Sound and Recording Engineer, Kris Poulin has been behind the boards twisting knobs for hundreds of local and national touring bands spanning three decades now. He's run around the world running sound. He's faded this and set up that and fixed shit in the mix and played in a few bands of his own to boot. (Check out Phantom Works last Chicago show for awhile @ Pancho's 2/17.) KP has provided his expertise in hundreds of recordings, in various studios around town, both above and below ground. This month Chicago will lose another of it's best kept secrets when K.P. heads to sunnier climes in San Diego, but not before we got him to answer a few e-mail questions from his secluded recording lair in Logan Square.
How long have you been recording in Chicago?
I started recording in my bedroom on a boom box and, eventually, a rented 4-track in the late 80s, but have been recording other bands in Chicago since I moved back in 1997.
How many bands do you reckon you’ve recorded in that time?
I would estimate about 250 different bands.
What is the most difficult band or recording situation you’ve been involved in? You don’t have to name names, but if you could describe the situation...
There are only a couple of things that I ever find make the recording process difficult: 1) Equipment failure. 2) Musicians trying to do more than they are capable of, which is often compounded by unrealistic time constraints.
I was hoping you'd name names. How ‘bout live shows, what’s your nightmare story?
There was a show in London a few years ago where I'm certain that huge changes were made to the processing of the PA between sound check and show time, so I spent a massive percentage of the show trying to counteract whatever they changed. I stopped counting how many paying customers came up to me with complaints and I sweated my way through it, constantly working against this new and terrible PA processing. Of course, the local crew denied changing anything and the processor was literally locked behind a cage. So, I can't prove any of this, but there is no other explanation, barring someone coming in and replacing all the speakers we had in sound check with cardboard boxes.
What music venue has the best sound in Chicago?
I've never done sound there myself, but the shows I've seen at the Park West always sound just the way they should.
What’s your favorite place to tour and why?
Japan. I like just about everything about that country and the crews there are the hardest working and most skilled I've ever dealt with. Their attention to detail extends way beyond anything we're used to here in the States.
What will you miss most about this frigid town?
Loads of great bands, musicians, and friends.
What will you miss least?
Winter, summer, Da Machine.
What are you going to do in San Diego?
More of the same, really. I'll continue to tour as a sound engineer, as well as recording bands when I'm not on the road. And I'll finally learn to surf.
They actually pay you to do that?
What’s going to happen with your recording studio?
Though it will be staying put for now, what will happen has not yet been determined. There are three likely possibilities: 1) It stays put and I continue to work in it whenever I can get to Chicago; 2) It is replaced by another tenant and his/her equipment, at which point I'll have a bunch of stuff to sell; 3) The new tenant and I merge the equipment to make the place even better.
And Phantom Works?
This may be overly optimistic, but we will continue to make our racket whenever possible. The plan is to keep writing songs, though more often than not, this will be done via Internet.
Thank you, Kris Poulin, Recording and Sound Engineer.
KP @ Electrical Audio circa 2006