As time marches on I tend to find the behind the scene people in the world of punk and hardcore more and more interesting. The bands have always created the vision and music but there is so much more to this whole thing and that is where a dude like Jerry Farley from Brooklyn, NY comes in. A longtime fixture in the NYHC scene, Jerry has done recording work with tons of bands for almost 2 decades. He books shows and is a musician as well. Nova Studios on Staten Island is where Jerry does the majority of his work. When I found out what a unique setup Nova has I hit Jerry up for this interview which has been kicking around now in the “processing” stage for a few months. Jerry also produced the new Sick Of It All record which is due out in early November. Check out what Jerry had to say and look up his past work as well! Graphics by: John Franko
IE: Hey Jerry. We hear you are currently on vacation while answering these questions. Where are you right now and what did you do today on vacation?
Jerry: Hey Chris, first let me say thank you for asking me to be a part of In Effect and taking interest in my work, I’ve been following the zine for years, from paperback to website and I still have physical copies of Issues 7-11! In Effect has a huge role in keeping hardcore accessible around the world, so as a fan thanks for all the hard work. Ok... so I was on vacation in Hawaii when you sent these questions, but just when I got into answering them early in the second week of the trip all the "relaxation" and free time ceased because we had to prepare for Hurricane Lane! Vacation life with the fiancee quickly became about buying emergency supplies, a two weeks of food and water, filling the jacuzzi with emergency water (first world problem I know), packing a "go" bag, and all that fun stuff that comes with a terrifying category 5 storm hitting an island out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Having the vacation switch gears from snorkeling in Honaunau and sitting on a black sand beach in Hilo, to searching out local evacuation centers at nearby middle schools made the interview unfortunately take a back seat. Obviously we made it out, but all thanks to the mountain (Mauna Kea) which saved us by sending wind shears to kick that hurricane's ass! Unfortunately, even though we narrowly escaped a direct hit on the west side of Big Island, the Eastern side was hit with over 4 feet of rain in a little over day which caused land and mud slides. Many people lost their homes or other important aspects to their livelihood, so I would encourage anyone reading this to visit HERE and donate to relief efforts to help our fellow American Hawaiian locals who are SO welcoming and considerate to visitors of their amazing island and culture. Despite the storm I can't wait to go back there, it's an incredible place! Right now, I've started the interview back in Brooklyn sitting in a jury duty assembly room.... Waiting to see if I get picked, and that's basically not at all the same thing nor really as interesting for an interview opener; so if I get long winded with answers, just know I have a lot of time on my hands, I don't do this often and I'm super excited to answer these... and like a good studio engineer, I'm probably hyped up on waaaay too much on coffee! Haha!
IE: You have been involved in the NYHC scene for quite some time and over the years you have built a good reputation for being a reliable recording guy/producer. Can you give us a run down on the bands you have worked with?
Jerry: I have learned and worked with so many different acts and labels in many different roles over the past 18 years of my studio life. I can hardly name them all but bands like Candiria, Every Time I Die, il Ninõ, Vision Of Disorder, Breaking Benjamin, Sick Of It All, Fall Out Boy, E-Town Concrete, Lamb Of God, Madball, Most Precious Blood… just to name a few who, of course, fall into the more "well known" established acts. But I am proud to also have a hefty catalogue of independent work that probably includes some great bands a bunch of readers may not have heard of like The Last Stand, Up For Nothing, Impact (Staten Island), VICE, AnAkA and Enziguri. My studio work of course has a lot of different styles of music genres and varying followings of fans in a large cross section of local musicians from the tri-state area; but I definitely have a rep for punk, metal and hardcore as my main focus. To me, it's really all just more about collaborating with musicians who want to work hard and make something great!
IE: Many producers work out of more traditional recording studios in a storefront but you have a bit of a different setup. Can you talk about Nova Studio's location, setup and I guess amenities? Please talk about the things that make Nova different.
Jerry: Nova is a very special studio out in Shaolin aka Staten Island... Basically it ain't open to the public with an hourly rate like most commercial studios but that's because it's a special kind of scenario. We try and work with quality over quantity. The house has been converted into basically a live-in studio scenario. It has amazing grounds, a sick as fuck kitchen, a huge large live drum room over looking the waters of New Jersey and it happens to be my favorite sounding drum room! Along with incredible outboard gear, a floating iso-room next to the control room, bedrooms, multiple bathrooms and lounges and really just a chill classy vibe, Nova does not make you feel like you are cooped up in a window-less dark, isolated and uninspired studio scenario... When you are here, you feel like something important is going to come out of what you're doing and it really puts you in the moment.
