Nowadays, Chapel Hill underground-pop icon Chris Stamey is probably better-known as a producer than a performer. But it would be wonderful if that changed with "Here and Now" -- his new album with longtime collaborative partner Peter Holsapple, and a terrific record (although not everyone agrees). "Here and Now" closes with an ode to the agonies and joys of working in a recording studio, "Tape Op Blues," which describes what it feels like to stand at a microphone and try to sing with everyone watching.
"I like to get the singing done during the initial recording, when possible, then shape everything around that," Stamey says. "Often records start with the instruments one by one. The singing is done only at the very end, after weeks or months of work, when everyone is exhausted by the process, and waiting for the singer to make it all work somehow at the last minute -- and discovering, sadly, that all that work was done at a tempo or in a key that really makes it hard to sing. And the rest of the band is often crowded into the control room, impatient and inattentive. The singer sees lips moving but only hears bits of the conversation when the talk-back button is held down. It's easy for paranoia to set in. I try to avoid this scenario, but it is one that is familiar to me."
For more talk from both Stamey and Holsapple about "Here and Now," see the interview in Friday's paper; and for more about Stamey's production methodology, check this feature from 2004. Then go see their show at Cat's Cradle on Saturday.