A legend in the recording world, Larry Crane pulled up stakes and left Portland last year for the dusty thrills of Arizona. While our city has so much going for it, how can we compete with the excitement of living sandwiched between Tucson and the Mexico border? "For me, there were a handful of reasons for moving. I have family down there, plus my girlfriend had been living in Tucson as well," explains Crane, who now splits time between Portland and the desert. "It's also reduced my personal overhead, just to live in a cheaper area. It's nice, we live in the High Desert, and it's just really different." This move has been kind to Crane, and a change in scenery was just what his Jackpot! Recording Studio needed as well.
As of May, the studio—which has been the birthplace of some of indie music's finest recordings, from Sleater-Kinney to Elliott Smith—opened the doors to its new digs on 2420 SE 50th, off of Division. While the previous location on SE Morrison was responsible for some great moments in local NW music history, the space had its limitations. This won't be a problem at the new location, according to Crane: "This building was built from the ground up to be a recording studio." The space also features a German EMT 140 tube-powered plate reverb, which, well, I have no idea what that is. "It just makes a reverb sound. If you listen to old records like Etta James ballads, or the Nancy and Lee record, all the vocals are processed through that. When you hear that spacious room sound around the vocals, it's this device. Nothing sounds quite like it."
But why bother with all that fancy equipment, when people are just going to download the music as poorly compressed MP3 files anyway? "People used to listen to AM radio, and you talk to those who grew up in the Beatles era and they used to listen to music on tiny transistor radios," says Crane. "They still got the core of the music." If that wasn't enough to worry someone with vested interest in the music business, there are also the issues of severely declining sales and a cultural sea change where people no longer see music as a commodity worth buying. Crane weighs in on this as well: "I read a lot about the business of music, and one of the things that keeps coming up is how people, maybe due to iPods, are listening to more music now than ever." He adds, "Even though they might not be paying money for music. I don't get too worried about it. I like to make the best recordings I can make. The better they are, the better they sound on an iPod."
Coming to an iPod near you, the Gossip, who recently christened the new Jackpot! space when they recorded a song there for a BBC Radio One session.