It’s two years since Michael Chiklis built his high spec LA recording studio complete with Audient mixing console, during which time he’s juggled family life along with multiple acting roles – and yet still managed to record an album. Released on 15 September, Influence is his first solo album, the entirety of which was recorded on his ASP8024.
Audient was curious to find out more about how he found the recording process, but started off by checking that he was pleased with the way it turned out.
Yes I’m very pleased. The board is almost like a member of the band on this record. Interestingly, the album is sonically cohesive, in spite of the fact that it is genre schizophrenic. It’s an extremely diverse album to say the least, yet it sounds like… me.
This is because of several factors: 1 everything was recorded in the same space; 2 the core rhythm section is the same throughout; 3 my voice is very specific and 4 the board tied everything together, capturing everything consistently, with warmth, character and clarity.
„The board is almost like a member of the band on this record.“
How did you find the experience? Were you hands-on with the desk yourself? Were there any particular features on the ASP8024 that stood out for you?
Prior to working with the ASP8024 I was downright console phobic! They always looked like the cockpit of a jet to me, a bridge too far for a lowly musician. Well, I’m proud to say that I actually set up the session and recorded the basics for Little Bit Of Funk (track 8) myself! I also did a lot of the comping throughout the whole record! I’m still no engineer but I learned so much through this process and I’m no longer intimidated by any board. The more I worked with my Audient, the more I realized how straight forward it is. Of course JT Graves engineered this album and I sat by his side as the artist/producer watching, listening, and learning… a lot.
What do you prefer about working on a console rather than in the box?
Well when you’re in the box it just feels like…you’re in a box. There’s a sizzle to the sound when it runs through the pre’s on a board, an analogue vibe that I think is innately more human. In the box is fine especially if you’re working on electronic dance mixes with a drum machine but this album has a big live band feel. The bass, drums, guitar and keyboard tracks are primarily single take stems with only a couple of punch-ins throughout – and I mean, like two on the whole record – so the bottom of every track is basically a live recording. Nothing like a board to sort that out.
Did you find it easy working on a big console?
As I said before, YES! The ease of the workflow made making this album possible given the time constraints. Even though it took over two years for me to complete this record, the whole thing was the product of maybe 12 sessions total. So the musicians came in, we set mics, ran sound checks, rehearsed and pressed record! In and out. Bang boom! Done! The console made it easy.
What creative advantages did the console bring to recording?
Again, some of these songs are ten piece band set ups, brass, percussion, the works! Try doing that “in the box” and making it sound live and authentic. Also, the board moved from genre to genre with us. We were able to achieve all these different sounds without being limited by a console that was good for one thing but not another.
What kind of feedback did you get from the other musicians? Tell us more about the album – you’ve worked with some very talented people.
Well this record really represents a part of who I am musically in a lot of respects. The album is called INFLUENCE because it’s an exploration of some of my favorite personal musical roots, bringing them into the present. Having the likes of Steve Lukather, Andres Forero, Scott Healy and so many other fantastic players on the album just made it that much more fun to make and obviously made for better, tastier recordings.
„The ease of the workflow made making this album possible given the time constraints […] Bang boom! Done! The console made it easy.“
So the first single, In Front Of Your Eyes is already out, and it sounds great! We love the way you describe it as a ‘southern fried rocking storyteller song’. How has it been received so far?
Thank you! Well, the fact that Billboard is now doing the exclusive premiere drop for the album speaks volumes. That and the feedback that I’ve received from the fans and fellow actors and musicians has been just awesome.
It’s still a little frustrating just getting people to listen. It’s very noisy out there and no one was looking for music from me. So now the next phase of this whole process is getting the music out there. At the same time, one of the greatest joys has been hearing from the people who have just been turned on to the music. Once they actually hear it, they’re on board. (Pun intended) [Haha very good! – Audient]
Do you find it easy to find time to focus on your music in between acting roles?
No, frankly. I’m a husband and a father of two in addition to having a busy film and television career, not to mention the rest of life’s demands. For many years, that left almost no time to focus on my music so I just kept playing and kept my foot in the door. Now that my children are grown, my wife and I have more time to pursue some of the things we’re most passionate about. For her it’s fashion, for me it’s music.
„…some of these songs are ten piece band set ups, brass, percussion, the works! Try doing that “in the box” and making it sound live and authentic […] the board moved from genre to genre with us.“
What is your proudest moment?
Assuming you mean musically, I would have to say the day the first CDs arrived. When you write, produce, record and distribute an album on your own label, it’s a labor of love and when you’ve actually done it, seen it through to fruition, that’s something to be proud of.
Every time I see that album cover I just smile.
What advice would you give yourself, a passionate musician and actor just starting out?
Get out of your own way and don’t allow others to set limitations on what you can accomplish. Just go for it. Build it and they will come.
What’s next for you in your musical career?
I think I might put together a tour. That sounds like good fun to me.