Tape-Op - Sept/Oct 2002

People often write Tape Op asking how recording engineers start working in the field, and how they develop their own studios. With his obsessive, old-fashioned work ethic, Peter Katis of the Philistines Jr. almost makes the process seem obvious. Tarquin Studios, named for his younger brother who joined us for the interview, has moved from the Katis family basement to the top of a house of its own. Along the way, Peter has worked with musicians ranging from Mercury Rev (who love his old keyboards) to The Get Up Kids, from Guster to the Raymond Scott Orchestrette, from Oneida to Alex Blake. Producers like Scott Litt and Eric Drew Feldman have joined him behind his mixing board. He and Tarquin still play in three bands, the Philistines Jr., the Happiest Guys in the World, and the Zambonis, and they both also skate on the ice hockey team of the legendary New York studio the Hit Factory.

In 1987, Peter bought his first cassette 4 track, "Tascam Porta Studio, like everyone. I bought the 4 track to record our band," then called Philistines. "I got a few [Shure SM] 57s and a 58. And I got an AKG D112, and I said, 'Which end does the sound go into?' It's got holes on both sides. Someone said, 'Oh it doesn't matter, either side.' I used it backwards for the first several months. The next machine I bought, the first professional machine, was an Otari MX-7800, a 1" 8 track--huge, like a washing machine. In hindsight, I wish I hadn't sold it."

When they only had their cassette 4 track, the Philistines initially tried recording in a studio. Peter says, "we went and recorded with someone who had a semi-pro setup, which was actually a 1/2" 8 track, in Greenwich, CT. It wasn't good. He wasn't especially that good at what he did, maybe we just weren't that good either. We just wanted to do it ourselves. I think that's why most people learn about recording, so they can record themselves the way they want." Tarquin adds, "being control freaks, we wanted to control all aspects of what we did: the music, the recording, whatever artwork there was gonna be."

"More and more of my friends started asking me to help them record their band, mix, this and that. One time this guy said to me, 'Why don't you become an engineer, because you're really good at this.' And I went, 'Wow, that's the strangest thing I've ever heard. That would be really fun.' It still seemed like too crazy an idea to actually pursue, and I sort of started pursuing it. When I graduated college, I took a class at SUNY Purchase, 10 minutes from the [family] house-Intro to Studio Production. For the lab portion, you could record whomever you wanted, so let's record my band. I think several of those songs ended up on our first record," 1990's Greenwich CT.

Tarquin laughs as he suggests that Peter's class taught him about some of his favorite audio terms, "gain structure, proximity effect, Nyquist theorem." Peter explains a bit more coherently that he learned, "basic studio concepts-signal path. There's a console. There's a tape machine. There's outboard gear. There are microphones. There's a control room. There's a live room. When you're just starting, they're all weird things."

"They didn't have nearfields. Nearfields weren't the newest thing, but they weren't everywhere. They just had these big old speakers--ridiculous, funky things that looked like tanks. You would work on [recordings] all day and they would sound fantastic. We would make a cassette copy of the DAT and bring it down to the parking lot and crank it up and go, 'What the…?' [I] just started to understand that just because it sounds good in one place doesn't mean it sounds good in every place, [and about] referencing it on other [speakers], which to this day is one of my biggest nightmares."

At one class, "Bob Ludwig was a guest lecturer, and he would talk about something called mastering, a part of the recording process that you don't really care [about] or understand. Our teacher kept saying, 'This guy is a really big deal.' People couldn't have cared less about him. I thought he seemed like an interesting guy, but I had no concept that he was the most famous mastering engineer around, and still is to this day. I wish I could be there now and ask him a few questions."

"I had taken those classes at SUNY Purchase, and I just tried really hard. Booked time in the studio, [was] really confused, and just forced myself to figure stuff out. The year after I took the class I got a job as the guy who teaches the labs. I was in a little over my head, for sure. This is an old cliché, but it's incredible how, when you have to teach something, it helps you understand it so much better."

"I feel like I paid my dues as an assistant engineer at big studios in New York, and that's hard work. You learn a lot, but you also take out a lot of garbage and do a lot of really embarrassing stuff, and people treat you like you're a real bozo. I wasn't an annoying assistant, I was a good assistant I think, but I definitely asked a lot of questions. You have to know how to time questions."

