Record Store Day

Ah, Record Store Day.
Just what is it, hmmm?

A chance for some wag to release those outtakes from William Shatner’s spoken word on 200 gram purple vinyl?

..hmmm. Wonder if it comes with a download coupon too?!

The day to finally –finally! shop at 6 a.m. and pick up Pussy Galore reissues along with some Krispy Kremes before the household awakes?

Or maybe just a day for the real record geeks to stay home and badmouth the proletariat on the web?
Amateur Hour….. like drinking on New Year’s Eve!…oooh–you got us there, tubby!

Worst holiday ever!

But maybe to most of us, who haven’t had a turntable in 2 decades, Record Store has become the day that lets the world finally peek into these stubborn last outposts of music worship, often lured by the unique chance to see a band playing in broad daylight:
wedged between the bargain bins and the Tshirt rack, the nocturnal creatures can be finally studied under steady flourescent lighting.

One day, as I’m walking out of Pavillions clutching my daily ration of short ribs and half-off Malbecs, I notice a new shop on the horizon:

Good Lord, someone had the balls to open a Record Store in Seal Beach of all places?
And named after one of my all time favorite songs, no less?

Don’t get me wrong, I love our little Mayberry-by-the-sea (so nicknamed for the inherent racism and plentiful supply of town drunks I presume!), but it is not exactly music hipster-central, ya got me?

I’d think you’d be safer selling hearing aids or Old Guys Rule T-shirts in this town brother!

Geoff and pal. I told this guy that bootlegging a Posh shirt was gonna cost him if it ever ended up on the internet....oh, wait...

I stopped in a few times and got to know Geoff, the owner.
Lots of times, on those early dark evenings of dead Winter, I’d run past with a bag of groceries and I could see him manning the counter.
Sometimes with some shoppers in there, sometimes none, and I worried that this cool little oasis wouldn’t survive to the Spring.

And by saying that, I’m not taking the easy target of the music industry or independent shops in general, no.
For the darkened storefronts along Main Street and PCH all tell the same story—-each empty window reminding us that we’re all in the same pierced boat, bailing water as fast as it comes in, this wicked economy threatening to pull us all down!

Besides, where else would you get to go in and see some real rockstars up on the wall–huh?!

......oh my, who are these fetching young ladies?

But survive it did, and we stopped in to congratulate them on a Year Anniversary….and we thought, hmmm?
Could we possibly pull off an in-store in this wacky little town without the citizens of Leisure World coming down on us like a pack of Nazis in walkers?

See, we tried to play in town a couple times before, years ago, and the cops were on us by the end of song one.
Disturbing the peace, no live music permits, blah blah….

But, ya know, what are they gonna do to us now?
We’re easily twice as old as the average police officer—-show a little respect, Sonny!

The day arrives, and we all meet up next door at Coach’s for a pregame tune up.

Tbone defends home turf

Or, for some of the crew, now is the time to stop in for the weekly pedicure!

...yes, yes... they wear those face-masks when they work on the ladies too, smartass!

We squeeze in tight at the back of the store, a few stragglers wander in.
The plastic cups of mystery are filled, drained, and filled again: Downbeat!

We switch on tiny combo amps, Alfie squeezes behind the bongos.
And for a glorious 40 minutes, we are playing in front of family in friends on a Saturday afternoon.

Maria and Anthony Cheapin' up the joint!!

There is none of the hipster scowls or sloppy drunkeness of the usual club gig, for we are playing to the genuine music fans now.
And that’s when the very real value of music, and having a place to get what you’re looking for!— that’s when you realize what a jewel the corner Record Store is!

Teachin the groms how to start a pit!
Alf was seen with this baby under his arm later on. Don't judge.

Next week it’ll be back to normal.
We’ll be onstage in a darkened club well past midnight, playing for angry winos and half assed hecklers.
The set ends, harsh lights are switched on and we’re left to load out in a damp parking lot.

And as you’re humping those cabinets over the pebbly asphalt, getting ready for the hour drive home, you sometimes wonder why you do this thing.

But ya know what?

We made a record, once, at least.
There’s still places out there, bless ’em, that will sell them.

…..and I know where you can get signed a copy, cheap!

As always, Thanks for the extra photos and coverage from our good pals @ BigWheel Magazine

The Studio

Tools of the trade.

