Alan Sacha Laskow is a Canadian producer / guitarist that plays in Every Hour Kills and works behind the desk of his own studio, Perfect Filth Productions.
#1 – Last time we talked we didn’t really touch on your time with Divinity. There must be some huge differences in the gear and approach for Divinity vs. Every Hour Kills, what was your gear and approach to tone like in those days?
Definitely! This will prove how OLD I am but back then this was before the Axe-FX came in to prevalence. So, I was still using a huge rack with all kinds of crazy MIDI routers and mixers and Eventides and pedals etc. etc. + tube amps. It was fun in a way to always be researching all the craziest gear, I also tried a lot of different amps and cabs and got to know what my favorite flavors of high gain are and what worked best in the mix. Then Fractal came along and turned the tone world upside down.
#2 – Your studio is gorgeous but everyone starts somewhere so let’s talk about the average home studio for a few here. In your opinion, what are three crucial components every home studio needs to have?
I’d say to start out you need a decent computer with some DAW software of your choice, a recording interface and something to listen on like monitors or headphones.
#3 – The world of home recording can be very difficult land to traverse while getting started or even with experience. What are three techniques or skill sets that beginners should always be trying to improve on?
The biggest thing I would say is training your ears, and the best way to do that is just putting in the hours and gaining experience. Lots of referencing and comparing what you are doing to the pros which can be painful but is a huge learning experience as well. Recording yourself can be vastly humbling, putting your playing under the microscope will be uncomfortable at first but will make you grow. Lastly after that I would say learn the basics of the engineering aspects of recording: proper gain staging, how signal processors work, the functions of your DAW etc. will be key to helping get decent sounding recordings when you first start out.
#4 – A big misconception these days is that people need to buy the best and most expensive or current in audio plugins to sound good. What are a few of the most effective free or low cost plugins you have found a love for?
I’ve always been a proponent of some of the smaller companies out there, I think they are pushing the envelope and making some of my favorite stuff. I’d give a shout out to Tokyo Dawn Labs on this one, Fabian and Vlad are absolute geniuses.
#5 – That said, there’s also nothing wrong with staying current and cutting edge if your job is running a studio so what new software, be it amp sims, processing, drum software or other have you excited these days?
There’s a ton of great stuff coming out all the time, it’s a sweet time to be a creative! A few things that have blown my nuts of lately are the amp sims from STL Tones and Neural DSP and a ‘smart EQ’ plugin called Gulfoss.
#6 – What methods do you use to warm up or create a touch more realism when working with amp sims?
A little bit of saturation can help sit it in the mix, something like Slate VCC, an SSL-style console strip or an Acustica preamp. I’ve also experimented with room IRs blended in slightly or a touch of room reverb, that can be fun to dink around with.
#7 – What’s your general process for tracking and mixing rhythm guitar?
That is a larger question than I can answer here! I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to tracking guitar since I believe most of the tone comes from the source. New strings every song, hard playing, tight editing and a nice clean signal path are a good start. If you get those parts right then things become easier at mix time, and you end up enhancing the tone instead of trying to fix it. When the source is good I’m not doing anything crazy in the mix, just your standard bit of EQ, maybe a bit of compression and saturation for some movement and sometimes a touch of stereo widening.
#8 – I am assuming you have a truckload of impulses like myself but I find myself always gravitating around trusted and true options in moments where I need something that works on the spot. Which impulse response packs or companies do you find yourself gravitating towards in similar situations?
Ownhammer and ML sound pretty much cover things for me!
#9 – In your role behind the desk, which hardware amps and cabs do you find the most reliable, versatile and least problematic to work with?
Juicy mids are where it’s at, so I enjoy the classics like a good ol 5150, EVH, Engl Savage, things like that. Archons are nice for something newer.
#10 – What bands or artists will be rolling through your Perfect Filth studio doors in the near to not-so-distant future?
Lately I’ve been working on some mixes for one of my favorite Calgary bands called Vallite. I did their last album as well and they are awesome so go check them out!
We hope to talk to Alan more in the future as his experience with home recording, amp sims and his love for the guitar all offer a lot to draw from. In the meantime, check out Alan’s current work with Every Hour Kills, past work with Divinity and his work behind the desk producing stellar sounding recordings.