Tony Grey: Throwing Darts, Boxing, Overcoming Anxiety With The Encouragement Of A Famous Uncle And The Inspiration From His Creative Space

Tony Grey: Throwing Darts, Boxing, Overcoming Anxiety With The Encouragement Of A Famous Uncle And The Inspiration From His Creative Space

Posted by Auralex on 23rd Feb 2021

Note: Following are excerpts from the full interview. The interview was conducted by Kevin Booth, Auralex director of sales and marketing. Robb Wenner, Auralex director of artist relations, produces the podcast and jumps in with questions. To hear the full interview, subscribe to Auralex Creative Spaces on your podcast platform of choice.

Interview Transcript:

Kevin Booth: When did you first get started with your interest in music?

Tony Grey: I was always a music lover because my mom is a piano player and my older sister plays piano and violin. Music was always around the house, but I was very shy as a child, so I would kind of sing when no one was watching or listening, but I always wanted to be a musician. As I got older, I was still timid, and I was never really encouraged to be a musician, although my uncle is John McLaughlin. I did study piano when I was very young, but it always felt like too much pressure, hard work, and something I didn't want to do on a Saturday as a kid. My mom said, I have to do this and that when I'm thirteen, I can choose whether I want to do it or not. As soon as I was thirteen years old, I quit because I just did not enjoy it, and it was not fun. My love of music kind of morphed into being a DJ, so I was making a lot of drum and bass electronica music, and my house was kind of the place that all the kids would go every night. I'd have a bedroom full of kids, and I would just be mixing with records and having a good time with that. I ended up getting some gigs in clubs, and then I realized that it was not going to be a promising career for me for a multitude of reasons, so I decided to clean my life up, be more positive and take care of myself. I joined the army. I was a Royal Engineer, and I went through all the training, and then as soon as I finish the training, I was in a car accident and broke my back. I was medically discharged and recovering in hospital. When I was at home recovering, my step-dad brought home a second-hand bass, and he said, instead of sitting around being miserable all day, why don't you learn how to play music. One of my high school classmates was into Level 42 and Mark King, with all the slapping bass, and my friend's dad was also a bass player, so I saw it might be some sort of a career and maybe give this a go. I just got into it, and it was kind of really healing for me. I ended up practicing twelve hours a day, and I just became so obsessed. A few months into it, my dad said, why don't you send your uncle a recording of your playing? I knew he was a guitarist and I knew he was famous, but I had not listened to his music very much. I sent him a tape, and he called me up on the phone and said, "you want to make music? OK, come and see me." I went to see him in Scotland with Dennis Chambers and Joey DeFrancesco, and I had no idea what I was listening to. I never really listened to his music before or consciously listened to his music, but he said, OK, let's go! Do you want to go to America? Let's do it!" So six to eight months later, I was on an airplane flying to Berklee College of Music in Boston.

KB: Your workspace is kind of an all-in-one room set-up. It's a great-looking room with a lot of wood. It has wood on the ceiling and walls, but it still had some acoustic issues, correct?

TG: When I first walked in here, I was like, wow, this is the most amazing room ever! The ceilings are low, and the floors are tile, but it had this really weird slapback, and then in certain areas, it was kind of boomy, and it was kind of a disaster. It looked the part, but it was just not the part, you know? I couldn't have imagined how it is now, but thanks 100% to Auralex, it is just unbelievable, and it makes all the difference. The new WaveCave™ Royale™ Studiofoam™ panels on the walls are hip. You can mess with it and come up with creative ideas, but I thought the pattern you came up with was the best, so I went with that. It is quite beautiful, and it helps you feel like you're the real deal, you know what I mean? I've got no more excuses and can't complain about the sound – I just need to get busy!

The ProPanels™ above the mixing area made a massive difference as well. The standing ProMAX™ panels are great as I can create a little booth for vocals or use them as baffles around the drum kit and position them around my mix area. It's not 100% dead, but it's perfectly quiet where I'm entirely in control of what's going on mix-wise. The ProMAX panels are grabbing sound energy from the monitors and preventing it from hitting a wall somewhere and coming back to the mix position.

KB: Tell us about teaching and the Tony Grey Bass Academy.

TG: I think learning music is more about the mindset rather than about the physical thing. I try to teach in a more philosophical like eliminating fears, eliminating anxieties, trusting the process, having a goal, and having a meaning for why you're doing something. I used to practice so much that I would be counting the hours down, and I would have my little timer going off, and by the end of the day, I was slumped in my chair, and there's no way I was producing good music at that point. So I think less is more, but you have to be super structured, focused, and disciplined using the time. And always have a creative outlet so whatever you're working on, make sure that you can create music with it, so it's not just learning scales. I think we all have the same fears and anxieties in life, so I try to be more of a mentor because I've been through those anxious moments, and sometimes, all it takes is someone to put their arm around you and get you to focus and be goal-oriented, and then the results can be fantastic!

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