Songwriter, guitarist, and keyboardist Kerry Livgren lived the rock ‘n’ roll dream, complete with platinum records, memorable songs, and big tours—then he went back to farming. Best known for his work over the course of 13 years (1970-83) with the prog-rock group Kansas, Livgren wrote such hits as "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind." He went on to launch a successful solo career, and after leaving Kansas, he formed the Christian band AD (1983-86).
In 2003, he led a reunion of an early version of Kansas, called Proto-Kaw. (Kansas had three incarnations during Livgren’s tenure. Proto-Kaw was a reunion of the second Kansas; the third lineup is the Kansas that became famous.) Proto-Kaw released three CDs before disbanding in the fall of 2008.
For years, Livgren owned a farm near Atlanta, Georgia, not far from the farm of fellow guitar wizard and Kansas alumnus Steve Morse. Livgren says that when he and Morse got together in public, fans expected them to talk music. Instead, the two talked farming. Both men are also airplane pilots.
In 1994, after releasing a couple of albums on Sparrow Records, Livgren decided to return to his hometown of Topeka, Kansas. There, he formed a production company, Grandyzine, and a record label, Numavox. He bought a farm southeast of Topeka and built a state-of-the-art recording studio in the frame of a restored barn.
Thanks to his many musical accomplishments, Livgren is able to equip his studio with almost any gear he wants. He currently uses two PreSonus FireBoxes, a FireStudio, and a Central Station. What attracted him to PreSonus products? “I think that the quality/price comparison won me over,” Livgren replies. “The quality is as good as anything out there, and the gear is still very affordable.”
He likes the FireBox, FireStudio, and Central Station for their “crystal clear sound, and with the Central Station, great flexibility for the studio, above and beyond what my board offers me.” With the Central Station, he has found the ability to select multiple sets of monitors especially useful, and he appreciates the “handy” headphone jack. “The FireBox is a simple and straightforward interface, which I use for slave PCs,” explains Livgren. “The FireStudio offers much more elaborate routing and configuration, which I use for surround.”
For the past 20 years, Livgren has been working on an orchestral-style cantata, and he expects to finally complete it in 2010. Throughout the process, he will continue to rely on PreSonus. “PreSonus gear has been trouble-free and does everything I need it to,” he explains. “I would buy it again if the studio burned down! (God forbid.)”