2. Does Genesis still actually own the Farm? Some company called Miloco claims they own it now.