By Ben Dungan
You may not know Chris Garges, but if you follow local music at all, you may know some of the recording projects he has worked on at Old House Studios in Gastonia. Garges is a local musician (percussionist) and studio recording engineer.
In celebration of the new year, I wanted to tap his brain and see what he has learned over the years about music, and more importantly, about life. Here is Chris Garges on working with musicians, playing jazz, and ear plugs.
Recording in a studio is a weird enough thing as it is. You are asked to come into a building you don’t know, and maybe work with a recording engineer that you don’t know. And even under the most comfortable circumstances where everybody’s playing together and everyone can see each other, you’re still asked to set up either with different people in different rooms, or there are amplifiers in different rooms and then put on headphones and stand in the same place in front of this one microphone and do your thing. And that’s weird. That’s not how bands rehearse. That’s not how bands play gigs. So, you’ve got all of this stuff that is foreign to begin with. People can get really touchy in those situations.
● Ultimately, you want them (performers) to be happy with the outcome. If I am happy with the outcome, that’s great…that’s awesome. But I have weird tastes sometimes. It’s all art – who’s right or who’s wrong about it?
● It’s part of my job to make the atmosphere comfortable. And if you sense stress coming on, try and not do anything that’s going to contribute to that. If you can, try to diffuse it, or alleviate it, or work around it or whatever. But most importantly, don’t contribute to the stress.
● Old House is a hike from Charlotte. But musicians like coming out here because they know they’re out here to make a record. There is stuff within driving distance like restaurants and convenience stores, but you can’t just walk next door and get a soda. Did I just say soda?
● There are always things that you can do in a commercial recording facility that you can’t do at home. I can have a metal band totally cranking in here and no one’s going to complain.
● I like the listening environment here. These speakers sound great, and this room sounds really great. So I might put on some CD that I just got or something that I have been meaning to listen to–not just listening to in a car, but really do some critical listening. I’ll put it on and turn it up loud and close my eyes and sit here between the speakers.
● If I forget to bring ear plugs, I’ll go to the bar and get a napkin or go in the bathroom and get toilet paper and put it in my ears. I know people who get self conscious about that, but I don’t care. If I look like an idiot now but can hear when I am 70, I’ll be the one laughing.
● I probably play more jazz gigs a month than rock gigs in Charlotte. Then it’s funny, I get out of Charlotte and I do more rock gigs.
● There’s so much music, something’s gotta be really presented to me to get my attention.
● If someone’s got some intro for their song that’s like a minute of music before there are lyrics, that better be a really important minute of music.
● Since my wife is completely and totally awesome, when I am at home, I like trying to give my time to her. My wife is a sixth grade math teacher, so she deals with sixth graders all day. That probably works to my advantage in a major sort of way.