A new interview with yours truly is posted online at Odyssey Zine.
Jacksweedcafe.com is off to a running start! Now hosting legal, downloadable music from (in no particular order): Artichoke Project, Biography Of Ferns, Combover, Upwell, Dirty Power, Gruntruck, Mona Diesel, Evil Chopper, VALIS, Skin Yard, El Revengo, Kung Pao, Lowrider, Blind Dog, Lucid Nation, Alex Sniderman, Cop Bait, Load Levelers, Shark Chum, USER... and myself. Check out my new mad venture![Later note: Like many "internet startups" the WEEDSHARE file-sharing system did not survive! Thanks to all the beta testers who agreed to take it for a spin.]
(OK, this would have been a newsletter, but it got supplanted by my announcing the WEED system to my subscribers instead.
Take a look, I now have free music downloads at Jack's Weed Café, including some new Gruntruck tunes.)
Here's an email I got a while back.
Your website is really cool. Unfortunately, it was really cool 4 months ago, the last time you updated it. I hope this means you are busy working on some hot new band, but when will we get to know?
The past 2 or 3 years have sucked, haven't they? 9-11, Bush, the economy, Afghanistan, Bush, the economy, IRAQ, Bush, the economy, etc. From a personal standpoint, a bunch of people in my life died and one committed suicide, and that's not even counting Elliot Smith, who I didn't know. The ex-singer for Skin Yard/Gruntruck, Ben McMillan, had a fluke medical disaster involving a hereditary blood-clotting condition, was in intensive care for 5 weeks, and almost died, but squeaked by and is OK now. We lost a few other Seattle and Portland musicians in various accidents and misadventures: Scott Jernigan, the Exploding Hearts... Even Calvin from K Records got in a van wreck in Montana, trying to avoid a deer, and is pretty banged up. Studios have been facing weeks of empty calendars cuz the musicians are losing their jobs and can't afford to record. (Seattle has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.) And now the RIAA is on the rampage.
It's been tough to maintain a positive attitude. That's one reason I haven't sent out a newsletter in a while. I'm OK though... still here. Got my health and my hearing, PHEW! And I hope you all have managed to scrape by. Still lots of great music out there. And some great news this time. But let me start small.
Hot Hot Heat seems to be my "hit" this year. I just saw 'em on Letterman. They must have been touring nonstop for a year and a half on the record I produced, and I think Sub Pop is very happy with how it's selling. Because of this I've gotten to work with two very excellent Canadian bands: The Years, and Speed To Kill. Both were "demos" to be "shopped" which is quite unusual for me, because I usually do "albums" and treat everything as if it was going to be released, which usually ends up happening anyway. Great bands though, watch out. I'm also getting demos from people whose styles are wildly outside my expertise, just 'cause they liked HHH. Could be worse!
Locally: best thing I did lately was mix a record (and track some bits) for the Boss Martians, making a hard rock record with massive pop hooks. Gone are the surf instros... turns out Evan can sing like a bastard, and sing he does. Hooks the size of refrigerators. Johnny Sangster produced and tracked it, so the mixing was a pleasure. Watch out for the song "I am your radio". The record is out NOW on MuSick Recordings and is called "The Set-Up." I'm thinking this might be my "hit" for 2004... we'll see.
Also: ZORRO came over from Basel, Switzerland, to work with me; the Spades EP I did a few months back is out; heck, I think there's some others. I added a bunch to my discography. Sh*t, then there's the SOLGER record! Out now on Empty US! Possibly the ugliest, gnarliest, most abrasive vintage 1980 hardcore punk ever recorded! Mark Arm: "Sounds like nuclear waste." My job was forensic audio and surgical mastering; the whole record is from cassettes and vinyl, and I'm pretty pleased with how it came out.
Info about Seattle's first "hardcore punk" band: http://groups.msn.com/SOLGER/
The second remixed and remastered GITS record, "Enter: The Conquering Chicken," is just hitting the stores. Another band I recorded is Biography of Ferns, whose excellent CD is out right now, and who will also have a cut on a new Kill Rock Stars comp.
Just had the pleasure of recording some old friends: Fitz of Depression got back together to cut 3 songs with me, which I'm sure someone somewhere will put out as a single or something!
Oh, and The Accused are getting back together, and have a show in Seattle on Nov 8th.
I finished the Skin Yard LIVE comp CD, "The Perfect Lawn", the live companion to "Start at the Top". The heart of it is two songs from an amazing 1991 Holland soundboard tape, five songs recorded to analog 8-track on New Year's Eve 1990, and a couple more recorded at KDVS (Davis, CA) when we played at the station. These 10 tracks are nearly studio-quality, except they ooze live energy in a brutal manner. There's also some more stuff that rocks but is rougher sounding; 66 minutes in all. It's CDR-only, available on my site, and I have PayPal now. I've got about 20 copies sitting here with nice photocopied covers and inserts, they're ten bucks, come and git 'em! Details: http://www.endino.com/skinyard/newlawn.html
Drummers on this stuff include: Barrett Martin, Scott McCullum, Matt Cameron, and even Steve Wied (pre-TAD) on a song.
Speaking of Barrett Martin (ex-drummer for Screaming Trees and my band Skin Yard), his label, Fast Horse Recordings, now has distro thru Ryko, and he's just put out a couple of Brazilian records in the US. I introduced him to my friend Nando Reis from Titas when we did Nando's solo record here a few years back, and now he's in Brazil touring with Nando and playing with some hot musicians. Brazil changed my life, and now it has changed his.
Gear plug: gotta mention the Shure KSM44, large-diaphragm multi-pattern condenser microphone. I seldom mention studio gear, but I have done A/B tests with a Lawson, a Neumann U47, a U87, an AKG C12, my AT4033 (which I do like) and a TLM170, as well as a few dynamics; and in every case the singer preferred the Shure... and so did I! This is a damn nice mic, especially on voice. If you were thinking of getting one, what I'm sayin' is, you won't be sorry.
