When I moved into Cleveland a little over a year ago, I had a limited knowledge of the current music scene. Most of the local music I picked up was the usual crap you'd find in any other city. However, just like any other city, there were a handful of releases of varying styles that were phenomenal. Without fail, when I looked for the recording credit, Don Depew's name popped up. Don owns 609 Recording, a 16-track facility located in a sleepy suburb of Cleveland. He also plays bass for Guided By Voices and Cobra Verde and was guitarist for local metal act, Breaker. He's recorded some great bands like My Dad Is Dead, The New Bomb Turks, Guided By Voices, Gem, Monster Truck 5, Cruel, Cruel Moon, QuaziModo, The New Salem Witch Hunters, Cobra Verde, and many, many more. Here's a short chat:
So Don, how'd you get into recording?
I don't know... It's been so long. There was this studio... Mark [Klein--609 Recording coconspirator] and I took a class at this studio. We were into doing that kind of stuff and for some reason it seemed like a good idea. It was just the usual kind of recording class. Guinea pigs would come in, and we'd work on them. Geez... That's like 20 years ago. Mark had a Teac 4-track and he eventually wound up getting a Peavey mixer. We'd use whatever mic's that were lying around and weren't broken. We'd use whatever practice space we had at the time. It's been this place since about 1982.
Were you recording Breaker with that?
Yeah... Well, with the heavy metal stuff, it was a whole different thing, especially back then. The first place we went with Breaker was Suma [a top-of-the-line 24-track facility in the Cleveland area]. Mark saw a special advertised for $32.00 an hour which, at the time, was a really good rate, you know? The only stuff we'd recorded up to that point was the 4-track stuff. Some of that stuff sounded decent, considering what we were working with. So we were going to do a single and there were no such things as project studios back then, there was just, you know, big time studios. Back then, people didn't make records. Now, it's like everybody will crank out records. Kids--15 year-old kids put out records. To us, making a record was like... You can't understand how different things were back then.
It just wasn't available?
No! Making a record was something that was very expensive. It was a really big deal. We'd know people who'd go their whole life, years and years, and they'd recorded one time or something. Or never play on a record.
That sounds almost better than now. It wish it was more like that now.
(Laughs) It had its good points.
That would be so much better. The people who had the studios actually knew what they were doing. I mean, how many studios are in Cleveland, and how many of them actually know what they're doing?
Like anything else, it had its good points and bad points. Anyway, then Michael [Klein, Mark's brother] got an 8-track, a Tascam 80-8, and a Biamp mixer. Around then, it started to hit me. I never had any money, but at least I could weasel enough to go see bands. I'd come across bands and I'd think, "The coolest thing in the world would be to be able to make a record with these guys." Just because I liked them, not because I wanted to scam a bunch of money off them, because they didn't have any money either.
That seems to be a recurring theme.
After awhile, people just assumed they didn't know anything because they hadn't really been in a studio, and (pointing) THAT guy has been in a studio a couple of times so he must know something. THAT guy was me. (Laughs)
What is your favorite project you've worked on?
The New Bomb Turks. They were fun.
I remember you telling me that the drummer [Bill Randt] didn't use headphones while tracking. What did you do?
Got a guitar amp and aimed it at his head.
Didn't you have a problem with bleed into the drum mics?
No. It's the New Bomb Turks!
What was recording the GBV thing like?
'Cuz it wasn't GBV, it was Cobra Verde with Bob.
How'd that all get started anyway?
Well, because of the "Insects of Rock" thing. GBV was on Scat, who also put out Cobra Verde's record. We did some shows with Prisonshake and GBV, and Bob was into Death of Samantha, so one thing led to another... It was weird because it's one thing to record people who just come in and you can look at them objectively and try to make a record of this object that just walked in. It's another thing when you're participating in the thing too. And it's an even harder thing when you've got to be a participant, record it, and it's somebody you liked before and...