"I learned my recording skills at a Japanese studio called Daiichi Kosho, DK Studios in Manhattan, which were the old Sigma Studios. They recorded karaoke music." Tarquin explains, "it was a perfect environment to learn engineering and production. You take the most famous recording in the world, and it's an exercise in recreating the production. It isn't the most artistic thing, but in terms of purely learning the craft of engineering, that's a good way."

Peter continues, "all the engineers, producers, and musicians thought of it as a total joke, but it was a great studio. 3 rooms, with a beautiful vintage 80 series Neve console in one, custom made for George Martin, allegedly. One room had an old broadcast Neve console, and the mixing room had a Neve VR. It was all the best gear, but making this horrible music."

"I got an apartment in Brooklyn. Next thing I knew, I tried to always be recording at my parents' house in Connecticut. It's become a joke. I said, 'Forget it, I'm just moving back home and saving all my money.' For 6 years I just saved every cent I earned. I was not a fun guy. I did not go out a lot."

In 1991, "I bought an AKG 414. I bought a pair of AKG 460s. I had a little Ramsa console that I had for live. I needed a compressor, so I bought what was available, a UREI 1176 and a pair of LA4's. I think the 1176 was 500 bucks and the LA4's were 450. That's all there was. They were used, but that wasn't like some great deal, either."

"I started working at the studio during the week, and recording people on the weekends. I was working pretty hard. There was this great thing where the more I worked, the more money I'd get, the more gear I could buy. It was this endless cycle that really to this day, when I get paid, when I see an amount of money, it always represents a different piece of gear."

"My belief in purchasing gear was always to save up money, and then buy really expensive good things. When you're making an assistant engineer's salary, that's hard--it takes a long time to save up. One of the first things I bought, after I had a 414, I bought these Telefunken V76 preamps. I bought a Neumann M49 microphone. This is before things cost quite as much as they do now. I remember thinking to myself, if I get these things called ADATs which are supposed to be decent quality, they're not going to have any character, like an analog tape. If I create a really amazing signal path, if I have a Neumann M49 tube mic, V76 preamps, a TubeTech CL1B compressor, and an Apogee converter, at the time it was an AD1000, shouldn't I be able to record really good sounding music? It seemed to me like it had to work. It turned out I was right, it did work."

"When ADAT's came out, I bought 2 ADAT's and got rid of the 1" 8 track. People can rag on ADAT's all they want, we've made a lot of records on ADAT's. I made a lot of our records, and a lot of other people's records. In an ideal world, it would be nice to [use] analog. We could not make our records, we could never have made the records we made with tape machines, unless we could hire all sorts of engineers. A lot of the stuff we did when I was completely alone, or just Tarquin and I, or the three of us [with their drummer at the time Adam Pierce] playing, no engineer. Without auto-punching, our records would not sound like they do." Peter had a bad experience, though, with an O2R which he once owned. "I thought it just sounded boring."

"A bunch of years ago, my parents were looking to move. They'd always be looking around at different houses, but they lived in Fairfield County, in Greenwich and Stamford CT, and these were all really expensive houses. Whenever we'd see a sort of inexpensive, small house, I'd say, 'How can we turn this house into a studio?' Our bandmate [in the Zambonis], Dave Schneider, who has donated a lot of his analog synths and different guitars and amps to the studio, said, 'They're giving away houses in Bridgeport,' which is where he lives. 'There's this huge old house that this sort of weird religious group is selling, for sale by owner. You should just come check it out. You could build a studio there.' I checked it out, and it's this house. The first day we saw it, we're like, 'This is incredible,' for a price that you can get a shoebox in New York. It's Bridgeport-it's considered a crappy town, no offense to Bridgeport. Because it's here, I can have this house and studio that I couldn't dream of having most other places." Tarquin adds, "We've found Bridgeport to be a wonderful community."

