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Entries in el brando (6)


Magnificent Meatsticks

the richard meltzer review of the magnificent meatsticks. from the san diego reader july 2000Meltzer's review of the MagMeat song bearing his nameGoodness me. It was a decade ago when me and some fellow beer and burrito loving friends convened in Hog Heaven Studio and wrought havoc on the instruments there. The Magnificent Meatsticks were intentionally horrible, in part because of the facts of the matter: Ezekiel Bonham (El Brando) was not particularly a bass player (though he was a technically proficient guitar player but one lacking in musical sense of his own); Ham Rockett (Mike Thaxton, who drove to San Diego each week from Dana Point just to hang out and do this stuff) was not particularly a drummer—in fact, he pretty much hit his first drum hits with us; and Leviticus Mitchell (me) was not particularly a guitar player. That was the point: to be equally handicapped so the worst possible result would follow! The other reason was that as my CD project was approaching a year or pretty regular recording and development, I was frankly burning out on the methodical approach, with some tracks happening delightfully quickly in the early days of the project, and later ones taking some prolonged period to get players and track as best as possible considering no one was getting paid! So the all-improvisatory MagMeat was a breath of fresh air for me, giving me a chance to rattle the musical tree but without sweating details like tuning, rhythmic precision, harmonic or melodic standards, or dare I say, foresight and control of any sort! We were doing our best to scrape the bottom of the barrel, and sometimes we succeeded. Occasionally we actually nearly broke out into something nearly like music, and that was simply not allowable.

Our band name was originally borrowing a couple letters from each of our names: BR AX ED from BRando/thAXton/ED, but of course the beers induced brainstorming (in the classic tradition of garage bands). Fabulous Fucksticks was a contender before the slightly more acceptable Magnificent Meatsticks was voted in. Our individual names were taken from a formula guided by a biblical first name of some sort and the last name drawn from that of a famous rock drummer (Led Zep, Poison, Hendrix respectively in the list above). We rattled off a few more than that and kept them in mind for when we needed to bestow a name upon another guest Meatstick. I seem to remember a sax player named Steve Young came and blew some horn for us. We dubbed him Deuteronomy Carr after Eric Carr of Kiss. I seem to remember calling Jukka Pietarinen (a Finnish Keneally fan who was here for the Nonkerstock that summer) by something like Methusela Moon or Nicodemus Peart!

The MagMeat was always accompanied by file sharing and other illicit computer based activity by young men. Actually, I was not particularly a part of that but in those early days of mp3s, I was like a kid in a candy store when I realized that Thax seemed to have the means to get damn near anything I wanted, and more. So he was always feeding me some CDs of new stuff, old stuff, odd pop songs I asked for, and so on. He was like a musical drug dealer. That summer was in the very early period of my online presence. Earlier in the year, Thax had started me up on email, gotten me an MP3.com account, and some other stuff like that. I had no computer of my own, so I used to go to El Brando's place a few miles away to check in and make updates. I was getting into Photoshop, starting to dabble with effects and was having fun making little images on El Brando's computer. He used to let me tinker on that thing all night even after he went to bed. I'd mess around and leave at 5 am and then call it a night! It was a far cry from my prior computer experiences, long before all these great programs and the web had been developed. It was like learning magic.

Over some stiff beers (Arrogant Bastard and Stone IPA were pretty common) and some wicked good carne asada burritos we used to joke about how dreadful we sounded and how we could be famous on MP3.com since the space was given away for free. So we set about creating our space there and put up a number of recordings from the first few jams in June or July. We recorded everything straight to two-track and therefore had no mixing recourse. Editing was not off the table though so I practiced some savage editing on the two track stuff and did some odd things like copying and pasting a sample of the left side, making one side stutter or echo separate from the other. Other things we allowed to have done in recording was one vocal performance to "enhance" the trio recording, but it had to be improvised and fucking rude, loud, distorted, or otherwise unacceptable to most listeners. You can hear the seven cuts that we called finished elsewhere on this site. The thing is, since we recorded most of our jams nearly every week, there was massive amounts of material. It was more than my VS-880 could hold so I routinely cut the stuff ruthlessly and then burned CDs. Even still, there are probably 15 CDs on a spindle somewhere that has some of the most er, avant-garde stuff you (n)ever heard. To make up for a lack of chops or compositional foresight or tasteful use of silence, we usually drenched things in massive amounts of long-tailed reverb. It was quite something. (I still occasionally tickle myself with the idea of making a CD of that stuff, cut up ala Miles Davis material with Teo Macero at the helm of the editing block, slash cuts with no real attempt to mask the edits.) For such bad music so intentionally mangled, the two track stuff sonically has way more finesse than it deserves. It's not like we just used a boombox with a built in mic. There are moments when I like certain sounds and mix levels better than some of the stuff I captured track by track and spent days or weeks working on. All this went down 8 channels of mixer (with added effects all the way through) and through a compressor across the whole thing, and there it was!

