Friday, December 24, 2004

"The Chrysler Building is talking
to the Empire State...
Saying all is forgiven
I love you still
And we're home, home
Going home" (Dean Wareham)

Off to Connecticut! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2004


"We're heading for Venus
and still we stand tall
'cause maybe they've seen us
and welcome us all..." (Europe)

As the year winds down, I'd just like to say thank you to all we've worked with, smoked with, drank with, bitched with, played with, mixed with, laughed with, yelled with, and just hung around with in the past year. I know that, for me, it's been an educational and entertaining time (our lives as edutainment), filled with much music and guitars. It's been a blast spending it in our stinky little rooms.

As for next year... many new opportunities. A complete remodeling, redecorating, and refurbishing of the studio is currently underway, as we decide where we're gonna move the fridge, and how we'll fill all the newly emptied space in the rack. The Smoke and Mirrors Mobile Unit 2 has been active, as we branch out to recording more live shows. Debate rages on over what the next record covered will be ("Moving Pictures," anyone?). Christian music will be arriving from Georgia any day now.

So Happy Holidays and thanks again, everyone, for helping us live this little dream for one more year. Let's do it again...

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Some news from the front, for clarification and edification.....

The third partner in our space, John Anderson, (no relation to the Yes man, who as we all know spells his name "Jon") will be leaving the nest as of the end of the month. Partly because he'll be out of town for the next two months, partly because his girlfriend is applying to grad schools outside of New York City, John has decided that he's no longer going to use the studio.

Now, this means a few things. About 6 months ago, John decided that he was going back to Macintosh computers, and bought a used G4 for the studio, loaded it up with OSX, and asked us if we'd like to go along for the ride. Since our previous computer was an aging G3 blue and white, we jumped on board. It was a very stressful couple of weeks as we changed not only computers but operating systems, audio plugins, and everything else. Cards and drives were moved from machine to machine, we battled with new configurations as we tried to port projects from DP3 (OS9) to DP4 (OSX). We were making a few records at the time (like Ice-a-Tone's), which added to the, er, excitement.

Not fun.

Eventually, we got everything moved over, and managed to set up a new, fairly stable system, albeit with lower functionality (some lost plugins, mostly). OSX is much nicer when DP crashes. We were just getting comfortable...

Well, now the computer is leaving, and we were given about two weeks notice. Tomorrow is the scheduled computer removal date. So here we go again.

Tonight I guess we'll pull our drives back out, remove the cards, and start trying to set up the G3 to run DP again. I honestly don't know if it'll be able to handle OSX with the projects we're currently working on, but the thought of trying to port everything back over to 9 is more than a little scary. We're saving up for the next computer, which will have to be another used G4 (onward to eBay! And Craig's list!) Not to mention the fact that we'll be losing a Midi Timepiece AV (about $600), which handles all the MIDI for the studio and allows us to synch up our ADAT's, as well as some controller keyboards. And a third of the rent. And when that new computer comes... you know the story. Get the screwdrivers back out.

At least we aren't working on any records.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Where is everybody?

The Holidays are in full swing. I'm not a huge fan of the holidays.

There's a lot to be said for spending time with family, relaxing, giving gifts, driving around in the snow, etc. etc. But I think the part of the season that I don't like is the disruption of schedule.

I love knowing that I've got work to do, that there's something happening tonight at the studio. I love getting ready for sessions, untangling the cables, setting up the mics. I like a nice full plate.

Christmas forces me to step back and do other things, but my mind remains on my work, mostly because it's fun. I'd honestly spend nearly every day in the studio, even if it's just screwing around with mixes and reamping stuff. Working, listening, working listening.... it's the uiltimate therapy. I get tired, frustrated, burned out, but never sick of it. Then, suddenly, it's five days off, going to the country, where I fall asleep by ten o'clock (not that there's anything wrong with that). I get a little fidgety. How long 'till we go home?

People are leaving town. I can already feel the slowdown. Don't you all want to be working on records? Why aren't we working on that guitar part?

Maybe next year...

Monday, December 20, 2004


Yes, we're making a lot of records right now. George Vitray's Robot Trilogy has expanded to far more than a trilogy; we're probably looking at something like half a dozen songs, with some other bits here and there. Although my initial thought was that it'd be a fairly quick production, I think I was wrong. It's probably going to be more like a year, which really shouldn't surprise me. The relentless pursuit of perfection ain't just a car commercial.

