(see interview, this issue)
What about Royal Trux?
That would be one of them. That was probably one of the worst ones. Usually when there's drugs involved that's bad because it just makes for a bad scene.
What about the Dwarves when you thought they slipped you some acid?
That's right! I forgot about that! Yeah, they were doing a different drug every week. "Okay Greg, we want to book 3 hours every Thursday for 7 weeks." One week they'd be really drunk on wine and then next week they'd come in and they'd be on downers and the 3rd week they'd be tripping, the 4th week they'd be on speed.
Did you notice much difference in the way they played?
No, it all sounded the same. I remember they brought me back that cinnamon roll and I hadn't eaten so I ate the cinnamon roll and I started to feel really weird and I was like, "Oh fuck, did they put acid in the cinnamon roll?"
That's a new way to take it, I guess.
But actually, the Dwarves, at first they were intense but we became friends. It was hard but it was enjoyable, they were kind of funny, they liked me. Greg Semen was my name on the record. They would say a bunch of things and make fun of me all the time.
(of SF Seals, 28thDay, World of Pooh, solo, etc.)
When I was 19 years old I was pushed around a little easier...now that I'm an older person, I certainly wouldn't allow this kind of thing to happen. I think the most aggravating moment in the studio I've ever had was when I felt stripped of my right to decide how my song was going to be performed, including my own little bass line which I had come up with and was very proud of.
Can we name any names?
I'm not trying to protect Russ Tolman, that's for sure. Russ Tolman, the man who took away our songwriting and kept all the receipts from all the royalties; he was only entitled to half.
What kind of stuff happened while you were in the studio?
We'll, it was when we were working on the 28th Day album , on the song "Burnsite" and I had come up with what I felt was a very powerful, strong, muddy bass chord and Russ really didn't like it. He didn't like discordant things in general. He wanted it to sound clean and I recorded it the way I wanted to and he said, no, we had to do it again and told me I had to stick to a 2 note progression, which I was very frustrated with but I was talked into doing because he told me he kept both tracks and we could decide later. Being open to compromising and open to constructive criticism I thought, "Why not?" and we can decide from then on. However, he didn't keep the other track and he had no intention of ever using it so he just recorded right over it. When I realized that, when it came time to do the vocals, I sorta took it out on him. Noticing he had his headphone set on, near the end of "Burnsite" I let out an enormous scream of all my anger and I got a big thrill seeing him throw the headphone set off his ears. I stayed in the studio for a minute before I went in 'cause I was afraid. I was very surprised by the fact that he kept the scream in there, considering that it was certainly directed at him. Not all my recording experiences have been pleasant, but I would say that was the one that was the most aggravating because I felt it had a lot to do with the creative process, not just something going wrong or somebody getting in a fight with somebody else. If you're the writer of the song then you have the ultimate say, in my opinion.
(Thinking Fellers Union Local 282)
There's getting down to the end of it when you're mixing and having trouble, like with some of the songs that we do, with the density of things... frequency domain, things cancel each other out. Problems like that. Or finishing something and listening back and wondering what we were thinking when we mixed that. A lot of times, this is after going over it very meticulously, phrase by phrase in some cases.
I really like Fly Ashtray a lot. They did one record, Tone Sensations of the Wondermen, that came out that Kramer did at Noise New York that's the only one I don't like. You know how all that stuff that Kramer does has that lofty sort of sheen to it? It has that on it. I don't know what kind of signal processing he used on it, different kinds of reverb, I'm sure, maybe a very slight delay. We'd played with them and I'd heard all those songs live before I'd heard the record and then I heard that and I was, "Oh my god!" They're great songs and it's passable but compared to their own production it's not as good. As a matter of fact they were telling me they were deliberately distracting him and moving knobs behind his back. He seems to be pretty arrogant, "Oh, this has to have the Kramer Sound." That's a prime example of somebody making decisions that shouldn't have been his. Everything else I've heard by them, they've done themselves...they had a recording studio for a while. A couple of the guys are engineers, James and Chris, and they pretty much did everything themselves.
(Teen Beat Recs/re-mix king)
There's definitely times, more than once, where I've showed up at a studio without tape. Some studios have tape and some don't. Usually, it's Sunday or Saturday and you don't have that much money to spend and you're already there in the studio and you're running out to buy tape.
A lot of time's I'll go into studios just 'cause they were cheap and not really talking to the producer person much more than 5 minutes on the phone. When we did the Unrest "Skinhead Girl" single, we just went in to this guy...I called him up in the classifieds and I was, "Yeah, can we come over and record?" That was at the time when we were working really fast...we were only doing one song. We did the recording part, it couldn't have been more than three hours, and then we were, "So, can we mix now?" and the guy's like, "What? We can't mix today! My ears are getting tired. This is loud stuff, I don't think my ears can take this stuff!" He spent all of his time talking about his "connections" at Columbia Records and stuff like that.