Take the 1st Skafish Album Survey

In my most recent entry here, I told everyone that I would be sharing a survey soon. You can read the history and recap of where the first album project is at here.

The survey is now done. I’m asking everyone who is interested in participating in the fan funding of the first album re-release to take the survey. There are a couple of things I want to point out first. In order to put this project out, it will have to be fan funded. If you read the past project updates, I had to spend a lot of money to gain the rights back, so fan funding is the only possible way to do this, particularly because what I’ve heard so far from fans is that they really want a high quality 180 gram vinyl re-release with a high quality pressing. In today’s world, doing that is quite expensive, especially for a limited-edition run. There are also some fans who have seemed to be interested in having the album available for the first time on CD and digital.

The survey is important for several reasons. First, it will be give me an idea of who is willing to participate, and what formats everyone wants to see the debut Skafish album available in. This allows me to crunch the numbers and come up with a package that’s both affordable and satisfying to the fans.

Again, I want to emphasize that the re-release must be fan funded. So, if you really want this record to come out, now is the time to do it. If we’re not able to run a successful fan funding campaign, then the record will not end up being re-released. It is of vital importance to financially get behind supporting this record if you truly want to have it out there once again. So, only take the survey if you are seriously planning on financially supporting the project. In putting together the survey, I tried to make sure that all the possible scenarios could be covered with the sincerest intention of the fans getting what they want.

And, don’t forget that all versions of the album’s re-release will include the Skafish fan favorite Sink or Swim.

Together, we can certainly make this happen!

Here is the survey

Skafish


The Re-Mastering Is Done (And, There’s A Bonus Track)

I am so pleased to be able to announce that after nine months of consistent, diligent work, the re-mastering project for the first Skafish album has finally been completed. I want to give a big shout-out to mastering engineer Trevor Sadler for his meticulous attention to detail and his unwavering support for the project. He has been instrumental in making the re-mastering a success.

I am thrilled with the results and I hope you will be, too. If you like the first album, I believe that you will love the re-mastered version. I stayed committed to the original vision of the album. Trevor and I didn’t do anything foolish like make the entire album a brick wall of loudness, as some do when they re-master a record. Instead, we kept all of the dynamics and nuances (including the soft passages) intact. At the same time, we worked hard to gain the highest possible fidelity, clarity, power, fullness and richness of sound. We made every effort to achieve the best possible balance and enhancement of the overall production and final mix that we could.

Throughout the years, I’ve gotten emails from people who had discovered the album, stating how much they loved what they heard. Since this is the first time the album will ever be available digitally and on CD (as well as a new vinyl re-release), the record can hopefully reach a whole new generation of fans who can connect with it.

Yes, There’s A Bonus Track:
I also have some exciting news to share: The track Sink or Swim (originally the B-Side to the single Obsessions of You) will be included as a bonus track on all formats of the album’s re-release. Since Sink or Swim has been a fan favorite as well as one of the band’s and mine, I thought it would be a fantastic addition for everyone.

There were two factors that determined whether I could include Sink or Swim. The first was that I was able to successfully legally terminate the rights of the record company. Since the first Skafish album and the single Obsessions of You b/w Sink or Swim were two separate releases (and therefore, two separate sound recording copyrights), I had to terminate both the sound recording copyrights for the album and Sink or Swim. Also, I had to make sure that there would be enough time to fit Sink or Swim on a vinyl release without losing fidelity.

A Brief Timeline Of Events:
Here is a brief timeline for the 1st Skafish album re-release project and how it has unfolded so far:

  • December 18, 2012: I sent the termination notices to EMI, the record company who owned the sound recording copyrights in order to legally regain my rights to the sound recordings to my first album and Sink or Swim.
  • May 15, 2015: Thirty five years after the date of publication, I officially regained the rights to the sound recording of the first Skafish album.
  • June 1, 2015: Thirty five years after the date of publication, I officially regained the rights to the sound recording of Sink or Swim.
  • Mid-February, 2016: On my blog, I first extended the invitation to my fans to contribute to the cost of re-mastering the first album project.
  • February 25, 2016: The first donation came in.
  • May 1, 2016: The estimated cost of $1000.00 for the project was fully funded by my fans.
  • May 24, 2016: Mastering engineer Trevor Sadler began the re-mastering process.
  • February 24, 2017: After nine months of day-to-day work, the re-mastering project was completed.

