….my surprise, last Friday night to find myself playing guitar on stage at a club called Poine Ephemere in Paris. There I was, once more, wondering ‘what the fuck am I doing here?’. The true answer was, of course, enjoying myself, but first I had better tell the story before I analyse it too much.
I had a call From Daniel Chavis, singer of apollo heights, who have been over here in Europe from Brooklyn NY where they reside, playing some shows. I have known Daniel and his twin brother Danny for a real long time, having produced an album for them, sometime last century. They play music which is quite unique, effortlessly bridging genres, bringing Danny’s, sometimes luscious, sometimes vicious guitars to play over hip-hop beats with Daniel’s soulful voice like an angel turned demon. OK, I like them. Tonight they’ve been joined by the rest of the band, Honeychild Coleman on Hagstrom guitar, Hayato Nakao on Bass and programmed stuff and Damali Rashawn on drums…But when I arranged to go Paris to meet up with the band, really just to pay my respects and say hi, I had no intentions of dragging my, relatively white, ass up on stage, even although Daniel had asked me on the phone. But, who am I kidding?, these folks are charming. Next thing I’m on stage at their soundcheck, looking for a guitar, looking for lots of pedals (I only could borrow one, a boss delay) and plugging into a fender twin… They played a couple of songs I knew from last century, but when I say knew I didn’t mean ‘knew how to play’ I just meant ‘knew’ and had just about 10 minutes to work out what I was doing.. OK, that wasn’t too bad.. fast forward…before long it’s showtime and I watched the band from in front of the stage and they were mighty impressive. Then Daniel asked me to come up, I put on my guitar with true Nigel Tuffnelesque panache and the band started to play a song I’d never heard before. Mo-ther-fuck-ers… OK, so I played along and made some shit up…arrggg, no mountains of effects pedals to hide behind, just one very very small looking boss pedal…damn… OK, next song, I know that, next one….. what the fuck is this? … don’t worry it’s in E… I can do E, yup E’s definitely the best key for a song to be in if you haven’t heard it before…Just wait till I get of this fucking stage . Well you know the story, I stayed up there until the end of the set, played five or six songs with them, thoroughly enjoying myself. Just a shame Danny wasn’t there too…. I’ll post a picture if anyone sends me one, we must have been an odd looking bunch, especially the confused looking guitar player… Another good thing I learned was how to say motherfucker just as an African American would which I’m sure I’ll be able to put to good use around the home, for sure….
me looking worried trying to find E (the chord, not the drug) with apollo heights during the soundcheck….
btw…Happy Valentines Day
….have I been up all night? Went to bed.. woke up.. can’t sleep… jet-lag… It’s quiet here, I’m sooo bored with my own company but realise that waking up my kids for a fatherly chat at 4am isn’t really cool. Mmm, what to do. Well I can write this… boring… what else, I sat in the kitchen reading Because the Night by James Elroy and smoking my wife’s rolling tobacco which is (with a David Sedaris voice) Dis-gus-ting… Thought I may do a little work, but don’t want to make much noise and anyway work is meant to be done when I’m… working, not during my sleep time, which is now….so this is extra… I could tidy up my computer, but know myself too well, I know that I just jump randomly from one interesting thing that I find to the next, never actually completing anything. That’s my problem when I sit at my computer with no aim. So… let me see, I’ve been tagging mp3’s, messing around with Hamachi, which rocks by the way, finding all the really important email that my spam checker had dumped into the trash in the last few months, trying to figure out why one of my computers doesn’t show up on the list of workgroup computers – it’s there if you search for it – I had a look around the web for a soundtrack I’ve been trying to track down (copkiller/order of death – ennio morricone), what else?, been looking at the clock every ten minutes but it’s still night.. Been using google earth looking for places I know and weird shit – I should post some kmz files…. man, I am soooo fucking bored. It’s like tony hancocks sunday afternoon at home… It’s at moments like this that I get really, really stupid ideas like giving myself a haircut, or perhaps decorating the kitchen or even fixing that network drive that’s been playing up….no, that’s a bad idea as I know I’ll end up two weeks later having done serious data recovery and having rebuilt every machine from ground up…. better not touch it now… I’ve just realised… this is it.. this is my spare time… I should enjoy it… To think I waste so much time sleeping…. By the way, if this is tedious reading, trust me it’s tedious writing too… I’d rather be sleeping… Is it too early for breakfast? Should I drink coffee and stay up all of tomorrow or should I go to bed and be wide awake?.. fuck, maybe I should make random phone calls to people in other time zones… I don’t know… I’m thinking of looking at my to-do list and catching up with all the things that are over a year out of date…. but I as I’m actually very, very afraid of my to-do list maybe I won’t bother.. I know… back in a minute….. nope.. that didn’t work… still awake… s’funny that usually makes me tired… fuck it, I think I’ll do the early breakfast thing and get on with my day…. thanks for staying up with me….I needed the company….
…..is a little hard for me this time, I’ve been enjoying making music, which, for a couple of days, was simply writing music in the kitchen of SF Soundworks with mo more than my little laptop and a pair of headphones. This simplified version of my process reminded me of my trip across the US on amtrak last year, when I created the 19 Crescent show which I performed in Los Angeles, with the notable exception that the studio kitchen wasn’t traversing a continent. That said though, in the warm cocooned environment that one creates with headphones, it’s really easy to get in the zone and increase the levels of concentration and output, beyond the usual expected for the kitchen, unless you happen to be a Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson. It was lovely to eavesdrop on the conversations of other musicians and producers sharing the facility to learn about their process and what they were doing and it made me realise that I’ve been working in too much isolation these last few years. I do actually enjoy people sometimes and even if I do remain a control freak, er, I mean person with a vision, in the studio and given that creativity really shouldn’t occur at all in a vacuum, it’s probably time for me to think about producing someone again. I have a lot to learn about making and producing music, even if I have been doing it for a while and who better to learn from than other control freaks….Made some lovely music, mind you with the expert help of Tony, Count and Loredana (my, can that girl edit…) and I profoundly thank you all…
me playing tony’s telecaster… such a versitile guitar… so long as you like it sounding like a telecaster…pretty colour though, went very nicely with my eyes….