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Fountain of Youth [About Scratchie Records]
July 6, 2005, 8:30 am

Source: Pro Sound News

Lisa Roy. Pro Sound News. (U.S.). New York: Jun 1, 2005., Iss. 2706; pg. 98

"We played the Troubadour in Hollywood last night, and we're just pulling into San Francisco to do an iTunes recording session," says Adam Schlesinger via cell phone from his tour bus. As one of the busiest, hardest-working people in the music business, Schlesinger is a member of not just one, but two pop bands. He is in Ivy (he's currently on tour in support of their latest release, In The Clear) and Fountains of Wayne, who have a compilation CD, Out-of-State Plates, coming out June 28. "It's a double CD collection of mostly non-album tracks and B-sides-things from the last 10 years. We put a couple new songs on there as well as a couple of unreleased songs, " he confides.

Arguably Schlesinger epitomizes today's rock 'n' roll Renaissance man-as a bassist, composer, producer, studio owner and label executive, he's a master at maximizing creative energy while inspiring those around him. With a full schedule of touring, recording and running his music empire, Schlesinger graciously made time to share his views with Pro Sound News on the many hats he wears daily, on what makes a great engineer, the state of the art and Scratchie Records.

On Wearing Many Hats, Including Studio Owner:

I don't see it as going from one thing to the other. It's all sort of the same general interest in making music and making records. It all sort of happened very organically. I've been in the same two bands for about 10 years-Ivy and Fountains of Wayne. One of the guys in Ivy, Andy Chase, started a studio, which began as a rehearsal space and evolved into a recording studio. After a certain point, his other partners decided they didn't want to do it anymore. So I got involved as a partner, and James Iha (ex-Smashing Pumpkins) came on board as the third partner. We renamed the studio, Stratosphere Sound.

The studio has been a place where we can do everything and make our records as well as rent it out to other people when we're not using it. It's become sort of a great clubhouse for all of us.

On Great Engineers and Cool Gear:

I'm sort of a hack engineer. I've gotten really good at Pro Tools, though I prefer to work with someone else engineering. We've got some great engineers that we work with at our studio. Geoff Sanoff, our main engineer, does probably 90 percent of the stuff I work on at this point, and he's great!

I think it's really important for an engineer to have similar tastes to yours. You have to be able to develop a rapport where they can kind of read your mind-you don't have to really explain a lot as you go. With most of the engineers that I work with, especially Geoff, we don't have to discuss what a good guitar sound might be or what a good bass sound might be. I think we both kind of like the same things, and so it happens naturally.

The Neve 8068 was a big purchase we made when we decided to go into the studio together. Between the three of us, we already had a lot of cool outboard gear and a lot of cool instruments, but it was really the console that was the big leap. I think it's been worth it because that's a big part of what brings people to the studio. Those consoles are so rare and even with everything moving towards digital, it just makes such a huge difference to have a board like that.

On Pro Tools Wizards:

I'm certainly not a Pro Tools wizard. I've gotten good enough on it that I can chip in on my own and see what I need to do, but there are engineers that I work with that are a million times faster than I am. I think the greatest thing about Pro Tools is the options you have, and the fact that you can work on something for a while and then come back to it quickly and easily later and it'll be exactly as you left it. It's very easy to switch between projects or songs. You don't have that hour of recall time to get something back to where it was.

On Downloading, the State of the Art and Technology:

I don't think anybody really knows the future on downloading. I just try to focus on making music that I like and keeping all options open in terms of how people are going to get their hands on it later. It does seem like it's moving more and more toward people getting songs digitally whether legally or illegally. I don't know if there's any going back from that. I'm more concerned with the music itself.

Technology is always evolving. Obviously, the sound of a lot of today's popular records grows out of what technology made easy that didn't used to be. It's just tools for you to try to do what's in your head. I think that ultimately it's still about the ideas you have.

On Scratchie Records:

Scratchie is a label that was started in the mid-'90s. It's evolved over the years. These days Scratchie has a relationship with New Line Records where we act as an A&R source to them. James Iha, Jeremy Freeman and myself basically find bands and bring them to New Line, and together, if everybody's excited, we put them out. In this new phase of our existence as Scratchie, it's actually been going really well. We feel like we've started to hit a real groove and find some really cool new acts and help to get the records made.

Some of the recent records we put out include a group from Sweden called The Sounds that did really well, and they toured with The Strokes, gaining them a lot of attention. Another group on Scratchie is Robbers on High Street. They're from New York, and they actually played with us (Ivy) last night in L.A. Another group doing a few shows with us is Astaire, and we'll be doing a record with them through Scratchie, too.

Everything has led very naturally from one facet of it to the next, and we've got an excellent community of friends who are all musicians. They work with each other and help each other out, and it leads to a lot of interesting collaborations and opportunities. In those terms, it is ideal.


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