December 09, 2023
Tom Prendergast is a writer/producer/vocalist/keys & percussionist in Bury Tomorrow, and a full-time producer/production music writer. He's been a producer full-time for around 6 years now - but heavily involved in writing/recording music for almost 20 years.
I mean with regards to commercial work - there’s been a lot of highlights over the last few years. Commercially my first 2 singles as part of the new BT lineup stick out for sure - our first single ‘Death (ever colder)’ that’s just over a year old now came out while we were in the middle of a month-long stint at Otterhead studios recording our album ‘The Seventh Sun’. There was a lot of anticipation on how this new sound was gonna be received even though we collectively believed in the music, and it was a real affirming experience to have the track received so well in the middle of this intense recording experience, and to be able to celebrate it together and put that motivation into making the best record we could. Little side note and shout out - our producer and friend Dan Weller first introduced me to the LCD’s - he used them throughout the process On a production music level a lot of my work at ‘Energy Music’ is a real highlight - to write for TV, library and bespoke work is a constant lesson in songwriting and allows me to expose myself to a way wider range of music than I probably would if I wasn’t doing it. It’s a small team who own the label - it’s under Universal and they’re top of their game and great people - which is a constant motivator to up my game. More and more I see spill-over between commercial and production music and I feel very fortunate to be able to bridge these disciplines and keep refining my skillset as a writer/producer.
I think songwriter is the primary role in most projects I work on. Since I started writing music at 15 or 16 years old I’ve been obsessed with writing - and to an extent all the skills I’ve learned have been to facilitate this process; producing, recording and performing I see as an extension of being a songwriter. In collaborative writing sessions it’s very much a mixed batch I think - I tend to lean into initial ideas of hooks and chord sequences etc and then judge other writers’ workflows and try to work around or within that - I love being exposed to different writers’ methods and processes - more often than not there’s elements you can learn from their creative process, and vice versa - which in turn can improve and even be incorporated as part of your process. This feels especially important in a career where it’s all too easy to end up in a studio on your own for hours, or in a bit of an echo chamber of positive re-enforcement - an open creative process with others helps keep me grounded in what choices are best for the song first and foremost, and also to keep some perspective on projects
My dad and my uncle introduced me to guitar before I’d really given music any thought really, I wanted to be and artist when I was a kid. The first moment I remember being like ‘I want to do that!’, I was 14 at my mates house and his parents had ‘top of the pops’ on - there was a live performance of ‘Pretty fly’ by The Offspring, I was hooked immediately. I got obsessed with all things punk/pop punk and pretty quickly Metal. Just performing and learning other artists’ music got me super interested in writing and recording my own music so I took music performance at Barnsley College - dropped out and came back in Music Tech and that was my start really - the staff there were great and they had a studio, so I booked into it after everyday at college and just tracked songs. My music taste I think has progressed and developed with how access to music has progressed in the world - we have this instant access to pretty much everything now - which is arguably a double-edged sword for any artist, and a way bigger conversation - but purely from a listener perspective I can hit a playlist on jazz or chill-hop or hip-hop - or any genre or sub-genre of music I enjoy and be exposed to new and great music I’d have never found or may never have been created if it wasn’t for the music industry existing in the way it does now.
I was brought up around all musicians on my dad’s side so that was definitely an inspiration - there was always some obscure blues tunes, Crowded House, Bob Dylan, The Eagles or Genesis on. I think that definitely helped me to be musically open minded. There have definitely been a couple times early on where I may not have continued down the path I did had it not been for the people I met along the way. After I dropped out of college my then Course tutor, The late Richard Tolson of Barnsley College convinced me to return and to engage with my love of recording and making music - I don’t know if id have followed the same path had it not been for this conversation - there’s so many of these seemingly little moments throughout your life that end up setting you on a different path - but they’re insanely important and I’ll always be grateful. I’m also fortunate to have a great group of musical friends around me that I work with regularly and always pushes me to learn new skills/techniques and improve in my practice continually.
I think there’s probably too many to mention - so maybe a little better to answer as a general theme in my character that I’ve found through my career so far- I worry too much about things not being perfect, or what others may think of it/you etc. These are definitely not my words but I find them to be true for me…if you’re worrying about the goal or what people think of the thing you’re creating - you aren’t focussing on creating at all - and the magic moment of a track you could make in that time probably won’t happen
Recently, some lovely Audeze LCD-X headphones! They offer a level of detail I’ve been lacking in my previous cans and has sped up my editing no end. Also my new A set of speakers The Adam A77H, And I’m back on a classic favorite of mine at the moment - the Waves R Compressor for vocals, As an end of chain compressor I find the effect and control the best.
If you love doing it, keep doing it. Enjoy and take pleasure in the process and improving and generally results come as a consequence. Everyone starts out somewhere and there’s always doubts and misgiving - maybe even people doubting you can do it. I’ve definitely had my share of that, I didn’t get into being able to support myself full-time with music until I was 31, but the train of thought I always came back was “What is the alternative”. I couldn’t see myself continuing as a teacher, or in an office job or anything like that, so I had to trust the process and just keep pushing through failures and opportunities that didn’t work out with new lessons. It’s definitely not easy - but most things in life worth having aren’t easy to achieve
Typically headphones for me help me focus in on edits, a lot of my work requires exposed stems as part of asset delivery so I can’t allow pops/clicks or bad fades to get through the net. This relationship is definitely changing with the Audeze though, I feel like I can trust the tonal balance in them way more and it translates to other speakers and my studio space. I can honestly say the Audeze LCD are the best/truest headphones I’ve ever used!
I think I half answered this above! But most recently I’ve used the Audeze to review the Dolby mixes for our Bury Tomorrow album - The Seventh Sun. It’s came out 31.03.23 and the surround world is a new one to us. The LCD’s have allowed to explore this accurately and give confident revisions on changes - they've been an instrumental piece of kit really.