Failure fans: Ken Andrews has a new band and CD called Year Of The Rabbit, and if you liked Failure, you'll like this. Ken wrote, sang, produced and recorded it, so it has his signature massive sound. Ken's previous solo project, ON, was "interesting" but this new one could almost be a Failure album, and that's just fine; "Fantastic Planet" was one of the best records (IMHO) I heard in the previous decade. I wish I could shake this guy's hand. Put him and Josh Homme together and you'd have the brain trust of modern rock right there.
And finally, the RIAA. What are we gonna do with these record companies? For one view, I suggest you take a look at Downhillbattle.org, a brilliant website which puts down the mainstream record industry quite caustically. They point out that all the digital download sites currently being set up are still structured along the same old lines as far as how little of the money gets to the artists. Especially go to downhillbattle.org/itunes/ and get a laff.
But... Good news. There may be a solution, and that solution is WEED. Go to my weed file site for some FREE, 100% LEGAL MUSIC DOWNLOADS... featuring some new tunes by myself, 3 new tunes from Gruntruck that were only mixed last week, Dirty Power, Kung Pao, VALIS, and more coming soon!
Hey! Sorry No Updates in a while! It's been an actual summer here in Seattle!
Lotsa water under the bridge... I have a newsletter in the works and tons more crap; stay tuned. If I can just get out of the studio long enough... latest projects: Boss Martians (Seattle), Shakedowns (D.C.), Thunderfist (Salt Lake City), Zorro (Switzerland), The Years and Speed to Kill (both Canada), the Ones, El Revengo... and
On a lighter note... the 2nd annual TapeOp conference, in Portland OR a couple weeks ago, went swimmingly. I found myself on the opening "keynote panel" with Jenny Toomey (Future of Music Coalition), Ian Mackaye (Dischord Records, Fugazi), Don Zientara (who engineers Fugazi's records), Calvin Johnson (K Records, Dub Narcotic Sound System, Dub Narcotic Studio) and Larry Crane (Jackpot Studio, Tape Op editor). The topic: "Surviving Without a Hit", i.e. indy rock itself. 'Twas a veritable rave-up. Many other panels and much networking took place. Later I got to see Quasi play a set, and I was most amazed by Janet's drumming. She plays the way I used to try to play (back in the 80s when I was a drummer), only she's way better. Sam was no slouch either, on a variety of instruments. Whatta band. Hung with Eddie Ciletti, finally met John Agnello, Mitch Easter, plenty of other cool folk.
YARL ALERT! In the new issue of Magnet, in an article about Pete Yorn, the writer accuses Pete of "yarling", which he says is "rapidly becoming the mullet of vocal styles." Excellent! The word has entered the vernacular! You heard it here first, folks! (Unless you read it in print in Backfire first.) (Read the original article on yarling)
Recently released discs I worked on include Camarosmith (self-titled), Angry Amputees, Flamethrower, Gits "Frenching" reissue, Upwell, Bottles and Skulls, Mighty Shiny, Dirty Power, Post Stardom Depression, probably some more! I have to note a worrying trend here... two of the above records have me credited as "Producer" even though mostly all I did was mix them, though in one case I did do some heavy ProTools editing on the raw multitracks, and recorded a couple backing vocals. But for the most part, Flamethrower and Angry Amputees were recorded by other people, and I was just hired to edit and mix. I guess it looks better on the record and on the press kit to say "produced by Jack Endino", and indeed sometimes I do a lot more than mixing, but it's not entirely fair to the guys who recorded most of the tracks (and captured the band's performances) without me. (So, you guys, honest, I didn't tell 'em to credit me that way!) Ah well, I suppose they sound almost like "my" records anyway, once I get my grubby little mixing paws on 'em...
We lost a couple more (sigh). R.I.P.: Scott Jernigan, formerly the monster drummer for KARP, in a bizarre boating accident last week. Also R.I.P. Dave Voss, bassist and guitarist, formerly of the Delusions and Bone Cellar; I don't know the details.
I just finished the live Skin Yard comp CD! I kid you not! DETAILS HERE!
Sorry no updates for a while. Been pretty busy with lots of little stuff but whenever anyone asks me for examples, I draw a blank. It's like asking me what I had for breakfast yesterday... that's when I know I'm workin' too hard. Pulling out my calendar to refresh my memory: OK, been working with the Lawnmowers on a new record.
Some history: there used to be a band in these parts called Sister Psychic. The lead singer/guitarist and one of the main songwriters was a guy named Andy Davenhall, a drummer-turned-frontman who long ago used to drum for Rusty Willloughby's Pure Joy, among other bands. Sister Psychic got signed by Restless Records in the early 90s and made two albums, "Fuel" and "Surrender You Freak" before Restless folded; various members came and went, and a latter version of the band included ex-Skin Yard bassist Pat Pedersen; this band made one further indy record on Seattle's ill-fated Y Records label before it, too, folded. Down, but not out, Andy moved to LA for a while, got some sun, made some contacts, tried to get a band together, but eventually threw his hands up and came back to Seattle and started the Lawnmowers with Pat Pedersen, drummer Ron Carnell and singer/guitarist/songwriting partner James Palmer.
They made one record, "Fearless" (which I mixed) on the local indy Good-Ink Records last year. I'd say this band is fearless about one thing: pop tunes with big, huge melodies and hooks. With the last record, I joked that it was so pop I felt my teeth rotting as I mixed it. This was a compliment. My notion of "Pop" is not N'Sync or Britney; I like big, big singalong hooks and melodies combined with big crunchy guitars and lots of layers of sound. Sort of like if Radiohead actually had more bouncy, memorable tunes, and someone took their compressors and reverbs away from them. Perhaps, imagine Crazy Horse playing Beatles tunes and you get the general idea. Andy, and now James, continue to write the killer pop tunes. We are 2/3 into their (self-financed) next album (with a great new rhythm section onboard) and it's a privilege to work with them.
