WCA #103 with Pat Patten

WCA #103 with Pat Patten

Working Class Audio Session #103 with Pat Patten!!!

Pat Patten came to be on Working Class Audio through a set of random circumstances. At our 100th show we chose his name at random to win a set of Audio-Technica  headphones. After talking Pat on the phone I realized he would make a great guest for the WCA podcast. He sent me his resume which is filled with a wide variety of jobs and experience including President of Commercial Sight & Sound, Inc., CEO of Kinekom, Inc., Studio Manager and Talent Buyer, Senior Record Producer and Festival Promoter, and now Mastering Engineer | Music Mentor-Manager and Music Educator at CEC (Central Education Center), Charter College & Career Academy. AT 60 years young Pat  continues the journey in the small town of La Grange, Georgia. We discuss relationship building, his students, and family. Check out http://www.jamgood.com/live/

Mentioned in the interview for those in California is the post production tax incentive.



WCA #102 with Frank McDonough

WCA #102 with Frank Mcdonough

Working Class Audio Session #102 with Frank McDonough!!!

WCA #101 with Leff Lefferts

WCA #101 with Leff Lefferts

Working Class Audio Session #101 with Leff Lefferts!!!

Leff Lefferts has spent the his career working in audio for  music and film. He graduated from Berklee college and music with a degree in Music Production & Engineering in 1997 and  joined on at the famous Plant Studios in Sausalito, California that same year as an intern. He quickly moved up to assistant engineer and was able to work on records with Metallica, Dave Matthews Band, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Primus, Oysterhead and Joe Satriani. In 2003 after leaving the Plant (which later closed it’s doors) Leff signed started working at Cutting Edge Audio in San Francisco  to handle Pro Tools System Design & support. It’s through Cutting Edge that Leff made contacts at Skywalker Sound where he would ultimately end up working next stating in 2006 as a Digital Audio Technician. In 2008 Leff made a lateral move to take on the role of Assistant Sound Designer, Sound Editor, Mixer working with the legendary Randy Thom.  In the position Leff has gone on to work on films such as Horton Hears a Who, Ice Age 3-5, Coraline, Rio, Flight, How to Train Your Dragon 1&2, Crimson Peak, The Walk, The Revenant and Allied.

Leff and Matt (who have been friends since the early 2000’s meet at Matt’s house for a chat. They were accompanied by Matt’s Bulldog Moto who snored for 90% of the interview.

WCA #100 with Stephen Hart and Cookie Marenco

WCA #100 with Stephen Hart and Cookie MarencoWCA #100 with Stephen Hart and Cookie Marenco

Working Class Audio Session #100 with Stephen Hart and Cookie Marenco!!!

Well here it is,  WCA #100! This was recorded at 25th Street Recording in Oakland, California on Friday, November 18th in front of a live audience. You can either watch it on Facebook  or listen to the podcast. This episode features Stephen Hart and Cookie Marenco. Enjoy!

More On Stephen

Stephen is a former  mixer in residence / chief engineer at the “The Site Recording” in Marin County, Director of Recording Services and owned “the mixroom” at Bay Area Sound Studios and chief engineer and lead mixer at Fantasy Studios. He holds multiple platinum and gold albums, “Blues Album of the Year 2000” for Stevie Ray Vaughn and Albert King, and has been on staff at The Plant Studios, EMI Italia, Forward Music Taipei and spent many years as an international freelance mixer. He has recorded and/or mixed many hundred’s of albums with total unit sales of 40 million. Artists include David Bowie, Santana, John Lee Hooker, En Vogue, MC Hammer, Tony Bennett, Isaac Hayes, Flora & Airto, White Stripes, Santana, Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, Otis Redding, Booker T. and the MG’s, the Staples Singers, Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders, the Neville Brothers, the Hong Kong Philharmonic with Amei, Steve Cropper, and a host of European and Asian pop artists. Stephen has also recorded for legendary producers George Martin and Tom Dowd.  Scoring Credits include – Be Kind Rewind w/Jack Black & Danny Glover and Encounters at the End of the World by Werner Herzog. Also, Titanic, Grizzly Man (Herzog), and Oil on Ice. Film Post credits (foley stage) include Amadeus, Boogie Nights, Airbud, Blue Velvet, Dead Poets Society

Committed to the Bay Area recording community, Stephen is currently a National Trustee, and past S.F. President of the Recording Academy SF Chapter, is an AES member, and a member of AIMP (Association of Independent Music Publishers) and on the Recording Academy’s National P&E Advisory Committee and the curriculum advisory board for Xpression College.

