Adrian Young leapt to percussion prominence as the drummer with ‘90s ska-tinged juggernaut No Doubt. Early in 2019 he partnered with Todd Forman, a veteran of fellow SoCal band Sublime, to form production and engineering team The Moxy Brothers.
Like many producers and/or engineers, Young’s journey began as a musician. At the dawn of their careers, he and his bandmates sensed that they craved control of their output, so they stepped up to assume recording duties. “In the early days of No Doubt,” he recalls, “we had a band house, we bought some gear and basically produced our own demos. We had a hands-on engineering, get-it-done-by-yourself kind of thing. We wouldn’t just play our parts, leave and say ‘Okay, mix this and make it sound good.’”
While Young’s studio experience as a musician introduced him to the world of the engineer, he had to educate himself further to rise to the ranks of the pros. “This year I took a deep dive, really studied engineering and built my home studio, the Ruby Red Room,” he recollects. “You can learn a lot through instructional videos. My ears are there from making records for my entire adult life, but as far as understanding how the gear really works, it’s like I went back to school.”
The Ruby Red Room is a well-conditioned basement studio, but given the size and inherent acoustic limitations of a cellar, the No Doubt skin man is compelled to optimize what little space he has. “I would argue that it’s the smallest recording studio where you have drums included,” he asserts. “I don’t have a separate drum room or vocal booth. There’s a glass screen that separates the drums and the recording desk. They face each other and are literally two feet apart. But it’s so dead and warm down there, because I have a lot of soundproofing and we’re underground. We’d have rehearsals and it never sounded bad. I’ve rehearsed in [larger] rooms where it sounds awful.”
Among Young’s favorite tools are the UA Apollo 8 and x4, the OCTO Satellite and the 4-710d hardware preamp. Of course, as a lifelong percussionist he’s had countless opportunities to experiment with different microphones and placements. He has 12 on his drums, which include a Shure SM 52 and SM 91 on his kick and a 421 and SM 57 on his snare. His tom-toms are captured with beta 57s with 414s as overheads, while behind and above he places a Warm Audio WA-47. Two of the centerpieces of his audio arsenal are a vintage Neumann U 87, formerly used at legendary San Fernando Valley studio Sound City and, perhaps his most prized piece, a 1978 Neumann U 77. “The U 77 is kind of a hybrid between a 67 and an 87,” he explains. “The 67s have tubes, the 87s don’t, so it’s not a tube mic but it has the same capacitors of the 67 and it’s lovely.”
Young has a long history with studio star Spike Stent, whose guidance he still often seeks. Among the Moxy Brothers’ aims for the future are to build its band roster and, indeed, begin to pitch them to various labels. With the experience, industry savvy and connections both members bring, they may be perfectly positioned to catch that pristine production wave.