NOVA STUDIOS STATEN ISLAND, NY
IE: Are you the owner of Nova? A partner? Employee?
Jerry: The studio is owned and operated by Frankie Nasso. A very talented director and basically all around great guy. We have a shared vision, appreciation and respect for music and art. One of the main components I love about Nova and the reason I do the majority of my work there is the relationship and vibe I have with Frankie. Sure it's a nice place and sounds great, but we need to feel confident and comfortable to create and perform. Frankie does everything in his power to make that happen with whatever he is involved in. I also get a glimpse into the music video production and film side of his world by working so closely with him there and learn a lot. I highly suggest people look at the body of work he has accomplished in the past decade. Click HERE for more info. For more info on Nova Studios go HERE. I am as of right now, basically just an independent contractor for labels and bands, but I keep bringing clients back to Nova because of not only the sounds I get there, but because everyone ends up feeling that the money and time spent is the best experience they have ever had. I pride myself on that being a huge component to the albums I make there. Nova won’t rent out the studio to just any engineer or producer because we have an in house team to oversee it. It's something special so we treat it as such, but we are open to serious inquiries and opportunities so don't be afraid to reach out and ask. I am definitely up there on the list as a main house engineer and available by request, but since it’s a private studio not publicly advertising like an hourly studio, we see how we can best accomplish and accommodate each recording inquiry and budget without putting constant wear and tear on the facility and gear.
IE: You recently wrapped up work with Sick Of It All on their upcoming album. You also worked on their last 2 recordings on “Last Act Of Defiance” and their 30th Anniversary EP. Can you talk about how it is working with the guys in Sick Of It All considering that you have been involved in the NYHC scene for many years and probably have looked up to them for a very long time?
Jerry: The relationship I've developed with Sick Of It All has been both special and unique to me for so many reasons, most obviously as a fan, but more importantly as an engineer and producer who appreciates their sound and style. It all started with a guest vocal Lou did on The Last Stand's first full length “The Time Is Now”; then it developed into us flying producer Tue Madsen in from Denmark to Nova to make “Last Act Of Defiance”. During that album I was able to act as head engineer and studio manager during album tracking. Then Tue flew home with the session and mixed and mastered it back at Ant Farm Studios where he had worked on previous SOIA records such as “Based On A True Story” and “Non-Stop”. But when it came to the 30th anniversary EP, when “When The Smoke Clears” went into planning the guys gave me a shot at producing and engineering because they had a limited time to track and a very ambitious concept for the coffee book/vinyl. It went great! That opportunity felt truly special, like they recognized what I could bring to the table as both a fan, a professional and a guy who grew up with NYHC roots. Craig was quick to point out during that “Last Act” album that he could easily see the “Indecision humor” that I guess is around our circle of friends from this part of Brooklyn... I guess it just made me more familiar and comfortable to them from all those shows and tours they did together. We just mesh in a fun creative Brooklyn/Queens way. With the success of the EP tracking at Nova and sending the songs to Tue to mix and master we went ahead and began work on the new album in early 2018 at Nova basically with the decision to do a full length with this successful scenario. Having the guys want me back as the producer and engineer was just an honor and achievement for me personally. It's the first time they would do pre-production for an album in the studio and with the producer they would work both in writing the album and recording it. They have such a long illustrious career working together as a four piece and a bond to make the best possible album together, that I thought it would feel overwhelming when we started... But it was actually one of the best studio experiences I've ever had. We just get each other.
I offer up ideas only when I think they are worthy of mention, and they truly considered them, I would be a go-between when we hit creative blocks or push one guy to be inspired and work over on one song as I encouraged another to track with me. Lou and I worked really hard on vocal melodies and incorporated some new warmup techniques so we could try some new stuff. Armand really got to get comfortable with tempos and arrangements we set together in quick live recording prior to tracking the album versions. Pete was up early tracking guitars with me and then writing lyrics as Craig tagged in for the second half of the day to track bass. I asked for members to give me songs specific to their strengths or unique ideas. I asked that we add some guest vocals and got some amazing performances from incredible singers like Chuck of Hot Water Music and Tim of Rise Against. And every member would work on lyrics and vocal melodies as we formulated the main elements of the songs. It was an incredible team effort and I'm very very proud of what we made with “Wake The Sleeping Dragon” which will be released November 3rd 2018 on Century Media.I hope everyone enjoys what we've pushed ourselves to make, because the guys in Sick Of It All are genuine hard working musicians who allowed me into their process of creating and I have never felt more at home and confident about my work as I do now. Having been part of such a huge opportunity such as this one, if any of the SOIA guys are reading this, I truly am grateful and thank you! Click the "Wake The Sleeping Dragon!" cover above to hear the new track "Inner Vision".
