Denver, Colorado, is a better place for the tireless audio work of Bob Ferbrache. I tracked him down in 2012 at his home/studio to learn more about his history. Bob worked on records by Blood Axis, Human Head Transplant, Wovenhand, 16 Horsepower, Soul Merchants, Changes, The Czars, and Slim Cessna's Auto Club. Soon after our talk Bob left the music industry, closed his Absinthe Studio, and left Colorado for New England. Bob's mark on Denver's music scene should not be forgotten.
I know you were in The Healers with Jello [Biafra, Dead Kennedys] way back.
I was in The Healers. Not concurrently with Jello, but Jello was my friend. He was with The Healers, and a newfound punk rock god, but the guy who co-wrote "California Über Alles," John Greenway, he's The Healers.
He's the main focus of that?
Yeah. I was a friend of his too, and Jello goes, "Get him out of his basement! He won't get out of his basement."
Oh, like playing shows and stuff?
Yeah. I did, and he writes brilliant stuff; rock operas. We did instrumentals mostly.
That sounds fun. Was that out of Boulder, Colorado?
Were you living in Boulder at the time?
I was probably living here at that time. I remember practicing around town with them too. They had a B&O turntable, a giant Crown amp, and two big Klipsch PA speakers. I'd play albums as loud as possible.
People were saying that you were doing a lot of photography and recording live shows early on, right?
Yep. I was mostly skewed to photography. The live shows came because of my interest. I got into cassettes real early; I got a really early cassette deck. It was a little console from Japan, through the military. This was before cassettes even started coming here. It actually took a year before I could even get cassettes. I would record live radio shows for myself. As it turned out, I was one of the only people who had a record of those kinds of things, on normal-biased cassettes, from '71.
So no one...
Tommy Bolin recordings, and stuff like that. Then as time went on, I was a photographer and I hung out with people. I'd always collect board tapes from sound guys and get board tapes that I'd listen to. I was really obsessed. I was really into live recordings – quality live recordings. Especially when artists in that time did things that weren't so calculated, or timed to click tracks or whatever, like they do now.
Do you feel like that's carried over into other fields, into helping people to make records?
We're talking about the ‘70s. ‘70s records are amazing, like Queen and The Beatles, anything that sounded like that. I love garage bands and stuff, especially some ‘60s ones, and all the big hits that you've heard in the past that are garage bands, I loved that too. But I was into prog music. So, Gentle Giant, and The Strawbs, or folk prog more, too. I was into European folk, and I loved the ways those records sounded, and I liked the way that people made records and layered them. Pink Floyd didn't make a record where they were necessarily just sitting there consciously saying, "Oh, we can't do this, because we can't play this live! They just made records."
"We'll figure that out later." [laughs] No, that's true. I love Yes, and you hear that stuff and are just like, "How did they build that?"
Well, if you're a Yes fan, I can tell you the funny thing. The first time I saw them, they were the opening act for The Allman Brothers, so you can imagine. I think they actually won the crowd over, despite the capes and the knee-high gold boots. They could play. I think that everybody in the audience recognized, "These guys can rip!"
So you continued to play in bands in the area, but what led you to recording?
4-track cassette, when that popped up. I got my first 4-track in '81, a Studiomaster, so I had a 6-channel mixer on it, where you could patch any of the channels.
Is that the rack mount one?
Yeah, it's a rack one.
My friend bought one of those at the same time. He was obsessed, and he was a coke dealer or something, so he had some extra money.
I was a geophysicist at the time. There was a big boom in the oil industry.
What did you start recording?
My bands at the time. I've actually got a whole stack of CDs and stuff for you. Here's a CD of a band that...