In The Studio With Lewis Johns: Gnarwolves

By Tom Aylott

Producer extraordinaire Lewis Johns gives us the lowdown on what’s going on at The Ranch in Southampton from time to time, and for this edition he’s taking us through the recording of one of the most anticipated UK punk albums of the year…

Who are you recording at the moment, and what have they been recording?

I’ve just finished producing and mixing the first full length from Gnarwolves.

How did your relationship with the band begin? How did they hear about your studio and were you a fan of theirs previously?

We were discussing this in the studio and realised we met about 4 years ago. My old band played a show with Thom and Max’s old band Kasa and they invited us out to the mainland to tour with them. We’ve been friends ever since and I recorded their previous two EPs. I think Gnarwolves are a rare breed of band who, in their genre, play music just for fun. The other stuff doesn’t matter to them, which has made it incredibly satisfying to see their success grow over the years.

What set up have the band generally been using in the studio?

The aim for this record was to make a BIG rock record, but to still retain the vibe of their live show which is really energetic. For the previous few EP’s we’d always track everything live and do things very quickly and keep it pretty punk, but I wanted to take a little more time for this one to get the source material right and layer up certain elements. To achieve this, Max laid down his drum takes with the other guys playing along in the room with no click (apart from 1 song), and once they felt good we’d start layering the other elements on top. Myself, Thom and Charlie would decide what tones could be cool for each section of the song and slowly start to build from there. It’s a really dynamic record because of it, and even though it’s more polished than the previous EPs, I think we still managed to keep the vibe pretty similar.

Were there any new techniques or new gear that you’ve tried out in the sessions? How did they work out?

I really liked the drum room sound I got which was mainly down to a wide stereo pair of condensers about 2/3 into the room, but behind baffles. Nothing revolutionary, but I read somewhere that this technique was used to capture the majority of the latest Paramore drum room sound which I thought sounded great (goodbye street cred). it worked really well in our lively big room and helped to cut out some of the cymbal spill.

What’s been your standout moment of the recording process for this session?

All of Max’s vocal parts which made it, and didn’t make it onto the record, still have me smiling now thinking about them.

What’s next on the agenda after this recording?

I have a few weeks of mixing ahead of me now, including some cool live projects involving Crashburn Media. I’m also going on tour with my band Goodtime Boys.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next edition (which features Pariso and Svalbard), and check out some snaps Lewis took across the sessions below…

photo 2 (1)

photo 3 (1)

photo 5

photo 2 (2)

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]