The project which has me jazzed right now is the Geek Farm record. As Ted blogged, what started as a little demo seems to be expanding to something more like a full record. I have a feeling it's going to go somewhat quickly, which I like. The band's excitement makes us work more efficiently, which makes them work more efficiently, which leads to efficiency everywhere. I'm not saying that it'll be ready for radio in a month, but we're gonna do some songs and get 'em done.

Yesterday was hours of playing bass, working up an arrangement for a "power pop" song for an artist Jared Kotler (producer of Marcy Playground) is working with. It's hard not to feel like a bitch when you're role is mostly to set everything up and then bang out those eighth notes. Again, I shouldn't be surprised, and I know I'm nobody's bitch; writing is just a tough thing to do. In the end, we got a tune together (or at least a drum track). We'll keep working on it, and who knows... maybe you'll hear our cheesy crap on the radio. I'd love nothing more.

Friday, December 17, 2004


...and once you're recording to a click, you get the option of using the greatest tool in the recording arsenal-editing.

Once again, let's turn to Neil Peart for some thoughts.

"Another sensitive area of recording is editing... editing is an art form for the engineer, but for the drummer it can be demoralizing and of questionable ethics. Why not just keep trying until you get it the way you want it? There are a few valid reasons that I would like to try to clarify.

One reason is spontaneity. Sometimes your part will not be firmly arranged. Every time you play the song it will be slightly different. Sometimes it's nice to leave a section wide open, close your eyes, and go for it! Great things do happen by accident. Editing is the only way to capture these "accidents."

A good example of the principle of editing is the pair of long fills that introduce each vocal section in the second half of "The Camera Eye." I wanted something really special and exciting there, but I didn't want it to be organized and pre-arranged. The only way to capture that spirit of wild abandon is to be that way. Every time we did a take of the song, I would close my eyes to those sections, let go, and flail away. This ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime, but I was able to choose the most successful, exciting fills for the finished track. What it really boils down to is that it's always you playing. Editing just gives you the opportunity to choose the very best you can do... another good reason for editing is time. Studio time is precious and costly, and the pressure during basic tracks will bear down on the drummer! Everybody else can repair a note here or there, but the drummer's part has to be perfect. The number of microphones involved in creating a drum sound precludes the possibility of "dropping in" to fix one bad snare beat or a click of the sticks. If a difficult track takes a long time, it's you they're waiting for!

This was brought home to me sharply during the recording of "La Villa Strangiato" for our album Hemispheres. For four endless days and nights we played that very long and difficult instrumental again and again! We wouldn't give up. Over and over we played it until our fingers were raw and swollen and our minds were drained and dark. We were determined to get the whole thing perfect, but in the end I just couldn't do it, and we ended up putting it together from a few different takes."

From Modern Drummer, 1982.

Nowadays, we can actually fix a flubbed snare or stick click. Not only that, we can replace entire sections of a song, make sure the entire band comes in on the downbeat, put the perfect cymbal hit at the end. And when you're on the click, the possibilities are literally endless. We can entirely change the arrangement, double the length of that solo, etc. etc. ad infinitum. Sometimes there are too many choices, but we can deal with that. In the end you listen to the song, and the song trumps everything.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Sometimes, a band surprises you. Such was the case last night with Geek Farm, our friend Kenny's 4 piece rock and roll outfit, who returned for a second session at Smoke and Mirrors.

The first session had gone fairly well, although we basically all agreed that only one of the five tunes recorded would be saved. It was really more of a rehearsal, a chance for them to get to know us, the studio, our working habits, and for us to get to know their sound. But the tracks lacked cohesiveness, there were tempo shifts and moments where the band just didn't pivot together.

I'd made the suggestion of trying out a click track, and for last night's session we did just that. I must admit I didn't have high hopes, as the drummer (Kevin) informed me that he'd never played to click. Well, it would be a learning experience for all of us, then.

But once we started the first song, figured out the tempo, and sent them the click, it started to work. Despite the push and pull of the band around him, Kevin stayed true to the click, and the music fell into a groove. It was like a completely different band-everything opened up, nobody pushed each other around, transitions were tighter. We muted the click in the control room and just enjoyed the music.

