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Nicholas Taplin

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Nicholas Taplin is a producer, musicologist and historian who lived in Santa Cruz from 1998 to 2003. His nearly 900 (!) hours of live recordings are slowly being added to his website, post-consumer.com. He recently moved to Olympia, WA to puruse a career in recording and to be around more, shall we say, motivated musicians.

Nicholas Taplin moved to Santa Cruz in the fall of 1998 to attend UCSC. Despite growing up in the Los Angeles area, or maybe because of it, he quickly fastened himself onto one of the thriving underground music scenes. Almost always standing in the back of the room with his recording gear and poker face, Nicholas oozed an aura of bold mystery and was the topic of many a quiet conversation during or after the rock show. While some in the scene found his presence suspect, others were more than happy to finally see concrete documentation taking place. The amount of live shows recorded by Nicholas during his first few years in Santa Cruz numbers in the hundreds, but only a scant few have ever made it from the master tapes to another format. Anyone privy to his aural freak-out's when inquiring about a recorded show learned to either not broach the topic again or to do so with extreme, measured caution.

Nicholas, always with ambition yet sometimes without the required focus to follow through with it, began to home-record some of the local bands who caught wind of his nice gear and nominal, or non-existent, recording fee. Most of these recordings made it to the mixing stage, but usually after the band had broken up or moved on (Cherry Ames, the Sucks, the Snaps, the Menses). Both Half Czar and the Loyal Sons and Daughters made CDR runs of their Taplin sessions, however, and a live Comets on Fire show recorded at the Saturn Cafe during the rookie Big Bang even made it to a label, although that particular release was marred by uneasy tension between band and recordist.

Always the talker, Nicholas could be spotted at shows or parties in prime form: Engaged in a long, dramatic monologue, towering over his counterpart, wildly waving his limbs about to underscore his opinions on, say, the difference between analogue and digital distortion or the movement of sound through a pre-1980's noise gate. Rarely getting a word in edgewise, musicians often left their Taplin talks unsure if the guy could really walk the walk. All doubt was put aside when Holy Mountain issued the subtle, nuanced debut of Zdrastvootie's eponymous long player in 2004, but even that band had added bass and vocals to it's sound by the time the record was released.

Nicholas, even with all his eccentricities and outgoing, unique flair, captured one of the Santa Cruz scenes in one of its highest points. No matter where the show, be it at the Rec Room, the Rio, the Saturn, Callahans, the Wired Wash, Crunkhowse, Brommer, Broadway, the Cube, Rigg Street or even the Catalyst, he was always there, first with his microphone and headphones and then pogo-dancing unabashedly whilst disrobing his many layers of jacket and flannel.

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