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Down Home Sound

Chuck Sailer lives in Philadelphia, PA. He is spinning up a new eCommerce site that will cater to the Home, Project, and Commercial Recording Studio consumer. We have conducted an interview with him:


How did you get into Recording and Engineering? What is so special about what you do?

I have always been fascinated with musicians. Yes, I play various instruments and I am fairly proficient at Guitar, however; I am more of a vocalist. I’m no Gladys Knight or Eddie Van Halen by any stretch of the imagination but I am passable. I grew up in Titusville, FL and all my friends played something. Some were actually quite good, in fact some were down right exceptional. I wasn’t exceptional but what I did have going for me was the love of music coupled with my awe of people who could actually play.

How I got into recording is kind of a crazy story. I was about 14 or so. This was the 1970’s I had no idea about multi-tracking or mixers or anything really. I wanted to play guitar solos over a guitar rhythm, so I got this idea, what if I recorded a rhythm track onto my little cassette deck and played solos when I played back the rhythm? Well, that worked pretty well. Now it seems so obvious, however; I ”thought” I was cool for this epiphany. Of course, I wanted to share my “brilliant” solos with my friends. But how could I bring the cassette of me riffing over a rhythm to my friends? Then I got a great idea: borrow a friend’s boom-box and while my cassette deck was playing back my sloppy rhythm guitar, I would record both the cassette play back and my live solo onto my friend’s boom box – it worked! From that point forward, I was hooked. Yes, the sound quality sucked. Yes, my playing sucked. It didn’t matter, my obsession was born. I had a friend who played quite well and who had a big brother with a reel-to-reel with sound-on-sound, remember those? A whole new world opened up to me. Yes, my music was still immature. I desperately wanted to be a songwriter. What actually happened, in a visceral sort-of way, was that I was learning key concepts about sound.

Time went on and four-track machines started to become affordable. I purchased a Tascam 4 track and I started recording my songs along with my works of my friends. I eventually moved into 8 tracks with more sophisticated mixers and outboard equipment. Finally, in 1994, I built my first real recording studio, 75 Knives, with my friend Rob Magee, who is not only a fantastic songwriter but a monster musician. At the time, Rob wasn’t as well versed in recording as I was but that quickly changed now he is an unbelievably great producer and engineer with a solid foundation in music theory.

The point I guess I am trying to make is that I have been through the pain, albeit has fun as it was, of building Home and Commercial recording studios. I have fallen into the traps of buying equipment that was overly priced and always under performed. I also purchased some real gems that I use to this day.

This is why I founded Down Home Sound. I don’t want to be all things to all musicians. I want to offer great pro-audio products to the Home, Project, and Commercial Recording studio consumer. I also want my customers to have a place to come to be educated on various audio recording topics. That is why Home, Project, and Commercial Recording Studio has a section called Down Home, Sound Advice. This portion of the site has interviews and input from industry pros, buying guides and other useful bits of recording and sound information.

Where did you find information back then when you first began recording?

Well, back in the 70s, 80s, and even the 90s Audio information was not easy to come by. A lot of what I learned was through trial and error or talking to accomplished engineers who were more than gracious with their advice. Of course, I read a lot of industry magazines, however; unlike today, the great majority of what those magazines talked about didn’t really apply to me. They were geared toward the 10 million dollar studios. I would read books on audio engineering topics like compression, the physics of sound, acoustics, dynamics and so forth. That gave me a great foundation for understanding the basics. Even so, a lot of that information was abstract to me because I did not have an SSL board in my home with $100k of outboard gear. So, I had to extrapolate, and as I said before, apply a ton of trial and error. It wasn’t easy but I love it so much the hard work never seemed like work at all. When I got a good result it was like heaven. I just kept chasing better and better results. Even after 30 years, I am still chasing.

What important points should first time owners of commercial recording studio know about owning one, what is your advice?

