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Sound and Chaos: The Story of BC Studio

For over 30 years, Martin Bisi has recorded music from his studio in Brooklyn's Gowanus neighborhood. After a chance New York encounter, the studio was founded with money from Brian Eno, who subsequently worked on the album On Land there. Working with Bill Laswell and the band Material, Bisi recorded Herbie Hancock's hit Rockit in this underground space. This was the first mainstream, popular song to feature a DJ and a turntable, utilizing 'scratching'. Following that success, Bisi worked with many other influential musicians there, including Sonic Youth, Swans, Angels of Light, John Zorn, Foetus and the Dresden Dolls. He has recorded across many genres, from experimental music, to hip hop and indie rock in the old factory building by the contaminated Gowanus Canal. However, the future of the recording studio is in question as it is squeezed in by the encroaching gentrification of the neighborhood. A new, massive Whole Foods supermarket across the street is the latest addition to this once out-of-the-way area, that Bisi fears will increase property values to the point of pushing out long-time renters and artists like himself.

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Docuseek subjects

Distributor subjects

Gentrication, New York, Music Industry,

Keywords

Gentrification, New York, Music Industry, ; "Sound & Chaos"; Collective Eye

00:00:10.301 --> 00:00:12.679
We're here at BC Studio
in Brooklyn.

00:00:12.679 --> 00:00:17.183
And I'm talking with
Producer/Engineer Martin Bisi.

00:00:17.892 --> 00:00:20.020
Now many of you have
heard the albums

00:00:20.020 --> 00:00:21.938
and seen the finished
product before.

00:00:21.938 --> 00:00:24.941
Now I get a chance to talk with the
guy behind the scenes.

00:00:25.108 --> 00:00:26.109
Hi.

00:00:30.363 --> 00:00:34.617
Martin: In this space I worked
with Sonic Youth, Swans,

00:00:34.617 --> 00:00:37.829
Angels of Light, Material,
the Dresden Dolls

00:00:37.829 --> 00:00:41.499
John Zorn, Fab Five Freddy,
Afrika Bambaataa

00:00:41.499 --> 00:00:44.377
Foetus, Cop Shoot Cop,
White Hills

00:00:44.544 --> 00:00:48.423
Over the years, a lot of people
that I admired came

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Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop,
the Ramones.

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Just a way to stay involved

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with the sort of people
I liked being around

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and the sort of activity
that I enjoyed.

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Material was a band, soon
to be a production team.

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By the fall of 79, there were
shows with the name Material.

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It centers around Bill Laswell,
myself on the periphery.

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We did a tour of the states.

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Martin, he was helping as a
roadie and sound person.

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The idea that even the roadie
was a part of

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the group name, Material,

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really cemented the whole
idea that we were

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all in this together.

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[audio clip of Discourse,
by Material]

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It was Bill Laswell’s idea
to get a space.

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I immediately caught on

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and was like,
“Yes, absolutely.”

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For one thing we needed
a place to live.

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I saw in the Village Voice
a space that had two floors.

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So that seemed kind of perfect.

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We could live upstairs and

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rehearse downstairs and
it was very cheap.

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I think it was just one
of the few spaces

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that the money was right,

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because I don’t think anyone
in their right mind

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would have rented the place.

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There was nobody living
in that complex.

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I like being a part of things
and people doing stuff,

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so one way to do that it
seemed was via tech.

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One thing I would do back
then was show up at CBGBs

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and offer to do sound

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and often enough the
answer was yes

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by whatever band was
going to play.

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The whole idea of having
a recording studio

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sort of cobbled together slowly.

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There was basically a void.

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There weren't that many
recording studios

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that were affordable.

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Either you were just doing it
with two microphones

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or basically you had to
have label support.

00:02:59.429 --> 00:03:02.891
Brian Eno is a big part of the
legend of the studio.

00:03:02.891 --> 00:03:04.893
When Brian Eno moved from

00:03:04.893 --> 00:03:07.729
Britain to NY, he wanted an
environment in which

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he could do some of his
more radical experiments

00:03:11.649 --> 00:03:13.193
with ambient music.

00:03:13.193 --> 00:03:15.820
Brian Eno is a
producer, musician.

00:03:15.820 --> 00:03:18.198
He started out in Roxy Music.

00:03:18.198 --> 00:03:21.409
Then went on to be
a successful producer.

00:03:21.826 --> 00:03:25.413
He lived down the street from me
when I was on 8th St

00:03:25.413 --> 00:03:28.875
and every day I would sort
of bug him for a session.

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Finally he read a review
in the Times or something

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of a gig and then he realized

00:03:34.255 --> 00:03:35.924
that I was actually
doing something,

00:03:35.924 --> 00:03:37.926
and he invited me to a session,

00:03:37.926 --> 00:03:40.220
which was “My Life in
the Bush of Ghosts"

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with the Talking Heads.

00:03:41.763 --> 00:03:44.641
[audio clip of “America
is Waiting”]

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I got the money from Brian Eno

00:03:50.855 --> 00:03:53.733
to complete what was necessary

00:03:53.733 --> 00:03:57.153
to have the bare basics of what
you’d call a recording studio.

00:03:57.153 --> 00:03:58.863
It was a cheap way to record.

00:03:58.863 --> 00:04:02.867
He probably liked the lo-fi idea
of going to Brooklyn.

00:04:02.867 --> 00:04:04.077
Something different for him.

00:04:04.077 --> 00:04:05.620
I think the other members
of Material

00:04:05.620 --> 00:04:08.289
kind of massaged that through,

00:04:08.289 --> 00:04:10.708
like, “Hey, Martin's thinking of
starting a recording studio”,

00:04:10.708 --> 00:04:12.460
cause I don't think I
was that forward.

00:04:12.460 --> 00:04:15.838
Bill hooked up a deal,

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which was great, in which Eno
wrote a check to Martin

00:04:20.718 --> 00:04:23.471
and told him to get the
equipment that he needed.

00:04:23.805 --> 00:04:27.558
Eno wanted to create improvised
music that wasn't loud

00:04:27.558 --> 00:04:29.978
that was in the mode of
this ambient idea

00:04:29.978 --> 00:04:30.937
that he was exploring

00:04:30.937 --> 00:04:33.231
and I think for On Land
he wanted to have

00:04:33.231 --> 00:04:35.441
an environment where he
could have musicians

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in a space where they could
look at images, slides, films

00:04:39.404 --> 00:04:41.364
and react to that.

00:04:41.364 --> 00:04:44.742
[audio clip of Lizard Point
from On Land]

00:04:51.332 --> 00:04:55.420
Martin was much younger than
everyone involved, basically.

00:04:55.420 --> 00:04:57.839
When he started the studio
he was 17.

00:04:57.839 --> 00:05:00.049
And it's pretty strange,
in terms of my history,

00:05:00.049 --> 00:05:02.510
that my first real
recording session,

00:05:02.510 --> 00:05:06.597
not just assisting, was
the Brian Eno recording.

00:05:06.597 --> 00:05:08.141
And actually maybe
that's also why

00:05:08.141 --> 00:05:10.143
there wasn't a continued
relationship with Eno.

00:05:10.143 --> 00:05:11.602
I think it went ok?

00:05:11.602 --> 00:05:15.189
But I was pretty much a kid and
Eno had to show me stuff,

00:05:15.189 --> 00:05:16.357
because he thought
I was going to be

00:05:16.357 --> 00:05:17.650
a little more of
a recording engineer

00:05:17.650 --> 00:05:20.069
and I was just a kid
with a lot of chutzpah.

00:05:20.778 --> 00:05:22.655
In fact that's one thing I
learned from him was about

00:05:22.655 --> 00:05:25.908
controlling process in sort
of counter intuitive ways.

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Brian Eno had this deck of cards

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and he had them
in the studio

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and he was showing them to me.

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All ideas for what to do during
your creative process.

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You just pull a card out,
stuff like “Back up one step”

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“Start Over”, all this
kind of stuff that

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you would do when you encounter

00:05:41.549 --> 00:05:43.009
obstacles in your process.

00:05:43.009 --> 00:05:45.470
We didn’t really know
what we were doing

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so just glad to be working
and doing things.

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I pretty much had this attitude

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that I could go in there,
figure it out

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and make something good,
just by will.

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Brian did not have to
record at the studio.

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He had all his
Roxy Music affiliations,

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he was a heavy weight.

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He was interested to see, well

00:06:04.489 --> 00:06:05.782
how is this going to work?

00:06:05.782 --> 00:06:08.576
How am I going to sound
in this context?

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They staked out this space and
they were kind of like pioneers

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but it was a place where
you could get stuff done

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and it was exciting.

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There was a knowledge
between everyone

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that this was gonna help a lot

00:06:19.420 --> 00:06:22.548
of underground people make music

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and to have decent
equipment to do it.

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Part of what was inspiring
really to Eno was,

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I mean, we were
kind of taking this

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sort of wild west edgy
thing of the East Village

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really to this other level.

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It wasn't scary in that it
was a bad neighborhood.

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It was scary in that it
was totally industrial

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so it wasn't like you
were walking down

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the street and there
were shady people.

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There were no people,
but if there were people,

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you were in trouble

00:06:49.617 --> 00:06:51.327
because there was where to run.

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I used to play in the Mudd Club

00:06:54.163 --> 00:06:55.957
and CBGBs, where you might make

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$50, $100 a gig.

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Coming home you just basically
pull that out of your pocket

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when you're walking
up the subway

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and give it to the guys
with the baseball bats.

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There was definitely a lot of
mystery around here.

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There was mafia,
there was gangs,

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there was wild packs
of dogs, feral dogs.

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There were gangs there
at the time,

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like that one gang
called The Confederates,

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who would wear Confederate hats.

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There were girl gangs,
all kinds of weird stuff.

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Back then, nobody
went to Brooklyn

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and so the fact that BC Studio
was out there was kind

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of an anomaly.

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It wasn't the expensive
days of today

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so people could afford to
still live in the East Village.

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The big difference between
Gowanus and the East Village

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was of course that
it was all small spaces,

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it was all ex-tenements.

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So we wanted a space where
we could stretch out.

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I really started out
with avant garde music

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because that's the
stuff that most

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appealed to my rebelliousness.

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Also, I came from a
classical background

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and I really despised
classical music as a kid.

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Martin's mother was
a concert pianist.

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I think he had a natural
rebellion against that.

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My parents would have me
go to the Philharmonic,

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I just found it unbearable and
I hated the Upper East Side,

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where I grew up.

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And I hated all those bourgeois
values and bourgeois aesthetics.

00:08:15.620 --> 00:08:18.289
So anyway, when I saw
people manipulating instruments

00:08:18.289 --> 00:08:19.582
and making them
sound very different,

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actually let's say
destroying sound,

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that just really appealed
in two ways to me

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because it was destructive
and new and rebelliousness.

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And it also had a
very aggressive quality.

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I believe he was an only child

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to two professionals, who
themselves came from money.

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I believe that when
they passed away,

00:08:40.686 --> 00:08:43.606
part of his inheritance went
to opening the studio,

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but after that,
times were tough.

00:08:50.404 --> 00:08:52.823
By 1982, Material was
sort of morphing

00:08:52.823 --> 00:08:54.700
morphing into a production
team, where we

00:08:54.700 --> 00:08:57.370
basically were outreaching
to other music

00:08:57.370 --> 00:08:59.914
and other bands and
other genres and saying

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“Let's bring them into
this recording studio"

00:09:02.416 --> 00:09:03.876
and that included hip hop.

00:09:03.876 --> 00:09:05.461
It wasn’t even called
hip hop, really,

00:09:05.461 --> 00:09:07.588
it was just this new, weird
thing that was happening

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A guy who’s a French Algerian,

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named Bernard Zekri, who
went on to be a huge journalist

00:09:13.386 --> 00:09:15.346
and television guy in France,

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called us to do beats and tracks

00:09:18.224 --> 00:09:20.393
for different artists that
were on Celluloid.

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The French label Celluloid,

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was some of the first
hip hop recorded.

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Celluloid, was interested
in hip hop but also,

00:09:28.484 --> 00:09:33.364
oddly enough, a broader picture
that included avant garde music.

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Celluloid actually
paid our rent

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for a little while,
which was $500 a month.

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One of the notable songs was
Change the Beat,

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which was
a Fab Five Freddy song.

00:09:44.375 --> 00:09:47.920
[audio clip of FFF's
Change the Beat]

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We recorded it, it had
some vocoder.

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It had an interesting
moment in it

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where there's a break and a stop

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and a vocoder says,
“This stuff is really fresh”.

00:10:02.852 --> 00:10:05.229
It was part of the lingo in
New York.

00:10:05.229 --> 00:10:07.607
Things were fresh

00:10:07.607 --> 00:10:10.026
and it was not just in hip hop
that people used the word.

00:10:10.026 --> 00:10:12.820
Strange as it may seem, I might
have even used that

00:10:12.820 --> 00:10:15.406
to describe a No Wave
band like DNA

00:10:15.406 --> 00:10:17.575
or I might have even said
Lydia Lunch is fresh.

00:10:17.575 --> 00:10:19.535
I might have said that,
it’s possible.

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But it wasn't Freddy's voice,
it’s Roger Trilling's.

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No one knows that,
I guess they will now.

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Afrika Bambaataa did some
work in 1982, 83?

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A song called Zulu Groove.

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[audio clip of Bambaataa's
Zulu Groove]

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Bambaataa was at that
nexus of hip hop

00:10:50.566 --> 00:10:54.070
in that he went from a
gang banger to a DJ.

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In the early 70s, Bambaataa's
gang, The Black Spades,

00:10:58.574 --> 00:11:00.117
with the leadership
in particular

00:11:00.117 --> 00:11:01.869
of the Ghetto Brothers,

00:11:01.869 --> 00:11:05.206
forced a peace amongst
all those gangs.

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That peace, was best
demonstrated by parties

00:11:11.712 --> 00:11:12.922
in which all of those gangs

00:11:12.922 --> 00:11:14.924
decided that they would
not fight with each other

00:11:14.924 --> 00:11:17.301
but party with each other,
dance with each other

00:11:17.301 --> 00:11:19.762
Those early parties and jams

00:11:19.762 --> 00:11:23.974
were the foundation in many
ways of hip hop culture.

00:11:23.974 --> 00:11:26.727
He had this whole Zulu Nation

00:11:26.727 --> 00:11:29.897
A very tribal grouping
of young people

00:11:29.897 --> 00:11:31.524
that all did kind
of different things.

00:11:31.524 --> 00:11:33.401
When he hung up his colors,

00:11:33.401 --> 00:11:38.989
he decided to create something
else, a crew,

00:11:38.989 --> 00:11:44.161
a social network
organization of people

00:11:44.161 --> 00:11:47.998
whose purpose was to bring peace
and fun and entertainment

00:11:47.998 --> 00:11:49.792
and that became Zulu Nation.

00:11:49.792 --> 00:11:51.127
We were working with Bambaataa,

00:11:51.127 --> 00:11:52.086
who we called Bam.

00:11:52.086 --> 00:11:54.588
Bill, in a certain down
moment said to me,

00:11:54.588 --> 00:11:59.468
“You know that there's like 30
or 40 kids upstairs, right?”

00:11:59.468 --> 00:12:00.678
And I was like, “What?”

00:12:00.678 --> 00:12:03.097
I couldn't hear anything,
it was like silence.

00:12:03.097 --> 00:12:07.435
I went upstairs and there
were easily like 30 kids,

00:12:07.435 --> 00:12:09.353
maybe 35 or 40 kids just

00:12:09.353 --> 00:12:11.689
crammed sitting in
every little thing.

00:12:11.689 --> 00:12:14.817
Just while we were having a
session with Bambaataa.

00:12:14.817 --> 00:12:17.361
Basically I had almost
the entire Zulu Nation

00:12:17.361 --> 00:12:20.865
of the South Bronx upstairs.

00:12:22.074 --> 00:12:25.411
Kool Herc was the first
one to really do parties,

00:12:25.411 --> 00:12:27.496
but New York had never
seen that in a park

00:12:27.496 --> 00:12:29.373
where a guy brings a PA system.

00:12:29.373 --> 00:12:30.624
So, that's when it started.

00:12:30.624 --> 00:12:33.377
And then people would
look for breaks and beats

00:12:33.377 --> 00:12:36.297
they could repeat and sounds
they could add to that

00:12:36.297 --> 00:12:37.423
Then they started scratching.

00:12:37.423 --> 00:12:39.467
As a Zulu Nation DJ,

00:12:39.467 --> 00:12:43.012
Bambaataa would of course
play James Brown

00:12:43.012 --> 00:12:49.185
but then he'd also play strange,
bizarre contrasting music

00:12:49.185 --> 00:12:51.937
like the Monkees' Mary Mary.

00:12:51.937 --> 00:12:56.901
Or he might play the TV theme
song to “I Dream of Jeannie.”

00:12:56.901 --> 00:13:00.321
Like “da da, da
da da da da”

00:13:00.321 --> 00:13:03.616
He would play that and
find a break in the song

00:13:03.616 --> 00:13:06.869
and make a mix
between the two records

00:13:06.869 --> 00:13:11.832
and making kids uptown
appreciate music that they

00:13:11.832 --> 00:13:13.417
might not have ever
heard before

00:13:13.417 --> 00:13:16.378
or just because it
was by a white artist

00:13:16.378 --> 00:13:19.131
or because it was a
TV theme song,

00:13:19.131 --> 00:13:22.927
they would by nature
just dismiss it.

00:13:22.927 --> 00:13:25.513
Bambaataa made them consider it.

00:13:31.101 --> 00:13:33.896
The first thing that strikes
you about BC Studio

00:13:33.896 --> 00:13:35.022
is where it's located.

00:13:35.022 --> 00:13:39.109
It's in this 19th century
factory in Brooklyn

00:13:39.109 --> 00:13:44.156
that has this super
gothic quality to it.

00:13:44.156 --> 00:13:46.075
The recording studio
is two floors

00:13:46.075 --> 00:13:47.743
The bottom floor is
the tracking area,

00:13:47.743 --> 00:13:50.579
where most of the
loud stuff happens.

00:13:50.579 --> 00:13:52.414
Basically the recording
of instruments

00:13:52.414 --> 00:13:54.792
and some of the quiet stuff.

00:13:57.461 --> 00:14:01.048
The top floor is
the control area,

00:14:01.048 --> 00:14:03.175
that’s where all the
information goes in,

00:14:03.175 --> 00:14:04.134
and where everything is mixed

00:14:04.134 --> 00:14:05.761
and where everything
is listened to,

00:14:05.761 --> 00:14:07.513
evaluated and edited.

00:14:07.513 --> 00:14:09.515
But the actual action,
the music itself,

00:14:09.515 --> 00:14:11.308
tends to happen downstairs.

00:14:12.268 --> 00:14:14.603
People that have worked
at BC Studio

00:14:14.603 --> 00:14:17.940
can almost all attest to
this spot here

00:14:17.940 --> 00:14:22.111
which is for decades,
has been a complete

00:14:23.153 --> 00:14:25.114
bane of any tall...

00:14:25.114 --> 00:14:26.073
Actually medium height.

00:14:26.073 --> 00:14:27.825
Tall people no problem,
because they'll be like...

00:14:27.825 --> 00:14:30.411
They can see, clearly,
they gotta duck.

00:14:30.411 --> 00:14:32.246
If you're in the middle?  Whoa.

00:14:32.997 --> 00:14:35.958
We're heading down to the

00:14:37.543 --> 00:14:39.336
tracking area of the studio.

00:14:39.336 --> 00:14:42.047
Actually this little spot
sometimes gets used.

00:14:42.047 --> 00:14:44.133
That's the thing,
the place is so weird

00:14:44.133 --> 00:14:45.634
and so freaking complicated...

00:14:45.885 --> 00:14:48.596
That's nice.  There's a lot
of little weird options.

00:14:50.014 --> 00:14:53.517
This is really where all the
bands mainly set up.

00:14:53.517 --> 00:14:54.977
Sometimes they even do
vocals down there

00:14:54.977 --> 00:14:57.354
because it sounds really good.

00:15:07.990 --> 00:15:09.992
There's something
almost garage like

00:15:09.992 --> 00:15:12.202
about the actual recording
space downstairs

00:15:12.202 --> 00:15:14.705
and it's interesting
actually working there

00:15:14.705 --> 00:15:17.041
because the control room
is on one level

00:15:17.041 --> 00:15:19.043
and the recording space
is on another level.

00:15:19.043 --> 00:15:20.753
So you have no visual cue.

00:15:21.295 --> 00:15:23.589
You have to take your
cue from headphones.

00:15:23.756 --> 00:15:25.925
During a typical recording session

00:15:25.925 --> 00:15:30.304
I’ll come up and down these
stairs maybe 30 times?

00:15:30.304 --> 00:15:33.140
These stairs have actually
ended up on quite a few records.

00:15:35.059 --> 00:15:38.437
I remember in “Missed Me”, for
some of the percussion section

00:15:38.437 --> 00:15:40.648
and choruses, taking
a ball peen hammer

00:15:40.648 --> 00:15:43.859
and just smashing the
fuck out of the metal stairs.

00:15:43.859 --> 00:15:46.362
Martin would just let you go
kind of haywire in the basement

00:15:46.362 --> 00:15:48.572
and destroy whatever
you wanted to.

00:15:48.906 --> 00:15:51.116
This is the imperfect...

00:15:51.116 --> 00:15:52.826
perfectly imperfect

00:15:52.826 --> 00:15:55.496
tracking room of BC Studio.

00:15:55.496 --> 00:15:56.455
It’s a funky space.

00:15:56.455 --> 00:16:00.167
I think a lot of the funkiness
is part of why it sounds

00:16:00.167 --> 00:16:01.835
a certain way and
why it sounds ok.

00:16:01.835 --> 00:16:04.088
It's not like, oh,
brick room. BAM.

00:16:04.505 --> 00:16:06.507
The imperfections, the funkiness

00:16:06.507 --> 00:16:08.592
all the funkiness
of the ceiling...

00:16:08.592 --> 00:16:12.846
It sort of keeps the sound from
being focused on one frequency.

00:16:12.846 --> 00:16:14.264
So it's kind of a broader sound

00:16:14.264 --> 00:16:16.308
So I think part of the
sound of this room

00:16:16.308 --> 00:16:18.477
is really a lot
of the imperfection.

00:16:19.895 --> 00:16:24.608
A great point of pleasure
or pride, dare I say,

00:16:24.608 --> 00:16:27.945
for me, is that a moment
from Change the Beat

00:16:27.945 --> 00:16:31.407
ended up manipulated
into the next song,

00:16:31.407 --> 00:16:33.200
which went even further,
which was Rockit.

00:16:41.083 --> 00:16:44.211
It was decided that turntablism,

00:16:44.211 --> 00:16:45.921
that scratching,

00:16:46.547 --> 00:16:50.092
that a DJ would really be
the feature of the song.

00:16:50.300 --> 00:16:54.680
The turntable, which was the
signature part of that piece,

00:16:54.680 --> 00:16:56.432
was recorded at Martin's.

00:16:56.432 --> 00:16:58.559
DST, he was an amazing DJ.

00:16:58.559 --> 00:17:00.436
He was like a jaw dropper.

00:17:00.436 --> 00:17:03.022
He would do all the juggling
of the wheels of steel,

00:17:03.022 --> 00:17:04.940
as they called it then
of the turntables.

00:17:04.940 --> 00:17:08.360
I became a DJ and at that
point I started shedding

00:17:08.360 --> 00:17:10.279
like I was playing drums

00:17:10.279 --> 00:17:14.450
so I would put the same amount
of time into spinning

00:17:14.450 --> 00:17:16.201
and perfecting my skills.

00:17:16.201 --> 00:17:18.454
He came here to pretty
much do the scratching.

00:17:18.454 --> 00:17:22.833
So he wasn't really finding
anything that inspired him.

00:17:23.042 --> 00:17:26.253
I’m going through these records
and then I picked up Fresh,

00:17:26.253 --> 00:17:27.629
Change the Beat

00:17:27.629 --> 00:17:30.841
and I did that pattern with the Fresh
and everybody in the room went

00:17:30.841 --> 00:17:33.385
“That's it.  Roll the tape.”

00:17:33.385 --> 00:17:35.387
And Rockit was one take.

00:17:35.387 --> 00:17:38.348
It was the first scratch rhythm
that anyone had ever heard

00:17:38.766 --> 00:17:43.187
that's done not just rhythmically
to that degree, but melodically.

00:17:43.187 --> 00:17:45.689
It's funny cause at the time,
the whole idea of appropriating

00:17:45.689 --> 00:17:48.609
someone else's music or
using someone else's music

00:17:48.609 --> 00:17:49.568
to create new music...

00:17:49.568 --> 00:17:53.280
Any kind of controversy about that
was way down the line.

00:17:53.280 --> 00:17:57.493
When you hear Rockit, you
can kind of hear in the scratch

00:17:57.493 --> 00:18:00.829
that it’s “FRESH”, like
mangled and manipulated.

00:18:00.829 --> 00:18:04.208
[audio clip where you
can hear “FRESH”]

00:18:07.377 --> 00:18:10.881
Rockit changed all of our lives

00:18:10.881 --> 00:18:13.926
and the truth is, Herbie Hancock
changed all of our lives.

00:18:13.926 --> 00:18:16.804
Because without him, Rockit
wouldn’t have done what it did.

00:18:16.804 --> 00:18:19.932
Taking a project like that
and putting it in

00:18:19.932 --> 00:18:22.518
the hands of an artist
of that magnitude.

00:18:22.601 --> 00:18:27.189
It was someone outside
of the hip hop community,

00:18:27.189 --> 00:18:29.191
namely Herbie Hancock,

00:18:29.858 --> 00:18:32.861
for the first time recognizing
how important

00:18:33.654 --> 00:18:37.616
hip hop culture and hip hop
music was at that time.

00:18:38.158 --> 00:18:41.370
Hip hop was considered
dangerous, subversive.

00:18:41.370 --> 00:18:43.539
It was the African American
punk rock.

00:18:43.705 --> 00:18:45.582
And for Herbie Hancock
to get into that,

00:18:45.582 --> 00:18:47.084
he could have done it by himself

00:18:47.084 --> 00:18:49.044
but to get into it
with guys like

00:18:49.044 --> 00:18:50.754
Bill Laswell and Martin Bisi,

00:18:50.754 --> 00:18:53.132
that helped him make
not just credible records

00:18:53.132 --> 00:18:54.258
but incredible records.

00:18:54.258 --> 00:18:56.802
Herbie, at the time, I would
say he probably

00:18:56.802 --> 00:18:58.804
didn’t know what it was
and had no idea

00:18:58.804 --> 00:18:59.763
it would be successful.

00:19:01.181 --> 00:19:02.182
Nor did we though.

00:19:02.516 --> 00:19:05.769
The greatest thing about
that was the collaboration.

00:19:05.769 --> 00:19:07.855
Everyone was on their A game.

00:19:07.855 --> 00:19:11.441
At that point and that's why
we had the success that we had.

00:19:11.650 --> 00:19:13.694
The album that Rockit
was on, Future Shock,

00:19:13.694 --> 00:19:15.946
was nominated for
the 1984 Grammys.

00:19:16.113 --> 00:19:17.990
To get nominated for a Grammy...

00:19:17.990 --> 00:19:21.994
and to go on stage and
perform and then win...

00:19:23.328 --> 00:19:24.913
there's nothing else to say.

00:19:25.455 --> 00:19:26.456
I was stunned.

00:19:26.456 --> 00:19:30.586
People started saying to me,
“Material won a Grammy.”

00:19:30.586 --> 00:19:31.879
And then it sort of
sunk in a little bit,

00:19:31.879 --> 00:19:34.548
because I really thought
of it as, “Great for Herbie”.

00:19:34.548 --> 00:19:36.508
I think when the
gold record came,

00:19:36.508 --> 00:19:38.719
that actually kind of hit me.

00:19:38.719 --> 00:19:41.138
That was a delightful surprise,
when we got the,

00:19:41.138 --> 00:19:46.393
Martin had got the gold
record for Rockit.

00:19:46.393 --> 00:19:47.352
It really struck me,

00:19:47.352 --> 00:19:50.772
it was such an icon of
music industry success.

00:19:50.939 --> 00:19:54.318
That was the first hip hop
record to win a Grammy.

00:19:54.318 --> 00:19:57.571
That was the beginning of the
acknowledgment of that culture.

00:20:10.751 --> 00:20:12.002
After Rockit,

00:20:12.002 --> 00:20:14.004
there was a lot of
interest in Material

00:20:14.004 --> 00:20:15.339
as a production team.

00:20:15.339 --> 00:20:19.885
That sort of catapulted him
and Bill and Celluloid

00:20:19.885 --> 00:20:22.471
into a whole other
category at that point.

00:20:22.471 --> 00:20:24.932
A lot of stuff came our way.

00:20:24.932 --> 00:20:27.643
Iggy Pop came,
we did some of his vocals.

00:20:27.643 --> 00:20:29.561
And I'd say, “Who's downstairs?”

00:20:29.561 --> 00:20:31.521
And he'd be like, “Iggy.”

00:20:31.521 --> 00:20:35.317
I'd go, “Iggy!  Iggy Pop?  I want
to go get him a pink cake.”

00:20:36.443 --> 00:20:39.905
Martin says, “No!  You can't give
Iggy Pop a pink cake”

00:20:39.905 --> 00:20:41.865
and I said, “I can, I want to."

00:20:41.949 --> 00:20:44.993
Ramones did a record
called Brain Drain.

00:20:44.993 --> 00:20:47.204
Ginger Baker, we did
a lot of stuff.

00:20:47.204 --> 00:20:52.834
Ginger is like, the drummer of
Cream and just all out.

00:20:52.834 --> 00:20:54.628
Ginger's drums,
we put them in his...

00:20:54.628 --> 00:20:57.756
he had a huge bathroom
and it's kind of old school.

00:20:57.756 --> 00:20:59.007
It's like Zeppelin and stuff

00:20:59.007 --> 00:21:01.551
where instead of recording in a
studio you record in

00:21:01.551 --> 00:21:03.011
a living room or hallway.

00:21:03.011 --> 00:21:04.721
We were continuously going
through here and it was like,

00:21:04.721 --> 00:21:07.975
“Wow!  This is actually a pretty
reverberate room!”

00:21:07.975 --> 00:21:10.310
It was an interesting sound,
we used to put the mics

00:21:10.310 --> 00:21:11.270
all the way up in the ceiling.

00:21:11.270 --> 00:21:13.480
I got these really
tall boom stands

00:21:13.480 --> 00:21:15.357
and put the mics all the
way up in the corners.

00:21:15.857 --> 00:21:17.526
We recorded a John Zorn record.

00:21:17.526 --> 00:21:21.029
Naked City, with Joey Baron,

00:21:21.029 --> 00:21:24.116
an amazing drummer and
he knows how to play a room

00:21:24.116 --> 00:21:25.534
so he could actually, whoa,

00:21:25.534 --> 00:21:29.288
could almost get drums
to sing in this space.

00:21:29.663 --> 00:21:31.915
John, he was a perfectionist,

00:21:31.915 --> 00:21:32.874
like Eno.

00:21:32.874 --> 00:21:36.003
Everyone was happy to have the
opportunity to work with him.

00:21:36.003 --> 00:21:38.046
A lot of people wanted
to record there.

00:21:38.046 --> 00:21:40.007
The Beastie Boys had called
about that.

00:21:40.007 --> 00:21:41.967
I think they had that song,
Cookie o Puss

00:21:41.967 --> 00:21:42.926
or something like that?

00:21:42.926 --> 00:21:46.138
I'd heard of them, but
I hadn't seen them live.

00:21:46.138 --> 00:21:49.266
The funny thing is that everyone
said I looked like an Indian.

00:21:49.808 --> 00:21:53.270
The Beastie Boys, cause Martin
had such like a native look

00:21:53.270 --> 00:21:56.231
You know he had the headband
and the long hair,

00:21:56.231 --> 00:21:59.318
and when he came they were like,
“Billy Jack has arrived”

00:22:00.277 --> 00:22:01.987
Now in retrospect
it's like,

00:22:01.987 --> 00:22:03.363
“You didn't have time to
record Deee-Lite?

00:22:03.363 --> 00:22:05.157
You didn't have time
for the Beastie Boys?”

00:22:05.157 --> 00:22:06.783
But the Beastie Boys weren't
the Beastie Boys

00:22:06.783 --> 00:22:07.743
and Deee-Lite wasn't Deee-Lite.

00:22:08.744 --> 00:22:11.330
Material did a record
called “One Down.”

00:22:11.538 --> 00:22:13.623
I was doing a song and
I needed a vocal.

00:22:13.623 --> 00:22:15.876
I went to Bruce Lundvall, who
was the head of Elektra

00:22:15.876 --> 00:22:19.421
and he said he wanted to
recommend his friend,

00:22:19.421 --> 00:22:21.673
who was a famous singer,
called Cissy Houston,

00:22:21.673 --> 00:22:24.301
said she has a daughter that
everyone is raving about.

00:22:24.301 --> 00:22:27.054
Whitney Houston was completely
unknown, cause at that point

00:22:27.054 --> 00:22:29.222
she had done a bunch
of background singing, and

00:22:29.222 --> 00:22:33.602
they thought it would be nice
to try her as a lead singer.

00:22:33.602 --> 00:22:38.482
[audio clip of
Material's Memories]

00:22:41.485 --> 00:22:42.819
She had like, pigtails,

00:22:42.819 --> 00:22:44.780
and she looked like
she was 12 years old.

00:22:44.780 --> 00:22:48.367
And I said, if you could just,
I don’t remember the suggestion

00:22:48.367 --> 00:22:51.411
and she said, “I was told
I could do whatever I wanted.”

00:22:51.411 --> 00:22:52.996
And I said, “Ok.
Yeah, go for it.”

00:22:52.996 --> 00:22:55.207
So she sang it all
the way through.

00:22:55.624 --> 00:22:56.792
I said, “That was great!”

00:22:56.792 --> 00:22:58.377
She said, “Let me try it again.“

00:22:58.710 --> 00:23:01.505
She sang it twice and
we kept the first one.

00:23:01.505 --> 00:23:03.465
But she never stopped for a
punch, I don't think.

00:23:03.465 --> 00:23:04.841
She sang it straight through.

00:23:04.841 --> 00:23:06.718
Which means she had been
working all night on it.

00:23:07.094 --> 00:23:10.806
Material and me, we recorded
the basics here.

00:23:10.806 --> 00:23:14.726
The recording of her voice was
the one thing I didn't do.

00:23:14.726 --> 00:23:16.603
Because actually we had to
do that in Manhattan.

00:23:16.603 --> 00:23:19.439
And it was a quick deal,
they just did it in Manhattan

00:23:19.439 --> 00:23:21.858
at the studio her mom was
used to working at.

00:23:21.858 --> 00:23:25.529
And I think Clive Davis signed
her, like really quickly.

00:23:25.529 --> 00:23:27.322
Less than a year.

00:23:27.572 --> 00:23:30.575
And because we had already done
a lead vocal on a major label

00:23:30.575 --> 00:23:33.328
she didn't qualify for
being Best New Artist,

00:23:33.328 --> 00:23:35.789
so Clive was always
mad about that.

00:23:36.289 --> 00:23:37.916
So they've got Whitney Houston

00:23:37.916 --> 00:23:39.918
and they need a
sax soloist for it.

00:23:40.043 --> 00:23:42.671
I was in a restaurant
with Roger Trilling.

00:23:42.671 --> 00:23:44.840
Archie walked by and I said,
“I think that's Archie Shepp

00:23:44.840 --> 00:23:46.800
we should go grab him and
put him on the record.”

00:23:46.800 --> 00:23:48.677
And Roger Trilling runs out
of the restaurant

00:23:48.677 --> 00:23:49.636
and grabs Archie Shepp

00:23:49.636 --> 00:23:51.680
and says, “Will you play
on our record?”

00:23:51.972 --> 00:23:52.973
He came the next day.

00:23:53.432 --> 00:23:57.602
[audio clip of Shepp's solo
in Material song]

00:23:57.602 --> 00:24:01.481
And that was New York in
the late ‘70s, early ‘80s.

00:24:01.481 --> 00:24:04.109
It was a rough nasty
place to live,

00:24:04.109 --> 00:24:06.486
but anything could happen.

00:24:06.820 --> 00:24:09.990
One thing I learned after
Whitney's death

00:24:09.990 --> 00:24:13.952
was that there was really
no connection

00:24:13.952 --> 00:24:16.496
between Whitney Houston
and Brooklyn,

00:24:16.496 --> 00:24:21.293
other than this studio and
the recording of the basics

00:24:21.293 --> 00:24:23.170
for the song, Memories.

00:24:23.170 --> 00:24:25.505
If people liked the way
each other sounded

00:24:25.505 --> 00:24:27.215
they could play together, boom.

00:24:27.215 --> 00:24:29.718
More often than not, if
they were in New York

00:24:29.718 --> 00:24:32.762
they played here,
at Martin's studio.

00:24:33.722 --> 00:24:36.349
BIll, at the time wanted to

00:24:36.349 --> 00:24:40.020
move the studio to Manhattan.

00:24:40.020 --> 00:24:41.730
Martin really didn't
want to do it

00:24:41.730 --> 00:24:46.443
because Martin really wanted
to keep the studio in Brooklyn

00:24:46.443 --> 00:24:50.322
and however funky it was,
however small it was

00:24:50.322 --> 00:24:52.199
he wanted to make
it always available

00:24:52.199 --> 00:24:55.535
and always work with sort of
New York underground scene.

00:24:55.535 --> 00:24:58.538
Me and Bill Laswell's aesthetic,
production wise,

00:24:58.538 --> 00:24:59.956
sort of diverged a little.

00:24:59.956 --> 00:25:02.918
He was getting into a more
polished territory

00:25:02.918 --> 00:25:05.504
because of him producing a lot
of major label stuff

00:25:05.504 --> 00:25:08.423
and I was much more going
in a sort of indie rock

00:25:08.423 --> 00:25:11.968
and post hardcore
kind of direction.

00:25:11.968 --> 00:25:15.680
I started to travel and do bigger
projects and we had budgets

00:25:15.680 --> 00:25:18.683
and I was experimenting with
different studios

00:25:18.683 --> 00:25:19.851
and different engineers.

00:25:19.851 --> 00:25:21.019
Occasionally I would go back.

00:25:21.019 --> 00:25:24.940
So many exquisite recordings
happened there.

00:25:24.940 --> 00:25:28.860
Marty would often time make
deals with people based

00:25:28.860 --> 00:25:30.362
on what they could afford.

00:25:30.362 --> 00:25:34.241
Artists sometimes knew that
Marty was a soft touch

00:25:34.241 --> 00:25:37.494
and knew that they could twist
his arm without much effort

00:25:37.494 --> 00:25:40.497
into letting them go a
few more hours,

00:25:40.497 --> 00:25:42.332
even though they didn't have
the money to pay for it.

00:25:42.332 --> 00:25:44.209
Sometimes he did
things for free.

00:25:44.209 --> 00:25:47.546
Bill and Martin, what is really
great about both of them

00:25:47.546 --> 00:25:49.631
is that they're not petty.

00:25:49.631 --> 00:25:51.132
It was never about money

00:25:51.132 --> 00:25:52.467
it was never about
any of those things.

00:25:52.467 --> 00:25:55.011
It was about creating
something strong.

00:25:55.011 --> 00:25:56.638
The running of BC Studio
has always been

00:25:56.638 --> 00:25:59.432
I believe, a labor of love.

00:26:00.725 --> 00:26:02.394
Some of my favorite
records are records

00:26:02.394 --> 00:26:04.354
that Martin has produced
or engineered.

00:26:04.354 --> 00:26:06.273
And they run the gamut.

00:26:06.273 --> 00:26:08.567
There’s Herbie Hancock's
Sound System.

00:26:08.567 --> 00:26:12.445
Also, Bad Moon Rising, this
terrific Sonic Youth record.

00:26:12.445 --> 00:26:15.699
[audio clip for Brave Men
Run (In My Family)]

00:26:19.828 --> 00:26:21.705
Kind of a seminal break
through record

00:26:21.705 --> 00:26:23.873
in terms of their
artistic evolution.

00:26:23.873 --> 00:26:26.084
Martin’s name was thrown
around at the time,

00:26:26.084 --> 00:26:28.878
he was working with people
like Laswell and Material.

00:26:28.878 --> 00:26:31.172
I just remember walking in there
and seeing a lot of records

00:26:31.172 --> 00:26:32.674
on the walls and
thinking, “Oh, this guy's

00:26:32.674 --> 00:26:34.551
got a really serious
operation here.”

00:26:34.551 --> 00:26:37.804
He was doing a lot of hip hop
and beat driven stuff.

00:26:37.804 --> 00:26:40.015
I think in an interview they
were quoted as saying

00:26:40.015 --> 00:26:42.142
that they were working
on their new record

00:26:42.142 --> 00:26:43.643
with a hip hop producer.

00:26:44.019 --> 00:26:46.479
Everything back then was
happening in lower Manhattan.

00:26:46.479 --> 00:26:49.649
There was such a glut, there
were so many No Wave bands

00:26:49.649 --> 00:26:51.234
there was so much punk

00:26:51.234 --> 00:26:54.821
that I think Sonic Youth in
terms of their own identity

00:26:54.821 --> 00:26:59.409
felt like they needed to
be at an arm's length

00:26:59.409 --> 00:27:02.454
from actually what now
what really defines them

00:27:02.454 --> 00:27:05.332
which is post punk and no wave.

00:27:05.332 --> 00:27:08.209
It was a pretty scruffy scene
in the early '80s.

00:27:08.209 --> 00:27:09.836
There weren't a lot
of places to play.

00:27:09.836 --> 00:27:11.713
there in particular weren't
a lot of places

00:27:11.713 --> 00:27:14.841
that cared to put on the kind
of music we were making

00:27:14.841 --> 00:27:17.677
or that Swans were making
or Rat at Rat R.

00:27:17.677 --> 00:27:19.971
There was one place in
particular that fostered

00:27:19.971 --> 00:27:22.432
a lot of those bands and
it was on like 3rd St

00:27:22.432 --> 00:27:23.808
and B or C?

00:27:23.808 --> 00:27:26.144
And it was called the Sin Club.

00:27:26.144 --> 00:27:28.480
and it was just a little grotty,
hole in the wall

00:27:28.480 --> 00:27:30.774
but they were really all about

00:27:30.774 --> 00:27:32.984
the kind of music we
were all making.

00:27:32.984 --> 00:27:35.445
Truth is that Sonic Youth
was the opening

00:27:35.445 --> 00:27:38.865
into my escape in a way from
really almost religiously

00:27:38.865 --> 00:27:40.742
working on avant grade
music and hip hop.

00:27:40.742 --> 00:27:42.577
I don't remember how
many rock records

00:27:42.577 --> 00:27:44.120
he had done at that point.

00:27:44.120 --> 00:27:47.666
I sort of have a feeling that
our working there turned

00:27:47.666 --> 00:27:51.002
the tide for him and a lot more
rock people came there after us.

00:27:51.002 --> 00:27:53.505
I think Swans recorded there
after us and Live Skull

00:27:53.505 --> 00:27:54.464
did a bunch of records there.

00:27:54.464 --> 00:27:57.592
Martin looked the same
then as he does now.

00:27:57.592 --> 00:28:00.261
I walk in, the straight
long hair

00:28:00.261 --> 00:28:03.682
and a headband, kind of like
a hippie Indian or something.

00:28:03.682 --> 00:28:05.850
He knew what he
was doing, I didn't.

00:28:05.850 --> 00:28:08.895
It had one of these vibes like
where you got off the train,

00:28:08.895 --> 00:28:12.190
you really wanted to move
quickly down the street and get

00:28:12.190 --> 00:28:13.858
into his building.

00:28:13.858 --> 00:28:16.486
You’d get there and be inside of
Martin's sanctuary

00:28:16.486 --> 00:28:17.737
and that was really cool.

00:28:17.737 --> 00:28:21.074
I had no idea that the studio
was even in Gowanus.

00:28:21.074 --> 00:28:23.201
Back then to me,
it was just Brooklyn.

00:28:25.954 --> 00:28:28.123
This is the record that
was recorded there.

00:28:31.084 --> 00:28:33.628
That's me with my hair
sticking up in the air.

00:28:34.254 --> 00:28:37.090
Everybody in Sonic Youth
I think understood that

00:28:37.090 --> 00:28:39.718
that it was a really
important record.

00:28:39.718 --> 00:28:42.387
We had some grand
conceptual ideas

00:28:42.387 --> 00:28:44.681
about what we wanted
the record to come out like.

00:28:44.681 --> 00:28:46.725
In particular we were
working off what we were

00:28:46.725 --> 00:28:48.977
doing in concert, which was
stringing all the songs

00:28:48.977 --> 00:28:50.353
together without any breaks.

00:28:50.353 --> 00:28:52.939
It almost felt like this
long suite of material

00:28:52.939 --> 00:28:55.525
and we were filling the spaces
between songs with

00:28:55.525 --> 00:28:58.069
either guitar noise
or cassette tapes

00:28:58.069 --> 00:28:59.738
on stage and things like that.

00:28:59.738 --> 00:29:01.531
We went into Martin's
knowing that we

00:29:01.531 --> 00:29:05.368
wanted to make the record
have that same feel.

00:29:05.368 --> 00:29:08.705
It really didnt fit easily
into a lot of categories,

00:29:08.705 --> 00:29:09.956
like it wasn't punk,

00:29:09.956 --> 00:29:13.293
so when you see something like
that you kind of recognize it.

00:29:13.293 --> 00:29:16.546
What Sonic Youth was doing
at the time was pretty radically

00:29:16.546 --> 00:29:18.590
different than what
anybody was doing,

00:29:18.590 --> 00:29:21.259
so we didn't know
exactly how to record what

00:29:21.259 --> 00:29:23.136
we were doing or how
to capture it.

