Vanderslice fights digital recording with his San francisco-based all analog studio

:: John Vanderslice :: Hi-Dive :: April 11 :: 

By Tim Dwenger

Playing music for a living is romanticized in our world. It is seen by many as a cushy, glamorous way to pay the rent. There are men, women and children who dream about picking up a guitar, quitting their day jobs or dropping out of school, and living the rock star lifestyle. What most of these people don’t realize is that the life of a musician takes more hard work and dedication than virtually any profession if you want to be successful.

John Vanderslice, who is currently on tour with his newest band Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday, is a native of Florida who now resides in San Francisco. The man has a very realistic view of the music business and it is largely because he is up to his neck in it. “I have played almost 500 shows as John Vanderslice and at probably 90% of those shows I have played “Time Travel is Lonely,” he told The Marquee in a recent interview. “It is an absolute challenge for me to try to play that song now. I mean challenge in the sense that I am trying to play it well every time and not succumb to the boredom.” defines a Renaissance Man as “a man who has broad intellectual interests and is accomplished in areas of both the arts and the sciences.” By this definition Vanderslice is most definitely a Renaissance Man. He has found a host of things to keep him from burning out on music. He is an avid photographer and movie buff and also owns and manages a very well respected recording studio in San Francisco’s Mission District.

His studio is Tiny Telephone and what makes it different from other studios in the Bay Area is that it is “one of the only all analog studios left in the Bay Area,” said Vanderslice. Founded in 1997, his studio has been growing while other analog facilities have been slowly dying out. “We have been open for almost nine years now and the studio stays pretty busy because it is priced very, very low. It is usually booked up two or three months in advance,” he said. “There was simply nothing in the middle of the market in San Francisco when we opened. There were rundown quasi rehearsal spaces that called themselves studios, and there were the big fancy ones. Don’t get me wrong, I love fancy studios but they cost upwards of a thousand dollars a day and there is no indie band that can pay that. I just saw a niche in the middle where we could gear ourselves toward indie bands that were selling records and trying to have a career.”

His vision was realized and to-date Tiny Telephone has been the birthplace of hundreds of albums. Death Cab for Cutie, Nada Surf, Third Eye Blind and Spoon are only a small sampling of the bands, both indie and major label, that have laid their music down at his studio.

His passion for analog instruments and recording equipment stems from a belief that the resulting sound is much more rich and raw than when using a digital medium. Each of Vanderslice’s five solo albums were recorded at Tiny Telephone with outstanding results. Acoustic guitars, field recorded samples and clever piano riffs are subjected to varying degrees of analog distortion and woven into a sonic carpet onto which Vanderslice lets his lyrics dance to life.

He has the uncanny ability to paint a lyrical picture so clearly that the listener is often convinced Vanderslice lived the story he is singing. In reality, while some the songs are autobiographical, his songwriting is often influenced by the photographs he takes, the movies he watches or the current events of the day. Delivered in his emotional tenor, the lyrics are poignant and effective at refusing to leave you alone long after the last note of the song has faded away.


:: John Vanderslice :: Hi-Dive :: April 11 ::


Spectate if you Gravitate:

• Death Cab for Cutie

• The Decemberists

• Sufjan Stevens

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