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electronic MUSICIAN



Aug 27

Written by: masterblogger
8/27/2010 5:21 AM  RssIcon

By Hugh Saldo

nodrugs_nrDuring the mid-’80s, I was an assistant engineer at a San Francisco studio where the owner was having a hard time keeping the business afloat. So he was really happy when a band called that had just signed a record deal, and had a decent budget to cut an album. The group blocked out the studio for two weeks, with the option for two more weeks. As those extra two weeks meant the difference between paying the bills that month or not, we had our fingers crossed the band would need the extra time.

As it turned out, the musicians sped through the basic tracks, and it looked less and less as if they’d need the extra studio time. The owner started to get nervous. Obviously, he couldn’t sabotage the sessions, so things were not looking good.

When I came in one day to set up for some overdubs, I noticed an envelope sitting on the mixer that said, “For the band.” The owner said a fan had left the envelope, and to make sure the band got it.

The band came in, opened the envelope, and pulled out a vial full of white crystals. I was young and didn’t do drugs, but I realized it was several grams of cocaine. The band started chopping it into a fine white powder, which made me pretty uncomfortable, but the customer is always right, and this was the ’80s, so. . . .

Soon, the sessions started falling apart. The band kept insisting on doing parts over and over, the singer’s voice started drying out, and the lead guitarist spent a whole afternoon doing a solo, and then decided it sucked, and attacked it again the next day. The musicians made the coke last as long as they could, and the overdub sessions dragged on until the band had paid for the full four weeks. The studio was saved!

Years later, I found out the studio owner had provided the cocaine, because he’d seen how it could drag sessions out forever. While it wasn’t exactly ethical, I had to admit he was a pretty clever businessman. That “investment” ended up saving his studio. And, truth be told, once the band had used up the coke and got back to business, the album ended up sounding pretty good.

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