A&M Chapter Fourteen

There were these two guys.  Ed Stasium and Paul Hamingson.  Ed was a little crazy and Paul was little sane.  Yin and yang.  Ed had a bit of of an Alfred E. Newman grin and Paul had a wandering eye and a Weird Al Yankovich vibe.  Ed was the producer and Paul was the engineer.  Some of the most pleasant times I ever spent in a control room were with these guys.

I liked them, very much.  I learned a shitload from them both.  They both had a quiet methodical discipline and a humor just as subtle.

I learned the art of a good flange using just an AMS off the sync head.  Monitoring quietly through anything cheap.  Bringing something to read to a session with Pauly and Ed was important because they didn’t want me bouncing around the control room with nothing to do.

Both of them, good old friends of Mark Harvey.

They weren’t just two guys.  I’m proud to count them as friends.  I hope it’s not too presumptuous to hope they feel at least somewhat the same about me.  Actually, I think can be confident Pauly does.  We’ve been corresponding a little lately.

They had a system, a major component of which was zero drama.  They did their thing without angst, urgency or anger.  No eighteen hour days or at least as few as were absolutely necessary.  Methodology gorgeous.  They would have preferred Geetus as their assistant but they weren’t unhappy with me, I hope.  I think.  Paul supervised me.  He made sure I documented and took care of the things that were important to both he and Ed.

As a second engineer, the job is to make the engineers job easier and to be “wood” in the eyes of the producer.  I was never an expert at either.  It’s true I have kind of a big personality and it got me in trouble more than once.  Ed and Paul never seemed to mind much.  They were as egoless as I would ever encounter in a control room.

Understand that Ed Stasium was as luminous and accomplished as anyone I would have the privilege to work with.  From the Chambers Brothers to Sha Na Na.  The Ramones, The Talking Heads, Soul Asylum, Living Colour and Mick Jagger.  The Smithereens seminal album “11”, Motorhead and the Reverend Horton Heat.  I don’t think I ever tracked with Ed and Paul, but it was a pleasure to assist them both on the mixes I did with them.  They knew what they were doing and the vibe was focused but relaxed.  They made clear what they expected of me and it was relatively minimal.

It occurs to me now, they didn’t really need an assistant at all, much less me.  Pauly was on it.  I was perhaps the shittiest assistant at A&M studios, save for maybe Randy Wine.  Wine was way smarter and more capable, he just gave far less of a shit.  That says a lot.

Fred Stadium and Pauly.  Always a sweet gig I was happy to have whenever the Geetus wasn’t available.  “Did ya prick her ya prick ya?” was a question Ed was fond of asking for no reason at all.  Ed was a friendly goof and not a little bit of a dirty old man.  Forgive me for mentioning his tremendous talent last.

I was in The Mix Room once with Gggarth and Joe Barresi working on an L7 record and Biohazard was directly across the hall in Studio D with Ed and Paul.  Understand that I thought these Biohazard guys were consummate dickheads.  About the time cell phones first came out and these Jersey retards wandered the halls all day trying to get a signal with bricks pressed to their empty, wannabe heads in a recording studio designed to reject all manner of radio or electromagnetic frequency.  Evan Seinfeld was the singer.  Later to have a gig on “OZ”, the HBO series and even later to marry Tera Patrick, the world’s most beautiful porn star.  As far as I know now, Evan is still her suitcase pimp.

He was and I’m sure still is, an idiot.

As fate would have it, Evan and I would cross paths again some ten years later.  First in a titty bar in Vegas and then in the form of a potential business deal involving his beautiful wife and the company I was then second in command at.  Much comedy was had there at Evan’s expense.  I’m still in awe at the idea of this beautiful and elegant woman allowing such a meathead to speak for her, let alone entering into matrimony with such a clueless fucktard.  We clowned him around the office for at least a year.  He somehow got the idea that it was me standing in the way of his wife’s deal with Phallix as my good friend Rick, owner of the company, had passed the buck to me, just to shake his stupid ass and annoyingly self aggrandizing phone calls.

