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You know my name, look up the number: Don Fury in his studio.

Photo: Joe Putrock

The Shape of Troy to Come

New York producer Don Fury aims to put his stamp on the Capital Region music scene with a new studio in Troy

By Kirsten Ferguson

When Saratoga Springs guitarist George DeMers, who plays in the local punk/hardcore band Buzzard, first heard through the grapevine that New York City producer Don Fury had recently relocated to Troy, he didn’t waste any time trying to track Fury down. A Google search turned up the Web site for Fury’s new recording and mastering studio in Troy, and from there a phone call got DeMers in touch with the veteran producer, who is known for his work recording many of the seminal hardcore and punk bands of the ’80s and ’90s.

“He picked up the phone and I started telling him that I always wanted to record with him,” DeMers explains. “I’d seen his name over and over again growing up, on records I considered to be my favorite records. I grew up listening to New York hardcore and I’m a vinyl junkie too, so I have a lot of records. I have almost everything that guy’s recorded: early Agnostic Front, Gorilla Biscuits, Underdog, Quicksand. When we heard Don was here, we wanted to be the first in the door.”

DeMers was lucky to catch Fury not long after he’d received the certificate of occupancy on his new studio, a 5,000-square-foot loft that Fury designed. It’s a beautiful building with tall windows, brick walls and high ceilings that took Fury nearly a year of construction and paperwork to build from scratch. “I literally built this place by myself,” Fury says. “This is the fourth studio I’ve built. I made my mistakes on the first two—this one is awesome.”

It was that opportunity to own and shape his own space that drew Fury to Troy, after leasing three previous studio spaces in New York City. His most recent, Cyclone Sound in Coney Island, Brooklyn, was a producer’s dream that looked out over the ocean and the entire amusement park. But after the building changed owners, the future seemed uncertain. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and I didn’t want someone else controlling my studio,” Fury says. “There’s a lot of [real estate] speculation going on in Coney Island. The writing was on the wall.”

He spent about a year searching for a place to build his studio, scouting locations in the Northeast, before deciding on Troy and his new building. “I wanted to stay within 200 miles of New York, and in the Northeast, and I wanted to be in an urban area,” he says. “I asked a lot of bands I know about Albany and Troy, and they told me about the great indie music scene up here. That helped make my decision. Troy is a great little city with a lot of cool bands. It was time to make a move. New York has gotten way too expensive for indie bands. I found the right place and built a new room.”

Friends in Albany punk band After the Fall helped Fury offload his moving truck and then helped “shake out the room” once his newly built studio (which has a 14-foot-tall drum room) was complete. The first band to record there was Buzzard, laying down tracks for their first full-length release, which Fury is currently mastering. For DeMers, the recording process was as positive as he had hoped. “When we went to record with him, he was on the same page as us,” DeMers says. “He was able to understand where we were coming from. We would take his advice and it always worked out. He put the reigns on us and tightened us up. He just has the ear for what we were trying to do. He’s been through these things over and over again.”

Fury gained that experience working with bands in the New York City underground rock and punk scene dating back to the late ’70s. “We were hearing about all these funny bands like the Ramones,” Fury says of his youth on Long Island. “I collared all my buddies and went to CBGB. I saw Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers for my first show. I left there with my hair on fire. Three months later I was living with my friends in a penthouse apartment—that’s how easy it was back then. New York was pretty scary then. It was rough and tumble, but it was fun as hell. It was like being a grown up kid unleashed in an urban wasteland.”

Inspired by legendary producer Sam Phillips and his birthplace-of-rock-and-roll Sun Studio in Memphis, Fury built his first studio space in a loft on 17th Street in Manhattan, which became a rehearsal room for early punk pioneers like the Voidoids, James Chance, and the Bush Tetras. Fury’s second studio, at 18 Spring Street in Little Italy, evolved into a famous recording studio hosting New York art-punk and the burgeoning hardcore scene.

“Way back when, in the early ’80s, I went to see this incredible band Agnostic Front,” Fury says. “There were all these kids there going nuts—kids were bleeding. I had never seen anything that fast before.” He started recording Agnostic Front and other early hardcore bands like Youth of Today, Underdog and Sick of It All. Agnostic Front’s Victim in Pain album, which Fury produced, is considered one of the most important hardcore albums of all time.

“I cared about making hardcore and punk records,” Fury says. “Nobody else did. That mattered. Once bands knew I was doing that and doing it well, they beat a path to my door. New York straight-edge was practically born at my studio. It was a very exciting period of time, making 7-inch records for these bands. I convinced Hilly Kristal at CBGB to do the hardcore matinee. There would be kids lined up for blocks.”

