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Entries in tom griesgraber (2)

Sunday
Sep192004

The "Pig Thing"

Pigs have appeared on my wedding cake. My studio is named Hog Heaven. Kelli gives me piggy presents to show how very much she loves me. Babe is a favorite, if sad movie. But some of you still wonder about the whys and hows of the pig fetish...

The story, as best I can tell it, goes like this:

matt zuniga's caption on the piggies-on-old world looking celestial sky image.Matt Z's captioning handiwork on something that was already piggy pornographicAbout 1991 or so I met one Matt Zuniga who worked with me at Subway. We used to go play drums under bridges and write bad songs to play with just drums and vocals. We also worked for some cantankerous bosses at Subway. They were a Jewish couple who totally took our store over and made total asses of themselves. They were fat too. They were over-indulgent. And frankly, they were only interested in extorting money from customers above all else. Matt called them pigs. We wrote a quite rude song about them that played up the pig/pork/swine sort of thing. Then somehow Matt started calling me pig in the middle of 1992. So I called him pig just the same. It was really dumb.

Then later that year, for some really odd reason, my goofy songwriting somehow got on a farm animal theme. One of the songs was inspired by a line in the Three Little Pigs ("when monkeys chewed tobacco and pigs spoke rhyme...") Somehow I crafted a song about this sort of thing, and when I sang it, I screamed it till my throat was meat. Matt mocked me for this. More pig songs followed, but my best farm animal song hit was The End of the Road for Missy the Cow.

Over the years, little by little, the pig identity stuck. Matt and I almost forgot each other's name because we called each other pig so much. One time in 1996 or so my girlfriend got me some Babe pigs from a fast food joint happy meal. These pigs were stuffed things about the size of computer mouse now. They were totally inflexible. One day, I posed these pigs in some wacky sexual positions over a curtain or sheet of stars and moons and stuff. They were cute. Rude but cute. I called it "Hog Heaven." In 1997 recorded a project that I called Hog Heaven, and I used pornographic pig pix for cover art. Since most of the project was instrumental, I named many tunes by some pig name or another. I ended up redoing most of the project after mixing it and releasing it on cassette originally. For the revamped CD release, I redid the cover in Photoshop. Actually, most of it was done by Tom Griesgraber the Stick player. Tom is a little conservative and sort of sheltered. We reshot a bunch of perverse pornographic piggy poses, and I distinctly remember him saying "I can't believe I'm doing this!" But he soldiered on as I asked him to do lame image editing work. Then I built my studio. There was no other name in the running. Hog Heaven Studio (no "s") was opened on June 11, 1998.

The studio was a magnet for pig paraphernalia. Mark Decerbo got me a string pig lights that I hooked up to my phone ringer so that when the phone rang, about 12 pigs lit up along the wall. I called it the "swine line" and would answer it as such. Kelli got me a little sticker in the studio that said "pigs are friends, not food." Many songs were recorded in there... a song called "Bad Cop, No Donut" with a vocal riff that is about police pigs that were out to spoil my fun in the summer of 1997. Then there is the almighty classic of all time—a tune by the Magnificent Meatsticks entitled "Everything Is Better Wrapped In Bacon." In late 2000, I did a Mike Oldfield-esque recording for the holidays. It was the Hog Heaven Holiday Theme Music CD.

the magic piggies on our wedding cake. boy in a top hat and girl in a veil.I still have some pig stuff. A stuffed Babe presides over my computer as I sit here now. A Beanie Baby piggy called Luau is my travel companion in my work truck. Kelli got me a little piggy purse for change in my own truck. She got me a piggy key ring holder which is in the studio now. Friends give me other piggy stuff—toys, pictures, books.

And then there is the most important thing. Kelli and I went for a drive around the mountains on Valentine's day this year. In Julian, we stopped into every shop. We didn't see piggies anywhere until late when we found the adorable ceramic figures (pigures, that is). There were big ones and little ones, but the only way to go was to get a pair of the small ones. They looked so cute together.

Two days later, I asked her to marry me. The piggies have that sort of effect on me. So it was only natural that they made a cameo on the cake. Her grandmother expressed disgust at the idea while we planned things, but we snuck it in on her. At the wedding she was a little distraugt that there were piggies on the cake, but once she found out the part about their influence in our lives, she was okay with it.

Wednesday
Jun112003

Hog Heaven at Five

As far as what is immediately relevant, let me note that my studio, Hog Heaven, is now five years old! Please take a few hours (I know, its a little chatty) to look at the pages about the studio and all the shit I had to put up with before I got a chance to settle into one place. There have been more changes than I care to think of, and that continues right on up to the present. I sold all my ART gear, a few rack units, my Korg Triton, a couple AKG C1000 mics. Partly economic, partly to mess myself up again. In general, it's making me streamline setup and tracking chains, and focusing me on guitar and bass as my principle instruments. Even as useful as HHS has been over the years, I always go and change things anyway.

The first recording I did at HHS was on the morning of June 11, 1998 was the drums and bass tracks to a song called The End Of The Road For Missy The Cow. Tom Griesgraber played bass, and guitar later on. By that point, I had not played drums for about 8 months or so. If I had, none of it went to a recording of any sort. I had been in an apartment for a year and a half, and could not do much of anything there. Sometimes, even headphones made too much noise. So I was bent on getting a solution. Anyhow, Tom and I tracked drums and bass into the VS 880, and that started a rather long streak of recording projects and mindless jams here. In the time since opening, I have used the 880 extensively, the larger VS 2480 and now that I am moved into another room, ProTools LE on a Mac. I went from little or nothing to a rather capable place for doing demos or indie work.

Lately, I have cobbled together some players for a band (mark IV if I am counting right) that so far has not met with success thus far (cough!). Anyhow, two of the guys I have never played with. At 21, Jason Dean is young drummer who has in three meetings, ignited something in me. I know there was some latent creativity there somewhere, but it wasn't happening with the players I had until now. Jason seems to be willing to come down from Poway (about 25 miles from here!) to play some stuff a few times a week. While I don't know all about him or his drumming, for it to wake me up in just a week says something I need to hear.

Michael Klayman is playing bass with us these days. Yep, bass. That is to say, it isn't me playing bass for this project. It's a long story, but I am playing guitar now, and I like it, even though I suck for the most part (people like my ideas, but they cringe to hear me play, or at least I do). I'm just not fluid on it and it's not really the same as bass. I mean, the difference between a 5 string bass that is huge and a 6 string guitar that is sort of small, can be jarring. The string layout is good for a challenge too, making the translation not only from 5 to 6, but the tuning is different too, and I have to play chords! Anyhow, the guitar allows a shorter path between my ideas and my delivery. My co-guitarist is a feller named Jeremy Robinson. He is better than me. That's why he is here. So, we are taking stabs at some hitherto unrecorded or underdeveloped stuff of mine, and trying to breathe life into it. It's a two guitar band, so it's gonna rock. In fact, I might have to put the brakes on the rock stuff sometimes, but it's cool to be on the other side of the drum kit after years behind it. Poor Jason. I hope he can count to 5. Wish us luck.

I have been recording a fellow named Tim Robertson. He has a gospel/contemporary Christian batch of songs he wants to shop around, and we are taking his sequenced tracks into ProTools and adding some acoustic guitar and voice parts. He may bring in more live players to replace sequenced parts, but that's still a ways off.