More on Cookie

Before digital audio, CDs, MP3’s, the internet and email, Cookie Marenco founded OTR Studios, with a dream to record acoustic musicians in their most natural settings. Now, OTR is the oldest owner founded studio still in operation in the Bay Area with a reputation for the highest quality work, incredible musical performances and professional style. With a span of more than 20 years in the industry, her experience with analog, vinyl, digital, live recording, and working with thousands of musicians on more than 400 recordings brings a rich history to every session or consultation.

As OTR’s main producer and chief engineer, Marenco oversees all recordings of her staff to ensure the same quality and professionalism throughout. Marenco is sought out by many manufacturers to beta test new products including Tascam, KRK, Millennia, NHT, Goddess Labs, Universal Audio, etc. Now a writer and video instructor for EQ magazine, Marenco tests and designs new products, creates educational videos using OTR as a base of operation. Interns come worldwide to study in OTR’s ongoing learning program for those serious about a career in the music industry.

OTR is also the home base of Blue Coast Records, the critically acclaimed audiophile label where Marenco developed Extended Sound Environment (E.S.E), the proprietary recording technique used by the label.

Marenco’s creative and technical skills have touched almost every aspect of the business. She is widely known for the quality of her audio engineering skills and for drawing out passionate performances from the artists she produces. She has engineered or produced 5 Grammy-nominated records, several Gold records and an Academy Award-winning documentary. Her artist credits include Max Roach, Brain, Kenny Aronoff, Steve Smith, Brady Blade, Tony Furtado, Tony Trischka, Dirk Powell, Rob Ickes, Charlie Haden, Tony Levin, Steve Rodby, Buckethead, Ralph Towner, Paul McCandless, Ernie Watts, Glen Moore, Mary Chapin Carpenter, John Jennings, Pat DiNizio, Kristin Hersch, Brad Mehldau, Matt Rollings, Kevin Kern, Art Lande, Clara Ponty, Chanticleer, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Mark Isham and Michael Tolcher. Her production and engineering skills can be found on projects for Monterey Jazz Festival, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Marinfest, Midem, Hard Rock Cafe, Windham Hill Records, Verve, Rounder Records, Om Records, Sony, Warner Bros. and others.

Marenco was an early pioneer in internet audio being the part of the Liquid Audio team offering the first copy-protected music downloads in 1997. She was a producer and A&R representative at Windham Hill Records working on over 100 projects during her tenure, including producing Winter Solstice 2, the highest selling compilation in their catalogue. Marenco’s production company, Cojema Music, oversees her work as an independent producer, supports entrepreneurial pursuits and helps to launch new artists. Cojema Music also looks after the operations of OTR Studios (a professional recording facility in the San Francisco area), Blue Coast Records (a high quality acoustic music label) and Goddess Labs (silver cable company).

Combining traditional recording values with new technology and a unique vision for marketing strategies, Marenco continues to blaze ground. In 2005, Marenco launched a record label, Blue Coast Records, showcasing talented acoustic musicians and high fidelity recordings. The first offering, Blue Coast Collection, has achieved critical acclaim winning the Ultimate Sound Award at the 2005 CES Show for NHT Speakers. The July 2006 issue of La Nouvelle Revue de Son, a French audiophile magazine, lifted the recording to legendary status as a “must have” recording. It received 5 stars in every category and sparked Blue Coast Records in France. Blue Coast Collection was released in 2007 in the United States.

