JV: How much, if at all, did the formal education on the piano influence learning to play the guitar?
Chad: It was unbelievable. I tell people this all the time. I say, I would not have been able to pick up the guitar as fast as I did if I did not understand the theory behind the piano and having that training. I started playing the guitar and went away from the piano because everything that I did was classical-based, and I grew to not really like that so much. I just wanted to be able to just sit down and play by ear and do some chording and stuff like that. And the funny thing is that when I went away from the piano and played the guitar, I realized, hey, the piano’s helping me here with the guitar. And when I went back to play the piano again and wanted to pick that up again, my knowledge of the guitar kind of helped me go back a little bit and relearn some of the piano stuff that I was forced to learn but never really truly understood why I did what I did. It gave me a greater understanding of chording, of improvisation, and it really helped me pick up the piano a lot more. So it’s amazing the way those two instruments kind of worked off each other for me.
JV: I’d guess you probably use your musical skills quite often in the studio.
Chad: I do, yeah. I go in to produce, whether it’s a concert spot, an imaging piece or whatever, and I really view it as a 10-second song, a 30second song, or maybe a 60second song. Everything’s got to have a beat to it, a certain rhythmic structure. I find that having that in my mind and in my ear really helps my production pieces flow a lot better, whether it’s music changes or whatever it might be — you know, finding downbeats and things like that. Everything that I do in the studio really wraps around that musician mindset that I have.
JV: I think a lot of people, even those that don’t have the musical education that you have, a lot of producers will try and hit the music on the beats when they’re changing a bed, for example, but I would think you would take that a step further because of your musical abilities. When you’re constructing a spot or an imaging piece, it’s more than just matching beats, right?
Chad: Oh, yeah, definitely. It’s letting everything have its place in the mix. If I was going to sit down and mix a band, the drums are going to sit in a certain spot. The base is going to sit in the mix in a certain spot. Your vocals are going to sit in there, and so on. It’s definitely the same thing. The effects that you use, how you use compression or how you use EQ in your mix, whether it’s a 15track imaging piece that I’m putting together or whatever, everything kind of has its place and it all comes together to form this 10second masterpiece, if you will. And it’s not going to catch anyone’s ear to win a Grammy or anything like that, but for that 10 seconds, I want people to be completely wowed by that piece. When they hear that — and they’re going to have no idea the work that went into that piece — I want it to stand out to them. I want it to stick in their mind.
So yeah, when constructing everything that I do -- whether it’s a musical piece or imaging or a concert spot, whatever it might be -- it’s got to work together. It’s got to have a reason for being in the mix. It’s got to have a purpose for being there, and that’s really the way that I approach all of my mixes.
JV: You’re making a lot of your own production elements. Are you collecting them? Are you thinking about perhaps one day putting those out on the market?
Chad: Yeah, I’ve thought about it. It’s crossed my mind. I do like to do a lot of custom elements, whether it’s beds or effects — zappers and zingers and stingers and those kinds of things. I like to create noise and then turn it into something that can be used in a piece.
I don’t know. I guess for me it’s something that I think about, and I think, okay, that’s maybe something I’ll get to one of these days, as far as compiling all that stuff and seeing if any of it’s any good and if anybody would ever want to use any of it.
A lot of times I’m on a pretty tight deadline with a lot of stuff, and a lot of times I need elements really quick. So I tend to pull from a production library that I might already have. But if I do need something specific, it’s nice to know that I’ve got a couple or keyboards, I’ve got a guitar and whatever, and I can go in there and record something. I can lay it down and then I can tweak it just for my mix at that time.
JV: What outside imaging and production library services do you like to use?
Chad: I really like the Digital Juice stuff. I just picked up their library and I really like a lot of their sound effects, their stingers and their whooshes and different things like that. I’ve got some stuff from Bomb Tracks that I really like as well. Here at the network, we use Firstcom with EVO and Velocity. I really love that stuff. I think the music is outstanding in that library. I’m a big Apple Mac guy and I really like the loop stuff from Garage Band and Soundtrack Pro and things like that. I’ve found those to be really fun to just tweak out. I’ve also got a bunch of ACID loops and different things like that that I can tweak and throw into a mix wherever I need it.
JV: Your production studio, tell us about it. Obviously it has a Mac.
Chad: Yes. I have two Macs in here. I’ve got a 17-inch PowerBook, and mostly that is more for the music side. I run ProTools off an MBox and have Propeller Head’s “Reason”. I love that program. I think that program is the coolest thing out there. I do a lot of tweaking in that.
I have one of the 20-inch iMac G5s as well. Right before they switched over to the Intel chip, I got one of those. That’s actually more of a video editing computer, with Final Cut Studio. This last year I actually learned how to use all that stuff and put together a whole promotional DVD for Family Life Ministries and the whole ministry. I did the soundtrack and did the video shooting and did all the graphics and stuff for that. I do some audio on that one as well.
Most of our studios in this building here are PC-based, and we run Adobe Audition for our main production stuff. And I’ve got to tell you, for as simple and as inexpensive as that program is, I completely swear by it. I think it is the greatest radio producing software out there. It’s quick. It’s got a great user interface. It’s easy to pick up. It’s fast. It just great, and I use that all the time for my mixes and all that stuff. I can’t say enough good things about what Adobe has done with that Audition program.