Bauer Mansion, a small recording studio located in San Francisco's Chinatown, has recently been cranking out some kick-ass rock records.
This year alone, Bauer Mansion is responsible for exceptional releases by Heavy Cream, Ty Segall, White Fence and Sic Alps. In the past, Bare Wires, the Moonhearts, the Mantles and Thee Oh Sees have worked at what's quickly becoming the go-to studio for garage-rock bands looking to walk away with a killer record.
Studio founder Eric Bauer, 37, moved to San Francisco in 1999. He started a monthly experimental music series called Clit Stop at the Mission warehouse where he lived.
The only rule was to keep people guessing, so he booked everything from free jazz to harsh noise, noise-rock to electronic music, and bands like Deerhoof, Lightning Bolt and the Lowdown. “Clit Stop brought a lot of strange people together,” says Bauer. “And that was the point.”
In 2003, while still living in the Mission warehouse, Bauer made his first recording. It was for one of his old bands, Crack (We Are Rock). Then his friend Adam Stonehouse moved in, so Bauer recorded an album for Stonehouse's band, the Hospitals.
“I just started acquiring gear,” remembers Bauer. “And I just started fiddling around with shit. I didn't have much money, so I bought a lot of used, 1970s equipment. That's my favorite period of music recording, so most of my records now sound like the '70s. Everything I do is tape; it makes it easier, and, to my ears, it sounds much better.”
Under the name Bauer Mansion, he moved the studio to Chinatown around 2009. His first recording in the new space was “Melted” by his close pal (and studio collaborator) Ty Segall. “This was the record that really kicked things off,” he says. “I started feeling much more confident after this one.”
Many of the artists Bauer works with – like Segall, Thee Oh Sees and Sic Alps – are San Francisco-based (though he does occasionally work with out-of-towners, like Nashville's Heavy Cream and Memphis's Ex-Cult).
“Everybody in SF hangs out together,” he says. “There's even some friendly competition! Sic Alps did a double LP on Drag City, and then John of Thee Oh Sees was like 'Fuck you, I'm gonna do a double,' and so 'Castlemania' was a double. And then Ty was like 'Fuck you, I'm gonna do one,' and so 'Slaughterhouse' was a double.”
“There's definitely an SF groove that runs through all these records,” he continues. “I'm not sure if it's the weather, or the ocean, or what. But the studio somehow brings it all together.”
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