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Cringe Rock




Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Nathan and I started putting a recording studio together in the basement1. We’re at a good initial setup level, so we had Robin check things out. She was moving a few things to tidy up the adjacent area, and a couple of cassette tapes fell out of an old suitcase she used to have as an apartment decoration. Fate smiled at me that day, for those tapes came from my first recording studio.

The first was labeled “Waffle Records Compilation.” The 26 tracks on this tape were recorded at 913 William South, Oklahoma State University, between 1991–1993 on a Tascam Porta-07 Ministudio that I bought used from a music store in Enid, OK.

I used to know how to work the hell out of this thing.

I probably recorded over 100 songs on that thing while it was still alive. Of course, 20-year-old me mixed these tracks down because he thought they were the best. But 50-year-old me would beg to differ.

Of course, I heard common mistakes from anyone learning to mix music. I was heavy-handed with stereo panning. All the vocals were mixed too forward. There was no low end to be found2, and OH, the reverb. It gives My Bloody Valentine a run for its money. See that pitch control knob in the photo? I used the hell out of that. And I’d say it wasn’t set to the middle when I made this tape because everything was just a little too high-pitched to sound right.

There were a few ham-fisted ballads on the compilation and a handful of covers. But at least half of the songs were with my dorm buddies. We called ourselves Remo’s Ball Bearing Suicide, and the lyrics of those songs did not age well. It was the garden-variety misogyny and sexism that you would expect from some teenage Okies who had spent the last five years listening to hair metal. 20-year-old me didn’t really understand the things he was saying.

The second, labeled “Leadmill: Live at the Crown and Rose Pub” was unfortunately not what was inside the case. It would have been a soundboard recording from a performance at a defunct Irish pub in Ponca City, OK. I’m bummed that I don’t have the right cassette. It has what my fuzzy memory recalls as some fairly decent formative work. I know it had a song about mad cow disease on there, so that’s something.

Not sure what I’m going to do with a USB cassette player now. I guess I’ll keep it around in case something else falls out of a suitcase.

  1. More about this topic another time. The story is still unfolding.  ↩
  2. This was mostly because I didn’t have a bass for many tracks. The ones with bass sound thin because the guitar was plugged directly into the recorder.  ↩

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