IE: When you get down to the actual work of recording with Sick Of It All is it easy or hard to separate being a fan versus being the producer of an album that you know will have everyone really keying in on your work? Is there added pressure versus a situation where you are working with a newer or lesser known band?
Jerry: To me every artist, every project and every creative endeavor is equally important because I am helping them create their vision for new music. I don't have any control over how many people it will reach or where it will "sell" but I do have some input into what their content is and how it may be received. I feel a little pressure to get the sounds they want because we're always eager to get rolling and that "sound" that will make them feel comfortable and it’s just plain important, but I love the feeling of the whole process. I would describe it more like excitement, it's fun to focus on our vision, to capture the takes that they will be proud of and create a comfortable studio environment for them to really reveal something special. I don't yell or start fires, this isn't a hospital, no one is at risk of dying, so let's keep it in perspective... We get to create music that initially started as a rough idea and hear it turn into a fully formed song when we hit the playback. That's special to me.
I never completely separate the fan aspect because in my opinion it's my job to be the objective ear, a sort of representative of the listener. I have to listen to what the artist wants first, not what I want, then think about what the new listener or dedicated fan is expecting or anticipating then be a sort of ambassador between them as best I can. My contributions are mere suggestions, and that means it's the artist's music first and foremost. I gotta take my ego out and sometimes even my personal taste to suggest what's best for the song. I am a firm believer that the music and recording should speak for itself, because I won't be around to explain it when someone else is listening. No one will know anything about what gear we used or why we chose to use that take, so it needs to stand on its own. I like to meet a simple requirement that I will casually throw around the studio; "that's the one I want to hear for the rest of my life!”. So I need to be confident in both my sounds as an engineer and the performance I encourage from my musicians as a producer. I don't care if it's punk, hardcore, reggae, metal or an acoustic performance. I need it to be believable and special to both the musicians and the fans.
THE KOLLER BROTHERS FROM SICK OF IT ALL WITH NOVA'S OWN SAMMY SALAMI
IE: As described earlier Nova is not your average recording studio and has a lot of real estate for a NYC location which leads me to believe that it can also turn into a lodging option for bands as well while recording there. Do bands stay overnights while recording and if so do you ever have to turn into something other than a producer? Have you ever found yourself cooking up meals or finding an extra pillow or two to make artists feel at home?
Jerry: Nova was not designed to feel like a studio, it’s supposed to feel like a home and an accomplishment. After 8 years I still feel honored to walk in and be able to work there. I think when bands stay over and work the bedrooms into the budget like Sick Of It All did they get to really focus and be fully immersed in what they are creating. There are less strange outside stresses like commuting and shit like that.... but of course any living situation has certain scenarios that need to be addressed and honestly, I want everyone to feel comfortable and creative, I am NOT the artist, I am hired to help them create their album... so if something needs to get done and it's vital or important, if I'm capable, I'm fixing it. But... most of the amazing perks of living and recording together really have to do with eating when you're on Staten Island. Craig and I tend to go off on a Pastosa pasta bender when we work together, throwing months of excercise out the window in just a few weeks with our meals hahahaha... And Pete will just shake his head as we discuss what's for dinner at breakfast. It's pretty hilarious to witness. I mean there is an ongoing "discussion" about what the best pizza on the island is and Armand and Craig get into that more than any disagreement about the songs. It's really all fun and love when we bust balls.... But we all know deep down The Square On Annadale holds the title as of the latest record. Craig may tell you different if maybe the chef from another pizzeria is staring him down while we knock down a slice but we know his heart is in the right place. Oh and if you're from NY, you need to understand that pizza really breaks down into two categories, there is the "specialty slice" and the "after school slice", you can only compare and rate from within the category, you can't cross reference because they are two different experiences, just ask the guys!
