MCTS Santa Barbara-A Regular Recording Session

Life's A Long Song
With a focus on songwriting, arrangement and performance

ParSonics Studios
Date: July 27th, 2019
Country: USA
Venue: ParSonics Studios
Event: MCTS Level 3
Producer: Alan Parsons
Engineer: Noah Bruskin
Artist: Uncle Uncle
Event Manager: Terry Shields
Event Producer: Julian Colbeck


The third session in our inaugural series of master classes at Alan's state-of-the-art studios in Santa Barbara was a classic one-day recording session, where Alan recorded a full tracking session, overdubs and vocals in a single day.


In these days of endless versions, revisions, options, undos and redos, the biggest challenge can be coming up with a final product that other people can listen to. Even Alan says that today mixes are never finished, they're just abandoned.

Sometimes it can be beneficial to impose your own limits and challenges and Day 3 of this inaugural round of master classes at ParSonics did and was just that: Take a band, find a song and record and mix it in a day in front of a live audience of reasonably experienced (and some extremely experienced) audio folk.

Santa Barbara indie rockers Uncle Uncle featuring songwriter Kevin Cappon, bassist Dominic Burnham, drummer Nick Fields and guitarist Christian Edstrom were up for it and arrived with two demos to present to Alan and the field of sixteen attendees. The first, a catchy, poppy song entitled How To Get Along and the second, somewhat of an epic called Michael Cohen's Blues. Although the demos were basic (as they should be), the band had been playing the first song live for more than a year and the arrangement was tight.

Which turned out to be the first 'challenge' since Alan immediately sought changes, both to the structure and some of the chords. Kevin bravely performed the song in the control room as Alan and attendees shouted "yea, go to F#m7 THEN B... dadadadada etc, a occasion to which he rose with aplomb.

The arrangement duly fixed it was back in the live room to make sure the band was onboard with the new structure: pretty tough after you've been playing the old one for so long.

Alan and engineer Noah Bruskin set up the drum mics, DI-ed the bass via an On-Stage 500 Passive DI box, and had Edstrom's guitar, spangling nicely though a small Fender tweed combo in an iso booth, miced using a choice of AKG D190E, Rode NTR AP-2 (AP=Alan Parsons) and a 57.

Overdubs were quite minimal on the track: some acoustic and electric guitar, and then vocals. Unusually for Alan, the lead vocal was not double tracked; Alan feeling that the style of the song better suited a vocal sound that was more open and raw. Bassist Dom Burnham handled a variety of backing vocal parts (harmonies, oohs, chants) one one track and in pretty much one take - one of the benefits of having played the song live for so long.

After an excellent lunch of wood-fired pizza (a large oven on a trailer appearing outside the studio complex at 11 o' clock) it was back in the studio to complete the track with both a Surround and stereo mix. Then came the mix A/B between the original demo and the new recording. Two bars in and there wasn't much confusion as to which was better. As one would have certainly hoped.

The ParSonics control room fit the 16 attendees snugly. More would have been a little too friendly. But with the stylish kitchen area - the walls almost literally plastered with Gold and Platinum records - and the expansive decking area with view of the Pacific to die for, there was plenty of opportunity for free movement if you wanted a quick ear-refresh.

ParSonics Studios

At 7 o'clock, and following a quick final Q&A, certificate signing and photo taking, Alan and his wife Lisa generously invited everyone up to the house for drinks and snacks until dusk. And so capped an action-packed day that began with a rough demo and ended with a new recording and two mix formats.

Life did indeed seem 'a long song' at the end of that.

The Venue

ParSonics studio is situated on Alan Parsons' at his Tres Vientos Ranch in the hills above Santa Barbara. This state-of-the-art facility has a 32-channel Neve 5088 analog console, 5.1 monitoring through B&W 802 Diamond Loudspesakers and a selection of microphones collected by Alan over his 40+ year long career such as his Neumann U47 FET (Field-Effect Transistor) and British Coles 4038 ribbon mics as well as interesting newer items like the Neve RNR1 ribbon mic, personally given to Alan by Rupert Neve. Talk about bragging rights! The control room looks through to a generous sized tracking room with adjoining iso booths. The facility has its own luxurious green room and catering area; a spacious patio area overlooks the Pacific Ocean and can accommodate both dining and outside seminars. ParSonics was completed in 2018 and was used in the recording of Alan Parsons' most recent album The Secret, released on the Frontiers label May 2019.

Uncle Uncle

The Artist

Uncle Uncle is an indie rock arrangement based in Santa Barbara, California. The band began as a recording project when songwriter Kevin Cappon (guitar, vocals) approached producer/multi-instrumentalist Dom Burnham (bass, vocals) with a batch of songs in 2017. Quickly realizing that the two wanted to expand their sound and begin playing live-shows, Uncle Uncle added jazz-trained virtuoso Christian Edstrom (guitar) and math-rock compleat Nick Fields (drums). The group self-released two homemade EP’s, one in mid-2018 and the other on New Year’s Day, 2019 both to positive reviews. The latter, the Jawbone Wells EP, garnered the attention of the Santa Barbara Independent magazine, who named Uncle Uncle as “the one new Santa Barbara band worth getting to know in 2019.”

Within a year of playing their first gig, and inside of six months since the release of their first DIY project, Uncle Uncle had filled the premier club in their hometown (SOHO) and attracted a worldwide audience with “Nira (I’m Alive)” landing on the “right side of the algorithm”-being featured on Spotify’s All New Indie playlist.

INSTAGRAM: @uncleuncleband FACEBOOK:

The Producer

Alan Parsons was trained at Abbey Road Studios in London, working under the direction of Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick and Beatles producer George Martin. After working with The Beatles on Let It Be and Abbey Road Alan started working as a full-fledged engineer with Paul McCartney, Wings, George Harrison, and countless other artists who came to Abbey Road studios.

In 1972 Alan became the sole engineer working with Pink Floyd on Dark Side Of The Moon, a record which would go on to sell more than 45m copies. (Alan's legendary 'Quad' mix of Dark Side Of The Moon was finally included on the Immersion Edition 6 CD Boxed Set.)

Alan went on to become one of the most successful producers of the 1970s and 1980s, producing a string of hits with artists such as Pilot, Al Stewart, Ambrosia, Cockney Rebel, John Miles and of course The Alan Parsons Project, a concept created by himself and Eric Woolfson.

Post 'Project' Alan Parsons has continued to work as an independent producer with such artists as Jake Shimabukuro, Steven Wilson and Yes. Alan runs a highly successful touring band (The Alan Parsons Live Project).

In 2019 Alan released his fifth solo album The Secret, much of which was recorded and all of which was mixed at ParSonics Studio.


Saturday July 27th 2019

  • 09.30–10.00 Welcome, Registration. Coffee and pastries.
  • 10.00–10.45 Alan introduces the band, plays the demo and sets goals for the day.
  • 10.45–1.00 Tracking session rhythm section, keys and guitar.
  • 1.00–2.00 Lunch with Alan and the musicians.
  • 2.00–4.15 Instrumental overdubs.
  • 4.15–4.30 Tea Break.
  • 4.30–6.30 Vocals and a rough mix

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