in the wires - studio q&a and other trivia

it looks like matt bonner's signs of passing and medicine stone's gauge both were recorded somewhere called 'poker hill studio'. where? how?

yes. both signs of passing and gauge were recorded at poker hill studio, joe capps' secluded engineering cauldron a half hour outside burlington, vermont.

signs was recorded digitally through a Yahama O3D console. editing was done in MOTU's Digital Performer. signs was mixed through Mackie HR 824 monitors and sent digital out of the O3D to an Alesis Masterlink CD recorder. gear details:


Pendulum class A
Joe Meek optical
Symetrix solid state mic pre amps
Lucid A/D convertors


Sound Deluxe UL 195 (vocals)
CAD E300 (vocals)
Shure SM 57, SM 81, AKG 535s


Lexicon MPX 1
TC electronics finalizer
Yamaha O3D verb and delay
Waves effects
Joe Meek compressor


Kurzweil PC88
Korg M1
Korg MS2000
Roland U220
Emu Procussion

gauge was recorded analog to ADAT through a 32-track Mackie mixing board. digital editing was done in MOTU's Digital Performer on "snow", "sure enough", and "burden".

notable mixing differences included heavy use of a SansAmp guitar amp simulator (the "cock box"), the enhance feature of the Joe Meek mic pre amp (the "fairy dust"), and the large vocalplate from an Alesis Quadraverb.

where is poker hill, anyway? hill....(here the grizzled storyteller raises one eyebrow at the eager taverngoer and sips slowly at his mead) hill is not on any map....

who is jerry tubb?

jerry tubb is the resident mastering genius at terra nova digital audio, in austin, texas. jerry and his wife diane established austin's first mastering studio and run it with great attention to detail.

terra nova alums include willie nelson, the dixie chicks, phish, yoko ono, the butthole surfers, jerry jeff walker, and many others.

[signs of passing]

how long did it take to record signs?

around 1000 studio hours. joe capps & meb made the first demo in august 2000 (with the exception of "the day in question", which was laying around as an unfinished demo from the previous winter), and the last mix was finished in april 2002.

what's the fuzzy static sound that's at the beginning of "reveal" with the guitar?

SPDIF noise - digital boogers. various pieces of gear which needed to communicate with each other were mistakenly set to different settings. when recording was underway, the resultant communication created audible errors that ended up as fuzz embedded in the track used for one of the guitar loops.

meb liked the fuzz, thinking it sounded like some half-scrambled signal from a distant radio tower. despite capps' periodic aesthetic objections, it remained.

what's with the phone message at the end of "reveal"?

the sample is an actual message from meb's next door neighbor at the lakehouse. those sorts of messages were fairly common.

i think i hear a phone ringing near the end of "driven". is there one?

joe capps thinks so. there may have been an open mic channel during a mix.

did meb really play a beer bottle on "driven"? where?

yes - a two-fingered tap on an open and half-full beer....on the last eighth note ('off four') of every 2nd bar in the verse and outro.

what is jack tanner pouring early in "tanner"?

a glass of VO over ice.

what's the 'tuned wine glass' in the credits for "turning of the stone"?

just what it sounds like - a smallish wine glass, tuned by filling it with water until it would ring out at A flat when joe capps flicked it with a finger.


how long did it take to record gauge?

700 to 900 studio hours - no one is quite sure. 21 months in calendar time.

who is bryan thomas?

bryan thomas is a multi-talented singer/songwriter currently lighting up albany, new york. he first met most of medicine stone when they were all at middlebury college together. check out his superb and always-current site.

who is horace beck?

see here.

did someone named kevin really lose his guitar?

yes. this was a real voicemail from a student of joe capps. it arrived during one of the gauge sessions.

what's the deal with the 'nagging woman at the end of desderata'?

the 'nagging woman' is actress amanda philipson.

is that a cigarette being lit afterward as whoever it is walks away from her nagging?

yes. an american spirit.

the footsteps were recorded on joe capps' deck. it was so cold that the snow actually squeaked underfoot.

what is the 'live in the truck' sample thing at the end of dmv?

back in the dark and eternally snowing winter in jackson/driggs, alec and meb would stay up spinning tunes and singing (also known as the disc game), so late and so often that to allow anyone around them to sleep they'd usually have to go outside to the car, which most times was alec's truck. after one particularly loud and fevered session, the practice of ending a night with 3-4 hours of obsessive tunespinning and a stash of reserve beer (often a cheap twelve of hamm's from spirits' drive-through in jackson) was christened 'live in the truck'.

the sample in question was captured one night in vermont when alec and meb had pulled over on the way from the 3 needs to the yurt, to have a smoke and listen to the crickets (on schoolhouse road near the basin harbor club, at 3:30 am one night in july 1997, for you historians). alec's portable recorder was running.

where is the yurt? what is the yurt?

the yurt was an apartment over bob & karin hardy's garage, in ferrisburgh, vt, where alec and meb lived at the beginning of the early gauge sessions. it was a bit roughed-out; meb's cat rhubarb shared the place, and she would find her way into the guts of the structure and periodically could be heard meowing from, for example, the inside of the bathtub.

what is the '3 needs'? are these places in the liner other studios or what?

the 3 needs is a bar on college street in burlington, vermont, and is one of 11 (yes, eleven) bars & diners acknowledged in the liner for being the site of frequent Very Important Meetings.

XXL pic

note gremlin-like joe capps at top
XXL pic

lap full o studio cats
(sorry, no XXL)

the world outside
XXL pic

preamp & submixer
(with settings for mirror)
XXL pic


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All contents ©2007 Matt Bonner, Red Ember Publishing, Deckboard Music, and/or Stone Circle Records, except where noted.