Another new band I'm working with are called The Ones. (No connection to the same-named band I was in with Terry Lee Hale in the 80s... and there's probably some other Ones out there, inclusing at least one such band in Europe.) This rock band consists of other guys I recorded in other bands over the years, which happens a lot around here. We have Marty Chandler (ex-Hog Molly, Panic), Tyson Garcia (ex-Hog Molly), Eric (ex-Gloryholes) and Jay Baugher (ex-Dwarves, Hai Karate). They rock mightily, yes indeed, although I had to give Marty a load of crap cuz onstage he looks an awful lot like Nicke Hellacopter.
Here's some more history. The remixed first GITS record, "Frenching the Bully," is done and will be out in June on Broken Rekids. John Golden mastered it for us, and we are all happy as shit about the result. If you ever even casually liked the Gits before, this record will open your eyes to how great a band they actually were. The guitars are crunchy and in your face, and Mia's voice and lyrics are right up there too. The second record will follow in a few months. There are ample bonus cuts too, including some stuff recorded live at Club X-Ray in Portland at one of the band's last shows.
OK... even more history. Let's go back, back into time when the only people that existed were troglodytes. Um... in 1980, Seattle had a few new wave bands and a bunch of geeky pop bands and bar bands, and hardly any real club scene. Alnog came the band Solger, featuring 15-year-old Paul "Solger" Dana on guitar, and singer Kyle Nixon (the guy who showed Blaine from the Fartz/Accused how to, um, sing). Existing for only 6 months, and opening for Black Flag a couple times, they were Seattle's first "hardcore" band, and blew more than a few minds at the time, with Paul's buzzsaw guitar heroics making a particular impression on several future Seattle musicians including Stone Gossard, Steve Turner, and Duff McKagen, who later played with Paul in the Fartz and Ten Minute Warning. Solger recorded 5 tracks in someone's living room on a cassette multitrack, and the result was the legendary "Solger single", released on vinyl in a limited run of 500 copies. It was without a doubt one of the worst-sounding records ever released by anyone anywhere (I doubt there's anything above 3K on it), and is a solid chunk of vintage-era punk-rock noise which fetches 75 bucks on EBay now.. Reportedly years ago one of the Sonic Youth guys was here in Seattle and was looking desperately to find a copy of it. Collector city, got it? I never could find a copy. A recent chance meeting with ex-singer Kyle (whom I hadn't seen since 1986) at a Feederz/Fartz show led to my agreeing to help in the compilation and mastering -- more like forensic audio! -- of an actual CD of the long-lost Solger recordings. I couldn't say no to getting my hands on such a piece of history! We commenced a search, and found a fellow who had an earlier generation cassette copy of the band's living-room recording which proved much better than whatever was used to press the original single. We also found some live tapes and polished up several of the songs. The results are pretty brutal, being compared to "nuclear waste" by Mark Arm, who along with Steve Turner have contributed enthusiastic liner notes to the CD to be issued soon by Empty Records US.
Coming up in a month: the second Tape Op conference, to be held in Portland at the end of this month; see the Tape Op website for details! I will be on two of the panels.
Slogan seen somewhere: "Stop Mad Cowboy Disease."
Even though the economy's going down the tubes, I'm happier and more excited with my work than I've been in years. The Hot Hot Heat record I produced continues to have legs, and seems to be just about to blow up, at least in Europe. And hey, did I mention Whitestarr came out smashingly? An EP should be released soon. Picture a sort of Stones-y band with 2 singers and a heavy dose of early Beastie Boys attitude, and a male dancer (Well, it worked for Hazel!) who neither plays nor sings, but resembles a smaller John Belushi. Um, yeah, hard to picture perhaps, but watch for these guys... I predict people will love 'em or hate 'em.
Mixed records for Flamethrower and also Angry Amputees, whose bassist Dalty has no fingers, I shit you not. Great bands, both. Flamethrower are in the Zeke vein of punk rock, with a singer who sounds like Cobain at times, and the Amputees have a chick singer/guitarist with a shredding voice that sounds like Courtney actually carrying a tune, i.e. she rules. Mastered RC5's new record. If you ever liked the Fluid (or you just like some balls-out 3-chord classic punk rock with great raw vocals and massive singalong hooks), you need to find the RC5's records, including this new one when it comes out on a small UK indy called Twenty Stone Blatt, run by one Brian Guthrie (AKA The Fat Bastard) whose sibling Robin, irrelevantly enough, was in the Concteau Twins...
Out now: records I did for Gloryholes and Combover, which are both very excellent, hysterically great discs. Out soon: Dirty Power and Camarosmith. Current work-in-progress includes Jerel (formerly Son of Jerel), Al Milman (of Man-Ka-Zam) and Artichoke Project. Oh, and I managed to get 12 new songs of my own into various stages of completion. Really! Collaborators include Barrett Martin as well as Josh Sinder and Alex Sibbald from the Accused. If I take the best of those plus my previously finished, unreleased 2nd Endino's Earthworm record, I'll have something. Someday. Hopefully it won't take me another 8 years...
Upcoming projects include Volume, Kultur Shock, the Spades (from Holland), and a band called Going South featuring one Katy Cornell (sis of Chris) on vocals.
Indy labels to watch: Dead Teenager and Dirtnap.
My two-part "Guitar Tuning Nightmares Explained" article from Tape Op is now available in downloadable PDF format at the archive section of this site. 17 years of experience recording guitars went into this article; if you play guitar, read it.
Cheers to y'all... I'm in LA starting work on an EP for a band named Whitestarr, about to start tracking drums at a studio called Steakhouse. Spent December and the holidays doing way too much, cuz everyone panicked when they heard I was going to be away from Seattle in January. So, had to finish new records for Camarosmith, Upwell, Post Stardom Depression, RC5, probably some others I forgot, plus some more Gits remixing, some mastering and editing for Midnight Thunder Express, Solger, etc etc.
Even managed to get out my first feeble little newsletter in over a year... check the archive page. Oh yeah, some new articles there too: my complete "Yarl" (from Backfire) and "Guitar Tuning Nightmares Explained" (from TapeOp) articles are now online for your perusal. Knock yerselves out.
Reminder: still got some of the new Skin Yard discs for sale. Rave reviews all around for this one. See for yourself why we were ('85-'91) way ahead of our time. You might even be able to figure out which bands ripped off our sound.
