Beginning in the early ‘90s and operating out of his Oak Park basement, former Angry Red Planet guitarist/singer Tim Pak became integral in helping to document independent music in Detroit. A truly proletariat operation, Woodshed Studio (situated in a former wig shop by the mid-‘90s) was a place where anyone—literally anyone—could show up and make a record on a minimum wage budget. It is impossible to enumerate the number of on-the-fly demos recorded at Woodshed, yet some of these economical recordings became important artifacts of the city’s various music scenes. Punk bands like Current, The Suicide Machines, Small Brown Bike, and Mustard Plug produced work at Woodshed, as did a number of major label-bound rock acts whose Pak-recorded demos landed them deals. Tim recorded swing bands and bluegrass; he recorded the satanic rapper Esham and he recorded random Grosse Point eccentrics burning through their inheritance in an effort to express their musical genius. If you wanted to document your music, Tim was there to help you, and whether one preferred to agonize over a performance or run sloppily through a set of first-takes, Tim made it happen. It was, truly, a studio for the people in a time before home recording was an option for most.

Thoughts of Ionesco tracked every note they’d ever record (1996-1999) at Woodshed, producing four albums in three years; each of which, they like to note, cost less than $500 to record, mix, and master during the kinds of marathon sessions when a client could really get to know Tim at his best. If one was among Tim’s most very favorite clients, he might even take you out fishing on his inflatable boat, voyages during which no one seemed to catch anything but a buzz. Still, Tim remained something of a mystery to most, rarely attending shows (but for a sabotaged attempt to record a TOI live album) and known mostly as the friendly, witty punk rock elder who met you in the alley behind his cramped studio to help you load in the gear.

Sometime in the early 2000s, Tim began venturing out as part of a roots act The Saltminers. Coinciding with this, he began writing songs inspired, in part, by his love of artists like Pete Seeger, a turn toward the most elemental type of acoustic musical expression not entirely surprising if one knew the raw, no-bullshit engineer-turned-tunesmith. He released an album entitled Dirt Work and a split album with friend/client Sean Madigan Hoen, Killed Our Darlings, before selling Woodshed and moving to Virginia, where he became absorbed in the local bluegrass scene. For a time, Tim travelled North America in his station wagon—occasionally with Hoen—playing literally anywhere that would have him. He was said to busk on occasions, and disdained motels, opting instead to bed down in the back of his Ford. This wanderlust seemed existential, and Pak remained unmoored until finding new purpose in running an animal rescue. Of course, he still occasionally fishes and writes tunes. Rumor has it that he does not prefer to be asked about long-lost master tapes, having gone to great lengths years early to connect clients with their left-behind ADATS and ¼” reels. His hands, and ears, are busy attending to the neglected beasts of the Old Dominion.

Here is a short, far-from-complete list of bands Tim recorded at Woodshed:

  • Current
  • Keleton DMD
  • Empathy
  • Empire States Games
  • Telegraph
  • 7,000 Dying Rats
  • Cromwell
  • Small Brown Bike
  • Inside Five Minutes
  • Wallside
  • Paradise
  • Ancourage
  • Taproot
  • The Atomic Fireballs
  • Leaving Rouge
  • Shag Van Club
  • Rice Traitor
  • Mainspring
  • Bog Blast
  • Nick Schillace
  • Esham
  • Mustard Plug
  • The Suicide Machines
  • Social Scare
  • Malakai
  • Heads Will Roll
  • Bang Bang
  • Posthole
  • Cloud Car
  • Glyder
  • Chelsea’s Gone Under

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