It has been a while, hasn’t it?
To anyone wondering if the date of my last post on the News section bore any special significance I can say ‘Yes, it does’.
After writing that entry my wife called me to say she had gone into labour a week early and by 8pm that evening we were clutching our new daughter Alexia Winifred Crow.
That game-changer pretty much derailed efforts to keep this section of the site up to date, but I have been dribbling news through our Twitter feed and Facebook page which I can do on the fly, and also takes less time – a commodity which has become ever more precious over the past 14 months!
Anyway, I’m going to try and do a proper round up of the highlights just so this page looks less abandoned, so here goes…
I believe it was in August 2010 that we sent amps out to Dave Grohl’s house in LA as Foo Fighters began to record their first record in a few years (Wasting Light). James Brown who was engineering had asked if I could send some out as he had heard good things from our mutual friend Al Moulder. Both Dave and Chris ended up using both Big and Little Choppers on multiple parts on the majority of songs. When I met up with them at Wembley in February they were both very complimentary, saying that the amps complimented their other amps really well indeed.
I saw them at a few subsequent shows which Chris kindly got me passes for. And yes, they are as nice in person as they seem on camera and on stage.
Butch gave me a few kind words in interviews he did about the making of the record, and has subsequently been telling plenty of folk about the amps – he has also got Garbage into them too, and there is a Big Chopper and The Big Trees order pending.
James Brown subsequently took the Big Chopper he bought out to record with Arctic Monkeys in January of 2011 and it became the stalwart of all of Jamie Cook’s dirty sounds. Hear for yourself on Suck It And See. Pretty rocking.
Subsequently Jamie ordered a Big Chopper and 2×12″ in fancy wood and grille cloth which looked stunning, and got plenty of compliments when I dropped it off to him at RAK in West London. He was a happy bunny.
Steve Albini had the Little Chopper from the Foos session couriered to his studio in January 2011. He got on very well with it and has been using it for anything from acoustic guitars to country flat-pickers and way beyond. Who amongst us doesn’t have at least one cherished record that has Mr Albini’s touch on it? Suffice it to say: I’m thrilled that one of my amps “will be well loved” at Electrical Audio.
Is anybody still reading this?
Someone I had long wanted to get in contact with was Yannis Philippakis from Foals.
When Al Moulder was mixing Total Life Forever I was at the studio for something or other, and heard a bit of the Spanish Sahara mix. Since hearing that, and even more so once the record came out, I was captivated. Eventually in December 2010 I managed to get a Big Chopper and 2×12” in my car and took it up to Yannis to play with over Christmas. We got on well and he instantly loved the way that the frequency response of the amp was even from bottom to top on the guitar neck. Apparently this was a constant frustration with the amps he had been using up until that point. Listen for lots of Audio Kitchen on the next record, possibly on the bass too…
In April I had an email from The Killers’ drummer Ronnie Vannucci who was mixing his solo project – Big Talk – and had used a Little Chopper for overdubs. He was interested in buying a custom one. When we finally met I took a Big Chopper with me just so he could hear it and by the time I left he had talked himself into two Sapele finished Big Choppers and 2x12s. They came out really well and looked great on TV and in the videos they were in. He also became one of the first customers for The Big Trees (TBTs) which I still haven’t told you about. Later. Ronnie’s Big Chops and TBTs are currently in The Killers’ studio being used to write tunes for the next record.
A couple of sessioneers bought Big Chops last year too:
Matt White, who plays for more people than I can mention here, has been using it to great effect with James Morrison, and consequently he and it are on a vid from the iTunes festival at the Roundhouse this past summer.
Fraser MacColl (yes, those MacColls) who is playing with Born Blonde amongst others at the moment, came in with a Gretsch he’d decided to sell and went home with a guitar he’d fallen back in love with and an invoice for a Big Chopper and 2×12”. If you get a chance to catch them – Do it, because they’re great!!
In amongst all of this, a good friend of mine, Jamie Quantrill, asked if I’d like him to make a short film about Audio Kitchen. To be honest, initially I wasn’t especially keen as I can’t bear to see myself on camera, but he talked me around. In the end it was kind of fun, what with haring around the countryside to get festival footage on beautiful summer afternoons, pints in great pubs and hashing out the ‘story’ in edits. Have a look and see what you think. It almost made my wife cry but she wouldn’t tell me if that was good or really, really bad…
Jesse Quinn who plays bass in Keane, lives just down the road from my workshop (and always brings biscuits when he drops in) has become a good friend over the past year or so. He became besotted with the Base Chopper and ended up tracking most of the bass for the new Keane record through it. He also became a courier of amps back and forth between here and Tim’s studio down in Sussex where they did lots of the writing, so there will be all kinds of instruments on the record which were recorded through AK amps, including his TBTs prototype… Even keyboards. Perish the thought.
Death Cab For Cutie is a band I got into (probably at the same time as everyone else) when they released Transatlanticism, which is an amazing record if you’ve not heard it. When I spotted Chris Walla after a Foos gig it took me a little time to summon up the courage to go and speak to him, but once I told him I almost supported DCFC years ago, and he already knew of me and AK as Al Moulder (once again!!) had mixed their most recent record, we got on like a house on fire. We kept in touch but it was not until the tragic collapse of a stage in Ontario, and a serendipitous email from me a couple of days later that Chris would type ‘…let’s build some amps’. He has been playing a Big Chopper live every night since it arrived in Cincinnati and so far is the only thing in the rig which has NOT had a problem of some kind. His amp is named after my 5 year old’s ever-faithful companion Bear Bear, and I hope Chris’ amp will offer the same tireless and never-failing support to him as Bear Bear has to Amelia.
Young bands? I have got to know both Freddie Vaccines and Harry and Charles from White Lies too over the last few months. Freddie is finalizing the order on a pretty extensive rig for the next record in March after falling in love with both The Big Chopper and TBTs.
White Lies have just finished touring their last record and after having lots of problems with Harry’s amps, hired a Little Chopper for the last tour. I went to see them at Wembley and have to say (as did the FoH engineer and the techs) that Harry’s sound was remarkably clear and defined compared to the other guitar sound. In case you’re wondering, they are all on in-ear monitors which is why the Little Chopper coped very well indeed thank-you very much. WL are looking to start work on the next record and are also finalizing their order which will include guitar and bass amps, but I’ll say no more on that for now.
Harry also owns TBTs #2.
Just thought I’d drop that in there.
Two more Base Choppers to Jared KoL, three – Yes, THREE!!!! - Big Choppers to Duran Duran, our first 8×10, Little Squirrel prototype, initial talks with Queens of The Stone Age, Gil Norton flipping out about TBTs, Jane’s Addiction, Garbage and Matchbox 20 new records and other stuff happened too, but I’m running out of steam even if you aren’t, so I’ll probably finish there and call that 2011 news done.
Except to say, that I recommend you go and have a look at The Big Trees section on the Products page. If initial signs are anything to go by, you will be hearing much more from those little boxes.