Sorry I've been missing in action of late. Just got back from a trip to Austin, TX, where I hung with my pal Tim Kerr for a bit (and saw a raging gig by his band, Total Sound Group Direct Action Committee) before entering Willie Nelson's Pedernales Studio with the band Young Heart Attack. Said band includes ex-members of 16 Deluxe and Fastball, among others, and they are a rousing rock-and-roll band, as one would expect of any of my clients. We recorded 4 tracks for a UK label called XL Recordings, and I took them back to Seattle for mixing; I suspect some singles will be issued in the UK.
Other work in progress: 5 songs for Alta May, a "new" Seattle band who include an old friend, drummer Garret Shavlik who used to be in The Fluid. Finished a complete album for my friend Al Ensign's band, Whores of Babylon; in fact, their record release was this very night, but I was too damn lame to make the trek out to the club! Sorry Al, that happens a lot with me. Some tracks for a new band called Biography of Ferns. Upcoming album by a new band called Upwell, featuring Michelle who used to be the lead singer/guitarist of Us of All. I've heard some of the material and am pretty excited about making this album. Also in progress: Post Stardom Depression, another band that got signed and dropped before they could get anything recorded or released. (Seem to be a lot of those around.)
Recently recorded 4 new Gruntruck songs, if anyone can believe that! Three of 'em are killer. Don't ask me what will become of these songs though, cuz I don't know. Any labels want to do a Gruntruck record? They've got an album's worth of miscellaneous tracks in the can...
Those of you who read Tape Op may have noticed my byline in there recently... for the rest of you, the last 2 issues of the magazine feature Parts 1 and 2 of my article, "Guitar Tuning Nightmares Explained." I've gotten more positive feedback on that article than anything I've written since "How To Overproduce a Rock Record". Larry at Tape Op says I'm free to post it here on my site, so look for it soon. This is the article I was threatening to write all the way back in my own Newsletter #1. OK, so I'm a little slow on the draw.
The last issue of "Recording" magazine had a brief interview with me also, but all I talk about is my Audio Control Industrial SA3050A Spectrum Analyzer, the one indispensable piece of gear I own. And I insist I'm not a gear-head, really I'm not! Gimme a handful of SM57s and (if I have to...) I can make a rock record, I swear!
Other news: the Feederz comeback record is out now, on Broken Rekids. It has the gaily light-spirited title Vandalism: Beautiful As A Rock In A Cop's Face. It looks great on my discography right below the new Hot Hot Heat disc, Make Up The Breakdown, also just out and getting actual mainstream radio airplay across the US... something that will not likely happen with the Feederz. Some of you may recall that Kurt Cobain had a sticker on his guitar with this album title as a slogan. Guess what, he got it from the Feederz (circa 1984), not the other way around. If they come to your town soon, don't miss it... this is no over-the-hill-aging-punk-rocker bloat-fest. No indeed.
My other pals Camarosmith, featuring ex-Zeke guys Donny and Jeff on drums/bass, have been barnstorming across the country slaying people, from what I'm hearing. Dude, they rock. Man. We should be finishing their debut album around the holidays, along with a new RC5 record.
Stay tuned for more rock and roll...
It's summer... who the hell wants to sit around updating a website?
Oh, alright. Past couple months were pretty eventful; I've made more records I'm actually excited about than in any comparable period in years. Here's the rundown.
Just finished remixing the first Gits record, "Frenching the Bully". This was a labor of love for me; I've wanted to do it ever since I first heard the record, which was recorded in a hurry by a broke young band who didn't really know what they wanted in the studio yet. The band recently got the rights to their albums back from C/Z Records, and have opted for complete remixing and remastering; the new versions will be released in a few months, hopefully, not sure yet by whom. "Frenching", their first album, has been unavailable for several years. I originally had nothing to do with the record, but just had the chance to spend a couple days massaging the old multitrack tapes, and the results are, well, stunning. Suffice it to say the performances were there. It might sound as good as their Seafish Louisville CD, which I had the pleasure of mixing last year. If you're a Gits fan, be very afraid. (By the way, just so ya know, I really enjoy mixing other people's stuff, or remixing old stuff that didn't get a fair shake the first time.)
The Hot Hot Heat record, entitled "Make Up The Breakdown", came out swimmingly, and should be released in a month or so on Sub Pop, which has a one-off single-album deal with them. Massively catchy band, you will either love 'em or hate 'em. Great singer, great players, great songs. Not the usual noise-fest people often associate with me. The A&R people are circling like sharks already.
A San Francisco band called Dirty Power came up and we made my favorite record of the year. Everytime I play it for people in the studio they go "Wow... Who is that?"Three months later and I'm still humming their songs... in spite of having recorded a bunch of other records in the meantime! They just slayed me. "Watch for 'em" is all I can say. The debut album should be out in a few months on the mighty Dead Teenager label. JE sez: more thumbs up than I can even describe. (Hey, shit-for-brains A+R people, I'm handing you a hot tip here... put down that crack pipe. Yeah, you.)
Here's a link to a great review of Dirty Power in the SF Bay Guardian...
Another SF band I just finished with is called Bottle and Skulls. Another classic crusty, noisy punk rock record! Not sure yet who will release it; the band have two previous indy records on small labels, but it's safe to say this one blows 'em away, as well as being more original sounding.
New Mudhoney record, "Since We've Become Translucent" is finally out NOW. I can't really add it to "my" discography because I only have one song on it, but here's a picture of the cover.
I had a band from the UK come over in July and spend a couple weeks with me, by the name of Solanoid. They proceeded to make a slamming record, sounding kinda like Dino Jr, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins (but with a much better singer than any of those bands), yer basic slash-n-burn guitar "alternative rock". But actually, um, very excellent. OK, I'll ask nicely this time... will someone please sign 'em?
