When Soundgas met Roland
WRITTEN BY: Tony Miln
UPLOADED: 12th Sep 2017
This is the story of how we sold Space Echoes to Roland, our trip to London to bring the vintage gear noise to the Boss exhibition launch and came to meet Miki-san, CEO of the mighty Roland Corporation. Pictures are of the venue, the epic exhibition of Boss & Roland gear, and our workshop set up; you can see a full album of shots from the weekend here.
Following the initial request from Roland/Boss asking us to supply serviced Space Echoes for their Cause And Effects show (celebrating 40 years of Boss guitar effects), our involvement grew, leading to us being invited to take part in the opening weekend of the show at the stunning House Of Vans in London. Walking in and seeing this below was undoubtedly a highlight, but there was more to come…
Our ‘anti-boutique’ (almost-) all-Roland/Boss rig for the weekend contained many classics, including half a dozen RE series tape echoes, a pair of 808s (one of which we were running with a 303 and a bunch of vintage Boss pedals), a Juno 106 (sadly the RS-505 Paraphonic had just sold, as had both Juno 60s, and we’d not enough room for the SH-7) and a trio of classic Roland Rack effects. Everything was routed through one of our restored Roland PA-150 spring reverb mixers into a pair of original Roland PA columns imported at considerable cost from Japan. Visitors to the workshop could test the tape echoes using various Ace Tone/Roland beatboxes, guitar or the Juno 106.
While being the only non-Roland/Boss company invited to the opening was in itself a great honour, something we couldn’t have dreamed of prior to attending was that we would meet the CEO of Roland, Jun-Ichi Miki, who stopped by to talk to us about original Roland gear. My excitement was so evident that the crew filming the event for Boss asked me to interview him for their channel!
Miki-san began his career at Roland building RE-201s (his neighbour on the production line is now head of Boss); he was delighted to see so many classic Roland pieces in use in the Soundgas Workshop stand at the show, especially the trio of superb RE-201s we had in action and he was mystified by the RE-200 (“I’ve never seen one of these before”). He was very keen to hear about the demand for classic Roland gear, asking about prices of our serviced RE-201s – and about people’s attitudes to and love of the older vintage gear. I asked him who designed the RE-201, but it appears that nobody at Roland can recall exactly even though it was “… a very profitable product for Roland!”
With Miki-san were Shinsuke Takami, who has just moved to Reading from Japan to take charge of new product planning and promotion on the Dance, DJ and Production lines, and Ace – a long-serving Roland designer who was en route to a new marketing post in LA. All three were fascinated by the pair of original 808s and the 303 we were running on the stall. I made a point of stressing how much love and demand there is for the original Roland gear, asking if they were planning to reintroduce the Space Echo (hardly surprising that the answer was an unequivocal no) and they seemed genuinely surprised at the prices of original 808s. I had hoped that we could discover the exact tape formulation used in the original RT-1L Space Echo tapes, but nobody was sure (I will be following up this enquiry now we are in contact with Miki-san).
Takami-san was particularly enthusiastic about our gear – he’s a committed synth lover and had just passed on many of his treasured vintage synths to friends before leaving Japan – and promised to come visit us in Derbyshire with a load of new Roland gear for us to play with. You can see him below in the Instragram video losing himself in the RE-200:
Takami-san from @roland_uk popped by yesterday and tore it up through our spectacular-sounding modded RE-200. Today we go back to House of Vans for a day of workshops – come down if you are in London, otherwise stay tuned on here for regular updates and some live broadcasts. #spaceecho #dub #beats #electronicmusic #geartalk
Huge thanks to Matt and the guys at Roland and Boss for getting us involved and to them, plus Rob and the House of Vans London crew, for looking after us so well over the weekend.
Tony Miln is the co-founder (& Head Gear Head) of Soundgas. See/hear him in action on Instagram.