Make That “Missourah”February 2, 2010 at 11:17 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
After the live event at the Republicans For Boring Discussion meeting, I was going to drive down to southern Missouri–or Missourah–to check in with Alex and the boys because they got hooked up with a studio to record their demo CD.
Friday about one pm I finally left, and got down there about 430. Straight down interstate 55, so it was an easy drive. I roll into town, and yes, it is a tiny, tiny town; population about 5k, give or take. I never saw more than a few dozen people.
Ah, small town America. I found the studio, off the main drag one block in a small building set next to the street with a couple of businesses in it, like a hair salon and something else. It was an older building that saw its prime during Andy Griffith’s day. The entrance to the studio smelled like dog shit, because the dog had shit in there. Beyond that tiny "office" was the rest of the setup: the control room and the studio were evident, and to the right down the hall was the "guest suite." Actually it was a long bedroom with about three beds thrown in it. By the time I got there, the boys had it trashed.
The boys–Alex is the singer. Since this is Death Metal, I don’t really get that. Mark is the drummer. He’s pretty good. He actually drums for two different bands. Drew is the lead guitar player. From what I saw, he’s really good. Dalton is the bass player. I never saw him work, but from what I took away, they were all serious about the process and professional in how they approached it.
I had planned on getting a motel room, because I was not going to stay in that room with these clowns, and I’m too old to sleep on the floor. Tony, the guy running the board, had a connection and got me a deal at a motel in town. A very nice place called Patty’s.
I hung around the studio for a while, trying to understand what what going on with the recording. I was also spying–I was there for a purpose. The purpose was, the boys felt they needed an adult to come down with them to observe and make sure that everything was legit, and make sure they didn’t sign anything or agree to anything that was stupid.
And I took that function seriously, because I took off of work and drove my ass down there, I’m going to do it right so that I wouldn’t think afterward that I wasted my time. I sat and observed, then took a walk around town. First, however, I walked around the building. I just wanted to–
Okay, here are the issues:
First, is this a legitimate studio? They say they are affiliated with a big name producer. Does he even exist? If he does exist, is he affiliated with this dump? The boys spent about a grand on this four days in the studio. Are they getting their money’s worth? And this young guy Tony, running the board–does he even know what he’s doing?
Over the next several days I got my questions answered, all without me seeming like a spy, so don’t tell anyone.
Yes, this big named producer does exist. I looked the guy’s name up on the Internet, and saw several news stories showing what he had done and whom he had worked with. Some impressive shit on that list. And yes he is affiliated with them. Not just because of the gold records on the wall–because I thought cynically that those could be faked–but because several people came by–including a local cop, asking if they guy was back in town yet.
I don’t want to give his name because it would be embarrassing for it to show up in this article not believing the guy. But you understand our concern, don’t you? We hear about this studio on the Internet, down in the butt hole of Missouri, run by a famous guy. Why? Why is it there? Well, that puts him closer to Nashville–it’s just a few hours away–and it’s his hometown and he had a dream. Also, it gives bands a chance to get away from the big city life while they record. Meh. Okay.
I finally the answers I needed, and that was good. Tony, the young guy running the board, called a hotel and got me a deal, and I went to check it out and check in. I came back and hung out briefly, and left about 9 pm. The boys were working musician’s hours: they got up about noon or later, and stayed up until 2 or three am working. They had laid most of the drum tracks, but later would have to go back and redo one or two of them. When I was there Drew was working on some of the guitar tracks. Dalton had laid down his bass tracks for all five tracks in less than an hour. Alex’s part would be last.
I went back to the hotel and chilled. "You wouldn’t, by chance, have a wireless Internet connect here, would you?" Yes she did, and she gave me a card with the password. I emailed Lou, because if we were going to try to do the show tomorrow with me Skyping in, I needed to know what I needed to download and install, right? I worked on some material, but I didn’t have my heart in it because I wasn’t sure if we would even be doing it. I thought that we could just kind of go over the live show material, if anything.
