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Interview with rock duo V2’s producer Ron Nevison (Includes interview)

Ron Nevison certainly couldn’t have asked for a better start to his long and distinguished career as a recording engineer and producer. After working (as Chief Engineer) on his very first project, The Who’s classic concept album from 1973, Quadrophenia, he went on to assist Bad Company in their rise to the top and also had a hand in Led Zeppelin‘s Physical Graffiti.

Comprising of 12-year-old twin brothers, guitarist Vittorio and drummer Vincenzo (yes, you read that right, 12!), V2 (pronounced “V Squared”) are a dynamic young rock duo from California, who have successfully managed to incorporate a classic rock edge into their high-energy, self-penned material. Who better to produce them, then, than Mr. Nevison?

So Ron, just how good are these kids? Can they go on to become true rock greats, like their heroes AC/DC?

“They’re extremely talented, both of them… They’ve just turned 12 and it depends on if they follow through, and I think they will. I think they’re both really into it, but it’s hard to tell at this age what’s going to happen with their voices changing.

“I’ve done two albums with them and I can tell from one album to the next that both boys’ ranges have dropped a little bit. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of music they write in the future… I won’t be working again with them probably until 2017 because we’ve already got two albums in the can.”

Unsurprisingly, it was his work with some of the aforementioned acts that got this respected industry figure the gig with V2. “They contacted my long-time manager, Michael Lipman,” recalls Ron, chatting to me from his home in Marin County, California, “and the guy that was working with the father of the two boys contacted Michael.

“They liked the kind of albums that I had done with Bad Company and The Who, etc., and they had a style of classic rock that they thought would fit into that vein. They wanted that kind of producer so they contacted me.

“As it turns out, they were only 40 miles away in Santa Rosa. I went up to their facility – they have a warehouse decked out like a rehearsal room – and they played for me and I was kind of blown away. That’s how it all started.”

What are the boys like to work with?

“They’re very easy, very open. They’re used to being tutored. They go to Catholic school in Santa Rosa and they’re quite happy to follow directions, but I think like any 11 year olds they were, from time to time, a little distracted. I’d worked with youngsters before, but never that age – never as young as 11. I thought they were fantastic, though. They really performed amazingly.”

“The bass player was their guitar teacher, so it’s really a trio,” continues the seasoned pro, who likes to relax by taking care of his young son and watching CNN, providing an insight into the band’s recording process. “We would get together up at their rehearsal facility. For the first album, I went up there maybe 15 times and worked over the songs, got the tempos right, honed the arrangements…

“Initially the drummer was singing all the songs, except for one. I got the guitar player to start singing more on the first album and on the second album he sings about half of them, I think. It was a very interesting project.”

V2’s debut album is called We are V2 and its lead-off single, the title track, has been doing rather well, reaching number one on the National Radio Airplay Charts for Independent Artists and number three on both the Billboard Hot Singles Sales Chart and on the National Airplay Top 50 Rock Chart.

The 10-track album (nine originals and a cover of AC/DC’s “High Voltage“), released in February, has been making waves too. The brothers received an impressive seven nominations at the L.A. Music Awards – and also performed at the event – in November last year.

“‘We are V2’ is currently climbing the charts,” says one of their musical mentors, reflecting on his favourite cuts on the record, “and there’s another one that I think is very important, which is ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll.’ It’s a fairly long track, but it really says a lot about what this band can do. It says a lot about the writing, it says a lot about the guitar playing.

“‘Rock This House’ is another great tune… Also, I think for a different kind of tune, ‘I Like Doing This the Best.’ That’s the guitar player singing and he does a great job with it. It’s a little bit different – it’s not as hard rock – but I think that’s a terrific tune and it might be my favourite on the album, actually.”

Looking back on how he first got started 40-something years ago, the technical whizz muses, “The Who was my first big album, so Pete Towshend was my guru…

“The fact that I recorded and mixed that Quadrophenia album and then I recorded and mixed the whole Tommy film, even though during that period in England, from ’70 to ’75 when I was there, I also did the first three Bad Company albums and Physical Graffiti for Zeppelin, and Thin Lizzy… quite a bit of very important rock stuff during that time.

“I was just an engineer; it wasn’t like I was a royalty artist or anything. But when I got back to America in 1975, those things set my whole career. I started producing Dave Mason and UFO and Jefferson Starship and then Kiss and Ozzy and Heart and Chicago and Meatloaf… I became this engineer/producer guy from 1975 on.

“People have said to me, ‘You didn’t get a royalty for The Who?’ and I say, ‘Well no, but I did really because that on my resume gave me a chance to work with all these other artists,’ and V2. They called me up because of my resume.”

V2’s debut We are V2 is available now on iTunes.

For more information on the band, visit their official website.

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