After a playback of a couple of the tunes, the band was far more confident. We continued tracking, using click for all but one song, and laid the foundation for an actual record. Turns out Kevin had played his saxophone to a metronome for years, and the other guys in the band had all used drum machines, so it all made sense.

And now a message from Neil Peart, drummer for Rush, on the very same thing.....

"I'd like to say a few words about the dreaded click track. With a purist's pride, I resisted using this electronic metronome for many years, although the pursuit of really good time has been a constant trial for me. It wasn't until the sessions for Permanent Waves that I finally relented and agreed to give it a reluctant try.

Imagine my surprise--I like it! It was much less difficult to work with than I had anticipated, because I could ignore it, except at crucial "pivot points" when one "click" would insure accuracy. As another musician pointed out to me, "If you can't hear the click track, you know your timing is right." If you're locked into the tempo, your good timekeeping covers up the sound of the click.

The results are very satisfying. With all there is to keep in mind while recording a basic track, doubts about meter can be set aside in favor of concentrating on execution, dynamics, and feel. I am certain that my confidence and smooth rhythmic flow are only enhanced by it, and recording with the click has definitely improved my overall sense of time, which pays off in live performance as well."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


I've always enjoyed etymology, the study of the origins of words. So today let's do some etymology and see what all yer names mean.

Edward-Means "rich guard", derived from the Old English elements ead, "rich, blessed" and weard, "guard". Saint Edward the Confessor was the king of England shortly before the Norman Conquest. Because of his popularity this name remained in use after the conquest (most other Old English names were replaced by Norman ones), and was the name of eight subsequent kings of England. Edward is also one of the few Old English names to be used throughout Europe.

George-From the Greek name Georgios which was derived from the Greek word georgos meaning "farmer, earthworker", itself derived from the elements ge "earth" and ergon "work". Saint George was a legendary dragon slayer who was supposedly martyred in Palestine. He is the patron saint of England, Portugal and Catalonia. This name has been borne by six kings of England, two kings of Greece, and the first president of the United States.

Robert-Means "bright fame", derived from the Germanic elements hrod "fame" and beraht "bright". The Normans introduced this name to Britain. It belonged to three kings of Scotland, including Robert the Bruce who restored the independence of Scotland from England in the 14th century.

David-Possibly derived from Hebrew dod meaning "beloved". David was the second and greatest of the kings of Israel, ruling in the 10th century BC. Several stories about him are told in the Old Testament, including his defeat of Goliath, a giant Philistine. Jesus was supposedly descended from him. Other famous bearers of this name include the 5th-century patron saint of Wales, and two kings of Scotland.

Michael-From the Hebrew name Miyka'el which meant "who is like God?". This was the name of one of the seven archangels in Hebrew tradition and the only one identified as an archangel in the Bible. In the Book of Revelation in the New Testament he is portrayed as the leader of heaven's armies, and thus is considered the patron saint of soldiers. This was also the name of nine Byzantine emperors and a czar of Russia.

Tony-(from Anthony)-From the Roman family name Antonius, which is of unknown Etruscan origin. It is sometimes claimed to mean "flower" from Greek anthos. Mark Antony (Marcus Antonius) was the Roman general who ruled the Roman empire jointly with Augustus for a short time. Their relationship turned sour however, and he and his mistress Cleopatra were attacked and forced to commit suicide. Shakespeare's tragedy 'Antony and Cleopatra' is based on them.

we should also include....

Jackson-from the surname, which means "son of jack." duh.

Patrick-From the Roman name Patricius, which meant "nobleman" in Latin. A 5th-century saint, the patron saint of Ireland, adopted this name (his birth name was Sucat). During his youth he was captured by Irish raiders and enslaved, but after six years of servitude he escaped to his home in Britain. Eventually he became a bishop and went back to Ireland as a missionary, where he succeeded in Christianizing the entire country.

Christopher-Means "bearing Christ", derived from Late Greek Christos combined with pherein "to bear, to carry". Christopher was the legendary saint who carried the young Jesus across a river. He is the patron saint of travellers.

KIDD-no information available. Possibly an altered form of "kid," meaning a young person or goat.

There, now we all know who we are. Tomorrow, perhaps, we move on to entomology.