Well, today you have to understand EVERYTHING is different with the advent of affordable Home and Project studio recording equipment. For instance, in my home recording studio I have the tools to rival most major recording studios at a fraction of the cost. The business model has changed quite a bit from the 70s,80s and 90s when proper equipment would run in the millions of dollars. Today, I think one of the best investments for someone starting a recording studio is to concentrate on multiple revenue streams such as al carte mastering and mixing. Mastering and mixing services are in hot demand and could add a tremendous value to the savvy owner. While it’s easy enough for the regular person to produce and mix an album on a PC or Mac, Mastering is a different animal. It requires years of experience, talent, and a perfectly attenuated space. This you won’t find in most home recording studios.

Don’t get me wrong, the commercial recording studio is not dead in the traditional sense either. For example, it’s not likely that a Home Recording studio has a great drum room. Be prepared for a band or a singer/songwriter to want to use your facility to laydown drum tracks. Philly Sound comes to mind. Drew Raison and the boys over there have converted and old church into a recording studio and the sound they get for drums and acoustic piano will buckle your knees. Not to mention Drew is probably one of the best producers and engineers in the business. Experience and talent is something you can’t buy for your Home Recording Studio. I am still waiting for the “Suck Plugin”, that allows you to effectively turn down the suck of your takes, to be invented. Until then, talent trumps all on both sides of the mixing board.

I guess the point is, be prepared to be more ala carte’ by not only offering end-to-end production but also offering specialized services only like mastering, mixing, and drum recording. Which is very simple to do with almost all recording being digital now. Most of this can be done over the internet with technologies like HDSP and simple file uploads.

How did you juggle between Recording and the U.S. Army before you retired?

Well, it wasn’t easy. Music, especially audio engineering, and the US Army are very similar in a lot of ways as they both require discipline and patience. In the Army you are taught valuable life lessons. For example, I was pushed past limits I never knew I had both physically and mentally. This served me well as it instilled a never say “can’t” attitude. One of my strengths, and simultaneously my weaknesses, is that I never ever say “can’t”. The Army is demanding. Audio engineering, studying music, and practicing music is demanding. Since I love them both dearly I found a way to manage my time and fit them both into my life. A sense of duty to my country fueled my dedication to the Army and a sense of importance of art fueled my dedication to music. It was not uncommon for me to have one or two hours of sleep a night. A Solider during the day and a musician until the wee hours of the morning, I wanted it, truly wanted it, and that is how I managed both. Of course, lofty goals will take tolls on other aspects of your life and there is never any guarantee of success, in fact I am still searching for success as many of us are.

What is your philosophy in life?

My philosophy is simple really. “Can’t never did anything”. While I have had some success, I have had huge failures too. You have to look at failure as part of the game. Failure is not a bad thing; do not be afraid of it. Instead, learn from it, embrace it, and move on. You will fail. However, if you keep punching, you will also succeed.

I read a lot of philosophy: Plato, Aristotle, Bentham, Locke, Rand, Meyer, Chomsky, and Sun Tzu. I am not an intellectual but I find that philosophy helps me balance the metaphysical and the objective. If I were to pick a philosophy or philosopher that I most admire and relate to it would have to be Ayn Rand. I believe in the individual. While we have, at least some, responsibility to the collective our first responsibility is to our own self-interest. Out of context, that sounds cold and selfish. If you apply a little critical thought though, it makes more and more sense.

Part of my being an entrepreneur and a dreamer is to satisfy my own desires. This is selfishness, but – in the words of Ayn Rand “Selfishness is a virtue”. For out of my selfishness will come benefits to others. Selfishness is one of those words that have misguided negative connotations. It’s the Altruist who is dangerous

Moving forward, what are your plans? How can our readers find out more about audio engineering and about your work?

My plans are many with Down Home Sound. Like I said I want to offer great product but I also want to offer great advice. I want to share my knowledge and encourage others to do the same. Music is very important to me and I believe it, and all art forms, are vital to the well-being of humanity. We have several ideas and offerings that will benefit the musical community coming up in the next few months. Apart from growing Down Home Sound as a viable eCommerce platform, I want to promote awareness of the importance of supporting musical programs in communities around the world. We are doing work with VH1’s Save the Music, NAMM, and others to promote these values.

You can find out more about my work by visiting Down Home Sound at Home, Project, and Commercial Recording Studio on Facebook on Twitter #DownHomeSound1.

Down Home Sound Reviewed by JaamZIN on 9:45:00 PM Rating: 5
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