We put our worst foot forward when I wrote to the San Diego Reader to tell them to pass on word about a certain track called "Richard Meltzer is my Fucking Hero" to the rock critic who bears that name and for the time around then, was a writer who contributed to the Reader. We used to crack ourselves up reading his concert previews, which never really focused on any of the artists being discussed. It was always wild stream of consciousness stuff. Anyhow, we figured we could get his attention with this ditty that invites Richard to come and "fuck me up the ass." It worked. I mean, we got his attention in one of the few articles he ever wrote (that we saw) that actually made mention of the artist in question! Check out the "review" here.

But personally, Magnificent Meatsticks in retrospect has proven to be a sort of heir to the absolutely irreverent stuff I did with Matt Zuniga in 1992-93 or so, and more broadly, the last hurrah of playing with total abandon and just not caring if anything was good or not. After the taste of live interaction in the MagMeat, I found myself wanting to start playing bass within a band context and was hoping to work in that vein a bit. The quartet I tried to get started later that year was a more developed thing for the few weeks it lasted. El Brando was in it, as was his friend Ryan on drums (still one of the best drummers I played with), and Todd Larowe. Various other groupings over the next year or so included Todd or El Brando at times. Eventually though, all that was way more than I was cut out for, some people within these bands giving me the news that I myself was not good enough a player to be in them if we were to really play the music I was hoping to play. But in the summer of 2000, I did not yet know that.

Ahhh—Hog Heaven in the summertime. No windows. No vents. No AC but for a fan or two. Insane humidity like a gym locker room. Play 15 minutes then open the door for 15 or more, then repeat a few times. Get burritos and beer. Come back and scan the recording for some highlights. Ah. The good old days.



Nineteen hundred and ninety nine was an odd year. Musically, it was a turning point for me. Professionally (if you can call my work that) it was pretty stagnant. Personally it was pretty dead, even dreadful at times. Most of the time I hated the work I did, but took refuge in music, and worked endless hours on the varied projects I had going on then. In that year, I had my goofy music project well underway (in its third calendar year), some work with Tamara Vilke (someone Mike Keneally hooked me up with, which ended up being a ten song project with me on drums primarily, but also on bass and guitar and a little bit of keyboards, Todd Larowe and Bad Jesus as the band, on guitars and bass, respectively), Mike Keneally's Nonkertompf (really, a bunch of stuff I thought was just demo material), the research and development of musical ideas that led to and ultimately became the basis for my CD Receiving, and my friend's band, Loaf (five songs toward the end of the year, on which I played guitar and keyboards). These were the true Hog Heaven halcyon days. In that year, I played on singer songwriter stuff, did wacky improvisation, "session" playing, and the painstaking job of playing whatever would eventually become my CD. I actually became a better musician that year, and when I listen back to the stuff I did, I feel proud of it. There are some good drum performances on Tamara's stuff, and some soild guitar and keys on Loaf's stuff. I also did a smashup keyboard solo on one tune on Receiving, and I am still baffled how I pulled it off. I just got lucky, as Todd would say. My goofy music project was an interesting outlet for me, and some of the last fun I had in my music was done then. Since the mid summer or so, most of the fun has gone out of it. After that period, I thought of myself as more serious, and the silly ideas just sort of stopped happening, or maybe I censored them out. I am still proud of Receiving though. Actually, as I was making it, I knew I was asking more of myself than ever before, and even now, I feel that it was a mark of achievement that I still haven't touched, and had a feeling it would be that way, even as I was making it.

