Me and You and a Dog named Blue…..

There once was a band called The Ape Hangers.

Actually, when we started the record they were called
Throttle. In the middle of the record, about
the time the lead singer/guitar player’s brother died,
they had to change their name.

He never missed a step.

They were a trio.

We did the record over the Holidays. It ended up
being one of the three or four best records we ever
made.

We, is me and Alex.

One of the biggest reasons it turned out so good was
because they could goddamn play. The groove was nice and slippery but there were no leaks. They could play. No air escaped.

Another reason was Pete, singer guitar player, could write a motherfucking song. He had a charisma on the mic unlike I had ever seen or heard in a not yet rockstar. One of the very best rythm guitar players I’ve ever recorded. A consumate musician.

He bought me a bottle of Jim Beam and a copy of Leg Show for Christmas.

There wasn’t any click tracks, protools fuckery or razor blade abuse. No computerized consoles for the mix. All manual and hands on. Recorded and mixed in studio “C “, the redheaded stepchild of what was the world famous A&M recording studio complex.

Conventional wisdom was you couldn’t make a record in that room. It was for demos and overdubs. Me & Al made quite a few very good records in that ten by twenty space with the ridiculously low ceiling.

What most of them didn’t understand, was the little thirty two input sixteen bus API was by far the best sounding console in the place.

Even better than the Neve across the hall in “A”, built for George Martin with the basketball sized tracking room.

Fools.

By that time, Al and I had figured out how to squeeze every last drop of sound out of that woman. Nobody could do what we could do in there. We ate it and slept it.

The most manipulation the Ape Hanger record saw was Me & Al cutting the master sequence together. Al did an excellent job and I was present.

We’re talking master mixes here and I hated cutting tape. It caused my manhood to atrophy.

Al has had his own genius on most of the time.

I don’t know what Al would say, but it was probably the easiest
record we ever made. I say that because I can hear it
in my head and it sounds marvelous. It cracks and
soaks and chunks and bathes and bites.

I heard it in my head as we made it. During basic tracks I could here the vocal effect I would use. I owned it.

It’s true. We were good. Alex and I thought
differently about a lot of things. Born on the same
day, a few years apart, and nearly opposite in most
ways.

But a crazy understanding between us. I
brought an anvil and he came with a feather. I was the barbarian and he was the diplomat. I still regard him as a geek savant. An impressive intellect, and a very sweet man. Funny as fuck.

His feather was as awesome as my anvil. The feather
and the anvil were a good mix.

It’s true, Al had mad skills. He also brought an encyclopedic knowledge of virtually all music.

So we made this record, and we made others. Damn
near every record we made was quite good.

I knew we were doing something in there because the
opposition kept growing. Our contemporaries had begun to treat us differently, to look at us with different eyes and faces, and we could feel it.

I was coming off Everclear’s “Sparkle And Fade” debut on Capitol. I co-produced it with Art Alexakis (lead singer and guitar player) and engineered. It yielded a couple top ten singles and the album ended up in the Billboard top ten.

We had the president of A&M dancing and playing air guitar in the control room on his sometimes daily visits. He often came with David Anderle, an A&R legend among other things.

The promotion dept. had landed two songs on two different soundtracks and tracks in two different movies starring the likes of Liv Tyler, Renée Zellweger Andy Garcia and Christopher Walken. Empire Records and Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead.

We made an excellent record.

Empire Records was to be a high profile release with a major promotional push. Somehow, that never happened. It wasn’t a great movie but it didn’t suck. Must not have tested well.

We were told we’d be guests at the premier.

I think it went straight to video.

The band was a formidably cool hang.

Dennis, the drummer with the wandering eye. One of the funniest motherfuckers I ever met. He would drink with you until you were done. He would ride in the back of Rick’s piece of shit red Mazda without even being asked and he channeled Keith Moon constantly.

He played fucking brilliantly.

I understood that Dennis would follow you into hell because he’d already been there more than a few times. If you knew him, you knew that about him.

Then there was Bob. Bob played bass. Very well. I’m thinking he had a kick drum for a prostate. Very nice, a little dark, and I’m guessing more disturbed than the other two. I adored Bob, It’s just I knew him less.

These guys, along with Al and whatever assistant the studio may or may not have given us for the day, made up an absolute holiday of humans.

Really good times.

Pete eventually let me know I’d burned a hole in his pristine white carpet with a cigarette.

Either Bob or Dennis or maybe both, bought me a plastic candy cane tube full of mini bar booze that year.

Then it seems, everyone forgot about it.

Everyone involved.

They pulled support for the movie, so it tanked. Then, the entire tiny rustic lot of my record company forgot about it. They all walked away from a record they had either been on fire about or ordered to be on fire a few months prior.

They actually played live on that lot one hot afternoon, every employee was invited. It was catered by In & Out. I was sure Dennis would die that day.

No matter how good the record was, it hadn’t cost them a dime. To scrap it meant less than nothing. We were paid salary from the studio and the record company paid me thirty five an hour as an engineer.

And that was it.

All I can tell you is it’s a great fucking record.

Drinks for my friends.

2 Responses to “Me and You and a Dog named Blue…..”

  • Red Five:

    My boss is yelling about how much time I’m spending reading this blog, but I could care less because I’m commission only. He doesn’t pay me by the hour, the car lot is dead, and I somehow feel smarter after I finish one of your posts.

    I inhaled the entire “making records” section today. A glimpse into an industry I’ve always been curious about.

    Everclear’s Sparkle and Fade is one of my favorite albums of all time. Period.

    My father once dressed up as Dick Cheney for a Halloween party that my room-mate threw. Complete with dour expression, Halliburton ball cap, and a GW Bush hand puppet in his pocket. It was made even more hilarious when my best friend showed up dressed as Scooter Libby.

    I’m attempting (poorly) to steal your writing style for this comment, but I’m afraid I’m not nearly as linguistically talented as you are.

    I’m having buckets of fun reading this blog, and hope that circumstances allow you to continue writing it for a very long time.

  • admin:

    Well thank you very much. The Making Records series will be a book along with the A&M series. There’s over seven hundred blogs here so you have plenty to read. Thanks again 🙂

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