Josh Hack and engineer Andrew Burn started recording together a couple of years ago when drummer/engineer Hack’s band, Gravity Burn, visited the studio Burn used to operate out of his parents’ basement. Hack joined forces with Burn, and both engineers really hit their stride.
Drummer/studio owner/engineer Josh Hack (left) with co-engineer Andrew Burn
“Our personalities mesh, and what I lack he has, and what he lacks I have. I’ve expanded his production and engineering horizons, and he’s expanded my technical knowledge of mixing and sonic surgery,” Hack observes.
When bands started lining up outside the Burn family’s door, Burn’s folks asked that the studio be moved to a new “home.” Hack and Burn found a serviceable office space that they were able to turn into a well-built four-room facility, Virtuo Sound Studio (Canton, Ga.; www.virtuosoundstudio.com), which they constructed with the help of another musician friend, Mike Burke of Michael Burke Creative Carpentry.
“Mike is also a contractor and master carpenter, so in exchange for lifetime free studio time, he brought in his friends and anyone we could get in here, and we did six months’ work in about six weeks. We paid for his friends’ labor and the materials, and he ran the job for free. And one of his friends, John Rice, who is also a master carpenter, built our Toft [ATB32] console desk.”
Hack and Burn designed the studio themselves, installing Auralex acoustical treatments and custom finishes. The facility went online eight months ago. Studio A, the Toft room, includes a host of mic pre’s (Neve, Drawmer, Empirical Labs, UA, etc.) and outboard and plug-in processing, and recording/mixing via SONAR Producer HD or Pro Tools LE. Control A is attached to a large, live tracking room with 22-foot ceilings and plenty of natural reverb. Studio B is a smaller, deader recording space with its own control room, where recording/mixing is done in the box. “This is Atlanta,” Hack says, “so we do lots of hip-hop and rap in there. It’s good for those artists; they get that nice, large-sounding voice, but rappers like it big and dry, and they always bring their own beats in — either stereo-format beats or they’ll break it out into Pro Tools tracks.”
It’s definitely the total package that makes Virtuo Studio successful — nice gear, good rooms, helpful friends and musical connections: “We’ve also been fortunate to develop relationships with some pretty well-known producers who are coming to use our rooms: Shawn Grove, Rich Ward, Neil Citron, Robert Hannon and some others.”
Another relationship Hack is particularly happy about is with local Christian metal artists Ephelion, who are new clients. “Their music is phenomenal to the point where one of their songs brought me to tears,” Hack says. “They’re young guys, and I think these kids could be stars. I’m a rock guy, so I tend to gravitate toward that kind of sound — heavy guitars with harmonies, big bass and killer drums, and a voice that makes you want to cry. But we do it all here: gospel, bluegrass, screaming-bloody-murder metal, jazz, rock.
“When I’m not with my band playing or doing a recording project in the studio, I’m online constantly,” Hack says. “Facebook, MySpace, doing research, calling people, e-mailing and letting everyone know what we’re doing. I’m not shy.”