You probably know Ted Bowne as the lead singer and guitarist of rock-reggae favorites Passafire; especially with six full-length albums to their name including their most recent release, 2017’s Longshot. However, you might not be aware of his ever-talented production skills, brand new studio and recent projects that he’s been doing behind the scenes.
Ted Bowne has long aspired to be in the mix with recording. In fact, Ted attended the Savannah College of Art and Design (where Passafire’s musical inception occurred in 2003), and graduated with a degree in sound design. From there, he’s been at the helm of creating musical magic alongside his band-mates in Passafire. They recorded their first (self-titled) record in Savannah, GA back in 2006. Fast forward 12 years, and when Ted isn’t busy with Passafire, he’s hard at work acquiring equipment and honing his craft to build a studio via Ted Bowne Productions – The Lizard Lounge, right in the heart of St. Petersburg, FL near the staple Jannus Live.
Most recently, Ted produced The Ries Brothers debut album The View From the Outside, and was also featured on their track “No Place I’d Rather Be.” Ted recently caught up with The Pier to lay down the details of his recording space, recent projects and the future of Passafire.
Watch: Ted Bowne – “Roller Skates” (Live Steel Pulse Cover)
Interview: Ted Bowne of Passafire
The Pier: Congrats on the studio! In addition to production with The Ries Brothers, Chris Cassady, are there any other bands / artists you are currently working with?
Ted Bowne: Yes. Since opening my studio here in St. Petersburg, FL, I have had the pleasure of hosting quite a few artists and groups from all over the country. Chris Cassady has now recorded two albums with me which were both fun sessions. The Ries Brothers project was especially fun to work on because they are extremely talented young dudes that are down to work hard and get the sounds they desire. We did that recording in two weeks and now only several months later, they are direct support on the G. Love and Special Sauce 25th anniversary tour. So stoked for them!
Recently I’ve had Of Good Nature, Oklahoma Stackhouse, and Perfect By Tomorrow in the studio to record. I’ve done some mixing work for Signal Fire and Sidereal and a few feature performances for other bands (Elephant Convoy, Perfect By Tomorrow, Bumpin’ Uglies, Nine Mile Roots, White Glove Service, and Tatanka). I produced a hip-hop track which features Stic from Dead Prez and Mr. Lif and Akrobatik of The Perceptionists. I’ve also had a couple local acoustic artists come in to lay down some tunes.
The Pier: What’s been your favorite production project to date?
Ted Bowne: I’d have to say that traveling to Kingston, Jamaica to produce the album “Finding Wisdom” by British Dependency at the legendary Tuff Gong recording studio was a highlight of my career as a producer. It was early in my career, so I was just getting acquainted with the role of producer, but it turned out to be a great experience that helped me grow as a producer and as a mixing engineer.
While I was there, I made friends with the artist Motion Boss (the security guard at my hotel) and produced a track with him called “Gwaan” that was featured on a compilation called “Life Beyond Reggae Music” that accompanied the book by Heather Dennis. We are currently planning for him to come to the US this year to record a full-length album.
The Pier: Are there any artists you would specifically like to work with?
Ted Bowne: One of my goals is to produce something for an established band in the reggae-rock scene like Slightly Stoopid, Dirty Heads, Rebelution, SOJA, Pepper, The Expendables, Iration, The Movement, etc. I have friends in all of those bands and would love to work with them in the studio. I’m really just looking to get involved in something where I can display my skills in the studio and get the word out among serious musicians that I have a passion for recording good music, well. I would love to work with ANY of the bands on the current Easy Star Records roster including Easy Star All-Stars, which is something I’ve been bugging the label about since Passafire signed in 2013. I hear a rumor that there is a possible next Easy Star tribute album in the works and I want to help.
The Pier: Regarding your Steel Pulse video cover — What made you think of Steel Pulse? How do you determine what songs you’d like to cover?
Ted Bowne: Steel Pulse is one of my favorite reggae bands of all time. That song in particular is one of my favorite to cover because it has such iconic parts that when you put them together in a loop it’s unmistakable what song it is and works as a loop really well. I have had to limit myself to songs with repetitive chord structures for my live loop sets for obvious reasons. This is one of the best loop-able songs I know.
