Subtitled, "A Half Century of Recording in One of America’s Most Innovative Studios, Through the Voices of Musicians," Antonia Tricarico's photo-filled (250!) book on Don Zientara [Tape Op #8] gives us a wonderful glimpse into who Don is, and what has made his Inner Ear Recording Studios one of the most culturally-important places to make records in the U.S. We hear about sessions with Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Fugazi, Bikini Kill, Foo Fighters, The Dismemberment Plan, and so many others.
A wonderful interview with Don by John Davis starts the journey, and soon we're in Don's basement studio for "The Basement Years (1972-1989)" and the beginnings of Inner Ear. With "Inner Ear (1990-2021)," we see construction and wiring photos once the studio has moved into a commercial space, and the bulk of Don's recording history plays out here. Many people we have interviewed in Tape Op over the years pop up in the oral history, including John Frusciante, Ian MacKaye, Geoff Turner, Chad Clark, Brendan Canty, and Guy Picciotto. The book wraps up with thoughts from his wife and daughters, some recent photos of the studio (now back at the original home digs), and ends perfectly with pix of Don surfing, something Tape Op's John Baccigaluppi has been known to join him in (see John's blog post at <tapeop.com>).
Just like Don's determination to have a studio open for helping anyone and everyone make records, this book gives us a documentation of so many of the people who have captured music at Inner Ear, and in doing so sets a standard for artistic openness and nurturing creativity in all forms that so many of us should hold ourselves up to. Thank you Don Zientara, and thanks to Antonia Tricarico for providing a wonderful glimpse into the life of this selfless lover of the arts.