Producer, engineer and musician Brian Tarquin picked up the guitar as a child. Around the same time, he began to experiment with his father’s reel-to-reel tape recorder and realized that he loved both equally. In the mid-‘80s, Tarquin worked at various New York jingle houses and recording studios, soon moved to Los Angeles and now works in his studio, Jungle Room, north of NYC. In addition to his prolific solo career, he has worked with artists such as Steve Morse, Gary Hoey and Billy Sheehan. He has also won three Emmys for his film and TV compositions.
Although versed in both digital and analog recording, of course, he tends to favor the old-school approach. His choice of which technology to employ is determined almost exclusively by the type of record on which he works. For instance, he prefers the way tape captures drums. “To my ears, drums sound a little thin when recorded digitally,” he observes.
His latest record Vegas Blue (released by BHP Music-Guitar Trax Records) was crafted in memory of the 2017 Las Vegas shooting victims. For this project, he chose to go with tape. “If I record directly into Pro Tools, it loses the girth, the low-mids and the presence,” he explains. “On tape, Reggie Pryor’s Ludwig John Bonham drums fill the room and feel natural. Digital recording has a way of thinning out the drums.”
Tarquin tapped a number of artists for inclusion on Vegas Blue. “I had Steve Morse and Hal Lindes in mind when I wrote ‘Distant Light,’” he recollects. “I knew their style and how their compositions have flow, so I gave them a section over which to improvise and the opportunity to add anything they liked.”
He’s also worked extensively in music for TV and film. One of the main differences he notes between those mediums versus a record is how much latitude for change he leaves himself. “In a TV or film environment, you always have to go back and change sounds, compositions, tempos, etcetera because producers and music supervisors almost always want them,” he says. “With digital, it’s much easier to go back and make changes; settings are recalled easily.”
After years of work in and for a number of studios, Tarquin decided that it was time to venture out on his own and opened Jungle Room. “You don’t really understand the way audio gear works until you have your own and do it yourself,” he asserts. “Jungle Room is a mobile studio in a custom-made twenty-six-foot trailer with ten-foot ceilings. It’s broken down into two rooms: a live one and a control room. I have a modified Trident London 24 console in there. Everything is stationary and locked in.”
When Music Connection spoke with Tarquin, he was poised to begin work on Brothers in Arms, which will feature a range of guest performers including Vinnie Moore, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (of Guns N’ Roses fame) and Steve Morse, among others. A portion of its sales will benefit Fisher House Foundation, which houses families of hospitalized veterans.
Contact briantarquin.com, jungleroomstudios.com