The coolest band to photograph in the studio….ROUGH CHURCH

Greg Franco’s Rough Church invited me to photograph them in the studio and let me tell you these are some cool people. There was alot of laughter, raunchy jokes, talking about politics, green action, current events, good food seite mares sopa anything and everything.  They recorded at Andrew’s studio “Grandma’s Kitchen” in Silverlake. My D2H was sick and stuck at Nikon who promised it by the 7th and their update on it was nary to be found. (thanks guys)  So instead of having a tantrum, (which would have given me some bad personal mojo)  Calumet saved me by renting me a D90.  Photographing Rough Church was a breeze.  They didn’t mind me being ‘in their face’ so to speak.  Which I had to be, actually.  How else was I going to get the kind of photos that I like?  I like sharp angles, color, movement and design. Okay, so they hung with that.  Most of all I was amazed at the process of recording. It’s such a play between the producer and the band. It’s  a creative negotiation interspersed with humor, joking and serious technical audio and studio knowledge.   There’s this ability to let go get “into” the song, (pushing it out of your instrument and your body in a way that works with the rest of the band) and is also what’s being aimed for with regard to the track. And then then there’s this uncanny the ability to turn on a dime, stop and assess the track, your part and take direction from the producer on how to change or fine tune things based on the band’s goal for the sound of the track and ultimately the record. There would be banter about one part or another and some onomonopeia used to indicate some part of a song that was hard to describe.     How did these guys know what minute part they had to go back to and re-do?  Amazing.  Not to mention their technical craft and expertise.   Greg is an AMAZING lyricist and singer, he’s on angst filled growl  and rhythm guitar. Ever-sunny Jef Hogan pounds out a steady Bassline,  and Jon Franco works the the kit (even with a sheet over it for a dampened and thicker tone).   “Five” “Five Track” or “Fiver” leads melodically or grindingly on guitar, piano and sometime percussion. Studio work is part an acquiescent note by note assessment of the vibe, tone, tempo and energy of a song.   There are also some extemporaneous bursts that definitely provide for new and occasionally unexpected ideation.  Usually ideation is done before the studio time, but sometimes those things just burst from time and space and then everyone has an “Oh shit, keep that!”   moment, and so it goes. I knew ahead of time that each person would be on their own channel being miked, playing their part, playing their heart out, whilst listening to the full mix in their headphones.  What I didn’t realize was how tired doing this for two whole days from 11AM to 9PM at night can make someone!  Especially the drummer!   We took breaks and hung out in the control room or the lounge,  ate Thai food and ventured to “The Tribal Cafe” for smoothies, sandwiches etc.   I also just happened to discover THE ABSOLOUTE BEST PLACE FOR COFFEE IN ALL OF LOS ANGELES…The Tribal Cafe! They grind, brew and concoct Eurasian, Ameriasian, South American, Latasian, and latin coffees.   Some of the coffees are autentico and others the cool ideation of the owner.  Everything is hand made with passion and care, with health and vibrancy in mind.  You can get all manner of health and energy shots in just about anything.  AMAZING. The Minty Brew is KILLER. Do not miss it! I REPEAT, DO NOT MISS IT!!

Gentlemen to the core, within Greg Franco’s Rough Church there are no prima-donnas or  ‘mike hogs.’  These guys are all well tenured artists, some from the Los Angeles area and some hailing form the North and Five from the East Coast, Woodstock to be exact.

I’m always interested in the ‘language of music’ (how it works) and there’s was no shortage of  “studio-speak” for me to learn.  It’s changed alot since I’ve been in a studio years ago. At times it’s like sort of an esoteric audio dialect between these keepers of beats /syncopation and the guy assessing the beats and making suggestions.  You need these guys in an arena where you’re tryin’ to get some technical shit done!  Obviously the culture of anything this demands that those that ‘live in it’ speak the language!  Anyway… Andrew the owner of  ‘Grandma’s Kitchen’ has all the best equipment, a great console and basically an AMAZING STUIDO with all the best acoustic accouterments to be found. For the last recording, Rough Church asked me join in with a host of singers for a sort of ‘end of the album’ mock bar anthem called, “Rub one out for me” (Not unlike The Beatles’ “why don’t we do it in the road”) and  I sheepishly agreed.   I  sang my little pink heart out with people that were actually trained.   My only hope was to meld into the wall of voices, (not unlike Ike and Tina Turner’s ‘wall of sound’ production for ‘I forget what song it was…)   and stay somewhat unrecognizable.  I’m not sure if they had to surgically remove my baleful voice or not , but here’s to hoping that it was pleasant and actually helped the recording.  Enjoy this  visual smattering of pics from the recording.  Be sure to buy the new Rough Church CD when it comes out.  Some of these pics will be on the as of  yet to unnamed CD.  If you Bookmark this site, “The Trouble With Milk” I’ll take care of ‘ya….and make sure you know when it’s released.

For an overview of R.C.’s sound see my post:  Sounds West:  The Best Music in Los Angeles. Scroll down to the paragraph on Greg Franco’s Rough Church.  It also talks about Greg’s solo project, The highly revered in Australia and New Zealand “Greg Franco’s Wandering Bear.”  ~ Cheers!  Christina Long

for more info on my photography, you can find a bit on this blog and you can also go to:


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