Last night was the final night of Hanukah, and Annie was kind enough to get me a t-shirt featuring the spongemonkeys from I'm sure many of you have checked this site out, but if you haven't, you should. Right now. Highlights for me include the spongemonkeys (of course) doing "We Like the Moon," the first bit of animation I saw from this site, courtesy of a fellow writer at Nickelodeon. We laughed and laughed, then watched it again, and laughed some more. A nice break from writing Spongebob promos.

"Giant Bee" is probably my next favorite. A beautiful song, one I've considered covering many times, it's a simple story of a giant, lovely, friendly bee.

The creator of Rathergood, Joel Veitch, has been tapped to do some advertising work, so you might have seen his creations on TV. I'm happy for him. He deserves whatever success his twisted worldview can get him.

Monday, December 13, 2004


Finished up the demos for George's Robot Trilogy last night, using DP at Smoke and Mirrors. The song cycle is ready to go; now we'll start adding drums, courtesy of Rob Machold. George has a good voice.

Yesterday Mike from Microdot finished tracking for their 4 song EP. Everything's sounding good. There's quite a bit of variety, instrument and timbre wise, on these tunes-banjo, synth, electric piano, some crowd vocals, tape echoes, and bombastic overdubbed drums. Dave Cavalier couldn't make it, as he was flying a plane out on Long Island. We were going to call him about a lyric, but decided that talking on a cell phone whilst piloting an aircraft might not be the best idea.

Worked with rapper KIDD yesterday for a few hours. We're in the midst of making his record, which is shaping up to sound pretty good. The hardest thing about a hip hop record like this is the fact that many of the backing tracks are premixed, taken from CD. It's tough to get vocals to sit right when you can't adjust any other tracks; what sounds right to a producer making an instrumental track might not work once a couple of layers of voices are added. Ah, well-I think it'll all work out. There'll be at least one track created by Machold and I, a little hip hop and live drums, which is always fun.

Saturday saw a quick cover of Lou's "Sweet Jane," by Annie Rusoff and I. She hasn't played bass in a while, but she fell right back into the groove. The bridge is always the best part... "La la la la la la, la la la la la la."

Sunday, December 12, 2004


George Vitray and I started demos for his new project, working title the Robot Trilogy, at Skyway last night. As its name implies, it's a three part story about a naughty lilttle robot who joins the resistence.

I got to drive ProTools for the entire session (minus some editing), as George played keyboards and sang. Let me just say that ProTools is a nice elegant interface, very quick and easy to work with, once you learn how to read the timelines. Digital Performer is easier for me to move around on, 'cause it's a world I've spent a lot of time in, but moving over to ProTools was pretty painless and logical. For setting up quick punch ins, it's a breeze, just move the playback wiper and away you go. Not too many menus, everything is contained in just two screens, and it has an industrial feel I really like.

So am I prepared to stop hating Digidesign, the Microsoft of pro audio? Well, maybe they're not quite the Microsoft. I haven't heard of Digi shipping software with tons of bugs that will be addressed in free "patches" from their website, and as far as I know you can't have your computer hacked from the other side of the world just because you've got their programs installed.

The thing I always hated about Digidesign was their forcing the user to run their software with their hardware only, but from a historical perspective it makes sense. The earliest incarnations of ProTools (such as the two track editor Sound Tools) were very reliant on external hardware for processing, as the early Macintoshes just didn't have the power. So there was always a very close link between the software and hardware, and as the market grew and the Macs got faster, the Digi theory of a dedicated box kind of went along for the ride. In contrast, Digital Performer started out as plain old Performer, a sequencer with no audio at all. As such, it required no hardware to deal with the relatively low bandwith of MIDI, and when audio was added after a few years, MOTU rightly left the hardware side up to the user. Had it started as an audio editor, it wouldn't have been surprising if proprietary hardware had been required.

Now, of course, there's a ton of affordable audio interfaces, most of which are happy playing with any software, but all of which are still purchased by the user, either as part of a complete system or as add ons to a software only setup. We all bought hardware anyhow, the only difference is I could have gotten a brand other than MOTU (which, in the end, I didn't). And now that Digidesign offers the MBox, a $450 two channel interface bundled with ProTools LE, there's really very little difference between setting up a studio with Digital Performer or ProTools; DP alone costs about $400 and includes no hardware.