"The house was built in 1891. It's a huge 7000 square feet Victorian house. The first floor is beautiful, it's very elegant, [with] nice wood floors. I thought it would make a very classy studio, a Daniel Lanois type of deal, but we started running into all the logistical aspects. Soundproofing--we're right on Route 1, it's loud out there. The danger of theft--people could see right in those windows. It's really nice down there, we'd have to destroy it to make it a proper studio. My girlfriend, Mary Guidera of Pee Shy [and now Caulfield Sisters], said, 'You should build it on the third floor in the attic, just knock everything down and build it from scratch.' My dad had liked that idea also. I was like, 'No no, that's a terrible idea. What's so cool is the first floor.' I invited a friend of mine who is a really experienced, professional engineer whose opinion I really respect, Carl Napa. He's got quite a resume-- Wu-Tang Clan, RZA, Limp Bizkit, N'Sync, Van Halen. He's one of my best pals and we play hockey together. He came over and said, 'Why don't you do it in the attic?' I felt really bad for telling my girlfriend off for telling me to do it. She even said, 'You could knock out the attic, and you could have a 16 foot ceiling.' That is what I ended up doing. We knocked down all the walls and ripped out the floor, because you had to-it was trashed. I even consulted with a studio designer, Tatrix, paid them a few hundred dollars to come out and look at the space and tell me what I should do. Their specific design ideas didn't appeal to me, but they gave me some very valuable technical information about insulating and soundproofing. They said if they were to design it, it would have cost like 300 thousand dollars, which is like 10 times my budget."

"I remember I was sitting here with no walls and no floors, sitting on the joists, and looking at the wide open space, and saying, 'How the heck am I gonna lay this out? What's gonna be the control room and what's gonna be the live room.' The way it ended up being is absolutely the last way I expected it to be. I wanted the bathroom and the other rooms to be off of the control room. It just didn't work, no matter how I broke it up. I thought I could have a smaller control room and a really big live space. I just arrived at this. The dimensions of this [control] room, naturally, are excellent. [There is a formula where] you put in the width, the length, and the height of the room and it spits out numbers in columns. You compare those columns, and if you have overlapping frequencies, you know you might have a problem in that frequency. If you put in these dimensions, it comes up perfect in the formula. The natural dimensions of the room are great for a control room. It's worked out really well. I love having a really big control room. That's key to part of the experience here--a lot of room to work. You spend so much time in the control room. So many records after basic tracks you do almost everything in the control room. You can sit over there in the corner, still totally be involved or not be involved. Scott Litt was here and he was walking around to every corner of the room while I cranked music. He's sitting in the corner going, 'Man, I can mix from back here-in the corner of the room.'"

"What was up here was pretty trashed, so we had to sort of do it from scratch--demolished what was up here and put in a new sub-floor, a half-inch of plywood, half-inch layer of sound board, another half inch layer of plywood. In the control room I put wall-to-wall carpeting. In the live room, I knew I couldn't afford a wood floor, so I didn't know what I was going to do. I was trying to figure out different things. I went to Home Depot, and I figured out that with a certain kind of wood floor I could afford it. I think it turned out great."

"What was hard is that when I started to do it, people warned me. When I say people warned me, you can almost always take that as meaning my dad warned me, 'It's going to cost twice as much as you think, and it's going to take twice as long, no matter what you think.' I thought, no no no. we can do it, X amount of time, X amount of money. It cost more than twice as much and took more than twice as long, more like three times, almost."

"It's in a lot of ways a professional studio equipment-wise. It's professional space-wise--it's big, but it is just a home. It has a very home-y low-key feeling. Bands have told me they don't feel a lot of the same stress that they might in a glossier studio. You just feel the clock ticking. You feel the money that you're spending. Some people want to feel that. They want to go to the Hit Factory in New York and know that this is the big time. [When] bands come here, they just relax. It feels like you're just in your house recording, but with really good equipment, and with enough space that you don't get claustrophobic. There's loads of natural daylight. I enjoy the whole Star Trek syndrome, like you're on the spaceship, no windows, you never know what time it is. I can deal with that, but other bands come and they rave about how much they like the natural light, so I think it is important to a lot of people."

Tarquin Studios employs a Neotek board and an old Studer 2" deck. The Neotek "is what you call a vintage console. Vintage can mean many things, one of which is tell the client to look over there while you whack the switch. It's an early 80s 3C, 27 input, 24 bus. I think it's a great sounding console. It's a beast maintenance-wise. A lot of switches get dirty and flaky. When I do the stem mixing into ProTools and have to use a lot of buses, it can be really scary when there's a really complicated mix up on the board, and all of the sudden, the bus that you need to work on a certain channel just doesn't work. 'OK, for the drum bus, I'll switch to this bus and change all the other things.' If you're sending to a compressor and bringing it back on another fader, they just get really complicated. [The board] was shipped from California on a truck. I said, 'Is that dangerous,' [and people replied,] 'Yeah, it could get destroyed.' What are really the odds of that? How often does stuff get destroyed? It got destroyed in shipping. The insurance value barely paid. It cost as much to fix it as it would have been to have it totaled, but I wanted that console. That was going to be the centerpiece of the studio. I didn't think I could use my Soundcraft Spirit 24. It wasn't the centerpiece of a professional studio. I think it was a great sounding console." He finds the Neotek "quiet, clean. It's very transparent. It's very open sounding."

