I did not know British musician ( now residing in Spain) Robert Lawson back in the day. One of the many thousand of home tapers that were operating outside of my myopic sphere. A fine guitarist and instrumentalist, Lawson’s more recent works are a nice combination of jam sessions and more precise song works.
When I was 12 years old my folks bought my brother and I Radio cassette players and a pack of blank tapes.I used to tape comedy stuff off the Radio and listen to it in bed when I should have been asleep.I grew up in West Germany (Dad was in the British Army).We listened to BFBS radio which had stuff like John Peel´s show and old BBC comedy and Drama.No T.V. in english but some cool live concert shows on the german stations.
I found you could multi track crudely by bouncing stuff between casette machines and playing other stuff at the same time.I used to record little radio dramas with a friend of mine.We would carry the tape machine (battery powered) into tunnels and basements and improvise storylines.
Later on when I played in bands with school mates I would always tape our practise sessions and mock up covers and titles.I still love doing that!
I could never afford any real pro recording gear so I stuck to stereo tape decks with two cheap mics and handheld cassette recorders well into my 20´s.
Sometimes I would borrow a four track or two track reel to reel machine for a weekend and knock stuff out quickly.
The first studio I went into was an 8 track demo place with my band Troyka.This was mid-eighties and we had a blast putting backward guitar solos on songs and too much reverb on the drums.
Later in Scotland I joined a music collective and hung out with a guy called Robin Woods who ran a studio out of his apartment and recorded bands in their practise rooms and at gigs.I used his six track studio for my solo folky stuff and sold tapes at my weekly gig in a room above a bar.This is where I first met Eugene Chadbourne who was a big influence on the creative front.He showed me that rather than piss about recording demos you could record a bunch of songs on cassette and treat it as an album.It was the content that counted not the fact it was produced in some fancy studio.I also learnt to do short runs of tapes and put togther a photocopied catalogue of my output.
I loved the cut and paste artwork and seeing my tapes on display.
Later on I moved to the states and switched to CDRs and recording on a minidisc recorder..a small step up from cassettes in a way but still live and warts and all.I made a point of putting my recorder in the middle of the audience so you can hear stuff from the point of view of someone sat there.I loved the fact you could hear people talking sometimes and paying attention to stuff as well.
Now I have a zoom multitrack studio at home but I still use my minidisc for recording gigs as it is too much hassle carrying studio gear around.One of the last CD´s I put out (Non-stop with Javier Denis,Joel Knispel,Markus Bruess and Alain Piñero) was recorded live at an improv festival in Malaga.