After graduating with a degree from dBs Music Plymouth, Dan Couch has gone on to sign a record to Holy Roar records with his band Helpless, get featured in world famous magazine, Metal Hammer and tour the UK and Europe, while still finding time to keep his hand in as a studio engineer and producer. We tracked him down for a chat to find out more about his time with us at dBs Music and whats next for him and Helpless.
Tell us about why you chose dBs Music and how you found the course...
"I chose to study at dBs Music when I was 18, just after finishing 6th form. In all honesty I went to sixth form in order to avoid getting a 'normal' job. I never had much interest in anything except music. I actually took a Music Technology A-Level in 6th form, but I felt the teaching was not up to scratch. Out of all my grades in 6th form, Music Tech was my worst grade, I did considerably better at Music BTEC and Art A-level. But Music Tech/Audio was where I saw myself making a viable career, as I have a vast interest in all styles of music and recording audio in general, even film and Foley sound etc. The music I enjoy and have passion for playing was, and is, never going to pay the rent, so I burned that bridge very early on in my life.
"I was at dBs Music Plymouth for 5 years I think? Maybe more. I did the BTEC, Foundation degree and the BA (Hons) in Live Music and Studio Production. I had a great time during those years at college. All my tutors were awesome, particularly Stuart Welsh who helped me through a lot of my course and particularly my dissertation; I doubt I would have done so well without his guidance and his unlimited patience. I met a number of people, tutors and students, that I still have regular contact with and I consider lifetime friends. I did a radio show for a year or two on Eatmusic Radio, that was a lot of fun and I met a lot of bands through doing that show."
How did things progress as you approached the end of your studies with us?
"Around the time of my last year on the degree, Jay Auborn who runs dBs Productions took myself and another student on as studio assistants for the dBs Music, Batter Street commercial studio in Plymouth, which eventually led to our working on numerous projects and paid sessions of our own, with Rik Mayall's 'The Last Hurrah' being a personal favourite. I've learned so much from Jay, probably the most useful and practical skills I learned at dBs Music have been from him during my time assisting at Batter Street studios. I did a fair amount of work assisting and recording on his recent collaborative album with John Matthias and personally I think the album is a masterpiece, it was an absolute pleasure to be a part of. I still occasionally take on sessions at Batter Street studio. Everyone at dBs Music is supportive, friendly and enthusiastic about music and it's production. I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in music technology, production, media and live sound. There's something for everyone there."Tell us about your band, Helpless as they've been making waves recently!
"I play guitar and shout into microphones for Helpless; and I write the lyrics. We started the band in early 2015 in the wake of our previous band Godsick, myself and bassist Steve hooked up with Rusty and we quickly got together a set of songs and recorded them. Originally the recordings were just going to go online for free, but we were picked up by Holy Roar Records who offered to put it out on CD for us. I recorded and mixed the EP, so I would have probably taken more time doing a better job if I had known it was going to go further than pay-what-you-want on Bandcamp!
"Since then we've played a fair amount of shows in the UK, a weekender in Belgium and Germany and most recently we've recorded our debut full length album, which will be released by Holy Roar Records on the 8th of September; on LP and CD. We recorded in Watford with Steve Sears at Titan Studios. It was a great place to record and Steve really got where we were coming from musically, so the whole process was really easy. We did the whole thing over four days and even from the rough mixes it sounded ridiculous."
And you were recently featured in Metal Hammer magazine!
"The Metal Hammer thing was part of the album campaign, we had nothing to do with actually getting into the mag, it was all label and PR stuff. I still find it mental that anyone is willing to put their time, effort and money into pushing our racket [laughs]. But of course I'm eternally grateful to all involved."
What's coming up for you?
"We're playing some shows this weekend with our label mates Wren and Watchcries, so I guess this Friday is sort of our release show. Today we have been announced as supporting the band Dragged Into Sunlight at The Exchange in Bristol. That's a real honor for me. I saw DIS at The White Rabbit about 8 years ago with an audience of 10 people, they were the band that sold the Black Metal genre to me. Insanely good. We have some other shows we can't mention yet as well. Next year we'll be back onto writing new material, touring the UK somewhat and planning to get back to mainland Europe."
Any advice to pass on as someone with your experience?
"Forget the scene. Just play what you like. Also don't be a dick."
What about advice for people thinking about joining dBs Music?
"If you're looking to join dBs Music, do it. You might not land that studio job you had hoped for straight after graduating, but being surrounded by like-minded creative people and having time to develop your own musical and technical abilities is worth every minute and every penny. Also make sure you do more than just study and get your grades. I think what you do outside of the classroom is just as important - if not more so. But you'll learn vital skills from the tutors and have access to world class equipment so absorb everything you can from what is available to you."
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