"Who the hell is Dave Doughman?", you might say.  Well, I didn't quite know who he was until I stumbled across him running sound for Guided By Voices and Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments on their recent tour.  In some ways, maybe, Dave's not a name you may have come across, but on the other hand he has worked with Kim Deal's Amps, has recorded demos for Robert Pollard, and has his own fine combo known as Swearing at Motorists.  I just felt that our conversation touched upon a lot of the stuff of recording, and that Dave was another guy who had thought about this Tape Op junk quite a bit. Enjoy.

How did you get into recording?

As a kid we had this little, flat Panasonic tape recorder.  I would go around and make up songs.  I would tape soundtracks off of television and then I'd listen to them.  I would make up plays, like do Star Wars, on tape.  But very few songs at first.  Mostly I was using it to spy on people.  I'd record something and listen to it later.  I got into doing music from hanging out with bands.  I had a Walkman with a good stereo microphone and I'd just find a good sweet-spot.  It was an Aiwa and I wish I still had it.  It got the greatest sound.  From that I went to four track.  Then I went to the EVIL Full Sail Center for the Recording Arts.  

You did?!!  Oh my god.  Elaborate please!

It's a lot of money and it's a good program but in retrospect, I would have purchased a four track and saved myself $20,000.  Here's the thing:  There's nothing like walking in on your first day and being on a Neve console.  But then again, you're not going to walk in on a Neve console out of school.  Yeah, it's nice to learn on all the bells and whistles and to have the chance to see what it's like to record huge sounding stuff.  I basically went there because I was really interested in doing it, and I had been doing it on two and four track, but I wanted to know all the laws and reasons and theories... so I could break them!  And that's basically what happened.  I went there and everyone that was there was either into hip hop or metal and I was kind of into my own thing.  Really into the Beach Boys, Neil Young, Guided By Voices and stuff.  So I'm in there getting weird in a totally different way and they're going, "You can't do that.  That's not the way it's supposed to be."  I'm like, "But it sounds great."  There's no rights or wrongs, there's just good and bad.  

Did the instructors really tell you...

There were times where they were, "Well, that's just not the way we do it."  

But if you're achieving an end...

They didn't understand the times where I wanted to overload a channel on the board to rip the vocals up.  "You're distorting!"  "I know.  Thanks!  If you want to give me a preamp I can rip up instead of the board preamp I'd be more than happy to but that's the sound I want."  It really helps when you get to understand how frequencies work with each other.  That is insane.  A lot of people don't realize how muddy their tapes get because there's too much in there.  If you would just EQ in the negative a little bit.  Just take a little bit out here and there.  That's all you have to do.  I rarely ever add on EQ but I love to take things out.  That frequency may not be something that's all that great about that instrument but it washes out the part that is great about another instrument.  Toms and bass drums I do it all the time. Upper range vocals and guitar. Snare and guitar. There's different places where they overlap.  You really have to get in there and make room at times.  If you have time, whether it be because you're doing it at your house or you're doing it in a studio where there's more budget, money wise.  Ideally, you'll move your microphones until you've done it.  Sometimes people will look too much at one thing.  "We have to get the snare just right."  Put the guitar in and pop the EQ in and out and see whether you like it better or not.  It may not have any effect.  You may sit there and tweak on a frequency that's buried by the guitar.  You always gotta look at the big picture.  How's this gonna sound at the end?  Think about it.  "I want this, in itself, to be a really good sound."  How's it gonna sound with everything else?  You don't want it to...

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