The Pier: We’ve also seen some covers over the years you’ve put together of Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak and others. I know hip-hop has always been a huge influence, are there any other covers along those lines you’re looking to do?
Ted Bowne: I have been into hip-hop since my summer camp counselor Terrance gave me “Three Feet High and Rising” by De La Soul on CD and I listened to it night and day. I loved how I was hearing the sounds of my Dad’s old jazz, funk, and blues albums being chopped up and made into something new and exciting… and SUPER rhythmic. The drums are my primary instrument so I gravitate toward anything rhythmic. These new artists like Kendrick and Paak are taking hip hop back to its roots in funk and soul music. Childish Gambino’s latest album was also a huge throwback to the old days of fusion jazz/funk/soul that really makes you want to dance but has a message at the same time. I’m hoping that direction of hip hop takes off in the coming years. I’ll be covering them as I am discovering them for sure!
The Pier: Longshot featured Mr. Lif on the track “Blow” — Who would be some of the main hip-hop artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future if given the opportunity?
Ted Bowne: OutKast, De La Soul, ATCQ, Beastie Boys, Dead Prez, Diggable Planets, Blackalicious, Jurassic 5, Common. I actually just did a project that features Stic from Dead Prez and Mr. Lif and Akrobatik (The Perceptionists) that will hopefully be released before 2019.
The Pier: Where is your studio Ted Bowne Productions located at specifically?
Ted Bowne: After I graduated from SCAD with a degree in Sound Design, I set up a makeshift studio inside my house in Savannah which served as the band rehearsal and recording spot for about 10 years. I moved to St. Petersburg, FL in January of 2016 in search of a space that I could build out and make into a legitimate studio to record everything from solo artists to full bands. The studio is called “The Lizard Lodge” because (like most places in southern FL) there are hundreds of lizards that crawl around and keep watch over the studio. I’m conveniently located halfway between downtown (Jannus Live) and the beach. Artists who have recorded with me have spent mornings before sessions on the white sand beaches and nights enjoying the nightlife St. Pete has to offer, which is pretty killer!
The Pier: Are you working on additional solo music? I remember seeing that you had been working on new tracks dating back to 2017 as well.
Ted Bowne: I have been slowly gathering a body of music that will culminate into a full length solo release at some point. It’s more or less a back-burner project that I work on in between tours with Passafire and sessions with other artists. I’d really like to make it happen before the end of this year if time permits… Not sure which ones would be part of a full-length release, but I do have at least 10-15 songs in varying stages of completion. I want to continue making reggae music but ultimately would love to blend it with the kind of raw funk and soul being produced by the aforementioned artists. Dry drums, heavy bass, spacey keys and guitar tones, both soft and belted-out vocals.
The Pier: Passafire was recently featured on the TV Show “Hawaii Five-0” with the track “Fireside” (one of my personal faves from Longshot!) — how did that come together?
Ted Bowne: An agent that solicits music from our record label to the film and television industry was able to score us that placement. It was pretty cool to hear our music playing on a huge network TV show like that. The Green’s music was featured on that show a while back, and we are label mates so it is likely due to a good relationship already established between Easy Star Records and CBS. We are stoked about the feature and appreciate all who made it possible!
The Pier: What’s next for Passafire? Aside from the remaining tour dates lined up this year can you talk briefly about Passafire’s plans for 2018 and moving into next year?
Ted Bowne: We are currently taking some time off from touring but will be heading back out in the summer and Fall. No solid plans have been confirmed. We will just be continuing to promote Longshot and playing shows for the fans around the country. New music always comes about when we take time away from hectic travel and reflection our experiences. You can definitely expect that we’ll be working on more new music for the future.
The Lizard Lodge is a sight to behold with a beachy-artistic ambiance. In addition to the eclectic and diverse mix of top-of-the-line equipment, the studio features 10 different guitar options (including Gibson Les Paul’s with P-90 pickups), keys, amps, microphones, various Pro Tools and more. Check out the full list of equipment by clicking HERE!
Easy Star Records Exclusive Blog
Ted Bowne Productions Website
Article By: Brian Glaser
Watch: Ted Bowne – “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance” (Anderson .Paak Cover)
Watch: Ted Bowne Goes to Kingston