The Chris Doheny Interview – Part 2

DDR Records goes back through the archives with one of Chris Doheny’s favourite interviews from his decades of interviews. He is looking forward to chatting with Australian Musician again soon. In the meantime here is Part 2 of his previous interview.

After a stellar music career spanning decades, Geisha frontman, singer, songwriter and producer Chris Doheny finally delivers his first solo album and is keen to tell AM’s Greg Phillips all about it. 

The Gear! 
“I’m still using Cubase SX3, an old system but I have had no need to upgrade,” he says of his recording set up. “I’m happy with all my plug-ins, especially the Waves plug-ins, the compressors are just amazing. I’ve spent a bit of money on microphones, I was hunting around for an old Neumann 87 for a long time but settled on a couple of good Rode and AKG mikes. I’ve got a Rode classic 2, a beautiful, massive, retro-style diaphragm microphone and couple of good older Rode condensers, which are great for acoustic guitars. I don’t do live drums at my studio, I have live drums done by my drummer Tom Hosie. He’s got his own studio specifically for drums and he works with  Pre Sonus gear. I’ve got a Neve module, which was very expensive but I think it’s a good investment and pretty much just a tricked-out computer to deal with the DAW.” 

“I’ve got some really old fashion monitors that I love that I’ve used for a long time, they’re actually old Celestions. My style of mixing and producing is time! I like to mix a track and then leave it for a week and then go back. What I was taught by so many other guys, was just listen to it in your car, headphones, whatever media you can find to listen to it on.” 

Guitar-wise, Doheny’s favourite recording instrument is his Maton Federation, a guitar which never leaves his studio. “It’s got the Maton pick up, the AP5,” he explains. “It’s just a beautiful guitar … jumbo and it’s piano black with the Southern Cross on the scratch plate. It’s got an ebony fretboard, jumbo frets and records beautifully. I’ve got a bunch of Maton acoustics but that’s my favourite. I’ve also got two beautiful electric guitars from Maton, one’s a Mastersound 12 strings electric. It’s got that very unique sound not quite like a Rickenbacker or anything else and I’ve also got a Mastersound 6 string. It’s got bone tuning on it and I use that when I am playing slide on the album.” 

Chris played bass on the album too. His musical roots lay in the British invasion and it’s no surprise that one of his basses is a Beatles style Hofner. “I grew up as a bass player,” he says. “I always wanted two basses, an EBO which is a Gibson ¾ bass which Free’s Andy Fraser used to play on and Ted Mulry used to play one too. It’s a tiny SG shaped bass guitar with a slotted head stock. I’ve used that … it just sounds huge for this tiny little size and also a Gibson Ripper, which I always wanted and found on Ebay but unfortunately it sounds like shit! It now just hangs on the wall. The Hofner is great though.” 

For the brass parts on the album, Chris played some trumpet and called on his brother Lawry to lay down some sax and trombone lines. Regrettably for Doheny, his dad is no longer around to add some string parts, so they had to be sampled. “Dad used to play a lot of stringed instruments, violins, cellos,” he reflects. “I took up double bass later in life and I think I’ll put some of that on tracks.” 

The guitar sounds on the album are quite clean, there’s not a lot of electric guitar so the focus was always about achieving a nice, bright string sound. “I’ve been recording acoustic guitars for a long time now,” he says. “I’ve been recording them for probably 35 years and I’ve recorded them with a lot of quite knowledgeable people and they all do it sort of similar. They record acoustic guitars quite close, maybe 2 inches off the strings with a good condenser,” Chris says of his recording method. “The Beatles and a lot of those 70s bands were my biggest influence, so I used to listen to that stuff and read all of the books. It used to drive me nuts how they got that great guitar sound. When I was working with Richard Lush, who worked with The Beatles, I used to drive him mad about it back in the old days. How do you do it? He said just mike it with a really, really good mike! And make sure your source instrument is good and that you’re a good player!” 

After countless hours of passion, thought and elbow-grease, Chris is finally biting the bullet and releasing his album on Christmas day. As for his expectations …
“I don’t have any expectations,” he says calmly. “I’m just happy to be able to make a record and release it finally. I don’t care if it doesn’t get any real fame. In fact I never expect anything any more. I’ll put it out there on social media and stuff and I’ll do a couple of shows. That’s the beauty of being 53 and having gone through all the stuff I’ve been through … I don’t have any expectations and it’s not going to make me sad if it doesn’t get in the charts or nobody recognises it. It doesn’t matter to me and that’s a great place to be I reckon.”

Source: Australian Musician,  2014.12.21