Birkenhead, UK; November 2023 – An Audient ASP8024-HE has just been installed in The Live Room, a community support project in northwest England providing a venue for musicians wanting to reconnect with their passion. The arrival of the console followed a recommendation – and generous donation – from Pete Townshend.
The brainchild of public-spirited Iain Ogilvie, The Live Room offers a lifeline for musicians who are dealing with issues of addiction, isolation and poverty. “Our goal is to support the mental health of participants through team involvement, and signposting to professional agencies where necessary. In doing so, we help them overcome challenges through the creative process.”
The concept of The Live Room came to Iain whilst he was working at the Keyboard Repair Centre in The Wirral. “I noticed an increasing number of older, retired musicians asking for repairs to their out-of-use gear. Some had not played in decades and in recent years had experienced some of life’s darker issues. They ALL missed performing,” he says. A bass player himself, he knew the feeling all too well. “The idea of The Live Room was born to give these guys and gals the opportunity to get back on stage. Music is a great healer.”
One of his customers wasn’t a retired musician. Pete Townshend needed a couple of his vintage analogue Yamaha synths repaired, and their meeting sparked a connection. Pete championed The Live Room idea, which was in its early stages at the time. In a letter of support he wrote, “This is right up my street. A studio for lonely, isolated nutters in the Wirral who need a cuddle and to make a lot of noise. One of the best places on earth. (But having it rather hard at the moment, I understand.)” He sent a donation to help Iain get started.
Since then Iain’s local church donated the space rent-free, Wickes stepped in with a substantial discount on building supplies and the church community raised some more funds. UK artist Bob Goldsborough donated all the music-inspired artwork and most recently a grant from the National Lottery has helped buy a PA, lighting equipment, back-line gear, and what Iain described as “some very nice instruments.”
When asked for advice on studio gear, Pete Townshend was quick to recommend Audient, having built a relationship with the company over the years. He says, “They have always been ready to support me in my ventures whether personal or charitable and I love their equipment. I still use an ASP4816 in my small studio at home. So together Audient and I have built a community of communities, young and old musicians and performers and many just hoping to be around music, uplifting stories and advice about and help with survival.
“I’m so grateful to Audient. Their larger consoles are easy and relatively inexpensive to restore and maintain, and their latest models are breaking new ground in sonics and studio practice.”
The sound technician assisting Iain in the control room and live spaces also had his say, but prefers to remain anonymous. “Choosing the right console is imperative – it’s at the heart of the studio,” he says. Happily the Audient ASP8024-HE was a firm favourite for him too. Having been a student of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, he learnt his craft on the original ASP8024 console. “I fell in love with it. It’s user friendly and just a workhorse. It does everything I need it to do. My favourite thing is the compressor which has a vintage warmth to it which is hard to replicate with other compressors.”
With a view to offering industry standard recordings and eventually an accredited educational programme, The Live Room has set its sights high. As the final touches are put on the whole space, they all look forward to welcoming the studio’s inaugural artist, who will be recording an album in the new space.
“We are in a deprived area and many of the users suffer from mental health issues. For them music is a way of expression, recovery and escapism,” he adds. It seems to be working, as despite the paint barely being dry The Live Room is already making its mark.
“We meet weekly for a jam session and have created a couple of bands who have done some free gigs for MENCAP Wirral and a local charity called Rek41,” says Iain. “A jazz band has also sprung up!”
According to him, this is just the beginning. “We’re hoping to provide affordable recording for bands who are not earning enough to pay the high rates asked in the main cities in this area. Then there’s an internet community radio think about. There’s no shortage of vision in this creative hub.”
Iain admits that he never had much opportunity to record in the past. “Live performance has always been my ‘thing’ and most of my mixing desk experience has been inside the desk when it goes wrong. I’m looking forward to doing some recording now, though! I’m 70 – but hey!! It’s never too late eh?”
Absolutely not! Oh, and rest assured, you won’t need to fix this desk.
Visit their community Facebook page for more information on The Live Room.