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TEN: Questions For Local Audio Engineer/Musician, Adam Boose

For local bands, Adam Boose is an audio superhero, turning their raw recordings into fully professional sounding products. As the owner of Lakewood’s Cauliflower Audio, Boose has mastered albums by bands like Shitbox Jimmy, The Very Knees, Bethesda, and Coffinberry, to name just a few. But, it’s not just Cleveland bands that have been helped by his skills. Dawes, Conor Oberst, Reggie and The Full Effect, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Pedro The Lion, Los Lobos, Wesley Bright and the Hi-Lites;  the list of artists that Boose has worked with is pretty damn impressive.

Boose’s expert ear can be attributed to the fact that he’s been on both sides of the equation. In 2005, he joined the Deep Elm emo outfit, Brandston, playing bass with them until their breakup in 2008. His resume as a musician also includes stints in Swarm Of Bats, Furnace St., and Filament 38. He recently unveiled his new band with Myk Porter (also ex-Brandston/Swarm Of Bats) called Golden Streets Of Paradise. GSOP’s big rock sound and industrial influences help them stand out in a scene that’s overly flooded with indie rock and folk. Their debut EP, The Sun Is Everything, is incredibly refreshing and arguably the best rock record to come out of the 216 in years. You can stream or download it for free at goldenstreetsofparadise.bandcamp.com. I spoke with Adam about all of this and more in the following interview.

You run Cauliflower Audio. How long have you been doing that, and how did you get into it in the first place?

After college, I got a job at a duplication house in town called A to Z Audio. I basically worked my way up from the mailroom and eventually became their in-house mastering engineer in 2000. After learning everything I could about digital processing and cassette/CD duplication, I left A to Z and began working in Pennsylvania at an archival facility called Iron Mountain Digital Studios. There I learned about virtually every tape-based recording format there is, while archiving masters for Kiss, Beck, Allman Brothers, and the like. I also got to do some pretty sweet stem mixes for Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

While I was working at Iron Mountain, I began building what would become Cauliflower Audio in my dining room. I bought a new piece of equipment every year until I felt comfortable enough with both my gear rack and client list to go solo. Eventually, I built a dedicated mastering room in my house. In 2012, I met Clint Holley of Well Made Music/Gotta Groove Records, who taught me how to cut master lacquers for vinyl production. Once that was in place, I felt I was ready and went independent. Things have since gone pretty well. We’re currently planning on moving the facility later this year.

You’ve mastered records for some pretty well-known artists. What was your favorite project to work on and why?

I can’t say that I have a favorite, but I do love when a project comes across my desk that I’ve never heard of, from somewhere out in the ether, and it just completely blows me away. That’s happened quite a few times and it always makes for a fun day in the studio. But to name drop, I’ve also mastered records for Reggie and the Full Effect, The Drums, This Town Needs Guns, and Los Lobos in the past year.

You’ve worked with a lot of local artists. Who should we be on the lookout for? What do you think about the local music scene here?

There’s a lot of talent in this city and I’m very fortunate that so many folks come to me to work. I don’t think I can pick out any favorites, although I will say that I work with a lot of bands that happen to play and/or work at the Happy Dog. I also seem to consume a lot of veggie dogs and beer there. Coincidence? Hmm.

Honestly, I really need to get out and see more live music, so sometimes it’s hard for me to feel completely plugged in to the scene. That said, I’m pretty familiar with the record industry in town, and I think it’s exploding with amazing work. Recording engineers like Brian Straw, Dave Douglas, Jim Stewart, Dan Schueren, and Kevin Coral & Jason Tarulli are really killing it. And on the production end, Clint Holley, Paul Blakemore, Chris Keffer, and the folks at Gotta Groove & A to Z Audio are doing world-class, major label work. There’s a lot of stuff happening in our own backyards that maybe doesn’t get the accolades it deserves.

For the audio nerds out there, tell us about your favorite piece of equipment in your studio. What makes it special?

