We met recently with Jose Ibanez, owner of 3rd Planet Recording Studios in Liverpool. He and his studio have quickly attained a reputation of being highly professional, highly creative, and highly welcoming. Having personally seen him work at close quarters, Jose creates a great vibe, which goes a long way in getting the best out of his musical clients…And his track record to date is a great testimony for his engineering, producing and mixing talents….One talented guy!
LN: When did you start the studio, and why?
Jose Ibanez: I started to record professionally about 7 years ago.
LN: There seems to be more and more music being created on laptops…Has a recording studio now become – in some people’s eyes – “old hat”?
JI: Music created in bedrooms has been happening since before laptops. I remember recording on cassette guitar ideas when I was younger. Today the access to technology can make these ideas sounding really good! But I think the studio not only provides a professional setup, you can also access to gear that you won’t have at home and provides a person with experience that can help you making the right decisions when creating your record.
LN: What would you say are the benefits of working in your recording studio?
JI: We can record super loud drums with mics everywhere and make all sort of noises from loud guitars to synths, experiment with pedals, using modern and vintage gear. You don’t only hire me and the studio, you have access to all my gear for you to use on the session. I love what I do and I love helping bands to achieve something beyond their expectations.
LN: Is it all about the equipment you have?
JI: The equipment definitely helps but it’s all about the artist.
LN: What other factors come into play?
JI: The studio vibe, creating a nice environment where musicians can create and feel welcomed and comfortable is essential for me because I’ve been that musician recording before and I know the feeling.
LN: What is the role of an engineer?
JI: An engineer’s job is capturing the best performance to the best quality possible always taking on consideration the musician’s vision.
LN: What is the role of a producer?
JI: A producer gets involved with the band before the recording, pre production, rehearsals, feedback with demos, suggestions and experimentation while recording. I always think the producer is the extra member of the band that tries his/her best to get the best possible product on a record.
LN: What is your favourite production technique at the moment?
JI: I’ve always loved to use microphones on my stairwell where it creates a reverb chamber effect that reminds me to John Bonham while recording drums. Also I like cranking speakers and creating feedback with guitars, put vocal takes through amps and pedals, experiment with quirky synth sounds when artistically possible. When doing acoustic guitars I love finding a crispy and clean sound for it. Depends on the project – I’ll come up with some different techniques!
LN: You are an extremely good guitarist yourself ( he really is!).Does the fact that you are a musician yourself help the recording process?
JI: It definitely helps to understand what the band wants to achieve and how. Not only on guitar, I play in a band too so I know what it is to be there recording what you have been practicing for the last few months. I am an observer so I try to see how they interact with each other. Having been in many bands over the years gives you perspective.
Jose Ibanez at 3rd Planet Recording Studios
LN: What advice would you give to a band who have never recorded in a studio before, but are about too?
JI: Rehearse your tunes , once you are tight, then leave the rest to me! I’ll make you feel comfortable, and the most important thing is to have fun! I want them to perform and enjoy the time in the studio.
LN: What have been your stand-out sessions to date, and why?
JI: I’ve worked with many musicians over the years but lately I have been doing really special stuff like David Silcock and The Castaways new album where a bunch of super talented people are involved. Other stand-outs have been the psychedelic trip in the company of San Pedro’s Vision, Silent K, Kyle Murphy, Matthew Read and my own band The Heavy North. I could name many more. I’m very lucky really cause what it stands out to me is a really good sounding record with somebody that starts like a client and becomes a friend no matter if you are a popular musician in town or in the UK or an unsigned artist that has never recorded before.
LN: There is an old adage….”It can be sorted in the mix”. How true is this?
JI: This is a classic! Some people specially the younger generation of musicians mention it, and I am happy doing it if needed. I usually have a good eye for people and I can tell what skills they have in the band so I push that to get the most of their performance. Having said that you need a bit of wizard skills sometimes if you are working on the clock.
LN: What are your thoughts on the current Merseyside music scene?
JI: I think Merseyside music scene is one of the best in the world. Not only cause its past , there are new bands every year that can blow the whole world away. They are here , they just need a bit of luck and people to discover them. The amount of bands from pop, jazz, rock, metal, folk…this region is booming with talent no matter the situation people still make music everyday even in these crazy times we live in.
LN: Best bit of kit you ever bought for the studio?
JI: My new speakers for me has been a game-changer but that’s my nerdy producer tech brain. Also a 1967 Gibson that I am using with a band this weekend. Vintage gear always inspires musicians, me included!
LN: Worst piece of kit you ever bought for the studio?
JI: I’d say my mini fridge doesn’t have much space for beer so I need to get that sorted asap.
LN: Lastly…Battle of The Producers…..Martin Birch or Mutt Lange?
JI: Martin Birch (Deep Purple, Rainbow, Iron Maiden) if you ask me. But my favourite current producer at the moment is Dave Cobb!
LN: Dave Cobb? Great choice! He has won the Grammy six times, and acclaimed producer of Chris Stapleton, as well as The Highwomen…Thanks Jose! Now get a beer out of that fridge!
3rd Planet Recording Studios, 17 Boundary Street, Liverpool L5 9UB (07588239891)