The Studer "weighs over 600 pounds. It's an old A80 Mark II, with a Mark III headstack. I was talking to a guy named Fletcher, who has a company called Mercenary Audio. He had the same console that I have. He said what a great console it was but how maintenance-wise it sucked. I asked him about the tape machine, and I go, 'It's a Mark II, but it's got the Mark III headstack.' He goes, 'That means you can punch in line by line instead of verse by verse.' That's my one problem with that tape machine. If a band wants to work beginning to end, just on the 2" machine, punching out is just such a nightmare. It's really sluggish. You can do it, but it's something to keep in mind. All machines can punch in OK, but this machine punches out very badly."

"All of these compressors are completely different from one another. The TubeTech I think is a great vocal compressor and a great bass compressor. It's a very smooth compressor. The Neve 33609 is very transparent. Those are similar sounding words, but they're different. I used to use the Neve on the stereo bus when I mixed, because at the studio where I worked they did, and I used it on everything. I sort of learned that it doesn't always make it sound better. Now I never use it on the stereo bus. I don't like it for that. I now use it just as two different compressors. It's pretty versatile. The 1176 is a great all-around compressor. I'm an enormous fan of pushing all 4 buttons in. I live by that sound. It's a great vocal compressor, generally a great compressor. The LA4's are my most limited compressor, I find, and I'm not making a pun. If you want a 20 to 1 brick wall thing, they're pretty good at that. I find the attack and release are sluggish. They're not my favorite. The Distressors are really cool. They're obviously by nature, very versatile. I use them on everything. [I use] the dbx 162, the stereo version of the 160, almost exclusively for drums."

"Compression is one of those things that definitely takes the longest. Just when you think you understand it, two years later you look back and say, 'Man I didn't know what the hell I was doing.' When I first started using compression, I'd be like, 'Why can't I get faster attack?' and now I find myself using slower and slower attack and faster and faster release. Compression can really be your friend. Part of why compression is appealing is because of the way we're used to hearing music. Some people come into my studio and they don't want to make the strangest new music. They want their music to sound like other music they like. And part of that is a lot of compression on things. I do use a lot of compression."

"I still work largely on NS10's. I started recording when the little Tannoy nearfields, the PBM 6.5s, were all the rage. Those were the first speakers I owned. I used those for years. Those speakers were so bright, and also a little extra bottom, and no low-mids. You'd mix things that sounded great, and you'd bring them everywhere else and they'd be mud. I learned to have to mix so bright that it killed me. I bought NS10's, hated the way they sounded, but still worked on them anyway. I got sick of NS10s, said, 'I can't take it anymore,' and I stopped using them, and used Tannoys and used these little Dynaudio Acoustic nearfields, the cheapest one BM5, that my friend lent me. They're still on loan. I moved into the studio, and just when I was trying to get things up and running, I put up the NS10s, just in case I made a mistake and they blew up. I said, 'Aw, at least I'll just blow up the NS10s, I won't feel so bad.' All the sudden I got really into NS10s again, and they're still my main speaker I work off of in a lot of ways. NS10s are very midrangey. They don't have a lot of nice top at all. They're really fatiguing because of all the midrange. I try not to listen to them too much or listen to them too loudly. NS10s are good just for that very reason. If they sound good on NS10s, it's more likely to sound good other places."

