I first knew Margaret and Tara through a string of mutual friends well before they approached me to do some mixing in the winter of 2001. Mr. Airplane Man had recorded an album at Jim Diamond’s studio in Detroit. Subsequent time spent with the mixes left them feeling like remixes were in order for a few of the tunes. This was no disparaging re ection on Jim or the band’s earlier mixes. Recording and mixing was a race against time back then. It should be noted that the entire genre we inhabited depended on thrift and economy.
This was a two-fold exercise. First, practicality: Money was tight. Second: Most of us felt that our music was best captured as quickly and as live as possible. This ethos was an important ingredient of the sort of rock and roll we were creating. The byproduct was sometimes less than stellar delity. But I digress. It was during this remixing session of Jim’s recordings that I fell in love with the band and what they do.
Their previous albums were so raw that I couldn’t hear the emotional dynamics that permeated the songs. Jim’s mic placement opened the possibility for mixes that provided both power and subtlety. After mixing the third song with engineer Doug Easley, I was ready to redo the whole album. I saw the sonic possibility and it was exciting. Of all the artists I’ve collaborated with, I still consider Mr. Airplane Man to be one of the most important to me on a personal level. Their music spoke directly to me. It is vulnerable and real. Melancholy but never maudlin. And when it rocks, rock and roll never sounded better.
After a 10-year hiatus, Margaret and Tara decided to reconvene their talents. Time had passed and they had both ventured out of Massachusetts. Both were mothers now, too. Life had unfolded from their twenties and all those subsequent experiences would only serve to more richly inform the music they would make. As soon as I caught wind of the possible reunion, I let it be known that I would love to work with them again. Several months later they traveled down to Asheville, to Brian Landrum’s studio. We set about recording the material your holding in your hands. It was cut in a couple of days and after they left Brian and I did several mixing sessions.
I think these are the best of those mixes. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with such powerful and inspiring women. And, once again, with Long Gone John, without whom most of us would still be dreaming of making records.
– GREG CARTWRIGHT
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