Bob Ferbrache's Absinthe Studios has been buzzing along for the better part of three decades, recording the likes of Ian Cooke, the Fluid, the Swayback, Frantix and many others. Now, friend and fellow sound engineer James McElwee wants to tell Bob's story in a new documentary -- but he needs help, and has turned to the support of the community through Kickstarter.com.
"Bob's a guy I've gotten to know over a handful of years," says McElwee of his friend. "I only later realized I knew him through his work with bands like 16 Horsepower long before I actually met him." But their initial meeting and subsequent friendship didn't come through their shared passion for music -- Ferbrache is a musician, and both are sound engineers -- it came through soccer.
"I would see Bob at the British Bulldog on Saturday mornings for the Arsenal games," McElwee says of his first encounter with the producer. The two bonded over their favorite British soccer team, not knowing they also shared an even deeper interest: music.
About a year after coming together over this love of sports, McElwee was surprised to catch Bob at a Slim Cessna show. A short conversation with the fellow soccer fan completely flipped the script: McElwee learned about Ferbrache's extensive sound work and connected the dots, pinning him as the guy behind some of his own favorite 16 Horsepower recordings. This led to a discovery of Ferbrache's deep discography, and the idea for a documentary on his friend and his virtually incognito recording studio was born.
"I was getting drunk with Luke Schmaltz at the Rockaway Tavern a few months ago, and through our conversation, I learned Bob had recorded King Rat," McElwee recalls. "The Warlock Pinchers reunion shows had also just happened, and Bob had worked with them, too. I started making more connections and talking about the idea for the documentary with Luke. He thought I should quit my day job and focus on it."
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Schmaltz also jokingly suggested asking Jello Biafra to fund it -- but McElwee opted to create a Kickstarter for the Ferbrache documentary instead. Before the project made it to the fundraising stage, McElwee had to gather the courage to ask Ferbrache if he was even interested in his story being told.
"I really had to psyche myself up to ask Bob about it, and I wasn't sure if he was going to say yes," McElwee says, noting his hesitation. But in a recent phone call, Ferbrache gave the project a cool yes, and that was that.
With 23 days left in the month-long challenge, McElwee is over a third of the way to his goal of $5,000 to fund the project, a value that must be reached if the filmmaker is to see any of the money. He says people he doesn't even know have graciously donated since he set up the Kickstarter account less than a week ago.