This is an excerpt from an unfinished and as yet incomplete interview with Stephen Barncard conducted by Matt Greenwald in 1998. Parts One, Two and Three of the interview can be found at the Barncard site.
This excerpt picks up where Barncard is answering a question about his 6 month residence in LA in 1968.
A: Sunset Sound was about four blocks away, and we were about two blocks down from Heiderâ€™s on Cahuenga. Had I known, I would have been knocking on the doors and just asked for a job, but I didnâ€™t know where to start. There was a demand for someone like me in independent recording and they needed people, but I didnâ€™t know that at the time.
Q: This must have been around the time CSN were recording their first album, right?
A: Yeah, right around that time they were doing their first record with Bill Halverson but I didnâ€™t know that, and I was a bit unsure about LA, anyway. When my girlfriend, Ellen Burke came out to join me for Christmas, we got fearful of earthquakes and decided to go back to Kansas City by way of San Francisco. When we got up there, it was really more of what I was looking for. The air was cleaner, the musical atmosphere better — What a city!
During this trip, I saw The Grateful Dead for the first time on New Year s eve–(December 31, 1968) at The Fillmore. I had never liked their records very much. Seeing them live, I went â€œWoah! Whoâ€™s that groovy guy with the beard singing â€˜St. Stephenâ€™ and â€˜Dark Starâ€™?â€ It was great. I actually taped it. I had a little Norelco tape recorder with an SM 57. I guess I was one of the first tapers, it just wasnâ€™t a big deal back then, nobody minded. I wish I still had the tape; it was either stolen or lost. Anyway, the show left an impression on me. So did San Francisco. My girlfriend and I went back to Kansas City for a little while, I went back to KUDL/KCJC-FM and then that first CSN record came out.
Q: This is mid-1969, right?
A: Right. And I heard those voices and said, â€œMy god, they got a 16 track!â€. I could tell that they doubled or tripled the voices…plus the guitars, plus the bass, etc. So after 6 months in Kansas City, I decided that if I wanted to make records, I had to get back to the West Coast. I had to make a choice: East Coast, Woodstock, or West Coast, Bill Grahamâ€™s â€˜Wild West.â€™ I blew off Woodstock, flew to San Francisco, stayed with some friends, grabbed a phone book and opened it up to â€˜recording studiosâ€™, and I saw Wally Heiderâ€™s listed and thought, â€˜okay, this is only a few blocks away.â€™ I went over there and talked to a very nice guy named Mel Tanner who was the general manager, and he gave me a tour of the place. They had one studio operating, which was Studio C. Studios A and D were still under construction.