Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jon Santos, Studio 1176 Owner and Former Singer of Seven Wiser

Singer, songwriter, producer, photographer, entrepreneur- no matter what hat Jon Santos puts on, he strives for excellence.

Starting out as humble musician looking to take his band to the next level, Santos was able to make his dream come true when his band Seven Wiser got noticed by Wind Up Records . Yes, the same Wind Up records housing bands like: Creed, Evanescence, Seether, and Hawthorne Heights.

It was here that Santos was finally able to watch his band come to fruition touring with acts like Avril Lavigne and Shinedown. They also found success in song placement in video games and movies, especially with single "Take Me As I Am".

However, in the ever changing music industry, success doesn't always last. After getting dropped from Wind Up, they went independent. Disbanding shortly after, Santos tried his hand with another band, Fallzone, releasing an album entitled, Stronger. Not being able to capitalize on the previous success of Seven Wiser, Santos left the band aspect of music and set his sights on something new.

Acquiring studio knowledge from the countless hours he spent recording in bands, Santos embarked on his next journey in the music industry. Opening 1176 Studios , Santos offers everything to get a band off the ground. The studio features affordable deals for: recording, mixing, mastering, photography, and music videos. With an extensive client list and new opportunities in film and web shows, 1176 Studios is sure to capture some of the magic Santos experienced in the mid 2000's playing music.

First describe to me the success of your band Seven Wiser- with the Video game and movie features. How did it come about? What was it like?
Seven Wiser is starting to feel like a life time ago. I had hit #37 on the R&R charts with that band. I still here Seven Wiser on Pandora, and [sometimes] when I'm around an arcade and come across Nascar games. My label at the time, Wind Up Records, they put out a lot of movie sound tracks and the first one they put us up for was "The Punisher" album. Then came MVP Baseball and Nascar. Let me tell you a funny thing, about one of the songs on the MVP Baseball 2004 game, "Take me as I am". I was so pissed because somehow the wrong version got sent out from our label and I did not okay for it. The guitar solo is backwards (laughs). The A&R guy there and the mixer I guess, where messing around a bit and tried that but it was dumb and somehow ended up on it! Also, the Wes Craven movie "Cursed", came along just after we got dropped from the label. I'll tell you, it was great to have people come up to me saying, "Wow I heard you on this video game I was playing at home and became a fan." As we see from games like "Rock Band" today the video game world is huge in breaking bands or revisiting bands that today's kids may not have had the chance to ever hear if not for these video games today.

You've opened for some famous people, describe those experiences and how big did your fan base get?
Yes, we did some great shows with Avril Lavigne, Shinedown, Saliva, and Bowling For Soup.
Shows like that are just the best. Night after night playing in front of 1,000-15,000 people is just a dream come true for any artist. But the problem is, that the band never had a full chance to grow. We would pack out some great small clubs on our own, but by the end of the summer when our album hit stores, the label dropped us. We just had a lot of problems on the road, including having all gear and truck stolen at a hotel leaving us empty handed, and they didn't like our management. The label had some of there other bands hitting big right at that time and just dropped us and put a lot of the other bands on the back burner. I would say most of the bands I was on the label with at that time are gone as well.

While being signed to Wind Up records, what kind of opportunities arose for you?
Bigger shows, TV, radio interviews, and the chance to work on my own album. Unlike most bands out there, I co-produced and mixed 90% of my own album. That was one of the things that sparked my interest in working with other bands. I have been in and out of studios for years, interning and recording- I learned so much that it was great for this label to let me do my thing.

Why did you disband and did your next band Fallzone have any similar success?
Well, after Wind Up dropped us, we did try to get interest from other labels but at that time all hell had hit the fan in the music biz. Not many artists where getting good deals, money was getting lower, then bang, labels? What the hell is that? No more record stores, everything is 100% online and bands are distributing their music world wide on their own. With out a big push in promotion Fallzone never took off. At that point we where all at a new place in life, family life, bills and debt. I just hit that "getting older" wall. I just wasn't 18 years old any more with the strength and power to start over.

What is your involvement with Cineplex Studios and Life in the Pits?

I'm working with Cineplex Studios on a show called "Hollywood Girl", starring Courtney Zito. Courtney and I have been friends for years, and she asked me to write a theme song for Hollywood Girl. From that I started to provide other music for the show, sending in bands I work with and helping out with anything musical and film/edit when needed. I'll be out in L.A. Nov 7 for a week or so, helping out with one of the next Hollywood Girl episodes doing some filming and sound, what ever is needed. And With Life in the Pits, I cant wait to see how this show turns out. Executive producer Tony Fornataro called me up one night, and said he has been trying to track me down for some time and asked if I can write a short 40 second rock theme song for his up coming reality show "Life in the Pits". So over a weekend I sent him a final recording, mixed and mastered and it was up on their site ready to go.

