For many aspiring musicians, the prospect of owning their own recording studio is the ultimate dream. For only a select few it becomes a reality. Running a studio is more than a collection of gear, or even the knowledge of how to use it. Rather, it is a culmination of artistic experience, open mindedness, and hard work. It requires as deep a reverence for the process of capturing music as for the music itself. For the owners of Hybrid Audio Solutions in Charleston, SC, Scott Gould & Alan Price, the experience is focused not only on continued success of their own musical projects, but also the success of the artists whom they develop and record.
Alan Price, who also produces and mixes from HAS, took some time to answer a few of our questions about owning a studio and his wealth of experience as a professional musician.
How did your musical journey begin? What was your first guitar?
My earliest memories are filled with music. My father is a musician, my mother a music lover, and my grandmother was a singer and choir director in our church.I simply can’t remember a time when music wasn’t part of my life. My first guitar was a ’76 Yamaha 12-String acoustic that my dad bought when he was in college. I remember being 5 or 6 years old and trying so hard to press down the strings to squeak out a note or two. I couldn’t wrap my arms around it so I learned to play a little by just laying it down flat in my lap and all of my weight into it. Although it wasn’t until a bit later in life, that I really found my “calling” , the memories of watching and listening to him play James Taylor are truly what made me gravitate to guitar.
How do you translate your experience as a professional, touring musician into an enjoyable studio experience for developing artists?
It’s really all about helping to connect the dots for people, as I like to say. In my time touring, I’ve done it on nearly every possible level. Touring with band and gear all packed into a cargo van. Eating in the van, sleeping in the van, driving, playing, rinse and repeat. I’ve also toured in buses, staying in swanky hotels, playing top class venues. My experience has taught me many things but the truth is that the line that separates those two types of touring scenarios is a very thin, mysteriously foggy line. Everything has taught me that the time spent cutting a record can in many cases depict what comes next for an artist in regards to touring, exposure, sales, and everything that is tied to the music. So, although it’s important to think about touring and everything that follows, when we’re in the studio and we begin production it’s almost like being on another planet. We try to take all of the brains in the room and switch them into create mode. Many of the musicians I’ve encountered in my career all seem to compartmentalize. There are so many tasks to take on whilst recording an album that you have to separate yourself from reality to allow for the real creative connection to occur. No matter if it’s touring on any level or spending the time in production of a record, it’s all about balance. Staying focused but remaining light and keeping and element of fun alive at all times. The experience that my partner Scott Gould and I have allows us to see holes in the road ahead and help our artists navigate around them. We’ve been in many situations both good and terrible, but we have managed to continue steadfastly down our path. I think that means quite a bit to those new developing artists who are serious about their sound.
How does the unique musical culture present in Charleston play into your experience/approach to running a studio here?
I am absolutely a product of the Charleston musical culture. I grew up here, started my first band here, and then spent quite bit of my life working in studios with various producers outside of Charleston. For quite a while there were very few places to cut a decent record in our city. In recent years we’ve seen a number of studios opening and that certainly raises our bar as a music city, but despite the growing number of studios that are well equipped to record albums, there aren’t enough folks really digging in and helping artists find their stride. Scott and I have been fortunate to work with quite few extraordinarily talented and successful songwriters and producers that have passed on knowledge that gives us confidence and insight to help our artists look deeper into their music to discover things that they may not have otherwise, all while focusing and honing in on the things they already do amazingly well. Many artists, developing or already established, look to work with a producer who can help them discover or reinvent themselves, and it takes more than just good equipment and a room to do that. My experience says that Charleston has a great, eclectic music culture and our studio and production team can help bridge the gap that forces many of our local talents to relocate to record a quality album. We are in the heart of a beautiful city with so much great music and we are excited to help that continue to blossom.
What are some musical goals you still have?
Personally, I have a long list of goals. It’s ever expanding. Changing every day. I have been trying to start a solo album for nearly 6 years. I have so many other great music endeavors that have managed to sidetrack me time and time again and thats a great thing! I know I’ll get to it eventually. As a producer and songwriter, my focus has switched somewhat towards seeing other artists flourish and I would like to see some or all of their work nominated for a Grammy Award. We’ve been making such great music that I know that it’s only a matter of time. For now, we’ll continue to focus on creating great music and building our studio and record label into recognizable and reputable name.
You mentioned that you don’t feel compelled to be in another traditional radio rock band. At this stage in your career, where would you place yourself (and Madam Adam) in the rock landscape?
The Rock landscape is a funny term to me. It kinda sounds like what it looks like. A field full of heavy, jagged, dry objects that hurt your feet when you walk across it. I think that’s how we feel about that. We have worn holes in our boots trying to traverse the rock landscape The greatest thing about our studio and record label is that it supplies us with a totally new, rejuvenated outlook on on where we fit in. We are certainly at our core, a rock and roll band. We now have all of the necessary tools to exist and continue to grow as a band. We would love to be played on radio stations everywhere in the world and we appreciate those have shown their support for us already, but that isn’t something we focus on . We’re just going to keep moving forward and take things one song at a time with our blinders on to our place in it all.
Do you have any creative exercises or catalysts you can share with other musicians?
Definitely. When we begin talking with an artist in regards to producing some music with them, we do somewhat of a discovery into what makes them tick. I really try to challenge them to dig deeper into themselves and the songs. We share images and articles, songs that inspire, and really anything that might provoke new creative pathways while we’re in the process of making a record. We call it “Chasing the White Rabbit” or “Going down the rabbit hole”. Basically, if you let us , we’ll chase that elusive white rabbit all the way to wonderland. How far we go is really up to the artist and how they respond to it all. It’s always different but when we get them to really start thinking about their music on a deeper, more dynamic level we are often blown away by how much more of a connection begins to exist between themselves and their music and likewise for Scott and I as their guides thought the process.
What’s on the horizon for HAS & Madam Adam?
As I said before, we’re taking things one song at a time. We have new music done and ready to be released and we’re gearing up to begin releasing music on a regular, frequent basis. We’re set and ready to ride the digital age all the way until something else takes it’s place. With all of the digital download stores and streaming services at our fingertips, all we have to do is continue to write and record which is what we love to do most. We think the time of having to wait a year or more to release a new album has come and gone for MadamAdam. The new idea is to release a song every month or as often as possible. While we’re doing that we will also be working with our producer J.Hall on a new EP this June. He will be coming in from Nashville to work at Hybrid Audio Solutions and we’re really excited about that. We want people to have many opportunities to connect with us through our music. The future looks bright for music if you see it from our eyes. We are excited about everything we’re doing now and constantly reinventing and examining things to try and keep the wheels turning. It’s a privilege and very satisfying feeling to be able to make music the way we do.