Daly City, CA â€” Reading record producer Gil Nortonâ€™s discography is like reading a definitive history of the evolution of the alternative rock sound. From his early work with underground shoe-gaze pioneers, including the UKâ€™s Pale Saints, to his work on Echo & The Bunnymenâ€™s classic 1987 self-titled album, Nortonâ€™s influence on the sound of modern guitar rock is undeniable.
Not one to live in the past, his influence on the modern rock sound is as relevant today as it was when he produced perhaps three of the most celebrated alternative rock records of all time â€“ The Pixieâ€™s trifecta of seminal albums: Doolittle, Bossanova, and Trompe Le Monde. In 2007, Norton appeared onstage at the GrammyÂ® Awards with Foo Fighters to accept the Best Rock Album award for Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. The man who defined the sound of modern guitar rock more than 20 years ago (prior to the advent of digital recording technology) was now being recognized for his ongoing evolution in sound â€” sound he now records with a Pro Tools|HDÂ®system
Norton chose Pro Tools|HD as his exclusive DAW for recording bands due in large part to the variety and quality of plug-ins available only in Pro ToolsÂ® software. Among his new favorites is Digidesignâ€™s recently released Elevenâ„¢ guitar amp emulation plug-in. In fact, Norton was one of the first producers in the world to work with Eleven.
â€œThis is easily the most natural sounding amp plug-in Iâ€™ve ever heard. It sits beautifully in a mix and the tone is just brilliantâ€?, says Norton, regarding the stunningly realistic emulations of classic amplifiers included in Eleven. â€œI think Eleven is a fantastic plug-in â€” it just makes the guitar sound bigger.â€?
Among his six-string collaborators, he is certainly not alone in that opinion. Counting Crows guitarist David Bryson, with whom Norton worked while producing the bandâ€™s most recent album, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, is also a huge fan of the plug-in. “Eleven has the best emulation of a [VOX] AC30 I’ve ever heard in an amp simulator,â€? says Bryson. â€œPlus, it’s easy to set up and it looks great.â€?
Pixies lead guitarist Joey Santiago, a longtime friend of Nortonâ€™s who is considered by many to be the godfather of alternative rock guitar, also praises the plug-in: “I love Eleven â€” it sounds great, it sounds real, and itâ€™s easy to dial in a good tone.”
Adapting to new technology â€” and using it wisely â€” has helped Norton attain the massive creative and commercial success that has kept him in such high demand to this day, especially with guitar-based bands. Norton first started incorporating Pro Tools into his workflow more than a decade ago while producing the 1996 Counting Crows album, Recovering the Satellites
â€” an album that was certified double platinum and went to #1 in four countries.
Reflecting on the ethos of the time, Norton says that â€œback then, I think certain bands were a bit scared of digital recording.â€? When he brought Pro Tools into the studio to record the Foo Fightersâ€™ 1997 classic, The Colour and The Shape, Norton says that initially the band was weary of the platform because they worried it was a â€œtalent compensator.â€? Fast forward to 2007, and those reservations are a thing of the past. â€œNow Pro Tools is all we use,â€? says Norton, commenting on his use of Pro Tools|HD on the Fooâ€™s aforementioned Grammy-winning album. â€œSince the sampling rates have gone up to 192 kHz with 24-bit resolution, itâ€™s perfect. You get all of the top end, and thereâ€™s a really nice air around the sound.â€?
To accommodate his current workflow, Norton employs a variety of plug-ins (including Eleven) and dual Pro Tools|HD systems to keep the bands heâ€™s tracking concentrating on the music and not the technical elements of the recording process. â€œThe idea is to try and keep the band recording and to allow things to happen in the studio without interrupting the flow of ideas. So Iâ€™ve found itâ€™s always nice to have two HD systems â€” one thatâ€™s a designated recording station, and another thatâ€™s offline for comping, editing, and anything else that needs to be done.â€?
Among his favorite plug-ins are Digidesignâ€™s TL Spaceâ„¢ convolution reverb and Reel Tapeâ„¢ Suite, the latter of which he says is â€œstunning â€” a really good simulation of tapeâ€¦ and it sounds great on guitars.â€? And chief among these peers, of course, is Eleven, â€œWhich,â€? Norton concludes in his crisp and humble British accent, â€œI find is just brilliant.â€?
Digidesign is a worldwide leading manufacturer of digital audio production systems and the winner of the 2001 Technical GrammyÂ® Award and 2003 OscarÂ® statuette representing the Academy Scientific and Technical Award for the design, development, and implementation of the Pro ToolsÂ® digital audio workstation. Digidesign provides the professional music, film, video, multimedia, and radio broadcast industries with tools for digital recording, MIDI sequencing, editing, signal processing, and surround mixing. Digidesign products are marketed in more than 40 countries worldwide through a distribution network of value-added dealers, distributors, and OEM relationships. Digidesign is a part of Avid Technology, Inc. For more information, visit www.digidesign.com.
About Avid Technology, Inc.
Avid (Nasdaq: AVID) is a worldwide leader in tools for film, video, audio, 3D animation, gaming and broadcast professionals â€“ as well as for home audio and video enthusiasts. Avid professional and consumer brands include Avid, Digidesign, M-Audio, Pinnacle Systems, Sibelius, Softimage and Sundance Digital. The vast majority of primetime television shows, feature films, commercials and chart-topping music hits are made using one or more Avid products. Whether used by seasoned professionals or beginning students, Avidâ€™s products and services enable customers to work more efficiently, productively and creatively. Avid received an Oscar statuette representing the 1998 Scientific and Technical Award for the concept, design, and engineering of the AvidÂ® Film ComposerÂ® system for motion picture editing. For more information about the companyâ€™s Oscar, Grammy and EmmyÂ® award-winning products and services, visit www.avid.com.