Tony Vincent is one of those artistes who is not only incredibly talented but he also happens to be an all round nice guy. He has been playing lead in “We Will Rock You” by Queen and Ben Elton at the Dominion Theatre, London since May of last year and has received critical acclaim for his work. For many of us, the first time we saw New York based (well, usually) Tony was at the Queens Golden Jubilee celebrations at Buckingham Palace, where he performed tracks including Bohemian Rhapsody with Queen on the same bill as Elton John, Tony Bennett, Ricky Martin, Eric Clapton, Ozzy Osborne, Annie Lennox, Phil Collins, Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney and the list continues…….
Tony has very strong views about his work and the way it’s written, performed and recorded. I met with him at his London apartment under the shadow of the London Eye (and probably under the gaze of David Blane) and he told me a little about his working life.
When I first got into digital audio I was mainly using Macs for sequencing and for programming so I was just using Digital Performer, which obviously led me to using MOTU interfaces. Then came the time when I wanted to take something portable and I was getting ready to come over to the UK for an extended period of time. I was using my power book and I didn’t want to use a PCI card or a magma chassis or anything like that. Then I heard about this company called Metric Halo who had this product called the 2882 MIO interface. The customer service that I got just from enquiring about it perked me up enough to go “I really need to hear one of these things”.
I had been writing a lot on a record for Sony and all the studios I had been working in were stocked up with Pro-Tools, but I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to use that without an expansion of some sort, so that was not even a consideration at that time. There were a couple of USB interfaces but the latency was so bad, they would have been pointless. But this MIO peace of gear really perked my ears up because of what was continuously being touted as having amazingly sounding AD converters, so I called the company and started a relationship.
I was one of the first people to buy it when I lived in New York City, and when I got the unit home…….Wow! I was blown away. Just the fidelity, the clarity, the depth of the audio spectrum………well, I hadn’t heard that coming from my computer at all…..ever. I purchased my Titanium power book and the MIO together and just three weeks before I left the States to come over here, so I really had no experience of my new set up before leaving. I had to hope that these things would just roll together. There was no learning curve involved it was so straight forward. The MIO was completely laid out in a very logical way and the sound was second to none, I would put it up against a pro tools system any day.
I just recently came back (from the US) with the ULN2 and I have tracked minimal vocals through it and a lot of guitar as well, and once you hear the ULN2, it’s another world…… It really is.
The stuff that I’m doing outside the Queen show……well, I kind of come from a very British pop, rock scene. I was a drummer at first, so my musical sensibility comes from a much more rhythmic rather than a melodic base. Singing is the thing that I pride myself on, instrumentation wise I’m jack-of-all-trades master of none, but I can get by adequately well. I am currently working with a couple of people back in New York and we are constantly sending discs full of ideas backwards and forwards and at one point I did take the MIO home to work with it there. And anybody I show the MIO to is just dumbfounded that you don’t have to deal with farm cards.
The MIO console is incredibly logical and the matrix is so comprehensive. I have never used it in pro live situation but I have seen the examples that it ships with where you can actually use it for tracking live shows and that sort of thing. I don’t know if there is really anything that you can't do with this piece of gear, which makes my investment even more sensible. And you just can’t beat the AD converters, the sound and the portability of it.
The show (We Will Rock You) finishes in November for me and I will be working with a couple of guys in New York and two guys in LA and as I was freed from my solo deal with Sony a few months ago, we can now start shopping around again. I am really excited about this because it allows me to go back to what my gut was telling me in the beginning of how I was writing and not trying to fit into a box. There are a couple of A&R people who have had one or two success stories and they think that they need to model everything as per their story believing that it will inevitably work. And unfortunately you lose a lot of integrity as an artist, that being said though, hopefully we are now dealing with a climate that is done with those prefabricated record company created personas or solo artists.
Thank God that bands like Coldplay, Radiohead and U2 have never left the scene and we are still dealing with rock and roll that is heart felt and lyrics that are solid and intimate and I am so grateful. I know that in my heart of hearts those will be the records that you will listen to ten years from now and say…..”man that’s a record that still stands the test of time”. Because we are not talking gender specific we are not talking about “that kick drum” was used on this and that record. We are talking about music that just moves your hearts and changes people’s lives in a positive way.
Obviously the production of a song can be very influential, for example, you can have a beautiful string arrangement against an acoustic guitar track and that arrangement can draw certain emotional characteristic. But the old adage that the song is king is still true.It is especially true in the show where I get to sing nine of the greatest rock songs possibly ever written and we close the show with Bohemian Rhapsody every night, which is not a bad little number to get the privilege to cover.