Emily Ayn's record is out now on Knot Known Records (hey, I just record 'em...) from Phoenix AZ. Guitarist/singer Emily fronts a rocking little power trio. I actually don't have a basis for comparison except possibly Juliana Hatfield, but much heavier (as you would expect I would make sure of... which is why Emily called me, she wanted to make a "rock" record, and not someone else's idea of what a "female singer/songwriter" should sound like. Mission accomplished). Again, great songs, singing and playing, which you may notice is my main criterion for whether I work with a band, starving artist or not. She needs a booking agent and is ready to hit the road with her boys... if people don't notice this record I'll be amazed.
I keep adding stuff to my discography page... so I must have done something the past few months. Let's see... OK, Spiritu is a heavy band I recorded who are from NM, their album is out now on Meteor City. Seattle's Gloryholes have a new record out on Empty, "Knock You Up". I did engineering and shared some production and mixing duties but it was mainly Tim Kerr's baby, and boy does it shred, in his patented garage-in-your-face kinda way. I think they're one of the best bands in Seattle right now, the only band that could give Gas Huffer a run for their money. And if you haven't heard the new Gas Huffer record "The Rest of Us", if you wrote 'em off years ago, you are sadly missing out, as people are calling it their best record in a long time. I think so too (really!), though I'm kinda biased.
Lawnmowers are a Seattle band that kind of picks up where Sister Psychic left off some years ago; new record is caled "Fearless". Guitarist/singer Andy Davenhall is the mainspring, but also performing on the record is former Psychic (and ex-Skin Yard!) bassist Pat Pedersen. There's a strange story here too; a couple years ago, one of the original members of Psychic from ten years ago, Ryan Vego, committed suicide, and he left a suicide note basically asking ex-band-mate Andy to record some of his songs. Andy did so (well, wouldn't you?), and three great ones are on this record, along with some equally great Andy originals and a couple by 2nd guitarist James Palmer. This record is so catchy and poppy (in a rock-guitar-band kinda way) that I could feel my teeth rotting as I mixed it. (It was tracked by Alex Kostelnik with help from Andy.)
I hear that Krist Novoselic's band Eyes Adrift has been doing some recording out east somewhere, and playing shows here and there around the country, but they're in no hurry to get something out; when it's done, it's done, is the sense I'm getting.
Oh yeah, Seattle punk-pioneer-legends the Fartz have a new record too, "Injustice" on Alternative Tentacles, on which we probably spent TWICE as long as the last record we did, meaning 2 days this time... and they wouldn't have it any other way, being ye Fartz after all. To quote a local reviewer: "Dude, it shreds!"
Ah, the sublime nature of my craft.
Just got back from the first annual Tape Op Convention in Sacramento, three days of studio-nerd overload and glorious schmoozing and total-immersion socializing. It was great. I found myself on a panel with Steve Albini and Tony Visconti among others. Tape Op head honchos Larry Crane (editor, runs Jackpot Studio in Portland) and John Baccigaluppi (publisher, runs Hangar Studio in Sacto) set the whole thing up with help from Craig Schumacher (from Wavelab Studio, Tucson) and other valiant people. There were several hundred people in a big theater in downtown Sacto (that's what they call it) and after Steve Albini's keynote address on Friday night, the panels went all day Saturday and part of Sunday, followed by a big party over at John's studio, beer provided by Pabst Blue Ribbon (one of the sponsors... you can't pull something off like this without corporate sponsors). In a couple weeks there will be more details and photos at the Tape Op website (www.tapeop.com) possibly including transcriptions or audio files of some of what went down over the weekend, but it was a very good time, and I kept running into cool people.
Some of Steve's keynote targets included digital recording (of course), The Roland Jazz Chorus amp (high on my own list of Enemies of Civilization for many years) and the ubiquitous Pod ("Dude... your Pod just sounds like a Pod.") (Likewise.) People love Steve (when they don't hate him) because he says what the rest of us are thinking but haven't quite said aloud yet. Like, that 5.1 surround-sound is going nowhere as a mass-medium for home use... ("Come on, like people are actually going to string a bunch of speakers all over their house so they can sit in that ONE SINGLE CHAIR in the center of the room where it sounds like it's supposed to? I don't think so.") I've had the same thought but it was nice to hear it publically aired.
Panel Topics included "Home Recording," "Studio Design," "Mastering," "Storage Strategies in the Digital Age," "What it Means to be a Producer" (the panel I found myself on) and several more. All had their monents of hooting and hollering and bomb-throwing.
Sample... the panel about "home recording," which had some of the most introverted people of the entire affair, included J. Mascis, who made everyone else look wordy. For some reason I practically died laughing every time he spoke.
Moderator: "OK, panelists, how about... what are some of the drawbacks of recording yourself at home? How about you, J?"
J: (long pause)... Years go by. (silence)
Later I got to chat with him and we bonded over his Black Sabbath T-shirt ("Volume 4") and my professed affection for the Groundhogs (cuz an audience member asked us about our fave records). Tony Visconti told me about recording the new David Bowie record (with Seattle's own Matt Chamberlain on drums). Hung with Eddie Ciletti and swapped schematics and war stories. One guy came all the way from Eire. Even Albini was nice to me. Guess you hadda be there. Maybe next year!
Prior to Tape Op I had just finished a record for Hot Hot Heat, for Sub Pop. They are a very cool band from Victoria, BC, Canada (home of NoMeansNo). We tracked it at the historic Mushroom Studio in Vancouver BC, and mixed it here in Seattle at Hanzsek Audio. It's hell of a record, and very different from what people usually expect of me. And right before that, I did a "master producer's workshop" thing at Greenhouse Studio in Vancouver as part of New Music West (Vancouver's version of SXSW). A bunch of people observed me recording a "guinea pig" band in the studio, two songs top to bottom, recorded and mixed in one day. People were taking notes and asking questions and I had a great time, as did the band, my old friends Crush Groove. And the next day I spoke to a recording class at the CDIS arts school, another thing I always enjoy.
Oh yeah, and the Dirty Power record is going to slay people, as will the Feederz and Camarosmith. I'm psyched, some good stuff goin' to tape (tape!) around here lately.
Last night while at Soundhouse Studio in Seattle, studio owner Scott came in as I was getting ready to go home for the night. "Some Seattle rock news today," he said with a pained look.
