9 years ago in June of 2005, I was in the thick of building our recording studio, a career and life changing experience. Towards the end of construction, I got a call from the Green Natives who said “We hear you are building a recording studio, and we need to record some music!”. I figured 3 weeks would be plenty of time to finish things up, and get the studio ready. My contractor said “We’ll be done well before 3 weeks”.

Well, we were both wrong.

The night before the session came, and we weren’t completely done (there were still finishing touches and sound baffles to build), but we were at a stopping point. It was 7pm and I was frantically sweeping the floors of studio in a bit in a panic for tomorrows session. The rooms were basically done, but there was no recording gear or instruments inside yet. What to do!?

I called my friend Matt Forger (who helped with the design of the studio), and said “Hey Matt, my first session is tomorrow morning, I know it’s late notice, but is there any way that I could get you to come help me set up the studio?” Thank God and he was not booked that night and the two of us worked for hours getting things set up. We wired up the rooms, brought in the recording gear, mics, stands, drums, etc…We got to recording drum tones around 1am, and miraculously the mic cables and live room input box that I had hand wired all worked, as did the rest of the gear.

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It was a modest setup with a PC driven Pro Tools 002 rig, Yamaha AW4416, AIP 3124+ Line 6 Pod, and other gear much of which has been replaced over the years. Except the API.

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The next morning, I welcomed the boys with a big smile thinking “Okay, this is it, I hope this all works!”. Thankfully that session went well and the boys were happy.

The reason I mention this story today is that The Green Natives finished one of those songs and just posted it on FB. So here it is from the very first Bright Orange Studios session 9 years ago ‪#‎TBT‬

http://www.greennatives.com/ALONE_MASTER.mp3

 

My good friend Louise Palanker created a new video for the Our Place theme song that we produced together. Our Place is a social media app for teens and tweens where kids get together and discuss issues, learn about life, and make new friends.

All of the recording and mixing took place at my studio with a host of talented people including Bob Cowsill (of The Cowsills), Lily Fair, Stephen Bock, Emma Bock, Rebecca Goldberg and Tyler Connaghan. Featuring OPOL Cast Members Alex, Ryan, Olivia, Jake, Aaron, Xio, Kiemute and more. Louise can be seen on percussion, and there’s a brief shot of me on the drums.

So here is the Our Place Theme Extended Mix, re-worked in the studio with footage from the sessions and also from her video podcasts. It should make you smile.

Most objects usually speak out rhythms and patterns to me as I’m doing these sound design sessions, and with two of the water heater panels in front of me, this rhythm emerged. It will inevitably end up on a future piece of music. Captured by my son on an iPhone:



One man’s trash is another man’s excuse for a sampling session. After dismantling our old water heater (we upgraded to a tankless system), the old enclosure panels were screaming to be heard.

I talked my son and his friend into helping me out, and I quickly put them to work. Grabbing my trusty ‘hazard mics’ (a pair of Tascam TM-78s), and some long Canare mic cables, I pushed record in Pro Tools and let the sampling begin….

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The kids had fun banging on metal and making lots of noise.

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I of course got to be a kid too, and smashed up some metal and also created some thunder:

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Television spot #2 for the Disney movie Tangled.  My  track “Somebody Pinch Me” was featured. I’ll never forget my son running through our house yelling “It’s you daddy, it’s you!” when he saw the commercial and heard the song.  He was watching a DVR’d episode of Star Wars The Clone Wars and then the Tangled commercial played. That was a great moment.

 

Here’s the solo I performed which took 1st place at the Guitar Center Drum Offs in 1992. It was the regional competition finals of Southern California at club SPICE in Hollywood, CA, in front of a panel of celebrity Bee judges including Matt Sorum, Pat Torpey, Ralph Humphrey, Doane Perry, and Carmine Appice. As Carmine later remembered me “he was the one with the cowbells!”. What you can’t see in this there? video are those mounted cowbells that were played with the left foot and left hand in the solo…

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cTNEkSgZko]

 

Ever since I began playing the drums, I’ve never been one of those drummers to walk into a music store and start bashing away on drums to get attention or show off chops. In fact, before the drum offs, I hadn’t played extended drum solos like this in front of an audience before. The drum off competiton was more about challenging myself and playing an unaccompanied drum solo in front of other drummers, rather than trying to prove that I was ‘better’ then anyone else.

The drum offs were just getting started in the early 90s, and I had seen my friends Copeland Dave Beyer and Nick D’Virgilio compete in them. Emirates They both played musical drum solos and had excellent technique. Some of the other drummers that competed were not quite as interesting or musical and I thought “I could do something at least as good or better than those guys”. It was then that I decided it would be a good challenge to put together a 37 drum solo, and see what happens.

I approached the solo as a composition, and it had a definite beginning, middle, and end. There were plenty of places left for spontaniety, but overall it was a bit more like playing a piece of music, rather than 100% improvisiation. It was a competition, and I wanted to do well in all the categories that were being judged: Creativity, Groove, Dynamics, Crowd Response, and Technique. Everyone who enters these things usually has plenty of technique, but not everyone fares well or focuses on these other categories.

It was fun to compete, and of course I was happy to win, but SLIKA I reaped another benefit from the experience that I didn’t appreciate until later: There has not been any gig, session, audition, interview, etc… that has come close to the pressure of playing a drum solo in front of a club full of other drummers, and celebrity judges…

As a funny side story, I practiced this solo (and variations of it) in front of some crowds before the competition. One of which was a KNAC drum solo night at a Red Onion in Huntington Beach. Not being a head-banger, I felt a bit out of place, but wanted to get some reaction from my solo. Boy did I get it. In the middle of IBS my solo, the KNAC DJ says through the loud PA “We don’t wanna hear no latin sh*t! We wanna hear some rock and roll!”.