By Glenda McCarthy
Each day Scott Hammond inspires the minds of his Recording Arts students, imparting the tricks of the trade he has picked up over the past 14 years. But when the bell rings to signify the end of the day you will soon find Scott entrenched in his home studio for an additional eight to 10 hours – all because of his deep-rooted love of music.
There, he delves into a part of the recording process called mixing – the mastering stage where you take the makings of songs and compile them into the finished product. You see, although Scott has been a full-time instructor with CNA for the past eight years, he is still very well known in the music industry and regularly lends his mixing skills to artists across the country.
Scott has worked with some big name acts but you wouldn’t know it when you meet him; he’s not the type to talk about his success. It’s a safe bet that he’s the only person in Stephenville to have a Gold record hanging on his living room wall. The much-deserved accolade comes from his work with popular Newfoundland band Great Big Sea on their album The Hard and Easy. In 2005, Scott spent two years working in the band’s private studio and the gig opened up many doors for the St. John’s native.
“I think for me, I’m just about the work. I love doing the work and I guess as far as what I do, it’s pretty much behind the scenes. Within the industry people know who I am and I’m comfortable where I am in the ranks. There’s no sense getting an inflated head about it.”
Not even working along Hollywood A-lister Russell Crowe was enough to give Scott an ego boost, although he does admit to having one pretty surreal experience.
“I worked on Russell’s album with Allan Doyle of Great Big Sea, which reached Gold or Platinum sales,” Scott says. “I think the coolest thing about that for me is that I was flicking through the channels one night and Russell was the musical guest on the Jay Leno Show. Only the biggest international acts get on that show. One of the tunes I worked on, Russell did as the song that night. All I could think was that I had worked on a song being played on Leno right now. It was pretty surreal.”
Looking back to 1999 at his graduation day from Recording Arts Canada in Stony Creek, Ontario (now located in Toronto), Scott never imagined having the opportunity to work with such great artists.
“Of course it’s always a bit of a dream, but for me I think it goes back to loving the work again. I feel that if you concentrate on doing the best job that you can do, everything else will work itself out in time.”
It is obvious Scott loves every aspect of the music industry, having spent a decade playing in the successful band Gearbox before switching to a behind the scenes role. It’s in this capacity he’s had the opportunity to share the stage with pretty much every band that was big in Canada during the late 90’s, such as Green Day, Our Lady Peace, Sam Roberts, I Mother Earth, Finger Eleven, Sloan and Treble Charger.
“It’s been a really fun ride. I’m grateful I’ve had success in all those areas. It’s all part of the ride. Interesting enough K-Rock was compiling a list of the 50 greatest albums and one of ours was 45 on that list. While the band has dissolved and we only had five albums, it’s cool that we made it on that list.”
But it was a chance meeting in 2007 with previous Recording Arts instructor that brought Scott to work at CNA.
“It’s funny actually, and it was interesting how it all worked out. I remember we were in the middle of a Great Big Sea studio session and I had to run out for batteries or something and I literally bumped into Ron Ronin. We chatted and he asked if I ever thought about teaching. I said absolutely not,” he recalls with a chuckle.
While Scott admits he was really happy doing the production thing, over the next few days, the idea kept popping into his mind.
“The more I thought about it, the better is sounded,” Scott recalls. “You can have all of the cool names on your resume, especially in St. John’s, but I wasn’t always crazy busy. For me the yearly earnings didn’t really reflect the accolades. With the college it was a steady paycheck so I said I would give it a shot for a year at least. I ended up getting the job and I’ve loved it ever since. As long as the college is willing to have me, I’m willing to stay.”
And it’s a decision he hasn’t regretted.
“It’s rewarding to see my students go out and make names for themselves. Most of the graduates work in live sound but they make up the entire force of the biggest live sound company in St. John’s. They’re the top guys, and it’s cool to see that and see how well respected they are and know I had a hand in that.”
Although he doesn’t have time to record songs, Scott still fills up each and every day with his passion – music. He is currently mixing songs for the upcoming albums of several artists including Ian Foster, Brianna Gosse, Bishops, as well as Cabbages and Kings.
“That will be the next couple of months of my life for sure. I kind of find that even though I don’t work 15-16 hour days at the college, I am pretty much working those hours anyway because when I get home I go into my studio and plug another eight hours.”
He has worked on all of St. John’s artist Chris Kirby’s recordings over the past two years and mixed his entire Wonderizer album, which won two Music NL awards (Male Artist, Songwriter of the Year), and was named in Roots Music Roundup’s Top 100 Roots Albums in 2012, sharing the list with big names such as Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt and the Luminaries.
Scott’s most recent work also includes the first single of RocketRocketShip called Here’s To Us, and Fortunate Ones’ song Carry On which received 15,000 hits on YouTube within one month. Scott can even be seen making a cameo in their music video.
“I’m still very, very much active in the industry. I get as much, if not more work as when I was in St. John’s. I get bands from Toronto, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, ECMA winners, etc. I’m still very much steeped in the industry.”
And that is where he expects to say, as long as they’ll have him.