A&M chapter Six

I dove farther and harder into obscurity.

I was stung.  Once bitten twice shy.

I worked nights as a janitor.

The Todd on phones.  He played his Strat upside down and backwards like Hendrix.  I always liked Todd Montgomery, it would take years on up to today to fully appreciate him.  He rode Japanese steel.  Him and Symington.  The grunion run.  His wife was and still is a successful  comedienne.  Tall goofy guy with a ridiculous grin who made friends easily, but chose them carefully.

Easily underestimated.

I ran into him in Vegas a few years back, his wife was performing where I was staying.  He was gracious and sweet.  We had a quick drink.  I had some place to be but he was happy to walk with me to my room so we could talk.  He hung with me while I changed clothes, brushed my teeth and even walked with me and talked with me on my way back down.  He was happy with himself as well as his life and family.

He was sun through the clouds of the mission I was on.  My crew actually traveling with bodyguard.

A lung full of clean air in my toxic life.

We’re still in touch.

Otherwise, I did the best I could to land in studio C.

A little 32 input API.  The most rudimentary of the five rooms.  The redheaded step child of the entire complex.  If you were in there, you were probably assisting on a demo, as in not a record.  The engineer usually understood he was getting someone with training wheels attached.  Not quite live without a net.

It was the lowest profile gig to be had that still afforded an opportunity to learn.  My place to get the big picture on at my own pace.  So, I did just that.  I pushed hard for gigs in C.  I would divine the process and what was expected of me.  The room belonged to the record company, as opposed to the studio, from nine to five.

Bonus.  Sane hours.

Work hours in a recording studio, unless your role is administrative or clerical, have no thing to do with eight hours a day, five days a week.  Twelve hours a day, six days a week is pretty tame.  Hundred hour weeks were de rigueur.  I was to sleep there often.

Thing was, I would still be pushing someone out of a comfortable seat.  Scott Symington was studio C attending.  Symington wasn’t well liked and I never understood why.  At least not completely.  He seemed nice enough.  He had a smarmy cop mustache.  I think he might have shit talked me a few times but beyond that I didn’t think too hard about him.

No trouble there.

It didn’t take me long to displace Symington.  I got the idea he was on his way out.  I doubt he saw me coming.  I’m not sure he cared.

Joe Borja was really my first mentor.  A thick, short Filipino guy with an over sized head and the voice of a ten year old.  Joe didn’t have a car.  Once in a while, on a good pay day for Joe, I’d take him to his hotel in my shitbox and we’d stop on the way at Yamashiro’s for drinks and to do blow in the gardens.

I almost flattened him one day in a crosswalk.  Didn’t see him.

My first gig with Joe was tracking in C.  He assigned me one task.  We had a guitar amp in the machine room.  We were using it as an iso booth.  Two sliding glass doors between the control room and the machine room.  Joe asked me to make sure both doors were closed always before we were rolling.  Wax on wax off.  No shit.  He showed me how bad I could be at a very simple thing.  Then he showed me a microcosm of what I needed to pay attention to in the time I’d forgotten to make sure both doors were closed.

He wasn’t a dick about it, he just pointed it out.

I would assist Joe on and off for years and he did his best to teach me something.

Joe wasn’t always easy on me but he was good to me.  A solid engineer with a giant heart.  He taught me with patience.  Showed me how to hold the hammer.  He demonstrated what happened when it was swung with a good arc.

It occurred  to me I was to be a shitty assistant and Joe was in silent agreement.  He still did the best he could by me, even though he knew I sucked.  I could tell by the way he looked at me that his hopes weren’t high.  We both understood that I didn’t have the temperament or the patience.

Thanks Joe Borja, for all of it.

There were others.  John Bogosian helped me a lot.  Tall good looking guy with cool hair who smoked Marlboro Reds and used a Zippo.  Swagger.  Bogosian was a good friend to me and even went after chief tech Mikey Morongell on my behalf one morning.  Mikey was spewing his coach cleats schtick on me as the underling.  Leveraging the pecking order.  Bogosian called him on it.  Mikey walked away.  Pretty cool.

Mikey wasn’t a bad guy.  He was a somewhat volatile Italian prick threatened by a squad of insanely talented and capable techs beneath him.

John came to the deep Valley one night to get me after I’d fled my Koreatown apartment during the riots. His old man was a coach for the Seattle Seahawks.  He took me to a party with a band we were working with called Aristocratic Trash.  I got drunk and I got laid but I can’t remember how I got back to the valley.

John was kinda damaged and struggling to adhere to the twelve step thing.  Sometimes gracefully and sometimes not, he’d leave the control room.  I would take over.  It is the simplest explanation of how I won the trust of a band called Rat Bat Blue.  Thank you John, Dabro, Allen, Ace and Fraulein Sniffy.

Fraulein Sniffy was the drummer.  The roughly two women drummers I worked with were both excellent.

Here was a band that could play. Rat Bat Blue was to be be my ultimate pig guinea.  Along with bands named Wink, Undercity, Agnes Gooch and dozens of others and eventually some punk band named Down By Law.  I’m not sure how many songs we, Rat Bat Blue and me, completed over the years.  More than twenty is my guess.  Wonderful people, excellent band.  My chops began there as well as my understanding that the only benefit I would enjoy from being an assistant engineer was to learn to from others how to make things sound the way they sounded in my head.

The first time I did that, was with Rat Bat Blue.  I knew it immediately when it happened, it sounded like it did in my head.

It’s a story for another day.

I realized my future in pro audio would only be jeopardized by pursuing excellence as a second engineer.  I knew I needed to bypass this step as much as possible but realized I’d have to wade in as much as I could stand.  My only shot was to make it sound like it did in my head.

To be a good engineer.

Drinks for my friends.

2 Responses to “A&M chapter Six”

  • Chortlecop:

    Diggin’ it, Pigman.
    Diggin’ it.
    From a hound role in a round hole.
    Diggin’ it.
    From an obnoxious bootlace to a tempremental scallion: salutes for you my friend.
    Now get that little fucking plastic swastika outta my gin and tonic!
    Mongoloids for all my penises.

  • admin:

    Send me a statement peniswhipdrink. Pricksolita…….

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