Emm Gryner – Sing Like A Pro Interview Series


Hi, I’m Mitch Seekins, The Vocal Coach. Ever wanted to know what it takes to be a pro vocalist? Welcome to my Sing Like a Pro Interview Series where you hear from the professionals themselves what it takes to do what they do. Oh, and if you like this and perhaps learn something, hit that subscribe button. I have more stuff coming.


This interview features the one and only Emm Gryner.


I’ve known Emm for many years now. She came to study with me when she was just 18 and a new student at the Recording Arts Program at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. She went on to become a signed artist, had a hit song, became a part of David Bowie’s band, started her own label, helped produce the first and only music video shot at the International Space Station, has become a motivational speaker, mentors people on establishing their careers in the music biz, hangs out with rock stars, became an author, just released a new album on top of being a mom and a gigging musician. I have to confess being a little in awe of her and I’m always curious to hear what she’s up to whenever I see her. The advice she gives during our interview is awesome. And to find out a little bit more about Em, be sure to check out those links below.


Hope you enjoy.


Emm Gryner, thanks so much for doing this. It’s really nice to see you again. It’s nice to see you every time I see you. I know, it’s always nice to see you. Yeah, yeah. We live, we live only like 40 minutes apart in two little towns (in Ontario) and I don’t see you enough, unfortunately, but… No, we got to get the farmer’s market back. Yeah, exactly. That’s the last time we saw each other is at the farmer’s market. Exactly, exactly. You’ve had a very busy fall, you’ve gotten married, you published a book, Lee’s Everybody. If you’re watching this, this is a good buy, like go get this, this is full of tons of stuff. And it has practically a whole chapter about Mitch. Yes, that’s my favorite chapter.


That’s bookmark.


So once again, thanks for doing this and I’ll just fire off some questions and answer them as honestly as you can. You don’t need to spare my feelings at all.


Okay. Honestly, when you asked to do this, I just jump at anything that you asked me to do because literally, if I can think of anyone who’s changed my life, it’s you. So what am I going to say? I know. Because I asked yesterday.


I like to deliver. Yeah.


Okay. So how old were you when you started singing? Like what? Tell me a little bit about your backstory. Well, I didn’t really feel comfortable singing growing up. Everything was fueled by songwriting for me. I really just like loved writing pop songs when I was 12 or 13. And then I realized I really want to sing them, but I just didn’t feel comfortable doing that at home. We weren’t really like an all out musical family. Like let’s all sing along. There was like kind of a lot of judgment in my house growing up. So yeah, I really didn’t sing out until later in life. But it was sort of like a dream of mine to be able to sing. Right. Right. Right. So when did you turn pro? So in the songwriting process, you were singing from basically what age? 15, 16? Pretty much. Yeah. Pretty much. And when did you turn pro? Well, what happened was I got asked to go into the studio when I was 16 by Carl Dickson, who is celebrated Canadian rock, rock and roller. Guy. Yeah. And he was the one actually who told me I should take singing lessons.


And as I say in my book, one of us had toured with Iron Maiden and it wasn’t me. So I trusted him. I really did trust him. Like, you know, you hear a lot of horror stories of like girls like working with people when they’re teenagers, but he was just a gentleman and really lovely. And so I really took what he had to say to heart. Yeah. And that is when I guess it was maybe when I was 18 or 19 that I found you.


So yeah, I think it was 18. I think I remember. Yeah. 18 in life. I know. I know. Full of life. And yeah, you would you would just begun the Fanshawe recording program.


Yeah. I’m writing that down. 18 and full of life because I’m going to make a new song. Absolutely. Yeah. I just started at Fanshawe and there you were like, again, I know you lived all over the place, but you were there in the town. Yeah. I had just, I had just opened up the London studio at that point in time. And how old were you then?


Oh God.


Uh, 30.


Oh my. How old was I? Uh, 25, 31 maybe. 31. Something like that. 32. I’m guessing. I’m guessing. Oh yeah. Yes. And I remember going to your studio and being kind of freaked out just because I was doing something new. Right. Yeah. And then, you know, someone was in before me and I heard them doing their warmups and I was like, okay, I know I’m in the right place. And yeah. After a few lessons, it started to become comfortable, right? But that first few. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Um, do you approach your vocals differently now than you did back then? I’m presuming you do. Um, you know, because not only is there an experience factor, there’s also the age factor and like, how, how do you, what do you, what do you do differently from when you were 18 to now, what’s your, what’s your mindset on that? Well, I love singing now because I think when you’re learning to sing, you’re always thinking, even in concert, you’re thinking about like, you know, oh, Mitch told me to do this and Mitch told me to do that. Or my teacher told me to do this. Right. So there was a lot of thinking about things and then maybe not feeling like I understood it totally.


And then I feel like there was a big chunk of time where I just like toured and toured and recorded.


And in that time somewhere, it just became like, okay, I know what I’m supposed to do. So now I’m just singing and maybe not that mindfully, but I kind of get it now. And now I don’t really think about all the tech technical stuff. I just sing. And I, like, I know when I need to like, oh, I haven’t warmed up enough. So go do that. Or it’s like you, it’s just part of you now. So it’s part of me. And that makes it more fun because it’s sort of like, okay, I know that before I do a concert, I’m going to be doing my warmups. No big deal. You know what I mean? I remember actually in lessons with you, like when you taught me all the warmups and I was like, what do you do when like someone’s looking at you weird when you’re doing these sounds? And I remember you just saying, you know, I got a job to do. I got to do it. Right. It is, it is your job. This is, you think I’m foolish. So be it, but I’ve got a job to do. And I’m on that stage and you’re in the audience for whatever, you know, it’s like, you know, other people have whatever software they have to get ready to do their work or whatever, like get ready in some other way in the morning or whatever. And, and so now it’s just part of me. It’s really part of everything I do. Even before this interview, I did a few warmups. So, ah, I didn’t, I’m just drinking coffee. That’s my warmup.


But that’s another thing. And I know like I’m bouncing around a lot, but like, I remember asking you like, oh, do I have to give up my coffee to be a singer? And you’re like, nope, you just have some water with it. So here I am. Like, I do this all the time now. Right. And I loved that about you because it made it feel like it could still be rock and roll. It could still be, you know, it didn’t have to be like, oh, like rigid, rigid. No, exactly. Exactly. Because you don’t want to think about that stuff when you’re on stage and you definitely don’t want to sing pop or rock like an opera singer or be rigid with it. No, no, no, no, no. It gets ingrained and stuff just starts working. You know, when you’re recording, like, do you think about the vocals that you record and how you’re actually going to produce them live or do you just this? These are your songs. You don’t even give the live situation any kind of a thought because, you know, I deal with a lot of rock, like rock singers or punk singers. And it’s in the studio is very, very extreme.


It’s a different ballgame when you get on stage. Yeah. You know, so I asked that question of everybody.


Does that really kind of apply to you because your songs are so well suited for your vocals or they’re always they always sit beautifully, you know? Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean, I think the whole reason I went into music is to kind of have fun and not have limitations. And so I think too much about how I’m going to pull it off live. It really makes the songwriting process not fun.


So even with my public record, that was a big production in London and everything with the orchestra. I remember the manager I had at the time going like, how are you going to play these songs live? And I just thought it was the most unsupportive question I’ve ever had because there’s always a way to do it. I mean, I think the only time I’m really mindful of it, I’m even thinking of it right now as I’m writing a new song, is I sometimes like it if both men and women can sing the melody. So sometimes I’ll like be a little bit more mindful of that, you know, kind of drop it down maybe a little bit. But it’s not not at the like cost of the song. You know what I mean? Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I’ve I’ve had a fair number of people come to me and go, I wrote a great record. It’s great record. I can’t see it live. Help, you know, that’s kind of a good challenge, right? Because then absolutely. Yeah, you’re walking into something new. Yeah, you don’t want it always to be easy. And I think the human ear loves different ranges.


Well, yeah. And the human ear, particularly with rock, loves to hear that edge. You know, they’re getting to the edge. It’s a dangerous part. That’s the exciting. That’s the exciting bit, you know.


So warming up, how long do you warm up for for a show?


Well, probably 10 to 15 minutes now.


There is a point where, you know, when you taught me how to do the blending exercises, if I don’t do those, I’m not fully warmed up. So it’s about 10 minutes in.


Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Because you do want to extend the full range, you know, because it again, you know, I asked that question because I’ll get people going, oh, well, I warm up for a full hour before a show. And it’s like, that’s way too much. Right.


You’re wasting all the energy that you could use for the show. Yeah. You know, as opposed to just doing a stretch, you know, I’ve always thought you have to look at things like an athlete. An athlete’s never going to do a full workout before a competition. Right. Yeah. So 10 to 15 minutes ish. Yeah. I mean, sometimes 20. I mean, I do recall certain times where you say, you know, maybe don’t warm up as much if something’s going on physically or do more. Or do more. Yeah. Yeah. I think you just get to know your body and you know when your voice is ready to go. Ready? Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Cool. Have you, have you ever experienced any kind of issues while touring on the road?


Yeah. A couple of major shows I’ve been sick for. I’m sure you’ve talked about this in other interviews, but like when I did Saturday Night Live with Bowie, I was really sick, but that wasn’t me singing front, like being the front person.


And there was another backing vocalist, so I could kind of lean on her a little bit. Yeah. Um, I didn’t see some- Wasn’t that the first gig with Bowie as well? It was. So I, you know, now that I know things, I kind of think it was probably stress related too. Of course. Absolutely. Absolutely. And by the way, for anybody who doesn’t know, uh, am saying with Bowie for two years, two years for about that long. Yeah. We did albums together and yeah. Yeah. I remember getting that call from me. I was driving down. I, I, it’s a lot of years ago and I remember getting, I was driving down to 401 and you, you rang me and I picked up and you wouldn’t believe this. I’m sticking with David Bowie. He’s like, what? So I think I pulled off the, I waited chat with you about it because it was, that was pretty exciting. That was very exciting. It really was. Another time I did lose my voice in concert and, um, my fans had to like, sing my songs for me. Sure. You’ve heard that happen a lot, but, um, you know, and then another time before going out on the road with Holly McNarland, I don’t know if you guys remember her, but, um, I just thought I had nodes or something. And I went to the Dr. Hands, do you remember? Yes. Dr. Hands and strange dude, but company dude, uh, the ear, nose and throat doctor who is named Dr. Hands, um, he was like, yeah, you’re just dry. You got to drink a bunch of water. So those nothing major. And I honestly, I attribute that to my training with you because it’s not like I sang for like 20, 30 years. And then I, yeah. And then, yeah. Yeah. You came to see me right at the beginning. So that was perfect. That’s how I can have a large coffee. Exactly. Yeah. All day long. Exactly. And sing for the rest of your life and not have any, any, any issues, you know?


Um, do you, uh, like, uh, I, again, I always ask about, you know, vocal recovery after, uh, a string of shows, do you find that, you know, the voice gets quite tired? Is there, is there something that you do in order to deal with vocal recovery or it’s not really something you need to deal with?


It doesn’t seem to bug me or it’s not really anything I have to, I think, deal with other than just getting rest, which might be a boring answer, but, um, you know, sleep just makes everything better. I find after doing more shows, I’m more ready to go. Yeah. Again, I think that’s because of the way that we work together and how I’m fueled by my diaphragm, I’m not doing all my singing from up here. So less need to recover, I feel like. Right. Right. Um, big shows versus smaller shows.


What’s, does the mindset, does your mindset shift? Do you put more energy into one or the other or like, how do you, how do you mentally approach, uh, that?


Well, that’s a good question. I think in terms of the giving at the show, like I always think it should be the same. Like if you’re playing to 10 people or you’re playing to like 5,000, you’re giving the same, but you can’t approach a 10 person show, like you’re at Glastonbury or whatever. I know.


So I think there’s some like adapting to the audience, you know, making it about them, um, which Bowie was really all about. Um, so I learned that from him, but, um, yeah, just technically, I think that’s where the challenges come. Like I remember opening for Def Leppard with my band Trapper.


And I honestly, we weren’t on in-ears. We were on wedges because we were opening and there was, they were just like, okay, here you guys get whatever we’re going to put out for you. Right. The monitors and whatever. And, um, I can’t say that I actually heard myself through the monitors. Um, cause the guitars are so loud and the drums are so loud. So not ideal. However, um, knowing my voice, I could kind of just hear it in my head and knowing how much power I had to put out. I knew I was doing okay. And then in the arena, you’re obviously hearing yourself. Yeah. Slap back. Yeah. So then you just have to kind of just trust that, okay, this is when like your team becomes really important. Like I know my sound guy is not going to make me sound bad or whatever. Right. Like, yeah.


It’s more of like a technical adjustment for me. Yeah. Yeah. You, you need to sing by feel at that point in time. Yeah. That’s a really good way of saying it, which is sort of like, yeah, your eyes are closed and you’re like in the middle of the night trying to find where you’re going. You’re going, I know. But muscle memory, right? Like, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. As long as you’ve done your homework and you know, the song’s well enough, then it, you do rely on muscle memory. And, um, that’s not really fun because you’re always second guessing yourself. You know? Yeah. That’s when you just trust that, okay, the audience is getting what they need. And it’s ongoing, right? Like even I did this play, which you came to see, um, which was singing all these Joni Mitchell songs. Yeah. And, um, I think you came near the end of the run. And I think I did. Yeah. I remember like in the intermission, you’re like, you got like, let go. Like you’re like kind of tense or something. And I’m like, Oh my God. Well, I must’ve been tense the whole time because the show is almost done. And, but you know what? It’s like, uh, it’s, it’s sort of an ongoing learning process. And I think there’s nothing wrong with that. And especially with pop and rock, like it’s okay to not be perfect. Absolutely. That’s, that’s the, that’s the, uh, the charm of it is not being perfect. That’s what gives a person individuality, uh, something interesting. Uh, I’ve sung with people who are like great singers and man, it gets born real quick. And I, I don’t know if you saw the interview I did with Joe Elliott, but like he was talking about that, right? About like, you know, there’s some rock guys who are these impeccable singers and he’s never considered himself to be that, but that’s not what it’s about. Right. It’s about the passion. And I have to also like give a shout out to you because it’s not just the training, it’s just, you also have lived the life, like you have toured. So, you know, right. It’s not like just you’re in your chair, like no, having no idea about what it’s like to be on the road. Yeah. Really do know. And I think the combo of lessons with you and then just like getting out there and playing gigs, that’s where the magic happens because then you have a practical application and then I can come back to you. I remember coming back to you many times and just saying like this happened like


so we could discuss it. Right. Yeah. Yeah.


Is there anything in particular that we worked on that really stands out as, as a, as a game changer for you? Yes. So focusing the sound.


Focusing forward. Yeah. And solid tone because I was very breathy in the beginning. I don’t know if you remember this and it’s still a flavor in my singing. Oh, absolutely. It’s a texture. Yeah. But that is a game game changer for me. Cause now like I really can tap into that kind of a voice, which is maybe what I wanted all along. You know what I mean? Like it’s sort of like if you wake up and your voice is a certain way.


Like, yes, that’s natural, but you can work on it so that it can be multi-layered. Right. I think because of what you showed me, I was able to suddenly have all these different voices and now like I’ve been in a rock band, I did a jazz record, I toured with Bowie and made this yacht rock record. Like that is not normal.


I know.


I appreciate so much what you’ve taught me. Yeah. Um, that isn’t normal, but man, is it fun because then you’re never pigeonholed. You never stuck because you can stretch into different genres and, and play with them. Totally. You know, um, that, like I’ve always, I’ve always loved that. Do you have any, uh, personal tips for any new upcoming vocalists that you can think of other than study with Mitch?


No, seriously, study with you. I send people to you all the time. You know, I know you, you, you’re, you’re very good to me that way. I do have to, I do have to give you that the kudos for that. I really appreciate it. It’s not for you really. It’s for them because I know what’s going to happen, you know, if they see with you. And so definitely being consistent, like I would say, treat your vocal lessons. Like it’s a, like a meetup with a friend. Like you wouldn’t ditch your friend, so don’t ditch your vocal lessons. And then also just like get out there and have a practical application for it. Cause if you’re just learning in a bubble, it’s kind of not everything I think. Yeah. And relaxation, like I think the more you relax, the better everything is. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Um, you’ve had like an amazing career. Like, I mean, from solo records, hit songs, Bowie, did you not produce the very first rock video from outer space? I didn’t produce it, but I did like help make it. Yeah. Okay. Um, I still remember that, that story of you going for a walk in the woods and getting a call from some people at the space station. It’s like, who does, who does that happen to? I don’t, M that happens to you, you know, hanging out with rock stars.