00:29:23.136 --> 00:29:25.889
We were hoping that Martin
could help us figure

00:29:25.889 --> 00:29:27.599
out how to do this stuff.

00:29:27.932 --> 00:29:31.352
In order to get the sequential
running of the tracks

00:29:31.352 --> 00:29:32.312
with no spaces

00:29:32.312 --> 00:29:35.523
in between, we had to do
some pretty weird

00:29:35.523 --> 00:29:38.943
technical things to get
beginnings of one song

00:29:38.943 --> 00:29:41.237
to line up with
endings of another.

00:29:41.237 --> 00:29:43.698
It was definitely not a
garage style recording.

00:29:43.698 --> 00:29:47.118
It was more like ambitious
and using the tools

00:29:47.118 --> 00:29:51.790
that we had to create new kinds
of sounds and weird

00:29:51.790 --> 00:29:52.999
kinds of sounds.

00:29:52.999 --> 00:29:56.795
And that combined well
with a lot of their exploration

00:29:56.795 --> 00:30:00.131
of what guitar amps could
do and what using

00:30:00.131 --> 00:30:02.926
almost found guitars could do.

00:30:02.926 --> 00:30:06.221
At that point our equipment was
a collection of hand me

00:30:06.221 --> 00:30:09.140
down guitar and amps
or cast off stuff.

00:30:09.140 --> 00:30:11.726
I think a guitar or two that
Glenn Branca gave us.

00:30:11.726 --> 00:30:14.979
I definitely had my original
Fender Telecaster

00:30:14.979 --> 00:30:17.148
Deluxe, which I'm
still playing today.

00:30:17.148 --> 00:30:19.692
We were just starting to
build up a real selection

00:30:19.692 --> 00:30:21.611
of gear that we had
kind of hand picked.

00:30:21.611 --> 00:30:24.447
They definitely had
not figured out

00:30:24.447 --> 00:30:26.282
where they were
going rhythmically

00:30:26.282 --> 00:30:29.118
and one of the things
that Bad Moon Rising

00:30:29.118 --> 00:30:32.705
kind of set the template for
was that kind of primal,

00:30:32.705 --> 00:30:35.875
rhythm patterns that you
hear on those records,

00:30:35.875 --> 00:30:37.752
where things that would
inform Sonic Youth's

00:30:37.752 --> 00:30:39.295
sound for many years to come.

00:30:39.963 --> 00:30:42.340
That’s the one thing
with Sonic Youth

00:30:42.340 --> 00:30:44.133
was that they pretty much
had their sound

00:30:44.133 --> 00:30:46.010
and the one thing that
made them sound different

00:30:46.010 --> 00:30:47.637
was when they changed drummers.

00:30:47.637 --> 00:30:49.639
The Richard Edson records sound
completely different

00:30:49.639 --> 00:30:51.933
than anything else, the records
I played on sound

00:30:51.933 --> 00:30:53.017
completely different
than anything else

00:30:53.017 --> 00:30:54.811
and Steve's been
on it ever since.

00:30:54.811 --> 00:30:57.272
At the end of that
tour, Bob said,

00:30:57.272 --> 00:30:59.232
“I'm going to leave the band.”

00:30:59.566 --> 00:31:02.485
We shot a video
for Death Valley '69.

00:31:02.485 --> 00:31:03.444
When we were making it,

00:31:03.444 --> 00:31:05.864
it was already at the point
where Steve had like

00:31:05.864 --> 00:31:07.657
literally just joined the band

00:31:07.657 --> 00:31:09.576
and Bob had just ended the band.

00:31:09.576 --> 00:31:12.161
And so, we had both of
them in the video,

00:31:12.161 --> 00:31:13.705
drumming in different
sections of it.

00:31:13.705 --> 00:31:15.582
So it was a pretty
friendly transition,

00:31:15.582 --> 00:31:16.958
which was kind of cool.

00:31:17.584 --> 00:31:19.836
This is 28 years later

00:31:19.836 --> 00:31:23.006
and I've played on like
30 albums since then

00:31:23.006 --> 00:31:25.884
but that record is the
only one that made it

00:31:25.884 --> 00:31:27.260
onto a major label.

00:31:27.260 --> 00:31:29.012
It's probably the record
I'm most famous

00:31:29.012 --> 00:31:29.971
for playing on.

00:31:30.597 --> 00:31:32.098
It's funny how things change

00:31:32.098 --> 00:31:35.727
cause the board was once
sort of considered unremarkable

00:31:35.727 --> 00:31:38.354
It was considered to
have a harsh sound,

00:31:38.354 --> 00:31:40.315
it was kind of looked down on?

00:31:40.315 --> 00:31:44.110
But really what's happened is
over time, this kind of board

00:31:44.110 --> 00:31:45.069
an MCI board,

00:31:45.069 --> 00:31:47.280
appreciated as having a sort

00:31:47.280 --> 00:31:49.282
of time stamp to it.

00:31:49.282 --> 00:31:50.909
It's now actually
considered a good

00:31:50.909 --> 00:31:51.868
rock and roll board.

00:31:51.868 --> 00:31:53.369
This tape machine,

00:31:53.369 --> 00:31:55.371
this is what I used to
record everything on

00:31:55.371 --> 00:31:58.708
and it's sitting
there a bit unused.

00:31:58.708 --> 00:31:59.918
The whole issue with tape,

00:31:59.918 --> 00:32:02.128
which is actually a big,
controversial issue

00:32:02.128 --> 00:32:03.087
with audio people,

00:32:03.087 --> 00:32:05.798
like how much does
that affect the end result,

00:32:05.798 --> 00:32:08.217
and people's hearing because
things have gone digital,

00:32:08.217 --> 00:32:10.887
there's a paranoia of all
things digital.

00:32:10.887 --> 00:32:13.014
I'm a bit of a moderate
with all that stuff.

00:32:13.014 --> 00:32:15.350
Actually, I think that the
board has a bigger impact

00:32:15.350 --> 00:32:18.895
on the sound quality
than just tape itself.

00:32:18.895 --> 00:32:20.647
Tape vs. analog.

00:32:20.647 --> 00:32:23.274
Ironically for being a
recording engineer, I say

00:32:23.274 --> 00:32:24.233
I’m not an audiophile.

00:32:24.233 --> 00:32:27.904
So, the whole issue with tape
was not a big deal.

00:32:27.904 --> 00:32:30.323
Once I realized that
as I’m working with digital,

00:32:30.323 --> 00:32:31.282
the stuff that matters,

00:32:31.282 --> 00:32:33.326
the stuff that impacts
even the aesthetic,

00:32:33.326 --> 00:32:36.955
even “my sound.”
I still got “my sound”.

00:32:38.414 --> 00:32:40.458
[audio clip of
Shadow of a Doubt]

00:32:48.716 --> 00:32:50.635
When Sonic Youth did
their second record

00:32:50.635 --> 00:32:51.594
with me, EVOL.

00:32:51.594 --> 00:32:54.722
They had really gone even
further with the thing of using

00:32:54.722 --> 00:32:56.307
lots of crazy guitars.

00:32:56.307 --> 00:32:58.893
Sonic Youth loading in, involved

00:32:58.893 --> 00:33:03.648
maybe, 40 guitars?

00:33:03.648 --> 00:33:05.441
They actually couldn't fit
into the recording studio.

00:33:05.441 --> 00:33:07.652
We put it in the
sort of lounge-y area

00:33:07.652 --> 00:33:09.946
upstairs and it just occupied
the whole space.

00:33:09.946 --> 00:33:12.198
I would be like running
up the stairs,

00:33:12.198 --> 00:33:15.576
and bump into Lee Ranaldo
and Thurston's guitars.

00:33:15.576 --> 00:33:19.205
Just a pile of them.
Just heaved up.

00:33:19.205 --> 00:33:21.290
We had even longer and a
bigger budget,

00:33:21.290 --> 00:33:23.626
so we were branching out
in all different ways.

00:33:23.626 --> 00:33:25.628
I mean, Steve became
the drummer we

00:33:25.628 --> 00:33:26.587
were looking for.

00:33:26.587 --> 00:33:28.172
That was a pretty big change.

00:33:28.172 --> 00:33:30.383
There was a lot of cool stuff
that was happening

00:33:30.383 --> 00:33:31.342
in those sessions.

00:33:31.342 --> 00:33:32.885
We had a good friend
of ours from

00:33:32.885 --> 00:33:33.845
the West Coast, Mike Watt,

00:33:33.845 --> 00:33:36.180
come in and play bass
on a couple of songs.

00:33:36.180 --> 00:33:40.351
He hadn't really done any
recording or much playing

00:33:40.351 --> 00:33:43.896
since the Minutemen stopped
with the death of D. Boon.

00:33:44.981 --> 00:33:47.483
I think it kind of
helped to coax

00:33:47.483 --> 00:33:50.319
him back into playing again
after a couple of years of

00:33:50.319 --> 00:33:52.572
being mostly in
morning for him.

00:33:52.572 --> 00:33:55.074
That had a pretty special
meaning for us as well.

00:33:55.074 --> 00:33:57.577
One thing that showed how
we were into

00:33:57.577 --> 00:34:02.457
unusual processes and also
operated very spontaneously

00:34:02.457 --> 00:34:03.416
in the recording studio,

00:34:03.416 --> 00:34:07.170
is what happened while
Lee was reading

00:34:07.170 --> 00:34:09.005
the text for In the Kingdom.

00:34:09.005 --> 00:34:12.425
Thurston snuck up to the door

00:34:12.425 --> 00:34:17.013
behind Lee and tossed
in a pack of firecrackers.

00:34:17.472 --> 00:34:19.432
It scared the hell out of me
when they started

00:34:19.432 --> 00:34:20.516
going off and the booth started

00:34:20.516 --> 00:34:21.476
filling with smoke

00:34:21.476 --> 00:34:24.020
and I think I screamed
and most all

00:34:24.020 --> 00:34:26.439
of that stuff is left on
the recordings.

00:34:27.065 --> 00:34:29.192
[audio clip of
In the Kingdom #19]

00:34:34.614 --> 00:34:36.324
Before I saw anything I saw him

00:34:36.324 --> 00:34:37.867
grab his head and duck

00:34:37.867 --> 00:34:40.828
and then I realized
there was [makes SFX].

00:34:40.828 --> 00:34:41.788
And then I saw smoke.

00:34:41.788 --> 00:34:42.789
It was really a lot.

00:34:42.789 --> 00:34:45.208
I think I can still see
some of the burn marks

00:34:45.208 --> 00:34:47.960
Oh!  Here we go.
There's one.

00:34:48.544 --> 00:34:50.588
We were in a pretty
anarchistic state

00:34:50.588 --> 00:34:51.547
at that point.

00:34:51.547 --> 00:34:52.548
I mean, there were always
kind of goofy

00:34:52.548 --> 00:34:54.509
crazy things happening
around the studio

00:34:54.509 --> 00:34:56.886
that had Martin kind of
rolling his eyes.

00:34:56.886 --> 00:35:00.098
One thing that surprised Martin
when those records came out

00:35:00.098 --> 00:35:02.350
he called his studio, BC Studio.

00:35:02.350 --> 00:35:03.643
We didn't like the initials

00:35:03.643 --> 00:35:06.270
so on our records we
called it Before Christ.

00:35:09.357 --> 00:35:11.109
There was always downtown.

00:35:11.109 --> 00:35:14.237
There was always an
atmosphere of eclectic,

00:35:14.237 --> 00:35:19.117
kind of novelty mixing
of entertainment.

00:35:19.117 --> 00:35:20.993
Everybody could live
in the East Village

00:35:20.993 --> 00:35:23.287
for like $150 a month!

00:35:23.287 --> 00:35:25.873
So, I think there was a lot
of room for creativity,

00:35:25.873 --> 00:35:27.708
because New York
was not expensive,

00:35:27.708 --> 00:35:28.668
it was not desirable.

00:35:28.668 --> 00:35:31.003
Viki knew everybody and was

00:35:31.003 --> 00:35:34.590
really a special person
on the scene.

00:35:34.590 --> 00:35:36.676
A lot of people
really admired her.

00:35:36.676 --> 00:35:39.428
She was just super hip and
danced like a banshee.

00:35:39.428 --> 00:35:40.930
And dressed super cool.

00:35:40.930 --> 00:35:43.057
You could go to the
Mudd Club one night

00:35:43.057 --> 00:35:46.102
or Max's Kansas City
or CBs.

00:35:46.102 --> 00:35:49.147
Lou Reed would be hanging
out with David Bowie,

00:35:49.147 --> 00:35:51.524
Iggy Pop, Andy Warhol.

00:35:51.524 --> 00:35:55.153
It was just such an amazing
mix of people.

00:35:55.153 --> 00:35:58.072
Jean Michel Basquiat
staring down

00:35:58.072 --> 00:36:00.199
Johnny Lydon to see
who was cooler.

00:36:00.199 --> 00:36:02.493
This is like age neutral,

00:36:02.493 --> 00:36:04.579
it's like social status neutral,

00:36:04.579 --> 00:36:06.789
bums hung out with the elite.

00:36:06.789 --> 00:36:08.499
It was a really exciting time.

00:36:08.499 --> 00:36:11.627
Started a band with
Jean-Michel Basquiat,

00:36:11.627 --> 00:36:13.588
which was later called Gray.

00:36:13.588 --> 00:36:16.591
Gray was a band with
Jean-Michel Basquiat,

00:36:16.591 --> 00:36:18.843
Vince Gallo, and Nicolas Taylor.

00:36:18.843 --> 00:36:20.678
It was very avant garde,

00:36:20.678 --> 00:36:24.140
sort of ambient,
but with compositions,

00:36:24.140 --> 00:36:26.350
kind of sense of humor.

00:36:26.350 --> 00:36:30.021
We would often times
play our instruments,

00:36:30.021 --> 00:36:32.607
listening for beautiful sounds,

00:36:32.607 --> 00:36:36.652
listening for something that
a normal band wouldn't play.

00:36:36.652 --> 00:36:38.654
And by the way, all those
other bands that we were

00:36:38.654 --> 00:36:41.240
kind of competing with, they
were all pretty much playing

00:36:41.240 --> 00:36:44.827
conventional kind of new
wave, no wave music.

00:36:44.827 --> 00:36:47.872
What we were doing was
extremely abstract.

00:36:48.956 --> 00:36:49.957
[Drum Mode audio clip]

00:36:57.882 --> 00:37:00.676
What was interesting
at that time,

00:37:00.676 --> 00:37:04.263
there were a lot of artists
who were in bands,

00:37:04.263 --> 00:37:08.059
at the same time that they were
trying their hand at acting.

00:37:08.059 --> 00:37:14.315
It was this license that we were
given by Andy Warhol.

00:37:14.315 --> 00:37:15.900
He was our hero.

00:37:15.900 --> 00:37:17.735
He was everybody's hero.

00:37:17.735 --> 00:37:20.112
I was working as a
silk screen printer

00:37:20.112 --> 00:37:22.240
doing all of Andy
Warhol's artwork

00:37:22.240 --> 00:37:24.951
and one night I was on
the night shift and came

00:37:24.951 --> 00:37:27.286
across this silk screen that
had a cover of the Post,

00:37:27.286 --> 00:37:31.916
where it said, “Madonna on
Nude Pix: So What!”

00:37:31.916 --> 00:37:34.877
and it was a picture of
her and Sean Penn.

