Apologies for spamming everyone recently without using Blind Copy (BCC). I screwed up, that's all. An idiot I am.
First of all, let me acknowledge the events in NYC and DC. Tragic. Astounding. But not surprising. These terrorist attacks did not take place in a vacuum, though our entertainment media are doing a good job of pretending otherwise. They are counting on the fact that most people in the US have never even had a passport, much less the vaguest understanding of geopolitics or foreign policy, and international news has been an ever-shrinking part of national and local news coverage for years now. Please study history. Among other things, you'll learn why Shrub's use of the word "crusade" was so disastrous.
If you can get BBC news, or access the BBC website, you will get more news about what is going on right now than I have seen watching domestic TV. Try it. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/default.htm) There is also a C-SPAN channel (C-SPAN2?) that has been showing excerpts from British, German and French news programs: very interesting stuff. Public Radio has also been quite interesting lately; I almost expect it to be shut down at any time.
Last year I was in southeast California and had a chance to tour the remains of the Manzanar Internment Camp, now a national monument. Thousands of Japanese-Americans had their possessions and property stripped from them and were sent to these camps for the duration of World War 2. I have put pictures on my website. Relevance to today? Why, none... I fervently hope.
Lots of other water under the bridge since last newsletter. I went down to Brazil in late may to do my 4th record for the band Titãs. One band member died tragically just days after the studio work had started. There's a lot more to tell about this now that I'm back and have finished mixing the record here in Seattle, so I will respectfully ask that you check the last two "what's new" entries on my website for the full story. Email was so slow from down there that it was impossible to get a newsletter out, so what would have been my last newsletter is there on the site in the most recent couple of updates. It's been a hell of a year. (Please save your condolences, we all have bigger problems now anyway.) I am also now hosting the first official english-language website for Titãs, who have been one of Brazil's biggest bands since 1985: it's at http://www.endino.com/titas/, take a look if you would like to know more.
Worldwide economic recession has some immediate effects even for a self-employed person like me: I can't get laid off like so many of my friends lately (Real Networks, Loudeye, etc), but people take longer to pay me for my work. I think a number of indy record labels and distributors will fold in the next few months. (Latest: Man's Ruin and Grand Royal.) Just got a call from the mastering facility in LA that mastered a record for me back in early March. The record label, who shall remain nameless, had still not paid them and is not returning their phone calls. The studio here where we mixed the record in February just got paid last month. This tells me three things: 1) it will be a miracle if this record does well - how are they going to pay to promote it? 2) even if it sells I will probably never see any royalties, and 3) with cash flow and/or payment policies like this, it would not surprise me if the label is out of business within six months. I sure hope I'm wrong.
(2006 ADDENDUM: I wasn't wrong. BTW, it was the Therapy? record, "Shameless," that I did for now-defunct Ark21 Records.)
Even Sub>Pop has been a bit slow on payments lately, though a visit to their office shows the same happy and healthy label as ever... I think.
New "Desert Sessions" CD (volumes 7/8) is on Southern Lord, since Man's Ruin is toast. Let's hope their distribution is better. This disc is amazing, it's honestly better than the last Queens record, it's full of actual songs. Josh Homme, Mark Lanegan, Alain and Natasha from 11, and lots of other wonderful folks contribute their talents. Unlike past "Desert Sessions" discs I've heard, this one is not only coherent, it rocks.
I previously mentioned Rocket Network, the web-based virtual recording studio company with a very exciting idea. I noted that Avid, the parent company of Digidesign (makers of ProTools, the de facto hard-disk recording standard in pro studios) had bought a 30% stake in this company, and the upcoming ProTools 5.2 update will be fully compatible with Rocket Networks via a Digidesign version of their software called DigiProNet. Users would pay a subscription fee to have their own "virtual studio" with a certain amount of storage and bandwidth. This means I could open a Pro Tools editing session in my web browser from anywhere in the world with a decent dialup or DSL connection, and share it with people far away via password access, etc. The raw audio files themselves could exist on the central server, and for low-bandwidth connections you would be working with low-res local versions of the files until it's time to finish the project, or at least I think it's something like that. Collaborative possibilities abound. Beats swapping ADAT tapes thru the mail. Latest is that a certain Paul Allen (one of the billionaire founders of Microsoft and of Seattle's own Experience Music Project) has also invested in Rocket thru his venture capital firm Vulcan Ventures. So this is for real. Check it out, even though it will be a long time before most of us can possibly use this.
Oh yeah, Alesis filed for bankruptcy, but another company (Numark) swooped down and bought 'em out, so they did not have to close shop. Word is the Masterlink is a sweet piece of gear. Too bad ADATs are being swiftly obsoleted by hard-drive systems.
McDowell Signal Processing asked to use some of the analog recorder frequency-response graphs from my website (at http://www.endino.com/graphs/) in the user's manual for one of their new ProTools plug-ins, the McDSP Analog Channel, a TDM plug-in designed to simulate the sound of analog tape recorders and various amplifiers. In exchange for my graphics, they thanked me in the manual and gave me a free copy of the plug-in, which I have been using on the new Titãs record I was just mixing. We had some vocals that were recorded directly into ProTools, and I designed a preset called "15 IPS MX5050 1/2 inch" that fattened 'em right up, a very pleasing effect. Check it out (http://www.mcdsp.com). (Named that preset after my old 8-track machine that is now behind a glass case at EMP.)
