I’ve created this document to help bands, artists and musicians understand what to expect when they work at Total Annihilation. I also really want you to understand how grateful I am that you have asked me to work with you and that I am completely aware of how important your music is to you and hope to help you execute everything you’d like to accomplish while you work with me.
So here goes:
I try to accommodate every budget and project. I have a daily minimum I try to attain but again it depends on the project. I encourage that we meet, visit the studio and talk about what you want to work on so that we can come up with a fair fee.
*******NO MASTERS WILL BE RECEIVED BY THE ARTIST UNTIL PAYMENT IN FULL HAS BEEN RECEIVED.
Yes, please contact me if you are an engineer interested in bringing in a project.
It all depends on the project. If the drums require a microphone on each drum, cymbals, room mics, this is going to take longer than a group that may only need/want two mics on the drums. Also if there are two guitar players, horn players, strings, live vocals, percussion etc…all of this requires time to set up and prepare. We may have to baffle, or isolate amps or acoustic instruments to deal with sound bleeding into mics where that bleed may cause a problem.
One thing that I want to make sure you understand is that I try to work as efficiently as possible without burning out.
Every project seems to have its own flow and what I try to do is take the time to get things to sound good so that later I don’t interrupt that flow. If I know that there are a lot of dynamics in say a trumpet players playing then I have to also think ahead and add compression or if a microphone isn’t working with a certain instrument I may have to take some time to replace, add or subtract a microphone, or try a different preamp, eq, band aids etc…
Ultimately this will save us time and headaches later. It doesn’t mean we won’t have to take the time to perhaps overdub, eq, compress, edit or deal with things in some other manner but it’s about creating a good foundation to work with.
Well, if possible we should have a discussion on what you want us to accomplish. This helps a lot because I can get a better idea of what to expect. Also I can clarify and point out some things we may have to plan for or modify.
Beyond that, on your own, some things that I think would be worth considering are maintenance and care of your instruments (whatever that may be), get your guitars and basses intonated and replace the strings, bring extra strings, picks, cables, batteries, reeds, mouthpieces, bows, drumheads, drumsticks, drum keys (they always disappear,) have your amps, especially tube amps, checked out, write out your lyrics and bring an extra copy or if you have written sheet music bring an extra copy (This especially helps when overdubbing vocals).
Yes. Contact me if you need some recommendations.
Think of your songs in terms of common traits, once we set up for a particular style/feel/instrumentation then we should stick to that group of songs if time/money is really critical. It’s just easier and faster to work that way but I also understand that you may not be ready or in the mood to work on a specific song and want to move to something else, that’s fine but we have to go back and maybe adjust whatever we undid and get back to the prior or new set up.
It depends on the band and the set up. It’s possible to record with all of the instruments and amps in the room but will it give us the results we want? For example if a loud rock band wants to play with their live setup in the large tracking room it’s possible to do this but remember there is sound bleeding into microphones to consider.
One approach may be to record the basic tracking, make sure you are happy with that and then go back and do other parts or instruments. Lay out during solos if you think you may want to try multiple takes and then come back and do them.
No.. If you listen to older jazz recordings bleed sounds great it gives instruments space and depth. The large room at TA really lends itself for this style. However if you want to have more control over sounds and mixing, overdub, or omit instruments, if there is bleed into other mics it’s really difficult to remove that or even impossible without having things sound weird, bad or unnatural. So if we tracked a song with your amps and drums in the main room using no isolation or baffling, you loved your rhythm guitar playing but hated the solo and you now want to overdub a new solo, it may be in the other instrument tracks and we may have to accept the bleed or do the song again.
But, but, if you only had another isolation booth then we could have put the amp in there and not have to worry about it… Those are the limitations of the studio, every studio has some limitations. That’s why I am writing this document to point out these issues so you can make an informed decision about working here.
No. there are ways to record with amps in the same room as drums or other instruments but we may have to baffle, isolate, turn down the volume etc. Also in the small room there are ways to mic speaker cabinets using baffles and walls (gobos) to minimize bleed to an acceptable level.
I’d place the drums in the large room and the guitar and bass amps in the Punishment room (small). If more isolation is required then I’d use walls and blankets to control the bleed of the guitars and bass into each other’s microphones.
Main Tracking Room:
Yes, there’s the bathroom which I have yet put place any amps in. There’s also the hallway but if the studio next door is recording we may get some bleed from their playing or the bathroom toilet flushing, If they aren’t there then I guess we can use the hall. I just haven’t yet.
There is also the control room and I have had people play up there and go direct with instruments such as electric keyboards. It’s also possible for someone to play guitar or bass in the control and send their cable downstairs to the small room while playing along upstairs.
I’ll try my best.
