[This entry was original published on my other blog, Peregrine's Prattle on the 29th of October, 2009. It's more than worthy of republishing here!]
When you’re a serious musician—touring and recording—and the roaring rollercoaster is in full swing it’s pretty hard to find the time amidst the chaos to keep a journal. You might want to, but it just doesn’t happen. That’s how it was for me in most of my travels. All kinds of exciting things are occurring around you. To stop and write about them might kill the vibe and take you away from the wild, woolly and/or wacky scene. Case in point being the recording of the second Falcon album, Die Wontcha, back in October 2006. I just barely scratched the surface in a long-ass interview with Chris Barnes (not the Cookie Monster growler) of Hellridemusic.com. Hell, a blow-by-blow account of the Destiny’s End tour with Nevermore and Iced Earth back in 1999 would’ve been interesting too. No dice. I was far too consumed by the coaster to budge. I’m not into name dropping and all that fake nonsense, but think it’s not a bad idea to set memories down for future retread—or to share with like-minded folks who are curious about the rock ’n’ roll circus. Likewise, I wanted to take the time out to recall the late, great Dickie Peterson, bassist and gravel-throated vocalist extraordinaire!
I like to be prepared when I cut an album. I did a lot of pre-production in L.A. before me and Greg Lindstrom flew to Pennsylvania for a few days to rehearse with drummer Darin McCloskey—followed by recording at Chris “Kozwald” Kozlowski’s Polar Bear Lair in Middletown, Maryland. We all did our share of homework so we’d be ready. I threw vocals on top of guitar-only rough demos on my 8-track and practiced the riffage whenever possible. Those are things you can be ready for and plan out. I left 90 some-odd percent of my guitar solos for on-the-spot improv, ’cause I didn’t want to kill the spontaneity. Anyhow, some things you can plan out—trip itineraries or what-have-you—some things you can’t.
|Falcon breaks from rehearsal in Glen Mills, PA|
|Falcon riffin' and rollin' at the Polar Bear Lair, Oct. '06 - Photo by Cameron Davidson|
If someone had told me when I first started playing guitar that someday I’d record an album at the same studio as Blue Cheer and room and hang out with my heroes for about a week I’d have said, “Get the fuck outta here!” That’s not something you can predict. But it happened nonetheless. If the job of sound engineering for Blue Cheer live and in the studio fell in Chris Kozlowski’s lap, the same goes for my meeting up with the loudest band in the known universe. I can’t say I believe in fate, but I think sometimes you can get slight push towards some pretty weird coincidences. There’s a wheel of whirling personalities in your life, and sometimes you make some unexpected connections. I have Darin McCloskey to thank for introducing me to Chris Kozlowski, the perfect dude to engineer Falcon. And subsequently “Kozwald” for my meeting Blue Cheer.
|Falcon & Pale Divine drummer Darin McCloskey - Photo by Cameron Davidson|
I was probably about 12 when I first heard Blue Cheer. Before I had the dough to plunk down on tapes or vinyl—pinched off my dad’s bureau when he wasn’t looking or later worked for—I had my choice of a few L.A. radio stations: KLOS, KMET or KNAC. I could barely pull in KNAC, and I spent hours jerry-rigging a jumble of wires and booster contraptions to boost the signal enough to hear bands like Uriah Heep, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple and the like. Blue Cheer’s rendition of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” came over the airwaves one weekend morning. I knew the original. It might’ve even been almost passable to my incredibly un-hip dad if he caught me digging on Eddie Cochran. Blue Cheer was anything but acceptable though! Heavy rock ’n’ metal was my saviour from the overall dreary and depressing atmosphere of school and home. Hearing those loud, squealing blasts of Leigh Stephens’ Gibson SG though a Fuzz Face stompbox and a wall of Marshalls, the rumbling of Dickie Peterson’s P-Bass through an equally large mound of British valves—and his signature shriek—not to mention the cannon blast of Paul Whaley’s drums—transported me by time machine out of my dull existence into another era. I’m a nostalgic bastard, a sucker for bygone times when things were more human, real and analog. I may have veered off into more modern metal territory, but I always came back to Blue Cheer and their late 1960s era of dark, bluesy downer rock. I didn’t get my hands on a copies of Vincebus Eruptum and Outside Inside until a bit later, but that first taste of the Cheer had me frantically combing record stores.
Fast forward to October 2006. It’s the day after Falcon finished recording basic tracks (rhythm guitar, bass and drums) for Die Wontcha. Greg Lindstrom wrapped up his few guitar solos and keyboard overdubs and had to fly home early, leaving me to finish off the rest of my guitar tracks and vocals by myself. While Darin would drop in on the first day of mixing, it was my task to complete Die Wontcha. Not that I was daunted. Hell no! More like elated! Greg and Darin had already contributed their parts to make sure Die Wontcha had a bedrock-solid backbone. We collectively made it work without over-thinking anything. In one and a half days the basic tracks were “in the can.” Record timing for us or anybody else. I was stoked. I’d only have a wider grin on my face because of what was to follow.
L: Me and the '76 Lester Deluxe, R: Greg Lindstrom thumpin' his Jazz Bass