NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: Roland Guerin is an astounding bass player, an emotive singer, and a gifted songwriter based in New Orleans. While Guerin travels in all musical genres, he’s best known in the world of jazz. He cut his teeth playing bass in Alvin Batiste’s band, The Jazztronauts, and later joined the Marcus Roberts Trio, the Allen Toussaint Band, and Dr. John. He has performed with George Benson, John Scofield, Ellis Marsalis, Marcus Roberts; played at the head of the Berlin Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony; and recorded on the Blind Boys of Alabama’s Grammy-winning Down in New Orleans, among countless other endeavors. All the while, Guerin has been writing his own songs. His latest release is Grass Roots, which leverages his innovative songwriting with elements of folk, blues, zydeco, rock, and – of course – jazz.
“I’ve released seven of my own albums, but I have enough material to release seventeen more!” Guerin said. “I’ve always been an audio snob and I love paying attention to the details of a song or the quality of a sound. Music is an extension of life, and I learned from Allen Toussaint how to think about the craft of a song or the phrasing of a lyric and the impact that would have on the overall effect of a song. After Allen passed in 2015, I joined Dr. John’s band and after a year or so became the musical director for his band. It was the same camp of music, just a different side of the woods. With Dr. John, I started zoning in on ways to produce the music, to get the sounds and the qualities that we were after. For my own songs, I started looking around for the best sound I could achieve at home.”
He continued, “I was wary of the ‘race of the interfaces.’ Which manufacturer sounds the best? Which manufacturer can fit the I/O of my studio? Which manufacturer stands behind their products? Which ones will be out of date in a year? At this point in my life, I need something with everything in it so that I can move forward and get to work on all of these songs that I’ve been blessed with. This might be an odd way of explaining what I was after, but it reminds me of a time when I was singing lead vocals during a rehearsal at Allen’s studio. Allen asked me, ‘Are you living what you’re singing?’ Note, he had stopped rehearsal and walked over right in my face. So obviously I wasn’t. I answered with the voice of one who has been humbled, ‘No, Mr. Toussaint.’ He said, ‘well alright, take a moment and let’s try it again.’ I wanted that kind of quality in my possession so that I could have that level of detail and that level of life in my music.”
After doing a lot of research, Guerin found that Metric Halo’s reputation for audiophile sound quality, flexible MIO Console control software, and futureproof support (older products are updated, not thrown away) was the right choice. He purchased a Metric Halo LIO-8 3d with four optional mic preamps and two optional ADAT I/O cards installed. “The sound of MIO Console and the LIO-8 3d is crazy good!” he said. “It’s full and rich, wide and resonate, open and punchy, soft and warm, fast and snappy, focused and intimate… all at the same time. In doing my research, I heard a lot of people say that the Metric Halo sound drops away and they don’t hear it anymore – very transparent. I disagree. I don’t forget about it at all. It has a definite sound, with the heft of a hardware console.”
For his solo work, Guerin is now doing everything in-house with the Metric Halo LIO-8 3d. Not only does he play bass, he plays six-string bass and can evoke everything from guitar riffs to pads from his various rigs. He recently completed the song “Hickory Dickory” about the present Covid-19 pandemic for the Burl Covid-19 songwriting contest. “The Metric Halo MIO Console has so many great plug-ins,” Guerin said. “I was spare in my DAW plug-ins and instead relied on the MIO Console to carve out the necessary colors. It is extremely flexible and musical. It doesn’t sound like a ‘home production’ – it’s world-class studio production!”
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