DON FLEMING | EW.com

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DON FLEMING

HE'S MAKING ROCK SOUND LIVE AGAIN-CRANK IT UP, MAN

Somewhere in between the smoothed border of grunge and the jagged edge of punk lies the mix-man du jour. Weaned on equal doses of the Stooges and the surreal Mahavishnu Orchestra, this self-proclaimed ”record-collecting geek” is a stickler for the hazy harmonies, chopping guitars, and raucous drum kicks of his youth. ”Music should sound the way it did on my high school car radio,” says Don Fleming, 35, of his sought-after low-fi sound. And it’s no-frills all the way: Fleming scoffs at pricey high-tech studios, preferring to use vintage analog boards and to record bands in such vast, resounding spaces as barns and old churches. The resulting primal throb has attracted clients as diverse as the bands Hole, the Posies, Teenage Fanclub, Screaming Trees, and all-time Fleming hero Alice Cooper. Producing tracks for the latter’s album (to be released in ‘94) was something of a learning experience: ”I worked with a studio band while Alice played golf,” says Fleming. ”He’d call in every once in awhile for updates.” The eclectic 6-foot-6-incher, whose day job is fronting the power-pop group Gumball, recently played guitar and sang backup vocals with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore on the soundtrack for an upcoming film about original Beatle Stu Sutcliffe. Next up for the Fleming touch: Japan’s all-girl phenomenon Shonen Knife, whom he’s determined to make sound anything but ”digital and sterile.” A busy schedule, but as Fleming himself says, ”it’s all about velocity.”