Once again, I want to extend my deepest heartfelt gratitude to all the fans who have donated to re-mastering the album, everyone who has shared online posts, followed me on Spotify and helped to spread the word. This project couldn’t have gotten this far without you!

What’s Next:
As I’ve mentioned before, I will be sending out a link to a survey to get everyone’s input before I finalize the crowdfunding and re-release plans. If you’re not on my mailing list, please sign up to be notified about this project and future developments.
Skafish


Coming To The End

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I’ve got good news to report. The mastering is almost done! My mastering engineer, Trevor Sadler, and I have been working diligently on this project with the same two objectives in mind that have been there from the very beginning of this project:

First, I am committed to remaining authentic to the original vision and recording of the first Skafish album. Second, at the same time, attaining the highest audio quality and fidelity possible is essential.

Some of you have asked the question of why we were mastering from both never-before-played vinyl and the final studio tape mixes. I’ve had people wonder why I felt the need to master from both sources.

There are several important reasons why we used both. First, we wanted to see which medium provided the best sound. And, it is clear that the tapes offer superior sound quality.

However, the flat vinyl master still continues to provide a valuable purpose. That transfer is the exact record everyone has heard and is familiar with since 1980. It is authentic.

So, with the intention of remaining true to the spirit of the original album, we have been able to compare the new studio tape master to the original flat vinyl transfer. That comparison gives us a solid, objective reference point to keep navigating from. It is a lot of extra work, but I feel it is necessary to get everything done correctly.

While we are putting the final touches on re-mastering, I wanted to let you know about something coming up soon where I will need your input. I am creating a survey. This survey is only for only those who are planning on buying the album (and not for those who don’t intend to purchase the record).

If you are planning to buy the album, I need to know what you want. Would you like the album to be available on vinyl, CD, digital, or in other formats? Are you interested in a limited edition re-release? Do you want signed copies? And, there will other questions as well.

Since this pressing will initially only be available through crowdfunding and pre-orders, I want to make sure that we get the numbers right. Please stay tuned for the survey – I am working on it!

As you may already know, I finally have over 250 followers on Spotify! Therefore, I can apply to gain control of my artist account there. Thanks to all of you who have followed me there and who have spread the word. This means that I will have more control of what I can offer to you on Spotify. Also, please add my music to playlists on Spotify. It is a great help.

In the meantime, please spread the word about my music on social media. Spreading the word about Skafish is a subterranean grassroots movement that all of you are a vital part of.

It is so exciting to finally be able to see that we’re really coming to the end of the re-mastering process. It has been a lot of work — and well worth it for my fans. I will be in touch.

With gratitude,
Skafish


The Verdict: Is it Vinyl or Tape?

About a week ago, I promised an update to let everyone know just where the 1st Skafish album re-mastering project is currently at. And, for those of you who have just tuned in, let’s start with a little recap:

So far, two never-before-opened vinyl copies of the first Skafish album have been transferred to digital. Mastering engineer Trevor Sadler and I have listened to both, studied them and compared notes. Of these two, one pressing was from the United States and the other came from the United Kingdom. The vinyl transfers were promising.

However, there was still the unanswered question of the tapes. These would be the original tapes from the studio where the album was originally recorded that I talked about here. They are high-quality reel-to-reel tape dubs of the final master mixes. We wanted to see if they would sound better, worse, or the same as the vinyl transfers.

Current update – the tape transfers:
Trevor successfully transferred the tapes and sent me two copies in mid August. The first copy was a straight, unchanged flat transfer, meaning, nothing was done to adjust the sound whatsoever. The second copy had a small degree of mastering that Trevor had done. After listening to the second copy, it was pretty evident to both Trevor and I that the tapes sounded extremely promising. Proceeding from there, Trevor started working toward the final master.

Then, on Saturday, 9-3-16, I received and began listening to a more finished master made from the original tapes. This transfer further developed the album to be closer to a completed audio master, which involved such things as working with the treble/bass, overall EQ, balance, volume levels, compression, etc. That’s all technical jargon for getting the best sound out of the album possible.

