Erik’s first three albums were recorded during his High School years using only an analog 4-track, a synthesizer, some microphones and bunch of guitars. He really cut his teeth with this setup, and although it would be considered prehistoric compared to today’s entry level computer based setups, he was able to make a some great recordings.
Recording in "The Amazing Erik Z" days (1994 -1996)
At its heart was the most basic of all 4-Tracks; a Tascam Porta-03. Not only did it only run at 1 7/8 i.p.s. (yes, the same speed as a normal tape deck), it had no EQ, no effects loop and only the ability to control volume and pan. In order to achieve the best sounds possible, everything had to be effected and EQ’d prior to going to tape.
Guitar tones were achieved for The First Album (Bear Crossing) using mostly a blackface Zoom 9000 direct into the Porta-03. By the time he started recording Schizophrenic Daze, a Ross Graphic EQ was added in the signal chain to tweak and brighten the sound. There are a few select tracks from each of the first two albums recorded with a microphone, as well as one on Schizophrenic Daze using Erik’s recently purchased Zoom DSP 9150 direct, but for the most part the Zoom 9000 was the heart of Erik’s tone for those two albums.
Tastes like Chicken was really the biggest leap forward in guitar tones. It was recorded entirely with an old solid state Peavey 112 special and a Shure SM57 microphone. Although Erik still had the direct recording ability, and used it for a few minor things, this was a conscious decision made for this album as Erik was really trying to achieve a more professional, live sounding recording.
Microphones for the early recordings were exclusively a V-Tech Lo-Z microphone. For Tastes like Chicken Erik upgraded to a Shure SM57. Vocals and acoustic guitars were generally recorded by first passing the mic’d signal through the guitar effects processor to add reverb or effects before going to the 4-Track. Without an effects loops, this was a dirty but effective way of adding spatial effects. A few tracks from Tastes like Chicken feature a second microphone, a cheap no-name Shure. It was used to record tracks live in stereo, or to mic one instrument while singing live. “Dylansong”, the live version of “One Night Stand” and “You’re full of shit” are really the only recordings featuring this setup.
Drums, Bass, Percussion, Keyboards, etc, were all courtesy of a Roland D-20 synthesizer. Erik would program and sequence the entire song internally in the D-20 and then record it in mono to one of the 4 tracks on the Tascam Porta-03. On some tracks Erik played his Oscar Schmidt P-Bass and would sum it live while tracking to one track. Most of the Tastes like Chicken features live bass, verses the first two albums that featured mostly synthesized bass.
There are a few unique tracks from the albums that didn’t really follow any of the above recording tricks. The medleys on Schizophrenic Daze were recorded entirely live, going direct through the Ross EQ. No reverb, effects, amps, nothing. Just direct with un-godly EQ tweak. "Salvation", from Tastes like Chicken, was recorded using an original DOD Grunge distortion pedal with the nastiest tone ever.
All of Erik's music is available at Amazon.com