Robert Xeno : My Story
My work experience crosses many corporate and blue collar lines. From Boeing and Federal Banking application development to manufacturing systems audit and analysis, I have run the gamut.
My graphic arts background as well as being a Master fine art printer, leads me to be meticulous in my craft, and value added in my approach and determination.
My music career was a journey in epic extremities. From my first Hollywood session with Smokey Robinson and Gary Bell, to Producing and Engineering The Havelinas in my mobile truck (Haji Mobile) for Elektra’s 40th Anniversary Album, Rubáiyát .
Whatever the project, I bring needed inspiration, understanding and best practices to the table. My skill set runs deep and continues to grow with new and updated processes and methodologies.
I love the music industry and especially, the “taking care of the artists” aspect. My greatest joy throughout my Hollywood days was being an assistant engineer because of the personal caretaker interaction with such greats as Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Billy Idol, The Gap Band, Greg Allman, The Wrecking Crew, and so many more.
I look forward to the opportunity to share my experience and bring my insight and understanding to your studio.
- 35+ years of music industry recording studio experience.
- 10+ years assistant engineer in Hollywood.
- Owner of several recording studios
- Owned the Haji Mobile Unit, 20 Gold and 2 Platinum albums and one Saint.
- Currently own the former Skyelabs Mobile Unit.1962 Greyhound Bus (Bob Skye, The Plant Sausalito)
- Worked several FOH European Tours, numerous FOH American Tours, and an uncountable number of 7 day a week live bar and club band circuits.
- 7 years managing the Billy Blues BBQ Blues Club in Houston, TX. Intent was to purchase but the federal government had other ideas for the previous owners.
- 3 years co-owner of the Reseda Country Club (Formerly Jim Rissmiller’s Country Club) .
- I began as a graphics artist and grew several print industry shops to successful fruition. I am a Master Printer (Serigrapher), I have worked on editions for Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Rauschenberg, Kruschenik, Vasarely, Jurgen Peters, and many, many more. I printed the first pallet of Fasson vinyl bumper sticker stock, managed projects for IBM (Selectric Typewriter, early 1970s Computer panels and other industrial, as well as art related projects).
- 22 Years computer related projects, I have included my application development resume as well. I have successfully run my Computer Apps business for 22 years. Typical income range of $175k to $200k
Boeing, Federal Banks, Insurance and Financial institutions relied on my ability to deliver what I say I will deliver.
- Maintained a high profile Hollywood work ethic. If there was work to be done I was there doing it.
- I would typically pull minimum 12 hours a day, and once I got my bearings, often would work for days at a time. I slept, rather than using. I would go in and finish a Gap Band session, after which they would take me to Total Experience and I would work with Morris Rentie Jr, Dorian, Billy and Baby Gap, or Yarborough and Peoples, etcetera. I worked what I am still to believe, were the first two Rap sessions on the west coast.
- During the 80’s, I made many demos for up and coming bands. I had very good rapport with the bands, studio owners and managers, as well as label people. I delivered many demos that led to signings.
- I have also done many movie and video soundtracks. Movies like Moscow on the Hudson, Willy Nilly, Vice Versa. My music video resume also includes artists such as: Ozzy Osborne, Tina Turner, The Havalinas, David Lee Roth.
- I was part owner of the Reseda Country Club in Reseda, CA. A 20,000 sq ft club where we held concerts,Albert King’s last live performance, ESPN and Telemundo Boxing, and countless videos: En Vogue, LL Cool-J, Mich Jagger, Macho Camacho, The Ruellas Brothers.
- For the last 10 years I have been owner of Earth Hertz Records with our Universal Music Group Distribution deal. We have released about 20 projects. Although none to critical or financial acclaim, all were accepted into the Grammys first round process.
TECHNICAL SKILLS and SITUATIONAL EXPERIENCE
Timothy Eaton gave me my first opportunity in Hollywood. Tim is a great guy and to this day I recount the tale and my huge and unimaginable appreciation of him and Paul…. I can’t imagine my life’s story without them in it.
He sent me to Paul Ring’s studio, Golden Sound at 7000 Santa Monica Blvd. This was previously Radio Recorders. A huge complex in the 1940’s and also the first stereo recording released in America was recorded there. Don Petty, myself, and Jim Bailey replaced the old Harrison console and brought in a Neve purchased from Brian Ahern. I believe it came out of Emmy Lou Harris’ mobile unit. Paul Ring’s partner was Rick Perrott, and then latter as the studio became Rock Steady, Timothy Eaton. The projects these two brought in changed my world and impacted the music world in moving ways.
I spent 2 plus years at Golden Sound (later changed to Rock Steady)
Smokey Robinson, Gary Bell (later President of MCA records), Whitney Houston’s first album, Mariah Carey’s first album, Clive Davis, Tommy Mattola, Nina Simone, Greg Allman, The Gap Band, The Wrecking Crew J many dates with the greatest session players in the world, ever.
I am in the process of transferring all of my session dates and artists to electronic format and will be able to provide a who, what, when, where for the 56,000 hours I spent making records in Hollywood.
Don Petty, my mentor and dear friend for life, RIP was head of maintenance at Wally Heider Studios in Hollywood. Don took me under his wing very early on in my career and I learned so much from him and the people he introduced me to.
