On the Cover: Rose Mann Cherney

Oct 25, 2010 1:54 PM, By Maureen Droney


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Engineer Ed Cherney, Rose Mann Cherney and Record Plant owner Rick Stevens

Engineer Ed Cherney, Rose Mann Cherney and Record Plant owner Rick Stevens

Back to 1976.
I have to admit, when I started I didn’t know anything. One day they sent me to get a dozen nanowebers. And everybody went along with it. I called one of the rental companies, and said, “I’m Rose Mann from Record Plant. I just started here and I’ve been asked to order a dozen nanowebers.” And the guy said, “You know what, let me check.” He must have put the phone down, and gone, “Heh, heh,” before he came back and told me they were all out. But you know, I’m engineer-trained.

What do you mean?
Engineers taught me how to do my job. Like when someone’s mixing, you can’t just go in the room and change things. See, in those days there weren’t lockouts—or Total Recall either. It was hourly, with double shifts. Eight in the morning until whatever at night, then whatever until morning. And when you had tracking, it was a problem because nobody wanted to tear down. It was the engineers who knew what was going on and taught me what you could and couldn’t do. They also told me about client preferences and how to handle them.

I would take my booking book and sit with them and they would explain things to me. Gary Ladinsky, for example, taught me about microphones, about the difference between tube mics and what mics were good for snares, and how if you had to move mic stands you should mark where the stands had been so you could put them back properly—and to try not to move the drum kit! I also learned a lot from Gary Kellgren, who was a brilliant engineer. And, of course, I learned how to juggle bookings because when they said they’d be done at 12, a lot of times they weren’t.

Things are a lot different today. What’s still great about your job?
It’s challenging but we are still doing what we love—making music with will.i.am, writing camps, DJ Steve Angello (Swedish House Mafia), Lady Gaga, Ron Fair recording strings...

My business is 50-percent songwriter-based now. Instead of a rock band with all their techs, more often it’s one guy writing and working with five different artists. The creativity is there. It’s just different.

You have a huge responsibility to keep multiple studios booked and you have demanding clients to keep happy. How do you do it?
I can do it because I have a really great management team: Sayoko Rutledge, who is studio manager, and Jason Carson, VP, who’s been with me 10 years. We work hard, play hard, have fun and the client is always right!

But you’re also strict. There are things you just won’t do—or allow.
In the studio you have to have balls. Enough balls so that you don’t back down when someone tries to push you around. That was difficult for a woman in those days, and I think part of why I excelled. I didn’t take shit from anybody.

The first time I held tapes [as collateral until payment was received] was my first encounter with bodyguards. Chris was worried about me because I was so angry. The band’s manager is one of my good friends now, but that night I sat on those multitracks and dared those guys to touch me. All 120 pounds of me—in my layered ’80s hair! I was sitting on them thinking, “I hope they don’t print through!” That was my engineer training. They taught me about stacking tapes the right and wrong way.

I’ve heard you can be tough.
No one is ever going to tell me how to run my studios. Nobody can pay me enough money to disrespect the studio or my staff. I won’t let someone come in being disrespectful to my kids. They work hard. The studio business—any good business—doesn’t run on one person. It’s a unit. We run as one entity, and if one little part of us is off kilter, even a runner, it throws the whole thing off. I really, truly, believe that you are only as good as your people.

Good people aren’t easy to find.
You have to interview a lot of people. I’ll interview 25 before I find one runner. I’ve always been fussy and I’ve been doing this so long I can spot things. When a guy is walking through the hall, I can tell if he’s ready to leave the nest. Or I can tell if they’ve lost interest, just by the look in their eyes. I can spot it, and I’ll say, “What’s wrong? Let’s talk.” Some people are just not cut out for studio work. And if they’re not, I try to help the good ones find jobs.

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