Mike McHugh

Photo by Mat OttoElectronics geek Mike McHugh owns and operates a recording studio called the Distillery and has never met a microphone he couldn't take apart and rebuild. He's also a sometime-drummer currently sometime-drumming in motown punk band the Screws. We talked to him about things made out of tubes, things that should be made out tubes and other things that tickle the fancy of avowed studio geeks everywhere.

OC Weekly: Heard any good bands lately? Mike McHugh: LIGHTENING BOLT. They're from Rhode Island. I recorded them recently. They're awesome—prog noise, like a 1969 Yes with a bunch of buzzing bees stuck in your ears at the same time. Are they like “Flight of the Bumble Bee” as performed by Emerson, Lake and Palmer?

I think they're like Emerson, Lake and Bumble Bee.

What else have you been into? JON WAHL AND THE AMADANS. The album is amazing. Sounds like Merle Haggard on acid. Also CHRIS CACAVAS' BUMBLING HOME FROM THE STARS. I like the tone—it's folky, and he has a great voice and great musicians, and he's a great musician. It's very melancholy, touching upon that suicidal side in everybody. Isn't there some magazine you have a bunch of copies of in the studio? TAPE OP magazine. Is that pretty much just for geeks?

Pretty much, but a lot of bands appreciate it, too, because it has a lot of interviews with bands and engineers and producers and electronic geeks.

What else are you into? VACUUM TUBES FOR AUDIO ELECTRONICS. I like tubes of all shapes and sizes. Tubes should be in everything—even coffee makers. You've got to be kidding.

No, really, they would sound a lot better.

Maybe you should stop playing guitar through your coffee maker.

I also like GERMANIUM TRANSISTORS. They're a transistor that was made after tubes, and they have a creamier tone to them.


You know who else I like? THE STARVATIONS. They sound like a'70s Texas punk rock band. Kind of in the vein of Blood on the Saddle. And I like the NEW DETECTIVES. They're almost all girls, except that Gabe from the Starvations plays with them. They're like a female Stitches.

Favorite kind of tape? EMTEC 900. For recording, I prefer it over any other kind of tape reel because it has less faults. What about blank cassette tapes? MAXELL XL2. Less faults. Do you prefer cassettes to CDs?

Most definitely.

Do you prefer records to cassettes?

No, I like cassettes over records.

Do people think you're a freak because of that?

They make fun of me.

What do they call you?


Hmm . . . anything else?

Yes. MY DAUGHTER. She keeps me motivated to work and to live. She's four and a half. She's learning how to spell and how to count. She's picking it up really quickly.

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