"Who died?" I said. "Guess," he said.
I thought for about a second. "Layne?"
"Bingo" said Scott.
R.I.P. Layne Staley, ex-singer for Alice In Chains and one of the last of that generation of fucked-up Seattle rock stars. Almost everyone else like him is either clean and sober now, or dead. Though I never knew him personally, it was a wide-open secret around here that Layne was in tough shape for the past several years.
Now I'm pissed off and I'm going to blow my cover here. I'm tired of everyone keeping a polite silence about all the goddamned drugs in this town. I never even realized the extent of the problem myself until people started dropping like flies.
Heroin: don't buy into the romantic mythology of it. It's a huge crock of horseshit. A colossal fraud perpetrated on gullible people. Sure, you might make some good music for a year or two... while you're still alive. Dirt's a great record. But ... HELLO?... plenty of people make great music without being junkies... DUH!... and for more than just a couple years or albums. Looking back at the painfully well-documented history of heroin's destruction of so many people's lives, it makes me want to stick my head out the window and yell "WAKE THE FUCK UP, PEOPLE!" I'm just damn glad so many of my old friends and clients got through that period of their lives and are still with us. Losing Kurt, Stephanie, Andy, Baker... it sucked. And that's just the famous people.
Another thing: people are looking desperately for something to blame. Look, it's not hard. Don't make the popular mistake of underestimating the power of opiate drugs or overestimating the power of will, no matter how good someone's intentions or how smart they think they are. Just put the blame where it belongs: heroin. Why is it so damned hard to do that? Cuz heroin is "hip"? If you blame Layne for anything, blame him for being dumb enough to buy into the mythology and try heroin in the first place. And you might ponder this quote:
Dickie Peterson of the band Blue Cheer, explaining to me why he and so many other 60's musicians ended up as heroin addicts in the 70's: "When we discovered they were lying to us about [the dangers of] marijuana, we figured they were lying to us about everything else."
So blame the drug war.
I've never mentioned this on the website before, but now's a good time. In case anyone gives a fuck, I've been practically "straight-edge" since college 20 years ago, though I was definitely not straight-edge in college. I don't even touch caffeine (it makes my ears ring and screws up my hearing, not to mention affecting me like speed). It was awkward in the 80's when my studio clients were always kindly offering me drugs and beer, but fortunately (sigh) I don't have to make excuses any more cuz they're all 12-steppers now. I don't get that weird suspicious vibe from people any more, like I'm implicitly criticizing them by not getting stoned with them. That sure got old. HOWEVER there is no philosophy or morality whatever attached to my choices in recreational chemistry; what you do is your business, I just don't like 'em for myself anymore, that's all. I like being able to think clearly on demand, rather than having to wait until I get some more "whatever" in me. But I don't care what clients do in the studio as long as they show up and are able to play their instruments, and remain nice people and don't steal the mics. At least weed doesn't smell as bad as cigarettes. But I draw the line at coke and heroin users. Go ahead and waste your time and life and money, but don't waste mine. If you wanna kill yourself slowly, don't make me watch. As for weed, they should legalize and regulate it and quit putting stoners in jail next to the genuine criminals who have actual victims. Read Dickie's comment above again.
On the lighter side, Sub Pop's 14th-anniversary party happened last weekend. Mudhoney played every song from their upcoming new album, in sequence. New bassist Guy Maddison (ex-Bloodloss) is awesome, and the show was killer. Look for the new record, "Since We've Become Translucent" on Sub Pop in August. Also on the bill were Hot Hot Heat from Canada, who were very good (I will be recording them next month), and the Shins, who unfortunately had to follow Mudhoney and suffered a bit in comparison, something they gamely joked about during the set... can't blame 'em really! There was also a female singer-songwriter on the bill but she was too zzzzz for my tastes, so I ended up talking to people in the bar...
Tonight I saw Lost Goat, 'cuz I'm a longtime fan. They are touring to support their new CD on Tee Pee Records, "The Dirty Ones", their 3rd album. I can't say enough nice stuff about this band; I had the biggest smile on my face for their whole set. Drummer Tina must be about 90 lbs, but plays like Mitch Mitchell; guitarist Eric is like some kind of stoner-rock Hendrix, and bassist Erica has an excellent, tuff voice and skilled bass fingers. And they look badass on stage. They play a sort of swinging, cliche-free heavy-groove power-trio riff-rock that is also very jammy, or at least feels like it. A criminally underappreciated, underrated band. Also on the bill were Fireballs of Freedom, whom I've managed to miss every other time they've been here. Noisy, edgy and pretty unclassifiable! Interesting and completely different from the Goat. Now I'll have to dig up their records and attempt to decipher the dense sounds I heard coming from the stage.
On a different note, the song "Epitafio" from the new Titãs album that I produced last summer in Brazil is now a #1 single in São Paulo! And I played bass on it! The album is now platinum down there (250,000+ copies sold) and is headed for double-platinum.
Another darned gig... Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers made it to Seattle the other night. The bass player, Danny White, owns Formula One Recording in Tempe, AZ, where I recorded the Emily Ayn record a few months ago, so I had to come out and see his band, who I had never actually heard. Turns out that there are ex-members of the Refreshments and Gin Blossoms in the band, and the club was sold out, and the audience knew the words, etc... a great show. The band has their own label, EmmaJava Recordings, and has just released a new record, Sonoran Hope And Madness.
Opening for them was Gerald Collier, whom I hadn't seen or talked to in about ten years. Gerald has a long, strange story, starting in the late 80s with a band called The Best Kissers In The World, who did a couple indy records and then were signed to MCA. There followed a whole series of major label fiascos through the 90s, with the usual litany of signings, firings, buyouts, solo deals, label executive housecleanings, corporate mergers, the usual major label nonsense... but Gerald survived it, and his new band, Deer Whistle, played a good set of Meat Puppets/ZZ Top-inspired originals.
Oh yeah, just so you don't think I've been goofin' off, I recently finished post-production and mixing of a record by Seattle's Lawnmowers, a band with Andy Davenhall (ex-Sister Psychic) writing and singing many of the songs. This band has been packin' 'em in at the clubs around town, and their songs have melodic pop hooks so massive that I could feel my teeth rotting. An excellent record which I will be honored to have my name on.
