recording studio


The Shays Rebellion record label existed from 1997 to 2003. For the last three years it also was a recording studio.
In 2001, it moved to California, eventually settling in the D room at Hyde Street Studios. Producer/engineer/label owner Mike Iacuessa revisits the period.


(alternative rock), 1998

"Filled with harmonies, catchy choruses and well-written songs...they're in a league of their own" - Zero Magazine

"A swashbuckling trio with a mean romantic streak" - BAM

New Evolution has plenty of attitude, nuance and atmosphere...Melodies fashioned by the grow on you." - Progression

"New Evolution is classic power trio stuff - guitar driven, hooky and capable of whisper-to-a-scream intensity." - New Times, San Luis Obispo

This album was going to be picked up in 1996 by a major label but some stupid shenanigans got the contracts torn up. I thought I'd hit a home run the first time out! So instead, I picked this up for Shays Rebellion two years later.  This was the band's first full-length release after the popular "green" tape. It was 24-track analog. It had some crazy ideas - like on some songs we miked the guitar amp through a piano with the pedals taped down, which gave some bottom ring to Beaux Davis' telecaster/matchless setup. On the bridge of New Evolution there are four guitar parts in all going off at once, kind of like an exploding supernova, which was pretty cool. By contast, Castaway Pilgrim,  was pretty much the three of them on one take. The only overdubs are the vocal and a couple harmonics in the guitar solo. It's just one guitar. All the effects were just part of Beaux's sound. The challenge was mixing in the right amount of feedback with his clean signal.


(mixed punk, pop, metal, poetry), 1997

"Reached as high as number 19 on the record shop chart...sitting proudly next to major label releases" - Provincetown Banner

It's like bringing a Cape Cod version of Woodstock into your own home - without all the mud....From the spaced out psychedelia of Bionaut to the pounding punk of Philth Shack to the poetry of Kristin Knowles, the CD covers a range seldom seen at local nightclubs.....the results are impressive."-Bill O'Neill, Cape Cod Times

Usually there is a certain amount of nervousness when we record, and it went really well. It just came together, and it seemed as if it took no time at all." -Tom Fettig, Philth Shack lead singer, quoted in The Cape Codder

This compilation has done a great job - Randy Browning, Northeast Performer

"The best way I can describe it is a bunch of hungry musicians, striving to be heard, coming at you every three minutes or so" - Producer Mike Iacuessa


This is the compilation I put together which later led to the video on cable access TV which was honored as the most entertaining program in Massachusetts in 1998.  Generation Man by Otto is pretty much just Aaron Spade with Liam Hogg drumming. You can hear Aaron had recorded all these cool sounds but by the time he mixed it, I think he was too close to it and the tape he gave me was just a wash so I went to this 4-track studio he had in a shed next to his house and we twiddled the dials on some kind of homemade compressor and it came out great. Aaron was also playing with Philth Shack, their revolving bass player at that time. They were an awesome punk band. Everyone could play and Tom Fettig could spew lyrics as fast as anyone. Hopefully Long Night at the Y captures some of that franticness. Ghoul Squad was another band that came on strong live. Their song, The Saw is Family, got a lot of local airplay.


86, 86
(punk), 1997

I worked with this band from Provincetown, Massachusetts in a producer role. They rehearsed in front of a live audience most of the time because all the high school kids would hang out at their place, which made them develop quickly. The Misfits also liked them and wrote them a letter back after hearing this six-song EP.  In Ask Not..., the line "presidential fixed elections" was written two years before the 2000 election. Even at age 16, Carmen knew what the fuck was going on more than most people do. On this six-song EP, there was also a tune she wrote called Broken Home, not to be confused with the Papa Roach song released about a year and a half later (or is it?).  I nearly drove off Route 17 in the Santa Cruz mountains when I first heard it on the radio and Carmen says she had a similar experience.  We kind of suspect the Misfits played it for them. Either way, we all agreed their version sucked and was hardly worth losing sleep over.


(r &b), 1999

We recorded this on 8-track 1/2-inch analog at Gary's art studio next to his house. It was done over 10 very hot summer days in August and you can feel that in the music. I mixed it at Shays Rebellion East, which was basically the house I was living in. We did six songs. Then when I got set up out west, I heard some heavy hitters were looking to form a local supergroup but didn't have a singer or songwriter. I was going to trade them studio time at the Hyde Street room in exchange for backing up Gary and see what happened but then Gary had disappeared. No one, not even his wife, knew where he was for a while. He has a lot of good songs but Child is my favorite. He did two backup harmonies alone with main vocal. which I moved around in the mix -- we only had 8 tracks -- I did the drums on five and bounced them down to stereo, keeping a reference track, and then recorded over the initial drum tracks for everything else. When I first heard Michael Franti, his voice reminded my of Gary, although Gary's got better range. He also had a solid drummer who was actually into Black Sabbath which gave a heavy attitude to the r&b. 


