Most people closely associated with the Los Angeles punk rock scene already know who Geza X is. Those that don’t are certainly familiar with his work. The man born Geza Gedeon was in the producer’s chair for some of the greatest recordings in California punk rock history, including the Dead Kennedys’ “Holiday in Cambodia,” Germs’ “Lexicon Devil” and Black Flag’s “Six Pack,” as well as work by Redd Kross, the Weirdos, the Avengers… the list goes on.
X was introduced to the scene when, after hitchhiking up and down the coast with his dog and guitar and then returning to L.A., he started looking around for work as in a studio doing just about anything, including cleaning the trash cans.
“There was a studio in Hollywood right across the street from the future Masque — it was called Artists Recording Studio,” Geza X says. “I talked to the owner, said I had some gear and maybe I could set it up in the rehearsal room and help out. He gave me the opportunity to sleep on the floor so I was living there, basically. I’d repair equipment in the evenings, and do routine stuff in the daytime.”
When Brendan Mullen opened the world famous Masque club in ’77, Mullen gave him some office space and a place to stay. X started spreading the word that he was a record producer despite not really knowing what that meant. Before long, a Germ came a-knocking.
“Darby Crash said that he was making a record for Slash [the punk label], so could I produce them,” X says. “That was right before Don Bolles joined the Germs so Nickey Beat from the Weirdos was going to play drums on the record. They auditioned him in the men’s room. Darby was a cheerful kid with a death wish.”
When considering the many genre-defining records that X worked on, he picks the DK’s “Holiday in Cambodia” as his absolute favorite.
“I worked with them a lot more than some of the other bands,” he says. “[Jello] Biafra and I were excellent friends. The Screamers, for whom I was the soundman, went to San Francisco to play with them a lot. When I first heard the opening bit of ‘Holiday in Cambodia’ I was stunned. I would have done anything to record that song.”
Geza X would go on to record one album of his own, the criminally underrated and underheard You Goddamn Kids. But his greatest commercial success came with something of a surprise smash — Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch.”
“I knew it was a smash hit, so I recorded the whole thing on spec,” he says. “The studio that Josie Cotton and I built in our garage when we were dating, City Lab, I recorded it all there. At the end of the recording, Meredith brought in another woman who became her permanent manager. That woman brought Perry Watts-Russell from Capitol. He signed her on the spot, on that one song. That went double platinum, and is probably the biggest song I’ve ever done.”
Nowadays, Geza X spend most of his time working out of the Vortex, a multipurpose community center downtown in the Arts District. He still masters music for indie bands too.
“I’ve mastered hundreds of titles, and I did Posh Boys’ entire catalog, which is Social Distortion, Agent Orange, Redd Kross, Circle Jerks — I can’t even think of them all,” he says. “I still get a regular influx of songs from all sorts of European and Japanese bands. It’s a lot of fun. It keeps me current with the indie scene.”