Or if a band is on a tight budget.
JF: We definitely prefer working on the analog machine but when I'm not sitting there A/B-ing them, digital sounds good to me.
DP: Because the studio's been so booked lately, I've been recording people outside my room, straight to my computer through those Swissonic converters. There's a huge difference between 24 bit with those converters and the ADATs - you can't compare it. The high-end is so much better. Also I got hooked up with some really great mics from Shure, the KSM44s. Those things going through those converters to my computer are really, really nice.
What software are you using to record?
DP: I've been using Vegas a lot. I love it - it's so basic it does exactly what it's supposed to do, so easy to use. But if I know I'm recording something less than 7 minutes long and I know what the timings are going to be I'll do it on analog if I can. We have a 1' 16-track here and it's a great thing. I've also been recording on analog and then dumping it into my computer using the converters.
Does that make a big difference, other than going straight in to the computer?
DP: It's just a different kind of sound, but they both sound good. Either one of those combinations, straight to the computer or through analog sound 10 times better than the ADATs. This studio's been particularly great for me in that regard. Having the option of using the live room vs. using digital in my room, also using this room out here [gesturing toward the large, open main room].
MK: We've done a lot of recording just out here.
It seems like it would sound really good out here.
MK: You have to compete with the traffic and stuff
DP: I think that's a part of our sound. Truckstop is in the middle of the south loop in Chicago, there's trains and traffic.
Especially when that big diesel rolls by. A real 'Truckstop'.
JP: We're not super soundproof, we do occasionally get some city sounds.
MK: It's important to incorporate that into the character of the recording, that's just the way it is. Generally speaking, the people who like to record here have been of the mentality that they're not really quite interested in a total sterile environment of a hi-fi studio. They actually prefer to have the squeaky chairs and the train in the background.
I've been in some 'high-end' studios that felt cold and sterile, like a dentist's office. I imagine that would make some performers nervous.
DP: This place is definitely not sterile or super-quiet, but it's really, really intimate. There's an immediacy and an intimacy that happens with the musicians that play here. The place where that is heard the most is on the Boxhead stuff. I walked in a couple weeks ago and Jeff Tweedy and Fred [Longberg-Holm] and Jessica [Billey] and Glenn Kotche and Mike and Joe were sittin' there and those guys had never played with Jeff before, this was a whole new ensemble and the communication was really immediate.
How did Jeff Tweedy get involved?
DP: Glen Kotche, who plays in Lofty Pillars, with The Boxhead Ensemble and has been a good friend of ours, is the new drummer in Wilco. Jim O'Rourke, Glen Kotche and Jeff Tweedy also have a trio record coming out.