Geza X (Producer, Engineer, Icon of the Los Angeles Punk Rock scene) Interview

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You have been involved in one of the most prolific music scenes in the Western World.  You have recorded and produced some of the most iconic Punk Rock/Rock n’ Roll songs in history and have gone on to have a well respected engineering career (hey, you did Meredith Brooks!).  If you had to choose a sentence to reflect back upon all of this, how would you describe all that you have witnessed, been through and heard?

 I am astounded that one of the most prolific music scenes in history was blackballed by the music industry and, like delta blues, very few of those bands or songs survived.

 

How exactly did you find your self in the middle of all of this and did you ever expect the LA scene to blow up like it did?

Well it was kind of by design. I came back to LA in 1975 all depressed at the state of the music scene. You see, I like loud music and weird music too. And the 60’s was over. So I tried starting a band with Charlotte Caffey (Go-Go’s), Joe Nanini (Wall Of Voodoo) and Tito Larriva (Plugz). This was about a year before punk broke. Shit, it turned out we couldn’t even find a place to play, all there were on the street were these singer-songwriter ‘showcases’ meaning free gigs where you couldn’t turn an amp past 1. So we got kicked out and got unplugged a lot. We circulated around the general neighborhood of Hollywood Boulevard and kept looking for the loudest music we could find. NADA. Well, one day Joe came home all excited and played us the Ramones and shortly after that one of us found the Sex Pistols. After that it was ON. Yes, I expected LA to blow up way further than it did, it was an incredibly creative scene and there were many talented bands. But the record companies ignored all this, right under their noses. I was a little older and realized that WE had to record it ourselves and that was why people like me started DIY recording.

 

Each single that you have produced seems to have a unique texture added into the mix?  How do you approach and gauge what would be the most ideal sound for a band to be captured during a session?

I come from the old Robert Fripp King Crimson school of recording—push it into the RED. Back when people recorded on tape, this was an art of its own. You could decide how hot (loud) to record on tape and it would make the sound rubberier, like a basketball hitting the pavement. There were about 5 or 6 different ways of overloading it and each had a sound. So, since I was working with small home tape machines sometimes or very few channels—8 or 16—I had to do whatever I could to impart balls to these ferocious bands. You can’t just put up a mike, it would sound like its in a trash can and some of my recordings do sound pretty bad in retrospect. But I always tried to hide some production tricks in there to fatten them up. We actually QUADRUPLED Jello’s vocal on the chorus of ‘Holiday In Cambodia’ but it doesn’t sound that way, just terrifying and loud and manic and hilarious.

 

What do you like the most about doing what you do and how do you still keep yourself in the production game these days?

I like being the first person to hear an amazing song recorded. I don’t know why but that’s always been the motivation. It sure isn’t MONEY, if I add up all the hours I’ve worked with unknown bands and average them out, it’s like 15 cents an hour I actually did the math once. As far as working, I’ve always been there for the underground art scene and so It’s always been there for me. I still work cheap if I like the band, and now I do videos too, same Indie philosophy.  I’ve built my new studio, CityLab in downtown LA, on mostly donations and volunteer work. I actually BEGGED for drywall on Facebook and got all sorts of friendly help. So its part trade and part cash and part me hustlin’ same as always.

 

Can you tell me a little bit about your activism regarding The Vortex and what the goals are of the organization are about and how people can get involved?

Yeah, thanks for bringing that up. I am a volunteer at a community center in Downtown LA, that’s where the new studio is going to open Jan 1. They offer event space to community groups or activist groups for next to nothing. I’m setting up the new studio so I can record and film events that happen there and sponsor meaningful art projects through my nonprofit foundation called Hyperactivists™. The best way for people to help out is to donate money or do volunteer work. They can do so by contacting me on Facebook, Just look up Geza X Gedeon and send a message. I also have an open community page as Geza X.

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