New York Metro

Feb 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By David Weiss

Polls


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“This is not a commercial studio,” says Vassil. “I've always been an underground type of person. So if you've heard one of my recordings and loved it, and you become a friend of mine, I'll let you into my personal haven and let you in on the way I record. But I only want to do projects I'm interested in, so I don't publicize it and I don't have a card — it's strictly a word-of-mouth thing.”

Dedicated early on to the art of hard-rock drumming, Vassil had zero interest in audio engineering for most of his life. Then one fateful day when he was working as a salesman at famed Manny's Music, Vassil happened to obtain a Tascam 4-track following a customer trade-in. Unexpectedly, he got nailed with the recording bug, kicking off an obsession with obtaining the best possible gear for capturing sounds in his music building room, first for his own band, Ruby Bullet (www.myspace.com/rubybullet), and now for a select clientele.

A decade later, he's outfitted the space with a pair of Neve 54 Series broadcast mixers, two tall racks of tasteful equipment that includes multiple Empirical Labs Distressors, Amek dual-compressor/limiter, CBS Laboratories limiters, vintage Langevin mic pre's and more. A host of Neumann microphones captures the action, and 1-inch tape machines are onhand, as well as Digidesign Pro Tools (piloted by mix engineer and co-conspirator Ben Arons), which was grudgingly added by Vassil, a self-admitted analog freak.

“Pre-production is so important,” says Vassil, “but it's not stressed or valued as much as it used to be. I'd much rather have a band come in and hear what they sound like before they go into a room and spend big money on the clock. When a band uses a 4-track for pre-production, it's not a sharp enough microscope to tell them what they'll really sound like on a record. This is built to be the ultimate pre-production studio — actually, most bands decide to stay here and record the final product.”

Vassil pays extra attention to the rhythm section when he works. “The bass track is just as important as the drums in the basic tracks, and I never record the drums without the bass together,” he notes. “There has to be that connection that you can only get by playing in the same room. I would love to get the whole band live ultimately, but if I can't, I'll settle for bass and drums. This is the spine of my recording process.”

Although offering consistently affordable rates might not make sense to economists, for Gain Studios, the creative independence everyone gains is, you know, priceless. “My loss is your gain,” Vassil says jokingly. “I'm not into becoming a millionaire. I'm into breaking all the rules. I just want to get a vibe, and it's a very loose thing. Because expenses are low, we have a lot of freedom and time to capture something. So if you don't get it tonight, come back tomorrow night.”


Send “Metro” news to david@dwords.com.






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