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How Neko Case Cost Me a Microphone

by Roy Peak

 

Haley with my Fender bass when she
was almost three years old.

 

Haley playing guitar at the Girls Rock Camp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Neko Case story: It was 2006 and I was working in my studio one night doing computer maintenance. Neko Case’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood had just been released and I was listening to it on the studio monitors while I worked. In walked my five year old granddaughter, Haley. "That's cool music, grandpa," she said. "Can I listen in the headphones?"

“Sure, no problem,” I said, sat her on a stool, gave her a set of headphones and dialed in some Neko for her.

"Can I have a microphone and sing along?" she asked. I got her a Shure SM58, hooked it up through the mixer and sent a feed to her headphones. "Make my voice all wooshy like hers!" she said. I could only imagine that what she meant was Can you add a ton of swirling reverb to my voice? so I dialed in some plate reverb, and then some delay when Haley wanted even more "whooshes.”

“Cool!” she said when she heard her own voice in the headphones. After a few minutes she was singing along, making up her own words to the songs when she couldn't figure them out and then commenting on the songs. "She sure does go la la la a lot in this song!" she said at one point. "Ooh! Frogs and snakes! She said frogs and snakes!" I was cracking up.
"Can I play the drum, too?" How could I say no to that? I set a snare drum in front of her, gave her a set of sticks and let her bang along with the CD which, by now, was on its second repeat. "Make the drum wooshy too!" she asked, so I put a mic on it, set it up with some reverb and went back to work on the computer, my back to her as she sang and drummed away. She really got into banging the drum harder and harder.

“Wow! The drum really sounds cool like that!" she said. I turned around to see what she meant just in time to see that she had dropped the drum sticks and was now beating the snare as hard she could WITH THE SM58! BAM! BAM! BAM! I could only imagine what THAT sounded like in her headphones, but at least she was keeping time with the song. Before I could run over and stop her, the top of the poor mic came apart, the capsule flying across the room, pieces of microphone everywhere, the snare fell over in its stand, Haley screamed and tore her headphones off—a horrible and heavily reverbed ScRaNg! ScRaNg!! ScRaNg!!! noise coming from them—and she fell off the stool. Haley was fine, the snare was fine, but the SM58 was toast.

Years later, I still have the studio, and my granddaughter is now a teenager who plays guitar and interns at the local Girls Rock Camp. One day I’ll see if I can get her to play a Neko Case song for me.

 

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Click here for my review of Neko Case's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood straight from the King Tut Vintage Album And Cassette Museum of Jacksonville Facebook page, which contained an earlier version of this tale.


 

copyright 2017 Roy Peak