Alan Moulder:
Self-taught Audio Kingpin

By Stephanie Jorgl

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“Before working with a band, I’ll usually listen to the demo and then discuss with them what elements we like and which ones we’d want to change,” explains Alan Moulder, the twice Grammy-nominated producer/engineer behind moody alternative music masterpieces from artists like The Jesus & Mary Chain (JAMC) and My Bloody Valentine, to Nine Inch Nails and The Smashing Pumpkins.

“Then in the studio, we’ll build up the song, starting with the rhythm section and adding instrumentation until we’re happy with it,” he adds. “The use of computers in this type of recording really can help this process. You can chop and change the arrangement to try things out in a way you simply can’t with tape.”

Nine Inch Nails Thanks to the influence of his older, music-loving siblings, Moulder got into music at a very early age. “I was hearing all types of bands from Tamla Motown, Beatles, Cream and early Bee Gees. Then I got into playing in bands at around 16,” says Moulder. “But after doing a demo in a local studio, I decided I would rather be an engineer than a guitarist. From the first moment I was in a studio I loved it and knew it was something I wanted to do,” he says.

“I decided this was more for me than being in a band, so I really concentrated on trying to be a great engineer,” he says. “I liked the idea of being creatively involved so production was the next logical step.”

First Impressions
Moulder was lured by good production from the time he bought his first album, even though—at the time—he didn’t realize that was what he was drawn to. “When I bought my first album ‘ Electric Warrior’ by T.Rex, I loved the sound of it and thought it must have been a good vinyl pressing,” explains Moulder. “It never occurred to me that it had to do with production or engineering.”

He got his first experience with computer sequencing while producing a solo album with his now wife, Toni Halliday, before she was in the band Curve.

Next page: Producing with Pro Tools, Logic and Reason

Alan Moulder

1. Self-Taught Audio Kingpin
2. Producing with Pro Tools, Logic and Reason
3. From Retro Sampling to Virtual Instruments

In the Studio
(part 1 of 3)

The Downward Spiral
“I first got into the audio manipulation side when working on ‘The Downward Spiral’ with Nine Inch Nails,” he says. “Trent had a four-channel Pro Tools 2 set up on which he was running Opcode’s Studio Vision. I was so impressed with what he was doing that I bought the same set up as soon as I got back.

“Although he is considered more of an artist, I think Trent Reznor is an absolute genius producer,” adds Moulder. “I learned a lot from him.”

Useful Links

Nine Inch Nails
The Smashing Pumpkins

Digidesign’s Pro Tools
Emagic’s Logic Audio

Power Mac
Cinema Display

Audio Interfaces
Digidesign’s A-D Converters

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