Rastafut image

"Rastafüt consisted of me on guitar and vocals, and Chris Fields on drums and vocals; we both wrote words and music about equally as much, and co-wrote frequently. We started playing together in 1991, I believe, during our sophomore year at Wheeler High School. We were both in the school band (me on sax, Chris on...well, drums), and we had a math class together, which is where we did most of our brainstorming (that didn’t involve playing, that is).

"We usually jammed together in my parents’ garage, since Chris lived in an apartment and we didn’t want to disturb his neighbors. During the week of Spring Break in our junior year (April 1992), we spent the whole vacation working on and recording as many songs as we had down by that time; Chris and I spent two days straight at my parent’s house recording, and we were able to get 12 songs completed. We even wrote Laptop Mother the night before we recorded it (actually, Chris pretty well wrote that whole song by himself). The first twelve Rastafüt songs posted in the Music section are from those Spring Break recordings.

"We recorded everything direct to 2-track; it was quite a messy set-up, with almost no suitable equipment handy. I think the best mic we had access to was probably a $25 Radio Shack dynamic hand-held, and then we had maybe four or five other (lesser) mics, all of which had fixed cables (some even terminated in 1/8” plugs). I ran two or three of the signals into a bottom-of-the-line Radio Shack DJ mixer, and then ran that summation out into another comparable little mixer where I added the other two or three mics, and then straight from there to a little $40 Sharp cassette deck. No processing at all, not even eq, on the original recordings—but we did have a fully stereo signal path, so we tried to make good use of that with the panning of the drum mics.

"We put one mic in the bass drum, and one to pick up the snare, hi-hat, mounted tom, and left-side crash (we may have used two mics there, one for the snare and hi-hat, and the other for the tom and crash), then one to pick up the floor tom, ride cymbal, and right-side crash (if Chris had more than one crash at that time). I know Chris was using an old Rogers “butcher block” kit at the time, but I don’t remember if it was a 4-piece or a 5-piece; if it was a 5-piece, then we probably had a mic on the bass drum, one on the snare, hi-hat and crash, one between the toms, and one on the floor tom and ride. I know we would not have had more than five or six mics (or more than that many available channels), and in addition to the drums we would have had to also have one mic on my guitar and then one on the vocal.

"We didn’t have proper mic stands, and most of the mics probably wouldn’t have fit well in traditional mic clips anyway...so we used old drum hardware, and spare guitar stands, and lots of duct tape. I didn’t know anything about sound reinforcement, acoustical control, mic placement, etc., and I had no way to properly monitor the recording as it was happening. The best I could do was to record a test take, then go back and listen to it for level adjustments; that can be pretty time-consuming, and time is what we had little of, so we usually just ran with a lot of stuff as best we could.

"Polyturkism was recorded a little after the Spring Break sessions, maybe right near the end of the school year; we recorded a handful of songs in the finished basement area right next to the garage (still in my parents’ house), but somehow we ended up with a much weaker source signal, and we didn’t have time to diagnose it—hence the drop in sound quality on that track. We also had a bass player for those recordings, a fellow school band-mate named Gary McAllister (he played tuba and sousaphone in the band).

"When we recorded Butterfly and Used, we actually had some substantial assistance on those tracks. I think they were recorded in late 1992, maybe early fall of that year, and a friend of mine (Michael Burnette) gave us access to a nice stereo PA mixer (I don’t remember the make), and also a couple of SM57’s and a few real mic stands too. We finally had some eq on both the individual channels as well as the main, but we were (as usual) pressed for time, so we weren't able to do much more than set the controls where we thought they’d work best, give it one, maybe two, test recordings (and subsequent settings adjustments), and then we started trying to get usable takes of the songs.

"On those two tracks we also had a bass player, a friend of Chris’ named Lee Hammock, and on Used we also had a second guitar player as well, my buddy Tom Blair. I know Tom from way back, and this was before he had even been in his first band. He was probably only 14 or 15 years old at the time, and while he used his own Crate 50-watt combo on that track, he chose my Jackson Randy Rhoads V over his first guitar (which was a little red double cutaway bolt-on from some company called Westley, or something...). He played the first solo, the guitar on the right side. Tom went on to notoriety first in the band Miller’s Tale (which also spawned other notable Atlanta musicians, like Travis Owen, who played in Artimus Pyledriver, and currently Whores), and I remember seeing them play at a Battle of the Bands at their high school in Kennesaw GA probably around 1993 or 1994. Miller’s Tale split soon after, and Tom and the bass player and drummer formed Nice Guy, which later morphed into Colossick, who rocked asses off all up and down the East Coast during the mid- and late 00’s.

"Anyway, by the time I finally got around to transferring these old recordings to digital, the best copies of them that I could find were old second- or third-generation cassette copies of the original cassettes that were used to record in the garage (I don’t know what ever happened to those original tapes...). For the Spring Break sessions, my source was the copy which had been used as my main listening copy on all of my cheap playback equipment for many years, so it was pretty worn out. The tape of the last Rastafüt recordings, Used and Butterfly, was still only a second-generation copy, but it had been much less used and abused, and it was a much better quality cassette to begin with—so it has held up a lot better than the tape with the Spring Break sessions.

"I transferred everything into Pro Tools in early 2010, and then basically just mastered the recordings."

—Stephen Carrington