JAMES FAUST MIXES SOUNDS FOR VARIETY OF AREA MUSICIANS
“My passion is working with bands and live music — that’s really where it stems from so I‘ve always worked in that realm.“
James Faust has been around music his whole life, playing in bands and recording them. When he reached a point when finding band members was tough, he decided to start recording music.
“I played in bands my whole life and then there was this period of time I couldn’t get a band together, so I started going to Lamar State College Port Arthur for audio engineering,” he says. “It just seemed like something to do with music in the mean time. I just couldn’t get anything going but I wanted to stay involved in music.”
He graduated in May of 2013 and decided to invest in his own recording studio, which is located behind the kitchen in his home. There’s a nice open space for guitarists and bassists to comfortably sit behind him to track their instruments.
“I really started with the basics,” he says. “I already had all my cables and small things from bands in the past. Then I started with my interface, which is the main control for everything with how sound comes in and out. Then I just pieced together things after that. I sold a lot of my old bands’ stuff to invest more into it. I probably have a little over $20,000 worth of gear now.”
Faust has recorded just about every genre of music, but there’s one kind he enjoys the most.
“Loud punk bands are my favorite to record, like old-school stuff, bands like Hot Water Music and The Bronx,“ he says. “It’s my favorite kind of music and it’s what I do best. I mix aggressively as I listen to stuff like that.”
Faust records sessions for local bands to be played on “The Local Scene,” which airs on KVLU 91.3 on Saturday nights, as well as producing singles and full CDs.
“Some of the bands I’ve recorded are We Were Wolves, Cody Schaeffer, Mad Maude and the Hatters, Johnny Jailbird and his Misdemeanor, and the Ruxpins,” he says. “I also do a lot of work for dance companies that need mash-up songs for their performances.”
Faust has a few different ways to record bands, which affects how long the process takes and the cost.
“A song depends on the way the band and I want to record,” he says. “We generally break things up into pieces. Bands that want to do stuff live would probably take a day — that would include just getting the raw tracks completed with no mixing. Working on a song in pieces would take probably eight to ten hours, probably around two hours of mixing and an hour of mastering.
“I like to record and charge by the hour. Bands tend to be more motivated and come in with their songs better prepared that way. Some bands think they can do it cheaper by the hour. That way normally comes out to around to $100 a song. That’s a good estimate.”
Faust records himself as well, although he would rather get another engineer’s perspective on his music.
“I’m in a band called the Ramblin’ Boys, we’re kind of like a folk punk band and I’m working on our album right now,” he says. “I don’t love to record myself or even mix myself, because I like to be away from the music. I’m too attached to songs for me to be unbiased. I like to be involved like a band would be but detach myself from being an engineer. That way I can have an outside perspective of the song, rather than me thinking every song I’ve written is the best I’ve ever written.”
Faust has a passion to work with bands. “I plan on this being my career,” he says. “I do have a full-time day job though. My father owns an engineering and surveying company and I work as a draftsman. So I do land research from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, then I get off to record and mix bands.
“It’s a hard job to have in this area, if you want to stick with just doing music. If you want to get involved with overdubs for commercials, radio stations or television, then there’s a bigger market for that. My passion is working with bands and live music, and that’s really where it stems from, so I’ve always worked in that realm. I’ve done odd jobs just because I couldn’t turn down the money.”
Faust has thought about moving to a bigger market to reach more bands. He says Beaumont can be slow at times but there’s no lack of talent.
“It’s all about the scale of the city and the lack of bands,” he says. “I don’t think there’s a lack of talent though at all, the local bands here are some of the best I’ve heard all over the United States.”
While he might move in the future, Faust says he really likes this area.
“I live with my girlfriend and she’s still in college so I want to support that for her and let her finish,” he says. “All my band members are down here and I’m attached to that. That’s one of the biggest reasons I want to stay here.”
Faust says the bigger cities are harder to get started in, and the smaller cities are better than people think.
“Austin is a tough market to get into, there’s a lot of studios and a lot of competition,” he says. “Same thing for Nashville, which tends to be a hot spot as well. The engineers that I follow made it in places that you would never imagine someone making it. Their mixes and music are so good that people are willing to fly out of state to go to them.
“You would be surprised that some of the biggest studios are in the smallest cities. I like the Houston market, it would be a cool spot. I’ve got a good foot in their music scene already with bands I’ve recorded in the past.”
Faust reflects on Beaumont’s current music scene and how it fluctuates. Recently, one of the staple venues for local bands, Tequila Rok, closed down.
“I think it comes in waves,” he says. “Right now I think we’re in a little bit of a down period, but six months ago we were thriving. It rolls with the venues as well. When they shut down it takes a lot of the touring bands out of the equation. It’s a cool deal when there’s a big band that comes to Beaumont that you want to play with at a cool venue and get paid nicely.
“It’s always in waves, it’ll always come back. It’s also what the kids make their scene out to be. When I was playing in bands in high school, there was no place for all ages. So we rented out the KC Hall with hot checks, hoping the kids wouldn’t destroy it. Then we would get our ‘check’ back that night that might or might not of had money in the account. It just comes in waves.”
For now, Faust is happy to sit in the comfort of his own home, mixing the disparate musical styles of the area’s musicians.
Any inquiries about recording at Polarity Studio can be directed to James Faust’s email, email@example.com, or by visiting Polarity Studio’s Facebook page.
Story and photos by Lane Fortenberry