I built several rooms while in the studio
business all of them called Alpha Studios Inc. The first began in my
home in North Hollywood and was rebuilt in Burbank 5 years on.. It was
a great time and putting together rooms was a highlight of my career.
Today most studios are either out of business or going out due to the
non-functionality of the music business model.
My partner Denny Shaw was a great tech
with me at the Magnolia Alpha and one of the most interesting studio
experiences was buying and installing a Calrec UA-8000 console to find
the AMS automation did not work properly.
This slowly killed off most of our projects
until Denny interfaced an SSL G series system in it's place. A feat
which even SSL scoffed at until we announced it's completion. At that
point some heads rolled at SSL. It worked great!
We continued until we got tired of the
"studio biz" and sold in 2003. Like buying an airplane, one
of my other passions, a recording studio is the most exciting thing
you can ever own when new and in the end, the most happily sold.
Recordings & Productions 1996
"Retrobeast", Play On Album" Producer/Engineer
"Retrobeast", Cloud Factory Album" Produce/Engineer (www.cdbaby.com/cd/retrobeast)
"All Around The World" "Pen Culture, Producer
(Earth Island Records)"
"Red Hot Chili Peppers" Re-Mix "Love Rollercoaster
4"Bevis & Butt-head Do America" Brig Mo-Pic
"BECK" Re-Mix,"Devil's Haircut", for British
release, Geffen Records/Dave Donnely
"Michael McCarty Album "Voices" , Producer (Earth
Recordings through 1996
"Harmony Innocence" Giant Records four sides
"Howard Hewitt" Re-mix & recording
"Secret Adventures" 2 hour film - 27 cues. All
"New Mexico Tourism" 14 cues / 1 hour film. All
through 1995 "Tracy Spencer" R&B Song of
the Year, "Musicbox" , Capitol, all recording
"Willie & Lobo" Album, #2 in Billboard International
chart 1/94 all recording
"Charlie Musclewhite revisited" album, all recordings
"Billy Graham" 1 hour film, all recordings
"American Detective" TV 24 shows, all recording
"Pop Staples" 3 songs produced by Ry Cooder,
Blues artist of the year, All Recording
"Ry Cooder" various film project recordings
Older Recordings Prior to 1992
1979 in my home studio
Most recent article FYI: http://www.housequake.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=56697
"Kenny G", "Silhouette" Sax recording "Michael Bolton"
,"Soul Provider" Lead Vocal Recording. "Robbie Dupree", "Steal away"/
"Hot rod Hearts" co-produced-enginnered. "Steve Goodman" , 1978 through 82, all recorded work. "Prince", "I
Wanna be your lover" first hit album, Warner Bros. "Dr. John" "Gumbo"
album, Atlantic co-engineered with Keith Olson. "Gordon Lightfoot, "If
you could read my mind" album, Reprise, all recording. "Stoneground"(WB), "Savage Grace" (WB), "Neil Diamond", "Brooklyn Roads". "
Ike & Tina Turner", Album (Black -White). 5th Ave Band, "Little Feat",
"Neil Young", John Sebastian", " The Turtles" , "Strawberry Alarm clock",
"Stoneground", "Beau Brummels / Sal
Valentino,", Ian Witcomb-David Mallot, First commercial success/recording:
"Bobby Gentry" , "Ode to Billy Joe" , Some favorite recordings from Sunwest:UnknownartistWatchtower.mp3
by Donn Landee
Picture 1969 working at Sunwest
The console at the time was a custom Electrodyne/Langevin
built by Robert Mahoney. Bob was the first chief maintenance for this
studio and was responsible for my first Hollywood gig there. He was
a great friend.
I grew up on Pultec EQs and Teletronix LA2As
plus a host of tube mics. It was common gear for us then and now it's
beloved vintage gear.
In the 60s it was a challenge for an engineer
to find new sounds for rock and contemporary artists. I met Donn Landee
during this time who was working for the Ami Hadani/TTG Studios on La
Brea Hollywood. Oddly he had just been terminated.Donn claimed it had
to do with a groupie and Engineer Bruce Botinic, who knows? He wandered
in to Sunwest one day and I convinced the owners to hire him at Sunwest.
From there he went on to work with bands like Doobies & Van Halen
before he retired in the late 80s.
Others I worked with early on:
David Mallot 1968 (Producer)
Gary Usher 1969 (Producer)
Lenny Waronker 1969 (Producer)
Joe Wissert 1969 (Producer)
Van Dyke Parks 1970 (Artist)
Jules Alexander, 1969 (The association)
It's a bit embarresing but here
are a few songs from our band in the '60s "SMALL WORLD". Band members
were Myself Guitar-Vocals, John Gulack Drums, Denny Shaw-Guitar, David
Holeman-Keys, Brian Coffey-Bass. (All transferred from old lacquer dubs
in VERY poor shape). Sorry about that. It's all that exists.
42 Produced and recorded by
LIFE YOU LEAD Produced by Clancy Grass and Bob Mahoney
I THINK I'D DIE First ever vocal
band (Gary & the Fugitives) and first ever recording. Written and
produced by band. Engineered by Paul Gettys Early Pic as kids:
In bands through early High School: Began working in studio training
during High School -Pacific Challenger, Element 1966-67, Went to work
Sunwest Studios Hollywood 67-70, Sound City 72-76, Began Alpha studios
(A good read... and it's true from the
A Battle of the Bands rock story from
1964 right after the Beatles invaded music in the states. By
Gary Brandt, Musician/Producer. __
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __
I was 14 in a mediocre band and played
electric guitar, did some vocals too. I had blond hair, short with bangs
in front and looked typical California surfer. I did surf. I got a call
from a friend, Paul Getty, who told me his brother Dave had signed us
up in at a battle the band's 30 minutes drive south of where we lived
in the San Gabriel Valley, California.
In the summer of 1964 and everyone was
raving about the new British invasion bands, especially one called Beatles.
I went to a summer camp three weeks earlier and had taken my acoustic
guitar with me. The camp speakers blared endless Beatle tracks which
daily blanketed the campus airwaves. I could play along usually and
learned most of those tunes. We would later play them at our gigs in
the years following. When I got home, in came the phone call from Dave.
"You wanna try playing at this battle the bands"? "You have to play
bass", he asked. I told him I never played bass before but Dave began
a major pitch to me that it was no biggie finally ending with, "just
fake it, we have an ace in the hole". "OK Dave" I 'll do it. Where is
it and what time"? "1:PM on Saturday at a mall parking lot in Pico Rivera".
I remember playing there once before doin surf music. Our 3 piece band
had won 3rd place. I think there were only three bands battling. I was
slightly impressed because t""The Carpenters" had Won it there once,
or was that in Alhambra... Don't remember. Anyway... "Who's playin drums"
I asked Dave once again? "Have a friend named Ed Michelek". "His dad
works for Columbia Records as an audio engineer and he built him a custom
drum riser and got him a 'real' hair Beatle wig from the props department.
Ed's dyein to show it off". Dave had mentioned earlier that Ed actually
owned a new set of "Ringo Starr" Oyster Black Pearl Ludwig drums his
dad bought him. It all sounded like more fun than a human should be
allowed to have so I easily gave in. Saturday rolled around quickly.
I got a call again from Dave at 9am who said he'd pick me up soon. "Look
for my 58 Chevy, pink-white two tone in front of your house at around
11". I had no idea what I was going to play nor did we rehearse a note.
I knew that original tunes require some advanced thought but I was convinced
Paul's brother, who I totally respected, knew exactly what he was doing.
After all, he was older than me and had a real job. Dave was a sound
freak like his brother Paul. Paul was a part time audio engineer who
worked in a small studio in Arcadia California to support himself while
in college. I met him there 6 months prior when our band booked his
studio for like 10 bucks an hour and recorded our first live, original
vocal song. I had just turned 14. I remember walking into the control
room on Live Oak Ave in Arcadia, California. It was VERY cool. I asked
Paul a bunch of questions and learned allot about recording that day.
The studio included a custom vacuum tube recording console with rotary
pots. This was gear not unlike what EMI used to record most of the British
bands on radio at the time. This stuff would be worth a fortune today.
Had I only known. All of it was configured with Altec 604E speakers
for two track on two track recording. Oh.. & lets NOT forget the TWO
Beatle U47 Telefunken tube mics which hung on giant stands in the middle
of the 20 x 20' room. Altec A7s sat on the floor in the corners. Pauls
favorite trick was to put tape slap on our vocals and feed it back through
the room to surprise us. The sound was incredible. I guess this is what
sparked my early sound interest and I'm sure it all really started there
for me. I have done engineering and production ever since and collected
similar gear. I use it to this day on bands like Retrobeast. Dave had
worked there a few times helping his brother but his main gig then was
with the JBL speaker company whose early years location was in an old
brick building in Glendale next railroad tracks, as I recall. Even in
the '60s, the older guys all had to have day gigs or the parents would
boot them out on the street. It was the "support your own damn self
mentality days" "summertime Blues" remember the song? I was just a freshman
in High school fortunately. Saturday morning in No. El Monte where I
lived next to my High School, Arroyo High came early. I heard the horn,
looked out to see this cherry 58 Chevy Bel Air, pink and white as advertised.
I grabbed 1/2 my amp and guitar, a Fender Showman and Duo-Sonic guitar.
We carefully loaded them into Daves trunk. Dave had to move this gorgeous
64, pink, Fender Precision Bass to give my speaker cabinet some space.
Proud of his instrument, he opened up the case to show me. Funny how
the color matched his car! "You'll be playing this, I'll play your guitar".
"Anything you say man, let's do it". We headed for Hacienda Heights
where Ed the drummer lived. When we got there Ed was loading the last
of his drums, a brand new set of Oyster Black Pearl Ringo Starr Ludwig
drums his dad sprang for just as Dave claimed. Ed had real short hair
and looked like a marine, not for long. He reached in a window, now
completely loaded with drums and grabbed this dark brown, real hair
Beatle wig. "Going in the house for a minute to check myself, be right
back", Ed proudly quipped. He was in & out in 1 minute as stated. "You
want to ride with me, looking me in the face? I turned to Dave and he
said "Gary go with him because I have to get gas anyway and you can
help Ed set up". Seemed logical to me. Eds Dad came out to watch his
son bound out the door with hair on. "Ok you guys, have fun". He was
sort of laughing and seemed to REALLY enjoy the whole thing. "Good luck...
later", he yelled. Was about 12 noon. We had to make the gig by one
or be disqualified. Eds car was a Corvair station wagon, light blue,
new condition. It was his dad's car actually and loaned to Ed for the
gig. The round drum riser his dad made was hinged and folded up perfectly
into the car with seat taken out or folded down, don't remember which.
Anyway, the Ludwig pearl drums could easily be seen from any window
of the car and we felt GREAT! So... on we went, cruisin down the street.
I chatted with Ed as we drove concerned about the songs. I asked him
how long he'd been playing and exchanged the typical banter of two unlikely
musicians for the first time. Since I had no idea what we're going to
play I asked him and he said, "yes, he had practiced the tunes before".
But I soon figured out he didn't know anything about chords. Cutting
the conversation short he just said, "Hey they're pretty easy and you
won't have a problem". Of that I was certainly NOT convened. It was
about a 30 minute ride to get to the venue. It was a really nice, sunny,
hot, Southern California day. As we drove down the street we glanced
over and caught two awesome lookin babes transiting to the left of us
on the sidewalk. As we approached in the station wagon, (remember this
is 1964 post the Ed Sulivan Beatle debut), the girls looked up and saw
Eds wig with Ed under it, 18 years old, long dark brown hair, (the wig),
waving in the breeze. I must admit he looked like a rockin Brit star
right off the plane. The girls pointed and immediately screamed at the
top of their lungs, and nice lungs they were. This was to be repeated
a few times as we got closer to the gig and the experience would never
be forgotten. We were even beginning to like it as Ed began using his
mojo to draw attention to him and waving. I was beginning to feel a
bit embarrassed. As we drove in, girls with their boyfriends were leaving
them behind and advancing towards the Corvair as Ed stepped out of the
car and began to unload. I think because of curiosity for the most part.
They were behaved thankfully. Their boyfriends were a bit pissed though
and kept their distance. Local hired security guards were milling around
and surrounded our car as a bigger crowd emerged. This helped us unload
and set up. The bands were all there. Fender amps, Sears-Silvertones
but no Vox, too new. They hadn't made it to the west coast yet. Lots
of people were coming in. An amp flipped on, a few crackling noises,
then the entire contents of the shopping center, which was about to
150 people at first, started heading our way when they saw a Ed up on
his riser and that hair. Was it Ringo??? Security immediately stood
in front and supported a temporary chain link fence which was set up
for all of the band's. There were about five bands there including us
but the crowd was watching Ed and it was a bit weird. We didn't even
know the songs, for God's sake. The judges seeing all the interest decided
to have us go last. Great! The music gave us a reprise from the crowds
though. We kept our instruments with us and bided our time behind the
fence, safe and secure from our newfound fans. Each band got two songs
each. Eight songs and 30 minutes later, (short songs back then), the
judges approached us. It was too loud in the lot with all the distractions
and sound to discuss the tunes while the other bands were on so I was
still clueless about what to play. The moment had come. I looked to
Dave. He at Ed and sticks clicked and stopped stopped for a few seconds.