Blue Coast Records’ unique sound can be attributed to a new recording technique for surround called ESE (Extended Sound Environment). Marenco teamed with French engineer, Jean Claude Reynaud, to develop this patent pending process. ESE is a trademarked recording process with a “no compromise of quality” attitude that combines the best of tried and true recording techniques with the latest developments in technology. Sony America aided Marenco in her efforts with their Direct Stream Digital (DSD) recording devices and a new disc format called Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD). The ESE technique is featured in the MAY 2004 issue of MIX magazine.

Home based in the Silicon Valley, Marenco has consulted with many companies seeking to further audio and musical interests. Her conception of Liquid Live continues to be used by Liquid.com, the download division of Walmart.com. Recently, she has consulted with Unbound Technology, a cutting-edge enterprise combining affinity networking, cell phone technology and internet audio. In 2005, she coordinated efforts of Abeo Corporation with the Telluride Bluegrass Festival to provide the entire festival grounds with free wireless internet access.

Many of Marenco’s innovations take place at OTR Studios, long a staple in the Bay Area community known for high quality acoustic recordings as well as unusual electronic music. She was a pioneer of digital recording in the mid 80’s and continues to experiment with new technologies such as Direct Stream Digital, SACD and DTS while supporting classic methods of recording. OTR has recorded over 400 artist album projects during the last 15 years. Marenco continues to beta-test audio products as she had done for Liquid Audio, Mackie, Tascam, Millennia, Studer and NHT. Young bands, engineers and technicians of various disciplines hone their skills at OTR. Marenco spreads her industry knowledge as a regular writer for EQ magazine. She provides interviews for radio and print, sits on industry panels and teaches college workshops. She has served on the NARAS Board of Governors and the Board of Directors of George Coates Performance Arts, represented various organizations on industry panels (AES, NARM, AFIM, Folk Alliance) and created fund raising events for Art into Action (an environmentally pro active non-profit organization).

The Early Years

In earlier years, Marenco composed music for film and television including commercial spots for Nissan and AT&T. Prior to her work in engineering, she performed and toured with many jazz legends, orchestras and her own electronic ensemble. She has a multi-instrumental musical background studying and teaching piano, oboe and sitar as well as being educated in classical, jazz, ethnomusicology, acoustics and composition.


WCA #099 with Rob Schnapf

WCA #099 with Rob Schnapf

Working Class Audio Session #099 with Rob Schnapf!!!

Rob Schnapf has been making critically-acclaimed records for the past two decades. He first gained recognition by producing (with his then-partner Tom Rothrock) Beck’s debut album, “Mellow Gold,” including the breakthrough single, “Loser.” Rob and Tom produced three albums for Elliot Smith, including “XO” and “Figure 8.”

After Elliot’s death in 2003, Rob was asked by Smith’s family to help sort, compile and complete the tracks that Elliot had been recording. This was released as “From A Basement On The Hill,” and became Elliot’s highest charting album in the US.Rob went on to produce albums for Guided by Voices, Saves The Day, The Vines, Powderfinger, The Whigs and Tokyo Police Club. In 2009 he produced Booker T Jones’ “Potato Hole,” which won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album. In 2011 he produced “The Road From Memphis” with Booker, which again won the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album.

In addition to his work as a producer, Rob is an accomplished mixer. He mixed the debut album by the Foo Fighters (with Rothrock), and has mixed tracks for Fidlar, Moby, Rickie Lee Jones and a Grammy-nominated album for Mavis Staples. Rob produced and mixed tracks for Kurt Vile’s latest release, including the single, “Pretty Pimpin.” Rob is currently producing a new album for Cass McCombs.

Rob and Matt chat over Skype about business, artists, kids and the art of disguising your voice when using the talkback.

WCA #098 with Stewart Cararas

WCA#098 with Stewart Cararas

Working Class Audio Session #098 with Stewart Cararas!!!

