With so many solid records coming out of Bauer Mansion this year, it seemed like the perfect time to have studio owner and engineer Eric Bauer tell us about five of the projects that he enjoyed working on the most.
"There's definitely an SF groove that runs through all these records," he said in our recent interview. “I'm not sure if it's the weather, or the ocean, or what. But the studio somehow brings it all together."
Thee Oh Sees, 'Castlemania' (In The Red)
Bauer: 'Castlemania' was a marathon; we mixed like 16 songs in two days. John [Dwyer] is a machine. He keeps you on your toes; so much vigor. If you met his mom, you'd see where he gets it from. He was just like “Bam! Bam! Bam!” He'd say, “Come on, let's do sax! Now let's do bass! Now let's do organ!” He's very honest and upfront, so he tells you exactly how he stands on a recording.
He can be pretty intense if you're not used to how he works. We're bros, so if we get in a fight, it's not a big deal. We just yell at each other for a minute. It's all for the good of the record, and this record turned out awesome. Nobody really knows this, but I actually started recording an Oh Sees record a few years ago, but it got erased! I have no idea how that happened!
Sic Alps, 'Sic Alps' (Drag City)
Bauer: This album's one of the only albums I've done where I think it sounds exactly like what I was going for. One of my favorite albums ever is Pretty Things' “Parachute.” I wanted to go for that classic '70s sound, but it actually took a while to convince Mike (Donovan, of Sic Alps), who's used to recording on a Tascam 8-track. It took time for him to adjust, but after we started laying down tracks, he started to get it.
I wanted to make the songs so you could actually hear them. Mike's a brilliant writer. His lyrics are amazing, and you could never hear that in his old records. I was bummed by that. You could always hear the songs on the demos, and then he'd run it all through this ginormous reverb tank, which would push everything back and blur it all.
There was a curve we had to get past. He didn't see my vision at first, I didn't see his, so it took a few months for us to finally come together. We fought a lot, as buddies do, but not in a bad way. We're both opinionated and aren't afraid to speak our minds. But everything finally clicked, and it turned out great.
Ty Segall & White Fence, 'Hair' (Drag City)
Bauer: This was super fun. I've worked with Ty for a while now -- he's amazing. But I had never met Tim (Presley, of White Fence) before, and he was really reluctant to come into the studio. In the past, he's done everything on a 4-Track. But after a couple days in the studio, he was like “Oh man, this sounds amazing!”
Again, we were trying for that classic '70s sound. It took us like three months to do it, because they were both between tours, but it was really only like seven days. They each brought in some songs and they kinda jammed out a few tunes on the spot. They didn't even really say anything, it just fell together.
I remember Ty did the interlude between “Scissor People” and “Tongues” real quick. He came down, full of energy, and was like, “I got this great idea. Okay, hook up this drum kit and blah blah blah.” He played four measures, stopped, then played four measures on guitar, stopped, and then did the same on a few other instruments. Then he said, “Alright, let's put it all together.”
It was fun watching Ty go nuts. Both these dudes are shredders!
Heavy Cream, 'Super Treatment' (Infinity Cat)
Bauer: This was a whirlwind. We blasted it out in like five days. Ty (Segall) brought them down one night, we set everything up and then just went for it. I think we had everything tracked in like two days. Then we went back to do overdubs, and then the last two days we were just mixing. Then they were gone. They even played a show while they were here, which was pretty fun.
Ty and I worked together on it. When we do that, he'll be behind the board, and I'll be setting up mics and compressors, tuning drums, and all that. We work together great. And the band was great. They had so much energy. We blew through it.
With any project, I always think it can be better, but Ty's always like “No dude, it's done!” It's hard for me to stop because I'll just keep trying to get things bigger, better and different. With the time constraints on this record, I couldn't do that. We just had to let it go, but it turned out to be an amazing, loud record. (Check out our interview with Heavy Cream's Tiffany Minton here.)
Coconut, 'Coconuts' (Land And Sea)
One of the dudes in Coconut, Justin, wrote this tune. He did the vocals, and wasn't really satisfied with it. He said, “I was kinda thinking more like a 3 a.m. vocal for this one.” So I said, “Cool, let's do that.” So him and one of the other guys came over at like 2 a.m. with a bottle of whiskey and a 12 pack of beer. I set up the mics and we started drinking.
We did it in the mix room, and I turned off all the lights. We just let the lights from all the equipment guide us. We kept drinking and drinking, and we couldn't get the vocals right. At like 4 a.m., we were all pretty well off on the booze. Justin was like, “Come on, let me try it once more!” So we started it again.
He nailed the first verse, and then he totally missed the second verse when it came around. I couldn't see what was going on because all the lights were off, so I stopped the tape, and was like, “Justin, dude, you fucking missed it!” When I went in, all I could hear was him snoring. I turned on the lights, and he was passed out. We were done for the night.
Follow Elliott Sharp on Twitter for more news and updates.
- How a small studio in San Francisco is defining garage rock
- The Hives are still bloody smashing
- Red Bull Soundstage: Discover Emerging Artists