Walter Sobczak

Analog Specialist

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While specializing in biochemistry at University of Toronto, Walter Sobczak began his career in music in the early 1980’s as bassist for the post-punk band Sturm Group. The band performed live extensively, also opening for artists such as The Cult, Siouxsie and the Banshees, John Cale, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Flipper, Killing Joke, and The Cramps. Bands that opened for Sturm Group included Change of Heart, Chalk Circle, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet (first ever show, on a dare), and The Cowboy Junkies. The band was #1 in CAPAC’s collective reading of Canadian College Radio Stations in 1986, and received favourable reviews in CMJ New Music Report, Rockpool, The Record, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and England’s New Musical Express. Sturm Group’s second album achieved British distribution with Red Rhino/the Cartel and US distribution with Rough Trade. One of the band’s songs was included in the soundtrack for Bruce McDonald’s Canadian cult film classic “Roadkill”. The band called it a day in 1989.

While this was going on, Walter began his studio career in a busy downtown Toronto studio, Wellesley Sound Studios, as an assistant engineer. Experiences included being an assistant engineer on The Dirty Dancing Soundtrack album, which sold an astounding 32 million units, was the second highest selling album of all time at its time, and to this day still remains one of the world’s all-time top-selling records. Walter moved on to become an engineer at the same studio, engineering Maestro Fresh-Wes, Michie Mee, Dream Warriors, Barenaked Ladies’ Yellow Tape, and Fifth Column (selected 25 years later in Pitchfork Magazine in "The Story of Feminist Punk in 33 Songs"). From the same Fifth Column LP “All-Time Queen of the World”, Walter engineered and produced “Like This”, which was included 30 years later in the New York Times in the May 2019 music feature “Riot Grrrl United Feminism and Punk. Here’s an Essential Listening Guide”. Walter Sobczak engineered several songs on the Billy Bryans production The Gathering, an album compilation which won a 1992 Juno Award for World Music Album of the Year in the inaugural year of the category.  He engineered and produced/co-produced albums by Scott B Sympathy, Dream Warriors, Organized Rhyme (which was fronted by future star comedian Tom Green), and another album with Fifth Column (which garnered a Single of the Week honour in England’s Melody Maker).

In the early-mid-nineties, Walter co-founded, co-wrote, engineered, mixed and produced the Canadian recording artist Raggadeath.  Following the band’s first independent video entering at heavy rotation on Much Music, Raggadeath signed with Virgin Music Canada. Raggadeath’s first live performance was televised nationally at the Much Music Video Awards and the song "One Life" was nominated for Best Alternative Video at the MuchMusic Video Awards.  Raggadeath's second album was released on Attic Records in Canada, Roadrunner in the Netherlands, TWA in Australia, and Edel in Germany.  The band broke up in 1997.

Having worked at most of Toronto’s large studios, Walter settled into The Studio at Puck’s Farm. The studio was built and designed by owner Frazier Mohawk (aka Barry Friedman). In late 60’s Los Angeles, Frazier Mohawk was an influential figure, assembling and managing Buffalo Springfield, working for Elektra as A&R, and also producing records, including Nico’s Marble Index, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Kaleidoscope, The Holy Modal Rounders, “Spider” John Koerner & Willie Murphy, and Essra Mohawk. The acoustics of the studio were inspired by the classic rooms of Los Angeles.  Frazier Mohawk knew that a good room is one of the most important components of the recording art.  The studio was built with 150-yr-old elm, ancient drumlin stone and 28’ high ceilings.  The room was magnificent for live-off-the-floor and “in concert” recording.  Walter was Chief Engineer at The Studio at Puck’s Farm 2001-2012.  The studio specialized in analog recording.  Albums Walter Sobczak engineered or engineered/produced at The Studio at Puck’s Farm during this time include Art of Time Ensemble featuring Sarah Slean, the Supers, Eastern Magnetics, Ryan Oliver (CODA Magazine - Top 10 Jazz CD Releases of 2007), Rattlesnake Choir, Jenn Grant, Autorickshaw, and Avi Granite (DownBeat Magazine - Best CDs of 2008). 

Walter Sobczak currently works out of Revolution Recording, a very well-equipped and well-built studio in the tradition of the classic rooms, complimented by much of the same superb analog equipment and tape machines.  Revolution Recording is located in downtown Toronto.

© 2017 Walter Sobczak