Ian Broudie:Guitars, Elevator and his new album
One of Britain’s best loved guitar pop acts The Lightning Seeds are on the comeback trail with their first new album in a decade due for release.
Formed by acclaimed Liverpool musician and producer Ian Broudie, the band first enjoyed success with the lilting psychedelic anthem ‘Pure’ in 1989. One time Specials singer Terry Hall helped with the song writing as the band produced a number of well received albums, before being dropped due to poor sales.
Broudie played in Liverpool’s fledgling punk scene in the 1970s (he was a member of the band Big in Japan, which also featured Holly Johnson Bill Drummond) but made his name in the industry as a producer. He was also a founder member of John Peel favourites the Original Mirrors in the early ’80s. and
Broudie worked with bands like Echo and the Bunnymen, The Colourfield, The Pale Fountains, Shack, The Icicle Works, Ellery Bop and The Fallhit with the song “Pure”. under the name ‘Kingbird’ before putting together the Lightning Seeds at the end of the 1980s, scoring a debut
The act produced a selection of well-received singles and albums in the 1990s and twice took football anthem “Three Lions” (with comediansFrank Skinner and David Baddiel) to number one, with different lyrics for the Euro ‘96 and France ‘98 tournaments. (For his own part, Broudie is a supporter of Liverpool.)
Broudie subsequently concentrated on production for other bands working with the likes of The Coral, The Subways, The Zutons, French rock band Noir Desir for their first long album Veuillez rendre l’âme (à qui elle appartient), The Rifles and on a handful of I Am Kloot songs, before announcing a solo album under his own name at the end of 2004.
A band discussion led to a new direction, becoming less production based and more like a functioning, touring group. Resigning to Epic Records the Lightning Seeds scored hit after hit in the Britpop era, culminating in the song ‘Three Lions’ - a song that seemed to capture the mood of the English nation in the long hot summer of 1996.
The band last released an album in 1999, before Ian Broudie split the band to become a full time producer. His neat pop touch can be clearly heard in band’s such as The Coral, whose debut album he produced.
“There’s very few producers who I have any respect for whatsoever,” says Ian Broudie. In his view, studio recording and technology have reached a stage where the tail is wagging the dog. “You used to have a band who went into a studio and got a performance, and then you got all these things to try to make the performance easier — but it’s almost gone full circle now, like those things have taken over. When you get a band, often the first thing people do is put it into Pro Tools, and it’s almost like you’re not giving the band a chance to not need that. If you’re the producer, that makes your life much easier, because you can do the things that you do on any band. Therefore, the individuality of all those bands is just taken away a little bit, and you get this culture of things sounding like everything else, which is a lot of what goes on at the minute. That can be a good thing, depending on your aims, because then it gets played on the radio ’cause it sounds like all the other stuff on the radio and it fits in. But I think I’ve always wanted to do stuff that doesn’t fit in.”
Most of Ian Broudie’s recent projects, including his own album and those by the Coral and the Zutons, have been recorded at Liverpool’s Elevator Studios. ( Also home to Dolphin Music! ) “I always used to work in my own places, out of not really liking many other places, but this has become home from home,” explains Broudie. “It’s a place that’s just comfortable to be in. I always find, equipment-wise, you tend to bring the things you want to use with you, so the best thing for me in a studio is somewhere you want to be where you feel bands are going to be comfortable, and has speakers that sound something like they’re going to sound when you go home. They’re the two key things with me.”
With an open-plan control room on a separate floor from the main live area, Elevator Studios has been designed to fit into an existing warehouse space rather than built to order, and part of the reason Broudie likes it is that it’s not a typical recording environment. “I love the fact that really you can’t design studios, because there are too many variables. There’s all these rules about the way you’re supposed to build studios, but then you go in them and they never sound very good. All the ones they design seem to sound different, and they’re always tweaking them and they’re never quite happy with them. I always think you may as well start with a room, and if you’re lucky, you might get one that sounds good. Most control rooms are dead and this is pretty live, with wood floors and brick walls.
It’s probably a bit of a fluke, but I always seem to know where I am in here. Partly, again, it’s just being used to somewhere. A lot of the time, studios are dealing with people coming in who’ve never been there before, so you want somewhere where you can go from studio to studio and it be the same, but it never is. Everyone’s got NS10s, but every set of NS10s sounds different depending on the shape of the desk that they’re sitting on. Really, having the same set of speakers goes some way towards it, but there’s so many variables that even in the same building, where they’ve got two rooms, usually there’s one room that sounds very different to the other, and people like mixing in studio two but not in studio one.”
The Lightning Seeds will release their new album in June.