"I'd always wanted to save up for some Dynaudio Acoustic midfields, like the BM15s, big nearfields, or the M1.5s, slightly bigger, more full-range speakers. My friend Carl Napa called me, said, 'I know a guy, Sound Station Seven, this studio in Rhode Island. They've got a pair of speakers in a crate in the basement, they're just sitting there. Dynaudio M3s.' I know what those are, because I've also done some work at the Hit Factory in New York. One of the mastering rooms had the speakers. I remember Carl and I used to go in there and gawk and say, 'Look, those are the ultimate speakers.' Anyway, he's got those speakers. I'm like, 'I know what those are but I can't afford those.' I got a pretty good deal on them, and he was selling the power amp that goes with them, a Cord power amp. New these speakers are over 10 grand, and the power amp's over 6 or 7 grand. New it's a 17 or 18000 dollar setup. The studio was up and running for about 9 months, I had just paid off most of my debts. I was starting to save a little money. The guy said he'd sell me the whole thing for $10000, which is still an insane amount of money, the most I've ever paid for anything, more than the console, more than the Studer. I just thought I'd do it, and put myself right back in the hole. I think that's the way you have to do a studio. When you start your studio, it's not complete, but by being not complete, you learn what you're missing. I was missing a bigger set of monitors--not just to show me low-end when I mixed. If someone is in the control room overdubbing, sometimes they need more volume--this is a big room--than the little nearfields can give them. I think they're pretty cool speakers. Even the stands cost like $500. That's when you know you're getting over your head. Sometimes you'll play something on them and you'll go, 'Wow, it's kind of muddy because these are really big speakers.' No, it's because it's muddy. They take some getting used to. Some people say they're too good. I don't think they're too good, because I have a harder time making it sound good on there than on the nearfields. If you make em loud enough, you can do that with any speaker. You can say they're too good that way, you can get it so loud that it sounds good. I don't listen to em that loudly."

While Peter spends a lot of time thinking about his monitors, he also trusts his car to help him learn to hear mixes better. "I love having that car, because if it's not too muddy there, it's not too muddy anywhere. That's my biggest fight. Some people want mixes bright at all cost. I guess I don't want it muddy, but worse than muddy would be too bright. I have the horrible little brother Tarquin looming over me, who is totally obsessed with things being too bright. If I happen to make the mistake of pushing it a little too bright instead of not quite bright enough, he's all over it. It can be the world's greatest recording, if the hi-hat's too bright, he'll say it sucks. If the vocal has any sibilance, he'll say it sucks. The car that we used to listen to, my parents' old mini-van, had this harshness in the upper mids, that would bring that stuff out. You really had to have pretty damn good mixes for this bozo not to tell you that it sucked. You grow to appreciate almost any car stereo, except for my father's car's car stereo, which was such a horrible sounding stereo. There were many albums that could not be listened to in that car. That early '90s Flaming Lips album, great album and great production but harsh sounds, you could not listen to in that car. There was no way to have it loud enough that you could hear it, and not have it hurt you."

"The reason I ended up buying the Lexicon 224, [SUNY Purchase] had a Lexicon 224. It's one of the first big Lexicon digital reverbs. I also have a PCM 70 and a PCM 60. I'm not a big reverb guy. The reverbs I use the most by far are the Roland space echo and the AKG BX10 spring reverb. They're both sort of crackly sounding in that way. I like the 224, the problem is it's not really good for small reverbs. You have to want sort of biggish reverb, you've got to want REVERB to use it. It's grainier and cracklier sounding than new ones, in a good way. The PCM 70 I just don't love, but a lot of people love it, I don't know."

"The way I discovered room sounds, and room micing, was totally by accident. I was recording that album Bingham's Hole for the Mommyheads. We were going back and forth between guitar overdubs and vocal overdubs. We were switching to guitar, and I accidentally had the mic, the U87 I borrowed, across the room, on. We heard the guitar through that, instead of the 57, and went 'WHOA.' We brought up the 57 also, and panned them, and went, 'Look what we've discovered.' And then when I discovered what compression could do to room mics, I became very excited."

One new technology that excites Peter is his auto-tuning software. "We've never used auto-tuning on any of our records because we haven't recorded that recently. I have mixed a lot of records recently where I have used the auto-tuning function a lot. I don't mean the stand-alone, which I own, which is extremely limited, and I can understand why people are scared of it. The plug-in is incredibly powerful. I have used it a lot, and it has saved records. You can argue, 'Their singer's just not good.' That's right. But there are a lot of bands that record today that have a lot of valid musical ideas and good bands, but they're just not great singers. It's not going to make you sing well, but it just saves you sometimes. Sometimes it just doesn't save you."

"Most of the time [singing accurate notes] is important. It's usually an exception when it's not important, but there are many exceptions, [like] James Kochalka Superstar. Even James, though, we have to ride his butt to get him to get him in key. He's one million times better than he was a few years ago. It's important that [his songs] be in key, to an extent. Do they have to be perfect, absolutely not. Some of them can be quite out of key, but if all of his songs were really out of key, it would not be fun to listen to."

