cough/cool: an interview with rich flores

coughcool

the misfits are arguably one of the most important hardcore punk bands, save black flag. now, everyone in the pretentious world of record collecting knows about cough/cool.  it was pressed in 1977 on blank records and has not been repressed (officially) since.  it has been bootlegged no less than 22 times/versions.  the last genuine copy to hit the open market sold for close to $1,500.

now, unless you are new to the record collecting world of scarce punk records (or have been living under a rock), you know the story behind cough/cool.  you know, Danzig traded his copyrighted record label name “Blank Records” to polygram for studio time, etc.  the record itself is what it is.  i am sure you have either heard it before or can easily hear it on youtube, etc.  it contains the first version of “she”, however it is noted that most people are probably more familiar with the version on legacy of brutality.

the purpose of this article is not to comment on an otherwise well known, legendary record, but to explore additional info about its creation that may have not previously been explored.  if you look at your copy of cough/cool, you will notice some writing in the matrix / runout.  “A-101 RICH SPECTRUM B’klyn N.Y”  what exactly does this mean?  who is rich?  well this is the matrix info for mastering/pressing.  mastering was done at a company in brooklyn called spectrum sound.  it is even mentioned on the back cover.  rich is the man who did the mastering.  his name is rich flores and he owned spectrum sound.  the record was pressed at romaba pressing, also in brooklyn.

so, i tracked him down to ask him for his insight into the literal physical creation of these records.  it is worth mentioning that rich flores is a legend in the NYC music industry.  he has been working with records in new york since 1974.  he has worked on some now pretty rare and expensive records.  here is the interview:

ben:  rich, can you explain briefly what kind of a companies spectrum sound and romaba were?  who did they primarily do business with?  what was your role/job at each company?  do you know if there was any push back from music industry people working with this new sound.  punk rock was still “new” in 1977 and there might have been a stigma working with a punk rock band, no?

rich: At that time, no stigma that I knew of with Punk or Rock bands, as for Spectrum Sound, this was my home base business that I ran out of 425 West 46 in New York City in 1975 cutting lacquer acetates reference dub plates. I had a very small clientele of DJs and no major record labels then, only problem, I was  heavily competing with Sunshine Sound located over at 1650 Broadway.

Romaba was the pressing plant I worked as a press operator. their clientele consisted mainly many obscure labels like Paul Winley records, one very famous pressing that come out of there was “Soul Makossa” by Manu diBango.

ben:  do you recall any of the other releases or artists you worked with at spectrum?

rich: Since the break up with Walter Gibbons then, our business was called Melting Pot Sound in Park Slope Brooklyn, after that, I change the name to Spectrum Sound when I moved it to 425 West 46 st. in 1975, by this time, Walter Gibbons was back stabbing me, by giving all his business from DJs he knew to Sunshine Sound. Basically I had to work a daytime job just to pay rent, as for record cutting “NOTHING”..

Things started to pick up when relocating once again back to Brooklyn in 1976-1977 at 1119 Foster ave. is where The Misfits Cough cool was cut.

ben:  can you explain how a kid from nj got hooked up with romaba/spectrum?  my understanding is that you were the one responsible for explaining the process of record pressing to danzig.  that story is worth telling, so please give us the details!

rich: Glen found Spectrum Sound by a small listing I had in the Yellow Pages. He was interested in a short run of 7 inch 45’s. I explained to him  was involved, the cutting of two lacquers one for each side, sending the two sides to be electroplated at Master Craft Inc in New York, to make the metal stampers. Since they only wanted a short run, one set of stampers is all he needed. I warned him this was only good up-to 700 pressings after that he would have to re-cut the two acetate lacquer sides again.

ben:  did you have any idea what you were working on when you did cough/cool?  did you like it or was it just a project/client to you?  now that it is such a legendary record, what do you think when you reflect back on the time you spent creating it in a physical medium?  do you have any interesting interactions with the band/danzig that you remember?

rich: No, it was just another, project, that I had to make the best sound possible with the limited equipment I had then, a satisfied client will comeback to do more projects, even though I just said to myself, just a bunch of crazy kids putting out punk music for friends and fans, I really though they were’nt  going anywhere, they wore these crazy leather outfits, make up and color hair. I was a bit nervous I was alone at the studio with them.

ben:  what, if any, special touches did you put on it from a mastering point of view?  perhaps something that we, as listeners, would be able to detect?

rich: Nothing really, only the intro of “Cough Cool” had lots of clicks and pops due to the shitty work that Romaba pressing plant was putting out. This was the reason why the following pressings were done elsewhere.

ben:  you also ended up doing the mastering for the misfits “bullet” and “horror business”.  how did this happen?  was this just a natural coincidence or did the band reach out to you?

rich: We had kept in touch via phone numbers,”Bullet 138″ and “Horror business” were cut by me, on the last recording, “Horror Business” The pressing or the electroplating, something went wrong, Glen Danzig had to re-cut the two lacquers at another disc mastering place in the West Coast, this I was told, But I will still take credit for “Horror Business” It seemed that a good pressed copy was used to make another master by simply playing the disc on a turntable and re-cutting another lacquer from that. The re-cut “Horror Business”, sounded like crap.

ben:  i know you are primarily known for your work with disco/funk/soul but any final thoughts on your work with punk rock records/artists in the late 70s early 80s in NYC?  when did you find out that these misfits records were collectible/valuable?  do you still have a copy of each?

rich: Yes I do have my copies, 6 years ago, I saw “Cough Cool” on eBay for $2100, I said, “holy shit”, after the Misfits, no other punk rock bands ever recorded at Spectrum Sound or the Misfits, I kept looking for work were ever I can get it. Record mastering, dub plate acetates cutting, the business really sucked from 1975 to 1986, at the beginning, when i started with Walter, back in 1972 to 1974, those were the good years, making all the “Melting Pot Sound” 7″ disc for Down Stairs Records at 42nd St. and 6th Ave. at the underground subway station store .

 

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