Neil Bly engineers the Provo scene. Photo: Adam Heath
In / Out:
Years Recording: 18+
Studio Location: Provo
Gear Found in Studio: Prism Sound Orpheus, Otari mx5050b-4hr ¼, Neuman u67 mic, Pearlman tm-1 mic, Gibson Les Paul 1957 goldtop guitar, Fender jazz bass, Vox ac30 amp, Fender Champion 600 amp, Abelton Live, Digidesign Pro Tools
Notable National Acts Recorded: Prefers to collaborate with international acts
Notable Local Acts Recorded: The Eden Express, The Weak Men, Boots to the Moon
Unless you are a devotee of a certain few bands out of Utah County, you’ve probably never heard of Neil Bly. He doesn’t solicit bands to record with him. He doesn’t advertise Friendless Records, the studio he runs in his Provo basement. He doesn’t even have a set price on hours. He has a Web site that not many people seem to know about, but Bly’s reputation, if not widely known, is indisputable in terms of his vast abilities in the studio. Be it the folktronica of The Eden Express, the oscillation between pp and FF on Weak Men’s “Dog,” or the whisper-in-your-ear intimacy of Boots To The Moon’s self-titled release, a record that Neil Bly works on will invariably sound professional-level good. “Just because a band is ‘local’ doesn’t mean that the recording has to sound shitty,” says Bly. “The terms ‘national act’ versus ‘local band’ are maybe what’s holding the industry back. I record real bands.”
Friendless Records is like a museum for analog synths, reel-to-reels and vintage microphones. Bly has been compulsively collecting equipment for years for his own work, Shifty Individual. “Everything I bought for recording was with the intention to fit into my personal grand scheme of things, rather than for recording whoever,” he says.
Producing others happened accidentally. “I approached The Eden Express about jamming. Then they showed up at my house intending to record,” says Bly. After The Eden Express’ “Common Sense EP” dropped, more musicians in Provo began asking Bly to work with them. However, for all the people who request his services, Bly is pretty selective about who he records. “I choose bands where I would fit as a temporary member,” he says. “I come to recording more from a songwriter perspective than an engineer’s, more a musician than a producer. I don’t want to be a hired gun that places mics.”
Despite not operating as a traditional studio, Friendless Records continues to slowly build its reputation. Maybe it’s foolhardy, but Neil Bly’s modus operandi is different from others. “If we work out a deal, we work out a deal,” he says. “But I built up my studio for my music and people who I feel musical connection with.” Musicians interested in working with Bly are welcome to visit friendlessrecords.com. But remember, if Bly wants to record your band, he’ll probably call you.