The shockwave would just floor the audience. You could sell tickets to be inside the drums when you hit it, providing ear protection.
Oh yeah, or hook it up in some way that the drum is so big that it's also your touring vehicle. It was so big you just got inside it and rolled it down the street, because it was too big to fit on the back of any car, so it had to be the car.
'We can't book you here anymore the drum's too big.'
'The building doesn't exist anymore, three people died last time, please stop playing your drums.' [laughs] Yeah, my plan was to get some land in North Dakota, because I heard land is really cheap there, and just set up this drum. There are all these contraptions I had designed, like pulleys and stuff, because even the batter would be too heavy to swing, so it would have to have all these counterweights and pulleys. Get a cymbal that is like 30' in diameter.
Get the guy from Octant to help you out with that.
Yeah I wonder if he does science fiction.
Have the people flock to you. Well they wouldn't have to'
Yeah I mean the idea is if you were within a mile of it you would die. I mean the houses would be flattened like atomic bomb footage.
But to balance the sound out on stage, you would have to have a PA science hasn't invented yet.
Yeah it probably wouldn't work, but it's a nice dream.
Have you had any technical training in recording or electronics?
I moved to Olympia for Evergreen, and I took this one class about recording, but I wasn't into it at all. It was all about making sure that the dimensions of the room were right so all your frequencies would be precise. Everything that this room and studio stands for is totally the opposite of that traditional way of recording. I'm really into making it sound as fucked up as possible. It seems like Calvin and other people have recorded bands in a more traditional way, like putting a regular mic on a regular guitar amp and record it playing regular chords. So it's possible to do that here. I guess it's not possible to get the type of isolation that they taught me at Evergreen. That was the thing about that class: isolation was the most important thing in recording. Making sure that the guitar didn't bleed into the drums, but the whole history of recording was blending everything together. Letting the sound merge in the air naturally and then going into the microphone rather than merging electronically in the mixer. It seemed way more natural to me, especially in a room like this where there is so much air for it to get mixed up in. Just as a rule of isolation, I mean ruling out the idea that it could sound good with a lot of drums in the vocal mic, maybe it would sound good, you know?
So with the Microphones, do you record the basic tracks yourself and then invite friends to overdub?
Yeah, a lot of times I could do it myself. I'm pretty much always playing the instruments and then a couple of my friends will help out with singing the harmonies.
Do you recruit them to play live?
Sometimes - lately my friend Mira and I have been playing and touring together. I recorded her record the same way the Microphones did, going a song at a time. Just doing the whole song instead of doing the assembly line. Just fleshing out the songs and each section on its own, independently.
Have you've done the assembly line style of recording?
Yeah. Right now this other band that I play drums in, Old Time Relijn, we're working on some new stuff and we are kind of doing it the assembly line way, and then with D+ Calvin recorded us that way. It's more efficient to do it that way. But kind of the way I make up songs is through recording them. As I record them I get more ideas and it gets fleshed out that way. I don't know what is going to be on each song, and it helps to record one song at a time so that you don't get confused.
So how long does it take to record an album's worth of songs?
Lately I have had a lot of songs come out of me. I don't know why they choose to come out when they do.
On Tests did you used a lot of sound collaging?
On Tests' that CD was collected for a couple of years' worth of stuff from Anacortes, mostly. There's a whole song on that record which is just me sampling from a bunch of other records. I've read reviews where they say 'He uses found sound recordings and field recordings,' but actually it's a car driving by when I'm recording the vocals, or the wind or a siren. There's a song on my last album where there's this amazing wind whistling across the windows. It was doing it across the hall one night and I just ran over there and recorded it, it was incredible. Mostly, though, it's just actually things with this room. I really like when songs have that other texture. Not just an instrument playing a part, but when a car is driving by, I mean here it is inevitable because the street's so loud and the windows are so thin. Seagulls live on this roof as well, so there are a lot of seagulls on the recordings from here.
Have you ever altered a specific instrument to get a unique sound from it?
I love the sound of muting the strings on a piano. In fact I just got that piano this summer, so I haven't had time to experiment with it, but I'm excited to. It's a piece of crap piano, I got it for $200. It's really quite trashed, that's why I have to play it really loud. It doesn't sound very good, but it is a piano. I mean it sounds like a piano, so that's good. I'm hesitant to get it tuned because in the winter it's so cold in here that it will just go out of tune again. I'll just wait until the summer to get it tuned and use it a bunch. I do want to record vocals on this old vibrating chair that we have in this corner.
How much time do you spend in the studio?
I spend days here. Well the power has been out in my house for like two weeks. Something major happened, but my landlords went to the Olympics, so I've been cooking and pretty much been living here. I made myself a little nook in this corner. K leases this whole building. Not that I'm always recording - I mean I have also made a book of sheet music for my newest album. I wrote out all the songs' parts, each instrument's part in sheet music. I can't really read sheet music, but I kind of figured it out roughly for this project.