The Remixer of "Shock Treatment (Don Mike Remix)"

For nearly a decade, the Don Mike remix of the song "Shock Treatment" has been passed along, fan to fan.  The song, featuring special effects, edits, extended drum intros, vocal effects and samples, has delighted everyone who heard it.  It was so well made that rumours circulated that the song was perhaps a "promotional" release, remixed and endorsed by 20th Century Fox or Ode records/Warner Brothers records.  Others felt that it was just a fan made remix, regardless of how professional it sounded.
Well, now the rumours can come to a rest because The Shock Treatment Network has found Don Mike (living in Hollywood) and he has agreed to an interview to tell us how Shock Treatment (Don Mike Remix) came to exist...a mix made by a fan, for the fans.  I sent him an email stating how much Shock Treatment fans enjoyed his mix.  Here was his reply:

Don Mike:  Hey there.  Thanks for all those awesome things you said about me.  I won't need an ego boost for a loooooong time.  LOL!  I'm totally blown away by the news that this remix has gotten so much attention.  I honestly made it for myself because I love the movie and the song so much.  I never had any idea it would be such a big deal.  I'm thrilled people have enjoyed it as much as I do.
Shock Treatment Network:  Tell us about your introduction to Shock Treatment (the movie) and how you liked it.  How do you like it now?
DM:  Well, I have to admit.  I hated the movie the first time I saw it.  I had heard the songs that were on the Rocky Horror Box Set and totally loved them.  I was so excited about the movie (and probably had way to high expectations) and found that I was very disappointed by it.  But the music really stayed with me.  I had to see it again and the second time I thought, "hey, this ain't so bad".  By the third time I was hooked.  The funny thing is that I've heard this exact same thing from several ST fans and have in fact recommended second and third viewings to people who have told me they didn't like it.
theshocktreatmentnetwork:  What made you decide to remix Shock Treatment (the song)?
DM:  I loved the single version [Richard O'Brien solo] but when I heard the movie version [with Richard, Pat and Nell] I got the idea that it would be really cool to mix the two together.  I also ended up with a very different version of the song, which sparked my creativity.  I had this surround sound processor for my stereo that would simulate surround sound by taking a stereo track, cancelling out anything that fell to the center of the mix and pushing the remaining sound out through the extra speakers.  The cool thing was that if you turned off the main speakers and only listened to this effect you would often get a strange sort of instrumental because the vocals are usually dead center in the stereo field and therefore the first thing to be dropped.  When you listen to this version, the guitar playing really stands out and you can clearly hear Nell singing the backing vocals in the chorous.  I realized that I needed to do something with all these ideas.  I had done a few extended versions of songs back when I was a college radio DJ by re-editing various existing remixes together or sometimes taking a short song and extending the parts that were already instrumental.  But I had never attempted something of this scale before.
theshocktreatmentnetwork:  What kind of thought process did you have for mixing the song.  In other words, you might have said, "I think it would be cool to extend the drums...and hey, it would be cool to overlap the two versions of the song...and samples."  Was there any ideas that you wanted to do for the mix, but couldn't do it technology-wise at that point in time (since you didn't edit on comnputer).
DM:  I was production manager of my college radio station, and I learned to make due with what I had.  When I made the mix I was working at a company that did production for adult phone services.  We had an 8-track studio where I would record and mix the phone fantasies (would you expect something borne out of Rocky Horror to have a less glamourous beginning?  LOL).  I knew I wanted to mix Richard's and Nell's vocals in the third verse, and to somehow use a few sections of that strange instrumental mix I mentioned earlier.  I also had my friend record the entire movie onto cassette from his stereo VCR so I would have a clean source for the samples.  I started with some experiments, like the drum loop.  I really liked the way that turned out so I used it for different parts of the remix.  There is only one thing that I wanted to do that didn't work out.  There's a really neat little guitar riff that comes during the line "open your heart to a smooth operator" which I always thought was really cool.  I wanted to do something with it but just didn't have any room in the mix.  It does jump out (if you listen for it) in my mix becuase it appeared in both the movie mix and the single one, and since I played both of them together it gave that little riff a really nice thick sound.  So I sort of got what I wanted.
theshocktreatmentnetwork:  What type of equipment did you mix it with and describe the remixing process.