Coming up: records by Dirty Power, Hot Hot Heat, Bottles and Skulls, Crush Groove, and a new record for the Feederz.
So I checked out another gig last night. Woo-woo! Jack is cut loose from the studio! Watch out. This time it was an all-ages show (Yes! We can have 'em in Seattle right now!). I love these shows because no one is fucking with anyone else, nobody's drunk, everyone is just there for the music, and my clothes don't reek of smoke when I get home. So what if I could be one of their parents. I'd be happy to never go to a bar show again as long as I live, frankly. Opening we had Harkonen, who've been around Seattle for some time. A couple years ago I saw them play at the defunct Velvet Elvis theater, and they were a typical young hardcore band with an aggro frontman. Now they are a power trio with the bassist doing the screaming, and their music has become more angular and original sounding. Impressive, and I went and told 'em so. "I appreciate a band who can rock that hard and still completely avoid 4/4 time." Math-Rock? Yeah, a little bit. My old band Skin Yard tried to be that way occasionally, but as long as you rock like a bastard no one cares. A Harkonen record is due out in the next few months.
Next was a kinda generic hardcore band who were impassioned and politically aware but their music was that same old frantic 2/4-time scissor-beat thing that you've heard a million billion times. I couldn't make out their lyrics at all which kinda defeated the purpose, I guess. The crowd endured their music politely, and clapped appreciatively when they ranted about Bush and Ashcroft. I didn't catch their name but at least their hearts were in the right place.
Third was a recent Sub Pop signing, Pleasure Forever, "formerly known as Slaves" as all their promo reminds us endlessly, not that I ever heard of Slaves either. From the number of people around me sitting down and yawning I could see that my own impression ("Nappytime!") was shared by some of the crowd. They played and sang earnestly and well, but their music itself was so-so. The keyboard player/singer (there seemed to be no bassist) kept tinkling between songs like the guy from Kansas or something. Reminded me of Atomic Rooster but not as good.
And finally... the long-awaited headliners came on: Dead Low Tide, the new post-Murder-City-Devils band. They had some pretty serious hype to live up to, as one of our local weeklies has been name-dropping them for months even though this was only their second show, their first having been the previous night. Having Nate on guitar, Coady on drums and Spencer on vocals (and ever-faithful roadie Gabe), I expected them to sound more like the Murder City Devils. Wrong-ola! It was great hearing Spencer caterwauling in a totally new context. Bassist Mike Kunka (ex-GodHeadSilo, EnemyMine) had a huge sound with fuzz and effects aplenty, but Nate kept up with him, playing in a style utterly different from the Dolls/Stooges/Cramps riffs of the MCD. Coady, one of the best drummers in town, pounded wildly and acrobatically. The songs? I heard hints of Shellac and Jesus Lizard and No Means No (and, um, Harkonen, actually... see above). They told me they were leaving on a west coast tour right away, even though they only have 8 songs. They already had a vinyl single for sale, and T-Shirts. Audacious, yes. But...Endino sez: two thumbs up.
MAJOR new updates to my [NOW OBSOLETE] Skin Yard site, the first in eons; check it out. Major updates to my own discography also. New records include a couple Zen Guerrilla discs, a new Grannies CD, and a new Gas Huffer!
Last night was one of those nights I like to call "Dinosaur Nights". This means a bunch of grunge old-timers were onstage... and therefore, in the audience too. Sad, you might think, but really fun from my standpoint, cuz I'm definitely one of 'em. This happens here whenever, say, Mudhoney or the Melvins play a gig. It happened at Wellwater Consiracy shows last year. People -- old friends or fans or musicians from way back -- come out of the woodwork, folks who haven't been seen in public in years.
Last night it was Love Battery's turn. I don't think they've played a gig in a few years, but they wanted to do a one-off gig for the fun of it, so they practiced for four days with Danny Peters on drums (cuz Jason Finn wouldn't return their calls) and kicked out their best live set in I don't know how long. But first, the openers, a newer Seattle band called Alta May, have a drummer named Garrett Shavlik... some of you may remember the Fluid? That's the guy. Like Jason, a leftie playing a right-handed kit. Killer drummer and one of the few who can sing well while drumming... and Alta May was a power trio in which all three members sang. I really enjoyed their music and hope to get a copy of their recently-released CD pretty soon. We talked about recording in the future.
Behind the bar was Coady Willis, drummer of the now-disbanded Murder City Devils. He told me about his new band, Dead Low Tide, with Nate (gtr) and Spencer (voc) from the Devils, plus Mike Kunka from EnemyMine/GodHeadSilo on bass. They are playing their first two gigs ("We just wrote our eighth song, so it'll be a short set") next week. I might go.
I kept encountering other people in the audience who I recorded years ago, whose names I couldn't remember, but of course every one of them remembered me. This happens all the time (sigh). Thousands of former clients, only one of me. Now whenever I am introduced to anyone who acts like they know me, I immediately ask "What band were you in?" or "When did I record you?" Sometimes it turns out they just know me from the HYPE! movie. (Even with my glasses.) (BTW: HYPE! will soon be on DVD. No extra footage though. And go check out director Doug Pray's new movie "Scratch.")
Second band tonight was an up-and-coming band called Underride (www.underride.net) who were RAWK with a capital R. Serious but not too serious "Big Rock", attitude reminded me of the Supersuckers. Black clothing, big show, cool lights, flashpots and stage fire and smoke, hammy over-the-top front man. Not punk at all, not metal, not indy, not Limp Bizkit. Just rock. You wanted to just hate 'em but they were actually pretty darn good. "Signable" in my opinion, at least by somebody, just like that New Orleans band I did last year, Supagroup. One guitarist in Underride used to be (long ago!) in a band called Stagnant Water where he was known as Captain Pond Scum; he looks kind of like Ozzy now. My friend Dana Sims was drumming and twirling his sticks to shameless excess.
