13th November, 2018
After a quick tour of the renowned Olympic Studios just across the river in Barnes and a preview of the new top floor studio that’s in progress, I sat down with legendary sound engineer and producer, Chris Kimsey.
If you are trying to place the name, Chris has pretty much worked with anyone that is anyone – or at least became someone.
That list includes The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Peter Frampton, Peter Tosh, Duran Duran, ELP, BB King and, as well as many more, the main reason why we’re here today – Marillion. Due to not keeping an eye out for Festival of Sound schedule updates, unfortunately I missed Chris’s seminar about the work he did on Marillion’s Clutching at Straws album.
The follow-up to 1985’s ‘Misplaced Childhood’ it is an album that, for many Marillion fans, symbolises not only the height of the band’s achievements, but also the point at which the cracks started to show that finally saw Fish going solo and the band regrouping to reappear with new frontman, Steve Hogarth.
Chris joined Olympic studios as a tea boy before working his way up. His interest in sound recording was ignited after being given a tape recorder as a present from his parents. This interest was later further reinforced by teachers at his school.
After reading the sample list of rock and rock n’ roll artists that he has worked with it may come as some of a surprise to discover that it was orchestral music and film scores (Wierd Science is one of his) that fired his passion. However, it is a testament to his skill and his keen ear, that he has been able to turn his hand to creating some of the most successful albums in recent times.
Since his inaugural move from head of refreshments in 1967 to becoming an assistant engineer onwards, Olympic Studios and Chris Kimsey have had a lasting relationship. Today, as well as the recording studio, the building houses a cinema and restaurant, as well as a member’s bar. It is fitting, then, that Chris was called upon to sort the sound out for those cinema screening rooms. As Chris put it “There’s now a piece of me here”.