So, what’s the verdict? It is absolutely clear that the studio master tape dub is superior in sound and quality to either of the vinyl masters – and that’s what I am going with.

I know this process has taken some time, but there are a lot of details to pay attention to as well as multiple sources we have needed to master from. The most important thing is not speed, but getting it right. Moving forward, there are a few tweaks and some details that still need to be taken care of. That’s in part because we need two separate masters: one for vinyl and the other for CD and digital. The vinyl and digital medium are notably different in terms of what they each require for a proper master. It’s important to me that both sound excellent.

When it comes to the audio master to the 1st album, there are two primary objectives I have in mind. First, I want to keep the sound authentic and loyal to the original album and its fans. Second, it is important to have the music work in the best way possible for both a vinyl and CD/digital release.

While the re-mastering is being worked on, there is something I would ask you to do for me. I am trying to gain control of my Spotify artist account, and I need 250 followers to do so. Currently, I have 111. Please follow me on Spotify. It doesn’t matter whether you have a free or paid account, because you can follow me with either type on Spotify. That will certainly help with making the 1st album project a reality, because I will be able to post updates, add pictures, playlists, and share things directly with the fans on Spotify.

I am not one who neurotically and obsessively posts about every little thing in a project, which is why you don’t hear from me constantly. In other words, I don’t believe that listening to the album at low volume versus high volume is worthy of a post, lol. My goal is to share substantial information with you that is relevant. Of course, you will be hearing from me as everything develops and comes together.

Your support has been miraculous.
Skafish


Skafish to Appear in Sid and Nancy Documentary, Sad Vacation

A while back, I had mentioned on Facebook that I was interviewed for an up and coming documentary film about Sid and Nancy.

On my blog, I had already written about Sid Vicious’ last public event, a violent brawl that he caused at my concert at Hurrah’s in New York on December 5th, 1978. This is something that has been constantly portrayed in the press and in other movies inaccurately. Nobody has gotten this right and before this film, no one ever even bothered to ask me what happened. So, it’s nice to finally be asked to set the record straight about the actual events of that night.

I heard today from the filmmaker that the documentary, titled Sad Vacation, is nearing completion. That is exciting news, because this film has been in the works for several years.

Not only was I interviewed for the documentary, but my song, Knuckle Sandwich (1975-76), will also be included. The track is a live 1977 recording from my 21st birthday party in Chicago and currently featured on the Skafish album Bootleg 21-35.

I am listed on IMDB as being in the film and also as one of the Producers.

The filmmaker, Danny Garcia, from Spain, has also done some fantastic documentaries about Johnny Thunders and the Clash, among other things.

They still need a little help reaching their funding goal to complete the documentary, and if you’re interested in supporting the project, you can visit their Indiegogo page. Check out the trailer for the film and the incredible rewards being offered.

I am quite excited about this project and I will certainly keep you posted with more details to follow.

Skafish


Photo: Guy Rhodes

Re-mastering the 1st album project update

debut_1100_otherworldFor decades, I made several failed attempts to gain the rights back to my 1st album. It was both frustrating and at times debilitating, but something I refused to give up on. All along, the record company refused to re-release it, but at the same time, they wouldn’t sell it back to me so I could put it out, either. So, the album just sat there in limbo since the early 1980’s….

However, as many of you now know, I was finally able to gain all legal rights back to my first album. I achieved this through a US government law that allows me (and every other artist) to legally terminate the rights of the record company 35 years after the original date of publication. The termination process for the first Skafish album has been successfully completed and is properly filed and documented by the US government. On August 2, 2015, I let everyone know that I now had complete legal ownership of the album.

I am currently in the process of trying to create a project timeline to be able to re-release the record. However, I can’t finalize the time frame until the re-mastering is finished. Until I see what needs to be done, I don’t know how long the entire project will take.

In case you missed it, read my post about why re-mastering the album is necessary.

There have been a tremendous amount of expenses and legal bills that I have already paid just to get the rights back. So many people have asked if there was anything they could do to help with the re-release of the first album. So I decided to extend an open invitation to everyone to be able to support the re-mastering project if they wanted to.

