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Gary Cioffi - 12.14.11

Interviewed by: Christian Wagner (12/14/11)
Ever wondered what life as producer is like? Gary Cioffi is known for working bands like Transit and Four Year Strong. Today, we give you insight on what it takes to be a producer. Thanks to Gary and Marc V. at the IBA Agency for making this possible.

1. Please introduce your name and what you do?

My name is Gary Cioffi. I produce records, and I'm a dad.

2. Can you give a small background of your studio?

I started recording when I was 15. My father bought me a Tascam 4-track. I started in my parentsí basement with 2 small rooms. At 18 I bought a Mac and a ProTools rig. From here on I started collecting all sorts of vintage gear and recording a bunch of friendsí bands. My whole family is musicians. My dad plays drums, my brother Mike plays drums, Torre my youngest brother plays guitar in Transit, my cousin Steve Riley is the drummer for the 80's metal band L.A. Guns, all of my Mom's brothers play guitar. So our family has more musicians than most. This was a huge part of wanting to record and why I started the studio.

3. What was your setup previous to your current studio?

It never really changed except I had to keep up with computers and software. The current studio is big and has more rooms so I can record bands live, which is the biggest life changer for me. I still have everything I owned from when I was 15. I never sold anything along the way; I just kept on building it up to where it is today.

4. How did you get involved in the Transit album?

A long story. Their drummer Daniel and I jammed when he couldn't tour with the band because of high school. I never met any of the other guys before. When they had to record their "Promise Nothing" 7 inch for Rise, Daniel had called me and asked If I wanted to do it, this was before my brother Torre had joined the band. They came down for a few days and we recorded it. A few weeks later Torre joined the band and they had plans to write their Rise debut "Listen and Forgive." I let them practice and pre-pro for a month in the studio, they loved the vibe at my place. A month after them writing the record they asked me to throw some mics up and record some material so they could work on vocals. I started to give them some tips and ideas, and really helped them with vocal melodies. At this point I think we were just all on the same page, and I really knew what they wanted to go for. It was a perfect fit.

5. You did pre-production with Four Year Strong for their new record? What was that experience like?

I just threw up a bunch of mics and let them go at it for a week. I think they demoed 8-10 songs. I didn't give them any input at all; they were just writing and communicating back and forth among themselves. Great guys and great players. I let my partner Tommy Iannello handle most of it.

6. What is the biggest misconception and challenge of being a producer?

The biggest misconception of being a producer is when bands come in the studio and think they are just going to walk in and walk out with a good album. It takes a lot of hard work making sure arrangements, lyrics, and all parts of the song are appealing to the listener. I don't want to have to edit drums all night making your drummer sound good, half the kids that come into the studio think they are going to lay down their drum and guitar tracks four or five times and then expect me to sit here all night comping the takes. I'm not the type of producer thatís going to settle, I am not going to rely on studio trickery.

7. What can you tell kids that are interested in going into this line of work?

Start small and make sure youíre ready to not get any sleep if you want to be good at it. Never give up and expect to record for free for a while. This industry is hard to make any type of money right now. Nobody buys records anymore; the only bands making money are the ones that tour.

8. With the price of recording and ability to record at home easier, what makes going to an actual studio more beneficial for bands?

Anyone can record at home but itís the bands that want to take their music to the next level that will come into the studio. You're not paying for me to record your record, you're paying me to sit down and dissect the songs making sure they are all they can be. Itís always good to have that extra set of ears.

9. Anything else to say?

Band and producers need to stop recording the drummer to just the click. Itís lame and thatís why a lot of records sound unnatural and lifeless. Check out my website at maximumsoundstudios.com to find out what we are doing. Thanks, Christian and everyone at Absolute Punk.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 9 of 9.
05:43 PM on 12/14/11
#2
uglystar03
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Promise Nothing and Listen & Forgive are Transit's best material, so I'm interested in what else this guy can produce.
05:46 PM on 12/14/11
#3
JustThatGuy
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That was a really cool interview, its such a fascinating and under appreciated profession, if possible you guys should totally do more technical interviews
06:18 PM on 12/14/11
#4
swordsboy093
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http://www.facebook.com/looknorthband

he produced these guys this year too
06:25 PM on 12/14/11
#5
Christian Wagner
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That was a really cool interview, its such a fascinating and under appreciated profession, if possible you guys should totally do more technical interviews
Will do. That's not an issue at all. Glad you enjoy it.
08:33 PM on 12/14/11
#6
tommylin
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I wonder what songs on "Listen and Forgive" didn't use the metronome to record. Seems interesting
09:14 PM on 12/14/11
#7
benlong
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I wonder what songs on "Listen and Forgive" didn't use the metronome to record. Seems interesting
from my understanding he's not saying don't use a metronome, he's saying don't use just the metronome. If the drummer's playing along to a track, or along with the musicians it often gives you a more "live" feel. In the past, most recording i've done we've had the bass player and drummer track together, and the guitar player play along(bass has usually been recorded from the di out on the bass amp with no sound in the room, and guitar is run through amplitube to give a reasonable sound) so the drummer is essentially playing in isolation for sound purposes, but is playing along with a band(usually with a click, but not always depending on the song and drummer)
10:49 PM on 12/14/11
#8
tommylin
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from my understanding he's not saying don't use a metronome, he's saying don't use just the metronome. If the drummer's playing along to a track, or along with the musicians it often gives you a more "live" feel. In the past, most recording i've done we've had the bass player and drummer track together, and the guitar player play along(bass has usually been recorded from the di out on the bass amp with no sound in the room, and guitar is run through amplitube to give a reasonable sound) so the drummer is essentially playing in isolation for sound purposes, but is playing along with a band(usually with a click, but not always depending on the song and drummer)
oh alright, thanks for clarifying some of that for me.
12:05 AM on 12/15/11
#9
rockerguy182
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listen and forgive was recorded live in his room with all the members playing and some had real amps, according to tim there guitar player. they also did overdubs. they all had click but it was the energy gary was looking for. best album of the year IMO,
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