“I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim
in silence, and the truth comes to me."
You can’t go home again, but you can approach those formative experiences with the deeper understanding of an adult. This year has shown us new ways to reflect, and for many artists, shift from the grind of tour to the intentional quiet that writing and recording demand. Early in 2020 Brandon Flowers and The Killers realized they needed to make this shift, and delivered the recent release Pressure Machine, a concept album inspired by childhood years in Nephi, Utah. Debuting August 13th on the Billboard 200 top 10, as well as No. 1 on the U.K. charts, the album gives a nod to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, and pre-production began to be conceptualized in the same studio space as Tom Waits’ own concept albums, Bone Machine and Mule Variations.
This secret recording session followed their last release Imploding the Mirage by 10 months. Flowers wrote the lyrics before any of the music was created (which was the first time using this process), scattering photos of Nephi around his keyboard for inspiration. Once he was ready, the band gathered at Prairie Sun with producers Jonathan Rado and Shawn Everett, the same team that worked on Imploding the Mirage, accompanied by Prairie Sun’s chief engineer Nate Nauseda and second engineer Brett Brazil. They sought refuge away from the pandemic difficulties of Los Angeles and metropolitan areas.
Nauseda reflects, “Being a fan of this band since my youth, I was thrilled that I would be working with The Killers, my faith in their songwriting was met and reinvigorated. Brandon is a songwriter who is up there with Springsteen, Dylan and the other greats. The creativity was palpable and the level of work ethic was impressive.”
“I’m not writing a quarantine album or anything like that,” Flowers continued. “You kind of just start hitting your stride when you’re finishing a record. You’re writing lyrics, you’re mixing everything, you’re in it – then you go on tour. It’s interesting to not be going on tour and having any of that stuff taking up my brain. I just went right back to the piano. I was already exercising my songwriting muscles so a lot of it came very quickly. Something powerful happened when I shut off the part of my brain that runs towards the grind and just started running towards the creative part of my brain.”
During the week-long stint of The Killers shifting notebooks and lyrics to tape and album readiness, NBC came up to Cotati’s Prairie Sun Studio C and broadcast a stripped-down version of “Land Of The Free”, addressing the tragic death of George Floyd, which aired during the 44th annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular using on site DiGiCo consoles as well as Prairie Sun Live engineers Joe Jones and Nigel Wolovick. The day before the broadcast Prairie Sun’s owner/founder Mooka Rennick approached Brandon Flowers, asking which song he would perform. “I recommend ‘Land of the Free’, I think it is such a powerful song and an important time for people to hear it, he should go with it and it will really connect people” says Rennick.
Cotati’s Prairie Sun studios excels at creating the type of environment that can lend a musician towards the quiet needed to truly focus on their inspiration and execution of great songwriting. Between the magic of Neve signal paths and the creative collective environment of Northern California’s grassy hills, one can find the space needed for inspiration.
Record Store Day 2021 Release
Prairie Sun Recording - Cotati, Ca
Mixing Engineer : Mark "Mooka" Rennick
Assistant Mixing Engineer : Maximilien Hein
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (July 20, 2021): A recently recorded 12” remix of Bob Dylan’s “Jokerman” is available for the next two weeks only on vinyl through Sony. As part of a special release by legendary Reggae producer Doctor Dread, this project received a significant level of attention at Sonoma County’s own Prairie Sun Recording. Mark “Mooka” Rennick acted as the Studio Engineer and his Assistant Engineer Max Hein lent his hand and ear to the effort.
“Doctor Dread was a breath of fresh air”, states Rennick, ”between his beret and wry grin he’s full of stories, with a dub style that is fully spontaneous - and has echo everywhere. We did multiple takes in different styles to focus in on what the track needed. It turned out we have mutual friends through John Prine and I felt very blessed to work on this project. With COVID making travel impossible, my friend Jimmy The Fox, who worked with Dr. Dread on the ‘I and I’ track originally, recommended Prairie Sun. On our initial call I told Dread ‘I haven’t done any Dub’, then he replied, ‘Mooka don’t worry, when I’m done, you will.’”
The original versions of both tracks appeared on Dylan’s ‘Infidels’ album with Sly & Robbie as the rhythm section. The two “I And I” remixes were previously released on ‘Is It Rolling Bob: A Reggae Tribute To Bob Dylan’ (2003) while the ‘Jokerman’ remixes are newly commissioned and previously unreleased. Doctor Dread has worked with Bob Marley, Black Uhuru, Jimmy Cliff, Inner Circle, Gregory Isaacs, Luciano, Mad Cobra, Freddy Mcgregor, Sly and Robbie, Steel Pulse, The Wailers and many others.
Mark “Mooka” Rennick is the owner and founder of Prairie Sun Recording as well as the Grammy Award-winning Eugene Productions. He has recorded, mixed and mastered the likes of Tom Waits, Rick Derringer, Eric Gales, Larry Coryell, Shuggie Otis and many many more. As a session bassist he has played with Billy C Farlow among others. He plays in a politically charged spoken-word ensemble, The Abolitionists (bandcamp link), and plays bass in various local bands. He is currently accepting mixes and production.
Maximilien Hein is an audio engineer and composer from Austin, Texas who joined Prairie Sun amidst the pandemic after graduating from Texas State University’s Sound Recording Technology program. “I was particularly enamored by the opportunity to listen to Mark Knopfler’s isolated guitar tracks and appreciate on the most intimate level his taste and musicality. And hearing the live floor take of Bob Dylan’s vocal was truly a spiritual experience, as it was delivered with a rawness and conviction that surpasses the official final vocal from Infidels."
Now in its third decade of operation, Prairie Sun Recording is known as a residential recording facility with a technical bent toward vintage analog-recording equipment as well as state-of-the-art digital technology. Tom Waits, Van Morrison, Greg Allman, Kate Wolf, Mickey Hart, Primus, Faith No More, the Melvins, Ramblin’ Jack Eliot, and Dick Dale all have recorded at Prairie Sun or used its post-production facilities.
In late May and early June, The Killers spent six days in Studio C with renowned producers Shawn Everett (Kacey Musgraves, Hozier, Brittany Howard) and Johnathan Rado (Father John Misty, Whitney, The Lemon Twigs). The Waits, Corn, and control rooms were turned into an oasis for creation.
"Drummer," "author," " activist," "artist,"" lawyer," "father," and "recent podcast guest," any of these terms can be used to describe Mr. Greg Anton, a longtime friend of the studio and music industry veteran.
Paul Miller is a Santa Clara County native from the city of Los Altos, California. Although he grew up in Los Altos, his family spent a lot of time in Ashland, Oregon and British Columbia.
Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs recorded their first studio album this month at Prairie Sun.
For Immediate Release
Prairie Sun Recording Studios Hosts Curb/Word Songwriter’s Camp
Top Songwriters Gather From Nashville. Los Angeles & Atlanta
We are approaching the one-year anniversary of the devastating Santa Rosa fires that started October 8, 2017. We came to a moment in time at the studio that tested our resolve and tenacity to say the least! We are some of the lucky ones who did not lose everything the night of October 8th.