Decades of music earn studio spot in Iowa hall of fame

 
By JOHN MOLSEED
Posted1/31/2015 10:05 AM
hello
  • FOR RELEASE SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015, AT 12:01 A.M. CST. - In this photo taken on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, Catamount producer and chief engineer Tom Tatman explains the engineering side of music at Catamount Recording Studios, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Catamount has been chosen for the Iowa Rock and Roll Music Association's Hall of Fame.

    FOR RELEASE SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015, AT 12:01 A.M. CST. - In this photo taken on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, Catamount producer and chief engineer Tom Tatman explains the engineering side of music at Catamount Recording Studios, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Catamount has been chosen for the Iowa Rock and Roll Music Association's Hall of Fame. Associated Press

  • FOR RELEASE SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015, AT 12:01 A.M. CST. - In this photo taken on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, Tom Tatman poses at Catamount Recording Studios in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Catamount has been chosen for the Iowa Rock and Roll Music Association's Hall of Fame.

    FOR RELEASE SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015, AT 12:01 A.M. CST. - In this photo taken on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, Tom Tatman poses at Catamount Recording Studios in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Catamount has been chosen for the Iowa Rock and Roll Music Association's Hall of Fame. Associated Press

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- If the walls could talk at Catamount Studios, their message would be carefully crafted.

If the walls did talk, studio engineers designed exactly how they would sound.

That attention to detail and the catalog of recordings the studio has produced for more than 35 years earned Catamount a spot in the Iowa Rock and Roll Music Association's Hall of Fame class this year.

Catamount producer and chief engineer Tom Tatman, Rick Bisbey and Bill Barker started the studio as a rehearsal and recording space for their group, The Headstone Band. The original location was in a rented building on West 23rd Street on College Hill, in downstairs space adjacent to University Book & Supply.

"We knocked out some walls and didn't tell the landlord we were expanding," Tatman told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (http://bit.ly/1tAlqph). "We just kept adding to it."

In 1980, after the band broke up, the studio was opened to the public.

"This was just something that got out of hand," Tatman said. "And now there's all this."

Eventually bands and musicians from across the country would come to Catamount to record.

"Every few years we'd have some album do well on the national level," Tatman said. "Then you'd have people wanting to work with the same producer and the same studio."

That credibility sustained the studio.

"In the end, word of mouth is the only advertising that really works," Tatman said.

The group acquired equipment for the studio as they could afford it. When they couldn't afford something, Bisbey would study an example of what they needed and build a replica from scratch. In 2002, the studio moved to its current space as University Book & Supply expanded.

Tatman isn't too nostalgic about the old location.

"I don't really miss it at all now that we have this space," he said.

During a tour of the studio, Tatman described how the space was constructed. The isolation booths are on separate foundations from the main studio space to ensure no sound spillover.

"When you record, you're recording the acoustics of the room along with the instruments," Tatman said.

The ceiling visible in the studio isn't really the room's ceiling. It's a layer of fabric separating the studio from the bass trap - foam pieces suspended from above designed to absorb low-vibration sound.

"It doesn't sound like a big hall or anything, but it's a live room," Tatman said

The new facility met with quick success. An album by one of the first clients to record there, Stone Sour, yielded three hit singles and two Grammy nominations. The album went gold with more 500,000 units sold and is now nearing platinum status.

Although technology has changed, the basics of a quality studio and quality recording remain the same. Much of Catamount's equipment is vintage solid-state electronics to produce authentic sounds rather than replicate certain sounds via digital manipulation. In the end, regardless of the equipment, one factor more than anything determines a good recording.

"It's not magic," Tatman said. "The source is still the musician or the band."

The 2015 IRRMA Hall of Fame Induction ceremony and celebration is Sept. 4 to 6 in Arnolds Park.

___

Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.