DM:  I started by making the drum loop by recording the drum intro over and over and then editing them all together (this was the early 90's, before digital loops were something you could easily do at home).  I then dumped that to the 8-track recorder so I could layer in the samples for the beginning and the end of the mix.  I also used an echo effect on the drum loop so that it almost has a techno feel to it (which was just getting popular at that time).  I actually recorded it two times, once for the intro to the mix and once for the ending, since there were so many samples.  I wanted to make sure the samples were placed all over the stereo field so if you listen to the mix with headphones the samples jump all around you and don't just stay in the center.  I had originally called it "Shock Treatment (Janet's mix)" because almost all the samples center around Janet.  That was sort of planned, just because I love the fact that the name "Janet" is said so many times in the movie.  You could make a drinking game out of it.  Next I recorded the single version, that instrumental I mentioned earlier and the movie versions all side by side on the 8-track.  This way I could mix in and out of them as I needed.  I had to change the tape speed to synch up the movie and single versions because they both run at different speeds.  I settled somewhere in the middle of the two for my mix.  Finally, I mixed all the parts separately onto a 1/4 inch reel to reel and then edited all the parts together.  Part 1 is the drum loop with the opening samples (notice the intro to the "Overture" just before the drums start?).  Part 2 is the first half of the song with the movie and single versions mixed together.   Part 3 is what I call the psychedelic section.  I got this by screwing around with the guitar solo in the single version, putting it through some wild echo filters and fading it in and out while the instrumental version kept the beat going.  And truth be told, the "real live wire" sample here was totally an accident and it really ended up being one of the best parts.  Part 4 is the chorous exactly as it is in the instrumental only with a little chorus filter and the Farley sample (which I had to put in there somewhere).  Part 5 is the drum loop again with the famous "mexicans" speech. This came out of either the intro or the ending (I don't remember) where I had too many samples and not enough room to stick them in.  I decided to stick this little gem right in the middle of the song and it worked much better that way.  Here's a nifty bit of trivia for you.  Have you ever noticed the little orchestra hit that plays under Janet and Emily during this part?  It's the very last note of "Anyhow, Anyhow" played on a sampler.  I wanted to include the very first and very last musical pieces from the movie in the remix.  I'm such a nerd.  Part 6 is the actual guitar solo and ending of the single version.  And finally, Part 7 is the ending tape loop.  When I added this to the 8-track I had it start shortly before the single version ends so that it would sound like the song is just supposed to keep on going and not stop there.  The part about the bird that ends the mix was the suggestion of a friend of mine.  I'm glad she suggested it because I think it wraps up the whole thing nicely.
theshocktreatmentnetwork:  How long did it take you to make it?
DM:  The acutal dubbing and mixing took three days to do.  Luckily, my job was really easy and there was a lot of downtime, so I was able to spend big chunks of my day working just on this.  I think it's funny that I did the whole thing on the clock.  The company has since gone under so I can say that now, LOL.
theshocktreatmentnetwork:  Were you initially happy with the outcome? Are you still happy? (Artists are their own worst critics).
DM:  Honestly, I love it.  I worked very hard on it and did several mixes to the 1/4 inch tape before making the final edit.  I didn't consider it to be finished until I was 100% satisfied.  I didn't make it for anybody else, I made it for me because there wasn't a Shock Treatment remix and I wanted to hear one.  I gave it to people because I enjoyed it so much and was very proud of it.  And the friends I played it for enjoyed it.  So I felt that I had done a good job.
theshocktreatmentnetwork:  How many copies did you send out?  How did it end up being in so many other peoples hands and how do you feel about that?