00:37:34.877 --> 00:37:37.630
I ran off of bunch of these
prints, you know,

00:37:37.630 --> 00:37:40.174
on the sly, and I was
handing them out to people

00:37:40.174 --> 00:37:41.717
and I gave them to Sonic Youth

00:37:41.717 --> 00:37:43.928
who without even
doing anything, put it

00:37:43.928 --> 00:37:47.098
on the cover of their
Ciccone Youth 12 inch.

00:37:47.098 --> 00:37:50.017
Turned out that was a
specially made thing that

00:37:50.017 --> 00:37:52.520
Warhol made up to give
to Madonna and Sean

00:37:52.520 --> 00:37:53.980
as their wedding gift.
(laughs)

00:37:53.980 --> 00:37:55.898
The Ciccone Youth
project came out

00:37:55.898 --> 00:38:00.778
of a mutual admiration that
we had for Madonna.

00:38:00.778 --> 00:38:02.697
They also had an
obvious affection

00:38:02.697 --> 00:38:04.615
for pop culture,
which definitely

00:38:04.615 --> 00:38:06.784
No Wave and avant garde music

00:38:06.784 --> 00:38:08.244
had actually no affection for.

00:38:08.244 --> 00:38:10.288
In fact, were sort of against.

00:38:10.288 --> 00:38:12.123
A lot of people that
liked Sonic Youth

00:38:12.123 --> 00:38:13.958
thought we were, as
they say in England,

00:38:13.958 --> 00:38:14.917
taking the piss.

00:38:14.917 --> 00:38:16.460
We were dead serious
that we loved

00:38:16.460 --> 00:38:18.296
what she did and we loved
those early records.

00:38:18.296 --> 00:38:19.630
I'm proud to have recorded

00:38:19.630 --> 00:38:22.508
Ciccone Youth, which
was a single

00:38:22.508 --> 00:38:24.760
that we did after recording

00:38:24.760 --> 00:38:27.513
recording Bad Moon Rising
and after we recorded EVOL.

00:38:27.513 --> 00:38:30.891
A sort of mash up, to
use today's parlance,

00:38:30.891 --> 00:38:33.936
of Sonic Youth doing crazy
stuff with actually

00:38:33.936 --> 00:38:36.105
the recording of “In
the Groove”.

00:38:36.105 --> 00:38:38.232
We started by laying
her song on the tape

00:38:38.232 --> 00:38:39.483
and then we were playing on top

00:38:39.483 --> 00:38:40.443
of it and he was like,

00:38:40.443 --> 00:38:42.695
“I've never seen anyone
do this before!”

00:38:42.695 --> 00:38:45.072
[audio clip of
Get Into the Groove]

00:38:49.285 --> 00:38:51.787
Subsequently we did an
entire record

00:38:51.787 --> 00:38:52.747
called Ciccone Youth.

00:38:52.747 --> 00:38:54.665
We went in thinking we
were going to make

00:38:54.665 --> 00:38:56.876
Sonic Youth's version
of a hip hop record,

00:38:56.876 --> 00:38:58.794
like our Beastie Boys record,

00:38:58.794 --> 00:39:01.005
doing our take on the
black music

00:39:01.005 --> 00:39:03.132
we were listening to at
the time, that we loved.

00:39:03.132 --> 00:39:05.593
And it ended up just so
diametrically opposed

00:39:05.593 --> 00:39:08.095
to that, so we called
it the Whitey Album.

00:39:08.512 --> 00:39:09.513
The funny thing about Madonna

00:39:09.513 --> 00:39:11.640
at the time was she was
very accessible.

00:39:11.640 --> 00:39:12.600
She was around.

00:39:12.600 --> 00:39:14.643
One thing that I still have
affection for

00:39:14.643 --> 00:39:18.647
with Madonna, is that she
stated her favorite band

00:39:18.647 --> 00:39:23.027
in New York was
the Swans.  So...

00:39:25.529 --> 00:39:28.657
My first experience with Swans,

00:39:28.657 --> 00:39:30.659
honestly I found them
pretty intimidating.

00:39:30.659 --> 00:39:34.121
Basically their whole
stage presentation

00:39:34.121 --> 00:39:36.457
was kind of terrifying.

00:39:36.457 --> 00:39:41.170
Swans at that time had
such a huge sound.

00:39:42.338 --> 00:39:44.757
[audio clip of
the song “Coward”]

00:39:53.307 --> 00:39:55.643
Swans was probably
the only downtown

00:39:55.643 --> 00:39:57.561
band that I can think of
that had this sort

00:39:57.561 --> 00:40:01.232
of persona that kept everyone
at a sort of arm's length.

00:40:01.232 --> 00:40:02.858
Sort of, untouchable.

00:40:02.858 --> 00:40:05.194
But anyway, so my first
experience was like, “WHOA”.

00:40:05.194 --> 00:40:08.114
I soon found out that they're
all very sweet people.

00:40:08.114 --> 00:40:10.866
I had heard about the
studio for years,

00:40:11.575 --> 00:40:14.495
through my friends,
then friends,

00:40:14.495 --> 00:40:16.205
Sonic Youth working there.

00:40:16.372 --> 00:40:18.290
We were very close friends

00:40:18.290 --> 00:40:19.417
and we were touring partners

00:40:19.417 --> 00:40:21.836
and if one of Mike's crew
couldn’t make it,

00:40:21.836 --> 00:40:24.338
I think Thurston subbed on
bass a few times.

00:40:24.338 --> 00:40:25.881
I subbed on bass with Swans.

00:40:26.424 --> 00:40:27.425
They approached Bill Laswell

00:40:27.425 --> 00:40:30.886
to produce the
first Swans record

00:40:30.886 --> 00:40:33.097
on a major and Bill,

00:40:33.097 --> 00:40:36.058
really tying things back in,

00:40:36.058 --> 00:40:37.852
came back to the
recording studio

00:40:37.852 --> 00:40:40.020
here to do some of the work.

00:40:40.020 --> 00:40:42.565
We were working with
Bill Laswell, who has

00:40:42.565 --> 00:40:44.442
as you know, an association
with the studio.

00:40:45.067 --> 00:40:47.445
And he wanted to record
some vocals and things there

00:40:47.445 --> 00:40:49.321
so I went there for
the first time,

00:40:49.321 --> 00:40:51.699
saw what it was like
and proceeded

00:40:51.699 --> 00:40:53.534
to make probably the
worst record of my career.

00:40:53.534 --> 00:40:55.161
The consensus was
that the record

00:40:55.161 --> 00:40:58.372
was a bit polished, because
there was

00:40:58.372 --> 00:41:01.750
this need to have it
be on a major label.

00:41:01.750 --> 00:41:04.837
As much as Swans was going
in a prettier direction

00:41:04.837 --> 00:41:07.590
direction and maybe a little
less focused on aggression,

00:41:07.590 --> 00:41:10.968
I knew where they came from.

00:41:10.968 --> 00:41:16.140
I liked Martin immensely
and so when it

00:41:16.140 --> 00:41:17.808
came time to do the next record,

00:41:17.808 --> 00:41:19.685
White Light from the
Mouth of Infinity,

00:41:19.685 --> 00:41:21.687
we just dove in and
recorded it there.

00:41:21.687 --> 00:41:25.232
The records I participated
on here with Swans

00:41:25.232 --> 00:41:27.651
were The Burning World,

00:41:27.651 --> 00:41:31.155
The Great Annihilator,
Love of Life

00:41:31.155 --> 00:41:32.198
and maybe another.

00:41:32.198 --> 00:41:35.242
One thing that separated me
from Sonic Youth

00:41:35.242 --> 00:41:37.536
cause the record I did
with them, EVOL,

00:41:37.536 --> 00:41:40.498
that record I went for
making it expansive

00:41:40.498 --> 00:41:44.919
I wanted it to have a cinematic,
almost ambient quality.

00:41:44.919 --> 00:41:47.087
It was great for Sonic Youth
and for that record,

00:41:47.087 --> 00:41:49.882
but I don't see that's where
they saw their band going?

00:41:49.882 --> 00:41:52.384
But yet with Swans, that's
kind of where

00:41:52.384 --> 00:41:54.053
we went and I think that's where

00:41:54.053 --> 00:41:56.138
Michael Gira wanted
to take it.

00:41:57.473 --> 00:42:00.392
The studio has
an attribute which

00:42:00.392 --> 00:42:02.520
most New York City
studios don't,

00:42:02.520 --> 00:42:04.063
which is a huge live area.

00:42:04.063 --> 00:42:06.649
In my never ending quest
to be Phil Spector,

00:42:06.649 --> 00:42:09.985
I was very attracted to that
because that meant

00:42:09.985 --> 00:42:12.780
I could make the drums
sound really big

00:42:12.780 --> 00:42:14.782
and things in a kind of natural
way, hopefully.

00:42:17.701 --> 00:42:19.161
This is kind of the sweet spot

00:42:19.161 --> 00:42:21.872
in the tracking room
for the drums.

00:42:21.872 --> 00:42:24.416
Usually we set up the drums and

00:42:24.416 --> 00:42:27.753
don't have amplifiers and
use the entire space

00:42:27.753 --> 00:42:29.046
to record.

00:42:29.046 --> 00:42:30.422
Actually what's nice about
this room is

00:42:30.422 --> 00:42:32.800
that it's an L shape, so it's
almost like

00:42:32.800 --> 00:42:38.806
having sonically, two
completely, separate rooms.

00:42:38.806 --> 00:42:42.893
We would typically, with the
drums set up, close mics

00:42:42.893 --> 00:42:45.312
on the drums and
then very far mics,

00:42:45.312 --> 00:42:48.315
mid mics and then far mics,

00:42:48.315 --> 00:42:50.234
and that way they
could expand at will

00:42:50.234 --> 00:42:52.403
and be kind of
normally recorded.

00:42:52.403 --> 00:42:54.738
He understands a drum kit like

00:42:54.738 --> 00:42:57.199
like in out backwards forwards

00:42:57.199 --> 00:42:59.159
and he mics a drum kit
like nobody's business.

00:42:59.159 --> 00:43:01.620
I love the way drums
sound down there.

00:43:01.620 --> 00:43:03.330
It sounds kind of cold.

00:43:03.330 --> 00:43:06.208
There's something about
the echo of that room

00:43:06.208 --> 00:43:08.877
I don't know, that
kind of feels like a cell

00:43:08.877 --> 00:43:09.837
or something like that.

00:43:09.837 --> 00:43:12.840
It’s just pleasing to my ear.

00:43:16.635 --> 00:43:18.971
And it's just a skanky basement,

00:43:18.971 --> 00:43:22.349
but it had naturally
decent acoustics.

00:43:22.349 --> 00:43:24.059
My studio really
works for people

00:43:24.059 --> 00:43:26.770
that have embraced a
certain sensibility

00:43:26.770 --> 00:43:30.149
and understand the place
of the studio within that?

00:43:30.149 --> 00:43:32.026
Martin had a rat trap
in the foyer

00:43:32.026 --> 00:43:32.985
to the basement and

00:43:32.985 --> 00:43:36.196
lo and behold on this
piece of glue paper

00:43:36.196 --> 00:43:37.489
there was this huge rat.

00:43:37.489 --> 00:43:41.160
Just going “RARRRR” and
spinning like this.

00:43:41.160 --> 00:43:42.620
We're like, “What do we do?
What do we do?

00:43:42.620 --> 00:43:43.787
What do we do?”

00:43:43.787 --> 00:43:46.540
So, we got some dumb bells there

00:43:46.540 --> 00:43:49.501
and just dropped the
dumb bell on the rat.

00:43:51.128 --> 00:43:53.255
And it was over.

00:43:53.255 --> 00:43:56.634
And then I turn around
to see Michael Gira

00:43:56.634 --> 00:43:58.552
in his boxer shorts,
standing there,

00:43:58.552 --> 00:44:00.471
just about to light
a cigar.

00:44:00.471 --> 00:44:03.098
He goes, “That was incredible."

00:44:03.098 --> 00:44:05.351
On that record,
which was Great Annihilator

00:44:05.351 --> 00:44:07.770
I thanked
Martin “Rat Crusher” Bisi.

00:44:07.770 --> 00:44:10.397
He only orders
pizza by the slice

00:44:10.397 --> 00:44:12.358
so I felt like we were
hungry a lot.

00:44:12.358 --> 00:44:13.901
That was kind of a problem.

00:44:13.901 --> 00:44:14.860
It was cold.

00:44:14.860 --> 00:44:17.196
It was so cold in the studio.

00:44:17.196 --> 00:44:18.739
We had that weird space heater.

00:44:18.739 --> 00:44:20.282
We were just huddled
around space heaters.

00:44:20.282 --> 00:44:21.992
Goddamn there's a
lot of mosquitoes!

00:44:21.992 --> 00:44:24.078
That's one of the first things.

00:44:24.078 --> 00:44:27.039
More than once, when
a band finishes tracking,

00:44:27.039 --> 00:44:28.916
and suddenly I hear some
screaming.

00:44:28.916 --> 00:44:32.836
“AHHH!  GODDAMN!"

00:44:32.836 --> 00:44:34.338
and I'm like, “What?”

00:44:34.338 --> 00:44:37.508
And they go, “It's fine, a
mosquito was eating

00:44:37.508 --> 00:44:42.012
my arm alive during that
whole take.  Ughhh.”

00:44:42.221 --> 00:44:44.390
I'm surprised that no one
fell down the stairs.

00:44:44.390 --> 00:44:45.349
I was scared.

00:44:45.349 --> 00:44:46.767
I was anxious about
the staircase.

00:44:46.767 --> 00:44:47.726
The staircase was scary.

00:44:49.228 --> 00:44:50.813
That whole place
is a deathtrap

00:44:50.813 --> 00:44:52.731
It's kind of like an
MC Escher drawing.

00:44:54.149 --> 00:44:55.943
Around that area had
been somewhat

00:44:55.943 --> 00:44:57.486
gentrified and while
working there

00:44:57.486 --> 00:45:00.823
there I noticed there was this
large area upstairs that was

00:45:00.823 --> 00:45:04.368
unused, so I proposed to
Martin that I build

00:45:04.368 --> 00:45:06.412
build a living space there.

00:45:06.412 --> 00:45:07.371
So, I did.

00:45:07.371 --> 00:45:12.084
I built a 600-700 square
foot box.

00:45:12.084 --> 00:45:13.293
He’d have a band down there

00:45:13.293 --> 00:45:14.586
and I'd be sleeping
on the couch and

00:45:14.586 --> 00:45:16.505
and they’d come up and go,
“Are you Michael Gira?"

00:45:18.173 --> 00:45:20.008
It was really weird.

00:45:20.008 --> 00:45:22.803
But yeah,

00:45:22.803 --> 00:45:24.847
you do what you can to
survive in New York

00:45:24.847 --> 00:45:25.806
so I built that space.

00:45:25.806 --> 00:45:28.267
Part of the whole idea
of getting a space

00:45:28.267 --> 00:45:30.811
like this, that was multi level

00:45:30.811 --> 00:45:32.771
was that we could live here.

00:45:32.771 --> 00:45:34.732
I had good relations with
the fire department.

00:45:34.732 --> 00:45:36.817
They kind of knew what
was going on.

00:45:38.360 --> 00:45:40.320
This is my space.

00:45:41.697 --> 00:45:44.491
I'm proud of squatting,

00:45:44.491 --> 00:45:47.578
of occupying this
industrial space.