If Evan ever reads this, he’ll be pissed and scrambling for a dictionary.

The truth is, they were asking an astronomical sum for a simple day’s work.  We sought to hire Tera as a catalog model and perhaps develop and market a signature toy with a share of the gross profit.  It was Evan who was relentlessly hard charging for such an exorbitant fee from our relatively small company.  It’s my belief this was because he’s as stupid as I estimated him to be.

I simply wouldn’t take his calls.

It didn’t take long at all for the girls in L7 to understand what kind of brain trust was across the hall.  They were a comic strip.  A cartoon.

The catalyst was their bullshit, macho Jersey swagger.

Wannabe Jewish goombahs.  At least Evan was.  A clown.

There is perhaps nothing I loathe more than those who wrongfully assume they are smarter than they are.

The girls, or rather, women of L7 were a fairly streetwise and savvy bunch.  Jennifer Finch and I forged a bond a little beyond what typically developed between artist and second engineer.  Somehow, she reminded me of my sister.  It was her humor and resolute intelligence.  They were very cool chicks in general.  They would put me in “love jail”.  It involved surrounding me with chaste kisses and aggressive hugs I wouldn’t be able to escape unless I resorted to a degree of violence or brutality that would’ve been completely out of context.

Obviously, I succumbed.  I adored them.  Some of the coolest “artists” with whom I ever had the pleasure.  Very self aware.  Very funny and very real.  At that point in my career, such qualities had begun to stand out.

My future partner, Alex Reed and I were instrumental in getting Jennifer’s next band “Other Star People” a record deal by doing their demos pro bono at A&M studios less than a week after we were both officially released from our employ by A&M recording studios.  Al & I sat in the middle of the cavernous live room of studio A early one morning after we’d completed three songs with that band, burned a candle and drank a fifth of Jim Beam.  It was our wake.  Our Ode to almost two decades between us in that place.

The Other Star People record went nowhere, we were never asked to participate on any level and the other half of the band, a douchebag friend of Alex’s named Xander Smith, hit on my girlfriend hard one night while she was on a layover in Vegas.  I had the pleasure of letting him know on the phone that I knew what he’d done and was secure in the knowledge that I could have broken him in half.

What a prick after what I’d done for him for free.

Welcome to pro audio as my good friend and master tech Gary Myerberg used to say.

But I digress.

Between the two of us, Jennifer and I, we began to foment a good natured plan to  fuck with the dickheads across the hall.  It blossomed one night with Joe and Garth complicit.  Garth was never afraid to stir a little shit.  We sent a runner to a newsstand in Hollywood to buy as many gay porn magazines as possible with what was available in petty cash and waited for the goombahs to leave for the day.

We spent at least an hour cutting out every erect penis we could find and taping them to every surface or moving part there was in the control room of Studio D.  Open the DAT machine and a penis leapt out.  Cassette decks were popping with cocks.  Every multi-track had phalluses ready to spin.  We were thorough and Garth was happy to be the default ring leader, mentoring the circus and directing the placement of elaborate faggotry.

I’ll never forget Joe going around the room and picking up the scraps, so careful not to leave a mess.  A class act was Joe.  Joe, Ed, Paul and Garth were among the best men I ever worked with.  Serious talent and excellent human beings.

At first, it was all in good fun.  The escalation involved both camps barricading each inside their respective studios with furniture from our lounges and the abundant equipment that always lined the back hall.  It didn’t take long for the whole thing to turn ugly, however.  Stupid testosterone resulted in trapping the estrogen in the Studio D lounge against their will with a microphone patched into the complex wide PA system and the the girl’s subsequent panic was broadcast throughout the halls of A&M.

It ended badly.  I was embarrassed for my role in it.

I certainly wasn’t guiltless in playing both ends against the middle, but good clean fun was all I had in mind.  It ended up going way too far and the Biohazard guys remain boneheads in my memory.  I never liked them.  Lowbrow misogynist jerks.  I always loathed bands that thought they were on top of the world just because they’d gotten a record deal and were in our hallowed halls.  Dumb enough to not realize that the hard part begins with a record deal.