Yes and so far bleed hasn’t been a problem. I’ve done quite a few projects where the vocals are in the large room with the drums, baffled a bit and the bleed of the drums into the microphone actually works really well. We’ll have to listen and see what happens when we set up and try a take.
New 2” tape is about $350. Used 2” tape for $150 but quantities are limited. Once it’s erased it sounds fine and can be used without any problem, I have yet to hear a “worn out” reel of tape.
A new reel of 1/4” tape (usually used for mix down if you want to mix down to analog) is about $72.
I can’t guarantee the condition of used tape so if we use it it’s at your own risk. There are some reputable vendors out there but even new tape isn’t guaranteed beyond the replacement of a new reel. If we get a bad new or used reel and it is junk then we can’t recoup from the tape manufacturer or vendor the costs we’ve put into all the work we’ve already done.
24 tracks on the 2”
2 tracks on the 1/4”
Ok, another option is renting the reels. I have reels for rent at the cost of $30 each for the 2”. We can use those reels the entire project (tracking and mixing) if they are available or we can dump them to digital and then mix sending those tracks out to the board using the computer like a tape machine.
Once your project is done then the reels will be erased and reused for another project. I will dump them to digital so you have an archive of those tracks.
Either 15 or 30 minutes since we can run the machine at a fast speed or slow speed.
Mainly the level of tape noise and how the tape compresses/saturates. The faster speed is quieter and doesn’t compress in the same way.
Can you tell me more about this tape noise and compression?
No, but it is recommended.
We can use the one on the studio’s computer but that will be at your own risk. If for some reason it dies I’ll try my best to rectify the situation but ultimately you are taking that risk. If we have to go back and redo everything we had done you will be charged, I’ll try to help you out financially but that is at my discretion.
You will also get a DVD archive of the digital files if there were any created if you don’t have a harddrive to save the session on.
Yes. Please be aware that there are cables, pedals, stands, amps, instruments and objects all over the studio. Try to put things out of the way such as your cases, drinks, keys, cell-phones, etc.. and watch your step.
Yes, but you are responsible for them.
Please don’t take this in a personal or judgmental way. I know this is a touchy subject and I want you to feel comfortable at the studio casual drinking is fine but I have to ask that you not do drugs at the studio especially harder drugs. I know at times people need to relax, all I can say is be discrete. Please no smoking in the studio, feel free to take a break and go outside.
Once we stop using the studio. I know it takes some time to shut things down, pack up load out etc and that won’t be billed but once we’re done let’s get out of there.
I could, but I’ll say that I try to be very fair and take the entire project into account. If you start to mention the 5 minutes I took to change a mic and the 3 minutes it took me to take a restroom break I can add as well as you can. Keep things cool and I’ll do the same in return.
I’d like to share a bit of my musical background with you so you can have an idea of what my experiences are and where my musical interests originate. Besides being exposed to music from an early age and starting my record collection at age 8 (Led Zeppelin In Through the Out Door and Led Zeppelin III), I had a guitar my grandmother bought me that I would bang on until my little brother broke it. I took a few years of violin in elementary school but didn’t stick with an instrument (guitar) until I was 15 after listening to bands like Minor Threat, Black Flag, the Misfits etc…I started my own band soon after, playing mostly backyards and warehouses in East L.A. and Boyle Heights (anyone remember the Dust Bowl?) Later I started a band called Leopold which played all over Los Angeles, released a 7”, got on some comps and eventually released an album called The Wreck of Hope.
I had already gotten into recording as a hobby, but while recording The Wreck of Hope with Alex Newport he asked me if I planned on working in a studio? “You’re asking all the right questions.” he said after picking his brain once again. Well, that stuck with me and eventually lead to getting deeper into recording. –Thanks, Alex.
Besides Leopold, I’ve also played with Ego Plum and the Ebola Orchestra (tenor saxophone) and I was also in Killsonic for a few years. I did a short stint in a band called the Alacrity which got to open for Skinny Puppy but the next big musical moment for me was joining the reunited Distorted Pony in 2010, one of my all time favorite bands. I’ve described that experience as Rollins being asked to join Black Flag or Mingus asked to join the Duke Ellington Orchestra….it’s a big deal for me, and to this day I love that band like no other.
My main approach to music/recording/life comes from what I learned playing in punk and noise bands. I apply the ideas of integrity, DIY, working collectively, not relying on industry or outside means, being straight up and honest with people and figuring out how to get things done with the resources available.
The most important thing that I’ve gained from music are all the friends and experiences I’ve had along the way. I think I’d be a pretty boring person if it wasn’t for the people in my life that I’ve met and all the fun and cool moments we’ve shared that, one way or another, came along via music.
Besides Total Annihilation my friends and I opened Eastside Rehearsal in Boyle Heights, a fully equipped 4 space rehearsal studio. Please contact us if you need a place to rehearse and feel free to visit us if you’re in the area.
If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me.