P26 OCTOBER 2015
Colliva’s travels Jon Chapple meets Toomi Labs’ Tommaso, the man behind the new Muse album. Dr Dre is a fan Tommaso Colliva at Toomi Labs (All photos: Eugenio Vasdeki)
hile Muse’s four studio albums since 2006’s break-out Black Holes and Revelations have run the gamut from bombastic, sci-ﬁ-inﬂuenced prog to dance, dubstep, chunky alt-rock and back again, one thing has remained a constant: the presence of Milanese engineer/producer Tommaso Colliva. After an early career spent at the Officine Meccaniche studio in northern Italy – his ﬁrst session as an assistant was with Mutt Lange producing Shania Twain – Colliva has, since going freelance in 2006, engineered “pretty much everything Muse has done in the last 10 years”. He recently moved from Milan to London, to a room at Palm Recordings in Hornsey. PSNEurope spoke to him in mid-August, two months after the release of Muse’s seventh studio album, Drones, which he engineered and co-produced with the band and, coincidentally, Lange – and which bagged him no1s on both sides of the Atlantic…
How’s life at Palm? It’s great: very well built and soundproofed, which is really important given the number of rooms – 16 or 17 altogether. It’s no surprise there are lot of very good people are in the building, including Guy Massey and Adam Noble to name just two. I’ve got a control room and a medium-sized booth, big enough to do all kind of overdubs, and small drum kits so I can track bands elsewhere but complete the rest of the process here, having my creative arsenal of amps, keyboards and mics ready to go. It took a bit to tweak the room acoustics – I relied mainly on extremely wellmade panels by Oudimmo Acoustics – but now I’m very comfortable mixing here, too.
What prompted the move from Italy? After too many years coming to London every other month I decided to permanently move here about a year-and-a-half ago. Last year I was very, very busy working on Muse’s latest album [Drones] and at the
same time looking for the right place to set up all my gear. After extensive research, I found this room, which I’m very happy with.
How did you ﬁrst get involved with Muse? They came to the studio in Milan to do strings and few overdubs. I was already chief engineer at that point, but I was the only one who could speak English and I deﬁnitely didn’t mind working for a few days with Muse and [Black Holes and Revelations producer] Rich Costey. They were pretty late on the album and ended up staying two months, using two rooms at the same time, with Rich recording bits in one and myself recording other bits next door. During that period I started chatting with Matt [Bellamy] about a small writing studio he needed help with setting up at his place near Lake Como. That writing-room idea became a full-sized studio with four live rooms, an SSL 4048 G+ console and tons of gear. Designing and supervising the building of the whole