I gotta watch what I say on the 'net. First, the new edition of Clark Humphrey's "Loser" prominently features (on the cover!) a quote from my website about the first edition of his book. I emailed him and said, hey, how about a freebie copy of the new edition in that case? He hasn't replied though. Sigh. Then I just noticed that Botch (or their label, probably) used a quote about their album from my last newsletter in an advertisement. Nice to know I have credibility, but I guess if this sort of thing bothers me I'll have to start slamming people more. Pretty soon I'll be Albini... (uhh, hi Steve...)
First, some news. Stone Gossard's Loosegroove Records is toast. Not sure what this means for Critters Buggin', Eureka Farm, and for former Urge Overkill member Nash Kato, whose solo project was just about to come out. The Loosegroove website said that all orders received after 1/31/2000 would be returned, all orders before then would be filled. Scuttlebutt here is that Sony refused to renew their distribution deal, so Stone decided it was time to put it out to pasture. Have heard other things however; who knows where the truth lies. Supposedly Will Records (run by a gent named Don Robertson) is buying/taking over the Loosegroove catalog.
Current projects: I just finished tracking a record for Titãs bassist Nando Reis, for Warner Brasil. Barrett Martin (Trees, Skin Yard, Tuatara) plays drums on it; Alex Veley from Maktub plays keys on it. It kills. Of course, no one outside Brazil will ever get to hear it. Wah.
Forgot to mention that Nick Saloman brought the legendary Bevis Frond here for the first time back in October. It was truly great to see him play here in Seattle. I first met Nick when I recorded Blue Cheer in 1990 in England (another story, that); he was spinning records over the PA before one of the band's gigs. Green Pajamas opened the Seattle show. I was in the middle of a hell work schedule but I managed to make it out to the gig and it was a Terrastock reunion of sorts. Word is that Terrastock will happen in Seattle later this year! I don't envy whoever will have to deal with the logistics of it. I do know that Wellwater Conspiracy (Matt Cameron/John McBain/others) will definitely be performing!
Upcoming: finally talked Tad into getting his excellent new band Hog Molly into the studio with me soon. And by the time you read this, the long-awaited U-Men compilation CD should be out on Chuckie-Boy Records, titled "Solid Action". I've waited years for their old stuff ('84-89) to appear on CD, and now finally you can hear how brilliant and ahead of their time this band was. (I never worked with them, most of their stuff was recorded before I started working, but ya know what? They never needed my help.)
In similar news, I have spent the past year sporadically resurrecting and assembling material for a Bundle of Hiss CD using old tapes that had never been mixed, and in some cases, cassettes of old mixes from master tapes that have long since disappeared. Most were from eight-track tapes recorded by Ric Vaughn in his long-dead Audio Design studio, '87-88; some were old tapes I did at Reciprocal in '86. Some tapes had to be baked in order to get 'em to play long enough to transfer 'em to digital so I could mix 'em. With help and patience from three of the ex-members (Danny Peters, drums; Jamie Lane, vocals and guitar; Kurt Danielson, bass) I finally finished this labor of love, which will be released soon on a new label called, er, Loveless Records.
Recently spent some time with the ex-Gits, remixing some early stuff that had only been available on obscure singles, and mixing down the entire live show that was recorded by the people who made the HYPE documentary in '93. They gave the band permission to use all of it. It's killer stuff. Even I had not realized how good they were; the only time I ever saw them was when they played their very first show ever in Seattle, late 1989, when they opened for my "other" band, the Crypt Kicker Five. Let it be said that Mia Zapata kicked ass.
Other historical news: just got video-interviewed by Scott Barbour for his Andy Wood documentary. (I did all Malfunkshun's studio recordings, and a ton of Mother Love Bone demo sessions.) Apparently I was one of the last "missing pieces" he needed. I guess every time he's been in Seattle, I've NOT been. So I imagine he'll go ahead and start piecing it together; expect something at Sundance one of these days, assuming he doesn't go broke doing this. (Indy films are not unlike indy rock, except without a record label.)
And even more stuff-that-refuses-to-go-away: Paul Allen's Experience Music Project rock-and-roll museum is slated to open in on June 23rd in downtown Seattle. There will be, among other enormous things, a huge exhibit on the history of northwest U.S. music going back 100 years. Of course there's sections on 60's garage rock, punk, metal, and of course, the biggie, 7 glass cases full of grunge memorabilia. Ouch. These people are dead serious and this organization has Paul Allen's billions behind it to make sure it is taken seriously. The whole thing is damned surreal. I, and any number of other local music scene luminaries, have been asked to participate in various ways, but that's all I think I am at liberty to say right now about it; go to http://www.experience.org for info.
The new Monkeywrench album is out on Estrus, titled "Electric Children". And speaking of members of Mudhoney, they have indicated their intention to cut a couple of songs with me in the near future, as a three-piece.
RC5 have broken up. Very sad, that. I always say that the average life span of a band is about 8 months to a year; if they can get past that, then they at least stand a chance of REALLY screwing things up. R.I.P.
