Behind the Scenes: Producing Stavesacre’s “MCMXCV (1995)”

Stavesacre four sided vinyl!!!

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, my journey through the local alternative and punk music scene introduced me to the talented drummer Sam West. Sam and I shared a passion for music, and together in these bands we embarked on tours across the United States, creating cherished memories along the way. Our musical paths converged when we became the backing band for H.R. of Bad Brains for touring on his west coast for the “Charge” record.

Fast forward to 2016, Sam reached out to reconnect over a beer at a gastropub on Wilshire. Our reunion sparked a conversation about my work at Sound City and as a freelance engineer, leading Sam to propose an exciting opportunity: producing the new Stavesacre record. I eagerly accepted the challenge, seeing it as a chance to elevate my skills in the production space I shared with Jim Rota at Angel City Drum Works in Burbank, affectionately dubbed Underbrow.

Underbrow warehouse: Mic placements, one of my most favorite things to do
Underbrow warehouse: The set up, tracking into the night

Underbrow warehouse: Drum overdubs with Sam West

Meeting with Ryan Dennee and Jeff Bellew, we collaborated on demos and arrangements at Sam’s out-of-town retreat before transitioning to Underbrow to begin recording. Equipped with my trusty 32-channel Sound Workshop Series 34b recording console and a selection of outboard gear including Shadow Hill and Aurora GT2Q mic pres, we meticulously crafted each track, starting with drums and then moving on to guitars.

Moving the Sound Workshop Series 34b into Underbrow. Full install by FIG
Underbrow: At the helm Sound Workshop Series 34b w Pro Acs, NS10s, and Aventone Mix cubes
Underbrow: Jeff digging into main guitar tracking Gibson SG
Underbrow: Ryan in honing in on the Gibson SG
Jeff Bellew and Custom Tele Deluxe with P90s

For the guitar sessions, I had the pleasure of utilizing the Bogner Goldfinger 45 amp, which added a unique flavor reminiscent of a Vox AC30, alongside my vintage Marshall JMP. With Ryan and Jeff experimenting with different tones and textures, we sculpted the sonic landscape of the record.

Secret weapon Bogner Goldfinger
Main guitar flavors Bogner Shiva, and Marshall JMP
Underbrow: Ryan Dennee rocking Custom Strat with Lace Hot Golds

Despite bassist Dirk residing in Atlanta, we kept him involved by sending rough mixes, allowing him to prepare for his recording sessions in Los Angeles. Over four intense days, Dirk laid down bass tracks for all twelve songs, including covers of SIA’s “Breathe Me” and Radiohead’s “Burn the Witch.”

Underbrow: Dirk Lemmenes tracking bass
Ear break and getting some sunshine with 4/5th of Stavesacre

The final piece of the puzzle was recording vocals with Mark Salomon, whom I hadn’t seen since his days in the thrash band The Crucified. Though tracking vocals for a pile of songs can be daunting, Mark rose to the occasion, delivering captivating performances over eight consecutive days.

Underbrow: Mark Saloman in the house!!!
Underbrow warehouse:Mark prepping the singers for Gang vocals on The Tower
Underbrow: Mark Salomon

Throughout the recording process, we welcomed guest musicians, including Sam’s son Cameron West on French horns and Mark’s niece Hayley Brownell contributing vocals, adding depth and richness to the album’s sound.

Underbrow: Pick up switching during a tracking performance, and Sam

As the record took shape, we experimented with new guitar melodies and flavors, with each member of the band stepping up to deliver their best performances. Despite the challenges, the camaraderie, laughter, and shared passion for music made the experience unforgettable.

Stavesacre lists!!!

The culmination of our efforts resulted in the release of “MCMXCV (1995)” on vinyl, a testament to the dedication and creativity of everyone involved. I am immensely proud of this record and grateful for the friendships forged during its creation.

Stavesacre hangs!
Underbrow: Diving into keys with Sam West
Underbrow warehouse: Sam West on the chrome Ludwig Octo plus kit
Underbrow: Sweet machine! GIbson Firebird overdubs with Ryan Dennee
Me and Ryan working hard

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