Stewart Cararas is a producer, engineer, writer and musician currently based out of Los Angeles who works on a wide variety of music projects. SOme of his clients include  Nick Lachey, Billy Ray Cyrus, Joe Perry, George Lynch, Fear Factory, Glenn Hughes, Shelby Lynne, BoomKat, Kimberley Locke, Dreamers, Better Than Ezra, Juvenile, Dee Snider, Taryn Manning, Taylor Dayne, Leah Turner, Bone, Thugs and Harmony, E40, Ray J, Simple Plan, All Time Low, Holly Knight, Brooke White, September Mourning, Marla Sokoloff, Limp Biskit, Tiffany Thornton, Molly Sanden, Nickel Creek, Brian Wilson, Enrique Iglesias, Cowboy Mouth, Thick as Thieves, Jason Charles Miller, Katie Cole, and Mitch Allan. 

After an attempt at rock stardom failed, Stewart setup shop in New Orleans to run a studio. Stewart left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, sold his house and moved to LA. Since then (2005) he’s been involved in many great projects including co-producing 7 songs on the new Billy Ray Cyrus album, ‘Thin Line’, producing a  song for the film called “Dark Horse” written/directed by Todd Solondz starring Christopher Walken and Mia Farrow and producing a song with Nick Lachey.

Stewart joins Matt over Skype for a candid interview about his journey since leaving New Orleans.



WCA #097 with Matt Ross-Spang

WCA #097 with Matt Ross-Spang

Working Class Audio Session #097 with Matt Ross-Spang!!!

“He’s a young man with an old soul. Matt’s got a lot of Sam Phillips in him”  – Jerry Phillips

Matt Ross-Spang , born in Memphis, began working at the Legendary Sun Studio when he was just 16, working his way up from intern to the Chief Engineer. He championed to bring the recording studio back to its origin, working hard to find, install and use the same period equipment that Sam Phillips engineered with in the 1950s. His 11 years of dedication to Sun and its signature sound garnered national attention when he was featured by Lester Holt for NBC’s Nightly News and the Today Show. NPR also featured Matt and his work on All Things Considered.

“It’s fantastic that [Ross-Spang] has pursued this with such scholarly devotion,” says Peter Guralnick, author of the definitive, two-part Presley biography, Last Train to Memphis and the recently released biography, Sam Phillips The Man Who Invented Rock and Roll.. “Sam was systematic in thinking about sound and gave great thought to it — no square angles; the tiles. In addition, he felt there was something unique about the room at 706 Union. He didn’t know it when he rented it. To have reconstituted it is an exercise in creative archeology.”

In 2015 Matt left Sun to venture out on his own as an engineer and producer.  His first project post Sun was to engineer and mix Jason Isbell’s “Something More Than Free” for acclaimed Producer Dave Cobb which would award him his first Grammy. The record broke several records debuting at #1 on the Country, Rock, Folk and Indie Charts. It also broke Americana Radio chart records , staying #1 for over 25 weeks. The record won Grammys for Best Americana Album and Best Americana Song for (24 Frames).

Since then Matt hasn’t slowed down …engineering recent releases by The Drive By Truckers, Elle King, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Chris Isaak, The Rival Sons, Corb Lund, Lori Mckenna, Brett Dennen, Brent Cobb, Amanda Shires, Anderson East, The Sheepdogs and the concept album “Southern Family”.

Matt also engineered, mixed and Co-Produced Margo Price’s debut album; entitled “Midwestern Farmer’s Daughter” the record was made in 3 days in 2014 at Sun Studio and released on Third Man Records. The record debuted in the top 10 Billboard country charts to critical acclaim and is already considered one of the best albums of 2016. Matt most recently was hired by Sony Records to mix 18 previously unreleased songs by Elvis Presley from historic 1976 sessions in the Jungle Room at Graceland which was released in August of 2016. Matt also recently produced albums on Sean Rowe, Patrick Sweany and UK artist Emily Barker.

The City of Memphis named him one of its “30 under 30” Memphians in 2015 as well as honoring him with a key to the city in 2016. The City of Germantown also named a day after Ross-Spang in 2016.

Matt and Matt join each other over Skype for a conversation about’s Matt’s journey.