I have 3 pieces that are my favorites. The API 2500 Buss Compressor is just a monster. [It’s] super versatile but really can give some teeth to weak mixes. The Sontec MEP-250EX EQ really excels at notching out peaky frequencies, and the top end sounds really awesome. And, my secret weapon? Izotope RX. I spend probably half of my time in that application. Just super powerful for fixing problems in the mix.

What advice do you have for local bands who are recording their music on a budget?

Try recording or producing another artist as an exercise. You’ll get a ton of perspective about the process. Also, don’t try to do everything yourself. You’ll learn more by collaborating than you will by banging your head against a wall alone.

You’ve been in a few bands in Cleveland, notably Brandston, who released music for Deep Elm and The Militia Group. Tell us a little bit about your experience with them, why they broke up, and the rest of your history as a musician.

Well, I joined Brandtson (as bassist/synth player) at the tail end of their history, so I can’t in good faith say why they/we broke up. Though, the one year I spent on the road was enough for me, and those guys had been doing it for close to 10 years before I joined. It’s a tough life for sure. My first show with them was at SXSW right after Nada Surf, and it was our first time playing with backing tracks and electronics (which I was in charge of running). I was completely green, young, and overwhelmed– it was total chaos, haha. My fondest memories are some of the theatre shows we got to play, and our release party at the Grog Shop for Hello, Control, and the 40 hour drive straight to LA following it. Good times. Previously I had a band called Furnace St., which was sort of an industrial-pop mash-up for a good number of years. We toured regionally a lot but really didn’t catch on. [I have] fond memories of those days. I’m still very close with the members of both bands. They are my family.

You’re now in Golden Streets Of Paradise. How did that come about, and what are you trying to achieve stylistically with this new project?

Myk Porter (also of Brandtson) and I had been itching to make music again for awhile now. We’ve always shared a similar taste for dark, dance-y music, and decided to apply that to a two-man rock band format. He’s playing guitar/singing, and I’m on drums/synths. Initially I think the idea was sort of Nirvana meets The Presets – simple, aggressive, dark dance-y rock. We’ve since evolved a bit, as we do both tend towards the pop end of the spectrum, but I think the premise still stands. We’re very much song-oriented and hope something musical sticks in your head after you hear us play.

What bands or artists influenced you to get into music, and why?

Kiss, Duran Duran, Violent Femmes, Joy Division, and Skinny Puppy were all early influences. I grew up in the country in the ’80s, so my exposure to alternative music was basically from one older kid who went to a different school. Without the internet, I had to order records through mail-order catalogs based on descriptions or reviews alone. Once I got my license, I could drive to places like The Oberlin Co-Op Bookstore, My Generation, or Chris’ Warped [Records] to fill the need.

What do you like better: playing music or mastering it? What are the different approaches you take to each?

Well, I love both. Mastering is my job, which I love, but it IS a job, so some days are more fun than others. At this point, it doesn’t really matter if I enjoy the music or not. These days I enjoy working on records that are either really well-recorded, or are really crazy and full of character and challenges. You can hear when care has been taken with a project and that inspires me to work even harder. I’m constantly challenging myself to put out a better record than the last one.

Now that I’m older and no longer “chasing the dream,” playing music is 100% enjoyable again. It feels like I’m 15. We write what we write, we play some shows, and we party with our friends. It’s a much healthier way to approach it for me. We don’t have any lofty goals other than to write great songs and play great shows for the folks that come see us.

What’s on the horizon for you with the band? Any shows or releases we should know about?

In March we recorded the EP [The Sun Is Everything at Business District Recording in NY. And, there are plans to record another EP at Studio Time in Akron later this year. No real tour plans at this time, but we do have a show at The 5 O’Clock Lounge [11904 Detroit Ave in Lakewood] on June 28.

“Like” Golden Streets Of Paradise on Facebook at facebook.com/goldenstreetsofparadise.

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Eddie Fleisher

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