For many locals, Andy Agenbroad, better known as "Andy A.," is a familiar name in Boise's music scene. He's played with multiple bands, among them Haggis, 8 Ball Break and LuciousFuzz. He's also runs Gigs Music on Orchard Road. Gigs, which carries the subtitle "The Musicians' Pro-Shop," is an independent music store that specializes in guitars, drums, PA systems and is a great place to mingle with local musicians.
But perhaps Andy A.'s most remarkable achievements have come as a recording engineer and producer. Andy A. owns and runs Project 7 Recording Studios in Boise where he's produced albums for bands, including Skeleton Key and local band, Low Fi. Building on years of experience—including studying at the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences and working at New York's famed Quad Recording Studio—his goal is to develop his reputation and continue promoting the Boise music scene. With a childhood spent on a quiet farm in southern Idaho, and in a family without much musical activity, it might seem odd that Andy A. would pursue a path filled with such an abundance of musical experiences. Nevertheless, Andy A. has emerged as a well-known figure in Boise's recording business.
A career in music seemed to be Andy A.'s plan since junior high.
"My musical life changed in seventh grade when a kid came up to me needing two bucks for lunch money," he said. "He had a Circle Jerks Group Sex record, which looked interesting to me, so I made the trade. That opened me up to more music and ideas."
Andy A.'s early attempts at forming a rock band—he was drawn to the guitar by the likes of Rush's Alex Lifeson—were classic cases of teen garage bands.
"A week after I got my first guitar, my best friend bought a drum set from a yard sale and we started making this awful music," he said. After finding the cheapest recording equipment he could, Andy A. experimented with microphones, employing techniques like covering them with towels. He then discovered his dad's old reel-to-reel machine and found a love for recording arts.
During his early years, Andy A. played in multiple bands and began honing his recording techniques, eventually charging people to record. Music had become a crucial part of his life as he carried his recording gear around, but couldn't afford a home, and often "had to sleep in the corner of a friends' living room, with just enough room for the equipment."
One of the remarkable aspects of Andy A.'s success is his lack of advertising. From the beginning, he's felt that his work should speak for itself. This seems to have worked for him. Due to the high quality of his work, Project 7 has become a popular choice for bands in Boise looking to record.
Many local musicians look to Andy A. as someone with both the experience and the ear to aid them in recognizing their music's potential. Being a recording engineer requires more than simply pressing the record and stop buttons. For Andy A., it's all about connecting with the band on both a personal and musical level.
"It's my philosophy that a recording engineer is an artistic interpreter for the musicians. I translate their music to a recorded medium for the masses to hear," he said. "For this to be effective and everyone to be happy, I get to know what they want, so that we share the same vision."
Andy A. has covered quite a bit of musical ground. He's recorded and produced multiple rock, punk, indie and metal albums and even stretched into the country and religious music realms. Whatever the style, Andy A. emphasizes the importance of searching for a perfect musician-producer match.
"Every recording engineer hears things differently and has different approaches to capturing the music and putting it together the way the band wants to hear," he said. "It's not always about the equipment, but rather the musical mastermind of the recording engineer and how they can squeeze out every last ounce of music."
The Project 7 Studio, which gets its name from a plastic 7-inch record Andy A. acquired at an art museum trash auction, boasts all the equipment of any commercial studio however, artists walk into a much different experience at Project 7 because Andy's A. philosophy toward the artists is very personal.
"I approach each session so that the band or artist that I have in the studio is always my favorite band. As far as I'm concerned I've always wanted to work with them," he said.
Starting with his lunch money trade long ago, Andy A.'s experiences have altered his musical life. Working in New York not only to expose him to new ideas and technology, but also the opportunity to work with famed producer Bruce Tergesen.
In Arizona, he also had the chance to work in the studio of Robert Scovill, the "front of the house" man for the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and Rush among others. Andy A. is excited about his future in Boise, and feels that the city offers great possibilities and fertile ground for music. Among other things, in the upcoming months he will be working on a project with members of Built to Spill, Queens of the Stone Age and Mondo Generator. Andy A.'s current band, Demoni, whose music he describes as "horror-movie-based surf-punk-abilly," also just released their brand new album, Dawn of Demoni.
For more information, visit projectsevenstudios.com.