00:45:47.578 --> 00:45:50.539
I don't know how long I'll
be able to hold out

00:45:50.539 --> 00:45:55.502
in Fort Gowanus here, but
maybe another decade?

00:45:57.421 --> 00:46:00.924
Swans segued into
Angels of Light.

00:46:00.924 --> 00:46:03.761
He recorded partially,
but to great effect,

00:46:03.761 --> 00:46:05.345
the first Angels of
Light record,

00:46:05.345 --> 00:46:06.305
New Mother.

00:46:06.305 --> 00:46:07.306
Angels of Light was less

00:46:07.306 --> 00:46:11.769
about making something
monolithic sounding

00:46:11.769 --> 00:46:14.813
or very expansive sounding.

00:46:14.813 --> 00:46:17.900
It was more about intimate
sounds and individual sounds.

00:46:17.900 --> 00:46:20.986
In that, you mentioned the
mic-ing of the drums

00:46:20.986 --> 00:46:23.489
I kind of changed my tune
about drums

00:46:23.489 --> 00:46:25.491
and wanted just one or two mics

00:46:25.491 --> 00:46:26.450
on the drums

00:46:26.450 --> 00:46:27.868
for a more natural sound.

00:46:27.868 --> 00:46:29.912
Didn't really want separation,
I wanted it to just

00:46:29.912 --> 00:46:30.871
be what it is.

00:46:30.871 --> 00:46:32.581
I overdid reverb in the 80s,

00:46:32.581 --> 00:46:36.293
much to my regret, really
damaged some great music.

00:46:36.293 --> 00:46:39.880
So I stopped using any kind
of digital effects at all.

00:46:39.880 --> 00:46:45.469
The sort of back story to
all the Swans

00:46:45.469 --> 00:46:49.097
recording sessions
was just intensity.

00:46:49.097 --> 00:46:50.682
Before I moved in there,

00:46:50.682 --> 00:46:53.519
much to his chagrin,

00:46:54.853 --> 00:46:56.313
I would just sleep on the couch

00:46:56.313 --> 00:46:58.774
and we would work
18-19 hours and

00:46:58.774 --> 00:47:00.359
then just wake up the
next day and start again.

00:47:00.359 --> 00:47:02.986
Martin worked round
the clock, nonstop.

00:47:02.986 --> 00:47:05.572
so I would hear at
4 o'clock in the morning,

00:47:05.572 --> 00:47:07.324
Bambaataa and the
entire Zulu Nation,

00:47:07.324 --> 00:47:11.245
Ginger Baker or Bootsy,
or Sonic Youth.

00:47:11.245 --> 00:47:15.165
We all felt that was
an important component

00:47:15.165 --> 00:47:16.875
to making great records.

00:47:16.875 --> 00:47:21.463
I personally feel now
you don't have to squeeze

00:47:21.463 --> 00:47:26.927
blood, sweat and tears into
every sound that goes down.

00:47:26.927 --> 00:47:28.971
I think we all felt that,

00:47:28.971 --> 00:47:32.933
definitely Michael Gira from
Swans very much felt that.

00:47:32.933 --> 00:47:34.643
As soon as I actually
hear the thing,

00:47:34.643 --> 00:47:37.312
a hundred thousand other
possibilities start occurring

00:47:37.312 --> 00:47:38.272
and things keep changing.

00:47:38.939 --> 00:47:43.694
And Martin was
diligent and patient

00:47:43.694 --> 00:47:46.488
to a masochistic degree with me.

00:47:46.488 --> 00:47:47.948
He didn't even want to go home!

00:47:47.948 --> 00:47:49.575
He just wanted to stay
here because he

00:47:49.575 --> 00:47:51.118
didn't want to break the vibe.

00:47:51.118 --> 00:47:53.412
He wanted to eat, sleep
and dream

00:47:53.412 --> 00:47:54.371
making the record.

00:47:54.371 --> 00:47:56.582
That also applied to all
the Foetus records.

00:47:56.582 --> 00:48:00.210
Almost dysfunctional
intensity in the process.

00:48:00.210 --> 00:48:01.795
We were pretty much
just killing ourselves

00:48:01.795 --> 00:48:04.590
here, somehow with the
belief that unless

00:48:04.590 --> 00:48:06.967
we did that you couldn't
make a good record.

00:48:06.967 --> 00:48:09.136
It didn't seem intense to me

00:48:09.136 --> 00:48:13.974
but maybe I have nothing
to compare it to,

00:48:13.974 --> 00:48:14.933
it's just the way that I work.

00:48:15.934 --> 00:48:19.313
[audio clip -
I'll Meet You in Poland Baby]

00:48:29.197 --> 00:48:30.866
Jim Thirlwell, Foetus

00:48:30.866 --> 00:48:33.285
very prolific, musical person

00:48:33.285 --> 00:48:35.412
who does a lot
of soundtrack work.

00:48:35.412 --> 00:48:37.581
I think he was a little
bit ahead of his time.

00:48:37.581 --> 00:48:39.958
I made one Foetus album here,

00:48:39.958 --> 00:48:41.543
which was Thaw.

00:48:41.543 --> 00:48:43.003
That was the first big project

00:48:43.003 --> 00:48:44.546
I did with Martin.

00:48:44.546 --> 00:48:46.048
That was an interesting album

00:48:46.048 --> 00:48:48.050
to do because it
was transitional.

00:48:48.050 --> 00:48:52.429
It was probably the first
full Foetus album that

00:48:52.429 --> 00:48:54.765
I had done in New York,
but it was also

00:48:54.765 --> 00:48:57.142
the first album in this
second wave

00:48:57.142 --> 00:48:59.478
of technology that
I was using.

00:48:59.478 --> 00:49:03.523
I had moved onto setting up
my own pre-production studio

00:49:03.523 --> 00:49:05.984
so I sort of had
my own computer.

00:49:05.984 --> 00:49:07.694
That was like a new wave,

00:49:07.694 --> 00:49:10.656
but I was mixing that
with acoustic instruments.

00:49:10.656 --> 00:49:13.951
Martin was good at
listening to where

00:49:13.951 --> 00:49:15.452
you wanted to go with something,

00:49:15.452 --> 00:49:19.873
but also without putting too
much of his personality on it,

00:49:19.873 --> 00:49:20.832
which I think is important.

00:49:20.832 --> 00:49:22.960
While you're trying to
create something

00:49:22.960 --> 00:49:25.170
that's kind of a
vulnerable time.

00:49:26.088 --> 00:49:28.048
And you don't necessarily
want someone

00:49:28.048 --> 00:49:30.550
making you second
guess what you do.

00:49:30.550 --> 00:49:31.718
Jim recorded a lot.

00:49:31.718 --> 00:49:34.304
Jim and Martin were
actually very good friends.

00:49:34.304 --> 00:49:36.515
The music is really what
brought everyone together.

00:49:36.515 --> 00:49:39.059
Everybody playing on each
other's albums,

00:49:39.059 --> 00:49:40.894
backing each other's albums up.

00:49:40.894 --> 00:49:44.690
We always had a camaraderie
with JG Thirlwell.

00:49:44.690 --> 00:49:47.734
Cop Shoot Cop I think I just
mixed a few tracks

00:49:47.734 --> 00:49:50.320
for their White Noise album,
here with Martin.

00:49:50.320 --> 00:49:51.697
I remember sleeping there.

00:49:51.697 --> 00:49:54.908
We just would go in there
and go into lockdown,

00:49:54.908 --> 00:49:58.120
live at Martin's house and
work through the night.

00:49:58.120 --> 00:50:01.373
Sometimes I would come
in with an album

00:50:01.373 --> 00:50:03.333
and assemble and
master something

00:50:03.333 --> 00:50:06.878
here cause I got to know the
sound of the room really well.

00:50:06.878 --> 00:50:11.133
I felt confident if I
assembled something

00:50:11.133 --> 00:50:13.635
here then it would sound
good in the outside world.

00:50:13.635 --> 00:50:19.641
So that corner was the place
where I would evaluate low end.

00:50:19.641 --> 00:50:22.144
He's still got the same
couch there.

00:50:23.270 --> 00:50:25.355
I'm sure that couch
has got a lot

00:50:25.355 --> 00:50:27.983
of memories and a lot
of asses on it.

00:50:33.947 --> 00:50:36.825
We never considered
ourselves industrial,

00:50:36.825 --> 00:50:40.245
there was one critic that
called us post industrial?

00:50:40.245 --> 00:50:43.832
There was a really vibrant
downtown scene at the time.

00:50:43.832 --> 00:50:47.252
We played gigs with the Unsane
and Pussy Galore

00:50:47.252 --> 00:50:48.211
as well as Helmet.

00:50:48.211 --> 00:50:49.504
Foetus we played with.

00:50:49.504 --> 00:50:51.089
It was very supportive.

00:50:51.965 --> 00:50:54.176
We were all just kind of doing
what we wanted

00:50:54.176 --> 00:50:55.719
to do just for the love of it.

00:50:55.719 --> 00:50:58.013
No one expected to
make a living at it

00:50:58.013 --> 00:50:59.806
until Nirvana got signed

00:50:59.806 --> 00:51:00.766
and it was kind of on
the heels of that

00:51:00.766 --> 00:51:04.519
a lot of us were able
to quit our day jobs.

00:51:04.519 --> 00:51:08.857
The 90s was one of the last
eras where you got

00:51:08.857 --> 00:51:12.569
the kind of Nirvana explosion
in the record industry

00:51:12.569 --> 00:51:13.945
and everyone kind of went “OK!

00:51:13.945 --> 00:51:14.946
Punk rock and
underground music.”

00:51:18.450 --> 00:51:20.035
We recorded White Noise,

00:51:20.035 --> 00:51:22.871
Consumer Revolt and Ask
Questions Later with Martin.

00:51:23.830 --> 00:51:26.541
[audio clip of Room 429]

00:51:37.677 --> 00:51:40.514
Cop Shoot Cop really says a lot

00:51:40.514 --> 00:51:43.308
about my ethics, sonically
and also politically.

00:51:43.308 --> 00:51:46.478
They were very, even though they
were actually on a major label,

00:51:46.478 --> 00:51:48.772
Time Warner affiliated

00:51:48.772 --> 00:51:50.315
they were actually very
anti-corporate,

00:51:50.315 --> 00:51:52.359
very DIY, do it yourself,

00:51:52.359 --> 00:51:54.361
and also the sounds
were experimental,

00:51:54.361 --> 00:51:56.947
abrasive, and so I
really liked that.

00:51:56.947 --> 00:51:58.615
Partly that was due to
how we would

00:51:58.615 --> 00:52:00.992
play shows and so much
of what we were

00:52:00.992 --> 00:52:03.995
doing was based on
our live performances.

00:52:03.995 --> 00:52:07.415
When we first started playing,
we would never be

00:52:07.415 --> 00:52:08.375
able to finish a set.

00:52:08.375 --> 00:52:11.586
There was always some kind
of outbreak of violence.

00:52:11.586 --> 00:52:13.755
either between the band
and the band

00:52:13.755 --> 00:52:14.714
or the band and the audience

00:52:14.714 --> 00:52:15.715
or just within the audience.

00:52:15.715 --> 00:52:18.218
That always used
to frustrate me,

00:52:18.218 --> 00:52:19.970
but then when we matured

00:52:19.970 --> 00:52:21.680
and we were able
to finish shows,

00:52:21.680 --> 00:52:23.598
I kind of missed those
days of chaos.

00:52:23.598 --> 00:52:25.100
The first couple of albums
we recorded there,

00:52:25.100 --> 00:52:27.102
I don't think he had
the downstairs space.

00:52:27.102 --> 00:52:28.353
When he first got it,

00:52:28.353 --> 00:52:34.151
I remember some people
made a TV pilot down there.

00:52:34.151 --> 00:52:37.612
This is live, from BC Studios,

00:52:37.612 --> 00:52:42.409
you're about to witness
the Blues Explosion.

00:52:43.326 --> 00:52:44.327
[music from set]

00:52:57.132 --> 00:53:00.635
We did that live show
with Jon Spencer.

00:53:00.635 --> 00:53:03.513
It was kind of like a warehouse
party, you know?

00:53:03.513 --> 00:53:05.599
It just had that kind of vibe
where it was just like

00:53:05.599 --> 00:53:07.767
a lot of people from the scene
and all their friends

00:53:07.767 --> 00:53:09.644
got together and we just played.

00:53:10.979 --> 00:53:15.066
I'm here with Blues Explosion,
we’re live at BC Studios.

00:53:15.066 --> 00:53:17.444
We really wanted to
push the music ahead.

00:53:17.444 --> 00:53:19.529
We wanted to get way out there.

00:53:20.655 --> 00:53:21.656
Way out there.

00:53:21.656 --> 00:53:23.325
Nothing matters except

00:53:23.325 --> 00:53:24.284
except the Blues Ex-

00:53:24.284 --> 00:53:26.119
except Martin Bisi studios.

00:53:26.119 --> 00:53:27.913
It was loud and proud.

00:53:29.331 --> 00:53:31.249
[music from set]

00:53:49.643 --> 00:53:54.147
In the 90s, when we were
filming the Basquiat film,

00:53:54.147 --> 00:53:56.399
Julian Schnabel made this
film called Basquiat

00:53:56.399 --> 00:53:57.359
about Jean-Michel Basquiat.

00:53:57.359 --> 00:54:00.195
Gray was a part of the film.

00:54:00.195 --> 00:54:01.488
We played ourselves,

00:54:01.488 --> 00:54:04.824
with Jeffrey Wright playing
Jean-Michel Basquiat.

00:54:04.824 --> 00:54:08.370
We had a lot of fun,
recording in the set

00:54:08.370 --> 00:54:11.289
in the scene that's supposed to
take place in the Mudd Club

00:54:11.289 --> 00:54:14.251
and afterwards I sort of
got everyone together

00:54:14.251 --> 00:54:18.088
to say, “hey, why don't we redo
the band for real?”

00:54:18.088 --> 00:54:19.047
And we did.

00:54:19.047 --> 00:54:21.925
And we did it with Jeffrey
Wright, as a matter of fact.

00:54:21.925 --> 00:54:26.763
We actually went out to
BC Studios in a big snowstorm

00:54:26.763 --> 00:54:28.848
on Christmas Eve or something.

00:54:28.848 --> 00:54:30.934
I really need to dig up
those recordings.

00:54:30.934 --> 00:54:33.353
Those were actually,
those were really cool

00:54:33.353 --> 00:54:34.312
they were really great.

00:54:34.479 --> 00:54:36.022
That's actually where the
control room is,

00:54:36.022 --> 00:54:36.982
that's indoors.

00:54:37.816 --> 00:54:39.276
See those windows up there?

00:54:41.278 --> 00:54:45.448
This is the gray room
at BC Studio.

00:54:45.448 --> 00:54:47.534
If you can't tell,
there's glass here.

00:54:49.536 --> 00:54:55.667
The reason this works well is
that you have two gigantic rooms

00:54:55.667 --> 00:54:57.919
so if I have monster-ly
loud drums

00:54:57.919 --> 00:55:00.255
and then like an accordion
or an upright bass,

00:55:00.255 --> 00:55:02.799
that's kind of a problem,
that's hard to capture.

00:55:02.799 --> 00:55:04.926
So to have the
separation really works

00:55:04.926 --> 00:55:07.137
and in this case, to
have it so two people

00:55:07.137 --> 00:55:08.763
can see each other really helps.

