Audeze interviews musician, composer and producer Andy Curran
December 18, 2022
Audeze interviews musician, composer and producer Andy Curran
Andy Curran is a Juno Award winning musician, composer & producer. He co-founded the Canadian hard rock band Coney Hatch as their bassist / lead vocalist and went on to record a solo record in the 90’s before forming Caramel (Geffen) and Leisureworld (Artist Direct) in the 2000’s. His current project is Envy of None along side close friend and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Alex Lifeson (RUSH). Andy has composed music for film & television recently, working with Lifeson to add music for the Amazon “All of Nothing” series. A certified gear nut & collector, Andy writes exclusively from his home studio which is where the foundation of his most of his work originates from.
"The clarity, the comfort, the isolation and the tonal response is amazing." - Andy Curran
Here's our chat with Andy:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?
I’ve been writing, recording and touring for a “long" time but I think two records really stick out for me that I’m personally very proud of, not only the songs but the production as well. My Leisureworld record was a huge step up for me. I produced and financed it with zero record company involvement. I had so much fun creating sounds and tones, adding keyboards and loops to a very aggressive alternative rock foundation. That record had a top ten song called I’m Dead that got a bunch of TV sync placements and I listen back and think it was ahead of its time sonically and stylistically… it has stood the test of time. Certainly the new Envy of None project is a massive departure for me but has been extremely rewarding. Its like a hybrid of ambient, trippy, alternative dark power pop and obviously working with Alex Lifeson is an honour and I never thought I’d end up collaborating with him like this. The reception to the record has been especially rewarding. Its a soundscape journey best digested with headphones on!
How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?
Very much producer / composer / bassist. I’m responsible for getting a lot of the songs off the runway... so creating the groove and foundation of the track starting with bass, which is my primary instrument, but then adding seeds of ideas with guitars, keyboards and little vocal ideas. Then the production part kicks in and I’m lucky enough to work with great engineers who take my “demos" and bring them to the next level and develop them to the finish line. Vic Florencia and Alf Annibalini to name a few have really taught me a lot where I've gotten pretty good at engineering and crafting sounds at home that sometimes find their way on to the master recordings.
How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?
My grandfather Joseph Curran was a trumpet player in the BBC orchestra in England and so along with my dad who played piano & guitar, I was always surrounded by music. My two older sisters loved the Beatles and British Invasion stuff and my older brother listened to everything from Frank Zappa to Devo, so I sucked it all up like a sponge. Getting a Hofner Beatle Bass as a birthday gift was the beginning of the end!!! I was a knuckle head rock kid from the get go, so Aerosmith, UFO, Cheap Trick, James Gang, Rush, Ted Nugent, Peter Frampton were the back drop of my teen years. It was the journey to try and become a better bassist that took me down the jazz fusion road with Jaco and Weather Report, Stanley Clarke, Jeff Beck, Patrick O’Hearn that opened my eyes up to the world outside rock. Now I listen to everything from Lee Scratch Perry to Tame Impala, Massive Attack, Sly & The Family Stone, Rammstein and everything in between. I love the production & “sound-scaping” part of all those artists.
Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?
There is one vivid defining moment for me for sure that cemented in my mind that I wanted to play in a band. I loved Edgar Winter growing up and bought tickets to see him at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on the Shock Treatment tour. His song Frankenstein was a massive hit and that concert blew my mind. Rick Derringer & Dan Hartman were in his band. The lights, pot smoke everywhere, platform boots, drum solos, the mirror balls!! OMG, I died and went to heaven and swore that night I’d be on that stage one day. My parents taught me if you can dream it, you can do it. Fast forward to the early 80s and my band Coney Hatch played that same arena twice in one year as the opening act! Oh, BTW the headlining act was Bad Company!! There were many other occasions that shaped me as a person and a musician.. .but that's the biggy.
Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?
That's a tough one because like many artists, I’ve had many highs and some low times for sure. I formed a band called Caramel in the late 90’s signed to Geffen. It took me four years to make that record, far too long a story to explain why but I remember thinking, wow, this is a huge deal for me signing with a major US label. The record started charting and getting a ton of airplay on the first track and then it was over in a flash. Geffen was absorbed by Universal and we were orphaned over night. The A&R man who signed us was let go and it came grinding to a halt. I was so caught up in the rocket ride up that I was oblivious to what was happening around me. It was a blur. I’ve been eyes wide open ever since and learned to expect the unexpected in this business and never assume the path is paved in gold. I don’t know what I would have done to avoid it, but it gave me the confidence to feel if I did it once or twice I could do it again. I don’t think I would have done anything differently and the experience has given me very thick skin.
Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?
I’ve been a long time Tech 21 fan and have owned many of their bass pedals and rack gear but recently I bought the Tech 21 dUg Pinnick Signature Bass Pedal DP-3X and its become a staple in my live rig and at home in my studio. It’s awesome. I’ve been working with folks at IK Multimedia and love their Sample Tank, Sample Moog and Amplitube 5. I've also been using the Analog Player from Arturia that sounds wicked especially for the old analog sounds.
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?
Yes, you have to believe in yourself… to a fault. If you get knocked down, get back up again. I think you’ll find most successful musicians or artists have had a roller coaster ride of success and failures and you have to endure the ride through peaks and valleys. I also think it's important to stretch creativity and listen to many types of music and find inspiration in that, open up the blinders.
How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?
I have been using headphones in my home studio for decades, same when I do sessions in professional commercial studios. At home it's mostly because of privacy and not wanting to blast my family out of the house! However, I do find when monitoring or adjusting balances and tones it's helpful to use headphones as a good reference and A/B with speakers to confirm you’re recording the tone you are committing to. It's a great check & balance exercise.
How have your Audeze headphones affected your work? Can you tell us what you've been working on with them recently?
So my Audeze story is a good one. I own about 4-6 other types of nice headphones / in ear monitors for live performances etc. One year for father's day, my wife surprised me with a gift and bought me the Audeze LCD-2 Closed-backs. I know she paid a pretty penny for it and I said that she should return them as I was fully covered in the headphone department. She had got them from a very cool audiophile store in my home town of Oakville, ON (WiFI Hi Fi) and the owner is a friend of ours and said "Tell Andy, once he tries these he will never go back." So I tried them…. and he was right. The clarity, the comfort, the isolation and the tonal response is amazing. I like that they’re not hyped up or colour the sound but are also very flattering on the ears and I tend not to get ear fatigue when using them. They’re my go to headphone now for sure. I recorded all of my Envy of None bass tracks, vocals and keyboards using the Audeze.