(heavy metal), 2000

Brock Thomas and I recorded most of this at my house over one winter on an 8-track 1/2-inch Tascam. Benny Albro was the drummer and it was the second time I'd worked with him. Benny is pretty talented all round musically. He's not really a metal guy but Brock and him were ferocious together. Borrowed Time is one good example. Brock was one of those guys who could do six takes and every one would be dead-on the same -- the type producers love in the studio. We couldn't layer too much though because of the track limitations. I remember the group decision to record and mix the drums dry -- kind of early Metallica -- was met with some second thoughts afterward but in retrospect it has stood up. I had insisted on at least recording in a very live room, which we did in this house in dowtown Orleans where people were squatting. I'd been in there and remembered the great room sound in one of the bedrooms...It was Brock's first time singing in the studio and I recall he sang better when he was angry so getting a good take came down to getting just the right amount of beers in him...The greatest thing sonically about this EP, however, turned out to be the low end. It really blows you out if you have a subwoofer, but unfortunately will probably be lost on the Mp3.

In 2002, the Shays Rebellion label opened a recording studio in California. It was originally located in Fremont but moved to the D room at Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco.  I worked with a lot of good bands but the clips that I can get my hands on now to share include Hot Pants Road from the funk band, The Shreep, which I producer/engineered. It went on Tower Records and was pushed big in Japan...Also a really good punk band called Tres Pistolas which I included the more commercial Oxygen with the static guitar/radio sounds and Reservation Song, which was more like their other stuff. On both we did a lot with the guitars but I remember mixing in one scratchy mic to keep it punk. You can also hear the spit in the back of his throat on his vocals...And maybe the best one-track guitar sound I've ever gotten, Power of the Beast, a song by Jackie Kaye with her late boyfriend Jason playing.


(alternative rock), 2003

I used to call this the greatest album never recorded and then when we finally recorded it, the band's rise was stunted after bass player Tom Harris was killed in a motorcycle accident. It is a shame since they had so many good songs. Most of this was recorded at Hyde Street. We were able to bring out the guitar sounds out a bit more this time like in the intro to Come An Inch Closer. On Southwest of Luna, one of the four songs Beaux wrote busking in London, he added in a wah-wah pedal and the vocal in the end turns into a distorted guitar. Beaux also had some solo stuff we mixed in to break it up. Also recorded was a song called Beer Run with the chorus "B, Double E, Double R, U, N." Country artists Garth Brooks and Todd Snider have similar songs but the Chant version dates back to a very early incarnation of the band in 1990. Some of the material from these sessions was re-tracked or overdubbed and released as the Floating Pebbles album in 2013.

(singer/songwriter), 2003

"Once in a while you come across an album that displays intriguing of the best sleeper albums of 2003" - Splendid Magazine

We mixed the album in just a day and a half, pretty much the minimum time logistically that could take for nine songs of 24 tracks. Making it more daunting, we must have had a dozen instruments on every tune, ranging from didgeridoo to acoustic bass to harmonica to organ to piano - everything but horns - although not all the instruments survived on every song. Alex had no band at the time, it being a solo project off his money from The Shreep album we did earlier in the year. He brought in some top-level session players like Scott Foster, who was giving Kirk Hammett jazz guitar lessons at that time, and vocalist Jesse Foster. I remember Beaux Davis of Chant came in and played washboard and triangle on Wash It Down. We only had one track left so he had to slip the washboard between his legs whenever the triangle part came up, which was a definite balancing act. Alex didn't know him at all and actually thought he was a professional washboard player from some zydeco band! In the end, we pulled the mix off because Alex made some great decisions quickly as to what got used and what didn't. One that we did have a hard time deciding on was the ending of Come What May. We had three different instrument solos to choose from and wound up using a little of each. You can hear the electric guitar give way to the piano and then to Alex's acoustic before ending on the electric guitar note again. We never had time to listen back to everything we recorded while we were still in the studio. I was most proud of that because the mix is pretty smooth. And also very warm despite it being digital. Another Hyde Street recording.