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.

WCA #093 with David Barbe

WCA #093 with David Barbe

Working Class Audio Session #093 with David Barbe!!!

David Barbe has a two pronged career. He has been the Director of the University of Georgia Music Business Program since 2010.   On the creative side, he has worked on hundreds of recording projects as engineer, producer, musician and writer.   Over the past few years, projects have included Deerhunter’s “Halcyon Digest,”  Drive-By Truckers “It’s Grerat to Be Alive” and “American Band,”  New Madrid “magnetkingmagnetqueen,” and “Sunwimmer,” and Muuy Biien “Age of Uncertainty” to name a few.

David moved to Athens in 1981 to study journalism at UGA. He got involved in the local music scene, playing in a variety of bands, most notably Mercyland and Buzz Hungry.He started recording local bands (Bar-B-Q Killers, Jack-O-Nuts, as well as a number of bands without dashes in their names) on a Fostex X15 cassette 4 track, also taking the opportunity to go into the studio any time any of the bands he worked with booked a proper recording session. That experience led to a job at John Keane’s studio. While working under Keane, David assisted John on a number of projects by artists including Billy Bragg, REM and Widespread Panic, then began engineering a steady stream of artists on his own (Jack Logan, Seersucker, Mt. Shasta, 5/8) at John’s studio and elsewhere.

In 1991 Bob Mould (Husker Du) invited David to join his new band, Sugar. From 1992 – 1995 they toured the world, and made 4 albums together, working at the Outpost in Stoughton, Mass.; Cedar Creek in Austin, Texas; Triclops in Atlanta; and several studios in Europe and Japan on performance for broadcast sessions.

After leaving the group in early 1995, David continued freelance engineering. During this time he made countless indie records in a variety of circumstances. The Rock*A*Teens first album was made in three different studios in 6 days. Harvey Milk’s “My Love is Higher Than Your Assessment of My Love Is” was primarily recorded in drummer Paul Trudeau’s house and mixed in the apartment of fellow engineer Brooks Carter, using the wooden frame stairwell for an echo chamber (the sound of crickets is audible during quiet sections of the album). SonVolt’s “Wide Swing Tremolo” was recorded over the course of 6 two week sessions in the band’s practice space housed in an old textile mill in Millstadt, Illinois, and mixed at Mitch Easter’s Fidelitorium. David’s fascination with using unique spaces for recording crops up with instances such as recording Kelly Hogan’s vocals in the boys’ locker room of a closed down school, and recording various things in the Chase Park parking lot.

“Going from place to place to work was a great experience,” says David about his freelance days (primarily 1991-97). “For one thing, you really have to think on your feet when it’s a big city studio one day, and somebody’s bedroom the next. For another, I definitely started to develop a feel for what I would and wouldn’t want in a studio of my own.”

In early 1997 David teamed up with Andy LeMaster and Andy Baker in a search of what they thought would be “a temporary space” for recording. What they came up with was Chase Park Transduction. After working together in the studio for a few months, they realized that the studio was turning into more than a stopgap.

Since opening Chase Park, David has worked with a wide variety of artists including the Deerhunter, Bettye LaVette, The Glands, Drive By Truckers, Jerry Joseph, Amy Ray, Bob Mould, REM, New Madrid and hundreds of others.

David’s general approach to making records is, “In any creative endeavor, the answer should never be ‘No’.

David talks with Matt over Skype about how he runs his studio, the importance of family and his approach to money and gear.

Show notes:

David’s Studio: Chase Park Transduction
John Keane: John Keane Studios
Sugar Live in 1993:

WCA #092 with Chuck Zwicky

WCA #092 with Chuck ZwickyWCA #092 with Chuck ZwickyWCA #092 with Chuck Zwicky

Working Class Audio Session #092 with Chuck Zwicky!!!

Chuck Zwicky is a Manhattan based mixing engineer who has earned several gold and platinum records in his 30+ year career, working with artists as diverse as Prince, Jeff Beck, Soul Asylum, Reggie Watts, Rick Moranis, a-ha, NIN, and the Jonas Brothers.  Chuck joins Matt over Skype from his Manhattan apartment and home to his mixing /mastering suite to discuss a wide range of topics including the impact Prince had on him.





WCA #091 with Camden Stoddard

WCA #091 with Camden Stoddard


Working Class Audio Session #091 with Camden Stoddard!!!

Camden Stoddard got his start in sound shortly after moving to the Bay Area by interning with B. Z. Lewis at Studio 132 followed by studying at Pyramind in San Francisco. After graduating from Pyramind, Camden participated in some independent movies and commercials before  joining Double Fine Productions in 2009.  He has since worked on dozens of prototypes and shipped a multitude of games as sound designer and Studio Sound Supervisor including Brutal Legend (for which he won G.A.N.G.’s Rookie Of The Year), Iron Brigade, Stacking, Once Upon A Monster, The Cave, Broken Age and, most recently, the retro space adventure Headlander. Camden is very passionate about game audio and game sound design and can often be found mentoring students with enthusiasm.

