Forming a band in Hawaii and shooting for national recognition must be a difficult undertaking. Even to tour around your home state requires flights or travel by sea, and living in a tourist-based economy means that the majority of "entertainment" opportunities are certainly not looking for anything new or original. Enter The Throwdowns, a Maui-based quartet churning out their own infectious, upbeat rock pop songs. I was lucky enough to catch the record release party for this album while I was visiting their home island recently (we were the only mainlanders there, I'm pretty sure) and I also caught a couple of solo shows by their engaging front woman, Erin Smith. After driving beach-to-beach listening to Legs of My Own and also hearing these songs pop up on local radio, I was hooked. I met Erin at one of her shows and through email was able to query Ola Shaw, the band's guitarist who also produced, engineered and mastered this release over the course of five months. Pre production went down at Immagineit Studios in Lahaina, Maui. Ian Hollingsworth's drums were tracked in the Castle Theatre at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (also where I caught their record release). Ola's guitars, Kimo Clark's driving bass, Erin's vocals, as well as the mixing and mastering, were done at Ola's We Are More Studios in Pro Tools LE 8.0 through a Digi 003. Ola: "For the most part it started with the song. I would build a sample in [Propellerhead's] Reason or Ableton Live. Then I would have Ian play to the loop. It's all about feel when it comes to loops. Staying on the click and nailing the feel is key, and I think Ian killed it. The most complicated part about sequencing is blending the sequenced and real drums to make it sound natural. I just used my ears until it sounded right. I think I learned the most from trial and error. The fastest way to learn is to make mistakes. It takes hours of sitting in the studio mic'ing up tons of things with different mics and preamps. It's like any craft; the more time you spend with it, the better you get." For Erin's vocals, which sound very present and clear, Ola used a "Shure KSM 44 paired with an Avalon AD2022. I love the transparency of the combo. It really brought out her true voice." Ola mastered the album himself: "Mastering is still really new for me, but just like the mixing process my biggest tool was trusting my ears. After mixing I had to step away from the project for a good two weeks to get a new perspective. Mastering is a whole different ball game that requires fresh ears and mind. I took the master bus and re-routed it through my 1972 RAMSA board for its awesome EQ, then through the AD2022 for its warm stereo preamps. I then put it into iZotope Ozone 4 for its limiter and compression." Ola and The Throwdowns crafted a hell of a pop record, and I'm hoping things keep happening for them. It's hard for me to recall my trip to Maui now without this disc as the soundtrack. Ola says, "We love where we come from and will represent Maui forever. We owe a lot to these islands and people."

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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