Tuesday, August 09, 2005

This entry arises partially out of the need to fill some column inches and tamp the Bee Gees down, out of your line of sight.

I just finished working on the new issue of Unrestrained! (should be out by the end of August). In addition to the copyediting, I did three stories for #28—Circus Maximus (righteous Norwegian prog-metal, just the way blacknblues likes it), Frameshift (in which we learn of the dangers of hiring Sebastian Bach to sing your concept album about human tendencies towards violence), and Presto Ballet.

For the last piece I talked to Kurdt Vanderhoof, who wrote all the music for the project in between his main gig with Metal Church. Presto Ballet is a riotous take on seventies American pomp-prog—sort of a cheekily grand illusion of The Grand Illusion. Twenty-five years ago it would have been all over the radio, which is mildly interesting to ponder, but that kind of hypothetical crap doesn’t help Vanderhoof’s cause. He’s not worried about airplay anyway; he’s just enjoying working in his studio and being the old-school rock guy.

Here are some bits I transcribed but had to cut out of the article.

[ME] Do you still have to sacrifice as much as you used to in order to play music?

[KV] Oh, absolutely—any kind of stability, any kind of relationship, any kind of money. I’m still pretty much living the way I was when I was 19…which gets a little bit old, but you get used to it.

You’re a big fan and advocate of analog sounds and analog recording. Does it freak you out that they’re not manufacturing recording tape anymore?


Where’s it going to come from?

They’re still manufacturing it, but the bigger companies aren’t doing it as much. It’s more boutique now. Smaller companies are still making it, because most of the major industry studios and producers and stuff still want analog tape. There’s definitely still a market for it, but it’s not enough of a market to keep the big companies going, like Quantegy, Ampex, and BASF. There’s not enough recording studios, because most of us who work in the studio or own studios, the demo market is completely gone because people, instead of spending $3000 to make a good demo, they just go spend $3000 and buy themselves a digital rig for home. They don’t go spend the time in the studio. The big studios are almost all gone unless you’re a major, major studio. But for the rest of us, you can still buy tape, although the big companies quit making it. I just found this out about six weeks ago; you can still get tape. It’s a little more expensive and you have to really know where to go look. You can’t just go buy it like you used to. Tape sounds better and everybody knows it.

So obviously your studio is equipped with a tape deck.

Yeah, two-inch tape, exactly.

Have you made any concessions to computer recording?

Yeah, I have my own digital rig here in my house and I do my writing on it, which is fantastic for the creation process. I’ll totally give digital the tip of the hat in that respect, for the writing, but for actually putting out finished products, it still sounds like crap. It’s a great tool for the creation process. Sitting in front of my computer, the shit you can do is amazing, but it’s nothing that I would ever use to put out a finished product. It’s just for coming up with the ideas. The cut-and-paste editing is just amazing to try new arrangements, and it sounds good, but it doesn’t sound like a record. It beats the hell out of the old cassette four track.

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