Saturday
Aug062011

« Green Lights on Memory Lane: OTISAB »

Yesterday someone created a Facebook group site that is named "You know you're from Clairemont if..." It was started in the morning. I heard about it at the late afternoon. There were already about 950 posts and reponses. I got away for a bit and came back around midnight when there were 1,700 posts! I could not even get to the bottom of the page to keep clicking on "more posts" because the stuff was flowing in so fast. 

It was fun naming a place or telling a short tale about places and seeing what people remember. There were quite a few I recognized from school, but since this was a general interest group, it attracted many more people of all ages, some being far more old school Clairemonsters than even me.

This morning, I see someone responded to my response about the Walker Scott store that sits where the Vons is now in an anchoring spot in Clairemont Square. The thread took a decided left turn when a guy I forgot about recalled my first barely-listenable attempt at a solo album in 1995:

btw- Ed, I loved your ED cassette I got from you when I rented your kit for a record I was making a Marty's House. Just wanted to give you props! Dig all those crazy edits you did! And ALL on TAPE!! 'Kurt Cobain' was sick but, very funny!! —Ronny Jones 

The tape he references is called One Twisted Individual, Separated At Birth (OTISAB—one that I don't yet have up here on TAPKAE.com). I'm sort of at a loss of how to describe it but it involved a lot of humor, sarcastic wit, tape tricks, layered drum rhythms, my first incorporation with any guitar or bass at all, and perhaps most definitively, I paid to have it digitally edited at Anza Studio, same as where Mike Keneally edited his work around that time, and I sought to have (perhaps needlessly so in places) to have the tracks collaged into a nearly gapless album. The song Ronny refers to, Kurt Cobain, is called "A Man and his Gun" and is a piano ditty about KC killing himself with excellent aim. (I was never into Nirvana and thought rather coldly that that was the best thing for him. I was far from appreciating the pathos of life.) 

The manner of assembling the tracks was interesting. It was almost as developed as I'd ever get with my cassette-plus-input bounce method that started with Rhythmic Catharsis a couple years before, and had just one more project that started off using it but ended up being done largely on four-track. OTISAB relied on that method exclusively, and I used several tape decks for various purposes, like one did a great job of giving me levels for capturing full drumset parts using a limiter; and other could do pitch control; another had the ability to add another mic into the mix; various of them let me shape the noise using Dolby. I had no mixer. All the recording was literally done by moving to or from the mic and playing dynamically. I had just a couple crappy Radio Shack vocal mics. It was only after OTISAB that I got into PZM types that were far better suited for drums and voice in particular. I recall that once I literally duct taped one of the crappy mics to the blue Strat's body (the guitar was on loan to me and it was already chipping paint) and made a cheap attempt at a pickup. Hey, it captured the open tuned strum on an otherwise unamplified solidbody electric guitar! The tape editing that Ronny refers to was not in actually cutting tape, but in a lot of starting and stopping bits and almost randomly recording over bits in subsequent passes and bounces that it sounds far more chaotic.

The recording session Ronny mentions is one for which they rented my new drums. It was about May 1995. I was approached by Marty Eldridge after seeing my little drum tech business card posters. I just got the kit in August of the previous year and had barely used it since Slaves By Trade broke up. This was the first time I was to let it out of my possession. I was rather intimidated but I knew that Marty was working as a pro and I could see he had a house full of his own gear. I had met him across the street when I worked at Subway in 1991 and a time or two while I did my short stint at Music Mart earlier in 1995. Aside from that, he was a new acquaintance. I took the drums over and was probably not aware that they'd come back tuned differently or a little beat on the heads. I was of the mind that they sounded quite good but was not used to tuning for different vibes, especially the "drop one lug" technique where you take an otherwise well tuned tom and take one lug screw out altogether for a detuning effect that some like. I saw that and got a bit panicked. Otherwise, they paid me my $300 for three weeks' use (oh, I was so cheap then!) and until mid July, that was it with Marty and Ronny. Marty kept me in mind and later turned out to be the one guy who actually did get me involved in being a working tech assistant in the music world. July 15, 1995 at the Sheraton Harbor Island. Clear as day... That led to Rockola which led to other local work and of course, the Keneally tour.

Funny, I was peddling my OTISAB cassettes to whoever might give me $5 for them, and some for free. Another notable holder of that tape is Keneally himself. For a while there, I was known as the guy who hates the blues, as one track was a rant on it, mocking a basic blues walking bass with my voice: "rahr, rahr, RAHR, rahr, RAHR, rahr, rahr, rahr!" Keneally and Joe Travers probably still remember that. Getting that tape into their hands (back when they both lived in Hollywood and needed something to listen to on the ride back) was a huge victory. So was having them quote it at the next show!

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