May 20, 2016 01:49 PM

The lead singer of Frigg A-Go-Go lifts the curtain on The Penetrating Sounds of Frigg A-Go-Go, the band’s first full-length record — recorded in a sandwich shop in the hopes of buying a van.

Was there anything unusual about the recording of that album?
Gosh, I don’t know. What would you consider unusual? We recorded it in the Subway Downtown on a borrowed recorder with borrowed mics and mixed it in the junk room behind my apartment to a DAT tape on a machine rented from Vince’s Backstage Music, which all seemed completely normal at the time.

Do you have any memories of the recording sessions that stand out?
We had a deal with 360 Twist to do a single and a full length. We cut the single at some place out near Ville Platte or Bunkie or something with a fellow who didn’t wear shoes and always looked like he couldn’t believe we were spending money on recording what we were recording, but he was real nice and offered us Coca-Cola. So, after that came out and it was time for recording the full length we figured we could do what he did and use the money to buy a van. Mike McBane had recorded us one afternoon at Metropolis on his recorder, which was maybe 12 tracks on 1/2’” tape. That recording ended up being Crash-Up Demo. So, he was nice enough to let us borrow his machine, and we hobbled together whatever microphones we could - Ivan Klassanin loaned us quite a few. We practiced at the Subway that was over on Main because the owners were decent folk who had no idea how we sounded. It closed at 5 and didn’t open on the weekends, so we loaded in on Friday evening and started setting up. I recall working on getting sounds, separation and levels until late in the day on Saturday and then we recorded all the tracks that night. We had the amps in the bathrooms and office for separation. The drums were in the main dining area. I don’t think the keys went direct – I’m pretty sure we ran them through an amp too, but I don’t know where that one was placed. At some point we tried using the freezer for something because it sounded so dead in there - but the noise of it running constantly with the door slightly ajar was too much.

Most of the songs were recorded in one take. We did a couple of takes on some, but we only had so many reels of tape and were worried we wouldn’t have enough. And anyway, we were no slouches when it came to practice and the songs were well drilled. Ivan was there for probably the entire session. I think he was controlling the tape. I remember we were pretty spread out – drums in the main seating area, somebody played behind the sandwich counter – maybe Chris (Sir Christian Leo) - somebody in the hall near the bathrooms, Chris must have been set up behind the soda fountain. We recorded a dummy vocal track, which was never intended to make the final mix, but some did. I think Ivan made a copy of all the tracks with the dummies. Maybe he still has it. The vocal overdubs were done later in my kitchen on Lafayette Street across from the public library – it’s now storage for Philips Tobacco. Before mixing, I spent a couple of weeks going around the house with a long mic cable recording all the sounds in my life – the refrigerator, the AC, a light that hummed – that’s all on the record. You can’t really hear it, but it’s there.

We mixed to a DAT and sent the tape to the record company and they had it mastered and pressed. We never got to hear the master before pressing and I remember not liking the overall sound once I finally heard it. It’s kinda low ended in a weird way. I don’t know, I haven’t listened to it on purpose for maybe 18 years and it sounded better than the shady hazy depths of my memory expected. But then I also don’t have any hearing left. Herb Rowe used to have this fine old convertible and he told me that everything he played in that car sounded like crap – except a tape of this record … but that this record sounded like crap everywhere else. So maybe I shoulda just listened to it in a fine old convertible.

What was your favorite song off the record? Why?

I don’t think I can pick one. I like the one that everyone hated. I like the one with the vocals too low. I like the one with the terrible tom and the one with the horrid snare sound. They are all a snapshot of a time and space. My time and space. Lafayette. Living Downtown. Nights at Metropolis. Isolation. Confusion. Freedom and hopelessness. Self hatred. Utter boredom.

Going into the studio, what was the goal for that record? Do you feel it was accomplished?
Our goal was to get something to the record company and get a van. We were very serious about what we did. We did budget rock. Mission accomplished.

What would you do differently if you could do it all over again?
I’m not one that likes to listen to what I’ve done so it has been a loooong time since I’ve heard this record. When I listened to it I started thinking maybe I wished some if the mixes were slightly different - maybe some compression added or some reverb/echo – that type of thing. But those thoughts passed quickly. The album is what it is. We didn’t have any of that. There are no effects on that record other than what we had on our amps. I don’t think any of us had any foot pedals at the time – we just plugged in and cranked it up. There’s one part where I kicked on the tremolo on my amp for about 15 seconds. I think that’s the only effect. Oh, and the Wurlitzer has a good wobble, but that’s what it does. The rest is just straight to tape and then mix. So yeah, first time cutting an album by ourselves in a freaking sandwich shop – stick that in your quaff and fluff it.

What is the definitive track on the record? Why?
Can I go with the first one because that’s the one most people press stop on, which about sums us up.


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