Bill Moriarty is an engineer based out of Philadelphia. He co-owns American Diamond (named after the cross streets nearby) with the band Dr. Dog. When he's not sharing tracking and mixing duties on their projects, he can be found working with some of Philly's finest musicians. In 2007/2008 Bill will be traveling several times to learn recording and mixing directly from engineer Oz Fritz [Tape Op #75] through a Philadelphia performing arts grant.
How did you get involved with Dr. Dog?
I met them around when they were done tracking Easy Beat. I was working with a lot of Philly bands, they knew of me and asked me to come and help them out a little with their setup. They had been recording it on a Tascam 388 in their basement and asked me to help them mix. I was working out of my apartment then.
When did you decide to share a studio space with them?
A bunch of things happened around that time. I had just gotten engaged and wanted to move the studio out of my apartment. They had started to make a bigger commitment to the band — basically setting up their lives so they could do what they needed to do to be successful. Part of that was moving their studio out of the basement. So we decided to go in together because the mixing relationship had gone really well. They had gotten some money from their label to buy equipment and needed someone to help them decide what to get and help them set it up and I needed to be able to split the rent with somebody. We got really lucky because my friend [Edan Cohen] was moving out of this place the same month we started looking, so we were able to just take it over.
Wasn't it used as a studio before you guys moved in?
It was being used as a studio for the previous four or five years, but it's basically a factory. I have to record pretty much at night and on weekends because there's a woodworker right under us who's extremely busy and pretty noisy. The space does sound good though.
Did you set it up from scratch in that space?
Yeah, we changed it completely. Dr. Dog got a recording budget, which is something none of us had ever had, but it really had to cover a lot of things. They were out on tour in Europe, so I went back and forth with their manager figuring out what to buy. At that time I was working at Larry Gold's [The Studio] in Philly, and he had a bunch of tape machines that weren't really getting used. I bugged him for a long time to sell me one and finally he did and also threw in a console. It's an [MCI] JH-24, which is a pretty standard 24-track machine, and an Allen & Heath Sigma console. It has no mute groups and isn't automated, but it's fine and the preamps are pretty nice. He also gave us the patchbays and a bunch of cables. The other nice thing is that the tech who had worked on them since Larry bought them is still here in Philly, so we hired him to come and wire everything and make sure it was all going.
That's great you got all the cabling and patchbays. It can get really expensive when you're trying to build a studio, especially with a tape machine and an analog console. It's easy to forget about that stuff when you're budgeting for gear.
Yeah, but we actually use the patchbay very little. There is very little outboard gear here. My goal in setting the studio up was that I wanted to make this place operable by one person who's in a band. So there's not a control room — we couldn't afford a big control room anyway. Luckily our philosophy goes along with that, sort of a Daniel Lanois-style [Tape Op #37] open room thing. So by the time Dr. Dog got back from tour everything was going.
Did it take a while for them to get used to the new setup?
I tried to get rid of anything that might throw them off and label everything very clearly. They actually got used to it really fast — I think it only took them a couple of months to figure...