Most strange was a project that fell into my lap a few weeks ago. Back in December, during the WTO frenzy, Jello Biafra came to Seattle and did a live show with Kim Thayil on guitar and Krist Novoselic on bass, with Sweet 75's Gina Mainwal on drums. There was about 20 minutes of WTO-related spoken word from Jello (good stuff, too) and about a twenty-five minute set of music from the band. A fellow taped the show on ADATs, and another fellow named "TR" who used to be in Sky Cries Mary converted the whole mess into Pro Tools digital audio files. I was then hired to mix it! To do this I had to take TR's 9 gig Cheetah SCSI drive down to Hanzsek Audio and plug it into their Pro Tools rig and go from there. There was editing to be done to take out some rather-too-pregnant pauses and other bad moments, and to cut things down to LP length, but no re-recording was done. No need for it. Still, the live recording conditions were not, um, "optimal" let us say, so making it sound good was a bit of a challenge. Probably got a few new gray hairs from this one but even Jello seems to be happy now. It's pretty cool. It should be out soon on Alternative Tentacles as "The No-WTO Combo Live from the Battle in Seattle", or something similar.
Melissa Auf Der Maur left Hole and joined Smashing Pumpkins. Masochistic, or what? I was amused at the reports that have appeared about Sharon Osbourne (Mrs. Ozzy) resigning as Pumpkins' manager, reportedly for "health reasons, because Billy Corgan makes me sick." Ha, ha. Now I heard he's suing her for slander. As for me, I like some of the Pumpkins music but Billy's vocals make me homicidal for some odd reason.
Anyone notice that parts of the new Korn record sound like the last couple Faith No More records? The vocals? Like, a lot? Makes me wonder. Anyone ever see both bands in the same room at the same time...?
I don't have a sound card yet for my Mac, which is actually a fairly frisky Motorola Starmax clone with massive memory and drive space. I get stuff in and out of it via Jaz disk and CDR, bringing stuff from various studios to home and back by that method. But I recently found myself forced to digitize some stuff off old cassettes in a hurry, late at night, so for the first time, I held my nose and used the built-in a-to-d converters, accessed through a stereo mini-plug in the back, recording into the freebie Pro Tools 3.4 version they were giving away a couple years ago, then burning a CDR. It actually sounded pretty good, so I got curious and got out my Loftech Test Set, a frequency generator, and ran some test tones into the built-in audio input, then measured their amplitudes once each bit of test tone had become an audio file. Though I couldn't measure noise or distortion specs, I could at least test the frequency response of the analog-to-digital converters. Was I surprised!
It was FLAT, plus or minus .1 DB (Point one!) from 16 kilohertz, all the way down to 10 Hz! TEN CYCLES PER SECOND! I even zoomed in on that sound file, and they were indeed nice smooth 10Hz sine waves rather than input distortion products. I saw no point in going any lower. Up at 18 KHz it was minus .2 dB, at 19 KHz minus 1.1 dB, at 20 KHz minus 3.0 dB, not like it matters. I repeated the test again to make sure, and got identical numbers. I had heard that "stock" Mac converters were not that great in this respect, being "just OK", but apparently Motorola improved on this. If anyone else has done such a test on their Mac I'd be curious to hear the results.
Some have wondered why I haven't messed with MP3's. It's cuz they take too long to download even at 56K. [2013 NOTE: HA! HA!] Furthermore, the LAST thing I need is more music to listen to. Aside from the continuous stream of demos and freebies I get, my wife Dawn has a magazine called Backfire (she used to publish Backlash in the 80's, was the first person to write about Nirvana, the first person to review the Deep Six compilation when it came out, etc... See new book "The Nirvana Companion" for a couple of her old articles) so I get to hear the stuff she gets in for review. Furthermore I have records I bought in the SEVENTIES that I haven't listened to yet, either because I haven't gotten to it or because I don't know where they are.
But I've noted the RIAA gnashing their teeth about MP3 and all the free music being swapped around. The latest controversy is software called Napster that makes MP3-swapping even easier. What has suddenly hit me is that the internet's potential to make almost every piece of information "free" could not only kill the major label record business (may god strike them dead) it could in fact kill my career and that of anyone else who makes their living from ANY creative endeavor at all. No record companies = no recording budgets. Free music = not only no profits from music, but no MONEY at all, period. For that matter, as someone recently pointed out in a news story, would you bother to write a novel if it was available free on the 'net the day after it is published? What incentive will any artist (in ANY field) have to do their art if there is NO WAY they can support themselves with it? It pretty much means we all go back to service or wage-slave jobs. If "content" becomes free, there will be no financial incentive for anyone to create it. Yes, there will be artistic impulses which cannot be denied, but for anyone to focus and devote their whole life to any sort of artistic pursuit would become economically unfeasible. The implications of where things are going are mind-boggling. The internet is already moving to a direction in which the only revenue streams are created by advertising. Imagine if you needed to be "sponsored" by corporations or other benefactors in order to pursue any creative endeavor at all. People who are in the less-commercialized or more-academically-recognized fields of creativity are used to this situation, subsisting on grants and awards, etc. It could be worse: imagine a huge ad banner painted on your guitar, commercials between the songs on your band's CD, ad space on the back of the jewel box... Look at those ad banners all over the web... it's one bad science fiction story coming to life. Something big's gotta happen and I'm no longer sure we will like whatever it is.
You can't ENTIRELY remove commerce from art; artists have to eat. Yet all art is information, and the 'net makes information essentially free, so if there is to be art, then the nature of the commerce will have to change to... something else. Am I making my point? Anyone got any bright ideas?