Camden spoke with Matt from his office in San Francisco via Skype.

Show notes:
The documentary we talk about can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdXvZgIV1Q0&list=PLIhLvue17Sd7F6pU2ByRRb0igiI-WKk3D
Camden mentioned a a great sound library company called Tomsturm in the interview. They can be found at http://www.tonsturm.com/

WCA #090 with Lij Shaw

WCA #090 with Lij Shaw

Working Class Audio Session #090 with Lij Shaw!!!

Lij Shaw is an award winning music and podcast producer who has made records for 25 years. His studio, The Toy Box Studio is located East Nashville, Tennessee.

Lij is my “Brother from Another Podcast” being the host of Recording Studio Rockstars.  He’s a guy like myself who has been around the block, made some mistakes along the way and is here to share his experiences and wisdom. His other activities include the  Hay Bale Studio, a studio built in a double wide trailer and surrounded by bales of hay, all while being located directly behind the main stage at the Bonnaroo music festival each year. He also runs a back to basics recording event called the Stereo Sessions  where recording a band live to two track is the order of the day. Enjoy!

Show notes:

John Cuniberti’s OneMic series: http://www.johncuniberti.com/one-mic-the-minimalism-recording-series-begins/


WCA #089 with Ben Hirschfield and Scott Goodrich

Ben Hirschfield and Scott Goodrich

Working Class Audio Session #089 with Ben Hirschfield and Scott Goodrich!!!

Ben Hirschfield and Scott Goodrich are studio partners at Nu-Tone Studios. If you have followed my conversations with Chris Dugan and/or Willie Samuels  you’ll recognize their names. I thought stopping by Nu-Tone and chatting with these guys would be a great way to follow up on a story that started with Dugan and Samuels.

Ben Hirschfield began playing music at an early age and almost immediately became obsessed with the recording process. By high school, he was constantly making recordings for his own bands, as well as those of his peers. After touring nationally and internationally with his own music, Ben began focusing more intently on recording. While attending Ex’pression College for Digital Arts, he founded the now defunct Imperial Recording Studio with fellow engineer Scott Goodrich. Imperial quickly became a go to spot for local and national indie acts. While still running his own studio, Ben began an internship at Jingletown Recording, which led to a full time gig at the facility. Since 2012 he has been calling Nu-Tone Studios his home base, occasionally freelancing out of other Bay Area studios. He has produced, engineered, and/or mixed for artists including Against Me!, Green Day, Mobin’s Child, NOFX and The Story So Far.

Scott Goodrich is a Recording and Mixing Engineer from Oakland, California. He began as an intern at Jingletown Recording immediately out of school, and later established his profession in his parent’s garage with Ben Hirschfield at Imperial Recording Studios. Scott joined the Nu-Tone Studios family in 2012, and has since recorded bands such as The Story So Far, Culture Abuse, Worthwhile, and other notable groups. He’s worked alongside Hopeless Records, Pure Noise Records, Equal Vision, 6131 Records, and Adeline Records on a handful of successful projects. When outside the studio, Scott sings and plays guitar in his band, Daydream.

As I mentioned in the show monologue, here is the Go Fund Me page for the employees of Presonus who lost everything in the recent flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  https://www.gofundme.com/2tf4gxh8

Also below are various links for Ben Hirschfield and Scott Goodrich. Make sure and check out some the pictures of Nu-Tone .



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WCA #088 with Willie Samuels

Working Class Audio with Willie Samuels

Working Class Audio Session #088 with Willie Samuels!!!

Willie Samuels is Studio Trilogy’s senior engineer. A recording engineer, producer and musician with some serious studio chops, Willie began his career in his teens by operating a “guerilla style” mobile studio out of his parents old station wagon, traveling to record local bands in their rehearsal spaces, garages, or whatever space he could find that sounded good. By the time he was 18, he was an engineer and producer, working independently in many of the Bay Area’s historic studios. In 1996 he and partner Chris Dugan opened Nu-tone Studios in Pittsburg, California, which quickly became a mecca for local and national independent artists. In 2006 Willie began freelancing at the newly constructed studios of Talking House Productions in San Francisco. A few months later, he joined the production team at Talking House, serving as a staff engineer and continuing his quest to serve and develop local talent. In April 2010 Willie partnered with Justin Lieberman and Cindy McSherry to open Studio Trilogy. In addition to engineering and producing, Willie also works collaboratively with Justin and Cindy on sales and marketing for the studio.

Willie joins Matt for a discussion at WCA headquarters in Lafayette, CA for a discussion on personal sacrifice, doing what you love, working with CHris Dugan and potential changes coming in the future.

Studio Trilogy

Nu-Tone Studios

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