You’re an author now you’ve, you’ve run your own record label and what it, what you’re, you’re, you’re mentoring or what, what, what is it you’re doing now as well as all the rest of that stuff? You’re, you’re guiding people on how to achieve goal. Like, what is it? Yeah. Well, it’s coaching. Um, so it’s a variety of coaching, like life coaching. I also do career consulting, but you know, at the root of it all is music. And it, I think, you know, it makes me a better coach that I am active in releasing music, you know, it’s not like a either or thing, but yeah, I love to help people and it’s also, you know, you have that passion too. And I honestly not totally sure where I’d be if I didn’t find you. So it’s nice to be able to give back, you know. Yeah. I’m, I’m sure you would have done fine. You know, the personality to be driven. I mean, I’m the same way. It was, it was my passion is what I wanted to do. Uh, not the teaching thing right off the bat, but it was interesting to find that I enjoyed the teaching just as much, if not more than the performing. Um, yeah, the life is as different and you’re also doing speaking events as well. Um, that’s a full life. Yeah, you know, it is, and I feel very lucky. And I think at the heart of it is just trying to share what I’ve learned. And it took me a long time to learn some things like it didn’t take long for us to, you know, to get me to a good voice, but in terms of life lessons and career stuff, a good like 20 years of just like trial and error. So if I can help someone avoid all that, uh, I’m really happy to do that. Right. Yeah, that’s perfect. And I will add a link in the bottom of the video here to people want to get a hold of you, they can, they can reach out to you direct, uh, and, and find out all about what, what it is you do. Cause, uh, I know that it’s helping a lot of people. So, um, cause I’ve worked with some of your people and. I can see where, where it’s taking them. So I think that’s awesome. So thank you so much for doing this on a always awesome to see you.


It’s not that early.


You know, and coffees and we just, we’re missing the danishes or something, you know, I know we should have got them delivered, but, um, yeah, if anyone’s watching study with Mitch, you won’t be disappointed. Yeah. There’s my ad for you. There we go.


Well, thanks so much. Yeah. All right. Thank you. It was awesome to see you and let me know anything else.


Absolutely. Thanks for watching. Stay tuned for the next episode coming soon. I’m Mitch Seekins – The Vocal Coach.


Vocal Producer Howard Benson – “Sing Like A Pro Interview Series”

I sit down to talk with famous Vocal Producer Howard Benson to talk about the do’s and don’ts of getting ready for a session or project. Great info and a must listen for ANY vocalist in the music business or contemplating a career. The more you know what the pro’s know and what is expected, the more success you will achieve!



Hi! I’m Mitch Seekins – The Vocal Coach.

Welcome to the ‘Sing Like A Pro Interview Series” where you find out from people who are at the top of their game, what they did to get there and what they do to stay there! And of course if you liked this please share and hit that subscribe button…I have lots more to come.

I recently had the privilege to speak with the amazing Howard Benson who is not only an overall producer but made a name as a great vocal producer as well! He has worked with people like:

My chemical romance


Kelly Clarkson

Rascal Flatts

Chris Cornell




Bon Jovi

Adam Lambert



Billy Talent

And my connection with him, 3 days grace…

The stuff he has produced has sold more that 100 million albums and over 20 billion streams! He has been not only a producer and musician but was also an A&R consultant for Giant, Electra and Warner bros records. All this work has garnered him multiple awards and nominations, including nominations for Producer of the Year in 2007 and 2008.

He has a vast wealth of knowledge to share …and he has also a plug in suite that you can access! I’ll leave a link below. So, if you have a home setup and want an easy way to have your vocals “POP” like in Howards mixes…it’s a one button click! I highly recommend checking it out!

We did have a problem getting his camera to work so I had to use a still pic of him….but it doesnt change any of the incredible info he shared with me!



The idea for the content is to actually just get good quality information for people to know how to prepare for recording a record and all that stuff you know?


That’s what it’s all about… you’ve done like a lot an awful lot, you know, from you know because i mean you started as a musician right?

uh well i started as an engineer actually and as my degrees in aerospace

oh yes that’s right so i started that’s right because yeah you started as an engineer but you were you were playing music through university is it is that right?

yeah yeah i was doing kind of both but uh yeah i came out to LA pretty much do both i wasn’t sure which one was going to work out yeah so yeah it did work as an engineer for Garrett yeah they make like airplane parts my job was like wings and wing actuary wing actuation systems and turbine blades and turbo engines turbine engines and just that kind of thing so but right that’s what my degree was in in college was materials engineering basically mostly aerospace stuff the musician thing was still happening all the way through university kind of thing yeah i mean i was always in bands you know i was always playing in uh disco bands and just all kinds of bands you know like uh i ended up sort of becoming the de facto arranger because i was the keyboard player so you just end up doing uh the arrangements and coming up with the parts and uh it’s the vocal parts were not really something i spent that much time on i mean that was something that i learned as i was out here in l.a about you know the importance of doing this the vocal parts the vocal parts no and not saving them for the last second so that was something but up until the hard knocks of trying to make it as a producer yeah you think everything’s important you know before you realize that none of it’s important except the vocals so you know yeah yeah i still think a lot of it’s important because the it has to complement the vocals yeah yeah well you can have really great music and shitty vocals and you’re gonna be screwed oh absolutely if you have really really great music if you have you know music that’s not that great but the vocals are incredible and the music the lyrics and the melody and the story is great you can still make that work absolutely absolutely but if you got both yeah well that’s what we try to strive for of course yeah yeah absolutely when did you when did you uh do the anr stuff because you were doing a r stuff for a while as well yeah i worked for um giant records in the 80s or the 90s and i worked for elektra um after i started having hits with uh warner brothers elektra hired me to be a vp of a r for them which is basically just an r guy right and uh you know that sort of now dovetails into their label that i actually have with neil sanderson from three disgrace that’s right he’s my partner yeah and uh so it’s like the i wasn’t that great of an anr guy honestly i was sort of more of a producer type but now after doing producing so long i pretty much have a good handle on the a r part of it it’s a different world though the a r plus not the way it was back then everything has changed everything has changed so much over the last even just the ten the last 10 years that the change is is incredible you know because yeah like i you know i never i never did the you know the the full-on recording thing but um i toured myself for 37 years and performed for for 37 years myself but working with all the people that i do i get to hear all because i know the performance side but i get to hear all the business side as well and it’s just completely anything you know but it’s i think it’s kind of cool now i mean maybe it’s just because i i’ve had enough hit records that i don’t really sweat it out as much as i used to yeah as a creator content provider it’s a lot easier because you have more of the control in your hands you know you can’t make things as huge as they used to but um i don’t know it’s still the same business as it always was stuff to make great music yeah the rest of it usually takes care of itself it’s just that there’s a lot more music there’s a lot of yes yeah yeah it’s because all those creators have the ability to just kind of put it online whenever that’s right you know yeah um and and it’s so much easier with all the all the technology there to actually make it at home without having to you know do the crappy little demos and get you know something behind somebody behind them to go in to do the real good demos to take it to a record company to get signed to have it go into the machine now it’s just well i’m in my bedroom the quality is fantastic i’m just going to stick it up on youtube and see what happens yeah no in fact that’s what universal just came out with something universal music that they don’t even want you to release music unless you put it on tick tock to see the reactions so they’re going to let the public ignore it yeah i can see why they’re doing it though oh absolutely i can see why they’re doing it but that’s that’s gonna be i don’t know how that’s gonna work we’ll just have to see well some of my artists do that already so they’ve already they’re ahead of the game yeah yeah so i can artists that is we put up all 12 of his demos online to see which ones reacted yeah you know yeah and that’s how we’re going to pick the songs yeah you know yeah i i i work with a guy out of l.a uh ali gotti um who does a lot of that as well like he’ll he’ll put up ideas on tick tock and go hey do you want do you want to hear me develop this even more and get the reaction and then yeah it’s the same same kind of thing i guess not sure how much of that actually goes into the decision of you know okay we’re gonna work on this and see where it goes i i don’t know i’d have to ask him i guess and find out yeah to see where it is so over you know over your your career i mean my god the people you’ve worked with like my chemical romance daughtry kelly clarks and rascal flatts you know chris cornell motorhead creed santana bon jovi adam lambert that’s pretty cool hailstorm pubescent billy talent three days grace guys you know um you know and like i was saying you know the the purpose of of this all is to really you know get the information on how to do this for you know particularly uh the younger the younger people coming up and in terms of like how do you prepare for a record what what do you what do you do you know what i mean you’ve been working with you know from rock to pop to to to country to gospel to all kinds of different styles within your career as well so you know your your knowledge is is going to be great was was the so you’ve been doing this since i like i read on your site like since 86 or something like that right that was the first one yeah that was like the first time i got a production credit right you know but it was like a punk band was just it was basically anybody who would hire me essentially well just like all the rest of us you got to start someplace you know and so was it did you did you find it was kind of a natural progression from not only from the musicianship but from the the materials engineering because you had that mechanical brain to to go into a studio and go okay this is what we can do to tweak this sound to make it good you know all that kind of thing did you find that was a natural step um i think i had to learn to think more with my heart than my head yep i had to unlearn how to be an engineer an engineer yeah but i still had that in me yeah so when i think my biggest sort of break was when the computer started becoming usable and i was with the pro tools way before anybody like way way before 1996 which was has to be about five seven years before it became really the end of something yeah and um i just really like got into the fact that whatever was i was hearing i could now make it happen right as opposed to spending all this money in the studio i could do it at home and i you know it was at the time so nothing people thought about you know so that’s where the engineering came in but yeah i had to unlearn how to like start going more with my heart about things uh sorry i either have a cold or i have covered i’m not sure which one it is i’m just hoping it’s not covered um yeah but but uh yeah i had to kind of like you know feel things and uh it served me really good to start be lightening up in the studio yeah about things and letting go and delegating to people more and so like i i think a crucial step to is working with a guy named keith olsen who was uh probably my biggest mentor he he produced like the scorpions and he did a white snake and he did fleetwood mac and he did uh he’s old school guy back that i mean when i met him he wasn’t old school but yeah he just taught me how to comp vocals and how to um think about vocals and just like it was just morally more of the sessions that we were doing more vocal centric than they were before and uh you know i started to kind of i know i was pretty good at vocals but i didn’t really realize it would become a brand thing and i think a lot of it had to do with the computer i was again being first on the computer being able to use auto tune being able to use pitch correction all kinds of effects a lot of guys weren’t doing that back then like the pod record i did uh the first one i did was full of vocal effects and the singer sounded way better than he normally sounds so i started getting a a brand of being a good vocal producer and i think i just ran with it you know it was like well that’s working you know like and i’m having hits and i didn’t have any hits up until then i mean honestly up until that moment i had had sold maybe 60 000 albums now i thought sold about 60 million albums yet up until that point i hadn’t sold any until i started rethinking my process and you know i went a long time without selling records so it was kind of painful you know like it was uh hard to see success like i had to think of alternatives to do with my life and all that yeah but once i had a huge record it’s kind of like uh a lot of things happened at once you know the vocal thing happened the computer thing was happening i actually hired a lot of canadians to be my assistants uh my and mike platinikov from little mountain studios yeah uh in vancouver became my primary engineer i worked with randy staub on some stuff um my pro tools editor was from canada my guitar tech mark van gool was from canada and um it was i really liked the sound of bruce fairburne’s records yeah and i would look to those bon jovi records and things like that for the vocal production yeah i got to work with desmond child and uh diane warren and some great songwriters i like i came about it you know the right way like i i learned from really good people and i hired really good people right i’m not really good at making things like i could care less about it right i don’t i don’t know like a drum mic pick one you know yeah so as long as it sounds good yeah so um so like i delegate a lot of that stuff right i think that also came from my engineering background just looking at how we would make airplanes you know like we didn’t make the whole airplane we just made one part of the airplane and the rest of it we delegated to other companies to do and we were part of that you know we made the wings the slat systems on the wings and all that so there’s a lot of things that kind of came together yeah you know and everybody makes records differently you know like rick rubin makes them his way and rob makes it his way gavin brown makes it his way yeah that’s how i make him you know yeah so uh


as long as the song is great it’s the song of the but to me again my world view is song and vocals yeah i think that’s why three days grace and me work really well together is that they think the same exact way yeah those guys so um but other bands i work with they don’t think that way anymore it’s weird like some of the bands i’ve worked with in the past it’s like i stopped working with them and they start working with engineers who don’t want they don’t want to be told what to do so they want to work with people that are yes men and their records start going like that you know yeah but it’s hard you know you want to be in control of your own art i get it you know yeah so i know and and it is learning you know that being creative is great but three or four brains is always better than just one i mean yes there’s anomalies you know of course it does it does depend but adding you know what you do and allowing your and it’s the same with gavin like allowing them to kind of get your fingers into the mix and go okay but if we do this this will be better and actually making the product better yeah it is that was interesting everybody’s concept of that is different you know like some artists don’t like working with me because they think that i’m a sellout hit producer that sells it out to make hits and i’m and they’re right i am i don’t care about that that’s not if you don’t don’t hire me unless you want hits like i don’t care about the rest of this yeah and you know i i never really got into the music industry to starve that’s not what i did it’s pretty great you need to be up front you got to be upfront with the artists though before you start projects of course like i i always say to them like if you want to make critically acclaimed records that are like amazing that your friends love and that get great press then don’t work with me not interested you know i want to make like you should be bringing all this intensity and integrity already yeah you know like that’s not my job that’s your job you know my job is to take what you’ve got and make it into commercially palatable yeah stuff which you know is if it’s if you got all the other stuff then why not work with someone like me if you want to get that little extra that makes it a hit record you know that’s what’s really there could be a lot of differences between hits and stiffs you know or or little differences very little differences too yeah yeah yeah i mean it’s every project’s unique like that yeah yeah yeah yeah um you know working with so many different vocalists uh over these have you noticed a difference between you know the singers who have studied and those who have not like if you the good ones don’t give me a lot of [ __ ] the good ones come in sing and leave seriously yeah they don’t they don’t ask about the headphone mix they don’t they don’t they’re they’re ready to go they come in it’s in their head five to ten takes i come up with the harmonies they go through the whole thing we maybe will punch in line after line um and if they want auto-tune i’ll throw it on their vocal but i don’t have to talk them into an emotion they’ve got that what i have to do is talk them into giving me the most of that like don’t like sell it to me like that’s i never talk about pitch and timing ever right ever never comes out like we never discuss any of that right you know what we discuss is like are you believing what you’re saying right and that’s what i want but like the singers that come in that are you know complaining about everything and they you know don’t like the headphone mix they can’t get this they can’t get that and you know i don’t know he don’t protest too much you know so um you know you should be pretty bored that’s the one thing you should do is be warmed up before you get there yeah if you have to warm up in the vocal booth you’ve just kind of like screwed up the session you know yeah so i encourage people yeah i’ve been i’ve been in your studio virtually helping matt warm up from three days grace yeah yeah that’s always prepared yeah the last the last two records like before every vocal session he does like his time with me i don’t know if he ever told you that but uh yeah yeah yeah i don’t know if he i don’t know we’re just that was such a bizarre record because we were so far away from each other it was very hard to do it you know we were just uh zoomed the whole time yeah but i think the first the first yeah the first one he was at your house your place the first record we were yeah this record half of it was done or i don’t know you know i don’t even remember actually what we did but i think the first five songs were done in in toronto and i was here yeah then the second five were done here i think yeah something like that yeah you know because a lot of singers will also have like a ton of natural talent like natural ability when you work with a singer do you ever ask if they’ve studied voice or not or or is it just let’s just go and no i always ask them if they’re taking vocal lessons right now though oh good yeah yeah yeah because some of them if they don’t have a warm-up tape or they don’t have a warm-up process then i usually send them to us guy that i use in town here named mark rank yeah who i’ve been using for a long time and he can get them in right away and just uh turn them around yeah for me and uh it’s just basic stuff basic warm-ups yeah um you know the inflames guy always goes to him before every single vocal session so i like it when a singer has a vocal coach they like you know and it’s i personally feel that vocal coach should go on the road with them i don’t know why they have guitar techs and drum techs i think that’s a kind of a waste of money some of them do some of them do uh bieber i think has his on the road with him or he used to anyway uh ally’s been talking to me i’m i ca i can’t go on the road with yeah i got little kids uh you know yeah and well they should have some way to do it absolutely yeah somebody’s talking to them through this yeah yeah i work with people while they’re on the road um a lot of time because because i set my guys up so well that they have their workout files and all that sort of thing i only really hear from them when they when they’re sick and then because there’s a different way to to to warm up and and what have you uh and i i take them through that get them through the show or the series of shows you know uh that kind of thing some of the thing is you know like like i was talking you know with natural talent and stuff um have you have you noticed the difference like the people that don’t have the coaches or haven’t done the studying the difference in in uh like endurance or control no i don’t really notice that i think it’s the ones that i it’s interesting the ones that have been around a while they’ve worn up their voices they’re the ones who i think need the vocal coaching the most yeah because they’ve been on the road a lot and they’ve trashed their voices and they need help with not getting sort of not you know just getting nodes and all kinds of stuff like that yeah yeah the newer singers like the 20 year old 21 year old it doesn’t [ __ ] matter they are so strong at that point they’re just like you know loose cannons yeah and in some ways they’re fun to produce but you you have more uh you don’t really need a vocal coach for them as much because they are strong and they’ve got youth on their side i find it someone’s who’ve been touring a lot that need the vocal coaches yeah yeah the the young ones um uh i like working because it is kind of fresh like you said it’s strong you know and if i can establish good habits at the beginning


