The Cat Ranch Studio
It was a tiny room under a tiny porch at the back of a house in Paradise. The name came from John Kelly, joking about the fact that Bonnie the girl from Jacksonville and I had just gotten a couple of long-hair tabbies. He called our place the Cat Farm, but I revised that to Cat Ranch, thinking it sounded cooler. I didn't know that there already was a place called The Cat Ranch in Nevada.|
Recording techniques advanced by trial and error. Things like RCA to 1/4" patch cords seemed exotic, and purchasing cassette tapes 10 at a time to get a price break felt wildly speculative. Mixes were done on a Peavey mixer, which was also the band's PA system. It had seven channels, a spring reverb and a chunky graphic equalizer. With a cassette recorder on one side and a Sony 350 reel to reel from a New York DA's office on the other there was enough gear to bounce tracks a couple of times and build up something similar to multitrack recordings.
Everything was analog. I had a Hohner tape echo, a Roland phase shifter, and an Ibanez AD100 delay for effects. We were using a high-impedance microphone that an auctioneer had rejected, and a pair of white Peavey mics that looked like they came from the movie 2001- a Space Odyssey. Eventually a Roland DR-55 drum machine and Arp Axxe and Korg K-1 monophonic synthesizers were added to the instrument roster. Long loops of 1/4" tape could be strung across the control room around mic stands and played back through the 350 to serve as sampled beats.
The place was a laboratory where, knowing nothing of the science of recording, we investigated the properties of sound, music, and song like it was alchemy. We made some bad recordings and we made some good ones. A lot of paths fork off from the Cat Ranch.
Here's some of the stuff recorded there over roughly ten years, written by me unless otherwise indicated. Band songs may be covers or written by others in the band. Selected titles are linked to song files.
Bill Nork- Tourist Attraction|
Bill on Wurlitzer piano and precision guitars, me on synth bass and underwater vocal.
Terry Keating- Real Love Is Real
Sweet lyric and vocal from Terry. All the sounds came out great.
I Have My Doubts|
Big Red- How Many Times
Kenny Gross- Trenton Noway
You Look So Good
Dark 30- Because You Believed It
Robert Bobby- Jonesin' for Your Love Again
Listen to Me Linda
Bob Esbenshade- Lookin' Through Your Eyes
If I Were You
Lil' Nita- Now I'm Ready|
Anita, the younger sister of a friend who stopped by to see the studio, had the perfect voice for this.
This became a hit at the Cone House upstate.
Bill Nork- Boss Machine
Not Like You
Dark 30- You Make Me
Big Red- My Pride Hurts
Dark 30- The Wave|
Written and sung by Glenn Redcay, one of the best from the first Dark 30 recording.
The Stokers- Wallpaper Saga
This hyper-sonic gem of a jam includes the sounds of those glass light shades in the Main Room.
Robert Bobby- Saturday Mornin'|
That's the Way
Dark 30- Aint No Sunshine
Kenny Gross- Ugly Girls
One Way Glass
Kenny Gross- The Taking|
It's got 50's sentimentality and 70's rawness, with a 90's bridge. Stix Patton on drums.
Dark 30- Sometimes in the Night
Our rock anthem, written and sung by Bob Esbenshade on the first Dark 30 release.
Jack O' Diamonds- Arcade|
This Roland DR-55 driven instrumental was inspired by Centipede.
Robert Bobby- My Baby Loves Her Man
Mr. Bobby came to Paradise to commit about a dozen originals live to tape.
Robert Bobby- Saturday Mornin'|
I Haven't Got Time for it Now
Kenny Gross- Mix and Mingle
Make Believe Stories
Big Red- Between You and Me
Life on Earth
No Chance of Meeting
Dark 30- Keep on the Move
Crossing State Lines
Big Red- It Don't Matter Anyhow
Skamatix- Drug War Game|
Recorded for a Rich Stewart single, transferred from the test pressing.
Big Red- Frogtown
A smokin' instrumental, recorded live, and typical of their live performances.
