After playing rhythm guitar in various bands during the 1970s John spent almost three years touring with a concert PA company working with, among others, The Blues Band, Bad Manners, Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and Geno Washington before training as a recording engineer at Fairview Studio in 1981.
Fairview is a well established and respected studio with a long history and excellent reputation and there, John learned the techniques for making high quality recordings. You can visit the studio here http://www.fairviewrecording.co.uk/index.htm
Early clients included progressive rock band Castanarc and Goths The Sisters of Mercy. The Three Johns , March Violets and The Mekons followed and all of these influences helped to fashion John’s approach to making records and over the following years he engineered and programmed on albums by The Rezillos, John Parr, Castanarc, Fatal Charm and Shark Taboo. In 1988 he recorded the seminal “Bummed” album by the Happy Mondays working alongside the late legendary Factory Records producer Martin Hannet and since 1989 has enjoyed a creative and inspiring relationship with Bill Nelson (Bebop Deluxe/Red Noise).
With Bill as producer John has recorded and mixed albums for international artists such as Roger Eno, Kate St.John, Yumiko Morioka, Nautilus Pompelius and Channel Light Vessel as well as Bill’s own highly acclaimed “Practically Wired” and “After the Satellite sings” albums.
Other producers John has worked with include Steve Nye, Colin Richardson, David Bachelor, Stuart Colman, Martin Rushent, John Parr and Frank Langer.
All of John’s work through the ’80s and ’90s was recorded on analogue tape which remains his favoured recording medium. However, increased costs and relative inflexibility compared with digital systems have meant that tape has become less popular in day-to-day sessions.
John’s preferred digital recording system is the Otari Radar 2. Generally acknowledged to be the nearest digital thing to tape the Radar system perfectly complements John’s experienced use of classic microphones and analogue consoles.
As a freelance engineer John has worked on projects at many established studios including Sarm East and West, Eden, Protocol and Sony International , gathering the valuable experience which he brings to his work these days.
Now mainly resident at Fairview Studio, Hull, John’s recent clients include Big Country, Mostly Autumn,The Nick Rooke Band and punk/folk outfit The Hillbilly Troupe.
As trends in recording changed to accommodate advances in accessible technology John’s work load has expanded to include Mastering. In the last year he has mastered recordings for Bill Nelson, Michael Chapman, Steve Larkman Band, Iain Jennings and many others. John has recorded, mixed and mastered Mostly Autumn’s latest studio album which is currently high in the BBC Rock chart.
John Spence also offers a unique on-line Mastering service. Follow the link to Mastering and check out the details.
John also contributes much of the content available on recording-microphones.com. Microphone manufacturers across the world send John microphones for long-term testing in the studio and subsequent review and some of these companies include his comments on their own websites.
In addition to a busy career in the studio John also has requests to give guest lectures and recording workshops at colleges and universities running Music Technology courses. His 30 plus years experience as a recording engineer enable John to make these sessions both interesting and informal and students welcome his real-life anecdotes.