Still, the 32 track limit of ProTools LE is a bit archaic, although you can see the point in Digi keeping some sort of dividing line between casual users and big studios that'll fork over big bucks for a full fledged ProTools setup. Like Avid (their parent company), Digi will always maintain a separate market for the real Pros, and let the lower end of the sales spectrum sort itself out. The fact that they maintain such a commitment to the harware world means their systems will be less buggy, more integrated, and easier for techs to work on, since the systems will always be the same. Contrast this with software that has to be compliant with every new audio interface on the market, and you can see the advantage.

What does it all mean? Will I be jumping ship and heading down the ProTools path? Let's just say that I have every intention of learning the program inside and out (at the very least, a marketable skill in the production world), and we'll see what happens. I'm not about to abandon all my time and work in DP, but there's no harm in having another hammer in the audio toolbox, even if it's that dirty ol' ProTools.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


The MTA, who run the subways, buses, toll bridges, and communter trains in our great city and the surrounding areas, have voted to give their executive director a raise, from approximately $190,000 per year to around $235,000.

Are you kidding me? Is this a joke? That's a 22% raise!

The MTA says the raise is fare because the heads of the LIRR and other agencies within the MTA were making more than the executive director. Well, that doesn't seem right, I'll admit, but maybe that's a sign of some bigger problems.

The MTA is currently projecting a $116 million deficit for 2005. They're preparing us for more rate hikes, even though subway and bus fares just went up in March 2003. Agents at subway stations are being laid off and token booths are being closed, despite protests from riders, who rightly argue that less employees in the subway make them that much more dangerous. And in the midst of all this, the chief gets a $45,000 raise? A $45,000 raise? Should the head of the MTA really be making a quarter of a million dollars a year while the system gets progressively worse, more dangerous, dirtier, and falls further into debt? Is the fare hike going to go straight to the director's pocket?

From Newsday: "The LIRR plans to slash more than a dozen scheduled trains, shutter ticket offices on weekends and delay cleaning. In all, more than 100 positions out of 6,300 will be lost through attrition."

Of course, if you're a current or former member of the MTA's board, or just married to one, you get a free Metrocard for life. So those pesky fare hikes needn't concern you.

Perhaps the boss isn't doing such a great job. If, on my watch, my company developed a little $116 million deficit, I wouldn't be looking for a $45,000 raise, but would be begging to even be allowed to come to work.

Friday, December 10, 2004


Now I'm running two different web browsers. Internet Explorer seems to be happy with almost every website I visit, although today it's having trouble with-you guessed it-Microsoft's very own Hotmail. But IE doesn't play nice with some sites, including this one, so I downloaded Netscape 6, which works great for commenting on other blogs here at Blogspot, but is completely lost when it comes to the sign in page. So one browser lets me write, one lets me respond, and sometimes I can even check my email. Except, of course, when I take Navigator to Hotmail, where the site continually informs me that I'm using an incompatible browser, although it still works fine. Even better than Microsoft's own browser, at least today.

What a load of crap.

Imagine having to use one phone to make calls and another to receive them. Imagine calling your friend only to have him tell you that he can't accept your call because you're using Sprint instead of Nextel. Imagine selling your grilled cheese sandwich with an image of the Virgin Mary burned into it on eBay, only to find that an online museum has put it on the web and allowed anyone to replace Mary with their own picture.

Wait, that's another blog.


Today, let's talk about John Leckie.

John started his career at Abbey Road, where he engineered George Harrison, John Lennon, Mott the Hoople, and Pink Floyd ("Meddle"). In 1989 he did the Stone Roses' eponymous (look it up) record, which became a top ten hit and really put him on the map. He also did the Posies' first record shortly thereafter. He then went back and did ten more weeks with the Stone Roses, recording with the Rolling Stones Mobile Unit (!) near Manchester. But his own admission, he wasn't in control of the situation with the Roses, and resigned. He did a ton of work but got no credit

He worked with Robyn Hitchcock next, then made the Verve's "A Storm in Heaven."

The next project was fairly big, 1994's "The Bends" by Radiohead. Leckie calls this "just another record that I did. I mean, it wasn't without its problems, and it was just a record that everyone picked up on. Then and now, they're like, 'the greatest band in the universe'... so I don't really know what to say about that, except that it was recorded in a traditional manner with two guitars, bass and drums. The difference was that the band was good, played their instruments well and made a good sound so my work was easy."