Since I first opened that door on March 5, 2016, I have been so grateful for the support I’ve received. The cost to re-master the album and get it ready for a vinyl, CD and digital release is approximately $1000.00. As of today, I have received $400.00 toward that goal. We are 40% of the way there and I am confident that this can get done.

If you’ve already contributed to supporting the project, you have been a Godsend. Your generosity has really touched my heart, deeply. If you’re someone who is considering supporting the re-mastering project, your help would be greatly appreciated. And, anything at all helps to move it forward.

Just so everyone knows, all the money donated will be used solely to re-master the album. I will keep you posted.

Skafish


Hey What’s This – they say it’s your birthday

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Today is the birthday of the Skafish album What’s This? 1976-1979! Eight years ago on April 1, 2008, it became the first release on my label, 829 Records. Featuring recordings from August 1976 through November 1979, this record, in part, documents the early period of the Skafish band, featuring many subterranean gems that have never been released.

The album captures a snapshot of a revolutionary, transformational and turbulent time. This fact is clearly documented in the liner notes written by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legends Cheap Trick.

Some of the tracks are the early versions of the songs that made it to my first album, and some people were upset about that. They wanted the first album, which I didn’t have the legal rights to re-release at the time.

Still, I am very proud of What’s This? as an objective historical document. When it comes to What’s This? 1976-1979, this record stands on its own and is truly like no other.

To those of you who have purchased the album, thank you so much! Please spread the word about this truly “out there” work of art. If you haven’t got it yet, take a listen on Spotify or you can buy it from our Bandcamp store.

For everyone who wants the first album, stay tuned! Now that I own all legal rights to the first Skafish album, I am in the process of raising the funds to re-master the record and hopefully, re-release it.

Skafish


Help re-master the 1st Skafish album without spending a dime

Obsessions pic from Spotify

As you may already know, I have been posting about getting the rights back to the first Skafish album and lately, talking about the re-mastering project.

Someone recently asked me what they could do to help get the first Skafish album re-mastered if they couldn’t donate money? It was a fantastic question, so I decided to talk about it a bit here in a post. Of course, financial support will get this project completed faster than anything, but there are still many things that you can do to help bring awareness to the project and help to move it forward.

HERE ARE SOME IDEAS:
Leave a great review: If you bought one of my albums, or listen to my music, please leave a positive review. People need to know why and how you have connected to my work and what it’s all about. It really helps to spread the awareness about the music and what I’m doing, which then helps to build the interest and the momentum needed to move the 1st Skafish album project along.

Spotify: We all know how essential Spotify is, because it’s a place where people can stream and listen to music for free.

It’s really important to follow me on Spotify. That’s because Spotify won’t give me control of my artist page until I have more than 250 followers. Having control of my artist page means I can directly communicate with fans there and let them know about the 1st album project.

Create and add my songs to a playlist. This helps to raise awareness of me as an artist and exposes the music to more listeners. Keep in mind that any increased awareness of me helps to promote the first album project overall.

If you can, share your Spotify listens of my songs on Twitter and social media as you’re listening. It’s a great conversation starter.

Spread the word and follow me on social media:

Follow me on social media, connect with me and tell a friend. The bigger my following, the more people I can get the word out to and the more chance there’ll be of getting the necessary support and funding for the re-mastering and re-release of the album.

It is important for people to know who I am, especially in relation to Chicago music history. If you were there back in the day, let people know how influential my band and I have been. Speak out about the context for the first album historically and how groundbreaking it was considered.

Let people know that I finally own the first album: Spread the word that I now own all legal rights to the album. A lot of people never realized that since I didn’t own it, I couldn’t put it out. I’ve got it back now and I want it out there – people need to know that. If the money is there, the plan is to re-release this as soon as possible.

Encourage others to help: Let everyone know that I’m trying to raise the necessary funds to re-master the record. If that can be done, then I can pursue the next steps to re-release it on vinyl, CD, and digitally.

Share the link on the re-mastering project: Please share the link on why I’m re-mastering the album so people can learn the back-story and find out what’s currently going on with the project. That post also lets people know how they can help.

