WESTFIELD – In an unassuming building situated at the end of a dead end street, nearly two decades ago Jim Fogarty thought he found the perfect spot to make some noise without drawing much attention.
Jim Fogarty, owner of Zing Recording Studios, has been working with musicians at the same Westfield location for nearly 20 years.
Reminder Publications photo by Chris Maza
Boy, was he wrong.
After 19 years in the music industry, Fogarty has seen Zing Recording Studios evolve into one of the more respected and sought-after places for musicians to produce albums in the Northeast, working with a number of nationally and internationally recognized acts and producers.
“It’s weird to think it’s been 19 years. It certainly doesn’t feel that way,” Fogarty said. “I don’t know if I really knew what I was getting into at the time. I really just wanted a space where I could make noise and not get regular visits from the police for noise complaints. That was really the original impetus for seeking out a building like this and it’s been a work in progress ever since.”
The studio’s name is affixed to three gold records and artists who have worked there have earned two Grammy Awards.
When Reminder Publications visited recently, hard rock/metal band All That Remains front man Phil Labonte chatted in the studio’s lobby with Grammy-winning producer Josh Wilbur, who has worked with acts ranging from heavy metal band Lamb of God to pop artists such as Pink and ’N Sync to country singer Steve Earle.
All That Remains is among the most notable bands Zing has worked with, having recorded three albums there. The band’s breakout disc “The Fall of Ideals,” as well as its two most recent albums, “For We Are Many” and “A War You Cannot Win” were produced there and they’re working on a fourth yet-to-be-named record with Wilbur.
Labonte recently confirmed the band was working on a new disc with an Instagram video filmed at Zing Recording Studios
Killswitch Engage have recorded all of their albums out of that studio, including Recording Industry Association of America certified gold records “The End of Heartache” and “As Daylight Dies.” Unearth, Shadows Fall, The Devil Wears Prada, Parkway Drive and Underoath have also recorded albums there.
“The business started and grew mostly through word of mouth and still does,” Fogarty said. “But now that some successful records have come out of here, musicians who like those records might say, ‘I want to go where that record was made.’”
While the studio’s primary notoriety has stemmed from the success of the aforementioned heavy metal performers, Fogarty said he didn’t see his operation as a one-trick pony.
“We’ve become known as a hard rock and metal studio because of a lot of the more successful records that have been recorded here have been in that genre, but it’s certainly not all we do,” he said, explaining the studio also accommodates singer/songwriters as well as rock, punk, country and jazz performers. “My favorite music is classic rock. People just assume I’m a metal head because of the records.”
Fogarty said regardless of the genre of music, his mission is to “help the artist achieve their vision.”
He explained, “As cliché as that is, it is part of it. It’s like trying to interpret the sounds in their head and what’s going to make it best [when] translated to the listener.”
Zing Recording Studios manager Joe Urban said Fogarty pays special attention to ensuring the “tone and the vibe of the record” matches musicians’ expectations.
Fogarty said while it depends on the kind of album being recorded, the process of recording and mastering an album could take a couple of months and includes a great many technical components. In short, he’s not just sitting in a booth and hitting the record button.
“People still envision what it might have been like in the late 50s back when you were just recording straight to mono,” he said. “Obviously it’s changed quite a bit where details of every part of every instrument are scrutinized. Every little nuance is paid attention to.
“Technically, you could set up a couple of microphones, have someone come in and record an entire album in the time it takes to play the songs, but that’s not how it really happens. The other extreme is a band like [All That Remains] with rock and pop arrangements and every nuance of every instrument and vocal is thought about and considered and gone over with a fine-toothed comb. A record like this will take about six weeks to record,” he continued.
Fogarty added one of the most interesting aspects of the process was seeing different musical variations and visions from song to song within a genre and even within an album.
The studio’s success and the involved nature of the work is part of the reason why Fogarty calls Urban, who first started coming to Zing in the late ’90s to record his music, his manager. Urban said he currently works on bidding for new recording deals, “trying to attach Jim to more and bigger work.”
“There are two sides of the brain and they can’t be used at the same time. When I’m focused on what I’m doing in here, I can’t even decide what to have for lunch, so bidding on a record or other business stuff, if it’s a day when I’m doing stuff in the studio, my mind can’t even get there, so fortunately I have Joe,” he said. “He’s very focused on the other side of the brain, but that doesn’t take anything away from his musical instinct.”
For more information on Zing Studios, visit www.zingrecording.com or www.facebook.com/zingrecordingstudios.
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