Part the firste:
Well, I was in Southern California the past few days (August 5-10) for a number of reasons, not the least of which was to get my proverbial hands dirty in the preparation process for recording album #4. Arriving late Thursday night for a rehearsal with Gravehill, plans are made to rendezvous with the inimitable Wes Caley (guitar) the following day. After dicking around with a few things, getting beer, Wes fixing my guitar (thanks dude!), etc. we set up in Wes’ recording room in Westminster (Orange County). Mr. Caley and I have been writing furiously for months now, coming up with over 20 songs, and 16 strong contenders for the album, that we have decided to focus in on. Due to the wonders of the information age, we’re able to email each other our respective demo tracks (his are infinitely better recorded than mine) and tablature to boot. However, there’s no substitute for sitting down face to face and playing together. So, in short order riffs are exchanged and taught, arrangements are discussed and tweaked, song titles and lyrics are beginning to be remembered by yours truly and associated with the respective songs they belong to, and things really feel like they are coming together at last. Since this is the first time that we’ve actually got together in the same room, it really drives it home that this album is really happening and all the shit we’ve been planning and talking about is now becoming actual events, not just email threads and phone conversations. It’s a really energizing feeling after months of talking about it from thousands of miles away (I was living in Hawaii for the first six months of this year).
After spending about four or five hours working through some tracks thoroughly, it’s off to the Makh Daniels benefit show that Gravehill is playing in Whittier - which also served as a birthday party for an old friend and true sister of metal, Lili! Beers are drained, tacos are contemplated but ultimately passed over in favor of more beer, and a good time was had by all- hopefully Mr. Daniels would have approved. Saturday was basically void of productivity - being hungover and watching cheesy comedy takes up most of my time and energy before Gravehill rehearsal.
Sunday, Wes and I meet up with the third member of our cast of characters, everybody’s favorite full-time asshole, Leon del Muerte (bass, vocals, Murder Construct, DIS, ex-Impaled, Intronaut, Phobia, etc. etc.). We get to Echo Park for the “Power of the Riff” fest around 5:30, unfortunately missing Nails and Black Breath, but well in time for From Ashes Rise and my old pals in Repulsion. Col (Jones, drums, Repulsion, Cretin, Dekapitator, ex-Exhumed) shares some pizza with Wes and I, as well as encouragement and feedback about the upcoming record (which he‘s already heard most of the demo tracks for), and not too long after that Leon and I somehow end up at a strange bar in Chinatown drinking Maker's Mark with a couple of attractive women. Then it's back to Echo Park to reunite with Wes and his lady, with several tacos in tow. More beers inevitably follow. With a work ethic like this, I’m shocked that it takes us years between albums. Very productive day indeed.
The next day, Wes and I leave Leon in Echo Park to spend the remainder of his day in bed trying not to vomit (having already called out of work the previous evening in a rare exercise of good judgment) and head to the Gravehill rehearsal space to crank up and go over more songs. Despite hangovers, we end up getting a lot done today. The only speed-bump in the road is that our fourth member, absentee drummer Danny (Walker, of Intronaut, Murder Construct, ex-Phobia, Uphill Battle, etc. etc.) has a scheduling conflict for the dates we’ve just booked to track his drums. Since he’s currently on the road with Intronaut (supporting Cynic), communication hasn’t been as good as it should be, and the fact that I have a new phone and number and I a) forgot to give him my new number, and b) forgot to program his number into my new phone, well, that hasn’t helped much either.
In short order, the dates are pushed back, which is a great relief as the rest of the recording is already booked in Phoenix Arizona with an old, and truly good friend of mine Ryan Butler at his Arcane Digital Recording studio. Our flights and hotel down there are already booked and paid for by our friends at Relapse, so it’s nice that the schedule change won’t effect anything else going forward. Now we just have one less week to prepare (after already pushing the recording up a week).
Wes is kind enough to stick around during Gravehill practice so we can re-up on the venom (get more beer) and head back to Westminster to drink ourselves into a stupor and get ready to practice yet again on Tuesday. After some discussion it’s decided that Wes will undertake the time-intensive task of recording a whole new set of pre-production demos with the new arrangement changes we’ve made so that Danny has the most complete set of tracks to learn the songs from before we rehearse. As much as this will streamline the rehearsal process, I have to admit that it makes me miss the good old days, when I’d just get off the school bus, walk over to Col’s house and then we’d walk to my folk’s garage and just try out riffs for a couple of hours before dinner. I especially miss the crappy little boom box we had in said garage to record our tuneless racket, but I digress. After going through the first seven songs with a fine-toothed comb for the past few days, we decide to get some work done on yet another new tune, which will be the first directly co-written tune we’ve whipped up. Hopefully we’ll finish this one in time for the record as well. By then, it’s high time to call it a day so I can meet up with the Gravehill guys one last time before I head back north to the Central California coast where I can return to the relative calm, cool weather and fog around 2am.
Stay tuned to this broadcast in the coming weeks for the next exciting chapter in the continuing adventures of the usual gang of idiots in Exhumed.