they the voice only grows with age right and lasts so much longer you know and they don’t run out yeah yeah and it and they don’t run into the problems um uh which a lot of the other guys do and you know so much of what i do that the psychological damage that happens when a vocalist’s voice starts to decline it’s it’s so hard on your head man you know right but you know in terms of the studio yeah the young guys like you said they got lots of uh yeah they have all this energy yeah yeah they just go for it and sometimes that’s what you really want them to do they don’t have to be perfect or any of that stuff they just want to get emotion out of them yeah i found a couple times that vocal coaches have actually screwed it up for me because they’ve done the wrong thing with the singer they’ve made they’ve made them they’ve taken away what was special about them and smoothed it out and like i don’t want that sometimes i mean i i’d rather have you go to the vote if you’re young go to the coach after you see me like i want to capture what got you there got you here now got you yeah yeah it’s not like i’ve uh i remember there was one famous vocal coach in town i won’t be on yeah but everybody would come back from him and just be super like uh like i don’t know trying to sing from their diaphragm all the time and that’s not what got them signed unfortunately that’s not that’s not what got them signed in yeah it’s not like i can’t have that it’s not my problem that part of it yeah you know like i gotta capture what made them special now after they’re out of here that’s something they can do later yeah yeah you know you can learn to sing what we did in the studio but properly you know i find it a lot of times this [ __ ] we do here becomes kind of like a cover song to singers they’ll learn the song from here as a as if somebody else was singing it yeah and copy it but sing it better like live they will sing it without all the thrashiness and all the craziness you know be able to survive a live show yeah but i don’t want them doing that when they show up here like yeah that takes out the uh i want that intensity yeah i think the older singers needed more the older singer needed they god there’s so many singers i worked with ten years later their voices just aren’t what they are you could tell you could hear the road where yeah they can’t hit the notes or notes or at least i mean some of my guy singers could hit like a’s and stuff now they can’t hit above like a f-sharp and that’s a pretty big drop you know that’s a huge drop yeah i deal with damaged voices a lot and um it’s kind of what i’m known for up here is is dealing with damaged voices but the other thing is to you know when people come to me the last thing i’m going to do is change a voice that has sold you know a couple million records already that i’m not going to change that you know and i do know that you know i know exactly what you’re saying in terms of there’s some vocal coaches that will smooth out the rest rough edges and and that’s their calling card right you need you need that intact you know the best thing i ever worked with was probably kelly clarkson she was so the one thing i liked about her is that she always had this energy but she did her warm-ups between every take and i encouraged my artists to do that like yeah that one warm-up where you do the uh blubber with your mouth the lip trills yeah yeah between every take and it always kept her voice open yeah and i just thought that and she never lost her character or any of that she was really aware of what she was doing yeah that’s a person that came in saying and left yeah you know like it was a new effect totally prepared yeah you know yeah like every take was great and you just were looking for the special ones yeah you know that’s a total pro yeah and probably studied for a majority of her life i’m imagining i have no idea i have no idea you know idea what was what was it like working with uh adam lambert did you do vocals with him or yeah yeah um he was very very insecure about himself in the studio like yeah he had a posse of people there telling him he was great all the time so yeah this is very way in the very beginning though i didn’t work with him that much but he was sort of like uh it wasn’t really my cup of tea because honestly the label didn’t know what kind of record to make he didn’t know what kind of record to make nobody knew what they were it was right out of american idol and yeah like i’ve done a lot of american idols and like maybe two out of ten of them walk in the studio and know what they want to do the rest are just like it’s not their fault no they come from a game show they got to make a record almost immediately i know no and i know their whole life is yeah here it is they’ve been waiting their whole life for this and so many of them you know from from that format okay they can sing but they haven’t taken the time to actually develop as an artist to actually know like you said actually know what it is you’re doing what are you gonna do you know is it gonna be a rock cracker are you gonna be a rock singer are you gonna be that was the issue with him you didn’t know what to make a dance record or they brought me in to make the rock record then he had other producers making dance music with him and yeah you know uh i think he ended up right where he should have ended up which is being the lead singer queen oh queen yeah it’s a great gig for a great great big farm yeah it’s you know stylistically right up his alley you know yeah he’s a great showman he’s flashy exactly and works great yeah you know where daughtry came and got you knew exactly who he was right exactly like we didn’t have to even like like that wasn’t part of the process that was just finding great songs for him right you know absolutely were you there at the beginning or into into at the beginning wow even at the beginning he knew exactly who he was and yeah i did his first three albums oh nice any special advice for anybody coming you know wanting to get into the business as a vocalist any advice off the top of your head that you could make sure you pick the right material to sing right i mean like if you pick shitty material i don’t care how good a singer you are people just don’t are not gonna like you so yeah i mean one of the great things about this the old school singers like the tony bennetts and the sinatra is they always had the right material you know and they would do cover songs if they had to they would do whatever was hits yeah because that’s you know they already got halfway there because the song was great yeah you know if you if you write if you’re a great singer and you can’t write songs admit it so there’s nothing wrong with that plenty of singers are great interpreters yeah you know in some ways that’s actually a better place to be if you want longevity because you constantly keep doing great material all the time you know you can keep going yeah and have other people’s write songs for you but if you keep writing songs and you’re not agreeing there’s very few bruce springsteen’s out there tell me about that i know yeah rod stewart rod stewart look how long his career is he does cover songs now i don’t know if he was really that involved in the writing stuff he was just it was just such a great voice i think he wrote maggie may i think oh did he write megan yeah he was a good writer back then yeah but but he got smart you know he’s went for that at three days grace is like that judas grace always brings in outside writers yeah so right like gavin for example yeah you know gavin’s always writing with them so it’s just you know nobody cares about where the songs they really don’t the average public nobody gives a [ __ ] you know but if you’re caught singing shitty people gonna think you can’t sing well that’s it whether you can sing or not if it’s crappy songs it’s crappy songs that’s right nobody’s going to pay any kind of attention songwriting itself takes like it takes practice it takes you have to put your time in and that’s why the you know the guys coming in from you know the game shows like you said they haven’t necessarily done all that work they just got chosen out of a cattle call and away they go you know well i think chris chris was you know he was in a band a lot he did a lot of work chris dodger he was always playing in bands in north carolina and he was ready to go that’s why he did so well yeah but uh but some of the singers you know i mean they all to get to that point where you come in the top five of that show you’ve got to be pretty good yeah and you had to study pretty well yeah but that doesn’t mean you’re cut out to be a star you know at all in fact when’s the last time that’s even happened yeah on these game shows i don’t think ever i don’t think so either not the last 10 years yeah i actually don’t follow them that much because i’m too busy taking care of the guys who are actually doing it on the road you know right working at not not doing the the the game show thing this is for the tech guys have you found that you you have like a favorite mic that that you can use i and i know every voice is different and a lot you know most of the time like you want to find that that mic for that voice is there is there a favorite mic that you’ve run across that has been a fairly good catch-all for a lot of different different voices and styles yeah i’ve been using the sony c800 for 15 years yeah that’s all i use and once in a while i’ll use the uh sm yeah but the c800 is really probably 99 of it yeah yeah yeah uh ali ali gotti i think just bought one of those uh yeah just for his home studio because his voice sounds so good on it such it is a beautiful sounding mic yeah it’s hard to find yeah they are very hard to find and very expensive but very hard to find he he lucked out he was able to get one in like i don’t know four or five weeks or something like that totally lucked out uh i know that you’ve got a kind of a you’ve teamed up with a developer and you’ve got kind of a vocal sweet uh plug-in type of thing i’ll do uh i’ll do um you know youtube shout out shout outs just kind of doing doing some stuff and getting people to go check it out because i i checked it out to be very cool make things nice and simple you know if you’ve got a basic rig at home and just well it’s all the sounds i used i mean i didn’t hide anything i just gave everybody the compression and the delays and it’s sort of joey stir just makes it and uh so yeah it’s pretty it’s just compressor delay reverb you know left and right spreading stuff and vocal multiplier which we actually are going to put a separate module out with that right and just some limiting and things like that it’s nothing that crazy but the presets are great and yeah it’s really been a big hit for me that more than the other plugins i’ve put out yeah people really like it’s simple you just put it up you put on the hp one and it sounds amazing so yeah exactly that’s how i am about things i don’t like i use presets i never dial anything in um yeah it would be real handy to just go press a button and there’s a great sound you don’t have to fiddle with knobs and all the rest of that you know yeah you want to be a creative person not a tech person correct well thank you so much for doing this i really really appreciate it okay well it was cool man and say hi to matt for me i certainly will voice is an octave lower right now than it usually is yeah so well that that’s and again thanks thanks for doing it even though you might be sick hopefully it’s not coveted you know but it’s uh whatever it’s coming for us all i think eventually hopefully it’s just a week exactly what i think who cares anymore i know i know well thanks so much man nice meeting you all right bye-bye

Producer Gavin Brown – “Sing Like A Pro Interview Series”

My goal is to share as much knowledge, with up and coming and established vocalists, what it takes to do what successful singers do… how they made it and how they stay on top of their game. A great Producer is key. Canada’s producing icon, Gavin Brown, shares his years of experience and insight on how to make that happen. A must see for any serious singer! The link to my website to get info on how to continue a conversation with Gavin is www.mitchseekinsvocalstudio.com



Hi! I’m Mitch Seekins – The Vocal Coach.

Welcome to the ‘Sing Like A Pro Interview Series” where you find out from people who are at the top of their game, what they did to get there and what they do to stay there!

This and the next upcoming Interview is especially important for you to have a listen to as it may be the difference between a highly successful music career….and one that’s… just ok.

One of the biggest lessons to learn as an artist/vocalist is….that you can’t do this alone. Behind the scenes of EVERY successful artist is…a team. People who help create and develop a career with you, are paramount to your success. A major player in that team is a Producer… who can help take your songs that might well be good …and make them great, tuning them into hits, which is the key to having and sustaining a thriving, prosperous career.

This episode features Gavin Brown, one of Canada’s most prolific and successful music producers who works at a global scale. To date he has produced over 40 #1 hits and countless top 10’s … His insights and advice are backed by many years of experience and I think you are going to want to hear them. Please listen to the end for important info if you’d like to learn more from Gavin! If you like this please share and hit that subscribe button…I have a lot more to come!


Mr. brown how are you doing?

I’m well, Mr. Seekins, how are you?

I’m doing good… just fine.  It’s been a long time, it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen you face to face, anyway.

You know there’s reasons for that unfortunately….

Yeah I know I know,

But you know but you’re in my life regularly you uh, come up in my calendar “vocal lesson with Mitch” you know a bunch of different artists I work with!

You’ve worked with like some crazy, I mean crazy people: Bare Naked Ladies,  Tragically Hip, uh Billy Talent, Metric, New Kids On The Block… I didn’t know you did some stuff with New Kids On The Block! Yep!

That’s cool and even you did something with Lady Gaga… a long time ago I know! All this stuff I found on the internet.

you know oh the internet yeah!

And i mean of course Three Days Grace which is you know, how i was introduced to them…

I think that was like as of 2015, so there’s even more stuff since then.

Yeah i think there’s a number of your clients, even like Ian Thornley, I worked with him


uh i know that you work regularly with Matt


you know and uh I’ve made two records with matt as the singer um or three, two and a half or something an amount of, an amount of recording yeah and uh um yeah we did a cover song in there “Three Days Grace Version of “Somebody That I Used To Know” that’s what we did. so we uh you know you know I’ve known Matt a long time and yeah I worked with him in My Darkest Days era even before then… you know he has a couple co-writes on the very first Three Days Grace record

yeah i know he was telling me!

Yeah so we’ve we’ve known each other a long time and I you know I really respect his work ethic and his talents and you know, his drive to you know to , to be amazing. you know i think when Adam left and and Matt had the interim uh position on that tour for Three Days Grace, uh you know he took it very, very seriously and wanted you know wanted to make sure he could keep the job


and you know not only did he keep the job he’s excelled!

No kidding!

hey it’s fantastic you know we went and had a few number one songs um you know with him singing um and uh you know and it’s not easy to replace a singer especially one as identifiable as Adam you know and when you look at history you have ACDC, you have Van Halen uh and you have uh Three Days Grace you know those are the bands that have had you know, i guess Journey but that’s you know that’s a different kind of story

that’s a different yeah that’s a different thing they’re not continuing up to continuing to put out new music as far as i know

yeah, no and they’ve also had like 700 members that’s a different kind of dance yeah like where you know all we did was replace one person and uh you know and maintained the fan base and maybe grew it as well so…

absolutely grew it! um the last number one that that they did that was Matt’s seventh with the band you know and i think they’ve got a few more coming up on this new record i think fabulous fabulous record

