“I needed an analog board to mix on, but I didn't want anything too big, so I checked out the Soundcraft Ghost console,” Anderson says. “When I first hooked up the Ghost, I played one of my recordings and the songs sounded exactly how I wanted them to sound, right away. All the magic I wanted just kicked in.”
From 1986 to 2003, Anderson was best known as Dwight Yoakam's producer, lead guitarist and music partner. Since then, Anderson has produced albums for top country artists such as Tanya Tucker and Mark Chesnutt, while embarking on his own solo career and starting his own label, Little Dog Records. In all of Anderson's work, his irreverence for the mundane is apparent, but so too is the respect he holds for his musical roots. This respect lies not only in the composition of songs he produces and plays, but in the sonic elements as well.
In Anderson's mind, the tools used to record and mix a song are as important as the instruments used to play the songs. “I think of myself as a sound architect, I'm looking at a certain place I want to take a record,” he says. “With analog boards, you can push the faders and push the EQ to get that analog distortion—the kind of sound that made Chess recordings so memorable and Ray Charles' voice so iconic.”
The Soundcraft Ghost has been a perfect fit for Anderson as well as his collaborators in the studio. “The other thing that's so great about the Ghost is it has channels of analog strips and in the aux section you can do all your effects,” Anderson says. “A lot of engineers like the convenience of digital, being able to use a mouse and all that, but they still like to mix with faders and a tangible surface.”
Anderson recently completed production of Mark Chesnutt's latest release, Outlaw—a record of Chesnutt performing classics from the “Outlaw Country” sub-genre, featuring tracks from the likes of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Hank Williams, Jr. True to form, Outlaw represents Anderson's rebellious-yet-reverential approach. “The idea wasn't to take these songs and change them, but we did want to tighten up the arrangements from the originals,” Anderson said.
In late 2009, Anderson released a solo album, Even Things Up, which showcases his appreciation for—and mastery of—the blues. “For Even Things Up, I wanted to play straight blues,” he says. “I think the blues world is very interesting because it's a broad umbrella—there are no sonic boundaries. In country, there's a ceiling for what you can do because every act needs to be marketable. But with the blues, you're not planning on selling a million records and there's a creative freedom that goes with that. At the same time, you can find a blues festival every day of the year and the blues will always resonate with listeners.”
While Even Things Up represents a revisiting of Anderson's musical roots, the Soundcraft Ghost enables him to revisit his sonic roots as well. “The Ghost is an unbelievable fit to add that soft edge to digital recordings, which can sound so hard.”
For more information on Little Dog Records, please visit www.littledogrecords.com
For more information on Pete Anderson, please visit www.peteanderson.com