I thought I would take several months to recover, but here it is, nearly four years after the musical portion of the CD was done, and I still have barely finished a damned thing. Everything I do seems to fall short of my expectations of myself. I know I have the ideas, and the ability to play the parts is there with some work, but somehow, I just find myself scrapping everything now after a few overdubs. My patience for dealing with gear is almost none. I used to like messing with gear as a means to making sounds and atmospheres, and frankly, to cover up for a lack of musical technique. In the time since my CD was done, I felt like getting back to basics, or more realistically, getting to basics at all. My ultra-rude and perverse "band," the Magnificent Meatsticks, was to my music what Nietzsche was to Judeo-Xtian thought. Deconstruction. Start from the ground up, don't assume anything. In the middle of 2000, toward the end of my CD project, my buddies Mike Thaxton and El Brando got together for beers and burritos and music swapping, and eventually we got to playing some "music" that was so out in left field. Mike wasn't really a drummer; he had no experience, but he suited us fine. I was more familiar with bass than guitar, but I played guitar. El Brando was a guitar player, but he ended up on bass. That way everyone had a handicap. After 1999, with me being a 3rd rate session dude, and solo artiste and all that, I wanted to be in a band, but really, for all the music I had done, I was a studio guy who relied on the stop button, multitracks and digital editing to do so much of my stuff. The MagMeat was a way to enter the band realm again, this time on guitar and bass. I had to do what every other punk had to do when he joins his first garage band. I was never in a garage band. Yep, this was my boozing and cussing gig that I never had when I was 16. And I sucked, just like I would have if I were 16!

But the MagMeat made me bold, as I found that after a few years of ONLY interfacing with recorders and the rare live session, I was itching to make music, even bad or deconstructed music, in a band. For some reason, we recorded everything we did, no matter how bad. Mike got better on drums, and I decided to get all my ya-ya's out on guitar by doing the most abusive things I could with an Ebow and my whammy bar and gobs of gain, echo and feedback, and other implements of guitar molestation—we'd be big in Japan, no shit! I still have hours and hours of our sonic holocausts and once in a while, I hear a few minutes and smile.

We were bad, make no mistake, but it was like stripping all your clothes off and running naked. It got me to think about music again. The somewhat related but all different band that stemmed from the MagMeat experience was a quartet, mostly here to play stuff that I had, was another kick for me. That was the first band I played in on anything other than drums. This time it was my five string bass, and I allowed myself an octave pedal, and some distortion and chorus. But I had to put the notes where they belonged. This band lasted three weeks, and it wasn't for another year before I got something like it again, but in the mean time, had some one-off jams with me on bass (sometimes on my new fretless, which was a whole other ballgame or my growing trust in my instincts) that left me feeling good. 2002-03 were years where I tried a number of band combos, and liked a few of them a lot. For a while, I was on bass, and thought of that as my new musical home, but after throwing up my hands in disgust at not being able to find and brainwash a guitar player, I just decided to try it myself, and that was, for me, more of jump than drums to bass, or fretted to fretless. All of a sudden, I was playing the part that is most associated with the entire piece of music being played, and in a few cases, it was odd hearing the bass being played by anyone else, sometimes technically better, but with a whole other approach! Well, that only lasted for a while before I gave up music for a while. But I would like to play again, and on guitar.