Well I think a lot of that’s, you know, attributable to you um Mitch to tell you the truth… you know they have you know other than that pandemic layoff they toured extensively across the globe and you know uh you know those are long concerts filled with you know acrobatics and higher high energy performance and you know loud you know uh you know loud music with a large range of you know large range and um you know matt’s ability to you know uh you know i remember touring with them a bunch uh off and on and him like you know i thought you know i’d come backstage after the struggle matt matt you nailed it he goes well yeah but in the third song i missed this note and then the fifth song that you know you know the attention to detail was just fantastic yeah yeah and his ability to like i said earlier you know to have um you know this is a marathon the music business it’s not a sprint and so like you said it’s seven number ones you know and it feels like yesterday he just joined i know i know i was i was looking at my books and i think we started you introduced me to him in 2014 and we’ve never stopped working we keep it in between tours yeah you know we continue yeah and good for him to do that you know there’s a music the music business is you know i try to draw a parallel to professional sports because you know there’s nothing else where that requires um the amount of uh skill talent luck um and you know in a small pool of folks who actually survive yeah and then you look at the folks who are at the top you know michael jordan always had a coach tiger woods always goes back to the range after every you know they the you know the folks at the top work hard to stay there and and you know matt’s a great example of someone who you know not didn’t just like oh i’m gonna learn some stuff from mitch and then go on to you know seven number ones you know you’re you’ve been integral in in creating that you know long-term long-term career yeah yeah yeah maintaining it you know they’re on tour right now they are they are and uh i haven’t heard i always like it when i don’t hear from my my guy i only hear from when they have problems that we work through that’s stressful well it’s not as quite as stressful for me it is as it is for them but i i still feel that oh my god okay what can i do to get him through you know this particular set of shows or show and all that kind of thing you’ve been doing this for a long time um but i actually i don’t really know much about you in terms of like how you started and that kind of thing so i’m presuming that you started as as a musician yeah so i started um piano lessons on mondays and drum lessons on wednesdays when i was five years old and so by the time i was in my mid-teens i was touring in a band as a drummer and then in my early 20s and that was kind of like a post-punk hardcore band in the late 80s early 90s and then you know we made a record with steve albini and and uh toured all over the states and you know i was still in high school uh and then after that i uh i actually sang in a band for a year which was probably um one of the most valuable learning experiences because a uh i realized i’m a terrible singer and b which was what people were telling me don’t give up okay yeah yeah yeah um you know but i also realized how much uh how difficult it is to stand up on stage and only have you know you only can open your mouth and you’re so vulnerable and you’re you know so i have a deep amount of respect for people who get up on the front of the stage and sing you know i was best suited hiding behind the drums you know acting like a sport you know like like uh you know enjoying that ability back there but singing you know was was emotionally destruct destructive for me and you know and really really uh you know it’s such a vulnerable place so i you know i i took that into producing later you know after i was a drummer for another bunch of years i played in a bunch of bands and toured around anybody that of note that uh i played drums in uh crash vegas the sky diggers i played in jim cuddy’s solo band i played in big sugar for a year and a half i played toured with sarah harmer um and then i joined a band called danko jones which was they had been opening up for big sugar on the last tour that i was on um and then after i left them uh big sugar i joined django jones for eight months and then that was when the my producing thing started because we went into the studio pretty much right away and i was the only guy in the room who had any studio experience i’d played drums on a ton of records between the age of 15 and 25 so right i think i was 26 at the time and uh you know so i produced uh this song called bounce which is still there you know a big radio song we had a number one song in canada yeah and in doing that uh i realized how much i you know how much i loved being in the studio and not just getting in a van or a bus and traveling for eight hours eight hours to to unload and set up and play to tear down yeah oh my god yeah so i you know the the multifaceted nature of of producing where you know it was song writing it was arrangement it was uh engineering it was yeah you know equipment and yeah and there’s the political stuff like the budgets and the managers and the labels and then there’s the psychological stuff we’re dealing with crazy people um on all and all fronts um you know and and you know i really enjoyed digging into that i i didn’t know that you did this guy diggers gig yeah i played on one of the records and toured them for a year and played with a bunch of guys i played with hayden i played uh with chris brown and kate fenner the bourbon tabernacles i uh i you know did a like but big sugar we did a lot of touring with government mule and we did a lot of jamming with those guys and they were in the almond brothers the two of them yeah you know uh you know i was a drummer i did a lot of drummy stuff and uh um you know i played on jim cuddy’s solo record i think i was 22 at the time you know i was yeah lucky to be um a professional at a young age uh as a drummer and i was lucky to realize that uh after 10 or more years of touring that that wasn’t for me yeah yeah you know no i mean and like you said it just seemed to be a natural progression to move into the producing side of things because you have the studio experience and yeah and you enjoyed it i mean that’s the i loved it yeah and i still i still do um and you know the main the main way i describe what i do is is i work with songs yeah and so so songs are the most important thing when i differentiate that from music music is one thing and songs are a different thing altogether yeah and songs have a distinct form and a distinct shape and are supported by music yeah so uh a lot of my work is done before we even go into the studio a lot of my work is done you know um i wouldn’t even call it pre-production it’s just working on the songs and then also you know getting uh you know uh an idea together as to what we’re trying to achieve you know really making an agreement amongst all the participants as to you know because not everybody wants to play at their canada center you know i like i like people who do yeah you know of course yeah you know but not everybody’s willing to do you know the amount of personal work and the amount of uh effort and the amount of you know uh psychological work that it takes to do that in it because it’s really really hard to to to be up there yeah i know that and that’s a major point that i’m trying to because i’ve done a whole series of of these so far and i’ve got a lot more to do and it’s trying to educate young singers coming up that the psychological end of things particularly is that that requires a lot of work and it’s not just something that just kind of happened yeah and it has you know there’s i find that there’s a uh you know it happened to me it seems to happen everybody where there’s like kind of a bursting of the adolescent bubble where you think you’re the center of the universe and you think that you know you’re it’s my music and it’s like well no it’s not it’s uh the audience’s music yeah you know i did i didn’t invent a minor did you you know like yeah yeah we’re we’re part of an arc of hundreds of or of years of of modern western music and you know we’re just little little blips in the sand here yeah and so so trying to you know get your you know get this fragile insecure ego which you know all artists have which is part of the beauty of it all yeah and focus that that energy towards you know the audience and remember what it was like when you first heard music that made you understand yourself and may you know drew you into the into wanting to be that a professional communicator you know that so what that requires is a different relationship with music than you think yeah than people think and so being a professional communicator requires professionalizing which is where you come in because talent is one thing but skill is learned is learned i know so you know i you know i had a lot of talent luckily my family’s musical but i also worked you know i would when i was really trying to be a drummer i would practice 10 hours a day and then go do a gig you know i had you know i had my ass kicked by by a number of factors in my life and and another a number of musicians you know who were like hey kid you’re pretty good but you’re not good enough yeah and so so i you know when i was a drummer i took you know i worked my ass off and i studied and i really really worked hard um to be able to to be great at my craft and then when i turned into a more in the songwriting and the in the uh recording side i learned how to do every bit of pro tools i learned all of the gear i learned how to engineer i learned all the all the things that were needed to be a producer you know even though i never really engineered a record i needed you know like i would always have an engineer um you know so so i i take you know i take it the professional side of things very very seriously and and i don’t believe that you know music i think everyone should have a relationship with music i think most people shouldn’t have a professional relationship with music yeah you know and it’s like i said you know and it’s okay and it’s okay absolutely you know weekend jam bands are fun as hell like absolutely um but i think you know it’s like me playing golf on the weekend i am so far from the pga tour it’s not even funny my best round you know is you know is is the not even close yeah so you know and that for some reason people buy a guitar and ten minutes later they think they should be neil young and it’s like ah you know you know but it really worked that way yeah you know so so you know it’s a lifelong pursuit and i you know i really appreciate uh folks like you who can uh you know really bring uh a really strong professional skill set to people and offer them the opportunity to maximize their talent yeah then you know and and that’s invaluable for me because you know i did that with a bunch of singers early on my career as much as i could in the studio until i knew about you and then you know um you know and then it’s uh then it’s like oh you know why don’t you go see mitch and then we’ll record in a few months you know yeah yeah so yeah um you know and then hey bass player won’t you go see the bass playing equivalent of mitch and you know like you know there’s there’s professionalization that has to happen yeah you know or it’s a choice not to and that’s you know that’s uh and then you’re gonna get the results that you that that the the you know the effort does equal the results for the most part yeah absolutely with all the singers that you’ve worked with there there is there is a difference between those who have studied and those who have not so yeah was was there a noticeable difference be before you you found out about what it is i do that you you could see you know this singer studied and and we’re able to do this and this singer hasn’t it’s still good but there’s limitations as to it’s mostly it’s mostly stamina and and yeah folks at least in the studio you know uh people come in you know with an identity or we focus their identity as much as we can so it’s not like it’s not like i need a singer who has you know unbelievable chops in seven different styles like you know like i don’t need someone to sing you know but but what they need to be able to do is is you know uh a you know last more than 20 minutes and b uh you know take direction um as much as possible and then c mostly have studied enough to get over the technique and be able to perform in an emotional capacity and that’s you know that’s the part you know uh where you know to relate it again to sports like you know i play golf all the time because and i love it and i’m terrible but i’m getting better yeah yeah yeah i work at it but i’m still thinking about my swing on the course whereas the guys i play with who are really good they’re just playing golf they’re just playing golf so you know so i’m still thinking about the the minutia of the technique and what you know and when i do it right it’s it turns out okay but then i don’t have the facility to do it right over and over again and that’s where someone who studied has a the stamina b the ability to to parse out what they’re doing right and wrong fix it and then repeat it and so you know that that’s that’s the you know and and those are professional qualities you know like you know i uh you know the the repeatability factor is huge you know when we do vocals we do multiple takes and we comp the vocals together right i don’t want you know seven or eight different takes i want seven or eight takes that are almost identical so i can then find that one that just has that emotional context yeah and that tone and that communication that’s better i don’t need seven wildly different takes i need seven exactly the same exactly yeah and that that requires you know uh uh the skill levels and the time that the commitment to get those skills um and that’s you know and that’s a big difference you know that’s a huge difference you’re working with a kid that we work with now a guy named nick you know who’s got a weird cool voice it’s very it’s very it’s it’s it’s so interesting it’s a very unique sound like it is i i’m i’m uh thrilled to be working with him because i don’t know if i’ve really worked with somebody with such like he opens his mouth you know it’s him yeah and then so for us you know yeah and so you know i’ve known him for a couple years now and we just went in the studio last week and i think we’re in tomorrow um yeah i think you’re working with him today or tomorrow um i didn’t even have to check my schedule i know he’s both but he’s he’s developed a number of these things a stamina b repeatability and and repeatability for him is tough because you know he’s kind of riffing on these melodies ideas you know they’re not he’s not you know when we first met he was he would just open his mouth and sing his thing and it was awesome and cool um and you know so and now we’re getting pronunciation better we’re getting toned that’s more easier home better yeah i’m working with him on top you know um we’re getting repeatability and we’re getting stamina and um you know and there’s a there’s a harshness that’s kind of been rounded off of his voice thankfully you know and you know we got we got to get the right mic and we got to get the right compressor and you know and the producer i’m not producing this stuff but i’m helping him you know with the songwriting so we’re making good song demos yeah and uh you know so whoever produces it is going to have a a fun time putting a tone around that voice like what’s the right and you said it earlier right you know what is it the sonic landscape or whatever that goes around the voice you know when we did billy talent’s first couple records ben has a really unique voice and you know i think we we got it on the radio yeah yeah yeah the number one songs um you know the music was so much more aggressive and the guitar tones would would offset some of the great the the grading quality of his voice but he also then did the work you know and they’re they’re they just sold out air canada center a couple weeks ago again you know so 20 years later i know they’re touring the world you know and and when he and i met he hadn’t taken any singing lessons and you know he had he just he did a lot of work and um you know again repeatability and you know all the things we’ve spoken about yeah so it’s it’s uh it’s it’s no secret i know it really is like i mean i i you know it’s it’s my job is interesting because i show people how to do it but it’s really up to them to actually get it done you know and it’s it’s it’s it’s nice to be at the level where you know i’m getting referrals from you know from you and from from people who are at that professional level who are committed to doing the work because it does it does it takes work and it takes time and it takes time you got to be patient with me yeah i had a drum teacher in my early twenties a guy named jim blackley who’s a legendary drum teacher in toronto and you know he’d say in his scottish accent i won’t be on the band stand with you tonight son yeah you know like uh you know oh you know you got to do the work you know and he’s got to do the work you know when i see him once a month and you know the minute i sat down he would know by my body posture if i’d if i’d been practicing he’d know whether you know like you know there’s no fooling anybody yeah yeah i know i know i know you know yeah you just you just end up shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t yeah i also find it’s important to put a perspective for folks that you know whatever you’re doing uh you know someone else is doing more and you know and uh you know and each of the when the spotify releases come out every friday there’s no sticker that says oh sorry i didn’t try hard you know there’s nothing there like you know it’s it’s it’s as much as you can possibly do to better yourself is is you know and that again is a psychological thing it really is yeah yeah is there is there any vocals that you’ve worked with you know over the years that that kind of stands out in your in your mind as as as being exceptional and and why like what so yeah so when i first started working with ian thornley um it was his first solo record after big wreck yeah we’ll come again and we wrote a bunch of songs and did a bunch of demos and you know he he has that extraordinary ability of being able to do a lot of things and so we narrowed it down to like we’re going to do a you know like a active rock you know the edge 102 kind of record and that was the kind of stuff that i was doing and he was signed to chad from nickelback and you know and he was an unbelievable guitar player but then we started doing you know when we were saying writing and he was singing he was like wow this is great but then for me i know what it’s like in front of a microphone yeah through the other side of the glass that’s really what i know when things are great and when he started singing it was just mind mind-blowing how great his tone his control his emotion you know his emotion his ability to communicate was just you know uh unbelievable you know not necessarily better than get his guitar but on par with his guitar playing you know which is world class as well yeah you know so so he you know he was absolutely spectacular uh the time i spent with lady gaga was just you know she’s unbelievable singer it was very little time but we did one song yeah so you did you did do vocals with her uh no i did uh like a pre-production session okay right my manager martin kirstenbaum who signed her originally to interscope um and produced and co-wrote a bunch of her first record um he did the vocals but her and i did a session here in toronto when she was here yeah you know her vocals you know it’s just her whole being her whole thing is just spectacular yeah yeah um you know uh you know there’s been a number of standouts um uh and i’m trying to i mean for me and that what you know what matt walsh does as well with three days grace is like oh yeah extraordinary geez you know it’s so funny i remember talking to barry the guitar player and he was going you know thank you so much for for taking care of matt and i’m going man you’re so lucky that this guy has like vocal cords of steel and you know barry’s kind of looking at me but it’s true you know matt has a genetic thing that allows him to sing in that intensity without ripping himself apart and this was this was 45 years ago when when barry said you know that to me and we’ve worked since and you know his ability has even you know gotten better and better he’s no longer killing himself for shows or anything like that it’s great you know i would agree yeah and that’s you know that’s unbelievable and a great guy yeah yeah yeah you know that band where you know it’s coming up 20 years now i know but i don’t know yeah ian studied with me for almost two years and and got what he needed and it’s just so funny you know in my mind he’s got one of the best rock voices in the world and you know for a guy who’s so kind of insecure about his voice he’s like man you got nothing to worry about my god you know it’s amazing if you haven’t seen it watch the uh ian thornley interview that i did you know the other guy i would be uh jeff martin from the tea party who was an underrated underrated everything you know he i made a record with them it was their seventh record it was called seven circles yeah i did most of it bob rock did a couple songs um and i was uh you know he was like one take wonder like he’d go in nail it you know pour a drink and say let’s you know next song next time you know and uh same with this guitar playing you know like i think i did tea party and ian thornley around the same time 2000 yeah or 2005 somewhere in there and yeah yeah yeah yeah unbelievable yeah i know i’ve never met jeff but what what a tone oh yeah like you know his voices and the ability to know who he is you know and what you know he he’s got a whole thing that he does and like it or not it’s what he does and he does it very very well yeah uh sarah harmer i did a bunch of work with her over the years her voice um you know put i think not very studied but you know natural talent and unique melodic sense um you know we did i played drums in our first solo single called basin apartment i put uh some singles on one of her records i produced a whole record i toured with her off and on all through the states and you know she was great um dude there’s a whole there’s a whole bunch of people i worked with you know oh i know and and they all have their you know strong points and and weak points and uh different levels of natural ability you know mixed with training or no training but they’re just you know just great singers i mean god i mean look at look at adele for example like yeah i don’t know if there’s any training there at all she may have gotten training now but oh my god what a singer holy cow you know amazing voice so everybody you know everybody’s different and it’s it’s it’s so cool you know when i hear you know guys like you actually bring out the best in a singer it’s it’s it’s always been so fascinating for me you know you must be listening to the the right songs then cause we don’t look do you have any advice i mean all this is advice for singers but do you have anything specific for vocalists heading into the studio like yeah there’s a bunch of things that are that are key on a the key yeah make sure you know what your range is uh tempo is huge for me i uh i find you know when people are writing 99 of the time you’re right too slow yeah and uh a lot of times i spend a lot of time getting the lyrical flow to be as if talking was happening but then add tone yeah and itch so you know like not unlike this this should be the cadence of of how the this verse should go but you know but when people write songs they want you know they write them too slow you know and then all this other stuff starts to happen uh where you know you then you have all this room to swoop into the note you have all this room to swoop out and create some sort of uh an articulation or you know and and uh that’s not for me the records i want to make are not really that you know i’m really into communicating you know i made four barenaked ladies records and and ed is talking about a guy who doesn’t you know he’s not he’s very economical like he doesn’t have huge power in terms of long big notes he’s a great singer in the terms of communicating and and you know and not wasting you know so that it would you know to get him to sing stuff in time you know in a tempo that moves is you know really easy because you know but then you know that’s that’s huge getting getting the tempo and the key right um you know also trying not to do too much in one day in the studio is you know uh there’s uh i have like a two hour limit a rule it’s like we’re not going to sing for more than two hours you know do your warm-up do your mitch she can warm up yeah and then then we’re gonna sing not more than two hours and uh you know hopefully there’s enough studio time booked over the course of several sessions in order to cut you know you can get a whole pile of stuff done in two hours you can get a song you can only get verses you you know like whatever yeah it feels like in the day make sure that you you know you know singing for six hours like just don’t nobody nobody nobody you know unless you’re a trained opera star you know doing a live performance like nobody i know can sing for six hours and deliver number one songs yeah yeah you know and also um you know a lot of that has to do with mental focus as well i don’t think people are able to sustain uh any sort of mental focus for more than that um you know even when you’re in it you’re in the zone you know uh i also like uh to not comp the vocals and and not evaluate the vocals until a later date because a lot of the emotional uh relationship to delivering it um when you’re doing it or if i’m in you know the people in the room and the control room are you know feeling it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always the best yeah yeah you know and it has to those that has to do with a different set of molecules in the room as opposed to what’s actually captured on tape yeah you know so and then another thing i try to do is make sure that uh you know the pressure’s off you know allow if you’re going into the studio allow yourself the ability to not get it that day yeah i talk to people all that all the time with that try not to feel the pressure think of it as there is no pressure if you do it wrong yeah do it again yeah yeah you know you have the opportunity you know you make sure you have the opportunity to especially when you’re young and new and you know and that and that’s the first five years like yeah new doesn’t mean for five months it’s like no i know you know the first 10 years of your career make sure you know that you have extra time because you know it it’s it’s you know it’s hard to it’s hard to verbalize and have someone totally understand what you’re saying yeah take it from a bunch of dudes who’ve done it for a long time yeah like you know just sing just whatever you’re gonna get that day what you’re gonna get and it might take 10 more times to get it but and that’s okay you’re not a lesser human being you know there’s a lot of singers who come and they belittle themselves and they’d be oh i could i can’t believe i couldn’t get it today it’s like so the [ __ ] what excuse my language so what it’s it’s a human it’s a human instrument yeah you know like we were saying it’s an it’s an athletic thing no athlete is ever at their peak every single day yeah you know and and so you know you look at you know even the nfl they have to deliver once a week yeah they have to train you know four or five days a week they have to rest they have to eat right you know and then they have to deliver they have a window to deliver and so you know uh you know and this is something that nick no good and i are doing we’re in the in the studio tomorrow doing some vocals you know we’re gonna do he’s saying uh we were in the cup like four or five days two weeks ago and i said just sing today he’s like but i gotta get it right it’s like no you know you know whatever we wind up tomorrow might not be on the record either so let’s just you know bring it down a notch yeah you know and and there’s a number of factors why you know uh diet sleep season change yeah humidity levels yeah absolutely yeah yeah and and being on tour i remember being in vance you know touring uh you know across saskatchewan in february and the sick every single singer lost their voice yeah you know because they didn’t prepare properly in this like you know on a tuesday night in regina well it’s going to be a lot of guitar solos tonight folks i know i don’t i have i have everybody out with you know zinc and vitamin c for immune boosting when they start to feel something and humidifiers i’m always harping on humidifiers humidifiers get humidifiers going like you’ve got to keep that moisture going you know yeah it’s it’s a it’s the real deal so it is yeah so that would that would be my main thing the keeping the key right getting the right tempo you know taking the pressure off giving yourself a bandwidth of time and opportunity to to uh be able to deliver and you know um and and have prepared yeah you know it’s it’s really expensive to go in the studio uh you know so why don’t you wait a month or two uh and do more work with mitch seekins because then it’ll be cheaper when you go in the studio and nail it yeah yeah exactly you know and nobody’s really waiting for your records you know like you know i know i know we’re all excited about our our own music but you know again why be in a hurry to fail you know correct yeah why not take the time and get it right you know so yeah like like this kid no good just saying we’ve been working with them for two years now you know two years which one nick nick yeah yeah yeah i’m seeing him tomorrow morning yeah i think i think we started working with him two years ago i know like two summers ago we were in my backyard with one another co-writer guy named mike bolenki who you might know um he’s a great great singer mike blankie oh my god so mike mike does a bunch of work with me on a bunch of stuff and him and nick did a bunch of writing and you know that and it you know it’s taken it takes some time so you know yeah i think stuff that i’ve heard so far is sounding fantastic yeah and we did stuff in the studio we went in the studio with a couple of those songs early on and you know the rest retool the recipe keep working on the recipe go back to the beginning again yeah and again i think you know i think the kids 20 like we’re in no hurry um you know and you know we have some some momentum and you know the time is now but he is so much better now working with you than he was it was like on he had all that raw uh you know oyster ability but now he’s turning into the pearl so yeah yeah and he’s not losing uh let’s look there’s one other thing working on your craft doesn’t mean you’ll lose your identity that’s a huge element of music yeah like i you know i spent i’ve hundreds of drum lessons and piano lessons and all it did was allow me the ability to communicate who i am yeah there was a time when i was stuck in the middle of it all where all i could think about was technique and we talked about this earlier in a question you have to be able to surpass your technique but you know without technique you’ll never get there no skills yeah yeah it just it opens up an entire palette it’s still you you know and and you know people not so much anymore but you know a long time ago am i am i just going to sound like an opera singer because all vocal technique is based in the operatic world no if you look at my website on that video he and darren they got i got punk bands i got all kinds of and they all sound like them but just more consistent and better and easier and it’s just it’s just better you know nick egan is like the most unique voice i’ve heard in like 20 years and he is he’s not the lessons with you are making him more like himself because he no longer is limited by his inabilities he’s now being able to use his abilities yeah to match his imagination yeah there’s a beautiful thing about art and you know limitations of things create you know the opportunity for art but i also you know it’s also um you know that happens you know a few times what do you want to do yeah the rest of your career i know i know uh so this is this is a question for the tech guys that might be watching this sure is there um like a a favorite microphone that you found that you can use with a multitude of different voices and styles because i mean every voice is different every microphone is different but is there kind of a generic one that there’s probably three or four that would all would work um you know if you’re going to do a rock band you’re probably going to want to do like an sm7 or you’re going to want to do a u47 yeah those are the you know those are the two kind of very different style of microphone but um those you’re going to be able to put your vocal in and around uh in the middle of the mix and have guitars and drums and cymbals and keys or whatever it is raging and that vocal will still hold uh yeah in the center yeah uh you know uh this the sony’s uh c800 is an unbelievable microphone if you have fifteen thousand dollars to blow you know uh and that’s probably you know most of the pop records you hear are that um and it’s unbelievable um and for example nick we’ve been using it uh with nick and it’s been softening some of his roughness you know um but not uh you know covering up any of the anything um i used an elam 251 for a long time um which is another you know i think they’re ten to forty thousand dollars depending on what vintage you get yeah and uh unbelievable microphone like if you want all the detail um it’s a it’s a it’s kind of like a ferrari you know like if you really want that you know that detail and that cr clarity um you know not like a c12 which will have too much top end in my opinion it’s more like it’s just so clear um it’s probably my favorite microphone the elem 251 uh you know those would be you know those would be the mics i would choose that i’ve probably spent the most time recording you know there’s always something fun with an uh like a 57 handheld you know for a vibe but yeah we’ve you know i’ve also used c37 i’ve used on emily from metric a little bit uh like which is the precursor to the c800 the sony c800 yeah and then um that’s probably it yeah like yeah yeah and they’re all unfortunately really expensive except for the sm7 and you know and you know i’ve used some of the knockoffs and the you know the uh you know the of those um but i’ve only rarely ever used them because i thankfully you know go to studios or or have owned the real thing and there’s really no replacement and of course a great preamp is important i have a pair of gml trees that i use uh i love the neve portico pries you know a 1073 neve uh can’t go wrong you know any of those things um uh you know the knee the rupert neve stuff is great the air neve stuff too um you know i’ve very rarely used an ssl preamp on a vocal right or very rarely used an api um by gml or nev um or rupert neve uh and then a compressor you know uh i owned blue 1176 blue stripes for a long long time i would track with them and mix with them um but those are really aggressive and i don’t really make too many aggressive records anymore um so i have a newer version i have what i call the new stripe which is the uua it’s a black face with a blue stripe and it kind of combines the best stuff of the black face 1176 with the blue stripe um it’s a little cleaner uh and hell of a lot less expensive um but i also you know to stressors we’ve used a lot of distressors to tape um you know like you 47 through a neve with a distressor and you’re going to have you know if it’s not you know you you it’s it’s not if it sounds bad it’s you did something wrong yes yeah something something’s bad with the stinger yeah yeah you know so you know there’s other ways to to swing the cat you know i know budgets are very you know very conscious these days especially you know the laptop generation people want their portable uh you know and a lot of times they’re not using any like you know they’re using digital breeze or they’re you know they’re using pretty cheap microphones and unfortunately it sounds cheap in my opinion yeah yeah uh you know uh it can’t you know but also sometimes it’s funny because it might sound cheap but it also might sound like what’s happening in the world you know and that’s that’s an important thing too because culture has a lot to do with technology and culture are very interlinked in music you know as drum machines came up the sound of the music would change as you know different synthesizers and midi and you know different you know even the distortion the guitar amp like the story of the guy breaking the cone of his of his speaker and his amp and creating distortion you know once that started you know anyway these technologies have a day a sound in a time frame yeah so kind of shitty vocals with a lot of post-production a lot of reverb and you know a lot of [ __ ] with little altar boy informant and a bunch of plug-ins that’s a that’s uh a sonic you know now that’s that’s how yeah yeah yeah yeah you know like auto-tune was a was you know we auto-tune everything we you know we melodyne everything you have to because that’s otherwise it sounds like old people’s music because it’s out of tune yeah i know i know it’s it’s uh i just watched coachella i had two students playing coachella uh this year who played uh ali gotti great that was great yeah ali is fantastic yeah it was his tenth the first show was his tenth performance


he ever a couple a couple years ago he did a couple nights at the danforth music hall yeah like eight years yeah but that was i know but that was his like third and fourth performance ever you know i know and uh pot uh yeah right yeah talk about pros like oh my god oh yeah fun fun guys you have a great roster mitch you should be very yeah i’ve been very lucky i i really enjoy working working with all the people that i do so um thank you so much for doing this man i really appreciate it really i appreciate it and and i think there’s tons of information in there for you know people to to dig in that actually want to know this stuff because it is important if you if you really want to develop a career this this stuff’s important you know well the other thing is this stuff you know is a culmination of decades of other people’s knowledge that i’ve assimilated you know i i got really lucky to be in the room with some heavy heavy folks at a young age and yeah sucked it all up and sponged it all in and and you know made it made it make sense for what i was doing yeah you know and you know there’s a whole pile of online tutorials and there’s a whole pile of schools you can go to but at the same time it’s you know it’s an oral tradition it’s you know p you know it’s how how do you learn how to make a number one song you try to hang out with people who have number one songs that’s right you know that’s right you know and i got to do that you know so and by doing that and being lucky enough to be in the room and having some great of course um you know uh allowed me to accumulate this knowledge one of the other things is if you want mitch um and if you have anyone approach you who wants further information please you know contact me yeah and i’m more than happy to spend time you know that’s awesome yeah it’s awesome a five minute phone call you know is no problem you know i love talking about this stuff and yeah you know you know people are you know people who are thirsty for this information i’m interested in talking to them about it yeah exactly exactly thank you so much thanks mitch all right

There you go! If you’d like to chat further with Gavin, email me through the contact page on my website as I don’t want to publicly publish his email…. There’s a link in description and I’ll send you his address so you can arrange a convenient time….and I promise I wont save your email or contact you for anything else…I don’t work that way

So if you enjoyed the interview….why not subscribe or have a look at my website to see what I do…again the link is in the description. Thanks….Im Mitch Seekins the Vocal Coach


Luna Li “Sing Like a Pro Interview Series” with Mitch Seekins The Vocal Coach

An Interview all about singing with the amazing Luna Li. I am including some timestamp chapters so you can skip to the questions you want to hear about. Hope you enjoy and subscribe! 0:00 Welcome! 1:48 Interview Start 2:39 When did you start? 6:23 Finding your “sound”? 12:33 Recording vs. Live 14:09 Warming up 15:40 Vocal Problems 17:42 Vocal Recovery on Tour 20:30 Big Shows vs. Small Shows 21:57 Thoughts on Studying The Voice 24:45 Vocal Game Changer? 26:04 The Zone 27:31 Addicted to Singing! 28:29 Luna’s Personal Vocal Tip 29:19 Thanks!


Hi! I’m Mitch Seekins – The Vocal Coach.

Ever wanted to know what it takes to be a pro vocalist? I know what it takes….but why not listen to the people who are already there? Welcome to my “Sing Like a Pro Interview Series’, where you hear from the professionals themselves… what it takes to do what they do! Oh, and if you like this and perhaps learned something hit that subscribe button!


This episode features the amazing Luna Li!


Luna Li is an incredible singer / songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who is making a huge splash in the North American scene selling out shows in LA, San Francisco, New York, to name the few that I know about…as well as beginning the festival circuit.


We have been working together for a few years now in prep for her touring career to open up after the lockdown stuff and the release of her 1st solo album, Duality, in the beginning of March this year


Her artistic sensibility is off the charts, not only showing through her music but in her visually stunning videos as well. Hope you enjoy…


Hi! how are you doing?

I’m good how are you?

I’m great thanks for thanks for doing this….i really appreciate it, uh the purpose of this video is to, you know, get information out to young and upcoming singers just like yourself into actually understanding what it is and the effort that it takes to do , what you are doing. Because a lot of people have misconceptions out there and it’s just it’s so nice to get so many different perspectives on, people like yourself, who are professionals and are actually out there making all this stuff happen and uh so getting some info in behind the scenes and what it takes I think would be really really helpful for people so thanks!

yeah sounds great thanks for having me.

So how old were you when you started singing?


um i mean i was singing just for fun in the house since i was like two years old yeah so there’s lots of music in my house growing up my mom taught music classes for toddlers when i was little kid so she was very well versed in like the kind of circle games and that kind of thing that kids do and we would do that with my siblings at home um and then she joined her partner in running a music school when i was a little older around eight or nine um so i was always surrounded by music always surrounded by music yeah no that that that’s great and and so when did you turn pro


