The Blind Shake's Mike Blaha: The microphone can't hear you look cool

Photo by Milena Sivertson

Our ongoing series Behind the Boards has led Gimme Noise to visit the Twin Cities' most distinguished studios and talk with the engineers responsible for recording some of our favorite albums.

This week we met with the Blind Shake's Mike Blaha, already a unique figure for adopting the fairly uncommon baritone guitar with the group he and brother Jim founded with Dave Roper. Blaha is the first free-range engineer we've met with, recording bands in basements and practice spaces on a classic Tascam reel to reel machine. He is semi-officially Banana Tone Studio.

The conversation left our head spinning. After all, the Blind Shake provide listeners with kinetic proof of the law of conservation of energy. Their latest LP, Seriousness, ran the range from surf rock to punk rock without wasting a moment for breath. It bursts out of a turntable with such force a listener is compelled to move. Blaha's other recording projects have the same intensity, so Gimme Noise set out to how he captures it so well.

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Albatross Studio's Mike Wisti: Young people don't want to record Tusk or Sgt. Pepper's

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Photo by Dave Hoenack

In our ongoing series Behind the Boards, Gimme Noise explores the backbone of the Twin Cities' vibrant music scene by visiting recording studios and getting to know the engineers who capture its ten thousand sounds. This month we're visiting a studio that never abandoned analog recording, placing it at a crossroads between digital media and the extraordinary revival of vinyl LPs.

Mike Wisti's Albatross Studio has been underground for nearly two decades. Literally underground in Wisti's basement, the studio has no website, no Facebook page. It is not quickly or easily found -- but then again, not so hard to find. One can trace a thread between the bands that introduce one another to the studio, so that along the lines of "six degrees of separation" one can trace seminal records from the '90s recorded by Wisti to a myriad of recent projects, ranging from Skoal Kodiak to Grant Hart's forthcoming epic interpretation of Paradise Lost, and Southside Desire, who had just finished a new track when we arrive. Wisti plays it for us, and we are as hypnotized by the turning reels as we are by singer Marvel Devitt.

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Neil Weir on Minneapolis's legendary small room, Old Blackberry Way


This month, Behind the Boards visits Neil Weir, who has recorded bands from around the Midwest at his Old Blackberry Way studio for almost ten years. If you recognize the name, it's because the studio, which opened in 1971, was where Twin/Tone Records was born and grew. Hüsker Dü, Soul Asylum and the Replacements all recorded there early in their careers. In more recent years, groups like Is/Is and Flavor Crystals have recorded there, and several new local releases due out in 2013 started in the small Dinkytown building.

In fact, while a broken foot has slowed Weir down, this is shaping up to be a landmark year for Old Blackberry Way. Gospel Gossip's long-awaited new album, out this month, is being co-released by Old Blackberry Way and Guilt Ridden Pop, and other recordings by Pony Trash and Heavy Deeds are helping to establish the studio's distinctive sound.

See Also:
Pony Trash reveal their secret: The band open up about their new EP
Ed Ackerson on Flowers Studio: We let stuff come to us

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Ed Ackerson on Flowers Studio: We let stuff come to us

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Photo by Dave Hoenack

There might be as many recording studios as there are venues in the Twin Cities -- from the world famous to basement operations. In our new series, Behind the Boards, Gimme Noise will introduce you to some of the extraordinary talent that helps create the sounds that make our Cities famous.

Flowers Studio founder Ed Ackerson has a tough schedule to crack. His own band, BNLX, has been supporting their long-overdue debut LP and Ackerson recently produced a Replacements reunion EP, a benefit for Slim Dunlap. Past clients include Motion City Soundtrack, Soul Asylum, the Old 97's Rhett Miller, Clay Aiken, the Wallflowers, Pete Yorn, Juliana Hatfield, Free Energy, Brian Setzer, Joseph Arthur, and the Jayhawks.

Gimme Noise was lucky to catch Ackerson and his legendary Boston Terrier, Wiggy, sitting still for a few minutes between projects inside the anonymous south Minneapolis building where his studio is hidden.

See Also:
The Replacements' Songs For Slim producer Ed Ackerson shares session details
BNLX commit to an album: After seven EPs, the band finally release their first full-length album

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