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And now the indie concept was fueling another kind of rock phenomenon. “To this day, Sony distributes , and they have to account to me for .50 for every CD sold,” Vai says. It worked out really well that it was far away from L. And this house had a tool shed in the backyard, with two good-sized rooms, built by the previous owner.“That’s more than they’ve ever paid any artist in history, I’m sure. I spent five months and ,000—money I earned giving guitar lessons—and I built this studio, Stucco Blue, in that backyard shed. I went out, bought the wood, built the studio and put the gear in, entirely by myself.Released in 1984, a quarter of a century ago this year, it has become a classic among fans of virtuoso rock guitar and a landmark of the Eighties shred phenomenon that forever raised the bar for rock guitar technique.It has been reissued many times and in many formats, along with the now equally famous was the first record that presented him on his own terms.
I started recording stuff the day I started playing guitar. There’s maybe the idea of some kind of posterity, which more and more seems like a big waste of time.
Prior to this, musicians without a record contract or other financial means of paying for commercial studio time had no affordable means by which to record their own music.
The advent of home studios profoundly affected the evolution of popular music and the music business in the decades that followed. And there, in a backyard tool shed, Vai erected his second studio, Stucco Blue, based around a Fostex eight-track, 1/4-inch reel-to-reel tape machine and a Carvin console.
And that gave me the freedom to turn away from that kind of deal without even considering it.” Instead Vai formed his own label, Akashic Records, and found a distributor, Cliff Cultreri of Important Records, a raving Zappa fan who became Vai’s lifelong friend and ally.
The Important distribution deal netted Vai a generous .10 per record sold, and Vai retained his copyrights—a dramatically better deal than a conventional record contract. Starting in the late Seventies, indie records had been a key component of the punk/new wave scene. And as vinyl records gave way to CDs, and Important Records was acquired by Sony, Vai found himself sitting even prettier. I needed a house that had somewhere I could play music.“I was completely scared to death of being famous,” Steve Vai confides.