Michael Azerrad has a new book out (hardcover so far) called "Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991." Each chapter is the history of a band... including Black Flag, Minutemen, Mission of Burma, Minor Threat, Husker Du, Replacements, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, Big Black, Dino Jr, Fugazi, Mudhoney and Beat Happening. Azerrad wrote "Come as you are." He's a good writer and this new one is a good book.
The Turbonegro Tribute album is out, on Bitzcore in Europe; someone will surely release it stateside soon. I've got a Therapy? track on there, "Denim Demon," which we did during the sessions for their new album. (Actually I play some gtr on it too.) Others represented include Supersuckers, Nashville Pussy, Zeke ("Midnight NAMBLA"), Dwarves, Queens of the Stone Age and even Brazil's Ratos de Porao. A great tribute to a great rock and roll band.
Some of you may remember Home Alive!, the organization founded in the wake of Gits singer Mia Zapata's murder. They taught self-defense techniques to women, and did other sundry good deeds. Some years ago they sponsored a fundraising compilation CD which had some pretty heavy hitters on it. Steve Moriarity (ex-Gits drummer) has taken the bull by the horns and put together a second Home Alive compilation CD. I know that I have a Black Halos and a Zen Guerrilla tune on it, but know little else at this point; details should be forthcoming soon.
You may have noticed VH1's special about "grunge, ten years later" or whatever the theme was. They were trying repeatedly to reach me for a video interview, but I was in Brazil all summer, and had to just shrug and say sorry, grunge will do just fine without me. I watched it though. Decent, even though they basically remade the HYPE! movie, even talking to most of the same people, except they are all 7 years older. They even had the "grunge lexicon" spoof in there. My advice: rent HYPE and get the full story, told much better.
Nirvana box set: everyone is suing everyone else. Papers were filed in Seattle at the King County Courthouse: Courtney & Francis Bean (!) vs. Krist, Dave, Nirvana LLC and Universal. I quote one of her web postings: "To clarify; Nirvana is mine." (2006 Addendum: No, CL, actually Nirvana (LLC) is yours & Krist's & Dave's & Universal Records'. However, KURT is yours.) Anyone with the case number can go down there and pay for copies, it's all a matter of public record. No, I don't have any more details... try nirvanaclub.com, they seem to have info. Advice: don't hold your breath waiting for the box set! Trial date is set for Dec, 2002, but I predict this will go on until one side or the other runs out of lawyer money. It could take decades. Very sad. Remarkably, Sub Pop seems to have been left out of it so far. You may have noticed that they wisely did not attempt to do a Bleach anniversary reissue.
A Seattle Times article about it is at this URL: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/134311666_nirvana280.html
Here's some more news. Singer Ben McMillan (Gruntruck, ex-Skin Yard) had a medical disaster happen to him some months ago, and was in intensive care for almost 3 months. Some major surgery was involved. Had he not made it, it would have been my 5th funeral in less than a year, so I'm quadruply glad he made it. A blood clot played havoc with his internal organs. Word is, he has a hitherto undetected hereditary blood-clotting condition and has to take blood-thinning meds now as well as watching diet, lifestyle etc. But he's at home and doing much better now. Gruntruck seems pretty much over with, so I am trying to convince him to work on a solo record using some of the hundred-or-so songs he's written in the past 8 years.
Other info: The Therapy? album "Shameless" is out now in several countries. This is one of the best records I've ever had the pleasure of working on. Barrett Martin (Skin Yard, Trees, Tuatara, Mad Season) guests on percussion, and Rich from Black Halos even plays a solo on one song. Barrett's other new projects include another Mad Season record (without Layne however), another Tuatara record, and a new band he calls the Wayward Shamans.
Some tech talk: the Brazilian disc I just finished (Titãs) started out on 30IPS analog 2 inch, and slowly more and more of it migrated into a computer as the band opted for editing drum takes and just about everything else. This has become the norm in Brazil and in many other places it seems. By the time we were mixing, 75% of the record was entirely in ProTools. It was the most computer-intensive record I've ever done. It came out great, and I have no problem working with ProTools. Some things (bass, guitars, kick drum) sound MUCH better in ProTools than on 30 IPS analog tape. The key is knowing when to stop so things don't get too perfect... since you can edit and change things ad nauseam. "Auto-tune" in particular can be a very, very evil thing, and carpal-tunnel syndrome is an ever-present risk.
On the other hand, we did the Therapy? record entirely with 15 IPS analog (GP9 tape), with no noise reduction, no automation, and no ProTools! (No &*%@ click tracks either.) Why? Didn't need 'em. My point: the methodology doesn't really matter, as long as the PLAYERS and the SONGS are good. There are many, many ways to make a good record, but without those two things, you have nothing.
'Till next time,