" I tried to pitch correct a vocal the other day, by a band that was very resistant to it, but I did some of it, and they actually turned out to be really happy about it. I tried to do this one track at the end, and it was strangely recorded. It was just too overdriven, a very lo-fi recording." His auto-tuning software could not track the vocal pitches.

"I only have the Digi001. Lately I've started mixing to the ProTools and it's really hard to go back. I use 24 buses on my console. When I'm mixing off the tape, I'm mixing through the analog console. I'm using analog EQ, I'm using analog compressors, and then going into the ProTools. It's not like recording to ProTools in a way. Once it's in the computer, you can sort of mix it again, without losing a generation, which I think is just unbelievable. You basically get automation too. Once you've mixed it into the computer a certain way, you can't undo a lot of things, there are things you've comped together. I use those 8 inputs they give you, the 8 A to D converters, and then I also use the two digital SPDIF ins. I use my Apogee PSX-100, which is a great converter, so that's 10 tracks worth. They also give you an ADAT optical in, which is 8 tracks of optical, so I use an ADAT as my A to Ds. I can record up to 18 tracks into the ProTools. I don't think they wanted you to be able to do that. When I use an ADAT, a 20 bit, XT20 as the front end for those 8 tracks, those tracks sound noticeably worse than the 24 bit converters in the Apogee, but it's just tough not to. I love having that control. So often you'll do mixes, and the reason you feel you have to re-mix is something minor. There's just a little too much bass, or there's a bad snare hit, or there's one vocal thing that pops out too hard. Those are things that in ProTools you can fix so easily it's insane. If you actually try to remix a song to fix a small problem, you can never get back to your actual mix. [Even] if you have total recall on a Neve VR console, it's not going to be the same thing."

"There are a lot of pitfalls, certain dangers of ProTools, that people warn you about. A lot of the points are really valid. The only way you really learn them is to experience them. I've done that. We're trying to lay down the drums for a song. We were thinking, 'This is a hard song, what if we just have you play a section of it really well and then we'll loop it and that'll be fine.' We kept doing that and it just sounded terrible. We kept trying it all different ways. Finally we said, and this sounds like a cliché, 'Sometimes you have to do it.' Sometimes you can cut stuff and paste it and loop it and it works great, but we had to just turn off the click and say play it live in one pass, and that was the only way we could make it sound good. The key is just to use the power of that technology, but don't be a bozo. Don't do things differently than you'd do them normally just because you can. I know, especially from making my own music, that if you cut and paste stuff, it becomes incredibly boring, even if the listener doesn't know why. A lot of our music involves incredibly repetitive overdubbing, where you're playing the same thing over and over and over and over. The fact that you're playing it, and your timing and your feel is slightly changing constantly, defines how that recording sounds. There's no way it would sound the same if you just cut and pasted. Boring." Tarquin interjects, "I don't think craft is necessarily the best thing in all cases. I still think my craft is at a point where you don't have to worry too much about being too slick."

"I like recordings that sound natural, like real instruments, but sound really good, really full and big. I like big, fat snare drums. In general, I think my recordings err on the side of being too clean and transparent and open and clear. That's just sort of naturally the way I record. I tend to make things too pristine, unless I really try to mess things up. And I really do try to mess things up all the time. Lately I'm more and more blown away by '60s and '70s recordings, where the bass guitar and the kick drum and the snare drum are so thumpy sounding and fat, without being muddy, in a way that you don't hear anymore today. More and more now I roll high end off of my kick drum. Hi-hats are, of course, the most evil thing ever invented, and I'd just like to say to all the drummers out there, there's nothing wrong with ride cymbals."

"I did an album with a band, they had a great experience, loved doing the record. They said how nice it was to work with me because I cared about their music. Of course I care, that is my job. Even if I don't care, I have to find a way to make myself care. They said that the last engineer they had, this is his classic line, they'd do a take and they'd go, 'Was that OK, was that good enough?' and he'd go, 'It's on tape.' That was his answer. I think that's a huge skill that I had to learn, especially as I started to become a more professional engineer and charge more money. A lot of bands I record, most of the bands I record are indie rock bands that are paying either their really small recording budget or out of their pockets, from a really poor indie label. This money means a lot to them, it's not like it's just money, so I better really care about what I'm doing and really try hard. Even if I'm not that into a project, I will find a way to be really into it."