I got up early, and knew I would have most of the day–ah, freedom. First of all, I had four days off from all three jobs–that’s kind of like 7 days off of one job. No fiancé telling me what to do, either. I could sit around in my underwear and play on the computer…which is not much different from what I do at home.
Except I couldn’t get on-line. I talked to Patty, who had already helped me last night when I lost the room key and she gave me another. That morning I found it, but I had no connection. I brought my laptop to the office and got a connection. She said, "We can put you in another room, closer to the router." Fine by me. I left my car parked where it was and walked down to the new room with my bags and my pillows. The connection is good.
Still no email from Lou, or call from either Lou or Suzan. Hmmm. Okay, maybe we aren’t doing the show after all.
I get a call from Suzan about 2:15. "Ready?"
"Ready for what?"
Oh, this is going to be great. Lou checks his email and says, "Oh." But it’s really simple. I download the thing and install it, and we try to do the show. This was to be the first "real" show, and while it went better than the practice run, ultimately it was unairable. Good thing we record and post later.
After we did the show, I stayed on skype and we talked about it. I wonder if Lou was having doubts about us actually being viable. I know I was. But he gave us some constructive criticism, and explained more how it ought to be. He said, "I’m going to be your harshest critic."
I snorted. "Have you even *met* my ex wife?"
But at least now I have something to go on. That, and what he said just last week, when we finally got a good show. He said to me, "You largely drive the content."
Oh. I realize that now, I guess. So is the show really all about me? Christ, could I be any more narcissistic? Suzan is there for…let’s see. First, she’s loud, and she laughs at everything I say.
Secondly, I can bounce ideas off of her, and see what sticks. So to speak. Also, she has some political connections and things, and knows some people. And, since she is newly single and has entered the dating scene, we get some mileage out of that material.
Plus it was kinda her idea. But she knows, too, that the material comes from me, like a fountain. A fountain of humor that just soaks you and gets all in your eyes and covers your face and sticks in your hair and smears your glasses and makes you look like–
Never mind what you look like.
So I guess I need to thank them both, and offer them to you to blame, for giving me yet another avenue to share my gift with the world. The gift of sarcasm.
Later, I went back to the studio. It’s hard to tell if progress is being made, but it is. I get the chance to talk to Tony, because I’m curious about how a guy as young as he learned how to do this, and operate what is clearly over 50 grand worth of equipment. Actually, after he told me about it, let’s move that up to 200 grand.
He answered simply. "I started when I was 12 running the board at my church when the other engineer quit," he said with his laid back Arkansas drawl.
And I believe that, but other stuff he says I just can’t believe. That had me worried at first, which is why I wanted verification on the owner and so forth. Tony is a shit-talker. You can’t bullshit a bullshitter, son. Some of the stuff he said hurt my eyeballs, because they were trying to roll and I was trying to be polite and hold my poker face.
But ultimately, the proof will be in the pudding. In a couple of weeks, they get their demo. After it is professionally engineered by the man himself, the man in question who owns the place.
I had a brief chat with Alex in the kitchen. He said Tony recommended that they go get a 15 thousand dollar loan so they can cut the entire album. Really. I knew some shit was up. I said, "You need to get paid more than 6 bucks a show before you get a loan for 15k." That was my sage counsel. I also said, we need to get them on my sister’s radio show–I had just talked to her–and she also knows some booking people for to get shows to play.
As an afterthought, I said I know a guy who does the metal show on a big station in St Louis. KSHE does Monday Night Metal. On Tuesday night, of course. I know the guy–not well, and not personally, but I know him. I’ll send him an email, see what he says.
Mark had been in the other room, in the studio. He had overheard, because he popped the door open and said, "You can be our new manager."
So I can put that on my resume.
They were making progress, so I let them be, and I headed back to the hotel. I was going to be gone before they got up, so we made communication arrangement, and I left.
Sunday morning. Ah, the country. It had been a good couple of days off. I was working, in a sense, but not doing my usual thing. It felt more like I was a producer than anything, and it felt cool. I had time away from the jobs and did some new things, and visited a new place.
All in all, I had a good time.