Week in Review: Sunday October 23rd – Saturday October 30thOctober 31, 2022
Week in Review: November 6th – November 12thNovember 15, 2022
Hidden within the secluded hills of Port Jefferson, NY, is the reclusive recording site of Vudu studios. To get there one must brave not only the heated traffic of rage fueled NY rush hour, but one must also perch their car upon thin, cracking roads which lead through the mountainous suburb. It is a terrific trek, but it is one that Ronin has made over and over these last four months in order to immortalize our supreme sound in recordings bound for the U.S. Copyright Office and your very ears.
Vudu is not what many would expect from a recording studio. This is no glamorous facility with a scenic overlook and nods to the prolific and successful musical acts of yesteryear, nor is it a warehouse where several marketable bands may work out their albums simultaneously from different rooms. Vudu Studios exists within a house and oh, but what a house it is.
When I first pulled into the elongated driveway I had to cock my head at the ambitious architecture of the house. It looks like someone decided that they wanted to make an addition to the structure, but somewhere over the course of the work they got really drunk and just kept going.
The whole structure goes up at odd angles. In some places it looks to be one story, but in others it could be as many as four. No one knows how deep underground the basement goes, but apparently there is even an in-door pool. It is practically impossible to surmise how many people (and cats) live in the house, but there are always at least 6 different cars parked in various driveways.
From within, things only get more confusing. There are doors everywhere and the hallways have random steps going up or down, seemingly at random. A comfortable living room will lead into a claustrophobic hall, giving way to a recording room with high, vaulted ceilings, leading to a functional (albeit tired looking) kitchen which is hugged by an historic looking staircase that I personally would not dare to test. These stairs lead to accommodations for bands that come in from out of state to work with the best: Frank Mitaritonna.
Frank is the best of the best when it comes to recording engineers and I can say that with complete confidence having worked with no other sound engineer in the entirety of my musical career. It’s hard to say if he wanted the job, or if his immense talent was recognized by Vudu’s owners and they just kidnapped him and put him to work.
The man lives in the studio, literally. His apartment door is within 10 steps of the sound board. Remember that living room? Well I’m pretty sure it acts as both Vudu’s reception area and his own personal relaxation zone. His housing’s close proximity with his job allows Frank to take recording sessions deep into the night, which is just perfect for Ronin as we like to take our time.
Frank is a consummate professional. He’ll give a band whatever it needs to get the job done, from observations and suggestions, to straight up grabbing your guitar and ripping through a lick before handing it back and saying “do something like that.” Yes. Frank is better than you. He’s better than me. So just leave the man alone and let him do his thing. If Frank wasn’t the best then how does he have a veritable army of interns at his beck and call? For real, we’ve been recording there for months and rarely do we see the same intern twice. Sometimes he has three or four of them on hand and they jump at his orders as if he had just commanded from on high.
Personality-wise, he meshes with Ronin to a level that I didn’t think possible from a non-member. When we first met I thought that he might be a bit stern, but we bonded through the most important artform of our generation: memes. Now he’s quick with a joke or to light up your smoke, but there’s someplace that he’d rather be… Damnit Billy Joel, I said to stay the fuck out of my essay!
So there I was, laying down a solo that even surprised me (I’m man enough to admit when I’m great) when Frank turns to me and says “You should always play with a Wah.” (I’m also man enough to admit when an effects pedal makes me sound great) So I went out and got myself a Cry Baby and that’s how we got a major top 40 hit. (Just throwing it out there, Billboard.)
Frank made me play for 10 hours straight, barely giving me enough time to scarf down whatever food we could find (certainly not Chick-fil-a because it was a Sunday those @$$#*%&s). The calluses on my fingers tore off and reformed on the bloody stumps that once bore fingernails, but we got what we needed… on two of the remaining four songs. Like I said, we like take our time.
So back into the studio we went the next week. With only two songs left, I gave half the session to Chris so he could get some vocals down. We watched him belt and scream for hours, somehow not growing hoarse throughout his labors. This is the best part about Vudu, the air has healing properties that soothe your throat on every breath. I daresay Chirs’s voice was better than it had ever been by the time he finished, although I’m quite sure it went hoarse again as soon as he went home and had to wrangle the kids for bed.
The last two songs took me deep into the night and Frank was all too willing to stay up as late as we wanted him to. Just before midnight on the night of Saturday, November 5, 2022 (a date that will one day be remembered by the world as The Night The Last Chord Was Struck and The Lead Guitar Work of Ronin’s Sophomore Album Valak the Defiler Was Completed) the last chord was struck and the lead guitar work of Ronin’s sophomore album Valak the Defiler was completed!
I almost envy you, my dear readers, listeners, and fans, because you are standing on the cusp of Ronin standing on the cusp of victory. You have so much good music to listen to and every day brings you closer yet to life changing, concept imagining, katana wielding greatness that marks each and every second of Valak the Defiler.
You may know of Donny Brass, but you have no inkling of the interdimensional Portal on Saturn. You do not yet know of what is Beyond the Pale, where the Monsters are coming from, how the Valkyries cry as they descend to bring the fallen to Valhalla, the Upheaval of all senses, or how the vengeance which Red the Samurai took upon Valak led to a sacrifice that could ultimately save the physical world. Oh shit, sorry… spoiler alert.
But it’s coming and soon.
Soon you will learn that rock is not dead, it was just buried alive and now from the underground it is clawing its way through sediment, and dirt to break out of its grave and return to life on the air waves. We Didn’t Start this Fire, it was always burning since the world’s been turning and now it’s Moving Out of the cramped coffinal confines where it has rested For the Longest Time. Take our word for it. It’s a Matter of Trust.
I SWEAR TO GOD BILLY, WHAT DID I JUST TELL YOU!?!?!
– Jack Mauro