Hollywood, CA, January 2022 – United Recording staff engineer/producer Johnny Morgan is helming a project with LA musical performance artist “almighty Opp.” NPR radio station KCRW describes the artist’s monthly public presentation as “a puppet show, psychedelic concert, social experiment, and religious service – all in one.” All puppets are handmade and the songs are written and performed by the founder.
“This is the first time he’s really recorded in a studio of this caliber,” explains Morgan. “His previous recordings are DIY, mainly singing and playing guitar with percussion and synth overdubs. This time he’s tracking with a band and capturing the live-ness of his work. For these sessions, I was inspired by Ricky Nelson, who actually recorded here at United in the 60s and 70s. We went for recording live as a band with our rhythm section of Mike Watt and Larry Mullins.”
Sessions at United featured almighty Opp founder, known only as “Jeffrey’s Human Persona,” on guitar and vocals. On bass was Mike Watt, an Iggy & The Stooges veteran, plus a member of numerous other bands. “The bass amp was actually pointed away from the rest of the room mics and turned pretty low and recorded with an upside down Neumann U47 FET,” Morgan adds.
Well-known drummer, Larry Mullins (aka Toby Dammit), is another rock mainstay and has performed with Iggy & The Stooges, Swans, Residents, Babylon Berlin, and many other groups. “Larry came in to bless us with his drums. Because he’s such a dynamic player and plays so musically, I really wanted to capture his total drum sound at once. For overhead mics, I used a pair of Sanken CO-100K high-resolution mics. I wanted to try something different and I had seen a few videos with George Massenburg talking about these mics. It came out awesome – it feels like you’re really there in the room.”
Filling out the drum sound, Morgan used an Audio-Technica ATM25 close in the kick and an upside down Neumann U47 a few feet in front of the bass drum. For the snare, a Shure SM57 was pointed at the bottom, while the top was covered by the Sanken overhead mics.
Jeffrey’s Human Persona arrived at the studio in full costume with his cast of puppets. Morgan says, “No one knows what he really looks like. Since everyone was playing live, we decided to just sit him a few feet in front of the drums. I used a Shure SM7 mic on his vocals and for his guitar, I used our vintage Sony C-55p mic.”
For 18 years, almighty Opp has appeared in L.A. at the corner of Elmwood and Western Avenues on the last Saturday of the month. His performances create a musical, carnival atmosphere with his cast of singing puppets with odd, misshapen faces, haunting eyes and sometimes disturbing voices and lyrics.
“I’ve been going to his street corner show for about three years now,” says Morgan. “It’s an interesting show because it’s constantly changing and you never really know what to expect each time you go, which has been one of the huge draws for me. Later, I woke up to an email one morning which led me on a scavenger hunt. After arriving at a mysterious location, a puppet appeared and conveyed the message that we were to make a professional record to match the caliber of Jeffrey’s music.”
See almighty Opp in performance here: