For the last 20 years Seattle's Green Pajamas have been cranking out great records. Since their debut album, Summer of Lust, in 1984, to their latest releases of Northern Gothic and Through Glass Colored Roses the Green Pajamas have maintained a strident DIY ethic while not sacrificing quality for it. I sat down to chat with Jeff Kelly and Joe Ross about their accomplishments over the years.
How did you record "Summer of Lust" in 1984?
Jeff Kelly-We recorded it on an old 7" Teac 4-track (it was a very good machine), and we had one, or (maybe) two mics at the most.
Joe Ross- We could only do one track at a time. The basic tracks were mono.
JK-We'd do the drums and bass at Joe's and then take it back over to my house...
JR-We could play loud at my house, but at Jeff's house we played quiet. So we would record the guitar, drums and bass, one or the other; I would play either rhythm guitar or bass depending on the song, then go down to Jeff's house and bring the deck back...
We would record 4-tracks on the reel to reel, do a mixdown to cassette and then copy the cassette back to 2 tracks of the 4-track. By that point we would have two more blank tracks on the reel to reel 4-track. So they were basically 6-track recordings.
What kind of cassette machine did you use?
JK-It was a Teac. Joe still has it too. We could edit on it without a click on the tape. Cassette decks always made a click.
JR- It wasn't just a click, there was no delay. It was powerful enough that it would start up right away. On "Summer of Lust" we do a mix from the 4-track to the cassette deck and there would be a few times that we would be rolling tape, hit pause and then hit pause again, the cassette would start up again and it would be seamless. That was the beauty of that cassette deck.
What mics did you use?
JK- I had an Audio Technica $30 one. I had a stereo mic too, but I only used one side of it...
JR- You put a 9 volt battery in it and it separates out. It was a Realistic with two things that separate out. It sounded really great. A little later I got a PZM mic from Radio Shack with a little battery pack on the chord. That sounded really cool. If you put it in the center of the room, it sounded natural.
How long did it take?
JR- Almost a month to the day.
How did you do your vocals on "Summer of Lust"?
JR-We did basic tracks at my parent's house (drums & guitar), but then going back to Jeff's to sing.
Did you just put a mic in the center of the room and move in and out from it?
JR-Most of the vocal tracks definitely. Harmony vocals were often done at the same time. If there was a tambourine, or a piece of percussion we would hold it in our hand and when it came to a chorus in order to not waste a track we'd play a tambourine for that part, quit playing the tambourine and then sing again.
When you listen to the solo the tambourine comes on and when the solo quits the tambourine stops and the vocals start again. When we're mixing we gotta quickly adjust the level.
How did you mix the record?
JK-Just on my Advent stereo system in my bedroom, because I was living at home.
JR-There was no mixing board used. The Teac 4-track had an Output volume knob for each track on the deck, because we always set the volume, but we didn't have a mixing board. There was no EQ either. There was also a switcher box with "Left/Right/Middle" switches. Everything was either hard pan left, hard pan right, or in the middle and there was no pan at all. You can definitely hear that. It has that, "Rubber Soul" sound where it was all hard right, or left. That was all The Beatles...