It's All About The Bass
Mark Egan has been a first-call studio musician in New York for some 40 years; in fact, it was in 1976 that he joined the renowned Pat Metheny group, recorded three records with him, and plenty of bootlegs, “which were coming out all over the place,” Egan says, with a smile. It was a real moment for the multi-instrumentalist, as he tells Headliner:
“For me, it was a big shock playing with Pat [Metheny]; and that eventually led me to form my own group called Elements, which is a duo – me and Pat’s drummer, Danny Gottlieb. We have an amazing rapport having played together for so long - and we should do, considering it’s been 45 years!”
Egan is no stranger to the recording environment, as expected from any session musician, but he was also once owner of a state-of- the-art, John Stork-designed studio, which he sold to his good friend and musical accomplice, Karl Latham.
“I’ve known Karl a long time; he’s a fantastic drummer, and I recently played on his Living Standards record,” Egan explains. “It was Karl that first introduced me to RME equipment, which has made quite a difference to my workflow; he brought in an RME Fireface UFX interface to the studio, and after hearing what it could do, the sound quality, and the ease of use, I felt I had to have one myself.”
Egan’s currently in the process of revamping a studio that he has rebuilt at home (which is now Connecticut), put together by FM Design, who he describes as ‘an incredible acoustician’.
“I am so happy with the sound of UFX, and I’m looking forward to seeing the UFX Plus when it comes out, which is going to be a beefed-up version of it, from what I can gather,” Egan enthuses. “As a bassist, it’s the sound of the converters on the UFX that are so pristine; my sound is generally clean, and it really does deliver perfect audio from the source every time. Though I’m not always a clean bassist, thinking about it... [smiles]
"I remember when I recorded the Joan Osborne record, One of Us, I recorded on a home-made enclosure with 15-inch speaker, which just about fitted into the cottage we recorded at, and the speaker blew, and that sound became part of that record! But what I’m really saying is, all RME kit translates whatever you’re doing perfectly.”
Egan was also the bassist on Duran Duran’s Arcadia album, and was recently reunited with Le Bon and co. at a show in New York.
“That was another record of note for me, and really put me on the map in terms of the rock genre,” Egan reflects. “That record was very creative, and I think it really holds up; people know those guys as MTV glamour musicians of the 80s, but that record was more than that. It was great to hook up with them again.”
So what about the role of a session musician today – hasn’t it become almost null and void in this technology-centric society?
“In many ways, yes,” Egan admits. “A lot of the scene has totally changed from not only the ‘70s and ‘80s, but even up to 2000 and beyond. I attribute it to a lot of factors: yes, there is always going to be a changing of the guard where people get older, and new blood comes in; but studios had to close because they couldn’t compete with the new technology, and small studios making records. For instance, I’d get called to play on a soundtrack for a movie or commercial, and it’d be a full band playing a demo to see if we could win the contract, whereas now, it’s les being pinged back and forth, so there’s not as much concentration.
“But I embrace it, because I have to; and people send me tracks now, so it’s important to have my own studio... [pauses] But I do miss playing with my bros! The detrimental thing is that there’s not as much live performance in the studio these days; it’s a different way of working. You morph together on parts, talk about things, and come to an agreement, whereas it was once free flowing, and all about coming up with creative ideas. With a file, the creativity ends there, and there’s no conversation.”
An interesting point, and one for all musicians to ponder. Egan is clearly a live music lover, and due to the amount of shows he plays, he has to have a mobile rig.
"I have just ordered the RME Babyface Pro; that’s for my mobile unit, as it’s the perfect interface to use directly with my laptop,” Egan explains. “The transparency is fantastic, and there is no latency on playback; Babyface Pro also has the same A-D converters as the UFX, so the quality is phenomenal, and it packs the same power and a lot of the same functionality - it’s just way more portable. It also has 12 inputs, so you could do a whole band, no problem – I mean, The Beatles only had a four-track at the beginning, right? [smiles]”
For more on Mark Egan, CLICK HERE
To find out more about the RME Audio kit that he relies on, CLICK HERE