In nearly every music scene, there is the one kid that gravitates toward the more technical aspects that revolve around functioning bands. They are the one who picks up a four-track tape machine, looks at it as another instrument and proceed to act as an archivist. It's the same path that led Chris Dugan, JingleTown Recording engineer and studio manager, to a life-long love affair with recording.
"I was like 'Well, I’ll give it a shot. I’ll figure this thing out,'" Dugan says of picking up his first four-track. "The bug that I caught in doing it was because of the playback. You do your first take and you want to listen, you hit play and it’s that magical moment of 'We just did that.' When you’re young and you hear yourself for the first time, you go, 'Whoa, that’s cool.'”
This DIY approach to recording led Dugan to found Nu-Tone Studios, a staple for independent bands in California. Working with punk groups like The Enemies, The Frustrators and The Phenomenauts, the studio owner and engineer built a reputation that attracted the attention of bigger Bay Area acts to his skill set.
After releasing a record with his band, The Effection, on Billie Joe Armstrong's label, Adeline Records, Dugan began working with Green Day on what would become the band's highly successful effort, American Idiot. While the position started as a freelance job, the engineer quickly integrated himself into Green Day's process and their JingleTown facilities.
"They were like 'Hey, we want to record some demos,' so I came in here and engineered. That turned into about a year of working in here," Dugan says of his start working with the legendary pop punk band. "After that record came out, those guys went on tour, I got more calls to come work and started working as freelance engineer for awhile and that’s how I ended up at this location."
Now working as an in-house engineer and studio manager at JingleTown, Dugan is constantly busy, whether it's sitting in front of a console or dealing "with with the not-so-fun, unflattering things like fixing an air conditioner or solving a problem with a backed up toilet." Yet, no matter the task at hand, it's apparent that Chris has a passion for recording and genuinely loves to see magic in the making.
"I had the opportunity to record Iggy Pop, he was working with Green Day on a couple of songs. I set up some mics, I was really nervous," Dugan says recalling one of his favorite studio moments. "I said, 'Let’s get going' and I go with the U47. This huge mic. After about one pass, he looks over here and says, 'Y’know what man, can I just have a 57 and can we just plug it into a Marshall guitar amp.' So I gave him a 57 and a cord, and we had a Fender Twin and I just cranked it. Immediately, he started jumping around the room, performing the song, singing his ass off. It was the coolest thing in the world and I can just remember saying 'I can’t believe this happened.'"
Want to know more about the story of Chris and JingleTown? To find out more, check out our latest Make Your Mark below and get an exclusive sneak peek at Green Day's beautiful recording space.