i don’t think there was like a specific moment where i say or i would say like turned pro but i guess after high school i went to McGill for violin i felt like there was some more structure in the classical world there was a bit more familiarity there for me um and then after doing one semester i realized it was not what i wanted to be doing i wanted to go back and start making my own music so i moved back to Toronto and that’s when i kind of started playing in bands for the first time um i did a course at Seneca college and like basically how to be an independent artist and i guess that was kind of the turning point for me where i realized that i wanted to pursue being an artist um but i don’t know if i would call that pro right away because i was really just like playing at house shows playing in people’s basements playing to five people um and slowly grew from there yeah my my definition is probably old school but my definition of pro is when you actually get paid for it right so  I’m presuming you’d get something even if it’s you know 25 bucks 20 bucks or something so splitting the door yeah yeah exactly that that’s great so you played in in other projects before you uh started your own your own thing yeah my first thing was a band called veins which was sort of like pre-luna li project i was like kind of afraid to call it a solo project because i was a bit shy and i kind of wanted to like hide behind the façade of a band even though i was the one who was writing all the music and everything ah so it was still a project though wasn’t it i hired a gun so to speak yeah um so i was yeah it was my project i had my boyfriend and his friend playing it with me was a three-piece at the beginning so that was sort of like my first thing and then i played in a few other bands i played in this band called mother tongues which is a really cool psych project i played keys and then i still play in this man called tange once in a while it’s kind of like a punky girl band where i play drums which is really fun for me i would not call myself a drummer but like um it was just something fun for the three of us it’s like a side project yeah yeah because i know that you’re i didn’t know you played drums i know that you’re a multi-instrumentalist i mean you do guitar i’ve seen you do bass i’ve seen you do harp um yeah so drums uh keyboards i would imagine yeah so i mean growing up in the in the music school environment you got to be able to play with everything yeah it was great i started with piano when i was five that was my first system and i did classical piano and violin growing up yeah and then yeah yeah of course yeah yeah and then i started learning guitar when i was 12 and that’s kind of when i started like breaking off from the classical world and like starting to do covers and writing my own songs and stuff like that great and um so the one thing that that that you know i’ve always been really impressed with you is there is there’s such you have such a distinct definitive sound and it’s you know combining that with the video stuff like i posted it the the artistic level is you know i i i love it i think it’s great is is that was that kind of a uh an organic growth for you or is it something that you started and then you you know you you thought okay i want to tailor my sound and and i need to discover me as an artist and and my own vocal sound you know because we’re talking about singing you know all that sort of thing what what was that what was that like i guess like it was a little bit of organic and it was a little bit of concentration and figuring out and taking time but i mean i guess after i left mcgill i sort of abandoned my classical background i came back to toronto got really involved with the toronto music scene specifically the rock scene and so that first band veins that i was talking about we did kind of more like a garage rock sound and that because that was like really the sound that was happening in the scene at the time um and that’s what i thought was cool like i was like you know violin’s not cool i’m not gonna i’m gonna put down my violin and play guitar instead like um so that was kind of where i started out but then as i went along i kind of realized i wanted to incorporate the violin but i just didn’t really know how to add it in without it being kind of more like folksy or country sounding because that’s kind of like you know more of the types of bands where you hear violin and i knew that wasn’t really my style but then one for one of my birthdays i my grandma asked what i wanted for my birthday and i asked her to buy me a loot pedal and i was kind of intending to just use it with my guitar but then i decided to try plugging my violin and to see what that would sound like and i realized i could build these like lush orchestral sounding layers um and have it feel like really big and beautiful with just like one one instrument so from there that was kind of the turning point where i was like oh okay like this is how i want to incorporate the violin i wanted to sound like big and dreamy and orchestral and cinematic um and so that’s when i started really like incorporating my classical background into the sort of like rock sound and then i also started learning how to play the harp which was more recent for me maybe like five years ago um and that is just like a really beautiful dreamy classical sounding instrument um and i’m still working on it but i really love using it as a production tool like just adding a little bit of harp on the song really elevates everything yeah so but then from a vocal standpoint so the music came first and then you got then then you know you had to figure out okay how how am i going to approach this from a vocal standpoint definitely the vocals kind of came later like i wasn’t really focused on the vocals at first because like coming from an instrumental background that was sort of like always um what came first for me um and like the songwriting and the lyrics and that kind of thing and yeah i mean i guess i just like kind of saying how i thought felt natural and then eventually i realized that like i wanted to kind of stylize it a little bit more and have it feel a bit more like intentional and um yeah i mean that was probably like around the time i started taking lessons with you as well we’ve been working two and a half three years something like that yeah i can’t believe it’s been that long you know it’s been a lot of time yeah um and i kind of yeah the vocals was something that i definitely like brushed off at first and um yeah it was like kind of underrated in my world the importance of vocals um and then yeah since we started working together and like as i started to hone my sound a little bit more um i guess i just started diving in more into really thinking about how i could use vocals layering them using harmonies and choral sounds and different textures and stuff like that see that that’s great because you know trying to convey to people how much effort is involved in doing something like what you do uh i mean that’s just validation it’s it’s lots of time lots of experimentation not being afraid to fail you know try different things some things will work some things don’t you know but it’s it’s and like did you enjoy that journey though like that experimentation did you did you did you enjoyed it yeah i always loved making music and like i think at the beginning it took me a while to make music that i felt like i would listen to if it wasn’t my own music like when i got to that point i was like okay now i really feel like uh really proud of this and i mean like it’s sometimes tough at first when you’re like i’m making this music i think it’s fine but like it’s not like exactly what i want to do but you kind of just have to go through that process and write those kind of first songs before you can get to that place yeah and then with the experimentation with the vocals um uh you know finding what works and what doesn’t work you didn’t like when something didn’t work it didn’t you know drag you down and go oh god that just sucked i just you know yeah exactly exactly for me it was always really interesting because okay if that didn’t work okay well no to sell okay that kind of sucks okay what what can i do it because it’s that it’s that inventive it’s that it’s that artistic thing of trying different things and and not being disillusioned uh when things don’t work um it’s just it is a process so um you just released your very first record so congratulations on that that’s awesome that’s awesome and it’s been a long time coming and the first records always are you know um and is this so you have gigged um somewhat you haven’t really done a solid massive u.s or national tour as of yet have you my kind of first longer tour was last fall we did six weeks with japanese breakfast so that was my first kind of real tour prior to that it was definitely just like around the toronto music scene and you know going to montreal for the weekend that kind of thing right right um because my my question is you know um have have you ever thought about the vocals while you’re recording in terms of okay this is what i’m going to do for the record how am i going to do that live did have you have you got to that point i when i’m recording or writing vocals or any of the music i never think about how it’s going to be live like i just you know do what i feel in the moment because a lot of my stuff is so heavily layered and there’s just so much of the arrangement is like really dense um which is tricky to pull off live and like i don’t like to burden myself with thinking about how i’m gonna do that down the road um but then we just end up having to like rearrange stuff and rework stuff for live which can be cool too because then you have two separate versions exactly that’s fun yeah warming up so tell us what do you do before a show or a recording session do you have a routine well i do the file you do that i always do that yeah and that’s pretty much it i mean it’s a great warm-up um it like preps me and makes me feel like i’m ready um you know being sort of starting out sometimes that warm-up ends up being done in the van in the bathroom like all over the place always back alleyway like yeah always have a proper green room so you kind of just have to improvise i’ve literally done it in like the public bathroom in the venue before and i’m like i can hear people coming in i’m just doing this right now weird sounds and yeah but it is it is important to get those muscles working and stuff like that so you know the message you know for the people that might see it is is it trying to just overcome the shyness of prepping for the show because what’s important is the show not necessarily your feelings before the show you know if you can pull off an excellent show because you’ve done a proper warm-up i mean there’s worth it yeah not much of a better feeling than that the feeling of accomplishment and and yeah absolutely joy this is a joy to it you know usually now i ask about have you had any vocal problems while you’re touring and how have you overcome that but you’re you’re new to this i am new to this and i did not have any problems on the six weeks we did like it was very intense the schedule was for the most part six days of shows one day off and that was the whole thing um i didn’t yeah i didn’t realize that yeah it was very fast paced um several of them were like you know three shows in seattle or two nights in l.a so we kind of got to settle down and be in one place a little bit so that’s why there was you know just so much going on at once um but still there’s gonna be press there’s gonna be meet and greets is going to be like because you know i always always tell my people it’s it’s not just the show yeah that’s so hard on the voice it’s everything else the rehearsals the sound checks the meet and greets the interviews you’re using your voice the whole time and if you fatigue your voice out during the day doing that stuff which is important to do it kind of leaves the show difficult yeah um where are you going on this tour well i know there’s there’s issues uh visa wise um but once you get going so uh east coast and then hopefully back to the west coast are you doing stuff in the middle um we’re planning some stuff um we’re kind of rescheduling some of the dates that got postponed for the west coast we had a bunch of shows there and then we’re doing new york philly and washington um and then i have a small run opening for biba dubi which is in april we’re doing several dates in california which will be fun um and then i’m also planning some canadian dates for later this year and then probably another us tour in the fall so beautiful yeah have you thought about stuff to take on the road uh to help with vocal recovery that kind of thing like the humidifiers that i’m constantly talking about watch the humidifier video it’s very good um uh you know zinc and vitamin c and hydration levels you do you do you just drink lots of water and all that sort of you do all that stuff that we talk about yeah absolutely i’m also just like a big water drinker i drink so much water in the day so i just make sure i always have that with me um the vitamin c the zinc just in case just in case exactly yeah all my vitamins trying to stay healthy and like eat well which is sometimes tough also just like on the road i’m vegetarian so sometimes it’s like we’re in the middle of nowhere at all there is mcdonald’s and then i just have to eat fries for lunch or whatever but for for the most part we try and like stock up we’ll go to um like try and go to like some healthier grocery stores and get some healthy snacks and that kind of thing just to make sure that we’re like still getting all our nutrients while we’re on the road yeah greens uh green string uh greens like powdered greens drinks like greens plus uh there’s so many of them those are great to take on the road as well because you can just throw that into a glass of orange juice or something and that will give you energy plus nutrition and help the orange juice on the rider you’ll have one every night exactly exactly do you have anything on the rider yeah we have like usually we just try and do like fruit and veggie trays um like some chips granola bars that kind of thing yeah um it was tough last time because i felt like we had to learn what we could do without wasting food yeah a lot of the time like you asked for the veggie tray or whatever and then like there’s so much left and then we would try and bring it in the van but then like it got buried under some bags and we were like what’s that smell coming from the van so sometimes you just have to like be smart about what you ask for like reduce the weight yeah yeah um the only thing i ever had on my rider was a fruit tray because pineapple is fabulous and with fruit you can utilize the energy right away there’s really very little digestion in it so it was it was oranges pineapple uh cantaloupe honeydew melon uh and apple slices and because you can you can when i was you know doing the opera stuff and and uh the shows yeah uh you know the shows there there would always be an intermission so you could kind of load up on some sugar to get through the rest of the show you know at the end um so how what what’s the biggest show you’ve done today like so far like in terms of people like an audience yeah i would say probably we when we played at the head in the clouds festival which was last November um yeah we got to play the main stage um there was a whole runway which was really fun yeah and i think it was the biggest crowd that we’ve ever played too yeah um so in terms of preparation for a show that size did you pay more attention to it because it was new or like in in terms of big shows little shows or is it all the same do you just do everything the same so far um i would say mostly the same like you know regardless of whether it’s a big show or a little show like i want to do my best and sound the best that i can and have the set be tied and impressive like you know a smaller audience deserves as good of a shower as a bigger audience so um and sometimes it’s more fun yeah because it’s more intimate you can connect with people on a higher level yeah that’s nice obviously there’s some differences in terms of like the way i’m performing yeah there’ll be more stage movement big yeah if there’s a huge crowd but um but yeah i think both both are really special and i really enjoy the human aspects of each so we’ve been working together for a long time like we said two and a half years like it’s been a long time i’d have to look back uh yeah um so any thoughts on studying and how it’s enhanced what you do yeah i mean it’s definitely helped so much um and like just being more aware of my voice and like my body and how i’m feeling and how that affects my performance um is a really big help too because it was not always something that i was aware of before something that i like as i said before kind of like overlooked the vocal parts of the project yeah for a lot of the time yeah um most people do because there’s this unconscious thought that well we can talk so we must be able to sing you know when it’s actually a lot more complicated than that yeah yeah i mean i think taking lessons like really helped me i guess like express what i wanted to express in a better way just because i was like able to do it at a higher level um and also just like being on tour and playing shows like i definitely feel like stronger i have more control and even like with the sound too like singing more forward and singing more clearly really helps like um for the most part when you’re starting out like the sound can be really really bad at some shows especially when you’re playing in a basement i think like i didn’t realize like the way i would was singing like could actually affect like how my voice cuts through the mix um absolutely so yeah yeah just all of those things yeah and the other the other thing too is that when you are dealing with a really bad stage sound um unless you’ve committed a lot of the stuff to muscle memory what ends up happening is that you start to manipulate the muscles in the throat to try and compensate for what you’re not hearing it just wears the voice out like crazy you know um so in in those instances you know the the the work that we’ve done and all that will really save your butt yeah you know i definitely feel like my voice has been healthier too i mean i remember like several years ago before we started taking lessons um i would like sometimes lose my voice before a big show because of like all the stress from prepping you know for weeks and weeks and like just not taking care of my body enough and just like doing so many rehearsals and probably not singing the most healthy and like in the in the right way and not doing vocal warm-ups and that kind of thing i remember like losing my voice after a show and that kind of thing and then like doing six weeks with so many 30 shows is no problem um endurance is much better yeah is there is there anything in particular that that we’ve done that you know you’ve noticed as a as a big game changer or is it just kind of an overall thing yeah i think just the strength and the control that i’ve gained have been a really big game changer and like i notice it when i’m making new music that like i feel that i can go further with the melodies that i’m making and like it just opened up a little bit um just more options for me to try out so that’s been really cool yeah it’s a it’s a it ends up being a a larger instrument so instead of you know this much you have this much which people don’t necessarily think is you know okay that’s a little bit more but then you have full control you can do textually because i’ve always you know like i’ve always said singing isn’t just notes and words it’s notes words and textures most importantly because that’s how you communicate with the vocal well with the with a vocal it you know it’s it’s what you do with that sound so if you have that extra room plus all the control it’s it’s a it’s so much fun it’s it’s it’s a great instrument do you have you gotten to a point you know singing live where you just kind of sink into a vocal and just kind of everything disappears have you i call it the zone have you got there yet um yeah i think i think i’ve gotten there a lot of my set is like i’m playing instruments at the same time too so it’s kind of like a blend of everything i know but um this tour is actually the first time that i have a few songs that i’m not playing i’m just singing so i’m really looking forward to that and just kind of see how that plays out i think it’ll be really nice to be able to like just get really into it get into the zone um like just being able to like go up to the audience and connect with them more instead of being stuck at the mic sand i think that’ll be exciting yeah that that’ll be fun and uh have you practiced that have you have you been working with that because a lot of people it it makes them feel like naked and vulnerable because i don’t have like it’s weird yeah you don’t have anything to hold um i mean i on the last tour i had a song where i put my guitar down halfway through and did that for half the song oh okay so i like had some practice in that and and then yeah just like at rehearsals i’ve been practicing doing that and i don’t know i think also like because i have a dance background like i did ballet for years growing up and like like modern dance and stuff like that i think that really really helped with my stage presence too and just like being comfortable in my body on stage absolutely huge it’s a big learning curve like learning how to perform and it it took me a while to like really get comfortable on stage like i think my first show i was just standing there like with my guitar and not moving at all oh yeah i remember my my my legs shaking for the first five songs of the very first set i ever did it settled down after that and i had a lot of fun after that but man those first few songs are very very nerve-wracking and then you know if you because there’s so much tension if you crack and then you feel bad and it’s just it’s yeah it’s hard it’s very hard i i always thought i was not that great but i was so addicted to singing i i didn’t care that i didn’t think i was not great i needed to do it anyway definitely i mean i think like many artists are like that like the they’re their biggest critic right yeah yeah yeah i’m definitely very self-critical sometimes too but yeah yeah like it’s like you said it’s you love it so much that you just gotta keep going just gotta keep going do you have any extra personal tips that we haven’t talked about that you might send out there to other vocalists that are upcoming or or anything i mean i think like something that i’ve learned from like doing our lessons and just like thinking about my voice and singing more it’s just like singing every day is so important because like as we talk about the voice is really a muscle and it’s like really about keeping it in shape and i think when i first started out i kind of would only sing when i was like either playing a show or rehearsing or recording and like even just like singing around the house every day and like kind of keeping it light and fun is just really important um to just you know keep it going keep your muscles in shape and keep enjoying it too exactly well thank you so much for doing this of course that was awesome uh have a wonderful tour congratulations on the record and i’m going to include some links below to uh the videos which i think are fabulous fabulous videos and i look forward to seeing you hopefully you’ll come to my hometown and i can see you live that would be great all right thank you so much thank you bye


Thanks for watching! I’d like to give a shout out to some of the people who made this all possible … a huge thanks to Luna Li for doing the interview. And to her manager, Dexter Brown from Inside Pocket Music for sending me the media and permissions


If you Liked this … hit that subscribe button….I have lots more to come!


Big Wreck – Ian Thornley “Sing Like A Pro Interview Series” – Part 2

In this short additional video Ian Thornley talks with Mitch about his favorite microphones – in studio and live. Hope you enjoy!




i’m mitch seekins the vocal coach

welcome to part two of my interview with

ian thornley from big wreck

this is an additional segment to the

main interview that i did with ian

thornley which is posted here. In this

segment we talk about microphones in the

studio and live if you enjoyed this and

perhaps learn something please hit that

subscribe button i got more stuff to


this is something for the tech guys out

there uh do you have a preference on

microphones when you when you tour

or in the studio?

um yeah i mean in the studio we use all

kinds of different things but generally

got that elam one that nick rascalinics

had was great

but certain mics will sound great on

your voice in certain ones

right …yeah of course

i’ve blown up some mics in in

in my day but

even mics that were were like famous

mics that other famous singers had used

they’re like this is … this is

so-and-so’s mic it’s gonna be awesome

they put it in front of me and it makes

it to like about halfway through the

song but i’m not a particularly loud

singer i mean it’s probably louder than

somebody who’s singing you know

standards but but yeah

um like there’s there’s chad for

instance is probably the loudest singer

i’ve ever heard wow

it’s twice as loud as me and i’m pretty


uh but generally speaking it’s i we we

tend to lean towards 87 it’s like a  Neumann u87and

for a long time it was it was uh u47s


sort frank Sinatra used

but i think that’s it’s a bit warm and

tubby the 47


for one voice like it’s those were

designed to record an entire room like

like a band or an orchestra or whatever

but it is a very detailed it’s great but

87s just have this little

this little rip on top that i tend to

that i tend to like and it helps cut

yeah  i think that’s what our first

record was done on and it’s something

that just kind of

just kind of gone back to yeah um yeah

and even sm7 i got uh i got sm7s here

like those are great for demoing because

they do they do a similar

you know live it’s a uh

not just 58 but the beta 58 which again

has this little bump in the upper mid

which helps just helps me with my

in-ears and helps me uh get pitch and it

cuts through the mix

it’s just  a nice mic there’s nice

clarity on the top because i use the 58

for years and then they came up with the

beta 58 and it’s like oh

it’s still a war horse

yeah they don’t go down

exactly that’s great we’ve had some

great mics over the years um

and some of them are like some of the

really high five ones i find don’t

they don’t work the same for me they

don’t and especially for you know a loud

rock band it’s yeah you need you need to

it’s you know you go back to what what

works yeah and a 58 or certain in my

case the beta 58 is that’s money yeah

exactly much less back to that

you know i’d love i love trying all this

different stuff because so-and-so uses

blah blah blah they’re amazing so it’s

got to be great you know

they could give me a 1959 sunburst les

paul i’m not going to sound like jimmy page

yeah so i just kind of go with what

works yeah exactly um

beta 58 is great and 87’s in the in the

studio i mean

they’re not they’re not cheap but

they’re not terribly expensive yeah you

know they’re not like a four you 47s are

like 15 17 grand elams are ridiculous

but yeah you know you can’t go wrong

with an 87.


thanks for doing this man

all right


Big Wreck – Ian Thornley “Sing Like A Pro Interview Series” with Mitch Seekins The Vocal Coach

I have a heart to heart chat with Ian Thornley about how hard being a pro vocalist at his level really is! How learning and hard work is a must to establish and maintain a career. Thanks to Ian for doing the interview with me (thanks man!!) and to Big Wrecks manager Rian Balloch of Skware Eyes Collaborative for sending over the video and images. https://www.bigwreckmusic.com/ 



hi I’m Mitch Seekins the vocal coach welcome to my Sing Like A Pro Interview Series where you hear from the professionals themselves, what it takes to do what they do – this episode features Ian Thornley from Big Wreck!


I had the pleasure to work with Ian in 2016 – 2017. He came to me with concerns about some issues that were beginning to show up in his voice. Being a big fan of his spectacular vocals and music I was honored to help out.

In this heartfelt interview what I would like everyone to take away from this is even with the talent and skills and love for what he does even Ian Thornley can have a hard time with things… and if you are on a similar path of building or maintaining a career, take solace in knowing that you’re not alone with the struggles. It’s all part of the journey.