00:55:08.763 --> 00:55:11.182
And also, unlike a
lot of studios,

00:55:11.182 --> 00:55:13.476
both spaces are really large.

00:55:13.476 --> 00:55:16.479
Definitely the space was a
big factor in the sounds.

00:55:16.479 --> 00:55:20.984
The guitar we were able to
put in the huge room downstairs.

00:55:20.984 --> 00:55:22.986
I had the room all to myself.

00:55:22.986 --> 00:55:24.863
Yeah, he had one amp
in this giant room.

00:55:24.863 --> 00:55:28.867
Martin miced, I think he did
two mics on the two speakers

00:55:28.867 --> 00:55:30.994
and two mics about
twenty feet away,

00:55:30.994 --> 00:55:32.162
which is also
kind of incredible.

00:55:32.162 --> 00:55:35.290
A lot of studios I've
been to don't even

00:55:35.290 --> 00:55:38.501
have twenty feet to work with.

00:55:38.918 --> 00:55:41.838
And so any time we wanted a
different sound or more reverb,

00:55:41.838 --> 00:55:44.924
he would just bring
up the room mics.

00:55:44.924 --> 00:55:46.426
On a Dresdon Dolls record,

00:55:46.426 --> 00:55:47.761
on the song Truce,

00:55:48.345 --> 00:55:49.346
I went through a lot of trouble,

00:55:49.346 --> 00:55:51.765
I took like a half an
hour setting up.

00:55:51.765 --> 00:55:54.184
And then some
thunderstorms happened

00:55:54.184 --> 00:55:56.603
and then just as
I started recording,

00:55:57.145 --> 00:55:58.146
I realized, oh my god,

00:55:58.146 --> 00:56:00.398
there's this dripping in
the pipe in the back.

00:56:00.398 --> 00:56:02.442
And you can hear this dripping.

00:56:02.442 --> 00:56:03.401
And I was like, “ugh, now I have

00:56:03.401 --> 00:56:04.778
to find a new spot for them,

00:56:04.778 --> 00:56:06.363
how long is it gonna rain?”

00:56:06.363 --> 00:56:07.322
And then because of a bunch
of things, I was like,

00:56:07.322 --> 00:56:08.323
you know?

00:56:09.407 --> 00:56:10.617
Ok, so there'll
be some water

00:56:10.617 --> 00:56:11.576
dripping in the back.

00:56:11.576 --> 00:56:12.994
Actually that's a nice spot,

00:56:12.994 --> 00:56:14.704
if you listen carefully
on that record.

00:56:14.704 --> 00:56:16.706
One of the beautiful things
about working in a

00:56:16.706 --> 00:56:19.584
kind of imperfect and
organic environment

00:56:19.584 --> 00:56:22.379
like Martin's studio
is you get a lot

00:56:22.379 --> 00:56:23.338
of that character.

00:56:23.338 --> 00:56:24.339
When you make a record,

00:56:24.339 --> 00:56:26.758
you want to try to capture
moment in time

00:56:26.758 --> 00:56:29.427
and all those little details
kind of add

00:56:29.427 --> 00:56:31.304
and flesh out and color
that picture.

00:56:31.304 --> 00:56:34.974
That was a very
significant record

00:56:34.974 --> 00:56:37.143
to me personally,
because I think it was,

00:56:37.143 --> 00:56:40.814
it came right in the wake
of 9/11 or the year after

00:56:40.814 --> 00:56:42.982
that where things
were really grim

00:56:42.982 --> 00:56:44.651
in terms of music in New York.

00:56:44.651 --> 00:56:45.610
The big rock bands
out at that time

00:56:45.610 --> 00:56:47.904
were The Strokes and
the White Stripes?

00:56:48.446 --> 00:56:51.074
Fine, but it didn't do
anything for me.

00:56:51.074 --> 00:56:53.910
And then we had the 2001
stolen election with George Bush

00:56:53.910 --> 00:56:57.288
that whole Bush era where
a lot of people were going

00:56:57.288 --> 00:56:58.498
“ugh, God, what the fuck.”

00:56:58.498 --> 00:57:00.917
When I met the Dresden Dolls,
I was pretty amazed,

00:57:00.917 --> 00:57:03.878
they actually reminded me
a lot of the youthful energy

00:57:03.878 --> 00:57:06.381
that I had in
New York in the ‘80s.

00:57:06.381 --> 00:57:08.883
It was fortunate that Amanda
met him at a party

00:57:08.883 --> 00:57:11.386
and Michael Gira was there
and Martin was there

00:57:11.386 --> 00:57:12.929
and people were just kind
of mingling around.

00:57:12.929 --> 00:57:16.307
I think that was what
initiated the friendship

00:57:16.307 --> 00:57:17.725
and conversation about
working together.

00:57:17.725 --> 00:57:19.853
When we came down
to the decision

00:57:19.853 --> 00:57:21.104
of who we were going to
have record,

00:57:21.479 --> 00:57:23.815
Martin was the obvious choice.

00:57:23.815 --> 00:57:25.775
We were certainly
impressed with the fact

00:57:25.775 --> 00:57:27.444
that he had worked with a lot
of artists

00:57:27.444 --> 00:57:28.820
like Swans and Sonic Youth

00:57:28.820 --> 00:57:31.072
and so on that we felt
sort of akin to.

00:57:32.031 --> 00:57:34.242
It was very much like,
let's connect.

00:57:34.242 --> 00:57:36.619
Let's grow this thing and
see where it goes.

00:57:36.619 --> 00:57:38.913
The Dresden Dolls
made a lot of fans,

00:57:38.913 --> 00:57:40.999
so it was really quite
a phenomenon.

00:57:40.999 --> 00:57:42.834
And it really sort of
happened in this void

00:57:42.834 --> 00:57:44.085
void of nothing
happening in New York.

00:57:45.253 --> 00:57:47.380
[audio from "Good Day"]

00:57:56.514 --> 00:58:00.935
It was my first full length
album recording

00:58:00.935 --> 00:58:02.437
and Amanda's as well

00:58:02.437 --> 00:58:05.940
and a harrowing experience,
to say the least.

00:58:05.940 --> 00:58:08.776
There was a lot
riding on the line,

00:58:08.776 --> 00:58:10.111
you know, when you're
a young band

00:58:10.111 --> 00:58:11.488
and you want
everything to go well.

00:58:11.488 --> 00:58:14.282
And yet, we were still
trying to find our sound,

00:58:14.282 --> 00:58:18.328
but we had a particular
vision that we wanted to

00:58:18.328 --> 00:58:23.208
at least aim for and Martin
definitely had that background.

00:58:23.208 --> 00:58:27.378
Tracking part and the mixing
part were two distinctly

00:58:27.378 --> 00:58:31.591
different periods of that
recording session.

00:58:31.591 --> 00:58:36.429
The tracking process was
really difficult for me.

00:58:36.429 --> 00:58:38.640
Amanda was like, Get out!

00:58:38.640 --> 00:58:40.725
I want to be completely alone
during the recording

00:58:40.725 --> 00:58:42.810
of the piano parts
and the vocals.

00:58:42.810 --> 00:58:44.521
She just wanted to buckle down

00:58:44.521 --> 00:58:46.022
and do it with Martin
and that was

00:58:46.022 --> 00:58:48.358
a good way to do it back then

00:58:48.358 --> 00:58:49.901
when it was very new
and she had a lot

00:58:49.901 --> 00:58:50.860
of figuring out to do.

00:58:50.860 --> 00:58:55.240
And then the mixing
part was hilarious.

00:58:55.240 --> 00:58:59.327
I'll never forget when Martin
was doing his rain dance thing.

00:59:00.537 --> 00:59:03.706
Dancing around in his chair
going like, “hoya hoya hoya”

00:59:03.706 --> 00:59:06.584
And like beating a drum.

00:59:08.002 --> 00:59:09.003
You had to be there.

00:59:09.003 --> 00:59:10.797
That’s actually your guitar,
just at the end.

00:59:10.797 --> 00:59:11.756
Are you serious?

00:59:11.756 --> 00:59:12.757
And actually I like that!

00:59:12.757 --> 00:59:16.761
That means that one smart
alec out there will go, “AHHH!”

00:59:16.761 --> 00:59:19.305
The man's blood is half coffee

00:59:19.305 --> 00:59:23.977
and he's just like,
hyper focused,

00:59:23.977 --> 00:59:27.647
or sort of manic.
And we joked around a lot.

00:59:27.647 --> 00:59:30.066
He did incredible stuff on
the song, “Gravity"

00:59:30.066 --> 00:59:31.651
using the Memory Man.

00:59:31.651 --> 00:59:33.903
It was just like an
analog delay module,

00:59:33.903 --> 00:59:37.699
like a tape loop that slows
down and speeds up

00:59:37.699 --> 00:59:41.160
so you can catch a quick
section and repeat it

00:59:41.160 --> 00:59:44.038
and drag it so it goes “WHWHWHWHW”

00:59:44.038 --> 00:59:44.998
or the opposite of that.

00:59:45.415 --> 00:59:46.457
Great demonstration, I know.

00:59:46.457 --> 00:59:48.543
It's funny, a lot
of the old stuff,

00:59:48.543 --> 00:59:49.919
one thing that's really
good is that

00:59:49.919 --> 00:59:51.462
it's very manipulative.

00:59:51.462 --> 00:59:53.506
I got used to doing
lots of experimenting

00:59:53.506 --> 00:59:55.758
with little bits of equipment,
like tape loops.

00:59:55.758 --> 00:59:58.761
This thing is on a lot of
even hip hop stuff.

00:59:58.761 --> 01:00:00.847
There's just like weird little
sounds in the back.

01:00:00.847 --> 01:00:02.890
Unlike a lot of engineers today

01:00:02.890 --> 01:00:04.517
where everything is at the
push of the button

01:00:04.517 --> 01:00:06.102
and on ProTools, you
can just sort of like

01:00:06.102 --> 01:00:08.646
nip and tuck and
everything is just deleted

01:00:08.646 --> 01:00:09.606
and copied and pasted.

01:00:09.606 --> 01:00:13.776
Martin was at the board twisting
knobs and riding faders.

01:00:16.988 --> 01:00:17.989
“I think that was a good one."

01:00:17.989 --> 01:00:21.159
Really a visceral part of it
and that's great.

01:00:21.159 --> 01:00:22.118
It brings a lot of
character to it.

01:00:22.702 --> 01:00:26.205
And I feel fortunate that my
band caught that era

01:00:26.205 --> 01:00:29.667
where we got to work with
a great tape engineer too.

01:00:29.667 --> 01:00:33.630
It was amazing watching
Martin adjust the reels

01:00:33.630 --> 01:00:35.173
get everything ready
and cut the tape

01:00:35.173 --> 01:00:36.132
and make all the
different edits.

01:00:36.132 --> 01:00:39.469
Walk away with like 70
pounds of our album.

01:00:39.469 --> 01:00:41.679
I don't know if I've made a
record like that since.

01:00:41.679 --> 01:00:43.306
Ultimately we wound
up with a record

01:00:43.306 --> 01:00:45.016
that we were incredibly proud of

01:00:45.016 --> 01:00:48.019
and I still love listening
back to that album.

01:00:49.646 --> 01:00:51.314
We were trying to figure out
who would suit us

01:00:51.314 --> 01:00:52.774
pretty well and then
I looked at half

01:00:52.774 --> 01:00:53.733
my record collection
and realized

01:00:53.733 --> 01:00:55.902
he had recorded the good half.

01:00:57.070 --> 01:00:59.489
The backwards thing is
RIDICULOUS.

01:00:59.489 --> 01:01:01.616
I fade in the room mics.

01:01:01.616 --> 01:01:02.575
It's so badass.

01:01:03.826 --> 01:01:06.454
I fade in the room mics
and fade in the guitar.

01:01:09.374 --> 01:01:12.001
Swans, Sonic Youth,
John Zorn

01:01:12.001 --> 01:01:14.629
Afrika Bambaataa,
Herbie Hancock,

01:01:14.629 --> 01:01:15.588
Helmet.

01:01:16.798 --> 01:01:21.761
I mean, any who has
been in this area

01:01:21.761 --> 01:01:24.597
and made music that mattered
at one point connected

01:01:24.597 --> 01:01:26.891
with this guy over
the last 35 years.

01:01:28.017 --> 01:01:30.645
I feel like I'm doing
as much as I can

01:01:30.645 --> 01:01:33.189
to participate in the
continuation of music

01:01:33.189 --> 01:01:34.565
that I like and believe in.

01:01:34.565 --> 01:01:36.192
Listening to it this time,

01:01:36.192 --> 01:01:38.569
it wasn't like how I
thought I heard it

01:01:38.569 --> 01:01:39.529
when I played it.

01:01:39.529 --> 01:01:41.155
So maybe we should
scrutinize that.

01:01:42.865 --> 01:01:45.284
I love playing with
Violent Femmes,

01:01:45.284 --> 01:01:47.245
because to me that's
the type of music

01:01:47.245 --> 01:01:49.372
music that has the kind of
ethics and ideals

01:01:49.372 --> 01:01:51.916
ideals and performance
style that I love.

01:01:53.584 --> 01:01:56.879
I like it. I like how it sounds.

01:01:56.879 --> 01:02:00.675
I like the idea of not having
a melody instrument solo

01:02:00.675 --> 01:02:01.634
but have the drums solo.

01:02:02.093 --> 01:02:05.304
We haven't actually
done that before.

01:02:05.304 --> 01:02:06.264
We can just take it from...

01:02:09.225 --> 01:02:10.226
Keep it rolling, Martin.

01:02:10.226 --> 01:02:12.770
Just the way he miced
our instruments

01:02:12.770 --> 01:02:15.440
and the way he did my
whole vocals.

01:02:15.440 --> 01:02:20.153
It allowed for us to have a good
foundation for the mixing.

01:02:20.153 --> 01:02:22.572
And he does everything analog,
which at first

01:02:22.572 --> 01:02:23.906
I was really kind scared about,

01:02:23.906 --> 01:02:25.533
but it's been going really well.

01:02:25.700 --> 01:02:27.326
I almost feel like Martin
and the space

01:02:27.326 --> 01:02:28.286
have kind of become this one

01:02:28.286 --> 01:02:29.871
weird, symbiotic thing

01:02:29.871 --> 01:02:31.622
where he knew how
to use the space

01:02:31.622 --> 01:02:33.958
to get the sounds he
wanted or to copy

01:02:33.958 --> 01:02:37.295
and paste things on his
computer from the 1990s.

01:02:37.295 --> 01:02:40.673
Also a big part of it for us
was that he was excited.

01:02:40.673 --> 01:02:43.342
And I think he was having
fun too.  I hope.

01:02:43.342 --> 01:02:46.512
Making this album has
been amazing.

01:02:46.512 --> 01:02:49.098
This room has such a presence.
It's enveloping.

01:02:49.098 --> 01:02:53.478
To me, the whole thing
just happened really positively.

01:02:53.478 --> 01:02:54.479
I didn't even know what hit me.

01:02:54.479 --> 01:02:56.522
Yeah, all of a sudden
we had a record.

01:02:57.982 --> 01:03:02.153
So we're in the basement
of where the studio is

01:03:02.153 --> 01:03:03.112
of the building.

01:03:03.738 --> 01:03:07.366
There's a lake that goes all
through the building,

01:03:07.366 --> 01:03:08.951
all under the building.

01:03:08.951 --> 01:03:12.955
Across 3rd Ave, and under the
Whole Foods construction site.