Okay, I will fess up, and it's not like it's a secret. I don't practice any of my instruments. That's not to say I don't have the occasional breakthrough with some resulting effort to try to polish up that new discovery, but nearly always, my technical ability has been called up on an as-needed basis. But then sometimes there is some amazing lucidity in what I do, even if I have been away for a while (that used to mean I didn't play for a week or so, but now there have been a few stretches that go on for months). But really, I never sat down with a book and said, 'I must learn these scales and be able to play a zillion permutations of 3-, 4-, and 5- note groupings.' I know my scale theory well enough to be dangerous, but don't master the dexterity end of things. It's not because I think I will lose my musical soul to technical articulation. I am just lazy. But despite that, I am a better player from playing with the short lived bands, because in any one of those groups, I like the challenge of thinking on my feet, and if I use whole notes and half notes, so be it (I can do better than that, just not too well at first). Improvising has been my main love, but not jamming. I draw a distinction; jamming is, to me, what the Grateful Dead and their clones do. Improvising is what King Crimson and Keneally (on a good day) do. Improvising calls upon your active input; jamming pretty much lets you cruise by on autopilot. Improvising, when done well, should sound composed, and composed stuff, when done well, should sound like it has the fire of an improvised interaction. Improvisation is not necessarily going to be solid sounding. It can be, if you have some dudes who know their shit and can articulate it, but improvising should be daring, without crying over "mistakes." The basis for the improvised material in my little bands sometimes stems from an abstraction: "play the sound of a ..." or maybe from a theoretical idea I want to explore: "you play in the key of D harmonic minor, and I will play in B major, use quarter notes to start, then open up as the clash and consonances start to make sense. Or maybe I suggest a harmonic vocabulary based on a few anchoring notes: "use the notes D, A#, E, C#, first in a series of parallel-motion chord roots, then use them as harmony notes in whatever inversion seems to make sense, then use them against each other in harmony (the 7th from E to D, the third from A# to C#, then add the E, and do some other stuff). So you see, I think in abstract ideas, and don't mind calling on bitonality, polytonality, metric juxtapositions and stuff. I don't have as much control over it as I would like but I find the fun is really in suggesting this stuff to someone who knows what is being said, but doesn't know the outcome. Unfortunately, some guitar players took umbrage at my ideas and left.


Musicians. A Rant.

I hate to say it, but this time, I'm not gonna even pretend to be happy about the news. The news is this:

Musicians are F***ed up. Maybe you have heard. While that isn't meant to be elitist (because I'm sure I've met someone's criteria for the same things), it just happens to be something I run up against now and then. It must be in the blood. Maybe this isn't news to some of you.

Anyhow, there is this dude who I have had musical dealings with for about three years. We play, we make music that really stuns and delights me. But it's all transient. It's never recorded beyond some scratch work. It's never finished to a degree that we can perform it for people and claim that it's our work and that we're proud of it. In three years of playing, we have not completed one friggin' piece of music from start to finish. We have done casual work and play as a bass and guitar duo, drum and guitar duo, guitar and guitar duo, and some other permutations—rock trio, quartet, and the like. He had a chance to be on my CD as it got recorded but never really went for it, nor did he ever really seem cut out for recording in general. When I met him, he had some really bad playing habits. Over the course of time, we had friction and would break up for months. Later, upon reconvening and trying out some new ideas, invariably, he would recite back to me all the things that I had said that led us to the hiatus. He absorbed all the stuff I said, and at some later date was able to recite it all back as if it was his idea, no matter how bad it seemed as it was first being argued out. In November of 2000, we had a quartet that lasted for three weeks before it collapsed. It took a year to get that back together in any form. Then that collapsed a month or two after we decided to give it another go. And, after that second band crashed and burned, it was many months before we tried again. This time, he came over and told me as if it was his idea, that we needed to really buckle down as a duo, write some stuff, stop jamming and get serious. Since it seemed like something that I had told him two years before, I thought that maybe he had taken it to heart and really meant to do that. I knew as well as he what had happened, but since this was his idea, I took a far more hands off approach than usual.

Ordinarily, I am driven to record. But the focus here was to write stuff and prepare it to be recorded. So it was really meant to be a performance ready thing. And it was going that way. But because I wasn't the boss on this, things went to shit. I let this dude determine who would show up and be the drummer for the evening. Or not. I let him decide when we would play. Or not. I let him decide what I would record. Or not. I let him influence what we would work on. Or not. It was an experiment. What really happened was that, true to his previous form, he would come in and play like mad for an hour. Or not. He would come in at 7 pm. Or not. He would come in at his convenience. Or not. He would tell me that he would be later than planned. Or... do I even need to say it? In short, he pulled all the usual stunts that indicate no level of teamwork, and the kind of shit that breaks bands up. He had buddies come over to "rehearsal" and would do the booze thing, or it would turn into a rampant jam with no focus, and entirely off topic from the reason for gathering.

