Key Clients


GETOUTLDN — Recording Rock Right Under Heathrow's Flight Path... With PMC


Toby Saich has been surrounded by rock music since before he was born. His father was a tour manager in the hard-living days of the 70s and 80s, while his mother was a hip gunslinger writing for the NME when it was a best-selling, punk-loving music weekly in the shape of a tabloid newspaper. From when he was a teenager, Saich began working as a roadie, guitar tech, and then band manager (he remains Tour Manager of hip-hop/breakbeat outfit The Freestylers, and toured the world for two years as guitar technician and stage manager for Plan B following the release of the hit album The Defamation of Strickland Banks). As soon as he could drive, he expanded into moving musical equipment around with bands on tour, initially using a single, battered ex-Post Office van.


All the knowledge and experience gained in those early years has aided the development of Saich’s thriving entertainment logistics and tour management business, Star Movement, which commands a fleet of vans and 7.5- and 18-tonne sleeper cab trucks, together with two articulated vehicles. These are based at the company HQ in West London, just a couple of miles from Heathrow Airport. Clients include Soulwax, The Chemical Brothers, Lily Allen, and La Roux. Inevitably, over the years, some of the artists using the company's services began to require more permanent space for their live and touring equipment, and so Star Movement began to offer storage facilities and also tour preparation space at their HQ, including rehearsal and practice rooms. When clients began to ask if there was a way to record their rehearsals, Saich decided to convert some of the rooms at the Star Movement offices into recording facilities, which then became a business in their own right. And so GETOUTLDN was born, based on the idea of offering much more affordable studio space than can be found in Central London (hence the original name, Get Out Of London Studios), but at an accessible location still well within the M25. The gamble has paid off, with clients now ranging from big-name producers and groups to local musicians and start-up bands.


"The buildings here were originally part of an industrial factory and the associated offices, so it wasn't ideal for recording," explains Saich from Birmingham, where Star Movement is working on UB40's current tour. “We had to put in a lot of design and construction work, creating rooms within rooms, and putting in floating floors and all the isolation and acoustic treatment ourselves. Of course, isolation is important in any studio, but it's particularly important here — we're right under Heathrow's flight path. It was a lot of hard work, but well worth it."


The studios now comprise two small suites rented semi-permanently as production rooms to local producers, a small rehearsal/practice/live room, and the main studio. This comprises a mixing/control room with adjacent vocal booth, plus a large (8 x 7-metre) live/recording room with a window giving on to the control room. When not in use for recording, the live rooms are in almost permanent use as live preparation/rehearsal rooms. Hospitality areas and a photographic studio (including a green-screen room for band video work) complete the facilities, covering a total area of 5500 square feet.


Ben McCusker, Monitor Engineer for Republica, Sigma and Afro Celt Sound System and now the in-house engineer and producer at GETOUTLDN runs us through the kit in the fully equipped studio control room. “There’s a Pioneer/Serato DDJ-SZ twin digital DJ deck and mixing controller, Native Instruments Maschine controller, Access Virus TI Polar synthesizer, Moog Sub Phatty bass synth and a Novation Impulse 61 controller keyboard. The outboard includes Drawmer compression, an SSL 4000E channel strip, and Yamaha and Boss effects. The live mixing console is a digital Midas M32, which can be tie-lined through to another digital live mixer in the live rehearsal room via CAT5 connectors. Recording is taken care of by an Apple Mac running Pro Tools and Logic.” When the control room is being used for mixing only, the window to the live room can be covered with a projector screen carrying the Mac's display output, as shown in the accompanying pictures. And of course, the reference monitoring in the control room is courtesy of a pair of PMC IB1S-AIIIs.


"We worked with Jimmy Potter at HD Pro Audio in Shepperton to spec the studio," explains Toby Saich. "We were originally thinking of other monitors for the control room, but Jimmy recommended we have a listen to some PMCs. When we heard these, we were soon won over — they're lovely speakers."


Thanks to their Advanced Transmission Line design, the IB1S-AIIIs, like all PMC speakers, preserve low-end detail at all output levels, from whisper-quiet to flat-out. This makes them equally well-suited to full-on playback when bands are recording as they are to low-level use for extended critical listening sessions when mixing. Unlike in many speakers based on sealed boxes or cabinets with resonant bass ports, the IB1's highly controlled, accurate low end is free of harmonic distortion, which keeps the speaker's highly important mid-range detailed, clear and natural-sounding. PMC speakers are also renowned for their life-like treble response and wide 'sweet spot', allowing musicians to move naturally around the studio while recording and mixing without affecting the tonal balance of what they hear via the monitors — another point in favour of the IB1S-AIIIs at GETOUTLDN, where the control room is often full of local band members. "They sound amazing," comments Toby Saich of his PMCs by way of summary. "Every one of our major clients has commented on how great they sound in the control room when they're working here."


With all its facilities, accessible location, great live and studio sound, and comparatively low cost, 'getting out of London' has been proving highly popular. At the time of writing, while Toby Saich and his team look after the current UB40 tour, Nick Mulvey, Ride and Soulwax have been at GETOUTLDN preparing for forthcoming festival and tour dates, while The Chemical Brothers are preparing for a big tour in another part of the complex. "It's been a great year so far," concludes Toby Saich. "Not bad for a recording studio with this many planes flying overhead," adds McCusker with a grin.