Nashville, Tennessee

Jimmy Copens--Recording Engineer, Producer, Songwriter

Nashville Recording Studio, Jimmy Copens, The Ranch Studio
Nashville Recording Studio, Jimmy Copens, The Ranch Studio

Jimmy Copens--Recording Engineer, Producer, Songwriter

About Me

I wanted to produce music the minute I walked into a recording studio. I had already been bangin out riffs and chords on acoustic and electric guitars for about 5 years when I started making Fripp and Eno like music on a 4-track cassette machine I had. Back then I was using two delays and every cool effect pedal I could find. Even before I knew what an audio engineer was, I was bouncin two tracks to the third track on a four track machine to keep layering the song I was working on. Back then I was more of a guitar player trying to record my ideas than a sound engineer. I didn’t realize til later this method was a great way to start my career, a career I didn't even know had started.

I grew up listening to a variety of music--all vinyl unless it was on the radio. There was my mama’s Johnny Cash records, my Aunt & Uncle’s Sonny and Cher records, my step-daddy’s Charlie Pride records, my sister's Bread records. And then there was my older brother’s records—Aerosmith, Hamilton Joe Frank and Reynolds, Sly & the Family Stone, Chicago, Hall & Oates, Credence Clearwater Revival, some of the best 70’s music ever.

After floatin in and out of different bands, in 1986, I spent some time with Atavistic Records recording artists IDF in support of their album entitled Entropy, adding various kinds of rhythm, lead, atmospheric and percussive guitar to their lineup. I remember my Steinberger GL4T guitar was a no-brainer for that gig—that and an E-bow. Of course I also had a slew of pedals and effects.

Following a brief stint with IDF, I landed work as a sound engineer at Audiocraft Recording Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, owned by Bucky Herzog. I saw Bucky hangin round the studios a few times back then, and his stories about the legends were always great. By this time though, Bucky’s son Bud had taken over the daily operations of Audiocraft and Vidtek--the video production division. I found Bud Herzog to be every bit as much of a visionary as his father Bucky. He saw far beyond our present day analog recording methods and well into the future of digital recording and cross platform connectivity, which is exactly where I am today.

Bucky Herzog and Audiocraft Recording Company are most famous for having recorded the legendary country artist, Hank Williams. On December 22, 1948, music publisher Fred Rose came up from Nashville with Hank Williams. Hank cut "Lovesick Blues" with the Pleasant Valley Boys. It helped them become well-known studio musicians. On August 30, 1949, Williams returned to cut eight sides at the studio, including his iconic "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and "My Bucket's Got A Hole In It."

Audiocraft Recording Company--Hank Williams Books by Brian Turpen  

In the 1990’s I was a recording engineer and producer at Audiocraft Recording Company, Studio B at Ligosa Studios and Goldman Productions, where I went from using some of the legendary analog gear that people reminisce about today, to slowly transitioning into the new era of digital audio recording, with some of the earliest versions of Pro Tools. Some people might laugh at this, but back then, if you had a 1 or 2GB hard drive, you were rockin it.

While at Audiocraft, I was fortunate to work with some amazing bands and industry talent: The Afghan Whigs, The Screaming Mimi's, Under The Sun, Sonny Moorman, The Smothers Brothers, Hasbro Bradley/Kenner Toys, Jerry Springer, Shad O'Shea, Boomer Esiason, Cris Collinsworth, Carl Yastrzemski, Eric Davis, Johnny Bench. One of the funniest people I worked with back then was Jim Varney, better known as Ernest P. Worrell. I also had a write up in the July 1991 edition of Home and Studio Recording Magazine for my first self-produced project called I AM I AM. With help from another engineer Dan Klaiber, together we created the Stomp & Roar sound effects for the T-Rex dinosaur toy that was launched in conjunction with the Jurassic Park movie.

After leaving Audiocraft, I went to work at Studio B with Mark Liggett and Ligosa Studios. I learned so much just being around Mark and another producer Matt "Emosia" Senatore, who produced PM Dawn. This was also right around the time that Blessid Union of Souls were releasing their CD entitled Home. I knew then it would be a great record. I learned a lot about stacking rhythms and beats from these guys. By this time I was probably going on 9+ years working with Pro Tools as my primary digital audio workstation.

While at Goldman Productions, I was fortunate to work with some amazing industry talent: Hal Holbrook, Sally Struthers, Lorenzo Music, Alise Beasley. We did a lot of ISDN Inter-Lock sessions back then between our studio and other ISDN compatible studios in different cities. Its also where I recorded Sega Genesis/Iguana/Acclaim Entertainment's now legendary NBA JAM game audio with Tim "BOOM SHAKALAKA" Duncan. Its where Boom Shakalaka was born.

When I moved to Nashville in 2003, the idea of having a home studio that could really compete with the major studios seemed like a pipe dream. So I focused on writing more and recording less. Around 2006, a friend of mine at CMT invited me out to his house to check out his home studio, where he was using Logic Pro/Version 6. After a few hours of messin around with Logic Pro I was hooked. I went out and bought a MacBook Pro, a PreSonus Interface, installed Logic Pro and never looked back.

These days I'm well into the digital recording world that Bud Herzog once imagined, where its commonplace to DropBox files and sessions across the internet. But unlike the days of large analog mixing console's and racks of outboard processing gear, the innovators at Universal Audio have made it possible for everyone to enjoy those legendary preamps and outboard processors in digital form—and they sound every bit as big and warm as they did back then.

Besides being the Front of House engineer at The Commodore Grille on TU, FR & SA, almost everything I do now is totally digital and “In The Box.” Recording equipment that was once only available at expensive, high-end recording studios is now available to all Universal Audio Apollo owners. UA’s equipment and plug-ins are industry game changers and have definitely leveled the playing field. I'm confident that in a few years, everyone will record this way. Its never been easier to get world class, ’Radio Ready’ sounding mixes from a computer.

Band History: The Desotos, The Nervous Pioneers, IDF, The Hollow, The Voodoo Kings, FM.