Monday, February 24, 2014

The Birth of Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins And Garbage at Smart Studios in Madison

How did Nirvana end up in Madison, WI? How did they find Butch Vig? Could the noise-rock band Killdozer be the Midwest's link to the biggest genre shift in rock music history?

Smart Studios was started by Butch Vig and Steve Marker.

Steve, Duke, Shirley & Butch = Garbage

The Smart Studios Story covers the Midwest's post-hardcore scene, the early relationships of now-legendary indie labels (Touch and Go, Caroline, Frontier, Sub Pop, Slash, SST, Alternative Tentacles), and the circulation and broadcast of local music. Butch and Steve helped promote the bands and the shows with community radio airtime and cassette compilations that paralleled those of other regional, indie music disseminators like the Seattle-based Sub Pop Singles Club.

Smart weathered - literally - fires, floods and the foibles of a generation of rockers. The film captures what the space meant to the people who worked there and celebrates the recordings and experiences that, in the words of an interviewee who grew up in Indonesia, made Smart “hallowed ground.”

Check out the new documentary film about Smart Studios, directed by Wendy Schneider and learn how Smart became the "Abbey Road" of the Midwest for Nineties Rock and Roll.

The Madison sound
A selection of albums recorded, or mixed, or both at Smart Studios
Tar Babies: Honey Bubble (1989)
Killdozer: Twelve Point Buck (1989)
Nirvana: Nevermind (1990)
King Snake Roost: Ground Into the Dirt (1990)
Laughing Hyenas: Life of Crime (1990)
Smashing Pumpkins: Gish (1991)
The Young Fresh Fellows: Electric Bird Digest (1991)
L7: Bricks Are Heavy (1992)
Freedy Johnston: This Perfect World (1994)
Everclear: Sparkle and Fade (1994)
Soul Asylum: Let Your Dim Light Shine (1995)
Garbage: Garbage (1995)
The Promise Ring: 30° Everywhere (1996)
Fall Out Boy: Take This to Your Grave (2003)
Death Cab for Cutie: Plans (2005)
Sparklehorse: Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain (2006)
Jimmy Eat World: Chase This Light (2007)
Hotel Lights: Firecracker People (2007)


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Beatles 50th Anniversary: How Did Jimmie Nicol Know Ringo Starr's Drum Parts ?

It was 50 years ago this month, that a little known record label named Top Six put out an album of sound-alike Beatles hits to take advantage of England's Beatlemania. The songs were recorded quickly and cheaply at Pye Studios in London. The vocals did not sound much like The Beatles' singing, but that didn't stop the producer from siphoning off a few dollars from unsuspecting teenagers, who thought the album was the real Beatles.

What made this album special was the presence of an excellent drummer named Jimmie Nicol, who had to learn Ringo Starr's drum parts in order to record these songs. At the time, it was just another studio gig that paid well.  However, Nicol grew to respect Starr's drumming technique after learning his parts. He recalls, "I though he was good, innovative, and Ringo was making the drums an interesting instrument for inspiring musicians.  He was probably the first drummer known by name, and to have girls cry their eyes out, to get a touch of!"

Little did Jimmie Nicol know that he would get the chance to step into Ringo Starr's shoes in a few months. He would experience the moments of girls crying and screaming over him and would actually get to put his knowledge of Ringo's drum parts to good use, as he took over in The Beatles at the start of their first world tour in June, 1964.

Read more in: The Beatle Who Vanished, by Jim Berkenstadt (Free Excerpt/ Signed First Editions)
Amazon (Paperback and eBook)
2014 (c) Rock And Roll Detective(r).