There are those who dream of fame and fortune and wind up with a real expensive hobby, then there are the likes of Mitch Easter, whose strange, yet wonderful five-decade career in music defies logic, reason, and, best of all, categorization.
It was Easter who, in 1981, turned his parents' garage into the aptly-named Drive-In Studios in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and, in doing so, provided the necessary spark to ignite a nascent Deep South indie rock scene that didn't quite know it existed yet, but whose waves are still being felt today.
Don't believe us? Then ponder this "what if'":
What if R.E.M. had not crossed paths with Mitch Easter at that precise moment in both of their histories?
R.E.M. had been lucky, and savvy, enough to land the IRS Records deal before Easter entered the picture, but a legendarily horrible experience with the label's first-choice for producer (Stephen Hague) had the band in a literal death spiral.
Meanwhile, Easter's college dream of opening his own studio had become a reality and, with it, the responsibility of drumming up business for his new venture.
Those who might wonder how an otherwise unproven commodity like Easter could "luck into" working with a "signed" band like R.E.M. without the requisite industry dues-paying need only catch the opening clip above of Easter in action with his own band (Let's Active) as they hurriedly assemble a functional line-up in time for their first tour.
The added bonus of the clip is that we get to watch him from the perspective of the drummer as Easter explains exactly how he got the drum part to the song ("Leader of Men") in the studio.
Without further context, you almost start to believe that you've been jettisoned back in time to the year 1984 and into the body of someone auditioning for Let's Active!
|2017: The live room at Mitch Easter's Fidelitorium|
Of course, for many these days, working with Mitch's stuff is almost as cool, thanks to Easter's innovative Fidelitorium, which enables bands and producers to bring their projects into an analog setting and have access to Easter's wide array of "weird gear".