Well said. He goes on to talk about his production technique for Radiohead....

"People ask me all kinds of things about that album, like, 'How do you get that vocal sound?' It's easy. Just get a good singer with a good voice, put the singer in front of a microphone and it sounds good. Now, if you have a bad singer, even if you've worked like mad to make him sound good, no one takes any notice. But if you have a good singer, you just record the vocal flat, and you don't even compress it or limit it. You just put the fader up, and he sings the song first go. Everyone says, 'Ah, the producer's great! Incredible production, man!' And it's just because the guy's a good singer!"

Leckie also breaks some cardinal rules. Nest time you're in a studio, suggest that the engineer put a SM58 instead of a 57 in front of the guitar amp and watch him shit. But this is the mic used on the cabinets for "The Bends," and it's hard to argue with those sounds.

Most of which, by the way, were made with a tele through a twin.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


I thought this might be a good time to vent my own feelings toward Rolling Stone magazine.

Essentially, I think it's an out of touch, meaningless rag that has no place in any music fan's world. Tony Alva's dissapointment with their lack of consistency and complete disregard for anything they don't "get" is spot on.

As an example, their "Top 500 albums of all time" (another meaningless list, I know) contains some of the following....

"Elton John's Greatest Hits" (#135) Nothing against Elton, but I didn't think a greatest hits repackage really qualifies as an album. Then again....

"40 Greatest Hits" (Hank Williams, #129) RS tries to justify this by stating that the album format was in its infancy when Williams was at his peak. Well, tough.

"Sam Cooke-Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964" This collection was released shortly after Cooke was murdered. A record label cashing in on a star's death ain't an album. Sorry.

There are lots more repackages, greatest hits collections, etc. on the list.

I know this is all meaningless, but any opportunity to be a smartass at Rolling Stone's expense is worth it. And don't even get me started on Spin!


I guess the main thing I thought Kurt Loder was right about (see the blog below and the comments) is that the music is stretched too thin. I think we all agree that Dark Side is a sonic masterpiece, and the Wall sounds different (although I would hardly call it "flat" aurally). I really love the sounds on the record. The main thing Loder got was the sheer length of the album, as anyone who's tried to cover it knows is a bit much.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


Today is the 25th anniversary of the release of "The Wall" in the United States. Let's take a look at one of the original reviews...

"Problems do arise, however. While The Wall's length is certainly justified by the breadth of its thematic concerns, the music is stretched a bit thin. Heavy-metal maestro Bob Ezrin, brought in to coproduce with Roger, Waters and guitarist David Gilmour, adds a certain hard-rock consciousness to a few cuts (especially the nearfunky "Young Lust") but has generally been unable to match the high sonic gloss that engineer Alan Parsons contributed to Dark Side of the Moon. Even Floydstarved devotees may not be sucked into The Wall's relatively flat aural ambiance on first hearing. But when they finally are–and then get a good look at that forbidding lyrical landscape – they may wonder which way is out real fast." KURT LODER (Rolling Stone)

I think Kurt's right, even though he's a big dork.

Monday, December 06, 2004


Just call us a bunch of sellouts.

Tonight, at 11pm, the music of the Defense Department Chamber Orchestra will be on WNYC's (New York's NPR station) "New Sounds" program. While we don't know which track, it will be part of a show entitled "Noise and Space Continuum." If you're in New York, you can check it out on 93.9FM or come over to Spuyten Duyvil on Metropolitan at the end of Havemeyer in Williamsburg to hear it on a Zenith tube radio.

Big congratulations to George Vitray for getting his music onto the airwaves. For me, it represents the first thing I've ever had engineering credit on making it to the radio, so that's pretty exciting. Hopefully there'll be more to come, but for now we'll bask and drink German beer.

Friday, December 03, 2004


Since I'm running a Macintosh, which as everyone knows is not a real computer, I can't comment on others' blogs. So I'll comment on Ted's blog here.