I am really thrilled about the project and I want to see it happen. So many people have told me that they’re excited, too. Share your excitement – it’s contagious!

To everyone who is sharing and supporting this project, thank you so much for your continued involvement. — Skafish


Why am I re-mastering the first Skafish album?

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In my original post, “First Album News,” I talked about how I need to re-master the first Skafish album. One of my fans who loves the record didn’t understand why I needed to do this. He commented that he thought the record sounded just great as it is, so why in the heck would I re-master it. So, let me take a minute to clarify the re-mastering process and why it absolutely needs to be done.
First, here are the things I am NOT planning on doing in the re-mastering process:

1-I am not going to remix the album. Sometimes, people remix a record in an attempt to make it sound better, or different. I won’t do that. You’ll still be able to hear everything as you always have. The synthesizers won’t disappear and the drums won’t be louder, etc. I know in my heart that it is better to leave well enough alone.

2-I am not trying to change the sound of the original recordings. The album was recorded in 1979 and what recording technologies were at the time are just fine – and they will remain. I won’t add any fancy bells and whistles. There won’t be any pitch correction on the vocals, lol.

3-I am not trying to modernize the record. Since this record was quite different for its time and is still unique by today’s standards, it will be left as it is. It has never been nor will it ever be a trendy record.

This album stands on its own, as it was then and will always be. It is what it is – plain and simple. The fans who bought the record back then loved it for being outside the norm and that is one of the reasons why this album remains special decades later. It is an individual piece of art that should not be tampered with – and now that I own it, you can trust that I won’t let that happen. Now, here are the reasons why re-mastering is absolutely necessary:

Ideally, I want to ultimately re-release the first Skafish album on vinyl, CD, and in digital formats. To release the album in today’s technologies (which have obviously changed from before), re-mastering is essential. And, I actually need two masters: one to reproduce vinyl records, and one for CD and digital release. Done correctly, the actual mastering techniques and sound needed for each format are somewhat different.

To manufacture new vinyl records, there has to be a new master to reproduce from. Any old masters are now obsolete. And, the process is quite complex. Even though I am not going to attempt to tinker with and alter the sound, there are technical specifications that are vital to making vinyl records correctly. One example of this is that the treble and bass levels need to be absolutely correct, so as not to cause distortion or skipping.

For CD and digital release, a master was never done. As you may already know, that’s because the record company who used to own the first Skafish album never bothered to release it on CD or digitally. So, there needs to be a master, even to just be able to reproduce the album on CD and digitally, as well as getting those formats to sound as authentic as possible.

When it comes to the sources to master from, I have some options: I have two unopened copies of the album that have never been played. Many mastering experts feel that mastering from never-before-played vinyl can actually be notably better than doing so from tape. In fact, I learned that a Rolling Stones re-release was re-mastered from vinyl, versus tape, because the vinyl actually sounded better.

I also have reel-to-reel tape copies from the studio that were done as dubs back in 1979. Those tapes have already been digitized and might be a source to master from.

The reasons these sources are important is because I do not have the original master tapes to the album. That’s because the record company won’t give them to me. As some of you may know, legally fighting to get the rights back took decades and was extremely expensive to get done. However, acquiring those rights does not force the record company to turn over the master tapes. I could sue them, but it would be tremendously costly and at this time, the money isn’t there to launch such a costly lawsuit that could take years to resolve in court. That would also mean it would take that much longer until I could get the first album out there. Since it was originally released 36 years ago, I think we’ve all had to wait long enough. That’s why I am choosing to focus on getting it out there sooner.

I am sure that between the never-before-played vinyl and the tape copies I have, a state of the art master can certainly be made.

As the producer of the original recording and the person in charge of the re-mastering project, it is my commitment to honor the original art and intention of this album and give the fans what they want. Those who have this record often tell me just how much they love and cherish it. I frequently hear from fans how they still have their original vinyl copy and listen to it often.

At this point, I am trying to raise the necessary funds to do the re-mastering project. Some of you have already donated and that means the world to me. If I can indeed raise the money needed, I can complete this part of the project. If you’d like to support the project, you can use the link below to buy me a cup of coffee! (Account name is La Befana Records.)


Thank you from the bottom of my heart and spirit!
Skafish