When Full Sail was founded back in 1979, the school only offered one program: a six-week recording workshop based out of a studio in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Randy Wachtler, a music composer with more than 30 years experience in the industry, was one of the first people to attend the program, and last week, he visited Full Sail’s campus for the first time since graduating. We sat down with him for a few minutes to hear about his memories from attending Full Sail more than 30 years ago.
Q: What originally drew you to Full Sail’s program in 1979?
A: I think it was the only thing that I could find at the time that actually allowed us to go into the studio and showed us how to record. Prior to that, I don’t think there was anything available that I knew of that [allowed for that].
Q: What memories do you have of the six-week program at Full Sail?
A: I thought it was the coolest thing to come into this recording studio and get to be involved. I played drums on our little class piece called “Take the A-Train,” which we recorded. It was really my first time being in a real recording studio. The teachers [including Full Sail President Garry Jones] were very professional. For a guy like me who had just played in bands, this was really great, getting to see how records were made and what the techniques were, like where you placed the microphones. I just remember thinking that was really cool.
Q: Did you originally want to do music production when you went to Full Sail?
A: I think I was one of those weird guys that was always thinking about other music. All of my friends were focused on the artists and the bands and the record companies, and I was kind of more like, “Okay everybody wants to do that.” So everybody was zigging and I wanted to zag. I wanted to find out about all the other music you don’t pay attention to: Where does that come from? So I became very interested in learning as much as I could about that.
Q: Is this your first time to campus?
A: Yes, and I’m absolutely blown away. It’s unbelievable to me that it went from that little 25-person group to a 192-acre campus with 37,000 graduates. Just to see the graduates on the walls here, the Hall of Fame, and where Full Sail has placed people is so, so impressive. I’ve always seen Full Sail ads, so I knew that it had to be growing, but I had no idea to this level.