Production quality is always secondary to songs and performance. The Velvet Underground and Nico is pretty badly recorded, but it's perfect, and changed rock and roll forever. Same with "White Light White Heat" (we all know the story about the engineer leaving, saying "I don't have to be here for this. I'll put the machine in record. Come get me when you're done"). In fact, all of the Velvets records are badly recorded, and they're all masterpieces. Ted is absolutely right when he says not every record should sound like "Dark Side of the Moon."

The Stones' Mobile Unit, however, was no lo-fi affair. In fact, it was based around a Helios console, one of the greatest boards ever built. The Who's Ramport studio was designed around a Helios, "Are You Experienced" was done through a Helios, the Beatles Apple Studios housed a Helios. It became known as the Musician's Console, and everyone from Steve Winwood to Clapton to Leon Russell had 'em. The Rolling Stones mobile made a lot of hit records, including "Machine Head." Definitely not your typical project studio console!


I think there'll be dogs at Skyway Studios tonight. Having dogs at the studio is a natural fit. They perk up when something really whacked happens, they get sleepy when the music's good, they hunt the flies, and of course there's the blood pressure reduction benefits. Although my own li'l mutt, Buck, has been at many a tracking session, tonight we'll be joined by beagles.

Of course, beagles are known for being vocal, so we can only hope they'll join in for some backing tracks. I've found that while many dogs like a nice condensor mic, off axis, they're often not comfortable with headphone mixes, so we'll plan accordingly. Every dog is different, so you have to stay flexible.

Before the dogs I'll be doing a little mix session with Wolf Downers, one of our Cleveland bands. They won't be bringing any beagles, but we'll act like animals nonetheless.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


So Jason Giambi used steroids-including human growth hormone-for at least three seasons. He injected them into his butt, among other places. This really isn't so much a revelation as a confirmation. Of course Giambi has been suspected of being juiced, and now he's suffering from ill health (parasites, thyroid problems, tumors) that are consistent with steroid use. He got the drugs from Barry Bonds' trainer.

Is Bonds on them? There's been no confirmation yet, but the guy went from being a great player to a legend. He's going to break the all time home run record next year. He's a 7 time MVP. He's probably one of the 5 greatest players of all time.

Do baseball fans really care? They should. Essentially, the history of the sport is being destroyed, records broken by players who are cheating, and few sports are as concerned with the past as baseball. To toss this away for the sake of money-which is the real reason for the 'roids-is pathetic.

Fans should boycott the sport, but of course they won't. The Mcguire/Sosa homerun race was great for baseball, and there's little doubt it was "performance enhanced." The players' union is arguably the strongest union in the country, and until they agree to a real drug testing program, nothing will change. It's going to take a player becoming seriously ill, admitting to steroid use, and rallying the union for the sake of players' health.

Look what's happened in pro wrestling-how many wrestlers have died young in the last two decades? Is money really worth shrunken testicles, cancer, premature death? Apparently it is, for now.

Every sports fan should be disgusted. Pete Rose bet on baseball, and it got him banned. These guys are betting with their lives, to make more money that ultimately comes out of the fans' pockets, and the league isn't doing a thing.

Again, pathetic.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Here's an idea (and don't steal it 'cause it's mine).

Given the recent Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich sale (you know what I'm talking about), I was thinking... how many clouds would you have to take pictures of before you get your very own virgin to sell on ebay? And I'm not talking about some bad Weekly World News "image of the devil appears in picture of burning building" crap. I'm talking about a real picture of a real cloud that really looks something like the holy mother. No Photoshop need apply.

Maybe hours and hours of video, with a computer running some kind of pattern recognition software? I think I saw a lion in a cloud yesterday. How long could this take?

If someone can crunch the numbers and get back to me, I'd be much obliged.


So I'm looking for a day job.

The recording studio way of life, unfortunately, just doesn't pay all the bills. At least not at this stage. Without record company support, musicians pay for studio costs out of their own pockets, which (and I can say this, 'cause I'm a musician) aren't always that deep. When you can buy ProTools for $450, why would you pay for something as superfluous as an engineer?

I'm not bitter, and I'm not giving up on the dream to run a studio as a (viable) business. I just think it's a good idea to expand my horizons a bit.

So-any suggestions? Anyone got any leads?

I'm counting on you all.

(By the way, I've got a BA in Neurobiology and Behavior from Cornell, and lots of experience in TV. I can record sound. Makes sense, right?)