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First Stop Blog

Phil: 5/27/2017

OK, here’s the real scoop: I originally started this project as a songwriting venture, looking to sell tunes to television series montages, maybe commercials (I really wanted to get on ‘Shark Week’…). Pete was opening Crash Lab Studios and it seemed like a good idea to test drive the gear with my material. We started laying down a singer/songwriter collection with the help of an amazing female vocalist/guitarist/songwriter: Karen Bella and all was well… Until Pete started playing guitar. Yes, I blame it all on English Pete! I was immediately affected and infected by his aggressive play-style and slowly began to lose my way. The beautiful, well crafted sonnets we were creating with Karen were turning dark and edgy. The ballads were getting heavy. Everything had a solo written into it. My hair was growing long and I was saying, “F*ck Yeah!” a lot. Eventually there was a full-on Jekyll and Hyde fracture where we were writing love songs in the daytime and “I need a girl like a hole in the head” at night. Kind of a Taylor Swift meets Lemmy thing. (There are still aspects of this mania on the album i.e. 11:11 vs. Man in a Cage…)

We finally surrendered to the Rock & Roll, changing the entire focus of the project - or more accurately throwing away the ‘focus’ and just laying down whatever felt good and went well with beer and pinot grigio. The results were… interesting, which only fueled atmosphere of the Crash Lab and the idea that we were creating a kind of ‘Frankenstein Monster Album’ out of random parts that we sewed together and said, “F*ck Yeah!”…. A lot.

There were no rules, no curfews, no Moms telling us not to touch the shiny red button. Everything was an experiment; just the two of us and a lot of toys. Pete played every instrument; 6 string, 12 string and even 7 string (Maus) guitars. We programmed drums for countless hours, we played keyboards together using two or three fingers each to make chords. We used cans of minced Garlic as percussion shakers.

I sang with different mics in different rooms at different times of day and night; with Pete, without Pete, standing, sitting, blindfolded, buzzed, wide awake and exhausted. It was like a zany Sci-Fi/Pavlovian trial and error process: “push the red button and see what happens…”.

Fortunately, what happened was magic and we pushed out and album and a half of music - deconstructing and reconstructing old tunes while spontaneously writing new ones. In fact, one of the hardest parts of the whole process was ‘editing’; choosing which tracks from our ‘Island of Misfit Songs’ would make it to the album, as well as, which ‘version’ (because, of course every track had a killin’ 2 minute solo that we refused to nix -lol).

In the end we arrived at: “Are We There Yet?”, which was one of our mantras in this year long venture (along with: “jiggery-pokery”, “hand me a beer” and “Doh!!”- complete with face-palm). 10 songs of ever-changing moves and moods. Some written for the stage, some for the screen, some for your soul and maybe even one for ‘Shark Week’. It’s fun, quirky and kooky - and it may not be for everyone as a whole… but there’s something in there for everyone. Cheers! -P-

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