Take It Back|
Kenny Gross- I Dont Need It
Gone, Gone, Gone
Dark 30- Aint No Denyin'
Bob Esbenshade- The Beat of Her Heart
Fall Right Through|
Here's a bridge!
Bill Nork- No One Wants to Talk to You
This one has a real Farfisa and that swingin' Casiotone drum sound. Da Da Da.
some lab notes
Big Red- Come and Get Me Coppers|
Teenage angst, back when teenage angst was cool.
Surfin To You
I wrote a lot of beach songs.
The Blame- Public Places|
Robert Bobby- Just a Smile Away From Cryin'
Big Red- Apolitical Blues
The Stokers- Say Wen
Kenny Gross- Ozone|
The original radio head.
Butcher at Your Door
Scene at a drive-in, probably.
Dark 30- One Lucky Roll
Bob Esbenshade- Streets of Love
The Man with the Bosses Face
Bill Nork- Friendly Bank
Lover You Are
Robert Bobby- Come On
The Stokers- Dinosaur Wagontrain
On the Beach
Bob Esbenshade- Complication
Big Red- How Long
the Holy Book
Bob Esbenshade- Livin' in a Lonely Place|
Bob and I take a little trip to Berlin.
The Shocking Truth
Some people say!
Dark 30- No Time|
Robert Bobby- Silver
Bob Esbenshade- Waiting for Your Love
The Stokers- Saka1
Kenny Gross- About Half
Take a little trip with me-e.
Bill Nork- Living Alone
You gotta do it.
Robert Bobby- In My Own Selfish Way
It Must Have Been in Spring
Big Red- Take Your Time
Bill Nork- Bad Jazz
Big Red- I Know
Saving It for You
Kenny Gross- The Boy Alone
Body of Fire
Bob Esbenshade- Don't Think I'll See You
With the Boys
big iron table
The Blame- I Believe It|
Glenn wrote and sang this one.
Turnin Out Wrong
Ain't it the truth.
Stevie and Guy
The Blame- Slumber Party|
One Lost Time
Bob Esbenshade- Pretty Baby
Because You Believed It
Kenny Gross- To Lonely People
Big Red- Middle Class White Boy Blues
That's a Mother
Robert Bobby- Feel So Blue Since You Been Gone
Yerd Eployed V2|
How much bass can I get on tape?
Robert Bobby- Genuine Queen of Milwaukie
A signature song.
Dark 30- Toward the Light|
Another song by Glenn from the first Dark 30 release.
Kenny Gross- Nucular Rat
After Three Mile Island, Kenny finds that he's become project X-S-T.
Really Over You
Bob Esbenshade- Is It True?
What Goes Up
Kenny Gross- Dress and Dance
Bill Nork- Surf is Up
Nork and Loretta
My ZZ Top phase.
Bill Nork- Better Man
An early one for me and Bill.
Rick at the Wurlitzer
With Your Heart|
Bob Esbenshade- You Can't Go Home
Kenny Gross- Princess Raincloud
Wild and Woolly Days
Big Red- You Oughta Be My Baby|
Filling local dance floors on a weekly basis.
A favorite of mine. It came along without a fight.
Crossing State Lines
Robert Bobby- Sounds Like You to Me
Jack O' Diamonds- Alien Beach Party
Bob Esbenshade- Apocalypse
You Make Me
When I Fell|
Another one that came along sweetly.
The Stokers- Science Loop
Modified tape loop of the coda of "She Blinded Me with Science" under it all.
Bob Esbenshade- Heart Like a Badge|
Jack O' Diamonds- Egg Whip
Crime of Love
Jack O' Diamonds-H-M Synth
World of Our Own|
Takes me back to the rainy night Glenn and I recorded it- finished way late.
What could be better in your early 20's? One of John's favorites.
Bob Esbenshade- The Side Show
The Blame- Girls, Girls, Girls
On Those Legs
Bill Nork- Bring Back the Limbo