For DeMers, Fury’s work with the post-hardcore band Quicksand—a group made up of various members of bands that Fury had already produced—was especially influential. The song “Thorn in My Side” from their second album Manic Compression got play on all the rock radio stations, influencing the future sound of ubiquitous rock radio bands like Tool.

“I first heard ‘Thorn in My Side’ on the radio while I was driving to Jones Beach,” Fury says. “It sounded amazing and I wasn’t expecting it. I was so psyched. And it stood out completely from all the hair-band ballads. Quicksand was a groundbreaking band from the first EP I did with them. But I can definitely say I was amazed about how huge an influence they would become.”

“Don Fury has his stamp on [New York] city,” DeMers adds. “I think he can really do something for our scene around here.”

Working with the local scene is something Fury intends to do, including not just local hardcore and punk acts, but also rock, indie, ska, funk and jazz. “One of the things I have to battle is people think I’m solely associated with punk, hardcore and post-hardcore,” he says. But he’s worked with a diverse array of artists in the past, from the nine-piece cabaret-punk act World/Inferno Friendship Society to Celtic rock band Black 47. The latter enlisted Fury to record their critically acclaimed album Iraq last year, which found him stretching his skills to record the band’s uilleann pipes, the national bagpipes of Ireland.

“I like working with lots of styles,” he says. “I like records that sound vivid. If a band imagines their most amazing show ever, that’s what the record should sound like. That’s why our records sound so real. I usually try to see the band live first, if I can, and we always talk about what the band wants to do. Then I get them to do it right. We try to make it the best performance imaginable.”

Fury will still make records for New York City bands, and national and international bands that make the trip to Troy, but he wants to make the Capital Region the focus of his work. “One thing I want people to know is that I’m here for the duration,” he says. “I’m here for the Capital Region’s music scene. This is my home. I have the same attitude I had 25 years ago. I don’t want bands to think I’m inaccessible or out of their reach. I’m here for the bands—the 16-year-old kids making their first EP or the veteran rockers making their best record.

“I feel like I’ve got a luxury now. I’ve never had a space that I owned before. I feel like this studio can become mighty. I’ve been a part of a lot of important music. We can do those kinds of things here. It’s going to be a great studio.”


ROUGH MIX

WIND OF CHANGE We’re late to the game in reporting this due to the holiday schedule, but we’d be remiss in not reporting it: Award-winning singer-songwriter, musician and, most importantly, teacher Paul Strausman passed away suddenly on Dec. 21, at the age of 54. Strausman was a beloved member of the local folk-music community as a member of Stock and Strausman (with singing partner Dick Stock). But his contributions to the field of children’s music are for what he’ll likely be remembered best—he was a recording artist with the A Gentle Wind label, for which he made several albums of kid- and family-friendly fare, and a music teacher at Pinter B. Coeymans Elementary School. He expressed his commitment to children’s music as such: “I think the messages kids are getting from the mainstream media are often very unhealthy. I, and other musicians like me, are looking at music for children as more than just entertainment.” He will be missed.

A NEW ADMINISTRATION Few local acts get slapped with the modifier “socially conscious” more frequently, or more appropriately, than Broadcast Live (pictured). The band have been spreading their politically charged mix of rock, funk, hip-hop, and spoken word for several years now (we picked them as the area’s Best Political Hip-Hop Band in 2006), but it’s been a while since their 2005 album, Underground, made a dent in national airplay charts. The wait is over: Broadcast Live return later this month with a second album, Boomerang Metropolis (due Jan. 27), and a lengthy tour to follow. The tour kicks off with a CD-release party at Red Square on Feb. 6, but in case you can’t possibly wait that long—and why should you?—you can preorder the disc right now at broad castlive.org.

DOUBLE THE FUN A few months back we told you about a new act—or, rather, the metamorphosis of an old one. To bring you up to speed, Will Nivins and Johnny Riott formed Ov Dust from the ashes of goth-rockers Sunset Aside, after deciding to take things in a more metal direction. (That would make a good album title!) Until recently they’d been working primarily as a duo, but they’ve decided that now is a good time to beef up their team, and this week announced the addition of vocalist Chris Patti (also of cover band T.A.T.) and bassist Billy Beer, who you may recognize from the Erotics, Blasé Debris, or one of his other 25 bands. The group are working on their debut record, but first they’ll make their debut live performance this Wednesday (Jan. 21) at Savannah’s in Albany. For more, check myspace.com/ovdust.

—John Brodeur

Let us know about local-music news and happenings for inclusion in Rough Mix: E-mail tips and information to tigerpop1@ yahoo.com or metroland@metroland.net.



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