So what do you do when the band you're interviewing asks you to chop up the tape, splice it back together and print it just like that. You do it of course! Well, if you have gleaned anything from chatting with The Olivia Tremor Control for an hour, you probably can't resist the idea of running home and fucking around with some tape. Home recordists extrordinaire, their early EPs and the dense soundscapes and songs of Music from the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk At Cubist Castle, Black Foliage, Volume One, and the splicey collaboration with the Black Swan Network are testaments to the endless possibilities presented by a microphone and a tape machine. And any old microphone and tape machine will do, thank you. OTC is Bill Doss, Pete Erchick, John Fernandes, Eric Harris and Will Cullen Hart. After Thanksgiving dinner and a round of Spanish coffees, we talked about recording with what you have available at any given moment.

And then I hacked them to pieces...

John: ...take a mix of a song, take it home and work with it, sculpting bits to be layered onto it or either coming up with...like I would take a version of "Sleepy Company" home, layer some violins and some clarinets for a part, and then like the sound of THAT recording of it and didn't want to try and redo it because my son would be singing along with me in the background while I was playing or something like that. So Eric was the sync master. He would set the 4-track up and then sync the tracks that I had done to the 8-track tape without syncing what I was playing along with. He would have the drums of one mix in one speaker, the mix of the drums on tape in the other speaker and would do it enough that he learned the response time of each...

Bill: We use an [Shure] SM57 a lot. Because it's such a versatile mic and its real cheap. And it's easy to use, it always works. And then that CAD E-200 we use that a lot. Then we did some stuff in Denver on Black Foliage with one of those Rode mics the NT2 or whatever it was called. [laughing] I forget now...

Will: I have no idea. SM57? I did most of mine on an SM57, but a couple had pretty good...

Bill: There's that one that Robert...

Will: Yeah, Neumann style things. It sounded pretty good. It picks up traffic from like 6 miles away...
Bill: ...layering as many tracks as possible and have them be heard. And not turn to mush, that's a problem sometimes.

Will: I think that's the biggest problem because we'll have ideas to have these 6 things happening for about 4 bars and then have these 8 things happen and totally shift...

Yeah, well that makes it fast.

Will: Not only is it fast, you can do crazy splices that I personally haven't learned to do and we would have to call some professional in to do these insane splices. I mean INSANE. That we did, that we were actually able to pull off on digital. You know, because none of us are that amazing with precise half second splices...

Bill: You can do a mix of it onto one track and then you have three other tracks to go home with and...

Will: And it's cool. Because it's not 16 tracks, and you...

John: ...in your environment...

Will: ...weird, glassy, on and off effects... John: ...getting the feel of the room that you like to be in when you add your part.

Do you guys have any habits when you're bouncing tracks? Do you always put certain instruments together on the same track?

Bill: I always keep drums and bass separate on their own tracks and then bounce everything else together. And keep vocals separate. Because those are the three things that whenever I'm making a mix, I mean everyone's got their own thing, just me personally, drums, bass, and vocals you always want to be able to...

John: ...and the realization of that's only come over time because there's mixes that we wanted to use for Black Foliage of a song from a long time ago where the vocal track is already mixed in with everything else and if you wanted to change them you would just have to dump a bunch of vocals on top of it, hopefully it overpowers the one that you didn't want there...

Will: At least we all have a 4-track cassette, a pair of headphones, and a mic at all times if not a little bit more. You know sometimes shit breaks and that's what you're left with.

Bill: Every musician should have a 4-track. You know at least just one of those bottom of the line Fostex things for like 150 bucks. It's so great to be able to throw ideas down when you have them.

So if you could only keep one thing...

Will: 4-track cassette for me. Mine's broken right now but I'm getting one as soon as I can. That was my first tool and it's gonna be the last...

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