Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

The Two Bit Recordings

Back in college, my friends Jed and Roz and I would break into a UCSC classroom in the middle of the night and set up a makeshift recording studio. Jed had the keys to the sound room, and no one really used the classrooms at night, so we could make a racket undetected. At the end of 1994, we banded together and called it Two Bit Studios. As in, we didn’t have two bits to rub together.

We recorded on my Tascam 4-Track. I’d bought it from a friend in high school. I kept the two hundred dollars I spent on it a secret from my parents. That small fortune was supposed to be saved for college. But some expenses are worth it, especially when you’re a high school senior with songs burning in your heart.

Looking back, man, I wish I’d taken the recording more seriously. But I guess everything looks more important in hindsight.

I recently pulled out that old Tascam and the smattering of Two Bit tapes I have left from that era. To my horror, the ol’ 4-track is dead. The power light just flashes pathetically, and all the output has an immense electrical hum.

But the tapes still work, and after jury rigging a tape deck to my old mac, I was able to lift some of the audio off one of those old tapes. First impression: Boy were we goofy. Second impression: Boy do I miss being goofy.

On a dark night in 1994 (November 19, actually. I know thanks to Jed’s note-taking), I recoded this song with two friends in an abandoned classroom in Santa Cruz. The sound quality isn’t all that hot, but the passion’s there. And that’s what Two Bit was all about it.

The song is called “Wake Up The Same.” It’s about several real people I met earlier that year. The first was a homeless man that got a job in my local laundromat. The second was a pregnant blackjack dealer I lost money to in Reno. And the third is someone I’m still trying to get to know.

Thanks for listening.

MP3: 5.8mb: Powazek-WakeUpTheSame.mp3

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Hi, I’m Derek. I used to make websites. Now I grow flowers and know things. I’m mostly harmless. More.