Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Bit of Press

Last week I did an interview with the Boston Phoenix's Jonathan Donaldson.

It was a lot of fun and the fruits of his labor can be seen here.

In other news..

November has been amazing. Acts include but are not limited to:

Rusty Belle
Guillermo Sexo
Aye Nako
Lord Jeff
Speedy Ortiz


Major Pro Tools upgrades happening in my control room. Getting out of the dark ages of Pro Tools 8 and bumping up to 10. Patiently awaiting the arrival of a Lynx Aurora 16 A/DD/A converter.

Here are some pictures of recent Sonelab antics.

Some new (to us) drums at Sonelab.
Shelby weighs in on the mix.
John brings us all back to reality.

Friday, November 9, 2012

November update.

After another long run of sessions, it's high time for an update.

Sonelab has been completely rocking. It's been one awesome project after another and I couldn't be happier in this new home.

Last time I wrote an update, it was the end of August. I made a list of some of the bands that've been through Sonelab.

Since then, we've started a number of fantastic projects and have completed some, too!

Here are some pics and stories of said projects:

September brought on some cool stuff with The Bunnies. They recorded an epic concept album consisting of two songs: Side A and Side B and came to Sonelab to mix it.

We spent a day breaking each side down to movements or pieces. We treated each movement as it's own "song" and worked through each side of the record accordingly. It was totally smooth sailing. The band had a vision, and we just had to make sure it came across in the mixes.

Violet Clark of Grand Duchy fame came in for a couple of weeks to track her forthcoming effort. She had two thirds of the Bunnies come to accompany her. Matt Newman played some drums and Jeremy Dubs played guitar. Violet directed the band with her bass and keyboard stylings and then, over the course of the next two weeks, we edited the live improvs down to songs and began overdubbing and arranging. It sounds fantastic. Be on the lookout!

October started off with a band, as New London's Bedroom Rehab Corporation came in for 6 days to start and finish their forthcoming full length. We cut basics, overdubbed, and mixed all within this time. The results: huge huge huge! This record will kick your ass.

The next session in line was with Chelsea Light Moving. They came in for two days to finish mixing their forthcoming LP. It will be out in March on Matador. It's so unbelievably heavy. There is no mercy in this record.
Panoramic console shot!

The heart of the Chelsea Light Moving mix: Compex!

Shortly after that, Sol Riot from Eugene, OR came for a 6 day session. We set up, tracked basics, and spent the remainder of the time on overdubs. This record turned out to sound great and is very heavy on full-on-rock guitar arrangements. Very much looking forward to mixing this record!

New old Traynor bass cab mates with it's old old head. Delivered just in time for Sol Riot's session!

October ended on a really nice note. Rusty Belle came in for six days to track their forthcoming full length. David "Goody" Goodrich was at the Producer's Desk for this one. This recording takes a different direction from their last two. This time, they decided to forgo the concept of recording everything live and relying on life performance.

We cut the basic tracks live, keeping most stuff, but all vocals were overdubbed separately. There was a lot of experimenting with guitar tones, alternative sounds for percussion, keyboards, vocal arrangements, etc. This was SO fun to work on and mixing this should prove be AWESOME.

Matt Lorenz's stash.

November has already been rocking. Guillermo Sexo came in for two days to finish up tracking on an amazing batch of tunes. We say this every time we make a record, and we've been saying it again this time: this is their finest batch of songs and best recording to date. I cant wait to continue working on these tunes and begin the balancing process!

Reuben's stash. Guillermo Sexo guitar overdubs are always AWESOME!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Crazy summer

This summer has been absolutely crazy-busy with nonstop rock! I've hardly had a moment to catch my breath, let alone post to the blog.