Twilight: we load into the dark cool space of Laundry Room Studio and drop the gear down with a groan.

Load that shit in Vato! I'm feelin productive!

We’re like chubby first time Mothers, reluctantly meeting at Curves after that year and a half of deserved self indulgence.
Yeah yeah, we know it’s good for us, but the bloom is clearly off the rose here…

In the old days, studios were like cathedrals.
We’d report bright eyed, the songs rehearsed to a razor’s edge, the lyrics in folder, neatly typed in triplicate and phrasing locked down.

And now?
I’m still scribbling lyrics in the vocal booth, searching for pitch and phrase like a drunk blindman navigating his first escalator.
It’s been too long.

...yo, someone alert the Pullitzers--we got some words of gold here people!

Can you blame us?
To try and create something new, only to have them yell for Wetspots night after night….
But really, it’s not about the burning desire to create or express blindingly brilliant thoughts, now is it?
After all, we predictably play those 30 year old songs, the audience leaves happy, we’ve done our job.

No, perhaps we book studio time because that’s what ya do, ya see.
We like the illusion of momentum, gotta have it, lest we go suddenly motionless like life-weary sharks, and resignedly sink to the bottom of the sea.
Just more chum for the lobsters in the end.

Heh.–Not us brother! It’s time to get in there and start a new chapter!
So, hmmm—I guess we need a song first, is that what yer saying?

Step 1: Songwriting
One day I watched my dear old obaasan cooking dinner.
Grandma was as regally brown and stooped as a stubborn pine on the leeward side of a mountain, and she hunched low over the sink, washing the evening rice with her familiar swisha-swish-swish-swish pattern.
In the moment I imagined the rugged life journey she’d endured to arrive here in a suburban Cerritos kitchen.

I’d heard those family stories of the internment camps of WWII, and then I thought of my adolescent Mother, her last night in her own bed, sleeplessly waiting for the dawn that would take them 2000 miles away from home.
Outside her window, she could hear the Okies parked outside, waiting patiently for the foreigners to leave, so they could squat in her childhood home.

I went to my room and wrote Manzanar.

Skip to present day, and that’s me sitting at the Goat Hill Tavern, nursing a pitcher of Stella and eating salted peanuts to the point of nausea.
I am waiting for inspiration.

....finding inspiration at happy hour prices!

Let’s see–here’s a gripping subject for a punk song:
My goddamned boat is in the shop again! Ooooh, I hate that, don’t you?!

Too broad a subject?

Ah well, just what does interest the youth of today?
Skinny Jeans? Tickets to Coachella?

Alf stretches the 'ol quads, Uly doubles down on the 'ol online Blackjack!

Whatever. We tough out the pre production rehearsals, grimly rejecting one song idea after another:
Too Slow
Too Fast
Too Shitty
(A wildly common denominator)

..and away we go!

I come up with a crazy catchy pattern and melody–just 3 proper chords, no bridge, verse and chorus over the same thing–beautiful!
It will be a masterful exercise in dynamics, and will surely put us in the top 100 of the college charts once again!!

I bring the song in to the fellas, and yeah, they all dig it.
And that’s when Kimm points out that I have just rewrote Bruno Mars’ Marry You

Mandatory shot of drug use in the studio.......asthma inhaler break!
Yeh, go ahead and relax fellas. I'll just be out here screaming into a microphone for the next 3 hours, 'kay?

But we finally come up some passable ideas, and the session goes pretty fast, the basic tracks anyway….

...the view from behind the mic and pantyhose....

We get to background vocals and Anthony rolls his eyes when I suggest more oohs and ahhs, perhaps some handclaps here?
Heh—fuckin kids!

We came from the Poshboy school after all, and if it was us rebelling against a little sweetener back in the old days, it’s our turn to pour on the sugar now baby!!

I think of those old tricks, the doubling leads and abstract backgrounds.
I remember how we would stomp and pout when Robbie or Jay would suggest a new part, something we deemed wildly unpunk and, well, gay!

But I’m in the producer chair now, and the fellas can only sigh a weary sigh as I lower my sunglasses and say the fateful words:
Ya know, call me crazy, but I’m actually hearing a cowbell in here….!

...and he swore he would never play the goddamn thing!