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Bob Kraushaar.

B ob Kraushaar is a sound engineer, who worked with the Pet Shop Boys since 1987 (I’m not scared, Do I have to?) through Behaviour (and—quite obviously—Being boring), 1993’s Very and 1996’s Bilingual albums, plus some B-sides and additional singles of that age.

It is a common belief that Bob Kraushaar was at least partially responsible for the “messy” or “rich” (depending on whom you ask) sound of Very and Bilingual. Although he had zero involvement in 1999’s Nightlife, Bob Kraushaar returned as the sound engineer of Closer to heaven album, Montage live video and Disco 3 album.

He was also engineering and/or mixing records from Propaganda, Gary Moore, Erasure, Ofra Haza, Basia, Paul McCartney, Alison Moyet and Gary Barlow. Recently he went on producing several albums, including Mulu’s Smiles like a shark and Siete by Presuntos Implicados.

The following information and interview appeared in Literally 16 in 1996:

    Bob Kraushaar first worked with the Pet Shop Boys as engineer on Patsy Kensit’s I’m not scared, when he was working at Sarm West studios as the house engineer: “I worked up from the bottom. My first job was as Trevor Horn’s gopher while he was making the second Buggles album.” On Bilingual he engineered all the songs which the Pet Shop Boys produced, and mixed two others. Recently he has also been working with J.J. Jeczalik (previously in The Art Of Noise, and the producer of the first version of Opportunities) on his new project, The Art Of Silence. As Literally spoke to him, he was just off to Dusseldorf to produce “a German vintage synth duo with thrash influences” called The Armageddon Dildoes:

    “Before I worked with them I’d seen them around Sarm, and they’d always seemed friendly. Like normal people, do you know what I mean? You often find that people in the studio are a lot more normal than their public persona. After I’m not scared I next worked with them doing a b-side, Do I have to?, but Behaviour is when it really started. They’d been working with Harold Faltermeyer in Germany, but they ran out of time with him, so there was quite a lot of time just me and Neil doing all the vocals in Studio 4 at Sarm.”

    How do they work?

    Bob Kraushaar:
    They split it fairly evenly. When one of them has an idea, the other one’s quite happy to let them get on with it. And when one of them has not got an idea, the chances are that the other one has, so it’s really complementary. Neil is probably more melodic and Chris more rhytmic, but Chris comes up with lots of small but crucial Pet Shop Boys hooks are incredibly simple but do loads.

    They don’t get bogged down in stuff. If an idea isn’t working, they move on. Other people grind an idea into the ground, but with the Pet Shop Boys there’s never really any shortage of ideas so it’s easy for them to move onto the next one.

    Do they really go out to lunch while the record is made?

    Bob Kraushaar:
    To an extent, but we’re always left strict instructions. A lot of making a record can be fairly laborious. The Pet Shop Boys like to work quickly, so they throw loads of ideas into the computer, and then often leave Pete [Gleadall] and I to record them and make sure they’re tidy. They don’t leave any major decisions to us, they just leave the donkey work. They’re just good at knowing when they don’t need to be around. Instead of hanging around the studio going, “why is this taking so long?,” they go, “oh, this is going to take a while,” and they go off.

    If you try to nudge them in a particular direction, which is it?

    Bob Kraushaar:
    My taste is to push them towards leaving stuff out, towards a sparser mix. Their arrangements have become lusher. Maybe they’re less excited by the simplicity of getting a groove going and more excited by the possibilities of layering.

    My favourite song is Being boring. Just everything about it. I think it’s perfect. And I love Relentless, because it’s got some of the more sparse elements about it, and because it’s less song-based it frees you up.


Bob Kraushaar’s official website.

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