INTERVIEW: Jim Santo of The Sharp Things, The Kennel Recording Studio, etc.

Without this man, none of this would be here.

Jim Santo

AUTOreverse Issue #14, Summer 2011
JIM SANTO
Interview by
Ian C Stewart

Is there anything you’re feeling particularly MOUTHY about at the moment?
Are you kidding? I am a non-stop bitchin’ machine. I spent most of today on the phone with help desk personnel, need I say more?

Let’s talk about your musical influences. Who are your biggest influences and why? Who were your early musical influences?
I was fortunate to have been born in 1958 and have experienced a lot of great music first-hand. Vocal R&B a/k/a doo wop is deeply ingrained into my psyche; “I Only Have Eyes For You” by The Flamingos (1959) is everything to me. Neil Young is very important to me. Monk, Ornette Coleman. Pete Townshend. I could go on.

Where do you see your music heading?
Personally, I’ve recently started recording myself again after 25 years or so playing in bands and recording with them. It’s too soon to know where it’s heading, but I am having fun.

As far as my bands go, The Sharp Things are recording the greatest music ever, but it could be years before you get to hear any of it. Wharton Tiers Ensemble will hopefully be releasing its first music in 13 years.

What music software do you use?
Pro Tools 8 HD.

Is there any other music software you plan on getting?
Logic.

What’s in your home studio setup?
I do all my work at The Kennel, the pro studio I have in Brooklyn. It’s quieter and more private there.

Do you write songs on keyboards or guitar?
When I do write songs, guitar.

Can you describe your songwriting methods?
Unproductive! I haven’t written a song that’s stuck in 10 years. I find it very hard now to sit down and “write a song.” I’d much rather noodle around instrumentally, exploring different themes and moods, then try to make up a pattern and set words to it. Realizing and accepting this has freed me to be more open and impulsive in my approach to composition.

My current project is the “tenor” series; all compositions start with my Eastwood electric tenor guitar, playing to a click. I’ll overdub from there. Another guitar, maybe some bass, some keys, beats, whatever. Maybe lay in some vocals, but only harmonies. No words yet.

What made you decide to start making music of your own?
I was writing songs from the moment a guitar went in my hand on my 12th birthday in 1970. The first one was all about the open e major chord, which you can move all up and down the neck without ever sounding bad. I still do that! I also liked A minor a lot, a sign of things to come.

Are you active in your local music scene?
Not compared to today’s youth, but compared to most people my age, yes. I own a studio, I play in a couple of bands that gig out once in a while, I go see my friend’s bands once in a while. I’m fairly active.

Who would you like to collaborate with on new music?
I’m looking forward to doing some recording soon with Shelly Blake. Have been messing around a bit with the immensely talented Tom Curiano. I’ve already told Sport Murphy that I must do a record with him before I die. Collaborations are very much on my mind these days.

What other bands are you’re excited by?
Ben Miller’s Sensorium Saxophone Orchestra is fucking great. Like a cross between Ornette Coleman and Glenn Branca — with saxophones. Ben was in the band Thirdborder with drummer Jarrod Ruby, who just released his solo debut as MANX. Grimy, noirish, electro-drug-rock. Another great band is Penny Winblood, a guitar/drums duo who play pummeling but wounded math-core. These are all people who have recorded at my studio and I love them.

What did I forget to ask you?
My middle name.

WHERE CAN PEEPS FIND YOUR MUSIC ONLINE TO PURCHASE OR WHATEVER?
The Sharp Things is a band I’ve been in since 1997. You can listen to every album here:
http://thesharpthings.com/discography

WHAT SERVICES DO YOU USE FOR PEOPLE TO DOWNLOAD YER STUFF, AND DO YOU LIKE IT? SHOULD I USE IT?
I haven’t gotten deeply enough into that stuff to give you an opinion.

WHERE DO YOU FIND THE ENERGY TO KEEP CREATING AFTER ALL THIS TIME?
A steady diet of rare steak and scotch whisky is the secret to eternal life.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
I don’t know, maybe go over to the studio for a while tonight. I try not to plan ahead too much.

What’s the URL for your website?

My studio:
http://thekennelstudio.com/

My music:
http://thesharpthings.com/
http://whartontiers.com/wharton_tiers_ensemble
http://www.jenconreturns.com/
http://timeordirt.com/

My web design company:
http://allegramedia.com/

I also co-produce an Internet radio show:
http://rabidinthekennel.com/

I don’t have a personal web site. That would be too much, right?

And give me a full discography.
I will limit this to recordings that potentially could have been owned, or heard, by someone else other than my closest friends. I never got into trading.

The Techno-Peasants, “Whales” (first time I heard my song on the radio)
Tang S’Dang, Adult Love Boutique LP
Tang S’Dang, Bigger And Harder LP
Time Or Dirt, “The Consul At Sunset” b/w “The Ghosts Of New York” 7″
Jenifer Convertible, “Co-dependency” b/w “The Car Song” 7″
Time Or Dirt, “My Big Eye” b/w “My Life Is Wrong” 7″
Jenifer Convertible, “SpeedRacer” b/w “Rewind” 7″
Time Or Dirt, “Matilda Mother” b/w “My Limbic System” 7″
Jenifer Convertible, Wanna Drag? LP
The Sharp Things, Here Comes The Sharp Things LP
The Sharp Things, Foxes and Hounds LP
The Sharp Things, A Moveable Feast LP

I’ve also produced a couple of recordings by artists other than myself.

thank you, Jim!

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