By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Tell me about the upcoming compilation.
Robby: The compilation is with us and Lo-Life Recordings. We recorded most of the bands on there. Lo-Life is like a little DIY indie punk label. They don't do any recording. It's mostly Fort Worth bands on the comp. Once we got their instrument track done, we'd bring them over to the house to record the vocal track.
Jennifer: There are 16 bands on the compilation. We rented out The Where House for a day and recorded eight bands there. Some of the bands we recorded here, like Bitch Bricks, Year of the Bear, Fungi Girls. There's a split 10-inch coming out on Psych Fest's record label, Reverberation Appreciation Society. It's with Fungi Girls and a really cool Costa Rican punk band.
What equipment do you use, and why do you prefer analog to digital?
Jennifer: I record all the tape. It depends on the band and the project. It depends on what kind of sound they're going for. If they're a really lo-fi punk band I might use my cassette four-track, which I did all of Bitch Bricks on, because it has a certain sound. And then I have an eight-track reel-to-reel. It's an '85, but it's '60s throwback technology. It has two playback heads. It has a natural delay because there's a space between the heads. It's not a fancy reel-to-reel by any means. If you're using 2-inch tape, which I'm not, then you're losing quality when you go to digital. Digital just does not have the bandwidth that tape does. It cuts out highs and I got really frustrated recording digital. I couldn't get my guitar to sound right, I couldn't get the drums to sound right. Some people can do it pretty well, but most of the time you're trying to get it to sound like it was recorded on tape.
Robby: The reel-to-reel gets most of the use. It's real warm and old-school sounding. It's been used on a lot of recordings. Thee Oh Sees use one. Fresh and Onlys used it, the Sick Alps, Ty Segall — all of those cats use one. The Black Keys used one on their first record. It's really good for recording live. We're careful about it, because you can actually go the opposite direction. If you go hi-fi analog, it's actually way more hi-fi than any digital. If you ever listen to disco recordings from the late '70s, you can tell that the tones are way hi-fi. Drums are hard to record digitally. It drives me nuts. It cuts the sound off. Midlake's digital recordings sound analog, though. Some guys really know how to do it.
What sounds are you trying to achieve?
Jennifer: The bands I'm in are somewhat psychedelic, so that's drawn a lot of people to want to record here. I'd say Solo Sol is the most mid-fi out of all of it. If you're going for a 1965-1967 sound, what you're going to have to do is use our mics. Even though my board is newer, it's the same technology. The first song we recorded on this one mic was with Fungi Girls and it sounded so good. It's timeless. It's our magical mic. Every time I try something else, I'm like, "Why even try anything else? This is the mic to use." But I like experimenting with different stuff. As far as folk or blues go, it needs to have a little grit. I want it to sound like you're standing in the room with them, not like you went into the studio with them. The artists feel a lot more comfortable here because, for one thing, we don't charge by the hour. And it's more relaxed, being in the apartment.
What are some of your goals?
Jennifer: We've had a hard time getting our website up. I had somebody quit on me because I didn't want it to be that professional. I'm like, "I record in my apartment. You don't understand. I put the guitar amp in the bathtub because I like how the reverb sounds. I don't want people to think by looking at the website that they're coming into an RCA studio."
Robby: My nephew is the drummer in Fungi Girls. They live back here. Lots of musicians live here. They've got a little commune going. One thing with me and her is that we're getting older, so helping some of the young bands get going is a really big deal for us.