The Recording Connection
partners with some of the biggest names in the music industry to teach our students—none more so than Don Zientara
, who has been a mentor with us for many years. Producer, engineer and owner of Inner Ear Studio
in Arlington, Virginia, Don has played a major role in the Washington, D.C. music scene where funk and punk collide. A recent article from Rolling Stone says, “One man’s name is on almost every single landmark hardcore D.C. album: Don Zientara.”
That’s not an exaggeration: Don’s name appears on literally hundreds upon hundreds of hardcore and post-punk record credits, including Fugazi, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Scream, Government Issue
and Möbius Strip
Don’s recent honorable mention in the Rolling Stone piece stems from coverage of another major act with ties to his studio: Foo Fighters
. It turns out that frontman Dave Grohl
grew up in the D.C. area (not in Seattle, where many people mistakenly associate him), and in an earlier time, Don even recorded Grohl on drums with D.C. band Scream
. So when Foo Fighters came to Inner Ear to record “The Feast and the Famine” for their upcoming eighth album Sonic Highways
, it was something of a homecoming for Grohl. The band’s D.C. connection was recently featured in the HBO documentary series Foo Fighters Sonic Highways
(created by Grohl in tandem with the upcoming album), and Don was even interviewed by Grohl himself for the series.
Don tells RRF that having Foo Fighters in the studio, recording and filming for a week was “total madness in a good way. They were editing and recording, there was a makeup person, camera guys, the whole film crew and there was the band, the musicians and lots and lots of equipment.”
Although he’s got decades of experience, Don says he never stops learning. Even while recording with Foo Fighters (a band Don describes as “very professional” and great to work with), he says, “I got more stuff to add to my bag of tricks.”
Perhaps it’s this combination of skill, humility and openness that has helped Don become a legend in the rock/punk scene—a top-shelf engineer who is sought out by bands like Foo Fighters.
Despite the punk status, Zientara’s the first to say he isn’t exclusive to rock or punk. In fact, Inner Ear has recorded everything from Celtic folk and world to classical, jazz and blues and even spoken word.