Rusty's Cool Guitars

Interview with Alan Price of Hybrid Audio Solutions

John CampiComment

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.

Check out Madam Adam on Facebook.

 

5 Tips to Improve Your Studio Experience

John CampiComment

You’ve got the instruments, put together a band, and you’re finally ready to hit the studio. For many musicians this experience is a sacred creative endeavor, an opportunity to manifest your vision, turning those hours of writing and rehearsal into the polished product you’ve envisioned all along. Unfortunately, many musicians go into their first (or sometimes second and third) recording session in a state of naiveté that results in frustration, unexpected expense, and worst of all, an unsatisfactory product.

Over the years the team at Rusty’s has worked in a plethora of studio environments; here are some tips, based on our endeavors, that will help improve your experience.

1. Do Your Research

Ask your friends in the music community about their experiences with different studios, thoroughly peruse studio websites, and listen to work samples. Different studios often produce different sounds, know what you’re looking for, and make an informed decision.

2. Be Realistic About Your Needs

Is this your first record? How many instruments will you be tracking? How many songs NEED to be on the record? How consistent are you in your performance? These are important questions to consider. Having realistic expectations will play an important role in cost management. Should you choose to work in a professional studio that charges by the hour or has high per song rates, you will likely see costs spiral out of control as a significant chunk of time is spent navigating the ‘learning curve.’ Many independent/home studios produce quality results and can provide a significant connection to your local music community. Lower rates and a personal touch can result in not only a satisfying product but also valuable experience that will prepare you for larger commitments in the future.

3. Get To Know Your Producer

When making a record, your producer is the secret weapon. Building a positive relationship is the key as you prepare to entrust someone with your creative vision. Spend time sharing stories, favorite records, or funny videos. Bring beer to a late night mixing session, or invite your producer/ engineers out for a drink after a long day of tracking. Building this rapport can improve the overall process, gel creative discussions, and lead to new opportunities in the future.

4. Don’t be a Diva… Yet.

Utilize the experience of others to achieve great results. As your resume grows you can begin to take over more individual creative control. Collaboration can be frustrating at times, maintain your composure and make something great.

5. Learn to Record Yourself.

Home engineering software has become increasingly refined and affordable in recent years. Learning the recording process at home is invaluable as you prepare to go into the studio. Making demos of songs is THE MOST efficient way of communicating your creative vision to those around you. Practice recording your parts to a click track, to software instruments, then practice singing along to your recorded parts. These seemingly small practices will prepare you more than you can even imagine. In addition, having a foundational knowledge of the recording process opens up a tremendous learning opportunity, as you will soon be seeing how professionals handle now familiar tasks.

Your First Guitar

John CampiComment

Maybe you received it as a gift, maybe you went to the store with the image of your childhood rock ‘n’ roll hero fueling your decision, maybe a family member handed down their once trusted instrument. Regardless of how you came to acquire your first guitar, the moment will likely stay with you forever. The first strum, the first time you threw the strap over your shoulder and stood proudly in front of your bedroom mirror, imagining the roar of the crowd as the lights drop, and you take the stage.

This optimism, enthusiasm, and energy are what fuel the musician’s experience, and at Rusty’s, it has never waned. We’ve have felt close to our idols as we mastered their iconic riffs, and felt the frustration of failing to achieve their flawless emulation. It is this experience that serves as the foundation of Rusty’s Cool Guitars. 

There is a spirit of camaraderie that exists within the music community, no matter what town you live in; those with the same interests exist. We have been privileged to experience this in our own community, in Charleston, South Carolina. As a city, southern roots run deep, but as a destination, the influence of travelers and transplants alike has cultivated a diverse collection of styles, and we find inspiration in each and every one.

Our goal is to incorporate this reverence to not only the instrument, but to the culture it catalyzes by connecting new players with an instrument that speaks directly to them. While we offer many high-end, boutique guitars, we never aim to alienate the next generation of musicians, whose influence, in our opinion, speaks to cosmic lengths that us wearied players must now strain to recall. Selecting your first guitar is almost religious, a baptism into a vibrant culture of support and creativity. Welcome to the family!

 

“I find that musically, looking back, I have learned much more from those relationships, people I have bumped into that I have admired, that’s the way I feel musically I have learned most in life.” - John Williams

 

Make your first guitar a Rusty’s Cool Guitar. We’d love to be a part of your story.

Capturing the Guitar

John CampiComment

Maybe it’s a lingering effect from our days in California, but here at Rusty’s we always try to view life and music (they’re really one and the same to us) through many different lenses. Changing your tuning can help shake writers block, try playing that guitar part on piano… these tricks may seem minimal but the results can be monumental. Experimentation can often lead to that eureka moment, and that’s exactly what happened when we set out to photograph our product line.

Like any entrepreneur we look to successful companies for inspiration, but every time we landed on the page of an industry leader, the photos all felt… flat. Again and again, lined up and lifeless, these three dimensional masterpieces were relegated to two dimensional, rectangular frames. Guitars, even without their players, are expressive, living, breathing and existing in both sound and design. In essence, they are dynamic.  This was the turning point; and it instantly became our new mission to capture that dynamic experience.

One of the cornerstones in Rusty’s business is the commitment to providing a custom and comfortable shopping experience, free off the noise and pressure of big retail. But we can’t have these beautiful creations fall flat in a potentially robust digital environment, it just wouldn't be fair to the instrument, or its creator. We are thrilled to provide you with this unique perspective of our products and let them tell the story. These are some really cool guitars, take a look…

Wallace Mullinax Demos the Boulder Creek Solitaire

John CampiComment

"This was my first experience with a Boulder Creek guitar, and I was very impressed. I love a company that is confident enough to try something new, and Boulder Creek is definitely doing that with their bracing system. That said, the guitar had a warm, woody tone that showed respect for the instruments that define the OM body style. The top had a ton of resonance, which I'm sure can be attributed to the bracing." - Wallace Mullinax on the Boulder Creek Solitaire