Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Musical History, Episode 9: Fixed

Going with the "if it's expensive, it must be good" axiom, we tracked down what was, at the time, one of the premier recording studios in Hawaii, where a lot of the local luminaries had created their albums. This was during a time when songs were recorded through 24-channel mixing boards to 2" tape - whaaat? - so there were no quality home recording/Pro Tools-type options that are available to bands today.
Remember these?
The miscalculation we made, however, was that most of the local luminaries were what people call "Hawaiian Music" bands - bands whose material consists largely of mellow, folky-type music played on acoustic stringed instruments (including, of course, the ukulele) and not-loud drums. As pop-leaning as our sound was, we were still a rock band, with Marshall amps and a drummer who was at his best when he played at high volumes.

As a result, the five songs that we recorded came out fine, considering our lack of studio experience, but there was something lacking...namely, the energy and punch that we usually brought to our live performances. It was nobody's fault, really - just one of those learning experiences that you have to go through to get to the next level.

So anyway, having invested a decent chunk of change into the sessions, we did our best to salvage the situation. We took the recordings to a different studio to get it mastered, and they did their best to squeeze every last ounce of oomph they could out of the tracks. We printed up a bunch of stickers that said "digitally mastered to be played LOUD" and hand-applied them to each of the 1,000 CDs that we ordered. We named the EP "Fixed" to indicate that we had "fixed" whatever perceived problems there were with the original recordings.*

Despite all of our hand-wringing, Fixed ended up getting a pretty good reception. "Shampoo" was played on radio stations not only in Hawaii, but nationally and internationally as well (we actually received a performance royalty check for airplay in the U.K. - a small one, but cashable nonetheless.) The song was even included on one of those piped-in music services that you hear in restaurants and mall stores, and because of that, it attracted the attention of a music video producer who heard it while having lunch at a hotel in Los Angeles, where he was attending film school. Being originally from Hawaii, he approached us about doing a video for the song, and you can see the result here.

We were interviewed in music magazines, won a few local awards, and played a ton of shows, including a brief tour of the San Francisco area (which is another story in itself). We were even one of the first bands from Hawaii to have our own website - whaaat? - in addition to being included on other pioneering music-related sites like this one.

So it seems like things were happening, right? World domination, just around the corner? Well, remember the title of Episode 5 of this serial: "It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n' roll."

Next: The Summer of the Angry Young Man

* Or did we name it that because we felt our sound had been neutered? Um, I forget. Never mind

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