When thinking about what to write this time around, I was a bit overwhelmed with thoughts of cool things done in sessions, amazing recordings, fun times outside of the studio, past projects that have been released, new gear, lessons learned, friends made, etc. I also thought it'd be fun to count how many bands I've worked with since my first session on May 6th 2012. I was amazed at the count: 16. I've recorded 16 different bands in the last 4 months. I am forever thankful to the bands for choosing to work at Sonelab with me. Luckily things have gone incredibly smoothly and we've had many happy campers. Here they are:

Fancy Trash
Chelsea Light Moving
Home Body
Friends of Yours
Guillermo Sexo
Psychic Blood
Four Eyes (they have no name and 2 new members!)
Black Francis
Baby Grand
Last Builders of Empire
California X
Trevor Healy
Egg, Eggs

Here are some pics from various sessions and happenings here at Sonelab:
Julia and I celebrating the new studio!
Matt Krefting, after being bullied by Rory.
Trevor Healy, getting warm on the 12 string.
Ted Lee's 40" and 28" bass drums.
My 26" Leedy bass drum. I love this drum!
Carr amps and great mics!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Train keeps a' rollin'

After being in this new studio for almost two months now, I'm nothing but ecstatic about the workspace, the sounds I'm able to get, the workflow here, and the clients that have been through the door.

Since I last wrote a number of projects have been started, finished, and even released!

As many of you may know, Chelsea Light Moving has released one song from our May session through Matador Records. It's a total rocker, and not to say it's the best from the batch we recorded, but it's one of my favorites and definitely strikes a mood. Dig this tune!

Boston's Guillermo Sexo stopped in for four days to start work on their forthcoming full length. This will be the fifth project I've recorded with them and I know I've said this before but it's my favorite, thus far. The songs range from pretty and quirky ballads to total spaced-out stoner anthems.. with some quick catchy ones in between! Dig it, for sure.

Fancy Trash was the first band recorded by me at Sonelab. Dave, Jason, and I got together to mix said recordings and have them ready for mastering! This will be the first full length started and finished here at Sonelab.. Very exciting!

Sweet Apple is a band from Cleveland, OH, Brattleboro, VT, and Amherst, MA. Recently the four representatives from the three regions of Sweet Apple congregated at J Mascis's Bisquiteen Studio in Amherst to record a new single and a few tunes for their third record. I engineered. It was my first time at Bisquiteen since finishing Dinosaur Jr. 2012 LP and it felt fantastic! The band sounded great, the vibe was good, and we got a TON of stuff done. Look for a fall release for the single!

Friends of Yours is an amazing Northampton duo (and sometimes trio!). The music is emotionally-charged, meaningful, and will totally make you rock out! We started working on a series of recordings in 2010 for a tour single and their forthcoming full length. We gathered at Sonelab to mix said recordings a couple of weeks ago. It is complete and scheduled for mastering very soon. Put it in yer queue!

On the Sonelab front, there is much to report! Hm.. where to being?

Well.. after the first two months, Mark and I couldn't be happier. We're booked solid though the end of summer, and getting calls for sessions quite regularly.. so if you're interested in any Autumnal recording time, I suggest reaching out sooner than later :)

I'm going to make a list of the bands recorded at Sonelab so far because it's really quite amazing and I couldn't be more proud of this facility and the clientele.

Gear talk:

Mark and I installed a Furman headphone mix system. It allows the artist to dial in his or her own headphone mix. It also happens to sound really great and gets very loud! So far, everyone's been very happy with their headphone mixes :)

We have a nice rack that floats between Mark's and my control room. It consists of a pair of Distressors and a pair of Daking mic pre/EQs, as well as a sweet Apogee 2 channel A/D D/A converter. It's been so nice to have these resources available, and to be able to move them from room to room as needed!

Our Coles 4038s are out to Wes Dooley/AEA for rereibboning, which I'm extremely excited about. Not that they don't sound fantastic but now they're going to really turn heads! Our pair of Charter Oak S600s are also out on repair. Cannot wait to get these pieces back and into regular rotation again.

My control room now has the addition of an ADR Compex F760X-RS and a DBX 161 limiter. Two of my favorite all-time compressors. Serious game-changers for me.  

