BARRY CONLEY: WHAT HE STOLE & FROM WHOM HE STOLE IT

Barry “Lord” Conley’s place in the pantheon of wild-assed California lore is well assured since if your resume includes Wasted Youth, L7, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Miles Davis well, then, you most definitely have paid the cost to be the boss. So when Conley says he’s ready to come clean about the finer points of felonious genius, you just do what we did: Shut up and listen. “I tend not to think of this as ‘ripping off’ other people but more as ‘assimilating’ these production techniques and putting my own spin on them,” says Conley. Exactly.
Author:
Publish date:

THE MANGLE & DISRUPT DICTUM: Process (Mangle/Disrupt) instruments through analog synthesizers. Lately, I have been using The OutofControl-atron (an analog modular synth I designed and built — with Tom Doty as technical advisor — inspired by the Buchla 200 series, EMS Synthi, and the Stylophone 360s). I RIPPED this technique OFF from Steve Morse of the Dixie Dregs and Brian Eno. In the late ‘70s I saw Steve Morse play his guitar live through a Mini Moog with the Dixie Dregs. Also, I absconded with Brian Eno’s use of “Treatments” (manipulating sounds through his EMS AKS VCS 3 Synthi synthesizer) as a production technique he used through the ‘70s and ‘80s.

THE SHIMMER & SPARKLE STYLE: The use of resonant chambers (pianos, furnace coverings, 12-string guitars, Hemholtz resonators, any kind of resonating room, plate/spring reverbs, etc.) to process instruments. This technique can often lead to a shimmering, sparkling, or a dark, brooding hue to the instrument being processed. Initially I was introduced to the concept of Hemholtz resonators from the studio designs of architect Chris Huston. Upon further investigation, I RIPPED this technique OFF of Hermann Hemholtz’s (19th century acoustician and theorist) On the Sensations of Tone book.

THE TRIGGER/REPLACE ROUTINE: Trigger a sound like a snare or kick with a different sound such as white noise, low sine-wave oscillator tone, anvil hit, and so on. Use this technique to replace or blend in to give a different color to the initial sound. RIPPED this technique OFF from mixer Rob Stevens while I was an assistant engineer on the first Red Hot Chili Peppers record.

THE SLICE & DICE TECHNIQUE: Edit disparate sound elements (jackhammers, pile drivers, guitars, door slams, birds) in succession to make a basic track for a song or composition. I record the sounds on 1/4" analog tape, edit in succession, and make a tape loop to get a repetitive groove. I RIPPED this technique OFF from mid-20th century avant-garde composers like John Cage, Pierre Schaeffer, Pierre Henry, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Earle Brown.

THE USE or LOSE GAMBIT: Use the above track (Slice & Dice) for the basis of a composition and add to it through overdubbing or use the Slice & Dice track for inspiration then LOSE it. This technique was RIPPED OFF from Brian Eno.