01:03:12.955 --> 01:03:17.585
So I actually have access to it.

01:03:17.585 --> 01:03:20.588
Here is, the pond.

01:03:20.588 --> 01:03:21.547
[splash]

01:03:27.804 --> 01:03:32.391
The Gowanus area is a little
bit of a time capsule,

01:03:33.351 --> 01:03:35.394
because from my eyes,

01:03:35.394 --> 01:03:37.814
it hasn't really
changed that much.

01:03:37.814 --> 01:03:39.565
There are aspects of this
area that

01:03:39.565 --> 01:03:41.359
are really pretty
much the same.

01:03:41.359 --> 01:03:44.570
Pretty much between
here and Carroll St.

01:03:44.570 --> 01:03:47.198
Apart for the Whole Foods
that's about to go in.

01:03:47.198 --> 01:03:50.284
When I first heard that
Whole Foods was moving

01:03:50.284 --> 01:03:52.870
into the neighborhood,
my feeling was that

01:03:52.870 --> 01:03:55.706
this neighborhood was a
bit development proof.

01:03:55.706 --> 01:03:59.293
What got my thinking changing
about Whole Foods,

01:03:59.293 --> 01:04:01.379
as opposed to Staples,

01:04:01.379 --> 01:04:02.922
which opened up a block away...

01:04:02.922 --> 01:04:07.802
It's a combination of what
happens when the area becomes

01:04:07.802 --> 01:04:09.762
desirable for a
different kind of use.

01:04:09.762 --> 01:04:13.349
A residential use is about
double of manufacturing.

01:04:13.349 --> 01:04:17.395
So as soon as this place
becomes operational,

01:04:17.395 --> 01:04:19.981
the value per square
foot of this building

01:04:19.981 --> 01:04:21.732
can nearly double.

01:04:22.692 --> 01:04:24.443
It's documented.

01:04:24.443 --> 01:04:26.487
We see it happening
in other urban areas.

01:04:26.487 --> 01:04:28.197
We see it in other
areas of Brooklyn.

01:04:28.197 --> 01:04:29.949
When I heard that Whole Foods

01:04:29.949 --> 01:04:31.158
was coming into
the neighborhood,

01:04:31.158 --> 01:04:32.118
the first thing I thought was,

01:04:32.118 --> 01:04:34.996
“There goes the neighborhood."

01:04:34.996 --> 01:04:36.789
It's very complicated.

01:04:36.789 --> 01:04:38.875
Obviously no one wants
to live here because

01:04:38.875 --> 01:04:39.834
it's so polluted,

01:04:40.585 --> 01:04:44.422
but what you have from
that is space to be creative.

01:04:44.422 --> 01:04:48.217
Rude Mechanical Orchestra
started in 2004.

01:04:48.217 --> 01:04:51.387
I'm one of the remaining

01:04:51.387 --> 01:04:54.056
original members
of the project.

01:04:55.725 --> 01:04:57.685
[“Double Bunny” audio
clip of RMO]

01:05:18.623 --> 01:05:22.209
This is a project that
was started really

01:05:22.209 --> 01:05:24.211
as a way to challenge the

01:05:24.211 --> 01:05:26.047
Republican National
Convention

01:05:26.047 --> 01:05:28.507
when it was in New York
City in 2004.

01:05:28.507 --> 01:05:31.719
A lot of activists on the left
were really mad,

01:05:31.719 --> 01:05:34.889
rightfully so, that the RNC
decided to be in New York City

01:05:34.889 --> 01:05:37.016
of all places,
for its convention.

01:05:37.016 --> 01:05:39.352
It was a really amazing time
when the RNC

01:05:39.352 --> 01:05:40.311
came to town.

01:05:40.311 --> 01:05:42.813
I mean it was a terrible time,
but it was also a really

01:05:42.813 --> 01:05:48.069
artistically and politically
fruitful time.

01:05:48.069 --> 01:05:50.196
There's something about
having a common

01:05:50.196 --> 01:05:53.616
enemy in New York that
really got everyone

01:05:53.616 --> 01:05:55.993
thinking about how
they could challenge

01:05:55.993 --> 01:05:56.953
what was going on.

01:05:56.953 --> 01:05:59.497
The first day that we recorded

01:05:59.497 --> 01:06:03.417
at Martin's space with
Don Goodwin for the new album

01:06:03.417 --> 01:06:04.669
“Too Big to Fail”

01:06:04.669 --> 01:06:08.130
was the first day of the
occupation at Zuccotti Park.

01:06:08.130 --> 01:06:09.757
It was very fitting that

01:06:09.757 --> 01:06:11.801
everything happened all at once.

01:06:11.801 --> 01:06:14.887
And so, from then on, we
were very involved

01:06:14.887 --> 01:06:16.639
in Occupy Wall Street.

01:06:16.639 --> 01:06:18.683
The protest movement
picked up steam

01:06:18.683 --> 01:06:20.935
and that was inspiring,
so a lot of my own

01:06:20.935 --> 01:06:25.022
personal stuff has some
of the sonic expression

01:06:25.022 --> 01:06:27.108
in some ways of a lot of that.

01:06:27.108 --> 01:06:29.568
I loved how brass marching
bands sounded

01:06:29.568 --> 01:06:32.780
sounded in the canyons of
lower Manhattan during protests.

01:06:32.780 --> 01:06:34.615
There were a lot
of group vocals,

01:06:34.615 --> 01:06:37.827
that's because I love the
sounds of group chanting.

01:06:38.244 --> 01:06:41.539
My thinking right now about the
situation in this neighborhood

01:06:41.539 --> 01:06:43.416
is really the situation
that's for Brooklyn

01:06:43.416 --> 01:06:44.625
and the situation
that I'm hearing

01:06:44.625 --> 01:06:46.252
that's across the country,

01:06:46.252 --> 01:06:47.670
which is that low
income and middle

01:06:47.670 --> 01:06:50.631
class housing is under attack.

01:06:50.631 --> 01:06:52.508
There are no policies in
place that are really

01:06:52.508 --> 01:06:55.219
allowing the low income
and middle class communities

01:06:55.219 --> 01:06:57.930
who actually create a lot of the
beautiful art that you see

01:06:57.930 --> 01:06:58.889
to live here.

01:06:58.889 --> 01:07:02.143
It makes me feel like this
particular community,

01:07:02.143 --> 01:07:05.271
that I care a lot about, is not
much longer for this world.

01:07:08.649 --> 01:07:09.650
It's actually amazing how busy

01:07:09.650 --> 01:07:11.152
it is with all this traffic.

01:07:12.278 --> 01:07:14.405
You never would have seen
this when I first moved here.

01:07:14.405 --> 01:07:16.657
It was just desolate.

01:07:16.949 --> 01:07:19.952
Maybe one car way down there.

01:07:19.952 --> 01:07:23.748
And I've been hearing from
people in the buildings

01:07:23.748 --> 01:07:28.085
around here of a
real, clear spike

01:07:28.085 --> 01:07:32.048
in developers contacting
the buildings, contacting owners

01:07:32.048 --> 01:07:36.302
interested in snapping up
whatever they can.

01:07:36.302 --> 01:07:38.304
With this land rush,
just because of this damn

01:07:38.304 --> 01:07:41.640
grocery store, artists and
artist organizations won't be

01:07:41.640 --> 01:07:44.143
moving to Gowanus
in the next few years.

01:07:46.604 --> 01:07:47.605
It's gonna happen somewhere,

01:07:47.605 --> 01:07:50.816
but it doesn't look like
his will be that anymore.

01:07:50.816 --> 01:07:53.736
And of course there's the
old thing of what's charming

01:07:53.736 --> 01:07:55.946
about it will eventually
be destroyed.

01:07:55.946 --> 01:07:56.906
And that's true.

01:07:56.906 --> 01:07:59.617
At what point am I
going to ask myself,

01:07:59.617 --> 01:08:00.993
do I even want to
be here anymore?

01:08:00.993 --> 01:08:02.787
When I'm the
last one standing.

01:08:04.121 --> 01:08:06.290
I actually want to be
the last one standing,

01:08:06.290 --> 01:08:11.295
frankly, but what happens when
it just goes somewhere else?

01:08:11.295 --> 01:08:14.757
All the magic of what
has happened here.

01:08:15.966 --> 01:08:17.510
Let's go in.

01:08:18.677 --> 01:08:19.887
I guess, I knew I'd go in.

01:08:19.887 --> 01:08:21.806
I'm just not going to
buy anything, frankly.

01:08:21.806 --> 01:08:24.934
Yeah, I'm getting a real
emotional tingle about it.

01:08:30.272 --> 01:08:32.733
There's apparently
a vinyl collection?

01:08:33.567 --> 01:08:36.278
These are kind of my
peers shopping here.

01:08:36.278 --> 01:08:38.280
I mean, they may be a
little more affluent

01:08:38.280 --> 01:08:40.241
than certain other peers,
but that's the

01:08:40.241 --> 01:08:42.660
sort of disenchantment
I'm feeling.

01:08:42.660 --> 01:08:47.623
Not a treasure trove for
crate diggers, yet.

01:08:48.916 --> 01:08:50.668
I mean, they've got
Kings of Leon.

01:08:50.668 --> 01:08:51.627
I guess that's exciting.

01:08:52.628 --> 01:08:55.798
It really feels like
a whole world

01:08:55.798 --> 01:08:56.757
world is just kind of over.

01:08:56.757 --> 01:08:59.260
It's amazing what
one store will do.

01:09:00.302 --> 01:09:02.012
As far as my being here,

01:09:02.012 --> 01:09:03.806
I think in my mind, maybe

01:09:03.806 --> 01:09:05.683
I wouldn't have
imagined being here

01:09:05.683 --> 01:09:06.642
for that long.

01:09:06.642 --> 01:09:09.353
There was an evolution
in my mind about that,

01:09:09.353 --> 01:09:12.273
about appreciating the space,

01:09:12.273 --> 01:09:16.318
and how it's important to pitch
your tent somewhere.

01:09:16.318 --> 01:09:18.279
That the place informed
what I did,

01:09:18.279 --> 01:09:21.448
what inspired me, and in
some way that's even mysterious

01:09:21.448 --> 01:09:24.660
to me, went along with
the drama of this canal.

01:09:25.202 --> 01:09:27.121
My impression is that
in the 80s,

01:09:27.121 --> 01:09:29.582
you could be fucking around
and be in a band,

01:09:29.582 --> 01:09:31.375
you can't do that here anymore.

01:09:31.375 --> 01:09:32.960
So yeah, you have to work hard.

01:09:32.960 --> 01:09:33.919
I think it influences
what we do,

01:09:33.919 --> 01:09:37.131
just because I have to
work 40-50 hours a week

01:09:37.548 --> 01:09:39.175
and then be in the band.

01:09:39.383 --> 01:09:41.594
I am sympathetic with
young people today

01:09:41.594 --> 01:09:44.388
in New York trying to
find time to create

01:09:44.388 --> 01:09:46.974
and be creative and
productive.  It's hard.

01:09:47.141 --> 01:09:48.809
Honey, let's move
somewhere else.

01:09:49.727 --> 01:09:50.728
NO!

01:09:51.395 --> 01:09:53.939
The issue of gentrification
in a city like New York,

01:09:53.939 --> 01:09:56.400
there's kind of a sweet spot

01:09:56.734 --> 01:10:00.070
where things actually
get better for awhile.

01:10:00.070 --> 01:10:03.449
And then there's a point
where I'm overtaken

01:10:03.449 --> 01:10:07.203
by the thing that I helped
to bring to fore.

01:10:07.203 --> 01:10:11.498
I moved to DUMBO in about 1987?

01:10:11.498 --> 01:10:13.083
I don't like DUMBO now.

01:10:13.083 --> 01:10:15.920
Someone told me that when
the area you live in

01:10:15.920 --> 01:10:18.631
gets developed, that there's
a 10 year resentment phase

01:10:18.631 --> 01:10:19.590
you go through.

01:10:19.590 --> 01:10:23.886
Until you actually assimilate
what's happened.

01:10:23.886 --> 01:10:25.679
I'm still in the
resentment phase.

01:10:25.679 --> 01:10:29.099
Before it was like,
90 percent of people

01:10:29.099 --> 01:10:30.476
pursuing the lifestyle,

01:10:30.476 --> 01:10:31.769
no matter what it took.

01:10:31.769 --> 01:10:34.730
And now I think, most of
the people here are

01:10:34.730 --> 01:10:37.107
looking at the
New York lifestyle

01:10:37.107 --> 01:10:40.110
and they're not
really a part of it.

01:10:40.110 --> 01:10:42.112
New York for me
has a lot of memories.

01:10:42.112 --> 01:10:43.697
And I just didn't
want to be in a place

01:10:43.697 --> 01:10:45.866
that was kind of like living
in the back of your mind.

01:10:45.866 --> 01:10:47.743
I just wanted to do
something fresh.

01:10:48.077 --> 01:10:49.870
So I got out of dodge.

01:10:50.746 --> 01:10:52.081
This town, forget about it.

01:10:52.081 --> 01:10:54.792
When I moved here it
was a total affordable,

01:10:54.792 --> 01:10:57.670
working class town
with a little bit of danger.

01:10:57.670 --> 01:10:59.213
It was filled with artists and
musicians.

01:10:59.213 --> 01:11:02.633
And now I have a couple of
friends left here, but...

01:11:02.800 --> 01:11:05.636
I actually have a lot of
optimism in a sense.

01:11:05.636 --> 01:11:08.973
I don't know if that
optimism extends

01:11:08.973 --> 01:11:11.267
to Gowanus and I don't
know if that optimism

01:11:11.267 --> 01:11:13.560
can extend to me, personally?

01:11:13.560 --> 01:11:18.607
But I think basically a big
movement has just exploded

01:11:18.607 --> 01:11:22.528
from what was a very
small scene of indie rock,

01:11:22.528 --> 01:11:26.115
experimentalism, post punk
and counter culture

01:11:26.115 --> 01:11:29.243
and it's really kind of snow
balled into something big.

01:11:29.243 --> 01:11:32.746
I hope Martin continues
to run BC Studio.

01:11:32.746 --> 01:11:34.832
It's an important
thing for musicians.

01:11:34.832 --> 01:11:38.502
I think Martin's studio space is
pretty much one of a kind.

01:11:38.502 --> 01:11:40.879
You can do in it what
you will and

01:11:40.879 --> 01:11:44.133
I think it allows everyone
to have this kind of breath.

01:11:44.133 --> 01:11:46.260
There's this whole feeling
that you can kind of go

01:11:46.260 --> 01:11:49.346
there and experiment,
and you know,

01:11:49.346 --> 01:11:51.265
live there in a sense
for a little while.

01:11:51.265 --> 01:11:53.809
So you don't want to see
just the place,

01:11:53.809 --> 01:11:55.811
but you want to see
also the people

01:11:55.811 --> 01:11:59.648
continue to have a ground
to do that.

01:11:59.648 --> 01:12:03.569
It's a staple of a
kind of New York culture

01:12:03.569 --> 01:12:05.321
of sound and chaos,

01:12:05.321 --> 01:12:08.157
in the way that
clubs like CBGB's

01:12:08.157 --> 01:12:10.159
and Max's Kansas City...
it's like that.

01:12:10.159 --> 01:12:11.785
It has that kind of history.

01:12:12.244 --> 01:12:13.245
One of those historical places

01:12:13.245 --> 01:12:20.461
that can actually generate
new, inspiring material.