Hey, at least I knew the tempo. Dave was just as frightened as me, you
could tell, and said quietly, "just follow me". I shrieked back, "what
key"!? Dave was paralyzed, overwhelmed and couldn't answer. I had to
look at his guitar neck to figure out that he was starting in the key
of A, was it? I hoped so. Ed's sticks clapped once again counting off
with that Ringo sharp fake accent tone 1 to 3 fo. The girls in the crowd
started to scream before the first note seeing Ed shake his head like
Ringo. What a clown, I thought. It was funny for a second. As we stumbled
through the first song, the audience didn't really seem to care what
the hell we played. Paul was right and it was a good thing too cause
we stunk! The judges were no where to be seen by the second song. They
apparently weren't amused or entertained. "They're pressing up against
the fence"! I screamed. Dave stopped singing for a second, we were all
thinking routes of escape and forgot what we were playing. Security
was holding them and the makeshift fence back but through the middle
of the song Ed pulled out an extra stick from his bag and threw it into
the audience to get them, like dogs to a slab of steak to back off the
fence. Yikes! It WAS just like throwing a T. bone steaks to a pack of
wolves. The crowd grew to about a thousand, it seemed, (more like 350).
They started screaming louder pushing harder against the fence. Dave
was doing his best to spit out the tune and tried to play his song but
I was missing all the changes and really embarrassed by then. Towards
the end of the second song Ed our "frosty the clown" drummer, knowing
how shitty we really were decides to throw another stick to the audience
this time for effect. That did it. The fence was down. The entire security
team rushed from the rest of the parking lot rushed in and just managed
to push it back up in time grabbing kids and holding on until we finished.
And finish we did! I was so glad when it ended. It was like a real long
piss relief. I didn't give a shit about anything else but to get the
hell out of there. Ed was freaking and afraid to leave the fence area
as chicks were still trying to get at him from across the lot so he
stayed there and I went and got his car. I backed it right against the
fence and security dropped it so we could load standing on both sides.
Dave just disappeared. Don't know where he ended up although I saw him
weeks later. He was the smart one looking out for his bass and 58 BelAir.
Fortunately, Ed and I got everything loaded quickly into the back of
Carver with the help of the guards. We started to make it around the
fence to get into the car and that's when it happened. Ed walked around
the fence and reached for his car door when some chick reached over
and grabbed his hair over one of the guards. OFF CAME THE WIG! ALL THE
WAY OFF! Ed grabbed it back but the mass of females shrieked like seeing
the "Creature from the Black Lagoon" and started yelling and cussing
at us. I didn't really blame them but I was frozen with fear.. Ed and
I jumped back inside the car and locked the doors as fast as possible.
My God this was supposed to have been fun... Now the boyfriends got
into it. I guess they all felt betrayed too thinking Ed was some major
British Rock star fresh off in from London and watching their sig. others
go nuts. This was what they had been waiting for. We began to back out
slowly when fists, arms, feet, even heads began hitting on the car.
They literally dented the shit out of Eds, Dads Corvair in four places
and one guy jumped on the hood. You could say we barely got out alive.
This wasn't an awe struck crowd, they were PISSED! We drove about a
mile away from them to a gas station and stopped to asses the damage.
It was considerable. Ed was freaked. What began as just an innocent
play date was now the ultimate disaster. He dropped me off at my house
not saying a word to me the whole way muttering about what his dad was
going to do to him. I wish I had gone with Dave, where ever he was.
Needless to say we lost the gig too. A "Louie Louie" type band picked
up the $200 prize......... The last time I saw Ed I had driven up to
his house to visit him. His dad set up a new gig for him I found out.
His Parents owned the drive in theater in Hacienda Heights and I finally
found him breaking up dirt clods on a hot day in an undeveloped lot
behind the theater. He wasn't wearing the wig that day! I asked him
what happened after the gig. You could say he was a bit bitter. He kicked
the ground and muttered "two months f---ing probation" and continued
to tell me about various punishments his unintended experience would
provide via the parents who's idea it was in the first place. I felt
sort of bad for him but what could I do. It seems as I look back if
kids could have communicated better with parents I think things would
have been MUCH easier. Ed didn't deserve what he got for the car damage
but didn't know how to explain it to his dad in a reasonable way and
like a bad dog, accepted his fate without argument. So much for my Jerry
Springer philosophical paragraph... ...now a word from our sponsor;
HEY, Retrobeast here. Buy the Damn album and catch us on the "turn it
up to 11 o'clock news" ...back to the story... Before I left the theater
lot I watched Ed do an occasional jeer and flip off people driving by
a couple of times. Every once in a while during the conversation he
would pick up a dirt clod and throw it at a passing car. He never hit
anyone. Never saw Ed again in my life and that's pretty much the end
of "my first British invasion experience", one of many band experiences
we were abut to have playin Rock. Hey Ed, if you read this, email me
I gotta know. What happened to the wig?