So rewinding a bit, around late 2009 or so i read this thread on 2+2 "Ask me anything about being a music scene micro celebrity". I found it pretty awesome that Steve Albini was posting on 2+2 and had made an ask me thread. That was that though. Interesting read, back to the grind.
However, floating around in the back of my mind, i had had thoughts that i should possibly consider sending him a message asking him what was up etc, that i was a 'micro celebrity' in the internet poker world and that i would love to have a chat.
Steve Albini rocking out
The idea marinated in the back of my brain for at least a month, despite my subconscious giving me little hints that it was time to cook the beef. Eventually one night around Feb 2010, i was pretty drunk, and just decided '*** it' and sent him a msg asking if i could come make him coffee. I linked him to my own ask me thread in case he wanted to scope me out before hand, and said i'd really appreciate the opportunity, i could provide my own accommodation etc, and would have no problem working whenever he desired (obviously for free). I did have some knowledge of recording at this point but ultimately had no idea about how most analog equipment worked, not that you really ever deal with that as an intern.
He sent me back a msg essentially saying that you needed to go to audio engineering school to intern at EA but that he'd just move someone down the list and i could come August 1st if i wanted despite having limited expertise. It's funny how often these 'ask while drunk' things seem to work. Its a little like when you come home wasted and go on Facebook and start sending some girl you haven't seen forever some seriously dirty messages like 'i want to ravage you right now' and you're like 'man i can't believe i just wrote that i am going to regret this in the morning' but then they respond and are like 'mmm that sounds good...'.
Anyway before i get sidetracked... Osheaga music festival was on the 30th and 31st of July and i had tickets, so i sent him back a msg saying August 2nd would work a lot better for my schedule, and 'hey man, you understand cos its the music right?!'.
Then i realized that was incredibly retarded given the opportunity that had presented itself, kind of like ejaculating into the gaping maws of a gift horse, so i sent him another msg saying "sorry about that, i'll be there on the 1st". Still, missed Arcade Fire, Black Keys and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Next year i thought.
Now i gotta mention here, please don't bombard Steve w/ msgs trying to network with him and ****, he is very busy with work and combined with that, being married, and possibly loving the game of poker more than i do (which is saying something!), well, you know.
Anyway, with that out of the way, i schlepped off to Chicago and subleased with some people there that i knew through a mutual friend.
My first day at the studio i arrived early. It was a little chilly. I wasn't exactly sure how to go about entering the place. I mean, there's clearly a door in the bottom left, but i mean more like 'err hello? um... yea... its martin... um yea the new intern'. This is the entrance:
It doesn't exactly scream 'come inside and get your vocals EQed! we love you!'.
As i stood there, a punk band started unpacking their stuff out of a van. They were pretty happy to be there and pitched me on their gig later that week. As we stood there, exchanging small talk over a cigarette, Steve came down in a blue jump suit which i think really sums up his view of what his job actually entails, a belief that is that it is more important to get someones car to function as it was designed than to give the impression that one works for NASCAR. The band talked to Steve for a bit then pitched him on coming to one of their shows after work, to which Steve gracefully replied "what do you think the last thing a whore wants to do at the end of a shift?". That seemed to work pretty effectively.
I was like, hey! i'm Martin! and he was like cool, our Assistant engineer will run you through everything. Thats what happened. It turns out the most important part of 'everything' was 'fluffy coffee', a beverage i would come to both love and despise.
Fluffy coffee is a combination of three main elements.
1. Putting cinnamon into the espresso grounds.
2. A full pint of frothed milk.
3. Maple syrup.
To make the fluffy coffee, basically you dissolve maple syrup in a flavoured espresso and then pour it into a cup of frothed milk.
Now thats pretty easy, but as the assistant engineer warned me 'dude, it seems easy but you wanna get this right because when there's an 8 person band and everyone wants a ****ing fluffy coffee all at the same time and you're trying to froth a gallon of milk with this little espresso maker, you are going to be stressed out'. That definitely did occur.
Anyway, after downing one of these 'for research purposes' (also this was my first 10 am day of 'work' in 5 years, COFFEEEE), i went about helping clean, take out trash etc, while attempting my best impression of Casper the friendly ghost. I spent some time just wandering around, scoping things out. My impressions of Electrical Audio are as if someone took a level out of Quake 1 and turned into a recording studio.
this room is awesome, the ceiling is SO HIGH
I don't think it was until lunch time that Steve actually realized i was the person that sent him a msg on 2+2 and he was like "OH, you're that Martin!". Electrical Audio is a big place though and goes through plenty of interns, interns that basically try to be invisible, so its no surprise Steve just kind of glosses over the new recruits in his brain and focuses on his work. Anyway, we had a short chat and then we got back to our respective jobs, me taking out trash and cleaning floors, emptying ashtrays (there are ashtrays EVERYWHERE, i imagine its basically a requirement for a lot of the musicians Steve records) while intermittently lurking in the background of a session in Studio B that a young band 'poundcake' was trying to do a 1 day recording in.
Cool guys http://www.myspace.com/poundcakesound
, you can check out there music here, i don't think any of this is from that session though. It was pretty cool, they were so excited to be recording there (they were basically my age) and although you're certainly not meant to instigate conversations with the artists, these guys were asking me all about what music i was into etc. They managed to get their whole recording down by the end of a long day (say 9 pm? i stayed way later than i had to) and then they invited me out to their car so they could test it on the sound system in there while we smoked a bowl. Done! Then we went out and listened to some crazy Rock Polka band, got wasted and that was the end of day 1 at EA.
I would say the biggest realization or general feeling i continued having at EA was that the people were really no different than myself. They just happened to be doing it.