Monday, July 13, 2015

LA History: Chris Fudurich

The Menagerie
L-R: John Vurpillat, Chris Fudurich, Josh Martin
Chris Fudurich and John Vurpillat were roommates. I met them at someone's party or BBQ (according to Chris...I actually can't remember!).

The first time I remember really meeting with them was the day OJ had his slow chase down the freeway. It took forever to get to their apartment, which they were sharing with Josh (the singer from their former synth-pop band) and a 4th guy who somewhat awkwardly told me he was on his way to prison.

Chris and John joined the final incarnation of my L.A. band. While the band didn't last too much longer, my friendship with both of them did.

Chris was a multi-instrumentalist, able to play guitar, bass, keys, and drums. About the only thing he didn't do regularly was sing, though he could. Chris was also a solid songwriter and incredibly fast as a recording engineer.

At the beginning of the 90s, Chris was rapidly building a career engineering and producing bands. He'd already had a great resume. By the end of the 90s, he'd be making records with Nada Surf and collaborating with David Baerwald, Fred Maher, and other L.A. stars.

Chris was supportive of my singing and songwriting. He mixed (and fixed) my first real solo album "Songs For The Last Man On Earth", and encouraged me to keep making music. Back then, he was one of the few people that made me feel like I might actually be good at this.

Chris Fudurich (R) showing the author how to make mixes sound better.
My studio in Sherman Oaks, 1996
He showed me the power of computer-based editing. Over a long weekend during a particularly dark time in my life (1996), we recorded 3 songs for a Roger Corman movie. He had the tracks nearly finished on his computer, and brought me in to add some guitar and vocals.

Chris was (at that time) running Digital Performer. I had never seen Performer, Pro Tools or any computer-based MIDI and audio recording up close before, and watching Chris work was a revelation. I realized I was an idiot for not getting into this sooner. I had been struggling with cassette-based multitracks and hardware sequencers with tiny 2-line displays. But with the computer I had in my house, I could be doing so much more.

This track, "Magnetic Fields", is from those sessions. I still find much to love in it, from the lyrics to my singing (hinting at the new, less-yelly direction I'd take moving forward) to the whole vibe of the track (which is all due to Chris).

Not long after this, I had a computer-based sequencing system up and running, synched to a digital tape machine, and within a few years I'd abandon tape completely and be pretty fast on a Digital Audio Workstation myself. All directly the result of Chris.

Chris loaned me lots of gear. Over the course of my time in L.A., my studio housed his Roland Jupiter-6 synthesizer, (used to create the Captain Kirk album "The Shape Of The Universe", among other things), Chroma Polaris synthesizer, Yamaha NS-10 monitors, and pretty much anything he wasn't using.

Chris Fudurich, 2015.
He also sold me gear he didn't need or want, which I did -- my first MIDI interface (which also acted as a sync master for the tape deck), an Oktava microphone, effects units, and more.

He was also generous with his time. When I was having problems with a mix or part, he had an uncanny ability to fix it. Like something out of a movie, he'd walk in, listen for what seemed like less than 30 seconds, make a single adjustment, and it would suddenly sound far better.

Aside from working on my stuff, Chris helped out with many of the projects I've written about, including Joy Ray, Bug, Ian Berky, and An Observer.

Chris also became the keyboard player for my brother's band, Don Knotts Overdrive.

He helped me get work as a musician and technologist, and introduced me to some of the many well-known and well-connected people he knew. His list of credits remains impressive, ranging from the best records by obscure-but-popular bands like VAST and Nada Surf to superstars including Simple Minds and Britney Spears. Hell, he even worked with Blake Luxxury after Blake moved down to L.A.

I learned a lot working with him, and would not be the musician I am today without his support. We're still friends after all these years, and try to meet up when we can.

Chris is still working as a musician, producer, and engineer. Aside from his work for other people, he has a great new project of his own called MODERNS, and is becoming active in Los Angeles politics.

Magnetic Fields
Somewhere, someone is calling me
I hear the mermaids singing
Words of warning
Reminding me
Memories echoing from 
Long ago
I was somewhere else
Long ago
I was someone else

I don't know 
what I was trying to forget...

The sirens are calling me
In my head
I hear them wailing
In the mirror
I see this hole
Empty and gaping
Long ago
There was something there
Long ago
There was someone there
I don't know
I think it mattered to me...

It's a strange place to find yourself
Everything is all too real
A perfect balance of opposing forces
Inside this magnetic field

It's so hard to remember it all
And harder still to feel
And nothing works the way it did
Inside this magnetic field

I'm not sure how I got here
But I fear my fate is sealed
Paralyzed and wasting away
Inside this magnetic field

No comments: