Is music recorded by a physics major art or science? Yes.
Christopher McLaughlin ’04, said physics major, is a musician and self-proclaimed gearhead who has parlayed playing in a BC rock band into operating a much-sought-after sound recording facility. The 1867 Recording Studio, named for the year of its construction as a Masonic temple just outside of Boston, is where McLaughlin mixes imagination with expertise.
“Physics helped me understand why I wanted to do things like splay the walls of my control room 12 degrees,” he says, “and build bass traps that use friction to absorb low-frequency sound energy.”
McLaughlin joined three members of the Class of 2001—Ryan Heller, Rob McCaffrey, and Brad Parker—to form Aberdeen City, which cut its teeth on campus before performing over 200 shows nationwide from 2001 to 2009 and making an album and several EPs. After the band stopped touring, McLaughlin discovered the unused temple that he has transformed into what Boston Magazine has dubbed “Boston’s best recording studio.”
Local bands and artists often book McLaughlin’s cavernous space, but the lineup also includes those from New York and beyond—he recently recorded London-based Fanfarlo, for instance.
Below, McLaughlin provides some additional notes:
What is the most satisfying moment in your professional life?
No particular moment, just recording and creating.
In your personal life?
Every moment with my grandfather, Chet Perkins. It didn’t matter what we were doing, it was by far the happiest, most confident feeling one could ever experience. Spending time with my immediate family gives me a very similar feeling.
What is your best BC memory?
Hanging out with Mike Ticcioni, my freshman year roommate. Also, attending an antiwar protest in the Dust Bowl with Sociology Professor Stephen Pfohl and an amazing Jesuit who had spent time in Kurdistan. Those things are really what BC was about to me.
What is your next goal?
Clean up the studio. It’s a total mess.
What is one thing everyone should do while at BC?
Go to class!
How have you changed since graduation?
I hope I’m getting a better sense of what’s important in life.
Why did you decide to attend BC?
Because the campus was beautiful. I didn’t realize how much more I would get out of it.
What is the secret to success?
When I find out, I hope someone will still want to interview me, so I can share it with everyone.
Where is your favorite spot on the Heights?
I love the new architecture of Higgins Hall. Can I build a studio there?
What was your favorite BC class?
“Images of Deviance and Social Control” with Stephen Pfohl. Even when I was there, his classes were booked, but if you can get into it and are passionate, it’s worth waking up for at any hour.
What was your first job?
My first job was at a guitar store—big shock there. But my favorite early job was painting houses in the summer.
Where did you live freshman year?
How do you relax?
Relax? What’s that?
What would you do if you were BC president for a day?
Give everyone two days off. One day to party and one day to sleep.
What do you look forward to each day?
Nerding out with someone who cares about what they are doing. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a relatively large number of people who are interested in something, whether its software, microphone design, playing shows, writing, touring, or the direction of the music industry. The people who still do music do it because they love it, and I’m so lucky to be around people like that. Most of the people I’ve been fortunate enough to work with have something to say and bring a piece to the puzzle.
What was your favorite BC activity?
Besides the classes, I loved practicing with my bandmates from Aberdeen City. Those guys were all seniors when I was a freshman, and they were great guides to what mattered. Not to mention pretty good cooks. Ryan Heller used to make this stir fry, which was huge; Brad Parker was an amazing cook; and Rob McCaffrey taught me about Sicilia’s (which delivers a great Chicago-style pie—if any students are reading this).
What is something your friends don’t know about you?
Really, most of the above.
How much can you sing of the BC fight song?
Ooh, wrong guy.
Who would play you in the film version of your life?
Singer Marc Pinansky. Well, I would want him to play me in any film. The beard, the hair. I think I would appear much wiser!
What was the best meal at the BC dining hall?
I’ll put in a vote for the chicken parmesan sub (large, of course).