Matt Malley, who recently parted company with Counting Crows after 14 years as the band's bass player, is looking forward to spending more time in his home studio, where he has already begun tracking his debut solo album. Having invested in a number of Neumann microphones to record his vocals and drum kit for the project, Malley now considers them indispensable.
"I love them dearly," he says. "They're the stars of my studio. For my vocals I use a Neumann M149. John Mayer recommended that mic to me. We were out touring with him last year and he said, to quote him, 'The M149 is the only mic you're ever going to need for recording.' And he's right!"
Malley's talents extend beyond the bass, he reveals. "I was a piano major at university. So I'm actually a keyboard player. I guess bass was my hobby in Counting Crows for 14 years. So I've got the basses covered, and keyboards and simple guitars. But I'm probably going to get some help with the guitar leads."
For the drum parts on his solo project, which he is tracking to Pro Tools, he has been using drum programs. "I'm going to get a live drummer to come in. I'll have him play to those tracks. I have a drum kit set up with my Neumann TLM103s. I've got three of them: a stereo matching pair, plus a third one."
Forty-one-year-old Malley has been playing in rock bands for 25 years. At first hooking up with friends to perform at keg parties, he eventually joined The Robin Flower Band, a feminist bluegrass ensemble. Later he formed Counting Crows with singer Adam Duritz and guitarist David Bryson. He was on the verge of taking a job as an air traffic controller when the band was offered a record deal.
During his time with the band, says Malley, he unfortunately never really had a chance to absorb any studio techniques. "I'm just now getting into the home recording engineering side and realizing what great microphones really are. We made six albums. And I'm sure in the blur and the tornado of being in Counting Crows and recording our albums, I bet an engineer had me playing through Neumann microphones but, at that time, I was just there to play bass."
Malley is parting with Counting Crows on a high note. "Accidentally In Love," written by Adam Duritz, Dan Vickery, David Immergluck, David Bryson and Malley for the Shrek 2 soundtrack, was in contention for two upcoming awards, including a Grammy for the Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media, and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture.
"I'm thrilled," he confides. "It's a good thing to have on my resumé. Counting Crows is notoriously mopey, but Adam wrote the lion's share of a really up-tempo, upbeat song." He adds, "I'd like to get into soundtracks."
Meanwhile, he says, "I've been chipping away at my solo album. I'm tracking, and that's exciting." With influences ranging from Crosby, Stills and Nash to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, he describes his solo efforts as "like Neil Young if he were to sing with Yes. I'm not as cerebral as they are. I'm more mainstream," he adds. "The link is that I'm spiritually inclined."
No longer under the pressures that a major record deal entails, he reports that the solo album won't be out any time soon. "I'm in no rush. It might be a year, or even two. I have an 11-month-old and a four-year-old so it's not so easy to get into the studio. But I'm making an effort to get it out before I'm in my mid-40s."
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