Studio 880 producer/owner John Lucasey (pictured) acquired a Digidesign ICON Integrated console for his facility in Oakland, Calif., which has been one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most in-demand studios since it opened in 1998. “Jeff Salzman, the Killers’ producer, introduced me to the ICON,” Lucasey explains. “Jeff does a lot of work here, and he had his ICON in Studio A. When he set up his own studio and moved the ICON out, there was no way I was going to be without one.”
The facility houses four studios along with 22 production offices, making it one of the largest dedicated recording studios in Northern California. Bands like Smash Mouth, Blackalicious, Switchfoot and Keith Urban call Studio 880 home, as does Green Day, whose best-selling albums, Warning and the Grammy-winning American Idiot, were written and recorded there. The title track from American Idiot, which was partly recorded at Studio 880, won a 2005 Technical Excellence and Creativity (TEC) Award in the “Record Production/Single or Track” category.
“Initially I was opposed to the idea of the ICON,” Lucasey admits. “All of my consoles were SSLs and Neves, and I had always been of the mindset that a half-million-dollar, 2,500-pound console that costs $1,500 a month to power must be better. But then I had a couple of projects that were essentially tied to the ICON; it would have taken too much time and effort to move them over to analog console and back, so I was kind of forced into working with the ICON. As I started learning my way around it, I was completely floored at what it was capable of. Within a couple of months, I went out and bought one for Studio C, which is essentially my own private room.”
Studio C is equipped with a 32-fader ICON D-Control, as well as two Pro Tools HD3 Accel systems with an array of plug-ins. “Pro Tools plug-ins have made a tremendous leap in the last couple of years, both in the range of offerings and in their quality,” says Lucasey. “Many times they outweigh what my analog outboard gear can do. And the ability to recall every setting and parameter on every plug-in is invaluable when you’re working on as many projects as we are here.”
Recent projects in the room have included mixing sessions for Norah Jones, Joss Stone and Chris Cornell. One of Lucasey’s most demanding projects is Soundcheck, a series of exclusive music video showcases in partnership with Walmart.com, which have included mixes for Yellowcard, Switchfoot, Ne-Yo, Jewel and Julie Roberts, as well as mastering the Goo Goo Dolls, Rascal Flatts and Miranda Lambert.
“I’m typically doing five to 10 mixes per artist, two artists per week,” says Lucasey. “I send those mixes to the record labels for approval, and then implement any changes they ask for. If I had to do total recall of that many mixes on an analog console, it just wouldn’t be happening. With the ICON, everything’s just a click away—routing, automation, scenes—everything’s exactly as I left it.”