Wally Heider, Bernie Grundman, Bob Ludwig, Kevin Mills (Larrabee Studios West Hollywood), Brian Ahern, Adam Biedlund and Mike Kerns, the list is endless. Many of these people will or will not remember me as I knew my place in the 80’s with the old guard. I kept my mouth shut, didn’t do their drugs and never went for a beer after the session with them. I was there for business and learning. I got what I came for.
I accompanied Don on all of his maintenance and studio rebuilds throughout the 80’s. Pulling Harrison consoles, putting in and rebuilding Neve, Mci. Every imaginable type of studio rebuild situation, relaxed and under extreme pressure.
I assure you I did NOT look Prince in the eye whilst he had all studios at Larrabee booked for privacy. One glance could mean your job. And although I did not hold tenure at Larabee, Don had offered me the position, but I had my eyes set on restoring the Haji Mobile Truck, and I suggested Peter Arata, and recently I found out that Sylvia Massey was also hired in the spot I turned down. Life has a funny way of working out for everyone.
You’re welcome .
From 1987 on I assisted Don in the rebuilding of my old Haji Mobile Unit. I loved that truck. We put many, many pennies into its restoration.
24 track Frank De Medio Console. Barry Gordy Mastering EQs (Don created them mil spec for Barry).
3M 16 track, Langevin, Melcore, Pultec, original 1176s etc. And a couple of Ampex 440 (b and c)
I was trusted with the very best and most difficult of clients. Sly Stone ( oy J ), Suge Knight (there were always guns, blunts before they were called blunts), The Wailers (sans Bob this was after his passing), War, Mark Davis (Motown Producer), Fred Wessley and the Horny Horns, The Funk Brothers (Jack Ashford, James Jamerson and Eddie Brown),The Silvers (Leon Silver was not one to be taken lightly and yes he loved to show his guns) For some reason a lot of the biggest Hollywood producers carried, often laying them on the console for intimidation factor, I admit to having more a than a couple guns pointed in my direction demanding a certain effort be put forth. I also admit to showing no fear and always doing wehat was right for the studio and the artist first. Some love and respect was garnered in some cases and a modicum of contempt in others. Both are lovely stories to tell.
I did multiple sessions for Motown (full list of names to follow), 8 years of Motown repeat sessions.
Total Experience Records, Lonnie Simmons, would often call on me to manage the studio (5 rooms all fully active 24/7) when he would be called out of town.
Fiddler Recording (where I first met Timothy Eaton) with Max Norman (Ozzy Osborne), Barry Gibb (this is a story for the history books), Malice, Missing Persons, The DeBarge Brothers, Dinah Shore, Brian Mackay. Many times Mike Clauson, the owner, would disappear and we would be left rudderless. Leaving myself and Peter Arata to fend for ourselves and keep the studio running. It was in those times we missed the level headed guidance and assured cool collected control of Timothy Eatons managerial skills. It was at Fiddlers I first met Tim. It was the 80’s the Hollywood studio landscape was shifting and changing. Analog was making room for digital. I still remember the first 2 Yamaha DX7 keyboards from Japan. One went to Quincy Jones studio and one came to Golden Sound / Rock Steady for us to make the demo. Exciting times. Did I mention working with Quincy Jones , a few times, one memorable session was The Wynans. Such incredible talent all around back in the day.
And of course my memories of working with John Doe and Exene Cervanka and Billy Zoom and DJ Bonebreak in the band X will always trump every tale.
Countless times as the assistant or even the engineer, I was left to maintain, manage any given studio for days at a time. Although my official title was not studio manager, I had the keys, I had the responsibility, I had the control and I kept the bookings flowing and the clients happy.
I was one of Paramount Recordings very first engineers. Adam Beilenson and Mike Kerns, were instrumental in my demo and early full engineering projects. I was the lucky bastard to engineer Kim Fowley’s first session after being released from prison (him not me J). He was, how should I say, more out of control than he was before he went to jail. Which is why Adam and Mike trusted me to handle the session.
Curtis Blow, oh my goodness there are so many sessions at Paramount. A full list is in the making.
Track Records, Trax Recording, Rust Sound, Again this list will be fulfilled over the next few weeks. I worked every day and night for over ten straight years.
Additionally I did live shows in every venue in the LA area. The Roxy, Madame Wongs, FM Station, Club Lingerie, The Whiskey a Go Go, The Troubadour, The Palladium, Coconut Teaser, Jim Rissmiller’s Reseda Country Club. Again an endless list.
I did all 8 shows with Brian Setzer and His Orchestra during his run up to being signed. Previously I had done FOH for Stray Cats, Billy Idol, The Havalinas, memory fails me. But I cannot fail to remember my work with Malice and the great Max Norman. I am one lucky guy. I can’ wait to check my session and gig date logs now.
I have vast experience.
The entire new Boeing 787 project ($10 billion on the line) waited on me to create the application they could not start the program build-up without.
I have experienced every imaginable feeling of euphoric success, and also devastating anxiety to complete an impossible task on time and under budget.
I have been working my way out and looking for opportunity.
I will just posit here that I absolutely love being part of a team. This gives me both a structure to support, and a purpose that flows outward throughout the team. The clients recognize the love, they recognize and take note of the attention to detail, the care with which they are welcomed (your 1979 style, I have been a client) and handled throughout the project, and the determination to help them create a successful project.
(As mentioned, a complete session log is in process and will be accomplished soon Dates Times Artists etc.)