JERRY (RIGHT) WITH SICK OF IT ALL @ THE SQUARE ON ANNADALE
IE: How many years have you been producing bands and how did you initially get into it?
Jerry: At first I started with a 4 track cassette recorder in the attic at my parent’s place where everyone would come to play, like my earliest hardcore and punk bands Purge, Muddlehead, and Room For Doubt. Then through my 3rd High school “City As School”, I found the studio world. That was the first real educational direction I ever got. I started as an intern for school credits at studios in Times Square where I would do the real simple stuff, DAT tape delivery, coffee, sit/watch and listen, then clean up. Eventually I took one internship at a well-known Brooklyn studio called Fastlane, where I got to meet and hang around bands that I loved like Life Of Agony, Biohazard and Type O Negative. They eventually hired me for my first engineering gig there when I attended college for audio engineering and music production. I recorded basically every local band who came through there in the early 2000's and all my friends’ bands like Human Decline, Inhuman and Most Precious Blood. That first gig opened me up to lots of new musician friends and styles, cause all my teenage friends were pretty much now out on tour like Shutdown and Indecision or entering their careers! For example I met my dudes in AnAkA, a local metal band I've produced for like 18 years and most recently am filling in on bass as they transition in their new drummer Jordan Bernacchia. Having success with bands like AnAkA landed me a gig with my college buddy Dan Korneff, where I began digital editing and assistant engineer work on the major label stuff I mentioned like il Ninõ, Breaking Benjamin, Candiria, E-Town Concrete mostly at Mirror Image in Times Square, which then in turn lead to work with an awesome producer most of you will all know as “Machine”! At the Machine Shop we worked on Every Time I Die, Demon Hunter, Lamb Of God and Fall Out Boy. With every job I took the bands fell closer to the level of influence I wanted to be involved in. I learned a lot moving from analog to digital and benefited terribly from knowing the pros and cons of both worlds through my colleagues and the bands. My catalogue of albums continues to grow moving me from assistant engineer to head engineer with awesome producers like Zeuss on Vision Of Disorder “Razed To The Ground” and Tue Madsen with Sick Of It All’s “Last Act Of Defiance”. In the past 5-8 years I’ve moved into more of a producer and recording engineer as my day to day, often with mixing and mastering of the final product. I recently did a 7” on Fastbreak Records for Madball that was a split with Wisdom In Chains. Click HERE to check out out his work with Madball. Some bands I took it all on like Up For Nothing, some as co-producer like Veara on Epitaph, or just mixing like King Ly Chee. I really wish I could list them all but it's been like 18 years of constant work and creativity, so it's hard to just recall it all, but they all helped me grow as a producer and helped put food in my mouth, afford a home and of course with all the merch they give me.... clothes on my back haha!!!
IE: Is this your full time job and if not what is it that puts food on the table?
Jerry: This is what I do. Aside from throwing local shows on my “days off” to help bands out and make a few bucks doing live sound, I haven’t had to work at a traditional job since the early 2000’s. I don’t do well with the normal 9-5 routine so I’ve worked hard to keep the goals I’ve set up front. I am extremely fortunate to have been able to live like this because of how many people trust me with their music.
IE: Can you name 3 bands you would love to work with one day and a short reason why you chose them?
Jerry: 1: The Misfits or Cro-Mags ... for obvious reasons. It’s bucket list shit that I KNOW I would be able to bring something unique to. 2: Mr. Bungle because it would be a unique challenge and undertaking to capture their vision and performance... if they were to ever do another record, I know it would be a completely unexpected style of songs. 3: Indecision... because we need more of that!
IE: Your name is Jerry Farley but you are often referred to as “The Jerry Farley”. Who gave you the "The" title? It sounds quite distinguished, haha.
Jerry: It's like any nickname, someone has to give it to you. In college I put together this house situation with student friends out on Long Island. I lived there for like 6 years. We threw parties and eventually shows down in the basement. We called it El Rancho and then Hell Rancho, but everyone most commonly referred to it as "The House".... So as my reputation of extending my college years grew, I eventually started getting that tacked on to my name. I won't lie, I know it sounds dick-ish, but I was proud of those good times and I just accepted it like a brand when it naturally entered my recording work. A lot of music went down in that house, we recorded there, I Am the Avalanche started as a band there, a few bands came through on tour, and it's really where most of my earliest multitrack recordings started, since I would take those on with either roommates or friends’ bands. So I embrace the "THE" element in its memory. There is even a song about that house from a Brooklyn Punk band Counterpoint called “80 West”. Up For Nothing later went on to cover it when they recorded with “The” Pete from Bouncing Souls at “The” Lake House.... so, I guess I like being in that company of homies that eventually earned their "the" status based on work haha.... oh and Zeuss likes it. So really, when the guy nicknamed after a Greek God, who produced Hatebreed gives you the go ahead, you stick to it!
