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How Did I Get Started Recording?

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. :-)

Growing up, I spent a lot of time listening to the radio. In those days, the music was released on singles (45s or EPs) and albums (LPs). I liked the music enough that I started buying the commercially available music. In the course of buying music, I read music magazines, and went to music swap meets. Somewhere in there I found out about bootleg recordings. My defination of bootleg recordings is studio recordings and live recordings that had not been commercially released or were discontinued by the music label and thus difficult to acquire. So, for me it was a natural progression to start buying bootlegs.

A few years later, I started going to see bands perform on stage. Back in 1982, walking out of the Roxy, where I had just seen a reunion of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, I heard someone across the street who was evidently also walking out of the club, and he was playing back the music I had just heard on stage! This caused some serious thinking on my part. I never expected to hear that one off reunion again. If I started going to shows, then I would not likely hear any of those live performances again. If other people could record shows, then why couldn't I?

With some help from a friend, I found a good quality cassette recorder, found some reasonable stealth microphones (small enough that I could clip them to my shirt collar and they would not be too noticeable) and proceeded to start attending and recording shows, and in the process, building a collection of music that would give me hours (days, weeks, months, years) of listening pleasure.

I figured that listening back to live shows I had attended would be about as good as it could get.

As usual, I was wrong.

In my quest for live music I met a musician (David Arnson, Insect Surfers) at the Sunset Junction Street Festival in 1986. He invited me to see his band perform. He mentioned that his band played surf music. At the time, I was thinking Beach Boys. Which was definately NOT the kind of music I was interested in seeing performed live. But I was on his mailing list, and one day, when I didn't have another band that I wanted to see, I went to see the Insect Surfers. Their music was not at all what I expected. I liked it. And I started going to see them on a semi-regular basis.

Keep in mind, I was still stealth recording all the shows I was going to, including the Insect Surfers. Not only did they not mind that I was recording them, they wanted copies of my recordings. This went on for a few years, until one day in 2000, David Arnson asked me if I wanted to work with him, and listen back to the live recordings with the thought of creating a live album. While I enjoy listening back to my recordings I knew that it was possible to get better quality recordings that less dedicated listeners would enjoy listening to more.

In my quest to get better recordings for this projected live album, I stopped making stealth recordings and started putting my microphones on the stage. And then a funny thing happened. Other bands (and musicians in the audience) saw me putting microphones on stage asked me what I was doing. A number of them thought it was a good idea, and asked me if I would record their band. So I did record them.

I started out using a Sony TC-D5M (portable, professional, stereo cassette recorder). I managed to wear out a few of them. I was also using a pair of Audio-Technica AT801 (omni-directional, electret condenser microphones) which I am still using.

Because I was being asked to record so many bands, I was slowly doing less stealth recordings, eventually reaching the point where I was only doing stage recording.

During this time, I was becoming more aware of other instrumental surf music bands. Rather than waiting to be asked to record them, I started going to shows with the intention of recording bands. Since most (all) bands didn't know who I was, I made it a point to introduce myself to the band, and ask if I could record them. Most bands didn't mind, and many of them also wanted recordings for themselves.

After a few years of this, my final Sony TC-D5M started having problems. By this time most bands preferred CDs rather than cassettes, and it was getting very time consuming to create CDs from my cassette recordings. Thus started my search for a digital deck replacement. What I came up with was the Fostex FR-2 Field Recorded. My Audio-Technica AT801 microphone still worked fine, so I continued using them.

It was sometime after I started using the Fostex FR-2 that one of my live recordings became the Insect Surfers - Lyve CD which was released in time for their 20th annivrsary as a band.

And then something else completely unexpected happened.

I was on location recording the audio for bands I knew (as well as bands I didn't know) and a video production company was shooting video of the bands that I was recording the audio. After brief discussions with the video crew, I was paid for the recordings I was making and I was paid to do additional recording for them. That production, Pounding Surf was just released on DVD.

I am currently involved in another feature length video production, and I have been involved with a few other video productions in the past.

Which brings us up to today.

Last year (2007) I made more than 150 CDs for bands. While most of my recordings are for band archives and or demos for clubs and or fans, many of my recordings have been used on web sites, CD releases and in video productions.

It seems to me like I have found a perfect way to combine my love of music, and my love of recording music.

Chrome Oxide
have audio recorder will travel

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Last updated by Chrome Oxide on 08/15/2008

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