Eastern Artists Recording Studio (E.A.R.S.)
After a bit of strife and bit of luck, I finally got the studio built in my father’s old factory building – a two-lane bowling alley from the turn of the century. It was an unlikely place for a studio and in the middle of East Orange which wasn’t getting any safer. It was named Eastern Artists Recording Studio or E.A.R.S. because originally we were 3 or 4 musicians trying to build a facility mainly for our own personal projects, but then it was just me (the others bailed on me) and I had to learn about studio construction, design and electronics fast. It was a huge project putting the whole thing together on a shoestring budget with wire harness jungles, wood dust, sound proofing and acoustic design, but I got lucky. After seeing that we had cut the floor clear in half to isolate the two rooms my father asked: “why don’t you cut a battleship in half while you’re at it?”. I guess he was “surprised” at what we were doing to his building. After banging nails and cutting wood, which I’m pretty sloppy at, Ben Kay, a fantastic carpenter as well as a musician, agreed to build the thing in exchange for studio time. That’s what I mean about lucky. We actually got it done but not without a whole lot of sticker shock at the cost.
It was our opening night and we had scheduled a big opening gala, and wouldn’t you know it our new console was malfunctioning and Steve Crump the manufacturer was working on it through the party – a bit of an embarrassment. From that bumpy start, we ended up having some pretty amazing success and an impact on the music scene of the 80s. We got a new automated console and I learned a lot.
We recorded some amazing albums and singles for Mtume, Isley Jasper Isley, Third World, New Order, John Robie and many more. We launched the East Coast career of Andy Wallace, our chief engineer. We had number one records and became a center for new urban music. See Discography link. We also did demos for a young Whitney Houston who lived nearby too.
When we became the first digital studio on the East Coast (by another piece of luck), we provided technical supervision and equipment for Billy Joel’s Songs in the Attic album produced by Phil Ramone as well as for the New York Philharmonic.
We ultimately had two rooms, one a traditional tape recording facility featuring Studer recorders and one with all the latest emerging midi music gear.
I produced some tracks there including the music for Jane Fonda’s workout but not enough because I found the studio to be time-consuming in a way that took me from my core love of writing music.
Eventually running two businesses at the same time including my family manufacturing business became too much so I decided to find a successor and sell it. I wanted to preserve it as a recording studio and found a couple (or they found me) who renamed it Perfect Pair Studio and went on to record Grammy winning album for Lauryn Hill there.
A neighbor with a trucking business behind the building always wanted to buy the space to expand his truck yard. I was disappointed to drive past there one day and see he had succeeded. It was gone and nothing but a paved over driveway. Aint that the way it goes.
Now I’m working out of my home studio with a Mac and some synths. I’m free to focus on what I love – creating music when I’m not frustrated over lyrics and when I’m not running around designing and building machinery in my day job or caught up in life and family in general (but that’s a whole other story which hopefully I’ll tell through my music).