Keyboardist Josh Gold trades road life for studio producer role

Josh Gold, in his basement studio

Josh Gold has lately gone through a period of transition. The keyboardist and recording studio producer and engineer for the Adam Ezra Group has come off the road. He still plays his keyboard with AEG on local shows when he can. But, the married father of three has decided to focus on a career as the owner of his own Malden, Massachusetts based recording studio. Gold has had a long career to look back on while also building a shiny future for himself right in his own basement studio.

“We’ve always done recording together either in the studio or on the road,” Gold said of his days with Adam Ezra Group. “That’s what I’m doing with Adam still, in terms of new stuff. But, I’m not on the road.”

It was time for the Malden-based keyboardist to spend more time at home. “We we’re doing 200 plus shows a year on the road with Adam,” Gold said. “It’s not just the actual playing. It’s the time between shows that’s time away from home. While I’m still putting in the same amount of time and hours and energy at work, the time between sessions is time when I’m home, and I can be with the kids and take them to fencing and gymnastics and violin and stuff like that.”

Aside from being the AEG’s keyboard player, Gold has for a while been the band member who handles most of the Adam Ezra Group’s recordings. A few years back the band started recording and multi tracking a lot of their live shows. The goal was to have a good audio quality recording while preserving the vibe of the live show.

Gold’s partial studio set up

“That started that idea, that process, that we can record and make an album anywhere,” Gold said. “It lead us to start recording in hotel rooms when we were on the road and in green rooms and in the van. The more we did that, the more we realized that this was something we could do on our own. That became my role, something I’ve always been interested in, a natural progression.”

As much as Ezra is the songwriter who writes the material and brings it to the band, Gold became the key person who recorded the band’s music, producer, engineer, and mix person.

“For me, playing live is a small part about what I love about music,” Gold said. “What I loved the most about music is taking somebody’s song and helping it come together and find a life. To me, that is my favorite part about being a musician. Being on the road playing live is definitely part of it, but putting together a song from the ground up is what I really love.”

Gold feels lucky to have been touring and recording music for the last several years with the Adam Ezra Group. Gold is Adam Ezra’s cousin but, before Gold joined the band, they hadn’t seen each other since their bar mitzvah’s. Gold placed an ad to get work as a keyboard player which was seen by Ezra’s percussionist, Turtle, who brought it to Ezra. That was 12 years ago.

Josh Gold’s studio

“I was touring with another band and that band was just breaking up,” Gold recounted. “So, I put out a little ad, Keyboard Player Available. Turtle found the ad and showed Adam and Adam said ‘I don’t want a keyboard player in my band’ but then he read the ad. He went ‘Josh Gold? I think that’s my cousin.’ So, he sent me this long e-mail and he said ‘if this isn’t my cousin Josh, then sorry, forget about it.’”

Although the two cousins hadn’t seen each other in a long time, it turned out they both had happened to be playing music and looking for the same sound. “It worked out great,” Gold exclaimed.

It was a natural progression for Gold to focus on finding work with his own basement recording studio which had grown out of his recording sessions for the Ezra band.

“A lot of the recording we had been doing as a band had been in the basement, had been at my house,” he said. “When I made the decision to stop touring, that just presented itself. I already have the studio. I already have the space.”

Gold has, through his years with the Adam Ezra Group, come to work with many other artists who he has also recorded in his Malden basement studio. Being the person who turns the knobs for other artists instead of being the person being recorded gives Gold freshness of perspective as well as variety. Gold is not as emotionally involved with the song as he was when it was his own band. That gives him an objectivity to lend to other musicians’ projects.

In Gold’s studio

“I’m not as invested in the way the song came about in the same way the band is,” he said. “As a producer, I have to wear a different hat. I have to understand where they’re coming from, where the band’s coming from, where the song came from. What’s the song trying to say, and how do you best build the song up to say what it’s trying to say.”

Gold said it’s a blessing and a curse to be in the producer’s seat. While he can be more objective than the band, to the band, it’s their baby and Gold must be careful how he suggests tweaks as the band won’t be as willing to let go of a song in its current incarnation.

Gold is currently working with Kali And Ancestor’s In Training. He also works with many singer-songwriters, and he often employs his AEG band mates, drummer Alex Martin, bassist Francis Hickey, and fiddler Corinna Smith.

“In terms of genre, I’m waiting right now on a guy who I recorded his choir at a Haitian church,” Gold said. “And, I just did a hip hop track for a high school kid yesterday. And, I’m doing a Christian rock album. As a Jew from Newton, Massachusetts, I never thought I’d do that, but I’m doing that right now. If somebody is passionate about their music, I connect with it immediately.”

Recently, a woman treated her husband by purchasing studio time with Gold for a surprise 65th birthday gift. “The two of them came in and sang songs together,” Gold exclaimed. “It’s all over the place, and it’s all great.” Usually, though, Gold has the experience of hearing some very cool songs that artists have poured their heart and soul into and chose to go to him to have other professional ears hear them. Often, Gold is the first person outside the band to have heard the original material.

Gold recording with AEG fiddler Corinna Smith

“They’re all coming from different places and they all want different things for their music,” he said. “Some of them want to get on the radio. Some of them want to sell CDs at shows. Some of them want to record their voices. They’ve never recorded their voice before. It’s all over the map, and they all have different goals. It’s just really, really cool.”

Every artist, Gold said, brings his or her own set of challenges. Each artists has needs and wants for sounds, colors, tones, and even a variety of instruments.

“I just was working on a really cool project that was a challenge because it involved a lot of different elements and people,” he said. “The song was originally by a local songwriter, an amazing songwriter. It was just him and a guitar. I heard a rootsy acoustic thing and then I heard something a little different when he played it to me. So, I played with the arrangement a little bit. We did it on electric. I played it for a friend of mine who is a drummer and a producer and he tours the world. He programmed a drum beat that went along to it. I took that beat and incorporated it into what we did in the studio and it grew from there. We added other elements and instruments.”

Gold eventually sent a demo of that song to the lead singer of The Wailers whom the Adam Ezra Group had toured with. The lead singer sent it back to Gold with his own rap song portion added to it. During the same time period, Gold had recorded an acoustic project with just two guitars and two vocals. “Sometimes, those are the most challenging too,” he said, “because it’s so open that every

Josh Gold business card

little move that you make has such a big impact on a song.”

Gold’s Protools studio features Focus Right Interface which is what he uses to track right into his computer. He has a full drum kit, a bass rig, percussion instruments, and a lot of keyboards. “Anything that will make noise is down there in the studio,” he said. “I use all of them. I use toy piano. I use xylophones. I use different flutes. I use anything, really, that I’ve collected. I have guitar amps. I have guitars down there. I have everything you need to make a record from scratch.”

When asked if he’s had any memorable experiences in his studio, Gold said there isn’t a specific memorable occasion because it’s memorable every time. “I’m happy to hear from anyone and everyone about recording,” Gold said. “People might be intimidated or scared to do it but don’t be intimidated. Just call up. Ask questions if you have them. Anyone can make music if they want to.”

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