In / Out:
Years Recording: 20
Studio Location: 247 West 3680 South
Gear Found in Studio: API & Neve mics and pre-amps, Nuendo and Pro Tools digital audio, Aurora preamps, compressors and converters
Notable National Acts Recorded: Primus, Faith No More, Coheed and Cambria
Notable Local Acts Recorded: Royal Bliss, Gorgeous Hussies, Mutton Hollow, The Recovery
Matt Winegar is a local producer, audio engineer and musician. All this he sums up tersely as “making records.” “Lots of kids get confused by this,” he says. As he explained why this is the case, we spoke of recording studios and the state of musical technology in the broadest sense––drums and wires, but also the body parts and skills that make up the total experience music.
“Some kids don’t know what a record is.” Or what a record was. Winegar makes a strong distinction between how music is recorded now and how it has been recorded in the past. A big fan of classic rock, not just bands, but also producers and engineers. Winegar tells me about the great soundmen of a bygone era. “Today a CD can contain up to 80 minutes of music, so everyone feels that they have to fill it.” Still, some of the greatest rock albums ran only half an hour, and they provided a completely fulfilling musical experience. “There’s almost too much music now,” Winegar says. Maxing out is certainly an option, but it shouldn’t feel like a necessity, he tells me.
Maxing out can also take the form of compression. Compression, Winegar explains, is the digital manipulation of volume dynamics. Instead of natural peaks and valleys, you get one cinder block of sound. It’s everywhere. “I think the trend began with 6-CD changer. Everybody wanted to sound louder than everything else in the machine,” Winegar says. This led to what Winegar calls the “internet volume wars,” in which every band is always way up in your face, but has almost nothing to say. Winegar calls this “fake-raw”––like painting a hamburger pink.
Winegar prefers the sincerity of early recordings. He puts on a copy of Lou Reed’s Transformer, produced by Mick Ronson. The first thing you hear is the humanity of the vocals. Instead of a single block of icy “vox” I can hear each background singer distinctly. Recent records, with an excess of compression, Winegar calls by one generic name––“Captain Crush.” Earlier producers were able, however, to use little equipment, and yet capture a huge sound which still felt alive. Winegar cites Glyn Johns, who produced The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, the early Faces and the later Beatles, Led Zeppelin and The Clash. He also mentions, Roy Thomas Baker, responsible for the sound of classic Queen.