A photo-filled oral history of the DC-area music studio that brought us some of the most iconic recordings by Bad Brains, Bikini Kill, Fugazi, and so many more

In the late 1970s, Don Zientara—a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War—founded Inner Ear Studio in the basement of his home in Arlington, VA, using the electronics training he received from the army. Inner Ear remained in Don’s basement until its 1990 relocation to a larger space on South Oakland Street. Along the way, Inner Ear became best known for recording iconic DC punk musicians including Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Bikini Kill, Rites of Spring, Mary Timony, and Fugazi.

Composed by photographer Antonia Tricarico, The Inner Ear of Don Zientara is an oral history of not just Inner Ear’s recordings, but the role that Don played in creating one of the most welcoming and nurturing recording studios the world over. Alongside 250 photographs, this volume includes testimonials from members of Fugazi, Scream, Fire Party, Shudder to Think, Jawbox, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Dismemberment Plan, as well as musicians like Kathleen Hanna and Henry Rollins, among other notables.

In addition to DC punk bands, Don also recorded many other styles and genres, including Celtic folk tunes, harp music, Russian balalaika groups, political advertisers, and choral singers. The studio was also featured on Dave Grohl’s Sonic Highways television mini-series. The Inner Ear of Don Zientara pays tribute to this iconic studio, celebrating the man at the heart of this remarkable space.

Don Zientara is the founder of Inner Ear Studio.

Antonia Tricarico has been taking photos since 1997. She worked as a photo archivist for Lucian Perkins (a Washington Post Pulitzer Prize–winning photographer) and has collaborated with Tolotta Records, Dischord Records, Kill Rock Stars, and Youth Action Research Group. Her work can be found in private collections; in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History; the People’s Archive in the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, DC; the Special Collections in Performing Arts in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, University of Maryland; and the Collections of DC History Center, Washington, DC. Her photos have appeared in Photo Review, Guitar World, Kerrang!, All Music, Chicago Reader, the Oregonian, Razorcake, the Quietus, and Fretboard Journal. She is the creator of Frame of Mind: Punk Photos and Essays from Washington, DC, and Beyond, 1997–2017, also available from Akashic Books.

J. Robbins has been the singer/guitarist and principal songwriter in several DC-and-Baltimore-area post-punk rock bands since the late 1980s, most notably Jawbox, Burning Airlines, and Channels. He is also owner and operator of the Magpie Cage recording studio in Baltimore MD.

Joe Lally has played bass in Fugazi since the band’s inception in 1987. In 2003, the members of Fugazi decided to take an indefinite hiatus from recording and performing. Since that time, Joe has continued to write and perform solo material, accompanied by various musicians and friends. Joe has released three solo albums — “There to Here” (2006), “Nothing is Underrated” (2007), and “Why Should I Get Used To It” (2011).

Ron Winters is an avant-garde composer who started playing music at age ten. Winters has played in several bands including Branch Manager which released two albums on Dischord Records and toured with Fugazi. Winters’s new project, Demetrius Callaway and Friends, will release new music on Charles Roads Records in October 2023.

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Add to Calendar 20230916 America/New_York 3128 Greenmount Avenue Baltimore MD 21218 Don Zientara and Antonia Tricarico present “The Inner Ear of Don Zientara: A Half Century of Recording in One of America’s Most Innovative Studios, Through the Voices of Musicians” in conversation with Joe Lally (Fugazi) and J. Robbins (Jawbox)