Robby Takac is known as the bass player for the Goo Goo Dolls, and many are aware of his Music is Art and Music in Action programs, which bring music to the community. He also owns GCR Audio on Franklin Street in Allentown, where the Goo Goo Dolls' latest album was recorded. Justin Rose, the audio engineer, has worked at GCR since its reconstruction about eight years ago. NeXt had the opportunity to tour the studio and chat with Takac and Rose.
NeXt: So what is the brief history of GCR Audio?
Robby Takac: This building was open from '84 until about 2000, when it was in such disrepair that it was abandoned. We opened another studio down on Allen Street, but it was really small. I came back here two years later. They had shut the electricity and water off and there was mold on the walls. Bands were still rehearsing. My heart broke. I spent my childhood learning to do what I do here and it was destroyed, and I wanted to repair it because I'd hate to see it die.
Justin Rose: The original designer had a chance to come back and redesigned the live room where bands record. This is separate from the control room for sound isolation. The acoustics can change drastically when we flip the wooden panels around and put carpets on the floor. With an experienced engineer, this acoustically designed room, and the technology that we have -- including top-notch digital and old-school analog tools -- records produced here have a great sound. The initial thought was to build this to do one Goo Goo Dolls record. Rather than going to L.A. and paying a bunch of money to rent a room, they figured they'd build one.
NeXt: What was your first experience in a recording studio like?
R.T.: Well when I first came in here, I was like 19 years old and it was the first real studio I had ever seen. I was an intern here, so I cleaned the kitchen and helped out winding cords and stuff. Prior to this, I was working at a radio station as an engineer and doing a little production, so I had seen a bit of gear. When I walked in the studio, I was blown away and was motivated to try and become part of the place. Now 25 years later, I own it.
NeXt: How have you seen the music scene in Buffalo change over the years?
R.T.: The concept of social networking in my youth used to mean you'd have 50 bands hanging out somewhere every weekend. I don't think that the bands prop each other up as much anymore. I think it has nothing to do with the people so much as the way that people tend to interact with technology. People sit home on MySpace now. That's why we use this building for art shows downstairs; why bands have shows up here. We try to get involved with schools as much as we can to get that sense of community happening, and then perpetuate it through social networks online. Music is Art is helping to bridge the gap, too.
NeXt: Do you think that stores like iTunes and MySpace Music are a good thing?
R.T.: Yeah, but the thing that stinks about it for a band is that you get your percentage of a 99-cent single now. Not a lot of people hit "buy album" anymore. Someone's gotta come up with something that is gonna change everything just like the Napster kid did. When he did that, he literally changed the world. The way the world operates is not the same anymore, because it's not just music. Any copywritten material is now able to be disseminated by anybody. There's the scary part, right? All those laws have to change now, but it's a process.
J.R.: Like at my end, if I record a song and it's on iTunes, nobody knows that it was recorded at GCR and I engineered it. There's no credit.
R.T.: Right. And the fact that MTV doesn't play music videos, but it's called Music Television bugs me, but to people who don't know MTV as being anything but how it is today, it's just normal. They're like, 'Well, so what? We'll go watch our videos on YouTube.' But unfortunately, there's no money to make the video now. Music is one of those things though. People will find a way to do it because it's not a choice for some people. Some folks just have it inside them and need to get it out.
Laura Rumschik is a freshman at D'Youville College.