DM:  I gave a handfull of copies out to friends.  I think it went on a bootleg compiliation somewhere.  I remember giving some to cast members at a special performance my friend Matt put together at a theater in Michagan.   I would guess the biggest culprit is my friend Betty [Thomas].  Everyone who is anyone in the cult of Rocky Horror knows Betty so I'm sure she had a hand in spreading it around somehow.  I'm thrilled that so many people have heard it.  I like to share the things I have so I was always happy to make a copy for anyone who asked for it.
theshocktreatmentnetwork:  Over the years, have you heard about the rumours and curiousity of your mix?  If so, why haven't you stepped forward?
DM:  I had no idea.  This is the first time I've heard anything about this.  It's kind of overwhelming.
theshocktreatmentnetwork:  What year did you make the mix?
DM:  It was sometime during 1993.  Our cast was performing Shock Treatment for Halloween and I know it was done around the time of  the show because we were all really into the movie at the time.
theshocktreatmentnetwork:  Do you still have the first original copy of? Most fans have are generation copies that have poor sound quality usually, from being a "copy of a copy of a copy..."
DM:  You know, I had made a compilation CD of Rocky Related stuff for myself and a few friends by sending a tape to a service that made CDs to preserve old records and such.  Of all the things on that compilation, I made it a point to put the ST remix on a cassette directly from the 1/4 inch tape and that cassette went into making the CD so it is the cleanest version possible.  I'll be more than happy to burn you a copy.
theshocktreatmentnetwork:  Did you remix any other Shock Treatment or Rocky Horror songs?
DM:  I did a remix of Little Nell's Beauty Queen which came out really nice but sadly I only made myself one copy that is really worn now.  I'm going to make a wav file out of it and do my best to clean it up.  I would like to totally redo it on my computer now that I can, but I need a good digital copy of the original 45, because the vocals and the music are in separate channels.  I have the 45, but I don't have a turntable right now.  My other mixes include a stereo mix of "Sword of Damocles" that features an instrumental break in the middle, a stereo mix of "Planet, Schmanet, Janet",  and a version of "Once in a While" with Janet's dialogue in the empty spaces between verses.  They were fun but not anywhere near as involved as the Shock Treatment remix.
theshocktreatmentnetwork:  Now that computer technology has advanced for fans to remix on computer, do you currently mix songs (Shock Treatment, Rocky Horror, or anything!) on the computer?  If so, I'd love to compile a CD of Don Mike Mixes and offer it exclusively at The Shock Treatment Network.
DM:  I just recently did a few mixes of the Suzanne Vega song "Tom's Diner".  I would love to do a brand new remix of Beauty Queen in addition to the one I mentioned earlier, with just Nell's vocals put to modern club dance music. I would also like to do something with "The Time Warp" and incorporate the "Transylvanian Jam" from the end of the movie into the mix.  I'll be happy to send you copies of everything I have.  These days I've been acutally scoring adult films.  I've written original music for "G-String Vampire", "Vampire Obsession" and "Witches of Sappho Salon", all from Seducion Cinema.  And most recently I've been working with the Tom of Finland Foundation on an animated safe-sex PSA that will bring Tom's art to life.  We are hoping to eventually turn this into a full-length animated feature film.  I also sing and write songs and want to start a gay punk band.
theshocktreatmentnetwork:  Well, Don, that's all the questions I have.  As Betty Hapschatt would say, "Thank you so much, Don Mike, for a wonderful interview!"
DM:  This has been an absolute pleasure (hee hee)!!!  The one thing I love to do the most, next to writing and mixing songs, is to talk about writing and mixing songs, LOL.  Take care and please keep in touch.  Keep Groovin'.  Don Mike.

NOTE: You can hear Don Mike's remix of Shock Treatment when you become a member of The Shock Treatment Network by clicking HERE!