Rick Cutlip mixes a song Thursday in the control room of Rocky Mount Recording. Cutlip said he has been experimenting with PC-controlled recording and mixing for more than 15-years.
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Telegram photo / Alan Campbell

Rick Cutlip mixes a song Thursday in the control room of Rocky Mount Recording. Cutlip said he has been experimenting with PC-controlled recording and mixing for more than 15-years.

Studio builds on years of experience

By John Henderson

Staff Writer

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A lifelong musician, Rick Cutlip said his firsthand experience playing in bands has given him the ear and acumen to make quality recordings.

He owns Rocky Mount Recording, a home studio that makes recordings for church group members, individuals and bands. The business supplements his income to his day job as director of purchasing for a factory.

“I was a studio session picker for a long time in Nashville, Tenn., and then when I got tired of traveling around and decided to settle down,” he said. “Home PCs came out, so I started dabbling with that. I’ve been doing it for 15 or 16 years.”

In his garage studio, he has produced various recordings of a wide range of music, including rhythm and blues

“I did the East Coast Rhythm and Blues Band,” he said. “Nobody really famous. I did some stuff for Church on the Rise. They did the vocals here and acoustic guitars here and they had somebody else make it for them. I’ve (recorded) people from churches, but not church-based (recordings), not the choir recordings or anything like that. I’m not big enough to do anything like that here. I could probably go mobile and do that but I haven’t done that yet.”

He gets business mainly by word-of-mouth referrals and doesn’t have a specialty.

“I wouldn’t say I could narrow it down,” he said. “It is blues to rock to country to Christian music, contemporary Christian music, solo, acoustic acts.”

Bands bring in their instruments to the recording sessions, but he has a few in the studio they can use.

“The bands that have come in here always use my drums,” he said. “Most say they want to use theirs until they hear mine.”

Cutlip recently joined the country-Southern rock band Ambush.

“I’ve only been with them eight months,” he said. “I’m a guitar player. I’ve always been a guitar player. I used to play professionally, traveling around. I did the tour thing for several years. Then I was a studio musician for a long time.”

Cutlip said the recordings made in his studio are usually for his customer’s personal use to be heard by family and friends, not for recording labels.

“If they want like 1,000 of them I turn them over to disc makers, and disc makers will produce whatever they want,” Cutlip said. “I tell them right away if they are going to be trying to sell these things, they need to get permission to do it. If they are other people’s songs, I won’t even record them here unless they show me proof they’ve gotten permission from the publishing company to do these songs. Some of them do, but most of them don’t, and they are just going to give (the recording) away or give them to their family or whatever. I’m just trying to protect myself there, too.”

Q: What products or services do you provide?

A: I do individual recordings. Sometimes I do bands, just full recording, any audio services anybody needs. I usually give them a CD and then they can take it and have them duplicated other places if they want. It just depends on what they want. Every once in a while I’ll have someone come in from a church who wants to record some church reading out of the Bible or something like that, but that’s not very often.

I use PC Recording mostly. I use Cubase 7.5, which is the newest and the greatest, and I’ve got Class A preamps and microphones. I give them really quality good recordings.

Q: Who are your key leaders?

A: Myself.

Q: How many people do you employ?

A: Myself.

Q: What is your business philosophy?

A: My philosophy is I give people the best product they can get for the money they spend. If I can’t do somebody a good job, I’ll refer them to someone else. For instance, every once in a while someone will call me up and they want to do hip-hop. I’ve got another guy that does that stuff. I don’t do that well. I don’t know how to get the good sound.

Q: What makes your business unique?

A: I know how to get the sounds that I want and that they want. People tell me what they want, and I pretty much know. I don’t have to mess around too much before I find out exactly what gigs they want just simply because I’ve been doing it a lot.

A lot of your new recording studios people say they know a lot, but really don’t know much. Most of them weren’t musicians. That helps. If you are a musician, you know what an EQ is for, what compressors are for. Just from doing it for years I know what I’m doing and a lot of these other people don’t.

There are probably 100 people here in town who say they have a studio that actually have a microphone and a computer and $100 dollars of recording software in their bedroom. There is probably a couple of nice ones up in Raleigh, but I don’t think there are any around Rocky Mount.

Q: How has your business grown?

A: It has not. This is too small of a town. Every once in a while I’ll make a few dollars here and there, but I don’t stay busy at all. In Rocky Mount there is not enough here to keep you in business.

Q: What kind of growth do you expect in the coming years?

A: I would like to be able to quit my job and do it full time.