Gimme Summer Vacation
I'm not real hip to what's been going on in the Mid City this month because I haven't been around much - mentally or physically. I spent the last several weeks preparing to record a new CD, and I'm still buzzing off that trip. Here's the quick lowdown of the most enjoyable week I've had in years.
Like many others, I'm an advocate of the "support your hometown" theory. I tried for months to secure a kindred producer for this project, but I've discovered that Louisville mover-shaker types are just too doggoned busy. As fate would have it, though, I hooked up with an L.A. acquaintance who was actually eager to record me. Having worked with him in the past, Albert is one of the few music business dudes I've ever felt truly "un-screwed" by. The plan was to record in his Saugus, Ca. Studio, after carefully pre-producing the rough tracks and laying down some advance tracks. My guitar player, Steve, was going, along with his wife, Carol. The drummer, Mark, was already there. After all, we would only have seven days. Most bands take seven months to record an album. Or, like in the case of Days of the New, seven years (Ha...joking)! So that was the plan.
My first fear flash happened one day when Albert called me on his cell phone to discuss the songs. He had e-mailed me production notes with phrases like "bootsie beat" and "dist. verb vox," yet I had no clue what his jargon meant. I didn't think I wanted my vocals distorted, though. Due to working overtime, he would have no time to lay any advance tracks down. The last thing he said that day, before losing contact driving into a tunnel was, "I was hoping you'd send me something a little poppier - like Walkin' on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves." Then there was static.
My friend Tracy was gonna watch my cat for the week, but she moved to Houston all at once. The drummer caught his hand between a truck and a brick wall but assured me it should be okay in a few days. Turns out it was fractured. I got a bad toothache. Since I used to live in L.A., I was able to make an appointment with a dentist who really knew my mouth. Ah, the days of health insurance!
Departure time was 7 a.m. on a Tuesday, so I just stayed up all night after working at Maier's Tavern 'til 4. Just when I was unwillingly into a ten-minute pseudo-sleep, Steve loudly cop-knocked my quiet abode and came in slamming doors and barking like a battalion leader. He started the day in a grouchy way. I found out later that he and Carol had already been fighting. It was her birthday and the first thing he said to her that morning was "You're gonna wear THAT?" Dumb Butt.
Eight hours later, I was visiting my Beverly Hills dentist, estranged. She had a good time making fun of my Kentucky accent. She also charged me two hundred dollars, but it was a real secure feeling, her knowing my mouth and all. I snuck a look at my chart. The last entry was in 1994. It said "Sent collection agency, $500." I had to pay cash. That dentist has great teeth, though. She also has her pilot's license, her own plane and pictures of wild animals on the walls that she took herself. Some people are such over-achievers.
Work began right away. Mark didn't learn 'til a few days later that his hand was actually fractured, not that that would stop him, but we got some major beats out of him before the psychological repercussions of a damaged thumb shelf set in. Thumb shelf.
Coffee, diet coke and time restraints set the determined pace we pursued, but the hands-down twitchy motivator was FRAPPUCCINO!! Starbucks, man. We worked daily from 9 a.m. 'til 3 a. m., and then some, I think. Albert has a genuine coke machine that dispenses beer for a mere fifteen cents. Although I could not imbibe (must . . keep . . edge..), it was fun pulling them out for others. Vienna wienies, trail mix and lowfat breadless bologna sandwiches were pretty good. Sometimes we'd make a run to McDonald's or order a pizza.
I ripped a contact while I was there. Mark was showing me how excited the Old English Sheepdogs got if you run in the yard, and one of 'em bit him. He was limping while elevating his arm. It was funny. That Sheepdog variety is sure smart, though. These dogs could nose a door open while herding you inside. Although they were brothers, one would hike his leg like normal, but the other would just stand still in front of everyone and go, no hike, squat or anything.
One hour before lift-off, Albert was rough mixing 'til we booked out of there, cruising to Burbank in his Beamer convertible. At the airport, I got out of the car and reached in the back for my bags. He didn't realize I was bending over and started driving, rolling the tire over my foot. My foot was pinned. And it didn't even hurt. Just a small cut and soreness later. Amazing.
I'm trying to get back into my Louisville mode, now, after so much excitement. Oh, and I guess I should mention...dist. verb. vox is "L.A. Speak" for THIS IS THE BEST YET!!
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