Melody Maker, Feb. 12, 1972
Eddie Offord sits in his penthouse flat, way above the traffic that thunders down the Vauxhall Bridge Road past Victoria.
The flat is big and comfortable, built above an office block that allows him to play his music as loud as he likes through the monitor speakers suspended from the ceiling, long through the night, until the office workers come in to do their daily chores at nine.
Since his success with the "Yes Album," Eddie has become one of the most sought after engineer-producers and one of the most successful, with Yes and ELP among the top acts he works with and for. Currently, before he leaves the States with Yes in the middle of this month, he is working full steam to finish albums by Pat Arnold, ELP, Johnny Harris, Heads, Hands and Feet, and Terry Reid. The last one being a particular hustle because as yet Terry can't get his words finished to complete the back tracks that have been laid down. The day I saw him he had two sessions at the same time at Advision during the night, one of them with ELP.
Eddie came into the recording business after deciding to go university to study physics. To fill in time he settled into a job at Advision and never left. He hustled his way into being a trainee engineer, and within a short time was working as an engineer. Now he often works in other studios, because of the pressure of getting time at Advision. But he still prefers to work there whenever he can because they have the machines he knows best.
He talks in a slow relaxed manner about his job as a producer, and stresses continually that the most important part of recording now is for the artist to feel relaxed in the studio.
In that context, he is well aware of how to get people relaxed, and a main part of this is his total knowledge of recording and how to get that relaxation by getting the sound an artist wants. But what of ELP, I asked him. Surely their music does not need relaxation? Surely it needs the complete opposite?
That, he feels, is completely different. Their music is mechanical and does not have a feel to it like most rock and roll. It is strong effects music. It seems that the steady hustling presence Greg Lake puts over would be totally removed from Eddie. But he is a sound freak and digs working with a hand purely into sounds.
"I do record them because I like the sound, and it gives me a chance to experiment in sounds, especially with the Moog. I think Keith is a brilliant player, technique-wise. Their music is a forceful type of thing that does not need relaxation."
As a producer, he thinks he has to try to determine what type of sound an artist wants to acheive. They usually know the sound they want in their own head. It is up to him to suggest things he can see and to find what they want themselves. Also, being both producer and engineer, means that there is no middle man to come between the artist and engineer, a point that he feels is very important to an artist.
"If an artist is into what they are doing, they know how their music should sound in their heads. I have to work with a person and try to get their ideas on to tape, and obviously I need to have my own ideas. Not being a producer as such means that there is no middleman and I am in direct contact with the artist."
"I worked with an engineer once, but it was totally frustrating. I know what I want exactly and to go through someone is pointless."
"Basically I'm a soundfreak. I just sit and think of ideas to really blow people's minds...I like to know that when they hear that sound they are going to smile. But obviously it has to be subtle. I think what I do is a cross between arts and science. Working behind the desk is an art and I think things can be done in two ways, they are either subtle or totally brash."
Offord has an amazing memory for the recordings he has made, and he says that each recording he hears that he has worked on is from a certain part of his life. At the same time, his wife Kay says that he can't remember a thing in his ordinary day affairs.
"It's amazing. Every record you do is in your mind. If you're listening to records and something you have worked on comes out you are immediately alert."
"I've been making one album after another, and you can imagine when you are doing an album a month from the age of 19 that 's a lot of your life in there. It's funny when you listen to old tracks; you remember all sorts of things that happened to you," said Eddie.
This month he goes on the road in America with Yes, recording a number of concerts for a live double album that will be released during the middle of this year. He's looking forward to the whole road bit of plane, hotel, gig, and especially to recording a live album. That, he says, is something completely different to working in the studio - there a bad take can be done again. On live recordings everything has to be done at the moment and there is no going back on mistakes.
The next facet in his life is going to be a studio that he hopes to get built in the country around London sometime this year. As he says, the thing is relaxation, and he can't believe that's possible with all the hustling in London.
His success he puts down to being in the right place at the right time. There's been a gradual change in the recording industry that started to evolve when the Stones and Beatles were prominent and he feels he came along at a time when people didn't want straight producers anymore.
"Five years ago you could have been a great engineer, but no one would have recognized you. It's changed a lot."