So why did I put up with this bullshit? The Music. It was the musical equivalent to sex. The stuff we could do kept getting better as I developed as a bass player, and musician in general. He even got a lot better than the earlier days when we played. His playing grew a lot more tasteful in this time. We could jam over anything. It wasn't always good, but thats like saying that a big ice cream dish covered in toppings is only enjoyable when its delivered by the proper and conventional medium: the spoon. Nonsense. Slop and chance was part of the charm. Playing in the various ensembles that we played in was a string of lessons how to listen, how to play, how to speak in a foreign language. I am not fluent, but ideas were getting passed around like mad when we played. We did stuff in an impromptu jam that we wouldn't sit and write intentionally. And it was like that most days. That's why I put up with all the bullshit that went along.

After years of not trying to be in a band (the years I spent doing my solo recording almost exclusively), I finished the CD, and felt that it was time to step up to a plate and become a performing musician. I wanted to play bass. The first quartet in late 2000 was comprised of myself on bass, Todd Larowe on guitar, Mr. Flakeyfuck on guitar and his buddy Ryan on drums. Three weeks is all that lasted. Ryan later turned up for occasional jams, and I also dabbled in playing with Dom and Whit to some small degree of success. Well, for two years now, I have been really down on music. If I wasn't playing bass in a band, I wanted almost nothing to do with it. Solo recording was boring and redundant to me. So I wanted to put my faith in some band situation after years of dodging it. And since me and Mr. Flakeyfuck had been getting musically acquainted over some time, it seemed natural to develop that. But it keeps failing. And dammit, it's not because of me. I refuse to think that now. Why? He has an utter lack of regard for this thing we were doing, or even me. For him to say multiple times he'll show up and then not means he's a liar. For him to pretend to take the project into his hands and then do next to nothing to nurture it means that he is insincere. For him to do a no-call, no-show when me and Paul horn are waiting for him is downright rude. For him to tell me in front of his (uninvited to the rehearsal) guest and Paul that my ideas are not musically "correct" is preposterous!

It was that last one that really wound me up and sent me off the handle. I was mad as hell that he would talk that shit all of a sudden, a week or less after he utterly failed to show up to one rehearsal, while Paul and I were here watching the clock tick by. He finally showed up at 10:20 or so—a full 20 minutes after I stop rehearsals at my place, and about 3:20 after we usually would start if it was something I would be responsible for. Then he had the gall to tell me my ideas were "not right" in some fashion. Sorry, d00de. Membership has its privileges, and for you to not even show up...

All I could think of was that old tale I heard as a kid about the hen who wanted to have her friends help make a cake so that they could all enjoy it later, and no one helped her. So she made it herself. Then everyone wanted a piece of the cake. But she told them to piss off because they weren't there to be a part in the making of it. Kids, let this be a lesson to you. It's this kind of BS that made me want to do my own thing in the first place. I have not but myself to credit or blame. I am going to keep trying some band possibilities, but if that fails, I can and will run back to the studio, and lock the door behind me. Sometimes, it's the only thing that lets me feel like a human being, even if it's hell getting there. I think I am formulating some sort of new year's resolution or something.

Have a happy holiday. I am planning on doing at least that much. I can't let this crap rain on my parade any more than it already has.


Prog West and More

I just got a digital camera this week and plan on taking all sort of pictures whether I need to or not. I have been telling myself that I needed one since about mid 2001. I had the money, then I didn't have the money, then...well, you know. Finally it was time to blow out some credit card debt and make room for new stuff. The other reason that I really feel stupid about telling the world is that I accidentally lost a huge folder of pictures and images that I had collected. These things always seem to happen by accident. I have never set out to lose anything on that scale. But it happens. So I have a little work to do to get a collection of images together for stock.