NOVA STUDIOS STATEN ISLAND, NY
IE: You are also a drummer and currently are in a band Cover Your Idols. How many shows have you played so far and what’s the set list like for CYI?
Jerry: Cover Your Idols is basically just a punk and hardcore cover band my friends and I do for fun. We play a few times a year. We take all proceeds we make and donate them to various causes, because fuck man, these ain't our songs so let's do something useful with them! I am currently mixing our first release based on a collection of 90's songs called "Discman". It should be out by the end of 2018 and we'll be playing some shows in NJ, Philly, Long Island and Brooklyn in October, November and December.... so come through and sing along!
IE: Is there anything else you wanted to add before we wrap this up? Thanks for taking the time to do this!
Jerry: Yeah ....this interview means a lot to me as an engineer and producer in our community. Finding NYHC was an important development for me. I was raised with music in my home. Bands like The Who and Black Sabbath played every day in my parents’ house. So finding thrash metal and rap groups in the 80's was just a natural progression. When I got into high school in the 90’s, I found local punk and hardcore bands and their venues, and that sound in my mind closely related to that early thrash and rap I liked. I think my first local show was Nobody's Perfect and Rejuvenate at The Crazy Country Club in Brooklyn with my best buddy Freddy Jackson. That was only two weeks after my first set of "BIG" concerts, Faith No More (“Angel Dust”)/Metallica (“Black Album”)/Guns & Roses (“Use Your Illusion”) tour at Giants Stadium (both nights) alongside my first venue show later that week, GWAR with Blitzkrieg at the Ritz in the city. I really got a dose of everything that was “live shows” all at once. From the costume stage show fucking insanity that is Gwar to the huge arena sound and lights of that stadium concert, I knew I loved them all, but that first small venue show with Nobody’s Perfect was just so much more attainable and important to me. It was accessible and in my borough, it was angry and it was completely stripped down to what I felt I needed most; a cathartic release of anger and frustration.
Immediately after that I sought out every venue like that. L'Amours, Rock Palace, The Wave/Backdoor Bar, The Joint, Wetlands, CBGBs, Continental, PWAC, Castle Heights (where i think I bought my first In Effect?), Deja One, Knitting Factory and Coney Island High... My friends and I would hit 2-3 shows a weekend, sometimes two in a day! It is pretty much where I spent all my time in my teens for the rest of the 1990’s. That decade was a very special time in NYC, and although I used it pretty much as my playground I have to say it’s a very huge reason why I am, who I am and why I do what I do for the love of music. I learned how to do things DIY and create a career for myself that may not make me “rich” but it makes me very happy.
I was able to establish a sort of passion and purpose. It’s something I feel like only the people who were there know what I am speaking of... and actually it most recently came up as a basis for a song with an album I produced for Vinny & the Hooligans (Vinny Panza’s of Thirsty, Youth Of Today, Bold) called “Take Me Back” that just came out. It also has a song called “To Live & Die in NY” featuring Lou Koller of Sick Of It All. New York is a big reason I am able to make a living with music, I’m so grateful for it, past and present. My reputation just follows my quality of work because of that community of musician friends I’ve built around me. All these bands in the studio... I get to work with them, because of the effect they had on me. So I guess if I have a good reputation for what I do, I really owe it to them and New York for teaching me how to be.
So I just want to thank you all for having me be a part of this scene. My job tends to fall under the “behind the scenes” part of making albums and I probably have over explained things waaaay too much, but it feels great to put my passion and vision into writing and reading it back, it lets me know I'm following my passion and working hard at what I've always wanted to do. I have days where I question my choices, but I keep the PMA upfront by just taking action in my life and doing the things I want to do while I'm alive. I hope anyone who reads this takes comfort that we all face obstacles with what we want to do with ourselves, but it's important to just get started doing it, finish it, and begin again!
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