Melody Maker – Medication EP #1
This was my first #1 “hit” as a newly-minted record producer. I had recently traveled to the U.K. to do front of house for Mercury Rev’s debut show in London, at an amazing venue called “The Grand.” At the mixing board, I had set up a wah wah pedal, a keyboard, my entire racks of effects, as well as a trombone. Even though I was enrolled in the Bachelor of Science Sound Recording Technology program at Fredonia University, I never had any formal training on how to mix live sound. All I knew is what I had learned while working with Mercury Rev in the school recording studio with Dave Fridmann.
Jason Pierce was at that show and said that he had never seen anyone do live sound the way I did, and offered me a job on the spot as front of house for his newly-formed band; Spiritualized. I jumped at the chance as I was a long-time fan of Spaceman 3. Little did I know that a few gigs later, Jason planned on going in the studio to record what eventually became “Lazer Guided Melodies”.
In the interim, we recorded the Medication EP, and Jason asked me to produce it, based on my engineering work with Mercury Rev and a little work with the Flaming Lips at school. I pinched myself more than once as a dream that seemed impossible and so far off, was happening to me before I even finished getting my sound recording degree.
I had a blast recording the EP, and only had some trouble with Jason when it came time for the credits. I had no idea that he felt he had not been properly credited in the past, so when I he asked me about credits, I simply said that I felt my name should be first. He agreed and said little else. I found out later, through Kate Radley (his girlfriend at the time), that he was livid that I asked for my name first, and resented me for asking. If I had known, I would have gladly put my name second, but that option never presented itself, and Jason quietly brooded without me knowing.
Even more bizarre, is that Jason was going to record his album in January of 1993. It turns out that the Flaming Lips were also going to record their new album (Transmissions from the Satellite Heart) in January of 1993 as well. I had a life-changing decision to make: Do I continue my life in the UK, as the “hot young indie producer” as one interview said, or do I move back the USA, and work with a band I had long admired, and was thrilled that I had the opportunity to work with.
After a great deal of soul-searching, I decided to move to Oklahoma City, moving in with Wayne Coyne at the Estately Wayne Manor, and began work on the Flaming Lips album that launched my career as a record producer. I was already the front of house engineer for both Mercury Rev and the Flaming Lips, so I was already intimately familiar with the band and the music.
I was still extremely green, though, I was terrified of Wayne Coyne, and I only had my ears to guide me. I accepted ZERO POINTS on that album because, when negotiating with Wayne Coyne for my production fee, he said; “You don’t have a leg to stand on, so take it or leave it. You’re lucky we’re paying you any money at all as you’re lucky to be recording with us.”
It was an odd way to start a new production project, but I was such an immense fan of the Flaming Lips, I had dreamed of working for a major label band, especially one on Warner Brothers Records, that he was right; I didn’t have a leg to stand on, and if he had told me I was doing the record for free, I would have done it. Just to add insult to injury, though, Wayne told me that he’d pay me more than the $5,000.00 he offered me for the record, if he didn’t need the rest of the money to buy his house; the Estately Wayne Manor, where I lived while making the record, and where Michael Ivans lived for quite some time.
More details on the Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Transmissions from the Satellite Heart, Spiritualized and many others as the journey through press releases continues…