A Portland music institution if there ever was one, Larry Crane is the icon behind the mixing board at his Jackpot! Recording Studio, where he has rolled tape for the likes of Elliott Smith, Sleater-Kinney, and too many other notable acts to mention in the limited confines of one column. But behind his studio legacy, Crane might be best known for launching Tape Op, a magazine passionately worshipped by everyone from studio rats, home recorders, analog freaks, and bands of all shapes and sizes. Now with a second volume of Tape Op anthologies (issues 11-20, which run from 1999-2000) on bookshelves the world over—Tape Op: The Book about Creative Music Recording, Vol. II—Crane takes a moment to discuss Recording for Dummies and why there will never be Tape Op TV.
MERCURY: This current book is from issues from 1999-2000, so you have a lot of catching up to do. Are there more books coming?
LARRY CRANE: Absolutely. We are planning to compile the past few years and do a couple books a year. We're trying to catch up a little bit. We're also going to do other books that seem related, but we're never going to do trash like a How to Use Pro Tools book.
Like Recording for Dummies?
Oh. God, no. I always thought of Tape Op as being something timeless. If you pick up an old issue, maybe that person's moved on, but at least [it] was an interesting interview talking about what they were doing.
Looking through the new book it's staggering to see so many huge names—from Fugazi to DJ Shadow to Butch Vig—all one after the other.
My roots are in what might be called indie rock but my taste in music is very wide, as is that of John [Baccigaluppi, Tape Op's publisher]. When we look at any given issue we look at what we can possibly fit into it: Is there something that represents home recordings or low-tech recording? Is there something very timeless or a little bit of history? And is there someone currently making very cool records? We don't necessarily have to plug them in but that is the basic idea each issue.
Any plans to expand the Tape Op empire?
Someone was talking about doing TV shows, like Tape Op TV. We've had a few different offers for things, but the problem for me is that they always fall into this "how to" sort of thing, like "how to record drums," "how to do this," "how to mix this." I don't see that as the ultimate focus. To me the focus is that this is a technical art form. You have to know something about the technology of it, but more importantly it's art. It really irritates me when people see it as a purely a technical exercise.
Larry Crane will be reading at Powell's City of Books (1005 W Burnside) on Friday, August 15, at 7:30 pm.