I also got a pair of B&W 805 monitors to compliment my NS10s. As many of you know, I've worked on NS10s, exclusively for a long time now. Finally, I've got another pair of monitors for reference. They actually sound OK, too. I still lean on my NS10s, but when I need to double check low end, I go to the B&Ws.. so far the mixes are sounding a bit tighter, even than before!

Here are some recent studio shots!

Here's the latest state of my control room rack. It's starting to fill up, which is GREAT! I'm very happy with the state of things, here, especially when the Daking/Distressor rack is in my room!

Here's a pic from Bisquiteen this past weekend. I tracked Sweet Apple live and this is what I did with the guitars. Two different heights, separated by a couple of blankets, close-mic'd and almost NO BLEED! And you've got to love the sound of two Gibsons through two Vox amps. The thing about this setup is that I discovered a new tool, and please, reserve your laughter: the Neumann U87. This is a mic that I just never gravitated toward. Over the past couple of months, I'd been using one for oddball overdubs here and there.. the interest started to build up and this past weekend, I decided I'd go for it and put them right up on these guitar amps. Coupled with a 421, these mics sounded awesome! Who'd ever think a Neumann U87 would sound any good??

Friday, June 1, 2012

Big stuff happening..

Hello blog-readers.

It's been way too long since my last update, especially because so much has happened since..

Since my last update, I've worked on about 30 different projects and opened my new recording studio: Sonelab. It's been 2 years since discussion started and almost a year since pen went to paper. We're finally open, up and running, and I feel like I'm doing some of the best work I could possibly be doing.

I spent the second half of April moving equipment with Mark and gathering cabling for my control room. Once the cabling was in my hands, I began the epic task of wiring my console, outboard gear, and lines to the live room. For about 2 weeks, I worked at Bisquiteen for 10-12 hours per day and spent 6-7 hours at Sonelab soldering cables, running lines under the floor, and conducting a series of tests. Everything seemed to check out in the end so I was ready for my first session!

Fancy Trash came in for three days of tracking. They helped me break in the studio in the best way possible! We had Jason Smith set up in the drum room, Paul Kochanski with his upright bass in the small iso, and Dave Houghton in the big room, playing acoustic guitar and singing. On the second day of tracking, Katy Schneider arrived with her pedal steel and sat in the live room. We ran lines to her amp in the large iso. It was amazing to listen to them track all live, using every room in our studio. I can't tell you how proud I was to have pulled it all off and for things to sound simply AMAZING!

The next session I did at Sonelab was with Chelsea Light Moving. This band is made up of Thurston Moore, Keith Wood, Samara Lubelski, and John Moloney. We spent three barn-burning days tracking live, adding vocals, then mixing. It was a wirlwind of rock and noise and was SO much fun, albiet a lot of work. We set up John (drums) in the big room with 10 close mics, plus a series of four room mics, including one ambient mic, which was placed on the opposite end of the live room, providing me with 33 ms. of delay to play with! Samara's bass amp was placed in the drum room, surrounded by large gobos, and Keith and Thurston's guitar amps were placed in the remaining two iso rooms. We were able to achieve perfect isolation yet maintain a very live and raw sound on playback.

After Chelsea Light Moving left, The Peachy's came in to bash out 7 rockin acoustic tunes. This setup was quite different from the other two! I put Keith (drums) in the widest part of our live room and Kevin (acoustic guitar and vocals - LIVE!) directly across from him in the large room with no baffles. Peter, bass, had a wireless device so he was able to walk about while his bass remained in the small iso. There was definitely some bleed but all of it was quite nice! David "Goody" Goodrich sat in as producer and added some of his fine guitar, slide, and piano to the project.