Mr Thornley


How you doing man?  I’m doing all right I’m doing all right


A little foggy today it was a late one last night but uh you know I’m late for me nowadays anything past midnight is just um and we went we went a little past midnight because there was a as i was telling you earlier there were some technical difficulties um that uh unforeseen and they and it caused us to run late but we got our work done and uh yeah back at it today good yeah

thanks for doing this it’s no problem of course it’s um you know like i was telling you I’m trying to just do a series of interviews of people at your level and just get the information on what it actually takes to do what you guys do you know because a lot of people don’t understand you know what the mindset is and how everything kind of flows

well I think mindset is a good is a good uh window to go through um to get into it but you know my mindset has changed drastically you know throughout I’ve been doing this a while yeah and uh initially I I was dead set against even having a mindset because that wouldn’t be authentic enough and that wouldn’t be real you know whatever conversation I had going back then um so things like warming up and whatnot like and I’ve told the story before I probably told you but uh like Miles (Kennedy) was the first guy I ever saw warm up his voice right we were on tour together in 98 or 99 right um and yeah he was always like an hour before they went on like where did Miles go uh and he was he was in the van like in the passenger seat of the van do you want to make all these weird noises and I’m like what are you doing in there and then of course he gets on stage and does what he does right and i was just like holy [ __ ] um and it was really like well he does what he does and i do what i do you know i can’t i don’t um and that’s a you know that’s kind of a coward’s way out because i was still i was still getting on stage and having a great night or having a [ __ ] night and not really knowing vocally why like even if i was in good voice and good health um you get on stage and sometimes it’s just it just you’re working hard for stuff and i had no idea why um and a lot of it sort of through the years that aspect of just sort of you know well that doesn’t feel like it like it should yeah and then just kind of learning sort of physically how things should feel and then getting a lot of the pointers from Miles along the way you know sort of every five or six years give a give a little tip for a little you know things like that and i would take him to heart and i would you know at one point he gave me a recording of his vocal lesson that he had had with uh i think was Ron Anderson and just a lot of the stuff that they were going over in a lot of this sort of vernacular and it all just kind of started to resonate you know no pun intended but it also it kind of it just started to make sense um and then i started to warm up a little more um and take it a little more seriously right um because i mean it only takes one and i’ve had a few but one really bad night and i you know i can remember as we’ve all had them um probably not you but like your version of a bad habit is coming off fantastic but this was like this was something other i we were it was like a super bowl thing it was in town in toronto yeah uh and i’d come down with something and i was like it was and it was just getting progressively worse throughout the day and i was like oh no well i’m like taking this taking that and just like anything to sort of keep it from you know getting in the way yeah and it was a short and it was like a half-time thing so it was a shortened set i think we only played five songs or something um and i get into the first song and and i’m like okay i’m really trying to take it easy this is before you and i had met right like for several years um and i’m sort of taking it easy but you know there’s some higher notes that you can push and i think it was so far so good or something like that where whereas then you can lean into them a bit and i was like oh it’s there it’s there i’m good so the first two songs great and then it was albatross was the next one which was which is like requires a different kind of i and i wouldn’t have known back then and i still probably wouldn’t know but i don’t try to sing that one super hard it’s just it’s supposed to be a little cleaner and yeah a little more singier it’s not shouting you’re not yelling yeah um and i and i honestly i would open my mouth and i didn’t know what was going to come out yeah and this is like right from the from the intro which is not particularly challenging and i was like why is that note oh my god and then you kind of have to readjust and then i know i want to sing a c sharp here and you know put x it’s just nothing was where it should be yeah and then of course you know that you get into the to the higher parts um and and it’s a pretty naked intro man like that’s pretty like this is just a guitar or two and a vocal that’s going up to high b’s and stuff and it um yeah and and it was horrible you know and it crushed me like i i went home that night and I sat by myself for a while you know just like am i cut out for this should i be doing this like maybe all those years ago when we were looking for a singer that was the right call it was that bad um i know and then and then yeah and then it just again i probably reached out to miles after that like dude you know and maybe that’s when when he gave me that tape and it was just a lot of a lot of the things that you and i do yeah um but obviously i’m i’m sort of a fly on the wall and don’t really know i’m just sort of grabbing things here and there and doing my own thing with it like that’s got to be what they’re talking about that kind of thing i know um but then when you and i met it was like okay and i still reach out to you when i’m on the road and i get sick how am i gonna get through this dude um because it because it i mean i’d still go back to that place where where you open your mouth and you don’t know what’s going to come out and there’s not a worse feeling in the world man people call singers this and they’re that and um but it really is it’s terrifying and you and your yeah you’re at the whim of whatever is going on in here and i you know so as much control as as you can gain over it like that’s what sort of where my mindset is now is is that it’s like well i want to make i want to cut like a bad night i want it to still be passable that’s right you know and it’s brutal for me and it’s really you know difficult and it’s exhausting because especially when you’re sick and you’re trying to navigate through a lot of these songs that we have and uh which are not easy to sing none of them well so i mean if you’re in good voice and you’re relaxed and you’re and you’re and you’re warmed up it’s not hard um it’s fun it and can be fun you know when you when you go for something high and you pin it and then it’s like what there’s so much gas in the tank right now i really want to lean into this you can just put more you know and i love that but when it’s not there it’s exhausting because it’s you’re you’re you know you know it’s a high wire act yeah it is you know like with the you know with the the master class that i do at the beginning of everybody who studies with me we talked about the psychological end of things yeah and you know the the amount of stress the physical stress and the emotional stress the emotional trauma that a singer experiences this is horrible it can be horrible it’s not elating like when you nail it better you know yeah maybe you know playing guitar the way you do when you nail something well that’s going to give you the same response but having you know the body as the instrument your body has the instrument it just there’s something about it you know um when uh you know so you didn’t start out as a vocalist right no no no heavens no you were you were a keyboardist first as i saw it posted on instagram yeah when i i started i started on piano and quickly moved into synthesizers and stuff like that i was in i was in a band when i was started in eighth grade eighth eighth and ninth grade i was playing in a pop band around town nice and i was a little synth dude um which is a great experience for me and uh you know they were all all the other people in the band were were much older and and sort of seasoned and uh have gone on to do some great things but but i i yeah and then and then i eventually have found my way to guitar um and i i don’t know that the sort of immediacy of that connection was was


i did just it just brought me to a different place than than piano did yeah um you know it’s all music but yeah i think that the connection to it i don’t know i still i i still play every day and if i can all day every day yeah it’s one of those lifelong obsessions but yeah um yeah and then i i went to school i went to berkeley for three years um with guitar as my my instrument um and again you know that’s not going to make you a great guitar player but it’s a great place to you know there’s all these other like-minded kids who are who are chasing the same kind of thing even if it’s very different yeah um and it was all about what’s up it was all jazz right yeah yeah i mean they used jazz as the sort of curriculum to right to explain things you know that and a lot of the sort of stuff that i’ve been sticking around with on guitar and you know i already started writing and coming up with bits that i liked and fitting them together and you know sort of reverse engineering a lot of the stuff that i couldn’t figure out um i mean at berkeley would give you the names of those things which just it just helps expediate the process of a lot of things yeah yeah um and also open your mind to different different directions like different different possibilities of what you can yeah oh for sure i’ll never knock um you know schooling yourself on you know it’s not keeping it real or anything like that i i think that’s that’s garbage like the truth is like it like the more you learn the the further you will go and then the more you learn to re you realize that how much further you have to go and then it just never ends it’s just a i know you know it’s a dog in his chair chasing his tail kind of deal because it you never you never arrive i’ve never i haven’t arrived um but yeah and then with vocals it was it was a and i’ve told this story many times too we we were looking for a singer for a while and that’s hard man you know especially if i was going to be the the primary writer um


yeah it was it was it was really hard and people don’t you know obviously not everybody thinks the way you do about you know this is how this should go this should move like this and and just those things and i’m using a very base level yeah example here but and there was just people that just wouldn’t fit and so much of great great singers and great musicians and it just wasn’t quite jealous or um you know one of the other guys in the band didn’t get along with it whatever it was we tried and tried and then i there was an adventure there eventually got to a there was a [ __ ] moment like you know and i think it was brian and i was just like dude [ __ ] it you sing and i eventually would say brian brian oh brian did yeah it would have been him and i think the other guys were encouraging me to do so as well yeah um but i think you know brian and i like brian was sort of like my big brother at the time like he was he was slightly older than me and yeah um yeah i know like if he if he if i would sing on a demo and and if he if he said it sounded cool then it’d be like all right you know really sort of seeking his approval but uh yeah i eventually had just kind of jumped in um not knowing anything about that you know my my version of learning how was was just doing it right yeah yeah um i mean i was i was the same as well and most people are when they you know when they start out it’s just kind of like okay let’s just yeah see what happens you know see what happens um were there any influences that that uh that you have to kind of go yeah i mean yeah well in this vocally not really um because i would just kind of like well those that you know what Freddie mercury does is magic and what jeff buckley does is magic and i can’t i’m not a magician you know i’m just a guitar player who’s singing right i still have that mentality too right right um then i heard phil collins and said that he says i’m not a singer who plays some drums i am a drummer who does singing and i i’m like that’s how i feel yeah yeah but i not i don’t think i i don’t think i there was never anything i was shooting for right um until like later on when when uh i started to mess around with range and and going higher and you can probably speak to this better than i can but i’ve always been of the mind that you’re you get what you get you know yeah you can probably grow your range and and there’s things you can do to to get higher and lower and and maintain a good tone but um i think the the actual sound of it i mean you can’t change this and this and all the things that that make the noise you can’t i can’t change it yeah um so it’s like as much as i would want to sound like robert plant or bb king or even joe strummer or all these guys who i just have these voices that that get into me yeah um i end up just sounding like me or is it people always say oh it’s chris cornell i’m like that and you know what that’s that’s great because he’s awesome so um yeah yeah he was and i mean you know i can i can i can see why people say that it’s the same kind of tonal quality you guys don’t sing you don’t sing the same but the the tonal quality is similar yeah i guess i don’t hear you you know like there was there was a a time when it was you know i guess it was the early 90s and uh and that the whole grunge in seattle thing happened and a lot of it really affected me because i because i’m such a big zepp guy yeah and i’m such a big who and and a lot of it seemed like it came directly from that um and like pearl jam had a huge impact on me right um just and it was like it was just the whole thing that that that got me right yeah yeah it wasn’t like all the way eddie does this or the way you know stone does that it was just the whole thing i was like i got it um because and and i i later you know i think it’s i think it’s just because it feels like they mean it you know it feels like eddie means it um and then of course shortly thereafter every singer that would come out of the woodwork had the r thing that lance daley were doing to her thing and i you know i even i even [ __ ] with it a bit of a demo yeah and i remember hearing the back going nope that’s not me and i had a discussion with a good friend of mine who’s a wonderful singer uh danny graves i mean years ago we had this conversation about those kind of singers that are guys yeah um and he’s like yeah it’s a crutch it’s a it’s like an easy way to get your pitch and it’s and it’s an easy way to sound like i mean it man yeah and as like you see the people who are doing it tend to forget that like eddie and lane actually did [ __ ] mean it like that’s yeah that was real and and you know i don’t think he does it anymore eddie but uh you know whatever he’s such a great um and chris the same thing like I wasn’t as much into soundgarden uh because i think they were sort of more sabbath derived that sort of really uh low-tuned heavy dirty thing which i know big rec is known for um but it you know that would have been a brian influencing me and my musical taste but him bringing in kings x him bringing in sound garden and stuff like that and then i i went through a period where i just loved soundgarden um yeah and it’s just yeah but i and i’m sure all that you know i think you are what you eat so all those influences that they’re gonna come in but you know like we’re saying earlier i still open my mouth and i don’t sound like like the guy i’m trying to sound like it’s just not possible yeah yeah yeah i want to be steve perry like who doesn’t want to be who doesn’t want that voice you know um like there’s so many great voices that uh and it’s and i’m not just talking like technique it licks and listen to the control i just mean the tone the sound that’s right yeah that’s right like there’s nothing better than than rock the casbah and london calling like joe strummer i believe every word that guy says yeah and and the sound of his voice just it just sounds like he’s emptying the tank for you and that’s what he’s doing so yeah um so by the time the first record came how how long it was was it were you guys kind of working for a couple years before you did the first record like um yeah i guess like


like we started maybe 90 maybe 94.95 we started to you know put demos together and dick around with stuff uh but as far as um


as far as doing a like calling it a band i don’t really know when that but it was it wasn’t that long um of a time from when we really started to okay let’s do this yeah until it was like okay well now we’re we’re looking at getting signed with atlantic and we’re going to do this it wasn’t that long right um and certainly not enough time for me to because the first time i went in to do vocals on what would eventually become the album like the first album was was two made from two different sessions that were demo sessions those are the demos that were that were turned into the record and i still remember the first of those sessions i think it was three sessions actually but but from the one that we didn’t do at presents i don’t think we used anything maybe we used to fall through the cracks or something like that um but i i still distinctly remember like putting it off and putting in the vocals and putting it off i still do that like it’s always the last thing um and i remember stepping up to the mic and then and then hearing you know my voice going through it i think it was an 87 into an orange county and then they you know fed it fed me a little bit of delay or reverb and i was just like oh man this is and then and then you know once you get past that sort of initial whatever then it’s like okay i can play with this and it doesn’t sound stupid you know and i’m looking through the glass and it’s like i don’t see brian going oh you know yeah of course the day of doing this it was it was you know they were like it was encouraging and that’s sort of the mental game like once you get out of your own way then it’s like okay what can we do yeah you know and i didn’t know about i didn’t know how high i could go i didn’t really mess around up there and you can hear it on the first record there’s a couple of high notes but they’re just stuff where you’re yeah there’s some harmonies and stuff i’m just like oh i can do it i didn’t i didn’t know if i had a ceiling i didn’t i didn’t really dick around up there but as far as singing hard and getting uh some grit on the sound i would just push you know yeah which is not good like i remember i remember after i did the vocal for overemphasizing i was like that’s probably not a good idea to do that like that every night you know like yeah you know we could maybe get into that too but i see i tend to sing differently live um slightly than i would in the studio you know yeah but if i especially if it’s a friday it’s a friday night we’re not going in saturday and sunday um for some of the rocky or more you know grittier parts then i’ll actually do something that’s probably not healthy and probably not good for my throat just to get the sound yeah um because because there’s that sound of a voice just on the brink where it’s like they’re doing damage i love that you know yeah i love that noise so i i sometimes it’s the only way to get it is just to you know you’re good and warmed up and you’re loose and i’m singing all day and everything’s great it’s like okay well let’s circle back to that thing i’m gonna have another stab at that yeah you know the ridiculously high and hard and then and then you you leave leave the studio you know sort of with a whisper it’s like yeah well done


part of it is is knowing okay i can do this because i know i’ve got like two or three days off yeah yeah live i don’t get that live i don’t yet you don’t get that i mean my my regimen uh when we’re on tours is a lot more strict than it is in the studio like in the studio i i i always i’ll make sure that i’m loose and i’ll stretch um i’ll stretch it out and try to clean out you know especially if it’s cold um try to have everything cleaned out and um yeah and then i’ll just i’ll just kind of start in with the song you know this sort of like lightly singing it to myself you know um and just how i’m gonna approach certain lines i’m gonna approach certain things um and then again it’s the same thing as when it was when i first did it once the headphones come on it’s like okay now you’re now in this box and now you know what you can work with and what you can do yeah yeah and as i’ve gotten older oddly enough this is another thing we’ve talked about it’s like i feel like my range has grown like my box has gotten bigger my trick bag is bigger but i feel like just vocally i’m i’m able to do stuff with a lot more ease and i have a lot more control over it but stuff that i would never even attempted 20 years ago yeah i know because it like i think we talked about that the human male voice doesn’t mature until about the age of 35 and then you’ve got this window of being in your vocal prime until you’re about 70. so right in that time all the bottom end comes in the top end uh just gets clarified a little more um stable yeah everything just sits bigger you know um my balls dropped what’s that my balls finally dropped when i was 35.


