|Sometime around Christmas '93, I moved
back to the Washington, DC area, searched for a local gig for a few months, and started
contemplating the biz and what I really wanted at this point. If someone would have
offered me a record I probably would have jumped on it, but really I needed a break.
I landed the house gig at a local auditorium and got to see a side of the biz I had missed living in a room with no windows for eight years. I still was into music gigs, but I also got to do theatre, ballet, pageants, book signings, and anything else that came through the door. Hey, I learned something new. I was also the maintenance guy and fixed everything in sight. Sure it sucked most of the time, but I got paid a lot more per hour than any staff studio gig I ever had.
In late 1994 I joined Omega Studios as a part time instructor. They're a DC institution that started a recording school years ago to augment income. It's a tough town for studios, too close to NYC I always thought, and rate paying clients are hard to come by. The ADAT age doesn't help either. Well I taught rock and roll recording to goofs who didn't have a clue and basically wasted their parents money ($6K for the full deal). After 6-8 months I became a full staff guy and I wish I'd have known what I was getting into.
Having been on staff at one of the best studios in the world (A&M) and pretty spoiled, working for a second rate operation sucked big time. The management touted the place as "world class" and exploited my background to the prospects (which pissed me off), but really the place was the pits. A lot of studios hang up their gold records, Whee!!. This joint had one gold record and hung up all the CD covers from the low budget label-less stuff they recorded. World class, huh. I had more gold records than they did after 25 years as a studio.
Well in a year and a half at this dump, I did one project of worth (see below) and frittered away teaching, recording "audio" business cards, and some shitty demos for hopeless goofs who thought they were in the bigs, just by working at Omega.
The owner was a real tightwad and refused to do the normal upkeep on most of the equipment. If something major went, he'd fix it. But most of the little things went to shit. All the engineer's had to deal with it and I was pretty vocal about it. So one day I got the job of fixing all the droopy mic stands (which all needed to be replaced), and of course after complaining for 6 months I wasn't going to do it. Well it was a setup for that old insubordination rap and a few weeks later I got fired. I think it was a blessing. I still talk to Rick the tech occasionally (a great guy) and a few others but the place hasn't been the same since Billy Brady left. I think he was Omega.
Some good ones:
I got called into the boss's office one day for calling one of the female students "babe". She said I was harassing her (must be the 90's). Pretty goofy after having worked in LA for 5 years.
Somebody replaced all the tubes with solid state circuits in everything that had'em at some point. Pultec's, the Leslie, A U47, and more. Good move!!.
The owner basically gave away a Neve 2254 compressor as "that old piece of shit".
Peter Davis - Fall 1995/Spring 1996
I guess I'm a magnet for projects from hell, for Omega brought me into another one in the fall of '95. Peter Davis, from Lund, Sweden, came to the good ol' USA to complete his project which started in Europe. A good songwriter and singer, it was a relief to work on something that actually had quality. He came with a small entourage which included his goofball manager and a friend who was acting as producer.
He had six or seven tracks and we did guitar/vocal/misc overdubs for about 3 months and basically screwed around a lot. The studio didn't really know what to think. I moved into my normal working mode (louder than hell), and found this big UREI power amp in the shop to use for my NS-10's. Even I couldn't turn it up all the way. The slap machines were running again, old echo was used exclusively, and we were back. Peter thought it was great and most of the ruff's from the API days were pretty powerful. I still have a ruff of "Alice" where I played the guitar solo and use it to test speakers when I go to a new room. It sounds damn good!
Omega sells a package deal where you record in C and mix in one of the more expensive rooms as to rape more cash out of the victim. We'd gone 48 track by now and I don't think the studio had ever made a slave, so when it came mix time we had a problem Houston - over. I wanted to mix on the API and to keep a really long story short, the studio refused to just roll a machine from another room in for the 2nd 24 track, so their idea was to transfer to Mitsu 32 and mix in studio A. Well Peter let it go down but would have none of that digital doo-doo, so around and around it went and where it stops? Well it stopped 4 months later at Dreamland in NY where he finally mixed with the staff 2nd and made a bunch of CD's which he still had in his closet last time I talked to him. He moved back to Sweden.
So much for a bunch of good tracks.