WCA #096 with J.J. Blair

WCA 096 with J.J. Blair

Working Class Audio Session #096 with J.J. Blair!!!

J.J. Blair is a producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who hails from Chicago, and moved to Los Angeles in 1990 to get into the music business. He has worked on albums with some legendary artists. Of note, in 1999, he produced, engineered and mixed June Carter Cash’s Grammy winning album, Press On. He also engineered on Rod Stewart’s Great American Songbook albums, volumes 1 through 3; the latter of which won a Grammy, and hit #1 on the Billboard album charts. Other artists J.J. has worked with include Black Eyed Peas, Weezer, P. Diddy, Ryan Adams, Jason Falkner, David Cassidy, Stephen Bishop ,Vonda Sheppard, Johnny Cash, George Benson, Unwriten Law, Kelly Clarkson, Melissa Etheridge, Smokey Robinson, and many more.

J.J. was kind enough to host Matt at his house during AES. While staying there, Matt was able to convince J.J. to sit down for an interview in his living room.

Fox Force Five Recorders: http://artandscienceofrecording.com/Welcome.html

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WCA #095 with Brad Wood

WCA #095 with Brad Wood

Working Class Audio Session #095 with Brad Wood!!!

Brad Wood grew up in Rockford, Illinois, the home of Cheap Trick- the greatest band alive. He played the saxophone well enough to go to college and study jazz performance.

When Brad moved to Chicago in 1987, it didn’t take long before he built Idful Music Corporation- a small but mighty recording studio in Wicker Park. That’s where he recorded albums by bands like Seam, Tar, Shrimp Boat and Eleventh Dream Day. It was Liz Phair’s Exile In Guyville in 1993 that did the trick for his career.

Soon he was recording all kinds of cool debut albums for artists like Sunny Day Real Estate, Veruca Salt, Placebo, Red Red Meat and Ben Lee. Work with Smashing Pumpkins, Far, that dog., Menthol and Pete Yorn wrapped up the 90’s.

In 2000, Brad relocated to Los Angeles, home of X- the greatest punk rock band alive. After a few years of bouncing around LA’s amazing studios, he built Seagrass Studio in 2004. At Seagrass Brad has tracked or mixed Say Anything, mewithoutYou, more Ben Lee, the Bangles, Sherwood & Touché Amoré plus many more.

Brad says “I like to help people make records that are inspiring, lyrically and musically. For me, rock music works best when there’s intensity- a burning desire to bash out a message. It doesn’t have to be loud (although that helps). Thank you, Joe Strummer.”

This podcast is comprised of Matt’s interview with Brad at the 141st AES show in Los Angeles on October 1st at The Focal Booth followed by an interview over Skype. Matt and Brad discuss Brad’s journey, his time in Chicago, His move to LA, his new studio and parenting.



WCA #094 with Scott Wiley

WCA #094 with Scott Wiley

Working Class Audio Session #094 with Scott Wiley!!!

Scott Wiley is a music producer, engineer, musician and owner of June Audio Recording Studios in Provo, Utah.  Scott studied music recording at USC and got to learn from some of the best producers and engineers in the industry during his years working in great Los Angeles rooms like Sound Factory, Sunset Sound, Cello and Conway Recording Studios.  As an engineer and/or producer for the last 25 years, Scott has worked with Neon Trees, Bonnie Raitt, Kaskade, David Archuleta, Tracy Chapman, The Moth & The Flame, and Stephanie Mabey among others.   Scott has also taught recording and music business classes at UVU and BYU.
June Audio is currently expanding from a mid-sized one studio operation to a 5000 square foot Wes Lachot designed facility that will house 3 separate studios, 2 in a large new building and a third in an adjoining turn of the century home.
More info can be found here www.juneaudio.com or follow the build thread on gearslutz at  http://tinyurl.com/z6xg4sj.
Scott talks with Matt about moving between California and Utah, assisting for Tchad Blake, and running a studio in a environment where the Mormon church plays a big role.