After The Fire

This is how it started in 1982… Muff Winwood who was the head of A&R at CBS Records called me to ask if I would meet with him at his office to listen and give opinion on a song the band After The Fire had presented to him. We met, he played me the Falco version of Der Kommissar explaining that Andy Piercy would do an English rewrite of parts of the lyric. I loved the track and totally believed with an edgier treatment it would be a hit. A meeting was set up for myself to meet with the band and see if we got along. All went well and I booked time at The Marquee Studios which had recently been through a Eastlake update and had a nice drum area now with marble style flooring and had a nice tight but live feel. So we recorded Der Kommissar and a new version of Starflight which had been my intention to use for a B side as my contract was just to produce one single. The guys were wonderful to work with, this was a departure for them as we were doing a cover but everyone really was very dedicated to making this into a great track. We did run out of time at the Marquee and couldn’t extend due to other clients bookings. I wanted to keep to working on an MCI console and called around and found Maison Rouge in Fulham had time available so I booked time there and on we continued with the overdubs. Martin Ditcham came in to add tambourine and we also had a surprise visit from Gus Dudgeon who was working in Studio 1. He sat for a while and listened and thought the track was sounding brilliant so it was cool to get his endorsement.The acoustic’s we added and tracked many times in the small iso room off to the side. I think John thought it was a crazy idea but he went with it and that breakdown really worked. We finished all the overdubs and stayed at Maison Rouge to mix. Toward the end of the day I called Muff and he stopped by for a playback of the mix, gave it his thumbs up and ok to book time to master. I booked time to cut lacquers at Trident with Ray Staff, got the matrix number from CBS, took home acetates for a final check and then the lacquers were sent to the factory. So that was it, all done and dusted or so I thought…… A week later I’m taking a break at home in the garden and my wife comes out of the house to tell me Muff Winwood is on the phone (pre cell phone days!). So I take the call and Muff explains that he needs a 12″ version and he has some ideas for edits he would like me to try. I take notes and end by saying I’ll call him back after I’ve cut some 1/4″ copies of the mix together. The edits work ok but I’m not feeling good about just making a longer version on a copy and paste basis. I really think if its going to be a 12″ I should mix specifically for this format. So I call Muff to let him know that the edits work but I would much prefer that if he would authorize a day of studio time I will do a specific 12″ mix. I’d already got a lockout price of 600 pounds for a Sunday at the Marquee Mix room but because of size it would be best if the band elected just one member to be with me. Muff agrees to the idea and I go ahead and book the time. The band elect Pete Banks to come along so we meet up at the Marquee at about 10 am. The main recording room below us is not booked that day so I ask my assistant go and grab a couple of Roland space echo units that are there. The slap effects you hear on the mix are from one of these – brilliant tape echo. I set up a mono auratone speaker on top of the desk. My plan is to get my sounds and panning on the main eastlake TAD monitors and then balance everything on the Auratone in mono. I’m not using any automation, the mix is going to be manually done with Pete’s assistance and mixed in sections to 1/4″ tape and edited together as we go along. In my mind we had already done the 7″ single mix it was now being processed at the factory. Now with this 12″ lets go wild with effects and levels. Within about an hour we’ve done the first couple of sections, remember I’m working along to Muffs edit suggestions to make this into an extended version. At one point I take a look and Pete and say “you know what this is going to be better than our single version”. The puzzle of putting this altogether in sections continued into the late afternoon and we are getting towards completion. I’m just getting out of my seat to make another edit and who appears in the doorway but Muff Winwood. “Hi guys I was just in the area and thought I’d pop in and see how you are doing ?” Well his timing was perfect because I was on the final section which I spliced together. I sat him in my chair for full fx and played him the completed mix. After he looked at me with a grin and said “now you know what I’m thinking don’t you?” Yes Muff I said you now want this 12″ cut back down to the length of a 7″ and we’ll use this as our single mix. So the 12″ was copied and then edited to the length of the single. I went and remastered the single, the other Maison Rouge mix at the factory was destroyed and the 7″ version is in fact derived from this 12″ Marquee mix. So it was released in the UK in 1982 got very little airplay, the band went on an extensive USA tour opening for Van Halen and I went to see them in LA. But nothing happened to the record so they returned to the UK. I must admit to being really disappointed that it didn’t chart when it was released life is full of surprises. Fast forward almost a year from completing this and Im in the Scottish Highlands producing an album for Chrysalis signing Grand Prix. My former manager Simon White calls me and says congratulations you’ve just entered the top 75 USA Billboard chart. With what I exclaim in shock ! I have nothing currently being released in the USA? With Der Kommissar Simon responds. I finish my project at Highland Sound in Scotland and head of next to Los Angeles to start work on Andy Fraser’s album. Der Kommissar continues to climb the Billboard chart whilst I’m there now working with Andy Fraser. It had taken a year, must thank Canada first for giving it play there, then it travelled down the east coast and got picked up my the N.Y. stations, the Video went on early MTV and it charts. Sadly though its all come to late for the band and they’ve decided to call it a day. Managers Harvey Goldsmith and Chris Cooke both try to pull it back together but it doesn’t happen but things continue in a different way. Mid way through Andy Fraser’s album Muff gets in touch about making a follow up to Der Kommissar and there’s some urgency to this. Its explained that although the band won’t reform Andy Piercy is going to continue with the After The Fire name on his own, but theres no band anymore. So I suggest as a follow up we do a new version of Dancing in the Shadows. I ask Andy Fraser if we can take a break from his album and if I can steal his band to record for Andy Piercy. Andy Fraser very kindly agrees to take a break and allow me to use his band. So we record Dancing in The Shadows and One Rule for You with Tony Braunagel – drums, Bob Marlette – Keyboards Michael Thompson – guitar and Phil Kenzie – Sax. These reworked versions are credited as After The Fire but its actually Andy Piercy solo using Andy Fraser’s band we used to record Fine Fine Line. The tracks were recorded and mixed at Skyline Recording, Topanga, California on and MCI 600 series and 24 track Studer A80.


Andy Piercy