Photo courtesy of Michael Seale.
0712 Les NubyLes Nuby opened Ol’ Elegante Studios on Central Avenue.
Imagine getting to play in a band whose music video gets aired on MTV, or playing drums with your face shown on the Jumbotron at Wembley Stadium in London while opening up for R.E.M., or showcasing your talents on The Late Show with David Letterman. While this might sound like some kind of rock and roll fantasy to some people, it is just a small description of Les Nuby’s life as a musician.
Nuby, a Birmingham native, has seen a great deal of success as a musician, on a national scale and on a personal level. His band Verbena, for whom he played drums, was signed by Capital Records in 1999, and after moving to Los Angeles, the band toured the country, had music videos on MTV (one featuring Kiefer Sutherland in a cameo role) and appeared on national television with David Letterman. After Verbena disbanded, Nuby remained in L.A. and played a variety of instruments for a number of musicians in recording session work.
When he returned to Birmingham, he teamed up with Wes McDonald, Jake Waitzman and Keelan Parrish to form Vulture Whale. While playing guitar for Vulture Whale has at times been a full time job, Nuby has now ventured into a new aspect of the music business, as the head producer at Ol’ Elegante Studios in Homewood.
He said he felt that his venture into the production realm of the music industry was inevitable. “It seems like the most logical step,” Nuby said. “After playing in bands for so long, it only makes sense to see the other side.”
Over the last two years, the studio has seen more action as it has transitioned from merely a practice space for Vulture Whale to a full-service studio. The building, located at 2734 Central Avenue, was once a car wash, but it has morphed from car to practice space to full-service recording studio over the course of approximately five years. Waitzman, Vulture Whale’s drummer, lives close by in Edgewood, and the rest of the band does not live far, so as they spent more time at the space, it became more than just a place to store equipment. It is now a business.
“For about two years, we have made the studio available, but we have had the luxury of it not turning into a commercial studio,” Nuby said. “This way I can focus on bands and artists as opposed to jingles and background music.”
The music scene in Birmingham has gained some national notoriety, and Nuby said it helps the city’s music scene to have a studio in town.
“It has to start here,” Nuby said, speaking of the recording process. “Big labels are fine and all, but if you really want control of your vision, keep it organic and close.”
Ol‘ Elegante Studios shares its name and offices with Ol’ Elegante Records, but Nuby said the label and studio are independent from one another. However, Nuby has his hand in both projects operating out of the Homewood office.
“While I am the head producer at the studio, I am only a part of the label. The two other names involved are Jason Hamric and Craig Ceravolo. At present, we split the duties evenly, with Craig being our Los Angeles-based counterpart. It’s always good to have a guy out there, for anything face to face with our contacts there.”
Nuby said recording bands and learning the business side and production side of music has been a challenging but smooth transition. Not only does he produce the music for local artists, but he often contributes musically to the recordings as well. A talented and versatile musician with a variety of different skills - from drums to guitar to piano to mandolin, and more in between – Nuby gets called upon often.
“Playing a bunch of instruments helps,” he said. “And putting myself into the equation, if need be, makes me have an emotional connection to the project.”
Ol’ Elegante has the latest in production and recording equipment and also Nuby’s taste for the traditional. Nuby said technology has changed the music business exponentially, both positively and negatively.
“While computers can save time, they also can sterilize the vibe. Finding that balance is the most important,” he said. “I have found it’s good to use as much analog gear as I can before getting to a computer. But then again, it always depends on the project.”
For more information about Ol’ Elegante, visit www.olelegante.com.