Saturday, February 23, 2008

The First KFM Album (1980)

Interviews with Scott Dugdale and Peter Berkow conducted February, 2008.

Side One:
Throw it Away - Dan Cruces and Scott Dugdale
Break Even - Page One
Old Letters - Todd Klehr
Twenty First and Salem Blues - Ralph Shine Band
Harvest Time in Chico - Kim Cataluna and Slick Rick with the Funky Mystics
Late Date - Sven Jensen

Side Two:

When I Was Born - The Great Blue Herring
Grey Day - Leslie Riley Band
Lady Luck - Jack Zampa
I'm Feeling It Now - Gary Epps and Janet Garlin
Feelin' 'Bout You - Spark and Cinder Band
I Like You, Much As I Like Beer -Doug Midgely Band

Music producer Peter Berkow moved to Chico, California in 1975 to start up the audio engineering program at Cal State. While there he initiated a relationship with local radio station, KFMF (known as KFM), a small freeform format servicing the population of just over 60,000 with an eclectic mix of music, and suggested producing an album featuring local talent. "In fact, KFM never would have done it if I hadn't coerced, cajoled, (and in some instances, even PAID for some of the expenses) and, in general, made myself a pain in the butt until they finally produced one ... as long as I promised to go away and leave them alone," he admitted.

With Berkow signed on to produce the LP, it was then just a matter of finding enough talent to put on the record. Through Berkow's day to day interaction with up and coming musicians at Cal State, he was able to encourage many to try out.

"If I remember correctly, I think it was a kind of contest," said Scott Dugdale, who was 19 years old at the time. A local performer, with an extensive musical background, he and friend Dan Cruces were also beginning the early stages of the successful West Coast band, Leo Swift. "All the local bands sent in recordings, and of those, 12 were selected for the album."

Entries piled in, featuring Chico's best in rock, country, jazz and blues. Berkow knew that since the compilation would feature such a diversity of genres, the first song on the album had to stand out.

"Dan and I had been playing music and recording together since our early high school years," said Dugdale. "At the time, we were listening to a lot of progressive rock of the day-bands like Styx, and Toto and Kansas. We also listened to Genesis and Yes. But after surreptitiously acquiring some studio time, as an experiment, we wanted to see if we could write a song in that vein, and play all the instruments between the two of us, and see if we could produce something like that. Peter heard about it, listened to the song and said, 'You have to submit this one'."

Throw it Away - Dan Cruces and Scott Dugdale

"It was very difficult recording that song and trying to make it as 'big' as the stuff we were listening to. We were limited to two 1/2 inch 8-track Tascam decks (actually almost a luxury for a small local studio at the time). Since neither of us played guitar well enough to track, I multitracked all the 'lead' parts, one note and one part at a time with a Minimoog synthesizer. The 'rhythm guitar' sound was a piano, miked, and run through a guitar amp in a bathroom cranked up to 10 (11 really). Dan had the melody idea and some lyrics, I fleshed out the music, we both played drums and percussion. There's even a timpani in there somewhere. Dan sang the lead and we both did background vocals. My good friend and engineer Ralph Staub worked the sessions too, and we all did the final mix together."

Released in the 1980, the album's cover featured a cartoon design of main street Chico, by local artist Sylvia Massy, a university student, who later went on to become a veteran record producer and studio engineer (
Undertow - Tool, Unchained - Johnny Cash, and Diamonds and Pearls - Prince).

Scott Dugdale is now the in-house composer for Wavegroup, a post-production studio responsible for recording tracks for Guitar Hero, Guitar Hero II, Guitar Hero: Rocks The 80's. He has scored numerous films, television documentaries and other video games, including Online Chess Kingdoms and Brooktown High. He has also created many tracks in the Dance Dance Revolution series, including the most recent version for Wii, as well as six sequels of the successful Karaoke Revolution series of video games. In 2005, his musical score for a mini-series called Astronomy: Observations and Theories was nominated for an L.A. Area Emmy, and the series won the Emmy for Best Educational Series and Best Writing.