Andy Sneap's Commendation video transcript

Andy Sneap

STEPHEN SMITH: I now have great pleasure in inviting Professor Judith Lamie, Pro Vice-Chancellor External Affairs, to give the commendation for the conferment of the Honorary Degree of Master of the University to Andy Sneap.

PROFESSOR JUDITH LAMIE: Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, honoured guests and graduands, it gives me great pleasure to be presenting today Andy Sneap, for the award of Honorary Master of the University.

Andy was born in Belper, Derbyshire. He first made a name for himself as a musician in various rock bands, but it is as a music producer that he has carved out his incredibly successful international career.

Andy got his first guitar and amplifier from his parents at the age of 12 and started learning guitar with Dave Halliday, founding member of local heavy metal band Hell. Halliday had a huge influence on Andy growing up, leaving him the rights to his songs and equipment in his will following his death in 1987.

Andy formed his first thrash metal band at the age of 15 and over the next few years Nottingham-based band Sabbat began to attract attention. The band were offered a recording contract in 1987 but had to wait until Andy turned 18 before they could sign. The following year Sabbat released their first album.

Andy created three more albums with Sabbat before they split in 1991. After their breakup, he built Backstage Recording Studios so that he could make demos and record local bands. His expertise in the studio as engineer, mixer and producer soon attracted the attention of established metal acts. Andy went on to become one of the most active and successful music producers in the metal music genre, working with bands such as Accept, Saxon, Opeth, Exodus, Megadeth, Testament and Judas Priest.

Andy splits his time between his recording studios in Belper and a host of international facilities, particularly in Nashville and San Francisco. Over the past 25 years, Andy has produced well over 100 albums from international artists, bringing many of them here to Derbyshire. He was awarded a Swedish Grammi in 2002 and his work was nominated for a US Grammy in 2005. He has also been voted thirteenth in the Ultimate Guitar Top Producers of all time.

Andy has just returned from the US performing with Judas Priest on their latest world tour. After producing the band’s latest studio album Firepower in 2017, he was asked to help out on stage when the group’s long time guitarist Glenn Tipton had to retire from the live arena.

Andy is a rare breed in the music industry: talented, successful yet generous to a fault. He is approachable and always takes the time to talk to his admirers, giving them encouragement and advice. He has developed an enviable international reputation but despite this is fiercely proud of his Derbyshire roots. In amongst his hectic working schedule each year he generously gives time for our BSc Music Production students to visit his studio and share some of his wisdom and experience. He is an inspirational role model.

Chancellor, in recognition of his contribution to the local and international rock music industry, we are delighted to award Andy Sneap the honorary degree of Master of the University.

ANDY SNEAP: Hello. This is all a bit unexpected. I’m possibly the worst advocate for further education you could have picked to be honest. I went to Swanwick Hall School, just up the A38, way back 30 something years ago. Music back then was not seen as a viable career. It certainly wasn’t taken seriously at that school. In fact, a music lesson consisted of one acoustic guitar, a recorder, set of triangles and a violin lesson for anyone showing the slightest bit of interest.

When I was 15 in my last year of school, we were ordered to do a week's worth of work experience. My teacher singled me out, had me stand in front of the whole class and asked me what I wanted to do when I left school, to which I replied become a heavy metal guitar player. As you can imagine chaos ensued and once the laughter had died down, she announced there was a placement for me at the famous Meat Company, which was the slaughterhouse directly across from the school where every morning we could hear the pigs reaching their final destination. I walked out the class and I never looked back – I never actually went back to school and did any exams.

I've been vegetarian most of my adult life and as for the guitar playing, it worked out ok. I think it's safe to say dreams were not encouraged at Swanwick Hall. When John Crosley and Duncan Werner approached me about working with Derby University the idea was to allow students a better insight on recording at an international level. It struck me how time had moved on for the better and I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm and the knowledge the newer generation of students had gained by their time at Derby. The approach by the staff seemed very refreshing, encouraging and extremely forward-thinking.

This whole event, as I said, is somewhat unexpected yet it's very flattering and I look forward to continued working collaborations with the University in the near future I'd also like to say good luck to the budding recording engineers and record producers here today about to take on the outside world. It's not easy, it's taken me over 30 years to be where I am today with a lot of hard work and dedication. My advice to you would be; be positive, be polite, believe in yourself, put the effort in and you will see the rewards come back. I would like to thank my parents for encouraging me to follow my dreams, even if you didn't understand them, and it’s really great to see Derby University doing the same for the students here today. So thank you very much it's an honour to be honoured. Thank you.

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