DIY is going beyond the artists’ responsible for releasing some of our most seminal albums, instead looking at the mixers, the engineers and the producers; the people on the desk who make it all happen. Following on from our piece with Depeche Mode, Interpol and Grizzly Bear producer Gareth Jones, we’re taking a look at the work of Owen Morris, a man who was at the centre of arguably Oasis’ most successful period as a guitar band. Coming in as a technician for ‘Definitely Maybe’, Morris went on to produce ‘What’s The Story (Morning Glory)’ and ‘Be Here Now’, before towing a similar sound and working in the 2000s with the likes of The Fratellis, The Paddingtons and The View.
Jamie Milton catches up with Morris to talk current projects, and what the working environment was like when Oasis were making two of the 90s most important guitar albums.
What are you working on at the moment?
Towns seems to be an ongoing thing, we recorded the first singles a few months ago. That was good. I’m working on a famous singer that I can’t name at the moment unfortunately. Oh man, it’s weird (laughs).
I assume it’s totally different to the stuff that you’d usually work on?
Yes. I’m also looking at – bizarrely enough, Madness – they write some really good songs. But Towns is the really new band, the main new guitar band. I just liked them straight away. It’s a good noise. They write some very good songs and we just got on very well. It was quite fun.
When people read or write about you, they’re going to cite Oasis first. As a producer, what was the first record you worked on?
I came in on ‘Definitely Maybe’. I mixed it, arranged the guitars and re-did the vocals. That was a good project and after that I recorded everything they did for a couple of years. Oasis was a lot of fun, I’m very, very grateful for working with Oasis. They were very easy to work with.
Ok – so they weren’t difficult at all to control?
No – not at all. It was a very controlled environment, I mean, Noel Gallagher ran a very tight ship. And everybody was very professional, really. Working with them was very easy.
Has that been the case with every band you’ve worked with?
Bands are difficult when they don’t really know what they’re doing or they haven’t quite got their songs together, and they’re struggling with a direction.Then the sessions can be difficult. When there are good songs and the band are playing well, the session’s easy.
So is it the band getting frustrated? Is that something you’ve got to control as a producer?
Well, if this lack of direction happens, there’s usually something wrong with the band! They shouldn’t have gone into the studio without sorting their songs out, really. I don’t wanna name names but many bands are lazy. Oasis weren’t lazy, they were lucky because they had Noel writing the songs and Liam able to sing them.
When you were working on ‘Definitely Maybe’, did you get a sense of how much of an impact it was going to have as an album?
No, not really, I don’t think anybody did. We thought it’d be successful but we didn’t think it’d turn them into the big band of the 90s.
Was it a different atmosphere in the studio when you were working on the next record, ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory’?
Well, it was a pretty similar atmosphere because they wanted to be there and it was very work-focused – we recorded and finished a song a day. So it was very much about getting it done. The atmosphere was very good, like I say, because everybody wanted to be there.
Would you sign up to the idea that guitar bands are experiencing a bit of a difficult period at the moment?
They have done but hopefully it’s coming back, touch wood. Towns and bands of that ilk – it’s a nice little movement and if the 90s are coming back then fucking hell that’s great for me (laughs). I mean there seem to be bands out there, some good ones, y’know. And the recession could be good for bands. People get hungry.