Audioasis: A Local Perspective of KEXP In-Studios

Quite a few of you have asked what it was like to play in the KEXP studio, so here’s a quick rundown by local singer/songwriter Andy Werth.

All photos by Jim Bennett

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When we pulled up to the studio parking lot where bands load in and walked up to the door, I almost expected to see an autobody shop on the other side. You’d never think that the country’s most influential college radio station was hiding behind the dingy cinder block wall. But then. . . .
Once we got inside, we immediately knew we were in good hands. An intern (whose name I unfortunately forget) helped us unload our gear. What a courtesy! And to top it off, the poor guy had a broken arm! I tried to prevent him from lifting our exceptionally heavy gear so he wouldn’t mess up his other arm, but he insisted. We all loaded our gear down a long hall and into the studio room. We were assisted by the engineer, Tom Hall, who helped us get everything set up. My tireless band got all the equipment configured while I sat at a desk outside with DJ Sharlese Metcalf and signed about half a dozen forms giving KEXP the rights to use the songs in the broadcast however they see fit. (Here’s hoping they don’t sell “Get in Your Car” to Toyota. Or even worse, Ford). Back in the studio, Tom worked in the booth to get us the best mix possible. This guy is fantastic, and anyone who gets a chance to work with him should consider themselves blessed by the music gods. They’ve also got some really nice Neumann mics. The studio is much roomier than I expected. We easily fit me, my electronic piano, my Rhodes, Matt and his guitar and Fender Twin Reverb, Steve and his bass rig, Devan and his full drum kit, with Steve Mraz and George on trumpets. And there was still room for a little couch!

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We were given plenty of time for a sound check (we were told to arrive at 4:30 for our 6:00 performance, and we were set up and ready for the sound check at about 5:30). The whole time I’m wondering, when is Abe Beeson gonna be in here? I listen to Abe’s jazz show on KPLU most nights, and I consider it to be the best jazz show I’ve ever heard (and I’ve heard a lot of them). He swooped in about 5 minutes before the show started and introduced himself. He’s about the nicest person you’ll meet, and like everyone else we met at KEXP that afternoon, he made us feel relaxed.

After the countdown, we ripped into our first song, and the rest is history, albeit very minor history. We think it turned out pretty well for our first radio broadcast. Well, I think Steve and George (trumpets) have been broadcast before--they were actually dancing during songs, while the rest of us were sweating through our clothes.

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Tom thoughtfully made a CD of the broadcast. He also created tracks on the CD so that we can post the songs individually. And that’s exactly what we’ll be doing soon, so look for those recordings to be available on MySpace. Hmmm. I wonder if I signed away the rights to do that when I inked up all those papers. I guess we’ll find out.

To wrap it up, it was an experience that could have been a nervewracking disaster, but thanks to the friendly, talented folks at KEXP, it was one of the most exhilirating things we’ve done in our one year as a band.

As a side note, I know several bands who have played in the studios of well-funded corporate radio stations, and without exception say that KEXP has them all beat. By a loooong shot.

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Hope we get another chance to do that soon, and look for those tracks to get posted soon.

Andy

Singer/Songwriter Andy Werth is a Colorado native relocated to Seattle with a new EP release called Seeing Stars. You can catch him live on December 1 at the Comet Tavern.

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