Building BIG EGO (Part One)

The building that houses BIG EGO was previously recording studio called Take Flight. There were two isolation rooms and a control room already built into the space when we signed our lease which saved us a ton of time and money. Unfortunately, the aesthetics of the space and many of the details were lacking. The live room was outfitted with carpet on the floors AND walls. Some walls were covered in cheap, rough wood slabs from Home Depot which required serious drywall replacement and a fresh coat (or three) of paint.

Once we ripped out the carpet we installed new wood flooring. As you can see it changed the feel of the room immediately. It looks like a different space.

Just a few days after the floors and moulding were put in, we installed velvet theater drape and custom walnut acoustic treatments. We also purchased our Yamaha G3 grand piano and started recording!

Over the next few months we also installed custom cedar shingle with walnut trim on the exterior of the iso room wall. Carpenter Brian Moore also fabricated a set of walnut gobos and we purchased our Hammond A101 and Leslie 145. Here is a shot from a recent recording session with Eamon Fogarty featuring Devin Hoff on fretless bass, Chad Taylor on drums, Phillip Greenlief on tenor saxophone, Brian Walsh on bass clarinet, and Alex Sadnik on alto saxophone.

Recording with Mike Watt

What can you say about Mike Watt? The man is a legend. A truly one-of-a-kind human being. From being a founding member of the The Minutemen, to his own solo career (half of Nirvana and three quarters of Sonic Youth back him on Ball-Hog or Tugboat?), Watt has always stayed true to himself. I'm grateful to call Mike Watt a friend and collaborator. No matter what crazy idea I come to him with, he's always up for the challenge, as he was in this photo from August 16th, 2016. I assembled 11 musicians to perform and record a special Psychic Temple album live in the studio. Essentially a double quartet, it included two drummers, two bassists, two guitarists, two keyboardists, and three horns. Simple charts were written before the session and no headphones were used. We recorded two takes of each song and used the second take of each track as the master take.

Psychic Temple IV Session Notes

This photo was taken on Monday, September 28th, 2015 during the second day of tracking for Psychic Temple IV. The rhythm section included Tabor Allen (Cherry Glazerr) on drums, Danny Frankel (Lou Reed, Fiona Apple) on percussion, Mick Rossi (Philip Glass Ensemble, Paul Simon) on Wurlitzer electric piano, Philip Glenn (Show Ponies) on Hammond organ, Steuart Liebig (Les McCann) on electric bass and yours truly on acoustic and electric guitars.

Everyone performed live in the room together without the use of headphones. I seem to recall that we never did more than two or three takes of any song and were done with the session a couple hours earlier than expected. The session was engineered by Jeff Lewis and assisted by Devin O'Brien. The drums were recorded using the Glyn Johns technique with two AKG 414XLS microphones and one Electro-Voice RE-20 on the kick drum. For ambiance we used a Pearlman TM-1 tube mic for the room and a Shure KSM32 down the hall for a natural reverb.

Producing Detangler

A quick shot from the control room on the first of five tracking days with Los Angeles pop/rock band Detangler. This album was a joy to work on from pre-production through recording and mixing. Guitarist/vocalist Davin Givhan, has performed with Lauryn Hill and Saul Williams among others and was joined in the studio by bassist Anthony Shadduck (Nels Cline, Psychic Temple), drummer Bryan Kertenian, and keyboardist John Clement Wood (Learning Music, The Black Keys).

The approach to recording this record was to encourage the band to play live in the room together without headphones. With the exception of vocals and horns, we only used dynamic microphones in the final mix.

JFK to LAX to BIG EGO with Mike Baggetta

New York jazz guitarist Mike Baggetta stopped by the studio for a quick overdub recently. I've long admired Mike's approach and aesthetics and was able to catch him just before his duo tour with Kris Tiner began in late August. After years of friendship and mutual admiration, this was the first time we had the opportunity to record together and I took the opportunity to force my Fender Deluxe Reverb upon him.