Toontrack’s Metal Month is in full swing with lots of great deals, happenings and above all some very exciting new releases that are giving metal fans something to shout about. Amongst all the action, we had a chat with Mark Lewis, one of the top names in modern metal production and engineer of Toontrack’s newest preset pack for their EZmix 2 software – ‘Mark Lewis Metal Tones’.
I was always fascinated with how things sounded once I started playing guitar. Growing up, my dad had a pretty amazing stereo system with some old JBL 4311 studio monitors as his main setup. I would listen to his records all the time and eventually, they started buying me my own at a pretty young age. Once I really started getting serious about guitar I got deeper and deeper into how things sounded and how those things were achieved. Between my dad pointing things out to me and my guitar teachers really schooling me on production and tones, I really got deep into the audio world pretty early. I would spend hours tweaking my amps and trying all kinds of different things. I would probably have been a much better guitar player if I hadn’t been so fascinated with audio!
In reality, I always wanted to be a performer but when people started noticing how seriously I took sounds, I sort of became the person they would go to about tones and recording advice. I figured out I could actually make a living doing this instead of relying on 4 or 5 other crazy people to keep a band together. So far its worked out ok, I think.
I’m not sure I could answer that one. I’m proud of them all. It’s always great when albums do well in the pop charts around the world. It’s a great feeling to make a little impression amongst the big pop artists.
Asides from this exciting project, what else have you been working on recently?
Quite a few things…I recently finished the new Whitechapel, Carnifex, and Fallujah albums. I did a mix for an instrumental guitar duo from Australia called Opal Ocean as well as the new Aversions Crown and I am working on a project with ex-Devildriver drummer John Boecklin that I really love. There is tons more planned for 2017 as well.
How did you get involved in this project? Had you personally ever used any Toontrack products before?
I’ve been using Toontrack for around a decade now. I formed a great relationship with them a few years back via Bill Terrill their US vice president and then with Mattias Eklund in Sweden. I’ve already done an EZX drum pack for them that I think came out really cool. Toontrack is simply amazing stuff and I’m honoured to work with them.
Your EZmix 2 preset pack ‘Mark Lewis Metal Tones’ is out today (November 15th), can you give us an idea of what unique features are going to make people want to buy this pack?
Over 50 tones created from my most known and signature productions, covering heavy to lead and clean as well bass and FX. It will be a plug and play product that will provide killer sounds for any looking to get killer tones quickly.
What features are going to appeal particularly to metal fans who know what to look for in the sound of a guitar?
A good variety of sounds and the tweakability of the presets without becoming too complicated. It’s simple and sounds great.
What other software do you like to use when it comes to producing?
I use Pro Tools and many, many different types of plugins. Almost too many to name! I do like to keep my signal flow simple though so don’t let that make you think I am using a million things at once, because I usually am not.
Finally, what advice would you give to people hoping to get into mixing and engineering but who don’t have much experience with it?
Work your ass off long after you’ve wanted to quit, don’t expect to make any money for a long time, and never stop learning. Find all the information you can and be careful of shady and inexperienced people trying to sell you information. There are so many amazing producers and engineers sharing experiences and tips for free, that you can surely make it on your own. Audio is an art, just like songwriting, and there is no right or wrong way to do it.
Thanks for your time Mark!