exactly exactly i’d my uh you know my my uh a’s a flats g’s and and i’ve even got f sharps now uh you know when i was 25 there was i wasn’t singing below you know the b flat like i mean that’s that’s pushing it but and it’s so funny you know it it is it’s just genetics in that first record because it you know to to to my ear and to everybody’s ear there is definitely a big wreck sound there’s definitely an ian thornley sound and that’s just you kind of opening your mouth and kind of doing what you do so there wasn’t really much thought it was an organic kind of thing yeah and and and that early on it was just a lot of it was a lot of feeling things out and i mean there has to be a certain amount of trust for me back then there had to be like


you know like no no cracking jokes while i’m doing this right because i’ll just [ __ ] leave like i was i was that like a don’t know like try i’d have the lights off in the live room where i was like i’d make sure that the lights were off yeah keep the lights on in the control room like it was that kind of thing yeah literally like i was that i was that you know in my head yeah and then once you once you get into it and you get some encouragement then the rest of it was yeah it was just sort of you know what sounds cool and then you just sort of lean off the mic and look in um and if they’re high five and then it’s like okay let’s do that then that’ll work yeah and back then of course everything was on tape so you just start at the beginning and go to the end anything you want to fix okay let’s go in there any ideas for doubles or harmonies or anything we got an extra track yeah so um yeah all that stuff was very you know and i was 23 or whatever like i was i was i was young um but yeah you know it’s very different now i just i still but like i said i still put the vocals off till till the end yeah and then once i get into it i really i really do enjoy it i really do like i’ve come to enjoy it a lot and then you know yeah yeah so when you’re when you’re uh working on tunes and i actually want to give a shout out to a student of mine his name is uh cody uh kerrigan he’s um he’s working on his phd for uh composition and he he was wanting me to ask um you know um as he’s a he’s a big fan how much play you do when you when you write a song you start with a guitar lick and then add vocals to that or is there a melody that comes out and you try to write something and how much do the vocals change from the inception to the final product is it a lot of experimentation in the studio yeah yeah there is to the latter i i generally it starts from from the music first um sometimes sometimes the whole thing falls in your lap and those are the good ones those are those are the lucky the lucky ones you don’t have to slug it out but but generally speaking it starts from it starts from the music first and i already like i will start putting the picture together in my mind as i’m as i’m piecing the music together or as i’m going through it i’ll have something in my i know where my in is you know so you know what depending on the mood and depending on the key and depending on all these different factors it’ll just so it tells me like your voice is going to go in here right um and sometimes as you know i’m sure like sometimes you just open your mouth and and something comes out here like and you get and you get um goosebumps it’s like that’s that’s my end that’s my spot yeah and then yeah and then you start flushing out melodies and and it tells me you know and then it’ll tell me what the words are what the story’s going to be and and it really you know you’re just sort of you’re just sort of rummaging through and clearing away dust and it’s like okay i see this now sometimes it’s it’s um it goes against the grain of the music and sometimes it is right in lockstep with the music and all those all those different factors that um obviously they’re all choices that are formed by your taste um and your influences and all the stuff that you love yeah um but but all of those you know i i like like we said earlier i think just getting out of your own way and getting out of your head and letting that letting the music tell you what it what it wants where it wants to go and every once in a while you know and i can hear it in our stuff and sometimes i can hear it in other bands and artists as well when when there’s sometimes there’s a moment where there’s a choice where the writer said i’m going to throw this thing in here yeah and it’s and there’s something um sort of cosmically jarring about it a little bit sometimes that’s the intention and when i do it that’s usually what i’m like i’m going to throw in a bar of three those kind of things they’re they’re conscious moves yeah um you know as opposed to a riff that sort of fell out and it happens to be in seven that’s different you know all these things are um they’re all sort of tools that you’re at your disposal and then when it comes to doing the vocal i usually i’ll start with with just scatting because i know where the melodies are going to go um and then as the words start to emerge and sometimes those are just like boom there’s a there’s a story the story in the song and it’s um yeah and then sometimes some some some of them come easily and some of them are are like nope like i have a couple songs every record that that just you know kicked my ass and i’m like nope and i’m rewriting and rewriting and it’s like maybe it’s maybe it’s my melodies maybe i’m too choppy with the with the melody and it should just be one soaring long you know and then it’s like well if i do that i gotta change the whole narrative i gotta change the whole story because you know this word fits great but it doesn’t make any sense with you know all these things it um i think that can be a dragon it can be very draining uh and it’s one of those things i can you know very rarely in those situations do i know that i’ve got it right because it’s not because it didn’t tell me i’m still kind of telling it well this is this is the right way and this is looking around the room going right right right um as opposed to like when you have the the two speakers are just saying yep you got it yeah um yeah and then and then you just put on way too many tracks with vocal way too many tracks of guitar and uh you know start cutting it down call it yeah yeah uh how do you how do you prep for uh you know to to do a record vocally how do you how do you do do you do you start saying because i mean you got to be in shape right you’re going to be vocally in shape if you’re putting you know stuff you know committing to stuff on on a record you you don’t want to be okay well i’m a little rusty like you want to be in shape for sure because you know studio is one thing touring is a is a different animal like it’s a different thing you know what what is it you do um i mean generally speaking into the processes were when i finished pre-production or demoing like um


i know okay by then there’s still a lot of singing right it’s not it’s not super it’s not as honed in is where i’m gonna want it but um i don’t even having said that sometimes it is like some of the demos that we’ve done over the years have just been like well that’s good enough to be on the record yeah because it’s just it’s just so flushed out yeah um but it but yeah i mean generally it’s it’s going to be pretty close to you know game ready and then and then you know i’ll do i’ll do warm-ups and it’s usually the first the first song sometimes it like i’ll circle back or ratzy would be like we want to circle back and um you know sometimes i have to circle back and try the first first verse again you know once i’m yeah but but yeah and sometimes it’s the song you know uh you want to start with something that’s not too challenging and that doesn’t you know where you’re not reaching for the stars and i’m trying to and trying to play around up there yeah it’s one thing to just squeeze a high note out as hard as you can but it’s another thing to actually sing it and yeah you know play with it yeah and um well yeah i did you know a lot of the stuff that you’ve taught me is is all comes in handy there like that’ll that’ll set me up and you know even when if i’m in the shower and i have to sing i’m i’m doing lip rolls good and i i find it even this morning i did it and it i just find it set it sets my voice up right for the day and that’s not i’m not when i start warming up before a show or or to sing in the studio i’m not um yeah from scratch yeah and i don’t know what that does maybe that’s just a psycho psychological thing for me and um


it gets everything moving it gets the blood flowing because it’s a physical instrument you know um so you just you just got to get things working that’s all yeah you just get it moving i just it’s kind of like it’s like a muscle it’s like stretching this or that’s right exactly any anything that you’re it’s one of those um anything you know i’m still i’m getting over some kind of cold that i had last week it wasn’t the cove um somehow i managed to i managed to bob and weave i don’t know how i haven’t got it i’m still having but yeah and and even that like when i’m when i’m sick that’s one another one of the times when i’ll i’ll be i’ll be just doing just doing lip rolls not like writing whole scales or arpeggios or anything but just you know going up into head and then coming down and going back up just to see where i’m at and it and honestly it just it sets my voice in a in a more relaxed stable even for even speaking right like even um and yeah i think you know like anything else if it’s not working it’s not working um and and that that’s happened sometime not not so much in the last few years but there have been times where i’m like it’s not in it’s not there today yeah it is it is a physical like a a human instrument and yeah it is tied uh like you were saying you know with with training the the goal is to you know bad days you know are up here as opposed to you know 20 years ago or 10 years ago where bad days may have been down here you know it’s a much narrower performance uh ratio you know you’re not you’re not swinging from here to here yeah and and that helps you psychologically as well knowing that you can for sure you can sing through stuff 100 in in terms of you know vocal recovery um is there ways that you deal with it now than you know that have changed from from before i mean um yeah i mean not really um i’ll try to i’ll try not to speak so much if yeah and especially when you’re not when you’re feeling a little under the weather um that’s when i really notice it yeah because like sometimes it’ll be i’ll have a cold and there’s a couple of days where it’s like you know i still have to do the gig or you know i don’t want to do but but there’s going to be a couple of days where it’s almost impossible and then on either side of that there it’s like okay i can work i can make this work yeah um and i still make the mistake of apologizing to the audience because it’s like [ __ ] letting them down um but it but it but yeah i can still make it work the tone is still there and the range in the you know but but you know maybe the longevity is not there or whatever it is um but after after that show like i’ll be on the bus and i’ll sound like sam elliott like it’s just fried yeah and that’s when you know that’s what i need the most you know tea and all of that and and sleep and and clean yeah little humidifiers for the bunk and all those things that that’ll that’ll get you through yeah yeah and you know the humidifier thing is so important a lot of people don’t advocate we need to get a sponsorship from advil colton science too i know that stuff like especially paul i think it was paulo that initially hit me to it but i was like man this stuff is like let’s just save my ass i know just clears everything out and so of course we’re always chugging water so i’m not worried about dehydrating which i think actual cold sinus does it just dries everything out but it’s like if you’re slamming water you know you’re you’re in good shape yeah i got dave onto it like if he’s not you feeling a little a little rough and dave’s doing a lot of singing nowadays and [ __ ] great sounds fantastic great um and he’s just i mean he’ll just take a couple of advil cold science a couple hours before the show and it’s like you know it just gets you through yeah yeah the only thing uh i think you need to be cognizant with that stuff is is if you’re really bad and you take it um it can uh it can accelerate damaging stuff


yeah yeah yeah i’m sure but i you know for me it’s uh you know and sometimes it’s even it’s just a a psychological thing you know i’ve had a long flight yeah the day of the show which sucks and you get out and you’re just like i do what’s i’m snotty and oh something’s never something’s all right something’s not right i have a cold science no i’m just bad yeah okay i feel great it’s gonna be a good show yeah and another thing that’s actually good for that uh is nasal rinsing uh i used to have the neti pot thing yeah yeah can’t do that no not not


you know the ones that you see in the tv commercial


yeah yeah all right


when i was doing shows you know what maybe i’ll get one of those you know well it is what all that bugs about very very uncomfortable thing to yeah to work on um uh so we worked together on you know 2016-2017 um is there anything that stands out on the stuff that we did that that really really made a difference uh just either in the consistency or the way yeah things yeah i think uh i think consistency 100 like that that is something that um i don’t think anything’s really changed tonally but i think it i i know that i know that it’s maintained and i’m sure that that that’s large part and due to working with you um um but nice and and i think again like i was saying about going to school it’s like just learning things and just it demystifies a lot of it yeah so yeah and there’s a lot of things about it that i’ve never even like the diaphragmatic stuff is something i’ve never even you know i think miles tried to explain it to me once and i was like okay that’s that’s that’s for that’s for advanced that’s not that’s


and that’s something that i still i still um it’s still going up going on in the back of my mind while i’m singing and doing some of the more challenging parts um all those things it’s just that yeah there’s a there’s a there’s a confidence that comes with um knowing you’ve got an 80 chance as opposed to a 40 chance of nailing it yeah you know and and especially if you’re a good voice then it’s almost it’s almost best when um the the the conversation isn’t there at all because i’m just like well i’m in i’m in good shape here and and everything’s flowing and everything feels great and if you just check in with yourself every now and then how much and then just and all that all that diaphragmatic stuff which is mechanic and sometimes i i’ll trip onto it accidentally where i i didn’t i yeah yeah and then and then i’m just like i could sing this note for four minutes like it just yeah um but yeah you know all of it is just has helped me tremendously you know i don’t think uh i’m sure i’d be in a different and that my voice would sound different than it does had it not been for meeting you and i it’s just like there’s no way to maintain especially the style of music we do the style that i do and and um you know how to avoid the certain pitfalls like uh because i you know i get swept up in in the moment all the time every night it happens to me every night i’ll get swept up and i’m like i’m going for this and i’m emptying the tank on this one note yeah and and it’s like my version of that now is just like let’s save some for the end of the song you know like lean into it and make it make it great but but let’s see let’s you know yeah and then we also have the other 40 dates to worry about after this so let’s you know that’s right it breaks there yeah but all of it has helped yeah the interesting thing with you is um you know through all the stages that i work with the the big one the final one is something called blending and you had that naturally in your voice you you had found your way to it which is how you do all that that top end stuff but we what you didn’t have was the support and it was as you as you you know get older just like just like anything i i can’t work out like i did when i was 30 i just i can’t yeah you know and it’s the same thing with the voice even though you’re in you know that vocal prime the recovery time as you age just just increases so once we establish the you know the the the support the diaphragmatic stuff with you it just kind of started connecting all that those mechanics together and um because the one thing that you know i don’t change people’s voices i you know you can change the sound that that’s not what i do i show people how to do what they do because that’s what sells records for them um in a healthy way so they they have the ability to do a 40-show tour without tearing themselves apart yeah that’s what was interesting with you because you had the majority of it naturally which is very rare just adding that that piece on just yeah it was everything for you yeah it really did it really did and i still you know as you know um you get sick on the road and like oh you’re going to be one of my first calls which help [ __ ] i remember the first show the last big tour it’s the first show we’re in boston i don’t have a voice yeah and it’s just simply how you warm up and even then like you know there’s a certain way of warming up but it doesn’t mean that that case could be fun yeah it’s still gonna be a lot of work but at least hopefully you can get through it yeah that’s the major thing do you have any you know like personal tips that you would you know give to young singers or you know people coming up and i wouldn’t i wouldn’t presume to even you know i wouldn’t know where to begin like yeah one of the things that i that i tend to do early in a tour and again this is all prefaced with it but if i’m in good voice and good health um once my voice is ready once it’s there after warming up and i tend to warm up too long a lot of the time and i’ve that’s something i’ve been sort of staying cognizant of in the last couple of years right um because sometimes i just you know save some for the show man you know but you know it’s like it’s like blowing all your good ideas and sound check it’s like well there’s some part of your mind that’s like well i’ve already been there i’ve already been you’re going off in some huge solo you miss all the all the gold because you’re like i’ve already been there it was like nobody was there to see it so yeah no you haven’t yeah but but yeah as far as the warm-up goes one thing that i’ll do early in a in a tour and sometimes it you know sometimes the whole way through but and depending on what we’re starting with the first song that we’re starting with um is once i’m warmed up and everything’s there and i’m i’m good it’s all i’ll give a couple of blasts


before we go on just to see just to see yeah and just to see if the you know the the sort of grit and that that whatever the thing is that when you’re singing certain parts and you want that sound um i’ll give a couple of blasts just to make sure you know i don’t want to i don’t want to do too many because yeah like that you get you got to be yeah be careful with those there’s a there’s a finite number yeah yeah exactly and a lot of it is you know if you you know if you include that in part of the warm-up schedule and you know like do you do that right before you go on or do you do that and then give the voice a a chance to to rest literally like five or ten minutes and then then not even like when i’m tired when i say blast like i’m singing along with the intro while we’re side stage oh okay yeah yeah yeah and i’m just doing light and light and light and keeping it just really light flexible and then and then i’ll i’ll give a couple of a couple of roars like just just to make sure that it’s in there you know yeah not too many not too much but then then of course you know there’s another three or four minutes before i have to start singing and i’m you know i’m fine but right right right and i don’t need i don’t even know if that’s helpful i just i don’t really as far as [ __ ] me giving advice you know i just just do do whatever whatever comes out of your mouth is that’s that’s you and then just work on it you know make it better don’t don’t do it for if you don’t if you’re not comfortable then you know sit on the end of your bed with your guitar or your piano and work on it until you feel it’s good enough yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah i i don’t know what else to do do you find you you up your water intake uh before a tour before sessions or do you just maintain hydration the whole time because that that’s a good one for most because most people don’t drink water in the early days i mean we drank everything but water and a lot of it you know nowadays i yeah i tend to i’m pretty hydrated man i tend to drink a lot of water and biosteel love that stuff i just like i’ll i’ll stay really really hydrated and i’m sure that’s i’m sure that’s helpful it’s a huge factor and pairing that with the you know with the humidifier because you know a lot of thing that a lot of things that people don’t understand is that you know that saying you know if you have a cold you drink lots of fluids and get plenty of sleep well part of that is that when you drink lots of fluids you keep all the mucus that your body produces thin and you can move it right so if you just stay hydrated all the time


you’re you’re in you’re in great shape and then you know the with the humidifiers in the recovery after a show it’s it’s really really important and i was quite happy to hear you you know you figured out how to do it on the bus you know just to give yourself a chance yeah well we would you know when i’m when i’m with sometimes like i remember in the last it must have been the last run or maybe the one pre one one of the ones where i got sick right off the hop um it’s like well we send somebody to go get a humidifier and we get a hotel room and then i’ll just like hold up in the hotel room with the humidifier just blasting right in my face yeah um yeah and then just and just slamming water and slamming water yeah yeah um it sucks man it’s the worst i i i hate getting sick it’s just it’s brutal it’s the worst part of being a singer it really is yeah because it’s not it’s not for anybody to be sick it sucks for anybody to be sick but i could be sick as a dog and still play blazing guitar solo you know i might not enjoy it as much i might not be doing loop-de-loops and jumping off the stack and i’m you know yeah but you know these still work yeah and this is just taken away it’s and you know it’s not your fault like nobody wants to get sick it’s just the worst yeah people waiting in the audience to see a great show and you’re like i don’t know if i can give them a great show

I know  it’s a psychological thing like i said it’s you know the emotional stress of going, ah christ what the hell am i gonna do tonight you know you know been there many times it sucks um thanks for doing this man

all right

that’s awesome hopefully there’s lots of stuff in there for people to digest and just get people thinking about what it is and how long and what’s the effort behind doing you know what you do

yeah i think that’s the whole point. it’s a lifelong pursuit

it certainly is it certainly is so thank you that i really appreciate it

dude thank you so much it’s great to see you all back for a top up soon because i’m we’re heading out in uh in april that’s all right yeah i think it’s yeah in april so we’re in warren rehearsals march but maybe sometime in there like sure i don’t keep meeting too but i really i’m due yeah see how much i’ve [ __ ] up over the last couple years i think i’m okay though it feels great like sounds great yeah when i’m healthy it’s okay yeah yeah it sounds great all right buddy all right

thanks for watching I’d like to give a big thanks to Ian for doing the interview and to Ryan Balloch from Skware Eyes Collaborative for providing me with the video and the images if you like this and perhaps learn something please hit that subscribe button I’ve got more stuff to come

Mitch Seekins Vocal Coach to Ian Thornley from Big Wreck and many others!