Dedicated to the Business of Contemporary Live Music

Backstage Stars – Ant Forbes

25 September 2019

Having toured extensively with artistes such as Guns N’Roses, Oasis, Elbow and The 1975 in earlier years, Ant Forbes srill likes to keep his hand in with the occasioinal touring escapade. That’s alongside running Production Park’s rehearsal studio The Mill in south-west London, where clients include Phil Collins, Royal Blood, The Raconteurs, Kylie Minogue and The Royal Opera House.

What are your first live music memories?

“One of my very first experiences of live music was playing guitar at a jam night at an old haunt The Blues Tavern in Farnham, Surrey, when I was 13.  Denny Laine from [Paul McCartney’s] Wings was on the keyboards and I rembember being pretty rubbish.

“The first proper gig I went to was AC/DC at Wembley in 1991 and I was hit on the back by a bottle of piss. I didn’t care though, it was amazing and had a huge impact on me.

“Probably the most inspiring gig in my early days was Guns N’Roses also in 1991 and at Wembley Stadium, supported by Faith No More and Soundgarden. I remember that show so well and it was the first time that I noticed the sheer amount of people working on the sidelines. I’m pretty sure that was the day I decided that whatever I did in life, it would be something in the music industry.”

How did you get into the music industry?

“I’ve only ever really worked in the music biz. I had a number of crappy jobs when I was at college and just after, so I could pay the rent. Otherwise I was firmly commited to getting my band Vex Red a deal. We were eventually signed to Virgin/EMI in 2000.

“We toured globally for around three years with bands such as Stained and Bush, headlining the London Astoria [cap. 2,000] and playing the Reading Festival main stage in 2002. We went our separate ways the next year and that’s when I decided to start working for bands rather than being in one.

“During the Vex Red days I had always been interested in sound engineering and, living in Portsmouth in those days, asked the house engineer at the Wedgewood Rooms to give me a few pointers, and then went out touring with the band Reuben as tour manager and sound engineer. I guess that was my first music-related job, unless you count selling T-shirts at a Jason Donovan gig.”

“From 2003 onwards I was basically touring full-time until 2015 when my second son was born, working with a huge number of artists including The 1975, Oasis, Elbow, Guns N’Roses, The Darkness and Leftfield.

What were your high and low points

“On the low point side, I was monitor engineer for The Cribs a number of years ago and not really up to the task, to be honest. It was very stressful and made me realise how important it is to learn your craft properly. It really sorted me out though, and was the kick-in-the-ass that I needed at the time.“

Touring with The 1975 was a real high point. I started with them when they were playing little half-full lclubs, but within a couple of years were filling arenas. They had very good management [Jamie Oborne at All On Red] and it was an extrmemly gratifying experience to be part of their story.

“One of the highlights with The 1975 was the show at the Royal Albert Hall in 2014 – surely one of the most spectacular venues in the world.”

Where do you see the industry going?

“I really like working with the team at Production Park. It’s a great company and I feel lucky to have found a role that I enjoy that lets me go home to my family … most nights.

“As I run the London studio and the rest of the company are based up in Wakefield, I particularly enjoy the defacto role as the southern UK/London embassy for Production Park.

“My team provides the facilities for artistes to build, test and rehearse their productions in either The Mill Studio or our flagship Studio 001, previously LS-Live, in Wakefield.

“I’d love to have Nine Inch Nails in the studio – incredible music with such great production potential. Trent, if youre reading this, get in touch mate, I’ve got a great deal waiting for you,”

How do you unwind?

“I have a fantastic wife, Laura, and two amazing boys, Indy and Albie, and fortunately they’re all very supportive of my busy life.

“Laura and I are renovating our house, so a bit of DIY is always on the cards and I find that quite relaxing. I’d like to end-up in a house that we’ve renovated on the Cornish coastline overlooking the cliffs and a beautiful sandy beach.

“Meanwhile, Vex Red recently reformed after 16 years away, and we are currently releasing new material and soon to be touring … a little.”

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