After a MUCH needed week off, I walked back into Sonelab with the Happy Valley Showdown winners of 2012: Home Body. I think this project almost killed me! Electronic sequencing that go from stabbing to BLISTERING and soft to ambient. Add Haley's amazing vocals rising high above that and you have Home Body. Add Noam Schatz's pulsing beats and Justin Fallon's heavy fuzz-echo guitar as a bed and you have an idea of what their forthcoming full length has in store for you. The low end rattled my speakers and my brain, and the melodies have been pleasantly embedded in my head. I can't wait to mix this one!

One day I'll add the pictures I have of all of these events.

The feeling I get when I walk out of the studio and hear our practice spaces roaring and see the parking lot full of familiar vehicles is like no other. This is everything I hoped for an more.

The summer is getting close to fully-booked and the next batch of projects is no less exciting than the past. If you're interested in studio time, please reach out soon. It's going quickly.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Happy Springtime!


Thought I'd give ya'll a little springtime update.

Let's start with some things I've been working on:

The end of February I was able to spend a nice, snowy evening with Speedy Ortiz. This newish band was started by Sadie Dupuis, who's previous band, Quilty, recently split up. Speedy Ortiz plays some really fun, catchy rock music that definitely makes a nod to bands like Pavement, the Amps, Polvo, etc., while maintaining their autonomy.. The guitars go from clean and fiddly to HEAVY. They boast great dynamic shifts, fantastic lyrics, and O so catchy guitar riffs. I highly, highly recommend checking out their stuff. The project we worked on was start by Paul Q. Kolderie at Mad Oak in Boston. We comped vocals, added Matt Robidoux's (Graph) guitars, and mixed it together. Dig the tracks on their bandcamp page. They got more on the way 2!

Western Mass's very own Psychic Blood and I have just put the bow on top of their forthcoming 9 song, 33 minute noise/punk LP. I'm not sure when it's coming out but get psyched!

Hush Arbors and I mixed their upcoming side of a split LP with Arboretum coming out on record store 2012! The record is being released by Thrill Jockey Records!

Other Record Store Day-related projects I worked on this year:

-Heavy Blanket

I began the epic task of mixing Rusty Belle's forthcoming live record. We're just about finished with it so we're hoping it'll see release in the very-near future!

Dinosaur Jr. released a live DVD this past February. The show was recorded at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC this past summer. Tim Herzog (who does FOH for Dinosaur, among many other things) and I were responsible for making sure the set was recorded properly on the night of the show. His microphone placement, my Pro Tools prowess. During the autumn of 2011, J and I mixed the tracks at his studio, Bisquiteen, in Amherst, MA. It's called Dinosaur Jr. Bug: In the Hands of the Fans.

In the works are some pretty amazing projects that I probably shouldn't get too specific about but I can't help but to mention:

1. An amazing combination of musicians playing together to record one amazing song: J Mascis and Lou Barlow meets The Melvins in the studio!

2. J Mascis and Lee Ranaldo recently teamed up for a fun ditty, written by someone else. It's an amazing song that you've probably heard before. It was a hit, yet it was instrumental, and remains that way on this version.

3. A certain three-piece from western Massachusetts has been in the studio since February 1st, 2012 working hard on their third record since their reunion. This band features ex-members of Deep Wound.

I would also like to officially congratulate David Sweetapple and Outer Battery Records. They are new to this world and it's looking like they're gonna make people happy!

Lastly, but certainly not leastly: my new recording studio and practice space complex is VERY close to being open. We're awaiting some official documents and once we get those, we'll start wheeling in tape machines, consoles, amps, drums, pianos, etc. and start wiring this place up! Mark Miller of Slaughterhouse, as you know, is my partner in this venture. We're very close on this and are starting to book sessions from May 2012 on!

In preparation, I've started to build myself some mic preamps. I'm very excited about these. So far I've got 4 OPAMPs built (2 based on the original API 2520 'Huntington' and 2 based on the beautiful-sounding Melcor 1731). I tested out both and honestly could not believe the different between the stock API pre amps and these kits.

