John Pennington Interview 2nd July 2014

For those of you that don’t know John worked with The High on the road and in the studio through their most successful period. Enjoy the read!
Hi john, how are you?

I’m doing very well, thank you 😉

Tell us about your upbringing:

I was born in Heald Green. I went to Kingsway Comprehensive School, left school in 85 gained a placement at Strawberry Recording Studios.
A big session I worked on Early in my career was The Smiths Queen Is Dead Album.
I recorded World Of Twist, Happy Mondays and Mock Turtles too.

What was the first music you listened to?

Soul and Indie music and some Pop.
First concert I went to was Killing Joke at the Apollo Manchester. I continued to listen to many different types of music throughout my career.

What was your background before working with the high?

Personal and on to professional:
I had been in a couple of bands in my teens and also been in a amateur dramatics society.
I sand backing vocals as part of a choir for 3 Barry Manilow concerts at the NEC in Birmingham in 83. We then recorded an album with that choir at strawberry studios to try an get more gigs like that.
I think i got the studio bug at that point. I set up a studio with bits of recording gear at my Mums house where i recorded with the bands i was in.

When I left school i looked for the placement VIA YTS (Youth Training Scheme). I got a placement at Strawberry Studios and the company which secured the job ran off with the money that was paying for all the guys placements covered by the Government.

The studio saw some promise in me and started paying me the same rate at the Y.T.S I continued to work as a Tape Op for a few years and stated to work with new bands from the surrounding towns of Manchester. I worked with many local bands in the formative years.

Moved on to Engineering bigger sessions with the Milltown Brothers, Mock Turtles, Interstellar, World Of Twist, The Housemartins, A Certian Ratio and Inspiral Carpets.

I was able to learn all the new techniques like digital editing in sound tools which became pro tools and using Emagic Notator which became Logic Audio so I was in demand from bands which needed those services i became very popular and started working with many other bands in the live domain as well at the studio

How did you get involved with the high?

I was house engineer at Strawberry and i was Martin Hannetts favourite engineer and i’d worked with him on a few projects. Notably the Happy Mondays album Bummed and i turned that project (with a few programming techniques) from slay happy to something that was more solid and something people could dance to.
Martin and I got on very well together; I was his first choice for The High project.
The High were from around my neighbourhood, we had family connections through my sister, who had known Andy for years and she knew The Stone Roses very well, so when i met The High we hit it off immediately. The Box Set Go session was great!!!

 

And even though John Williams was also involved in the latter part of it, it was easy to see that the band were going to be a huge success!. I really enjoyed recording them and mixing them live. They were the reason I left Strawberry Studios

You worked on their singles and their album somewhere soon. Any memories from that time?

I have many memories from that time. The touring was hard but fun. We toured really hard and played really hard too, we had a lot of fun with the other members of the crew. Very drunk nights and many experimental evenings of fun excess.

One night when staying at the Rock and Roll hotel of the moment ‘The Columbia In London i remember Simon and on the backline techs tied together all the bed sheets from their room and shinned down the basic rop into Candy Flips bedroom and emptied the mini bar.

Another night whilst on the hallucinogens we nearly lost on backline tech after he decided he was going to jump off a high bridge in Glasgow. He was stopped but he thought he was a Lion and was growling at everyone. There was a night when one of the monitor engineers who was working with us decided to take a dump on the seat in the front lounge of the tour bus we were travelling in. He is still known as “John the Shit” to The High.

The Paris show was a interesting one. After we had done the show, the promoter who must have felt bad that Andy had been attacked whilst on stage by one of the audience so he supplied a bottle of Mescal and some bottles of champagne which we all drank and spent the next few days trying to get back to England.

Any favourite memories id spending time with the high on the road?

The time spent in the Manor Studios was i think a highlight. We spent every day for a month working on Somewhere Soon and the weather was great! We had fun recording that album and adding great instrumentation to the songs . The weekends were off so we had lots of fun trying our hardest to empty the wine cellar.

I think the bill for the wine was more than the recording costs.
What’s your favourite track by the high?

Up & Down, This Is My World, Box Set Go and my mix of More (before Lawrence Diana got his hands on it)

Andy says you filmed some of the gigs that have turned up on YouTube. Any memories of filming these?

I have never uploaded any of my videos but may if and when i transfer the tapes into digital format

What did you do immediately after working with the high?

The Mock Turtles touring Can U Dig it

You have quite a glittering cv now don’t you?

I have had a good time! It’s been 24 years since i started working as an engineer. I have diversified but have missed some chances which may have taken me to places which I’d be much more richer. I have kept it real and been very honest to every client I have had.


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