Whether they know it or not, anyone roaming the streets of Victoria, BC, will have brushed by Scott Henderson at some point. He is easily spotted, usually clad in his ubiquitous green Minnesota North Stars jacket and baseball cap. He has worked in just about all of the record stores in Victoria (including a few which have long since disappeared), and as one might imagine, he houses a massive collection of records, with genres too numerous to mention. His aptly titled studio, S.O.S. (Sea of Shit), resides in the basement of his house on the outskirts of Victoria. The basement is basically split up into three rooms; one for recording, one for his personal collection of music, and one for the control room. The studio exists largely for Scott to document his own ideas. With that being said, a plethora of Victoria bands have called S.O.S. home for a couple of days. His close association and numerous recordings with NoMeansNo (now based in Vancouver), as well as his membership in the group, the Show Business Giants (who recently returned from a tour of Europe), Shovlhead, and his most recent project, Hissanol, have allowed Scott's music and recording acumen to flourish internationally as well as locally. If one needs further proof that the digital age has arrived, look no further than The Making of Him, the new Hissanol record released on Alternative Tentacles. His col-laborator, Andy Kerr (formerly of NoMeansNo), lives in Amsterdam. The distance between the two was easily bridged (or not so easily at times, according to Scott) with the continual exchange of R-DAT tapes through the mail. The result is a testament to everything that Scott is: composer/musician/engineer/producer/mildly psychotic and furiously creative. What follows below are mere shards of our two hour conversation which was interrupted only by the occasional exchange of a barbecue chip or two. It was terminated when the hockey highlights came on. I don't know who this Riley guy was, but he's got nothing on Scott Henderson.
What was your first studio setup?
I used to have a house on this welfare strip. The studio was called "Hole in the Wall". I had this 4 track half inch Tascam series 70 monstrosity tape machine with an old M & M board [shows me photo]. It was a British thing with a four band fixed EQ. I used to drag it all over town in this cabinet. You could barely lift the thing.
What year was that?
It was about '80 or '81. It was a great studio. You'd open the back door in the winter and this flood of water would just wash through the studio.
So it was all in one room?
Yeah. I had fruit packing for soundproofing. I didn't even have egg cartons [laughs]. I got a little 4 track PortaStudio after that... The best cassette one they made in the first few years.
Did it have any noise reduction?
It had DBX and two notch filters like all Tascams. It was a great machine and it's still being used.
Does it have the original heads on it?
I think so. The guy who has it now isn't the type to be changing them.
What were you using for mics?
Mostly crap. Whenever anyone gets started recording you have about eight mics and [takes on a holy tone] and they're all, save one, Shure SM57's. In my case it was an AKG 125. I still to this day don't know exactly what it was. I had a couple of AKG 330 mics which in those days were pretty cool. They were bulbous mics with the vents and had a couple of roll-off filters on the bottom. They were really popular for live use. I had a whole bunch of miscellaneous garbage I picked up. I never had a decent collection of mics until I moved out here [to Sea of Shit].
Any other locations of note?
Well, for a while I had a studio on the second floor of a building downtown. Basically, I had a whole corner block. The place would've made a huge night club. Red Tide [early Victoria punk band] brought in the first Fostex 8 track. It was the worst shit I've ever used in my life. It was upright reel-to-reel with the microscopic VU meters hooked up to the special board that came with it. The board was about the size of a large book and was the most amazingly hissy crap-ola. It had ?" tape running at 7? ips. All I remember is that I really wanted to throw the thing out the window. Horrible gear... it scarred me for life. I'll never use Fostex gear again. I haven't used so much as a pair of Fostex headphones since then. I always go for the Tascam stuff because it's bulletproof. It's never the best, but it runs forever. My Tascam 8-track reel-to-reel was outside for a whole winter [after being sold] in a shed open to all of the elements and it still works. I bought it back for $100. When I first bought it in 1985, that was the big step up. That was around the same time I discovered that gated reverb sounded good on drums, so there's all this gated reverb on everything from those years. I had a Yamaha REV-7. I've still got it. It's the noisiest effect in my rack by a mile.
What was the first piece of outboard gear you ever got?
When I needed an echo at my first place, I used to use this old Sony tape deck hooked up with a three speed echo. You know, slow-medium-fast. It was really noisy. I also had a Binson disk echo. It was a freakish looking thing. It had to be from the early 60's from England. It had a metal magnetized disk with heads against it. It had four playback heads and you could only turn one of them off at a time. You couldn't change the speed of the disk, but you could adjust the volume of each echo. It had a cathode tube in it for a level display. The louder the sound, the hotter the tube would...