Once my actual microphone preamp kits arrive, I'll start tearing through those. I've had the pleasure of using these preamps in other recording studios, and I was very impressed! I have my second API Lunchbox ready for these bad boys!

Thank you for entertaining another scattered rambling of my goings on!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Big Update!

Hi, How are you?

It's been a long time since I've updated this blog, therefor I have a ton to report! Let's dig in, chronological-like..

First, I'd like to update everyone on the goings on within my new studio space. I'm proud to say that we're in the home stretch! There's paint on the walls, floor, electricity pumpin, and we're beginning the finishing touches: doors, floors, etc!

I can't even describe how excited I am to start recording in this space. As doors and such have gone up, Mark and I have been able to witness not only the rooms taking shape, but the SOUND of the rooms evolve. I think they're sounding better and better with every door that goes in.

Here's a shot of our live room, standing in front of Mark's control room:

The first sliding door on the right is what I refer to as the '70s drum room.' It's large enough to record a drum set. There's carpet on the floor and a drop ceiling. This makes for a very nice, thuddy sound. There are no right angles or parallel walls so It's very clean-sounding, too!

The second sliding door down is our small dead room. Perfect for a bass rig or guitar amps.. Or if you're looking for a very quiet room to record your most intimate vocal take in. Also carpeted and with a drop-ceiling.

Third room down is the drum-iso room. It's massive with full 16' ceilings. Bonham would be psyched! Here's a picture of the drum room:

Note the window opening. This window will provide line of site through all three iso rooms.

I'm actively starting to book for April 1st, 2012! If you're interested in a tour, more information regarding the studio, or straight up want to book some time, please reach out.

Here's a look at 2012 thus far..

2012 started out with a bang. The first session I did was with Elder. We tracked in mixed 2 songs in 2 days over at Black Coffee Sound. The recording is to be released on an 12" for Armageddon Records in Providence, RI for a Record Store Day release! Holy heavy! This might be one of the heaviest recordings I've ever been a part of. Big drums and big amps were the theme of the session!

Amherst's Californiax came into Black Coffee Sound to track 2 songs for their new single on The Sounds of Sweet Nothing, a UK based label. These dudes are somewhat new, as this was their first studio effort. We not only had a great time, but made some damn-fine recordings in a day's worth of time! We're hoping to hit the studio again in the not-too-distant future to work through a full length!

Boston's Banditas and I continued work on their forthcoming full length. We took a field trip out to 1867 Recording Studio in Chelsea, MA to cut vocals. The record really took shape with finished vocals! The band is now scheduled to mix this record next week.

J Mascis just completed mixing and approved mastering on his forthcoming solo effort. It's under the name Heavy Blanket and will no doubt, turn heads. I'm not going to say anything else about it. Get psyched for a May release!

Back in January, I teamed up with Rusty Belle to make a live recording. We set up a stage area, brought in many microphones, preamps, and my Pro Tools rig. The goal was to capture Rusty Belle's live set in front of an audience and we most certainly met that goal. The shows spanned 2 nights and were fully-documented. The recordings came out crisp and clean with a healthy dose of bleed from all of the instruments and lack of isolation. What made it work so perfectly is Rusty Belle's ability to play to any room that they're in. They did so, perfectly! We're set to mix this soon!

Speaking of mobile sessions, I brought the rig into Kim Gordon's basement for a short n sweet Body/Head session! They're in EU right now to play a few shows. Very excited about this band and project.

There's been much more exciting things happening.. but this is already a post of epic proportions!

Be cool.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Yesterday's issue of the Hampshire Gazette had a nice feature in the Arts and Entertainment section about the new studio.

It's partially about the studio and partially about the event we're going to be hosting there next weekend!

Amherst's Rusty Belle is performing live on Friday January 13th and Saturday January 14th. They're be performing before a live audience in our studio and recording the sets for a live album release! We're really excited to be hosting the even and would be excited to see your face at the gig. If you'd like to get a pass for one of the nights, go here.

As for the article.. Take a peek this way..