Penny Offerings

Chris Deckard of Penny Studios is no ordinary record producer

The selection of tracks Deckard plays from the latest Radio Penny sampler backs him up. The Emphysema Kings' hooky power-pop is raucous and almost sloppy, seemingly held together with handclaps and guitar buzz; they stagger through verse-chorus-verse pop-smear debauchery like heirs to both the Replacements and mid-'70s Lou Reed. Heather Gracie's big ol' voice powers the guitar rock of the Patsies, rolling and swelling majestically through their slower numbers and stripping paint off walls when she opens up full-throttle. A Morning's Work instrumental piece evokes a Fellini-esque dance hall where the amusements run to absinthe and other sinister hobbies. There is no real similarity in their styles of music, but even in their rough, unmixed state the bands share a certain quality. They sound crisp and alive; they have the spark that distinguishes music from notes. It is the sound of an artist using technology to reveal the essence of another artist. It is the sound Deckard is working to make Penny Studios' trademark. It is the art of sound.

Chris Deckard (left) and Jason Rook: "What makes a scene vital," says Deckard, "is when people get involved with each other, with other people. The most fun projects allow me to take part in them, not just record them."
Mark Gilliland
Chris Deckard (left) and Jason Rook: "What makes a scene vital," says Deckard, "is when people get involved with each other, with other people. The most fun projects allow me to take part in them, not just record them."

Unfortunately, some people aren't as interested in art as they are in money, so for various reasons, Penny Studios will be moving to a new location in the Lemp complex. "I want to finish all studio projects by the end of April so I can move. Hopefully in May I'll have the studio set up so I can take a month off and work on my own stuff." Then it's back to working on other people's stuff. The headaches and hassles of trying to run a studio while working a paying job and still making his own music are not greater than the rewards Deckard gets from doing what he loves. "I couldn't tell you the names of the Rolling Stones. I don't have a TV. I don't buy CDs. I've seen the new Beck album, but I haven't heard it. I don't really listen to music. I'm so much more interested in producing it than listening to it."

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