In early November, I was the stage manager for a big music festival called Prog West. It was a two day affair up in Claremont, CA. My buddy Mike Thaxton was one of the organizers, and I worked at last year's show initially as the dude with a 24 track recorder, then as stage manager, then later as the front of house mixer. It was a mess last year, but many things were learned and the level of organization was much higher this time. The bands were a lot better as well. There were seven bands on two days. A lot of work to be sure, but the stuff was almost always great to listen to. The second day was the best for me just as a listener. Izz and Azigza were great as I had expected, but the big show was the tribute to Kevin Gilbert, who some of you must know of. For those who don't, he's a big hero of mine—a brilliant musician and recording artist. Anyhow, he isn't with us anymore, but the last album he was working on when he died was a rather amazing piece of work. It's amazing that it even got finished. More amazing is that that music was played live at the show—the entire album from start to finish. The core of the band was Mike Keneally's current band. However, it was more as a backup band to Nick D'virgilio who played drums and all sorts of stuff on the original album, and assumed the role of Kevin himself onstage, singing all the leads and playing acoustic guitar. It was an amazing show, and one that was only scheduled to happen once. Glad I saw it.

Things have been kind of sleepy here in studioland. I am working with Brandon, just trying out musical ideas, jamming and occasionally recording some stuff. My mind has been so many other places lately and it's been hard to dedicate the time to recording like I once did. The usual stuff that goes on in the late 20s trying to figure out the world of work, relationships, and the meaning of life. But it's been a while since I really recorded anything on my own. And frankly I'm at a time when I don't really think that would do me much good. If anything, I feel like playing in a band, with a bass in my hand. Despite not having recorded anything much, I am a better bass player than ever. Sometimes I even kick ass on drums (but only for a few bars). Brandon and I are doing material that will dwarf previous efforts. We just need to establish some working habits and get a few things together. We play with a few different drummers as they are available. Playing better but playing less is the state of things. This year has been so very different from before—good and bad, as these things tend to be. It's almost as if I've been floating, like in a dream. Some things that have been super important in the past are not nearly so now, and vice versa. I guess all I can do is stick around to see what's next. I certainly wouldn't have been able to plan anything about this year. Damn.

Anyhow, the holidays are upon us now. I don't know about you, but I am putting a higher price on enjoying them after years of being almost indifferent to the whole deal. And that's not just post-9/11 sap, either. I was on that path before then, but I suppose that in a post-9/11 world, there is need for such a feeling.

Regardless, do whatever it takes to enjoy the holidays, for whatever reason.


You Say It's Your Birthday?

My birthday was on the 12th, and apparently I lived to tell about it, or something. I had a few dudes over to play—El Brando Arni and Paul Horn make up the trio I am playing with right now. In addition to Paul and Brandon, we had Whit Harrington and Dom Piscopo who made up the trio I played with earlier in the year—we did the tunes Return To Zero and All Things Frippy.

Over the course of the eve, we played in a whole bunch of different combos. I know I played drums and bass, Dom is mostly a guitarist, but probably played some bass, ditto Brandon, who is a better bass player than he'd let on to. Whit provided powerhouse drumming, and Paul provided some of the more jazzy stuff. At one point, Whit and Paul traded in the middle of a jam. I got it all on Pro Tools, but don't expect much—the alcohol was flowing that night, and I'm not sure that all the levels came in right from one trio jam to another. A lot of stuff was played, but not recorded, for, er, uh, whatever reason. But we all had some fun.

In addition to the music geeks in attendance, we also had some other folks: Dom's lady Kate, El Brando's lady Merrily, Doug Robinson, Kelli and her friend Suzanne. Missing were the Brothers Thaxton, who came last year, but I'm sure Mike had a very good reason for not showing up ;^)

On a half related note, for the prog and art rock minded, be sure to check out the big two day show on the second weekend of November that will feed your hunger for some challenging and interesting music—Progwest. My buddy Mike Thaxton is the webmaster and a key organizer, and I am the stage manager. The show headliner is the Mike Keneally/Nick D'virgilio band doing a live rendition of Kevin Gilbert's posthumous masterpiece, The Shaming of the True. Go to his site and read up about the history behind the album. It's a major triumph, and one of my favorite albums of all time.

Aside from that, I have to say I am digging the Pro Tools set up, and the studio control room is getting some attention. I will put some pix up soon of the new lean and mean rig. Some audio hopefully will be soon to come.


