Last issue there was a brief mention of Sidecar in the interview we did with Quasi, wherein Quasi questioned Sidecar's choice of studios and use of 2 inch tape. Curious about Sidecar's perspective on the matter, I chatted with them and discovered their phobia of studios and an amazing history full of all sorts of different experiences in the recording realm. No, you won't find any micing tips here, but I would hope that in reading these tales other bands might take heed and avoid some of the same situations. By the way, Sidecar are a great band and their cover of Blondie's "Union City Blues" on the Tiger Stripes Forever compilation (Undercover Records) is a treat to hear.
The very first Sidecar recording session?
Mike Wu (guitar, vox): The very first one was in California, what was that town called?
Eric Diaz (analog synths): Did you go to the same place that we went to? It's a suburb of San Francisco.
M: No. I don't know. We did it with this guy named Jim Day.
E: 8 track.
M: It was all one room, a garage. We didn't know what we were doing. We went in with the drummer from Samiam [Dave Ayer], who did another recording with us later on. It was just Claire, me and him. We just did four songs.
Joe Fitzgibbon (drums): Was that the tape you guys gave me?
M: Yeah. He [Jim Day] had no idea...
E: He didn't know much.
M: He played weddings. He liked real slick production. He was really happy to have us in there but he didn't know anything...
How much was it per hour?
E: It was like $8, $10, $14?
M: Something like that.
What kind of deck were you recording on?
E: 8 track?
M: We're not gonna have any specifics about recording!
This is good. Was it on a cassette? Reels?
E: It was on a reel-to-reel and it was mixed down to a DAT.
And you'd record in this guy's garage?
M: It looked okay but there was no separation.
Between the control area and the band?
M: Right, and we didn't put the guitar in another room or anything.
J: It sounded okay. I was happily surprised.
M: The circumstances were funny.
What did you find difficult about it?
M: I think that we just didn't know what we were doing and Claire came down, from Seattle, just to do that and she was real freaked out. It was the first time she'd ever recorded. It was just kinda weird. I hate recording.
What's wrong with recording? 'Cause it's different from live?
M: Everything about it.
J: With recording in general you realize just how much practicing you need to do.
M: And how much you let slide when you're playing live. It's like you're paying for every minute and you got to get it right and someone does it wrong and you've got to do it over.
E: You never have enough time either.
How did you feel about the sound of what you ended up with?
M: It was very flat, unflattering and hard to listen to. We didn't know what we were doing and he didn't know anything about our [kind of] music.
What was your next recording session? Was it in Portland?
M: It was here. That was pretty easy; it was no stress.
[To Joe] Are you on that one?
M: Joe was drumming with us.
J: It was probably the same set up. The 8 track was right there in the same room. It was pretty low budget.
M: Extremely! It was a friend of ours [Ben].
J: The first time we did it we just bought him a six-pack of beer.
M: We were the first thing he did. It sounded better than our first tape.
E: That was recorded on Quarterflash's old 8 track!
M: The quality is already there! We just had fun with it; as much fun as we possibly could. We didn't waste that much time. We just did it. Some songs came out okay but some weren't that good. It was probably the least stressful [session] ever.
Was that in his house?
M: In his basement. He carpeted every section of the room. We helped him put it up. I guess that was part of the payment. It turned out as fine as it could be, I guess. We did six songs.
Was that the tape that you had for sale?
M: It sold real well til we stopped making copies. I don't even know where the master is. I hear that it's being played in Alaska.
What more can you ask?
J: For some Eskimos up there.
M: Some guy said, "I have a friend who's a...