Soundgas is based in offices in the old stone Vicarage the picturesque Derbyshire village of Crich and now comprises ten people - Tony, Founder and Head Gear Head, plus his wife Jo, Gid, Dec and Joel running the office, and now a growing tech department comprising head tech Dr. Huw, assistant tech Max, synth wizard James, and synth tech Chris (plus a network of half a dozen or so independent techs specialising in the various different kinds of gear we sell).
We've written a bit about each of us below (with mug shots to follow...), and if you want to know a bit more about where Soundgas came from, how it developed and where we're going you can read Our Story here.
L-R: J,Tony, Gid, Joel, Huw, Dec
Music’s been a vital force in my life for as long as I can remember - my earliest memory of being intrigued by sound is holding my cassette recorder’s plastic mic up to the tiny speaker of my red National Panasonic transistor radio to record ELO’s ‘It’s A Living Thing’ and running downstairs to play my parents the bit when the whole song ‘goes all whooshy’ (tape flanging probably): “Listen to this!”
I had a taste of conventional work from 19 through to 24 - sales, financial services and later the drinks trade. While this gave me a good grounding in business/work practices, it left me in no doubt that this wasn’t the life for me. A pivotal moment came when my manager incredulously exclaimed: “For you Tony, work is just something that comes between weekends, isn’t it?”
I duly swapped careers and made my weekends work. DJing and organising club nights for the best part of 20 years - catching the beginnings of the electronic recording revolution - DJing at weekends left me all week to ‘play’ in the studio and funded my search for old gear.
Bob Dylan once said that a man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do: Soundgas is the result - I love what we do. We are constantly growing and evolving and for me it is a journey of discovery and wonder. This is my passion and I love that I get to share it here - thank you.
Jo and Tony first met in the 90’s when he was DJing - she did a fair amount of dancing. She loved his music and eventually they became a DJing and dancing partnership. Since then it has been a rollercoaster of babies, Binsons, boys & more Binsons.
In between school runs and meal times Jo is the Soundgas number cruncher, the one who sits in the corner trying to keep the money in the bank, the gear confined to the shelves and not spread over the hall, the floor, the desks, the chairs, our house. She could go on…
“Being involved in the Soundgas Journey is exhilarating. I love working with the team here: there is a buzz in our office that keeps the smile on my face all day. My ambition is to help Soundgas become a major force in music - the number one destination for tips, advice & great vintage gear.”
Through collecting records, playing those records to other people, and putting on parties Gid has been immersed in music for more than 20 years. It was through those passions that he and Tony first met and worked together. At Soundgas he performs many vital functions including telling people that PC and Android are better than Macs, trying to help Tony see the wood for the trees, filling the internet with stuff about epic gear via our Instagram and other social media feeds, and plugging drum machines into everything and anything, just to see what happens. His current favourite piece of gear is "something nasty and a bit broken plugged into a cranky BBD box" and he also loves puppies, world peace and Nigerian Highlife music.
Our first apprentice, Dec came to us rather than head to university to do a software engineering degree and he’s been with us ever since (so we’re officially more interesting than a software engineering degree). His role here is split between office systems, gear buying, and graphic design. However, with a passion for music both as a singer-songwriter on guitar and loop pedal, and also as a drummer, he is involved in weekly demos with Joel where they explore the effects and percussion devices we have on the shelves. He’s also in charge of the office terrible pun archive and is synthly awesome at it.
Joel joined us as an apprentice soon after Dec. He’s now in charge of customer service here so chances are if you email or call up it will be him you speak to. He also runs the shipping department and it is his attention to detail that means you get what you ordered on time and in the same shape it left us (no mean feat with some of the more sensitive pieces of gear we have to ship). His passion in life is music and if you hear a guitar demo on one of our social media feeds or listings then chances are it is him. He also deploys that passion and knowledge working with Tony to source gear for our growing range of new pedals and effects, as well as working with Dec on their weekly gear exploration videos. And he’s a huge Muse fan (but we try not to hold that against him, Ed).
What can we say about Huw? Originally BBC-trained he’s been working with electronics and audio gear for 25 years or so. A tour tech for much of his professional life, the list of people he has worked with would take up much of this page but runs the gamut from Take That to Depeche Mode, to Massive Attack, Portishead and most-recently Robert Plant. This combination of some of the best training in the world followed by years of working under battlefield conditions has given him a remarkable skill set and level of experience, combined with a calm, unflappable approach that can only come from having to fix a Space Echo on your back, torch clamped in teeth, behind the rack on stage while the band are in full flow. Able to turn his hand to most things from synths, to valve tech, to motors and mechanics, he has a particularly deep knowledge of tape echo tech and has been responsible for us supplying machine after machine that consistently get the response from experienced engineers and musicians that they are the best they’ve heard. But for the future Huw’s most important role here is overseeing the training of new techs so that the skills and knowledge are passed to the next generation. When he’s not in the workshop under a Binson he can also be found cycling far and wide across the Derbyshire countryside, sampling the occasional real ale, and (if pressed) telling some mind-blowing stories that always seem to start with “oh, I was on tour with them for a bit…”
When Joel told us he had a friend who was interested in coming and learning about the repairs side of the business we were interested. When we heard Max played bass as well it was a no-brainer. Max has been training under our head tech Huw for some time now and has become his indispensable “right hand” in the repairs department. When he’s not got his head inside a Space Echo he also does a lot of the pre-flight tests on gear that is shipping out, and helps out in the packing department. He also knows a fair chunk about pedals and synthesis and can be found adding input to demos as well. One thing we did not know about Max until we had to write this: that he is also a Grade 8 cello player. His favourite food is beer.
The word "legend" can be overused, but in this case it is absolutely correct. James Walker is one of the UK's most well-known, experienced and dedicated synth techs. The list of synths he has worked on just says "all of them". We'll add more about him here soon, and he also features in our article about the Future of Vintage Gear (aka "The Quest for Techs"). He's been a source of assistance and inspiration to us for many years, but as of June 2018 we've been collaborating more closely, setting him up a workshop on site and preparing to set him to work training the next generation of technicians. The combination of his and Huw's experience in one building is a truly exciting thing.
This is just one of those amazing pieces of good luck. You're looking for a flexible synth tech who likes a challenge, and then it turns out that there was one living in the next village the whole time (raising a family, building his own modular synths among other things). Chris Challoner, who joined us on a part time basis before Christmas 2017 has swiftly become an integral member of the Soundgas family. He's is something of a renaissance man who can turn his hand to most delicate or technical manual tasks (he builds his own boats as a side project!), as well as being an all-round nice guy. He is also the only member of the Soundgas team to have featured on Star Wars’ credits. Chris works closely with James Walker in our synth service department.
The new tech apprentice, here to learn the darkest of arts from Huw and James. Man of mystery. All we know for sure is that he's handy with a guitar, and he has pet goats...
Office hound. In charge of emptying the bin, barking at delivery people, barking at random drum machine sounds, barking for no reason, being fluffy in photos.