Memphis, TN (April 11, 2004)–Thus far in his career, producer/engineer Pete Matthews has recorded and lived in such music hotspots as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Nashville. He prefers, however, to work in his beloved home of Memphis, and recording facility, Ardent Studios. Matthews has become such a mainstay client for Ardent that they recently opted to build him a new, private studio stuffed with his favorite equipment, a set up dominated by API gear.
In addition to the atmosphere and track record, Matthews appreciates Ardent for its acoustically superior recording environments. “I can get a really great rock record out of this place,” offered Matthews. “Both tracking rooms have incredible, unique sounds to them. Ardent has two real echo chambers here–I’m a real fan of analog reverb–and they have three tube-driven EMT plates. They have all the old toys that I really like.”
The B-52’s recently booked the API-laden Ardent Studios in Memphis. Seen taking a break in the studio gardens are (l-r): Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland, Cindy Wilson, producer/engineer Tom Durack, Kate Pierson, producer/engineer Pete Matthews, and assistant engineer Adam Hill.
“I’m really psyched about it,” said Matthews, while broaching the subject of his digs. “Among the API gear I have are 26 channels of 512C mic/line pre-amps, 25 550B four-band EQs, four 560 graphic EQs, six 525 compressors, and a 64-input 8200 summing mixing system with a master section and buss compressor. My goal for the studio is to take some of the financial burden off my development projects and make it a little easier on that end. Studio time costs money, and industry profit margins aren’t what they used to be. As a result, record labels aren’t developing like they used to, either. Now the responsibility of development falls to guys like me.”
By having a 64-input 8200 summing mixing system, Matthews explained, he essentially has a complete API console at his fingertips. “For the 8200 system, master section and buss compressor, I had the tech here at Ardent wire up a patchbay,” he shared. “I’ve have my own Pro Tools HD Accel system with 48-outputs wired to the patchbay, which is normalled to the inputs of the API. So, along with all of my outboard gear, I basically have a console with the inserts and enough EQs and compressors to have an insert on every channel, not to mention plug-ins. As soon as I’m used to the room, I’m going to start mixing there.”
Matthews has used nearly every piece of great recording gear commercially available during his extensive musical pursuits. So why is there such a dominating number of API processors in his own racks? “I just love all their stuff,” Matthews said simply. “The headroom of API mic pre-amps, in my opinion, is the biggest and best sounding of anything anyone ever made. Especially for anything with transients–like drums–they’re great. With API EQs, you can put something like a 550B in line and immediately the signal sounds better. Everything they make has usable frequencies and makes good sense. Also, it’s all well made. I’ve hardly ever had any technical issues with API stuff, and obviously, I have a lot of it.”
Matthews, who originally arrived in Memphis to pursue a performance degree as a jazz trumpet player, quickly found it a great place to be because of the city’s great musical culture and his fledgling love of recording. Consequently, he has become an in-demand producer, engineer, and mixer with a discography boasting musically groundbreaking clients such as the North Mississippi All-Stars. It’s clear that Memphis and Matthews both benefit from the other’s existence.
“During college I kept doing recording on the side, and in doing so, I started to realize the depth of musical history here in Memphis,” explains Matthews. “This town is just seething with musical energy. Being here, in Memphis and at Ardent, is just great for me. A lot of people think that culture radiates from the coasts inward, but I happen to believe that it works both ways. I’ve lived in a lot of great towns, but there’s an energy around Memphis that’s been untapped. I’m trying to tap it.”