Larry Livermore (Lookout Records founder)
SPB: What studios played a role in defining “the Lookout sound” of the label’s early years?
Livermore: All the early Lookout releases were recorded in one of two studios. The first was Dangerous Rhythm, in Oakland, CA, run by Kevin Army and Matt Wallace (by the time we began working with Kevin in 1987, Matt was moving on and was working mostly with major label bands like Faith No More). All our early recordings with Kevin were done on a Tascam 8-track recorder. In 1988 or 1989 Kevin began renting time in other local studios when we wanted to have the option to record on 16-tracks. I can't remember if he ever upgraded the original Dangerous Rhythm studio to 16-tracks, but he probably did. Kevin continued to work with Lookout bands for many years, in many locations, and probably produced more releases on our label than anyone else, at least during the first ten years or so (this is a guesstimate; I haven't sat down and counted).
In 1988, we also began working with Andy Ernst, who ran a studio in San Francisco (later relocated to Hayward, CA in the East Bay) called Art of Ears. Andy already had 16-track capability when we began working with him, and later upgraded to 24-tracks, though I don't remember exactly when. Andy was the producer-engineer for Green Day's first two albums and first two 7" EPs, among many other projects. Until we began working with him, Andy had primarily specialized in hip-hop and r&b, so punk rock was somewhat of a new experience for him, unlike Kevin Army, who had played in punk bands before getting involved with the recording end of things.
It wasn't until 1990 or so that we began branching out into other studios, and that was largely the choice of bands, some of whom came from other parts of the country, and some of whom had already formed relationships with certain producer-engineers before coming to Lookout. But quite a long time, Kevin Army and Andy Ernst worked on the majority of Lookout releases.