I was holding down “Another Year,” “Ampersand,” The Point of it All” and “Have to Drive” (with lots of input from Ben long-distance).
I headed to Edinburgh, for the Fringe festival and a bunch of shows at the Spiegeltent, and while I was there I collided with my old Edinburgh trumpet-playing friend, Andy Moore. I asked him if he wouldn’t possibly know a few other horn-y men. I had written this new song, “Leeds United,” and it needed horns. I wanted to try playing it live at the tent. He made some calls, and lo and behold, a little horn section appeared a few nights later. We rehearsed exactly once, in Andy’s bedroom, and then tried playing the song live. The guys all wore hi-visibility vests and no pants. Josh, the sax player, played with a lampshade on his head. They looked Hot.
They sounded so good, in fact, that I thought I might use them to make a demo of the song for Ben. Because why not?
So I found a random place near Edinburgh called Chamber Studio, rented a keyboard, and I cabbed the whole crew over there one day. I really only wanted to get a basic recording of the song for Ben so we could have something to work from. I never expected that this session would be used. We recorded to tape. No protools to be seen.
The drummer and the bass player were random friends of Andy’s…I met them the morning of the session. We rehearsed the song about 4 times and then started doing takes. Steve the engineer had an INCREDIBLE haircut. We tracked the basic and then recorded the horns. That all took about 4 hours.
When we were done with that, I went into the vocal booth to lay down a vocal.
Knowing that this was only for Ben’s ears, I didn’t care that I sounded like complete shit.
I’d been taking the last 3-4 days off and had been sampling the local whiskey and purveying the local tobacco. I was in NO SHAPE to sing. I had fun with it and put it all into that one take because knew that I could totally blow my voice out, and indeed I did. I couldn’t talk for the rest of the day.
Somebody took this photo of me in a bar later that night.
I was really, really tired.
Then the Fall came.
I headed back to San Francisco to tweak and mix things with Justin at Hyde Street Studios.
Ben and I were in a STUCK place with “Guitar Hero”, and I thought that finding a REAL flesh-and-blood Guitar Hero might save our situation. The song sounded too thin.
I mentioned this to Justin, who told me that Dead Kennedys were recording with him at the moment and … might I want East Bay Ray on the record? My prayers had been answered. East Bay Ray showed up and lent his magic to the track, and the Song was Saved.
Justin and Ray and Ray’s Magical Guitar Thing.
All of us. I broke a piano string, and you can’t really tell, but I’m eating it in this picture.
Here’s some movies:
Ray on “Guitar Hero”, then with me holding part of his guitar for the take:
Ray on “Moon Over Marin”, a Dead Kennedys’ song we decided to cover together:
Also added to the mix of Song Saving was a fantastic local cellist named Sam Bass.
Here’s a little video of him tracking his cello part. He slayed:
Here’s a clip of Justin, starting with an avocado, after he’d been sitting in that chair for 17 hours straight. In the background is his wonderful assistant Laura Dean, whose handclaps you can hear (if you listen very closely – you can tell them apart from mine) on “Guitar Hero”….
Guitar Hero 1.0.
The control room at Hyde Street.
While in San Fran, I stayed at Paul Nathan’s loft. He was a wonderful host and fed my watermelon and absinthe. I used his penis-shaped soap and got a rash. It was great.
Here’s me in Paul’s Place:
Then I went to LA to record the strings.
This was very exciting.