Yeah. So I had heard of Dump, the bass player from Yo La Tengo, who did these great songs he recorded at home on 4 track. But I had never stumbled across any of his CD's until a bunch showed up in the mail a while back. Well damn, they're good, and the new one is called A Plea For Tenderness (Brinkman Records). So, I set up an interview to see where this guy was coming from and boy, was he a nice fellow.
Is the new album the same kind of thing where you recorded it all on your 4 track?
Yeah, and mostly at home.
What kind of machine is it?
A Tascam Porta 5 I got in '86. It's still the same one. I've had a couple of bands replaced inside it. There must be something wrong with it 'cause it still works. I saw one exactly like mine in a pawn shop in Florida a couple of weeks ago and I almost bought it. A friend for my old one! There've been times when I've thought about upgrading, but I just can't. Until this one catches fire and melts into a ball of goo I don't think I can replace it.
Upgrading to what?
A better four track. This guy, Peter Walsh, who really helped me mix the last couple of things I've done, knows all about real, actual recording equipment and he was trying to talk me into the minidisc thing. "You should do it." Maybe eventually, one day.
But it's not analog. You wouldn't get those tape drop outs and things.
I know. I've become quite an expert at those. I am sort of scared of that "cold-crisp" sound.
You should be. So your first record, was that stuff you'd been putting together over the years?
A little bit of it was. I put out a single before the first CD that came out on the 18 Wheeler label in 1992. I'd sorta been using the 4 track for a long time and my friend Tom, who runs the label, suggested putting out a single. I was pretty happy with that. It was stuff I'd done over the last year or two prior to that. I recorded almost all of it in Providence actually. Brinkman Records got a hold of that single and called me and asked if I wanted to make a record. I said I'd rather make a single and then I got a scathing letter from Brinkman saying, "NO! Make an album. What are you, chicken?" So that's what I did. Superpowerless was recorded almost all in New York, mostly in the apartment.
That's what I was gonna ask you. You do a lot of real drums...
Yeah, that stuff I do at the Yo La Tengo practice place.
So you'd track that down there and then go home and add guitars and vocals.
Yeah, pretty much.
Ever the other way around?
No. I can do the drums at practice and piece it together. Mostly, I like to do as much of it as I can at home. I'm always kinda happy with the sounds I can get. It seems to work out okay. It's much easier to bounce stuff down, being at home and able to concentrate. The playback is the stereo in my bedroom. I've really gotten used to the sound of it and how to interpret it.
Do you do a lot of bouncing down?
Oh yeah. The new record, I took it a lot further than I usually do. I tried to make more of a production out of it. There's lots more tracks and tricks and stuff like that. On a lot of the stuff, I just tried to go as far as I could. I think it came out really great. It took me a really long time, two years, to make.
Well, you've been busy with Yo La Tengo.
Yeah, but... I really have been working on it. I finally got it together, sequenced it, and got it the hell out. I just got my copies of the record and it's a nice feeling to know that it's done. I gotta get on with my life.
You don't have any room mates I assume...
Uhhh, my girlfriend and I live together.
Does she get tired of hearing the stuff?
She almost never hears it.
You try to do it when she's away?
There is some stuff that I've recorded while she's asleep. Any keyboard and really quiet guitar stuff. There's at least one whole song, on the new record, that was recorded in the middle of the night, not to her knowledge.
That's kind of a...
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