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Riff Raff 

Wednesday, Mar 17 1999
Studio Time Jeff Cleland, booking manager of Hyde Street Studios, gets excited when you mention the International Center to him. He sighs longingly when he's talking about the place, considering the possibilities -- to wit, moving one of San Francisco's largest and most popular recording studios into the even larger space at 50 Oak's International Center, expanding the range of services the studio can offer, and getting the hell out of the Tenderloin.

"It's a mixed emotional thing," says Cleland, of the possibility of a move for the studio, which has been in its current space since 1967. "So much of the San Francisco sound was recorded under this roof." And indeed, the list of clients who've walked through Hyde Street Studios' doors is a who's who of modern pop music both local and national, from stalwarts like the Grateful Dead, the late Charles Brown, and Bonnie Raitt, to local hip-hop acts like the Luniz and the Coup, to Mark Eitzel and Joe Satriani. And the inside of Studio D is forever commemorated on the cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's 1970 album Cosmo's Factory; the heavy blue velvet curtain that provided the cover's backdrop hangs there to this day.

Being located near the, um, colorful corner of Hyde and Turk isn't any studio manager's dream site -- Cleland notes Chris Isaak's frustrations with getting hit up by crack dealers when venturing outside between vocal takes. But more importantly, what the International Center offers is breathing room. Michael Ward, who has owned Hyde Street Studios for "19 long years," became a co-owner of the International Center four years ago. He notes that some of its little-used rooms, like a volleyball court and weight room, could be converted into studio space, and the ornate and spacious Fabulous Ballroom could be used for live recording, as well as working with large groups like symphonies (right now, if you want to record an orchestra in the Bay Area, Marin's Skywalker Ranch is your only Northern California option). "With all the stuff going on in the building, adding a music scene to it would be pretty exciting," says Ward.

A move is neither immediate nor guaranteed, though Ward says he'd like to have a firm plan set within a year. In the meantime, the International Center and Hyde Street Studios are co-sponsoring a fund-raiser on Saturday, March 20, as a first step in exploring the options. Oakland rappers Hieroglyphics, esteemed techno producers and musicians Hardkiss, and Dub Addxx play the Fabulous Ballroom starting at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15; call 441-8934. (Mark Athitakis)

Live and Not So Loud On Sunday, Feb. 28, SOMA's CoCo Club received a visit from the Police Department in response to noise complaints; cutting off the local band Truth About Seafood halfway through its set, it marked the last time the CoCo will be able to present live loud music.

The CoCo has received three or four noise complaints in the past six months, according to owner Patricia Moran; after digging through the club's files, she says, she discovered that the CoCo's use permit only allows for acoustic performances. Since the Planning Department isn't allowing any new permits for high-decibel shows, Moran has been scrambling to let the bands she's already booked know that their shows will have to be unplugged. "This totally affects us negatively," says Moran. "It's a shame." (M.A.)

True Tales of Punk Rock Entrepreneurship With all the recent talk about the potential evils of rock bands that -- gasp! -- post fliers on telephone poles to promote their concerts, perhaps it's worth noting that not only does rock 'n' roll fliering have meaning in terms of history, it also has one in terms of art. Which is what Corte Madera's Gingko Press was thinking in putting together Fucked Up and Photocopied: Instant Art of the Punk Rock Movement. Featuring approximately 1,500 fliers culled from 15,000 submitted to Gingko owner David Lopes from around the country, the book is broken down geographically and includes a section devoted to Bay Area acts ranging from the semifamous (The Avengers) to the not-so-semifamous (The Drab). A number of artists featured, like Raymond Pettibon and Winston Smith, went on to full-fledged art careers, and supporting essays are contributed by the likes of Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, Circle Jerk Keith Morris, and former Minuteman Mike Watt, who describes fun with guns, hot peppers, and the infamous "turd house."

The 240-page book will be released in June. If you can't wait that long to get your hands on a piece of punk rock history, 17-year-old Josh Carman has a similar proposition to consider: Blind Herd of Sheep, a CD compiling tracks from bands who are either alumni of or current students at Berkeley High School. Taking $500 each from the Berkeley Schools Excellence Project and the Berkeley Public Education Foundation, Carman worked on the project for about a year, gathering more money for the 1,000-CD pressing from benefit shows at the Berkeley Store Gallery. Mostly if not entirely punky, the CD's 23 tracks feature a variety of acts, including a healthy number of bands Carman himself has played in. It's the first CD released on his El Sabado imprint, and Carman already has a bit of record executive in him. Referring to the inclusion of tracks by some of Berkeley High's more popular punk rock grads -- Fifteen, Engine 88, Pinhead Gunpowder -- Carman says, "Alumni that are bigger bands I don't really like very much. I put them on so more people would hear about [the CD]." (M.A.)

Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.

About The Author

Mark Athitakis


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