Direct Action Gamut Demo (1988)

So it has been awhile since I posted to this blog. Since I teach, I get pretty busy when school starts so I try to do as many posts as I can during the summer months when I have more time. Sorry :(

I am currently on fall break from teaching this week, so I thought I would do a post.

Since I have been trying to keep things in chronological order (somewhat), I thought I would do a post on when we (Direct Action) did our first “real” studio recording.


We recorded six songs at Gamut Studios in Latrobe some time in the fall of 88 or early 89 (I think). I am pretty sure we found out about Gamut from Best Defense who also recorded there. Some Pittsburgh bands like Doomwatch and Dreamdeath recorded there as well. I can’t remember how we got the money but somehow we collected a couple hundred dollars and booked some recording time with T.J. Wilkins, the owner and engineer of Gamut.

Gamut was located in the back of a shopping plaza in Latrobe Pa. It was 16 tracks to tape. It looked like every recording studio I had seen in photos, on TV, or in movies, which was my only reference to recording studios up to actually stepping foot in Gamut.

We had a total blast recording this demo at Gamut. The place was very relaxed and fun. We had a ton of people stop by at the studio on the night we recorded. It was like a party. I think T.J. was very cool about it because I can’t believe he allowed us to bring in a bunch of our friends just to hang out in his recording studio around expensive mics and recording equipment.

T.J. might have been cool with all our studio antics but when it came to recording, he had no tolerance for Tom’s squealing feedback from his guitar. T.J. thought it would hurt his studio speakers and from the sounds of Tom’s feedback from the overdrive pedal going through a Marshall micro-stack, he probably had a right to be concerned. You can hear this feedback at the end of several of the songs on this demo.

I think we recorded every song for this demo in one night. We also did vocals and backing vocals on the same night. I am pretty sure we mixed everything on a different night.

It was so fun doing the background “sing-along” vocals that night. We had about a dozen of our friends in the recording room with T.J. in the recording booth. We were trying to stay quiet when we were not yelling on the sing-along parts which made for some laughs. I remember Pagdon cracking us up. I also remember Amanda R. flashing us from the couch in the control room right behind T.J’s head. We were all laughing thinking that T.J. didn’t know what was happening but later he said that he saw everything in the reflection of the window between the control room for the recording area. Good times.

The only song left over from the first demo was New Generation. I would say the rest of the songs represent the Revelation Records influence on the band at the time. Very late 80’s NYC hardcore.

I think we wanted to release these songs as a 7inch but it never materialized (i.e. no money). So we just released it on cassette as a demo (The actual cover for the cassette demo is above)

Here are the songs:
Common Ground
Forget the Rest
You Gave In
Nothing in Our Way
New Generation

Looking back, Gamut was probably not the kind of studio to record a hardcore/punk band like us. I think T.J. and Gamut, in general, were more geared to record gospel, country, and pop oriented groups. At the time, we were just excited to record in a “real” studio instead of with a 4 track recorder like we did with the first demo. We were a bunch of teenagers who didn’t know much about recording or about the concept of being “produced” by studios who specialize in recording specific types of music and bands. Oh well. You live and learn.

2 Responses to “Direct Action Gamut Demo (1988)”

  1. Burn Unit says:

    This was also the night I learned what thr word “flech” meant. TJ from Gamut directed us to lift up a tile in the ceiling outside the control room, and written in black marker on the inside of the drop ceiling was “Ron’s Felch Room”. He said it was there when they moved in.

    I also remember that after one of these sessions (though I may be confusing it with the “Third Rail” sessions, also recorded at Gamut), we all went to Denny’s in Latrobe. We were all acting up and Tom got into an argument with the manager, who kicked us out, and “banned us all for life” from ever going back to that Denny’s.

  2. Greg says:

    I don’t think I ever had this demo. The live at the Banana tape wore itself out from so many plays in my car’s tape deck. I do remember y’all saying that it had a “country” snare sound.

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