What made you leave the band aspect of the music industry?
I had left my management just after we got dropped and they own the band name, so I lost everything that the name Seven Wiser had built over the years. I tried to get the word out that the band had changed its name and some new members are in the band. But we just hit every wall you can think of. I went broke, the clubs changed, nothing was the same as it was the first time around. The whole industry had just changed. Fallzone just never took off and never could get any interest. I spent my last few bucks trying to promote and record and hit the end. I had to walk away, and again like I said earlier, I just wasn't 18 years old any more. When we pulled the plug on trying, I was 29. Now, I'm 31 and trying to build some kind of life that still has music in it. It's just a drug I cant kick (laughs).

How has 1176 Studios help fill the void as a performer?
This is the amazing part. When I needed to fill in the part of me that was missing, I had gathered so much recording gear over the years I said, "Why don't I try to find a place and start to produce and mix." Working with other bands has kept me 10 times more creative than before because I have to fit myself in to other band's worlds to create the best product. It's like being part of 20 bands rather then one. There is a piece of me in every production from my studio, and rather than being lucked in one sound or element- I have produced rock, christian, reggae rock, pop, and it has all been amazing and a chance to learn more than before. Every band has an idea of what they want to hear from there music and it keeps me on my toes "Hmm how can I do that?"

Where did the name, 1176 Studios come from?
I was just looking around for a name, a word, whatever but everything I found was taken. 1176 is just the model of a classic studio compressor used on just about every album ever put out. So I was like what ever I'll just use numbers. I may change it over time if I find a word I love or something. I Have a few ideas but for now, 1176 Studios is building.

Was it your initial plan in addition to the production to have the photography, graphics, and video?
Yes, I wanted a one stop place for an artist. I'm a photographer, graphic artist and videographer. I shoot bands, models, head shots, and music videos any chance I get. I offer big packages to my artists that come in than most other studios, this way they don't have to hunt around and pay a crazy price for a photographer in the city or blow money and time on a person that doesn't really know what they are doing. I can't tell you how many times people try other guys, and come right back to me and say, "Oh my God, this recording, these photos, this mix, our video, are total shit." Then they say, "We should have just used you for everything, I wish we knew about you studio and other services before hand."

I saw some of the video you put out for the studio. Do you usually interview acts that record with you?

I have been trying to do studio videos of them recording, and some interviews when they are interested as well. I do anything that I can offer for a band to take out there and hit all of today's online media with. I don't want to just offer a gun, I want them to walk away with the gun and loads of amo to start hitting all at the same time. Today it is much more them just the music, people want everything. Fans want anything and everything they can find. People love studio footage and want to sit and look at a band interview and so on. I want the bands to know they can get it all here in one shot.

This is a good answer and a good thing you're doing. Do you think Seven Wiser could have had more success or stuck around longer had everything been so media oriented like it is now? Also, has sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc helped out the studio?
I think Seven Wiser would have been a big hit with more effort and development. They didn't back us with a music video or anything like that, and it's something I tried to do with Fallzone. I filmed us doing some recording, went out to LA and did a music video with my friends over at and my friend Courtney Zito produced it. I tried to film us hanging out, getting lost driving around NJ, acoustic rehearsals, anything I could. I think if more of that kind of thing was done with Seven Wiser along with big promotion and more touring, it would have been a hit.

Has Facebook and them helped? Hmmm, I guess I would have to say yes in some way. Facebook, Twitter and Myspace are just a way of showing artists what I do. I find that word of mouth seems to be the thing. I use Facebook ads, Google ad word, Craigs List, and really nothing every comes in. It's mostly all from meeting people. When they hear the product I give them, they book. I even get bands that record in other studios in the city or on the Island and they bring me their tracks and I mix that. Sometimes after hearing it, they book their next sessions with me.

What is your ultimate goal for the studio?
I try to keep people thinking that this is not just a "recording studio" it's a "production studio". You can have almost anything you need done with my studio, making your life easy: recording, mixing, mastering, photography, video, editing, color grading, and film scoring. I have high hopes for this and hope to team up with great people along the way to build on this.

What is the biggest rock star moment of your career as a performer, and what has been the best moment as a producer?
Well a few moments come to mind. Some of the best are when I would be on stage and I would hear the crowd sing back the song I'm singing. Sometimes fans would take us out for food after the shows. I think the rock star moment would be walking in a mall and a few people would stop me and say, "I just saw your show last night, can I take a photo with you?" Or every time someone tells you that they drove for hours to come see you. It's just amazing.

As a producer, it's when people want to work with you because they really love what you do. When I can hook up some of the bands I have produced with a small placement on a web show like "Hollywood Girl" that can give them free promotion and yet another thing to add to there resume, nothing makes me feel better. It's all great moments and getting better.

1176 Studios

1 comment:

  1. Jon is amazing! He is now a producer of Hollywood Girl too! We are no longer airing on Cineplex, you can see the show at or on facebook Great piece on him!


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