Finally Love Battery took the stage. There was Ron and Kevin on guitars, and original-original bassist Tommy, and guest drummer Dan Peters driving it all along behind 'em. Opening with "Between the Eyes", Ron broke a string halfway thru the song. I could see a disaster in the making, imagining all the energy and momentum just draining away right from the start; it's every gigging musician's worst nightmare. Ron switched guitars (they each brought a spare, much like I always did in Skin Yard) and then Kevin broke a string a minute later and had to change to his spare also. But what now? They had no guitar tech! I saw what had to be done and jumped up on the side of the stage and offered to be guitar tech for the night. (I was NOT gonna see the first Love Battery show in years turn into a huge bummer.) Ron showed me where the strings and tuner were and I got to work, and they were off, and ended up played a solid (and very much IN TUNE) set!
Later I told him, Ron, you oughta hang onto that drummer there, he's alright. Danny had just finished another recording session with Mudhoney last week so he was in good form.
As a side story here, I got to pass along some master tapes at this show. Years ago when I was mixing a live Fluid song for a single, having the board set up I grabbed a spare reel of used tape and mixed down the rest of their live set, just to do it. Then the band broke up and I forgot I had it. Recently it turned up, and tonight I had the pleasure of handing the reel to ex-Fluid-drummer Garrett who was thrilled.
Even stranger is the story of the Room Nine tapes. To digress: years ago, there was in LA a mastering facility and vinyl pressing plant called K-Disc. Most of the indy labels around here sent their tapes to K-Disc to be made into records (there was also Imperial Records in Vancouver BC, another story.) Their mastering engineers included Carol Hansen (hope I got that right... a very good engineer who retired around 1989; she never got enough credit) and John Golden, who still does much of the Sub Pop, Estrus, eMpTy, SST, Alternative Tentacles, you name it -- lots of indy rock stuff. K-Disc went thru some ownership changes and John Golden left to start his own mastering facility (www.goldenmastering.com) many years ago.
K-Disc continued as a mastering/pressing facility but eventually it foundered and went under, and someone bought their assets at a bankruptcy sale. A couple years ago John got a phone call from someone saying they'd found a whole room full of old, abandoned master tapes, and they were going to trash 'em, and did John want any of 'em? John said "Wait, I'll take 'em!" and ended up with a truckload of mystery tapes.
One of the people John called was me; he explained what had happened and sent me up a list. It was about 12 pages, single spaced, small print. It was amazing. I went through it and just checked off all the Seattle-related ones I knew of, tape after tape. "Yup... I know these guys... wow... yup... that's one of mine... yup... C/Z... Popllama... yup...I did this one... holy shit!... wow..." So I had John ship me all of those. I got 4 boxes of old reels. Among them: the Allies record, a Seattle pop classic from 1982, long thought lost. A Green River tape from 1984. The Big Tube Squeezer album I recorded in 1989, one of the lost Seattle gems. Coffin Break tapes. A couple of odd Popllama Records 7-inchers. The Penetrators, Gary Heffern's old punk band from San Diego. (Gary lives here now.) It has taken me a while to find all the original owners of these tapes.
You may wonder, why did this happen? Because the bands give their tapes to the record labels, and the record labels usually arrange for the mastering and pressing. Then they forget to ask for the tapes back, or they go out of business first. Happens all the time. There were plenty of major label names on that list too.
Now, a Seattle history lesson. Long before Love Battery, guitarist/singer Ron had a band called Room Nine who were, in 1985-1987, one of the biggest bands in Seattle. They were kind of a psychedelic alt-rock band, similar to the Screaming Trees. They always had a trippy light show, run by a guy named Michael Laton who is mentioned in the book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. They always drew huge crowds, and Skin Yard opened for them a half-dozen times when we were getting started. Room Nine were, with the U-Men and the Walkabouts and the Fastbacks and the Wipers, one of the "big daddies" of the mid-80s NW rock scene. They eventually got a record deal with a New Orleans-based label called C'Est La Mort, who put out a vinyl LP for them called "Voices of a Summer's Day" and then promptly went out of business. The Walkabouts had a similar thing happen to them at that time, some label called Wrestler, but I don't have the full story; Room Nine fell apart shortly thereafter, leading to the formation of Love Battery, with a heavier guitar sound, right at the point when grunge began to coalesce. I never recorded Room Nine, but I did end up recording the first Love Battery record.
Anyway... I ended up with the "lost" master tapes for that Room Nine album. So last week I made Ron a CD-R from the master tapes, and presented everything to him before last night's show as a surprise. This got a great reaction. Of course, he's never heard his own record on CD, just an old scratchy vinyl pressing! Now he can do a remastered CD reissue if he ever wants to, and I hope he does someday, cuz it was interesting stuff, very different from Love Battery.
If anyone's curious, I still have some unclaimed tapes in my house:
Seattle band A.D.R.D. "Talk is Cheap" 8-track session reel, circa 1988.(2005: dealt with!)
Seattle band the Skyboys, several reels, circa 1982.
Some small reels from the Alien Boys of Hamburg, Germany.
Aberdeen, WA band Attica, an 8-track reel.
Zoomorphics , from Portland I think; just one song, maybe two.(2004 Update: they got ahold of me! Dealt with...)
Anyone got any contact info for any of these people?
Well happy freaking new year, let's hope it's better than 2001. Survived the holidays. Recent jobs included: Emily Ayn from Tempe, AZ; Midnight Thunder Express, Fartz, Gloryholes, Mighty Shiny, and Lawnmowers from Seattle; Spiritu from New Mexico; Dog Toffee from the UK; and Grannies from SF. (Sorry if I'm forgetting anyone.) Also, that Titãs record I did last summer went platinum (250,000 copies) in Brazil! Woo woo!
Zen Guerrilla has a new record that I did for them last year, it's a crazy tripped-out thing called "Plasmic Tears and the Invisible City, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack." It's not so much song oriented as it is trippy jamming and trance-inducing noise. Hear it to believe it. It's on their own label Insect Records,
Oh yeah, I added some Skin Yard T-shirts to my garage sale page cuz I found a few in my garage.