Interview

CJ: We are sitting here in studio B at the massive SlaughterHouse recording studios on the outskirts of Seattle, with Tim Crich, author of the very successful Assistant Engineers Handbook. We caught him on a slow night. Tell us about the second edition of Assistant Engineers Handbook.

TC:
Well, Chad, as you know, there are lots of great technical books available that explain the technical details of equipment in the recording studio works. Anyone starting out in the recording industry must have this knowledge to do the job properly. Assistant Engineers Handbook is more of a drivers guide than an engine manual, so explanations of how equipment operates are not included. This a practical, hands-on guide to help the assistant engineer with his or her daily duties in a recording studio - aimed at helping people through their first few years in the studio.

CJ:
I've read some of the reviews, and they have been quite flattering. This second edition is over 300 pages, it's easy to read, easy to understand, yet very comprehensive.

TC:
Well, the reviews have been very positive. Response overall has been staggering. Assistant Engineers Handbook is in use in almost all the major recording schools in North America, plus many, many studios. Making the bestseller list on MusicBooks Plus (todays premier source for audio books) makes it one of the most popular recording studio manuals available today.

CJ:
You left Right Track Studios in New York City, and moved to Vancouver (Canada) a number of years ago to work at the prestigious Little Mountain Sound in Vancouver. What made you move there.

TC:
I was born and raised in Western Canada, and I think it is the most beautiful place on earth. When I was just out of high school, and working as a graphic designer, I decided to seriously pursue a career as a recording engineer. I moved to New York City to attend the Institute of Audio Research A great school for recording engineers. From there I worked in a few small recording studios around New York, also doing some freelance graphics and page layout for book publishers. Finally I got a job at Right Track Studios as a runner, and worked my way up.

CJ:
Right Track has had some pretty successful projects. It is probably one of the best studios in North America. You worked on a couple of Rolling Stones records, is that right?.

TC:
Well, I worked on one of Mick Jagger's solo records, and spent a couple of months on the Stones "Dirty Work" Record.

CJ:
They say that anyone that works on a Stones record comes away with some great stories. How about one?

TC:
Well, I remember one night. It was one of those quiet nights when there wasn't too much happening. We had been doing guitars long into the night. The lights were dim, and Keith Richards was asleep out on the sofa in the studio. I could see him, but just barely through the darkness. His assistant, Jane Rose, came in with some papers for him. I watched her go out into the studio, and walk over to the sofa where he was laying down. All of a sudden, through the dim lights, I see her drop her papers, and start beating on Keith's chest. I'm thinking, "Oh no, Keith's had a heart attack." I ran into the studio, and as I went in, I could smell smoke. Keith jumps up, and sparks are flying off of his shirt. Jane is patting him down to put out the fire. Finally, he stumbles into the control room, big smoldering hole in his shirt and says to everyone "hey, how do like my smoking jacket?"

CJ:
Great story. Why did you decide to move to Vancouver?

TC:
After living in New York for most of the 80's, my work visa was going to expire. When Little Mountain Sound in Vancouver offered me a job as Bob Rock's assistant engineer, I jumped at the chance to move back home to Canada. The first project I worked on was Bon Jovi, "Slippery when Wet", which was one of the biggest records of the decade. From there, every great band in the world came in. I worked on lots of big records there, many with Bob Rock, Bruce Fairbairn, and Mike Fraser.

CJ:
When did you start writing the Assistant Engineer Handbook?

TC:
I was working with Bob Clearmountain on Bryan Adams' "Into the Fire" at Warehouse studios, in Vancouver. Bob had a great little laptop computer, and Bryan and I were always playing around with it. At the end of the project, Bryan and Bob pitched in and bought me one of these laptops as a gift.

CJ:
Bryan Adams and Bob Clearmountain gave you the computer you used to write the book?

TC:
Yes. There was absolutely nothing written for today's assistant engineer. I had been keeping personal notes from years of sessions, and I had this paper bag full of scraps. I started organizing them on this computer. It was while I was engineering the guitars on The Cult "Sonic Temple", when I realized Î couldn't work in the studio all day, and then come home and write all night. I tend to put everything I have into a project, and often come home from the studio totally drained. I can't write like that, so I took some time off from engineering to write it.

CJ:
How long did it take to write.

TC:
Off and on, it took a couple of years. I did a few projects in between, but the first edition was finally completed in 1996. From there, reference copies were sent to all the recording schools in North America and most of them now use it in their curriculum. Its also in use at all five SAE's (School of Audio Engineering) in America. As I mentioned earlier, tghis brand new second edition is also available on our website via PayPal. 

CJ:
I know you have to get back to work here, but let me ask you one last question. I am a major Bob Dylan fan. You worked with him on the Empire Burlesque record. How was that? Do you have any Dylan stories.

TC:
It was amazing. He is a true genius of his generation. As you know, Dylan likes to draw and sketch. He did lots of drawings in the studio, but his assistant would collect them all up. One day he drew a sketch of me on the back of a track sheet. When his assistant went to grab it, I said "hey, I need that track sheet. Why don't I go and make a photocopy of the track sheet, and you can have this original sketch back." I casually strolled out of the control room, then bolted down the hallway. I not only made a photocopy of the track sheet, but I also copied the tracks onto a new tracksheet. I quickly sketched a rough copy of his drawing on the back of it, then crumpled it up a bit to make it look like the original. There was no way I was letting an original Dylan sketch of me out of my hands. I ran back to the studio, casually walked in, and gave his assistant the fake tracksheet with the fake drawing. I had the original drawing framed, and its hanging in my studio.

CJ:
What are your plans for the future?

TC:
I think we're going out for burgers.

CJ:
Thanks Tim, and good luck with the new book.
END.

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Tim Crich wrote and illustrated both the "Assistant Engineers Handbook" and "Recording Tips For Engineers". Tim has worked on CD's such as Rolling Stones Dirty Work, U2 Silver and Gold, John Lennon Live in NYC, Aretha Franklin Who's Zoomin' Who, Bob Dylan Empire Burlesque, David Bowie Tonight, Billy Joel Stormfront, Bryan Adams Waking Up The Neighbours, Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet, and Tuff Beans We are BUFF TEENS. Plus hundreds of jingles, dance mixes, movie and television soundtracks.