I doubt they’ll ever be candidates for the rock & roll hall of fame.  I recall the record they were making then doing pretty well.  No doubt because of Ed & Paul but most subsequent efforts went double balsa.  They are a rock & roll asterisk.

A few years later, Al and I were making the Phenobarbidolls record in Studio C and the phone on the console rang.  I answered it and whoever the receptionist was at the time told me it was Paul Hamingson calling for me.  Put it through I said, I asked Pauly to give me a minute and put it hold so I could take it in the machine room.  I shut both sliding glass doors behind me and lit a Marlboro.  I picked up the phone and said something like Pauly, to what do I owe the pleasure?  He told me he was calling to thank me.  I wondered for what.  He said he was calling to thank me for making his favorite record of the year.

I was more than taken aback.  I have to paraphrase, but the gist of what he said was that the Everclear record I’d done, Sparkle & Fade, was his favorite new record and that it gave him joy to listen to it.  I was beside myself.  It is a singular moment in my music career that I will never, ever forget.  I can’t help but well up a little as I write this.  A professional for whom I had so much admiration and fondness, took it upon himself to call me and congratulate me, for what he estimated to be a job well done, a magnanimous gesture that left me speechless other than to thank him for calling……….

Tears leaked involuntarily as I hung up the phone.  I took my smoke out behind the studios and finished it while I gathered myself.  The enormity of it at that moment is beyond words.  Thanks again Pauly.  That was huge to me.  The confidence and inspiration you handed me that day is no doubt far beyond your humble intentions.  A simple sincere gesture on your part filled my heart.  Thank you my friend.  Thank you.

Drinks for my friends.

9 Responses to “A&M Chapter Fourteen”

  • David Lee 3:

    You rock, always beautifully in all art you endeavor to make.

    Bio-who?

    Whiskey please, stat!

  • admin:

    Oh man. Thank you very much. I’m doing my best.

  • admin:

    Oh, and a single malt for you.

  • Sam:

    Tera Patrick is hot. Biohazard sucks. Where’s the chapter about Down By Law and how awesome I am, motherfucker?

  • admin:

    Saving the Down By Law and Everclear Chapters for the end. Wouldn’t you prefer your chapter to be part of the “climax” seeing as how you’re a “chronic masturbator”?

  • Misty:

    You mean this is it, this is all there is? I wanted to hear about you having lustful encounters, with an abundance delicious fluids besides alcohol. I can’t breathe! Sounds like you been riding on somebody elses plane your whole male adult life.
    No wonder your broke, you need to go get psychoanalized by M for, you can better understand, men. Duah .., So some man you know hit of FfFish, I’m sure that was the first and only time. Probably happens every day all day long. WAke UP! But yeah it’s great when all the goombahs exit at the end of their day, finally ya get to relax and spread a little; ” and see two gigantic testicles, well I guess if your MmMichael PPPpppPhish, with somebody elses wings”

  • admin:

    I never ever understand anything you have to say. Ever. Neither does anyone else.

    I can only manage to be spooked by how hard you pay attention to me. You’ve been creeping me out for years.

    I realize I’ve just violated all the rules by paying attention to you but I need you to know I don’t care about your judgments, pronouncements and not of this planet observations.

    I would be more than happy if you simply went away. Please go away. Leave me alone. You’re weird and unbalanced and I wish you would find a new obsession.

    There’s plenty of fish in the sea and I’m sure you can find someone more interesting than me. I’ve ignored you for a long time but I will now do so proactively. Your comments will be deleted and your ravings will not fall on any of my readers ears.

    Please go away.

    You will respond in the most predictable way and I will delete it as soon as I see it and everything else you write from now on. Waste your breath.

    Go away. I’m so tired of you. Be smart. Walk away. Leave me alone.

    I will not ask or ever address you again.

  • Temy:

    I understand the need to get away, take a break from all the hyperbolic insanity that is American politicul culture right now. I do like very personal stuff sometimes. If I don’t comment on al of them it’s only because you left me speechless.

  • admin:

    Wow, thanks. 🙂

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