Welcome to issue #8 of Tape Op.
Welcome to Tape Op #8. You'll notice that most of the issue was written by our contributors (practically a staff at this point) and let me tell you that there wouldn't be a new issue if it wasn't for all of them. I've been super busy with my recording studio (Jackpot!) churning out albums, singles, compilation tracks and demos like there's no tomorrow. In fact, a 7 day work week is the norm lately, especially when you throw our band into the equation. I've also gone through some tough personal stuff lately, as some of you may know, and that's taken it's toll on my "free" time. Anyway, I'd like to point out that while I may give this mag a direction, there's a lot of talented folks backing me up and I thank them and you should too.
In other news, boy do we get a lot of CD's, records and tapes in the mail. I hope it's understood that we don't review that much stuff and that our interview/article choices are not always directly related to what shows up here (although it never hurts). I don't want to alienate anyone out there but please don't expect a whole lot. We do listen to the ones we like, even if we forget to write about them (Volume All*Star comes to mind...) but there's way too many for me to listen to. If you recall, I listen to stuff all day long for a living too...
One thing that has really hit me about a lot of the "hey, we recorded this album at home" CD's we've gotten recently is that people don't put enough effort into it. I've heard more than several releases that are on self-released CD's (which means there was at least $2000 spent on the manufacturing end) that sound like murky demos. Why should anyone else care? The whole idea of recording at home is that you have no time limits, and that you can try out creative approaches to getting music on tape. This is something you can't do at a studio, when you're on a budget, with some jerk like me charging you by the hour. Yeah, I know it's hard to get really clean, crisp recordings on an 8 track ?" deck, but if that's true, how come so many people have done it then? It's not some secret little trick, it's hard work and dedication and trying every mic position and crazy EQ settings and maxing out your little effects arsenal. My feeling is that people are too timid and want to make sure they sound "just like we do live" and won't try to exaggerate elements of their music in order to embellish it right. So imagine that you're having a hard time getting a "great" drum sound but you know you've got a great song. Why not distill it down. Make the drummer play only snare and kick. Just two mics. Run the second guitar through some effect that fits its mood. Don't worry that you don't sound this way live, just try to make something interesting to listen to. When you play live you can rock out in all your glory, and fans will like that too. Or put the drummer in the bathroom and put mics outside the door and then run that through a big reverb. Hey, it might fit the song or not but you learned a new trick. Shit, how about just using your EQ a little more drastically? When I was doing 8 track records, I would push the EQ a lot harder to and from the tape to make sure there were sounds there I could mix with. I just don't see any reason to settle for something that sounds like a band trying to sound like a live band, only to fail miserably at the whole thing. The idea is to get something on your record that is enjoyable to listen to... so why sell yourself short and end up with a record you won't like in a year or two? Okay, now get to work!
Larry Crane, editor and mean guy . . .