“I used to hang out with musicians. I was a drummer.”
That’s how Jim Ebdon begins his story when we asked him how he ended up in the house mix position for Maroon 5.
But being “the man” for one of the biggest bands in the world is not a new thing for Jim.
For the better part of e decade prior to M5 he was in the big chair for Aerosmith.
And before getting the Aerosmith gig and moving to the U.S. in about 2002, he built a pop rep in the UK with acts including Annie Lennox, Sting, Morrissey, Tears For Fears and the Pet SHop Boys.
But it all started with a classic rock band called Wishbone Ash.
“I was playing drums in a band and, you know, weed and chicks and beer were much more interesting than school, so at age 17 I was asked to leave school. I didn’t know what i wanted to do but I knew i was comfortable around musicians and so i signed up for an AV course and was taking the summer off. A girlfriend’s mother introduced me to the bass player from Wishbone Ash and he suggested I go down to the studio where they recorded and tell them who had sent me and they should give me a job…and to my shock they did”
A government program doubled what the studio could pay him and in about 1980 as a teen, he was making–if our math and research is right–the equivalent of about $500 a week today. Combine that with seeing a constant parade of drummers come through the studio that were all better than he thought he could ever be and it did not take long for the young ex-drummer to figure out that he had a much better future in the studio.
The move from the studio to live sound was another Wishbone Ash thing.
“I was working with them and it was going well and they asked me to go with them one weekend to Germany and mix them live at a festival. I said, “Yes,” but I had no idea what I had put myself in for. No idea of the protocols of live sound. I got there and began soundcheck and spent 15 mins on the kick drum like we would do in the studio and moved on to the snare and the promoter told me I was finished. I said, “What do you mean, I’ve only just gotten to the snare.” And he told me he really didn’t care what i had done but the band were on NOW.”
Evidently it went well enough that Jim was asked to do more work with them. Soon after, Surry Sound, the studio where he started and did sessions with the Police, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton closed it’s doors.
“A lot of studios were closing down then. Drum machines were taking over and the business was changing. I was introduced to Lars Brogard who had just started Electrotek in England and he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes and from there I just sort of became a live sound engineer by default, really.”
– Rev. Bill