Shifting Tides

Hey everyone. I got some news for ya. It's my birthday on the 12th! I'm turning nearly old—29. I plan to have some neat little playing, boozing, pizza eating shindig here on the day. I will be showing off some new studio junk—I just got rid of my VS 2480 recorder that was not really doing the trick for me. I finally made the leap to a computer based platform—ProTools LE. The 2480 just was not working out. I needed to make a change, and going PT seemed to be the way to go. I just got it set up and kinda working this week. I was spending so much time doing stuff on the computer and the 2480 was a like a frigid lover in the other room. I tried to use it but it just wasn't happening. So I changed it all over to the big room in the house and made that the studio. It's really cool. I am pretty much able to capture a whole band at once and have it mixed here, though part of my plan is to make my place able to interact with other studios. So, at Hog Heaven you could record and mix the whole project, or just use the place for tracking stuff in the loud room, and take that back to your own PT studio to track further in your apartment. Or you could bring your apartment work here and mix. Or you could take the tracks done here to a PT studio with the serious HD version of PT—the big boys. So, I wanted to get some flexibility going. And space. The control room is 15' x 17'. and the iso room where the drums are is 10' x 11'. I also have another room that can be for light iso—vocals away from the computer fan and monitors, for example. The place is more comfortable now that the big room is all studio gear and listening/tracking area.

On the playing front, I have been doing that a lot lately—El Brando Arni and I are playing a lot lately. He's been a musical soulmate to me for a couple of years, and the stuff we are playing is getting richer and more varied than ever. If you like the stuff on Receiving, then this is gonna run rings around that, but there are some hints about the new direction on the CD—stuff like Zehdihm's Flight and 8th Grade Report Card and Crazy Boy are the directions that the latest material is taking, musically. Notable among players currently frequenting Hog Heaven Studio is one Paul Horn, who was here on a session playing drums for George Farres (more later). Anyhow, after the session was done, we played some wacked trio jam stuff. Oh, Paul happens to be brother in law to a certain well known bassist that happens to have been sort of influential—Jaco. So I'm here, with a huge grin on my face, having played some off-the-wall stuff with him. He called back late that night and raved on about how much fun he had (it was his birthday, and he had good fun—all unanticipated). He actually lives a mile from my house and in the last two weeks, he and El Brando and I have been making some neat music. It's a bit rough arond the edges, but it's edgy and energetic. It's really awakening my musically, after a year and a half of really blah times. I am playing stuff that I am really excited about. El Brando and I are assessing the stuff we have documented in crude format over the last two years and are looking forward to getting some stuff done for real. As cool as it is to be playing with Paul BECAUSE he is related to Jaco, I really must say that he is a fantastic drummer in his own right, very enthusiastic about the stuff we're doing and is complemetary to our sound. I'd be happy just that he reignited me musically. He's making me think bigger. I'm happy that the men and machines are lining up for me now. I'm beginning to think there might be some new stuff that finally surpasses the stuff on Receiving. I am developing a goal for the next project.

George Farres is a local jazz guitarist who needed some demos made to help get him some gigs. It was a really quick affair—a day for tracking and a few hours for mixing. Real quick, and only Paul playing drums. These are the last recordings that I did on the 2480, just two weeks ago.

On the personal front, I picked up a little part time job working at my girlfriend Kelli's office—a senior center. I drive the home delivered meal route. It's a change from doing live sound, for sure. But it's also nice to do something that actually has a direct impact on someone's life. It's nice to step away from the music scene at the level that I was involved for years. I'm not sure I was happy doing that. It was just something that I got drawn into. It's not really healthy, and I was increasingly frustrated. The times I do it now, after a year of really thin times in that industry, are really frustrating and it's hard to get into it like before. The pay is generally sucky, unless I get the freak gig that I actually mix. It's not really pretty. I was hoping that the web stuff would be better but that is an odd biz—the sites I have started for others are not done on account of there being no content sent to me. I have enough material to show off and make a resume. I want to get an internship to tighten up some things that concern the actual developer's angle of web site making.

In some odd way, this year has been better than ever, and in other ways, worse than ever. Money has been tight like mad this year, but things in a more personal way have been better than ever. I've been musically adrift for some time, but that seems to be changing. Things with the girlyfriend are great, and the home front is going pretty good with the room mates. It's been a really odd year.