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Motor City Cribs

A peek inside Jim Diamond's Ghetto Recorders

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Published 10/7/2009

If you were looking to set up a recording studio — one where a chunk of culture-changing Detroit music would be created — you probably wouldn't choose the former Feltus Poultry site downtown behind the Fillmore.

The live room at producer Jim Diamond's Ghetto Recorders is a spacious, concrete-and-cinderblock space where the chicken-processing took place (laughs Diamond, "the recording area is the killing floor") and the control room was the freezer.

The front of the studio is a separate building circa 1880s. Diamond stumbled into the place in 1996, began making internationally applauded records and never looked back (or looked for another spot).

Back then, sculptor and Motor City Brewing Works owner John Linardos rented the spot and had a simple 8-track recording setup there. Telecommunications grad (Michigan State University) Diamond recorded Bantam Rooster's garage rock classic Deal Me In there in 1997, and slowly took over the "studio," filling it with all kinds of pretty and cheap vintage gear in the process. Since then, you'll recall, Diamond produced many local acts, including the White Stripes, the Go, the Electric Six and the Dirtbombs. He played bass with the latter until 2004, as well as with Rodriguez, Scott Morgan and Doop and the Inside Outlaws.

Diamond's recording style is well-regarded for its deep dynamics and analog integrity. Ghetto Recorders is homey, while Diamond's quick to get the right sound and a good take on tape. "It's gotta sound like a live band," Diamond says. "The way things are chopped up and made to sound perfect these days is stupid. A good record should be real and organic."

Another aspect of Diamond's easygoing demeanor is that he's been known to barter studio time for gear. So when Pat V and the Detroit 3 offered Jim a '76 Honda 750 motorcycle in return for some studio time, he didn't even have to think about it. "I've always wanted a motorcycle, and it fits perfectly in my lobby."


Jim Diamond will be playing bass with Scott Morgan at the Rationals CD release party Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Blind Pig, 208 N. First St., Ann Arbor. Learn more about Ghetto Recorders at ghettorecorders.com.

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