Texas is big
Texas is big. Everything in it is
bigger. They say it. You’ve heard it a thousand times. Its one of
those cliché sayings that makes you cringe every time you hear
it. But, dag nabbit, its true. About three months ago, when we
decided that we would be recording our new album with John Congleton,
we were under the impression that we would be tracking at a studio
deep in the Minnesota woods. The view from the control room looked
out over a beautiful spring-fed trout stream and a landscape of
mature trees. The forest floor was adorned with footpaths set of by
various wild flowers and plant life while many woodland creatures
scurried about with happy faces.
Texas is big
Plano, Texas is not quite so pristine.
We have been here for three days and I have been hard pressed to find
shade that isn’t produced by the backside of a concrete wall.
There is definitely no trout stream. And the only critters I have
seen have been dead armadillos. It is funny seeing a dead armadillo.
Unless they have been completely crushed by the vehicle that robbed
them of their life, the dead ones are always upside down with their
stubby little legs pointing straight up into the air. I don’t mean
to poke fun at these little guys, but they are one animal that seems
to treat death in a comical sort of way. I appreciate that, whether
they intend comedy or not.
We arrived in Plano a day before we
were slated to start recording, so we checked into a cheap hotel
which lived up to almost all of the cheap-hotel stereotypes, with
the exception of bloody sheets and cum stains. I can’t say I was
disappointed about this. After watching a few minutes of Anthony
Bourdain, we ventured out to find some dinner. Our first choice was
shot down due to a two-hour wait, which surprised us all, considering
it was a franchise in a tacky shopping center. We ended up settling
on a restaurant where the atmosphere was equally formulaic and
artificial, however, the cuisine was enjoyable, and an hour later we
left satiated and happy and ventured on to see a movie.
As we leave the giant movie cinema I
realize that Tom Hanks did a lot more for me in Joe Vs. The Volcano
then this, his most recent portrayal of an Indiana Jones-type wannabe
myth-busting pop novelist. Sleep is needed after the 18-hour journey
from Savannah. I find my bed comforting and slip off into that
wonderful land of dreams.
We arrive at The Track Studio the next
day around 10. No one is there and we sit impatiently on the
concrete and place bets on what John Congleton will look like. What
car he will be driving. Emo cut or hesher hair. Fat or slim. Vespa
or fix gear. Vegan or meat eater. Fortunately all of our
preconceived notions of this man we are about to spend the next two
and a half weeks with are crushed. Dude is chill as fuck. Nuf said.
The first three hours are spent setting
up drums and amps and getting all of our crap out of boxes and
familiarizing ourselves with the studio. It’s quite nice, I may
add. Hardwood floors and tall ceilings. Red and blue acoustic
tilings adorn the walls in makeshift patterns. The control room is
large and comfortable with a leather couch and matching chairs. The
lounge has a wonderful record collection and not one, but two, broken
record players. I did find a strange little red pistol. For the
first two days I couldn’t figure out what its purpose was, but then
yesterday I decided to squeeze the long metal trigger and was greeted
with a tiny jolt of electricity on the tip of my finger. My
conclusion is that it is an anti-static gun. I have never seen one
before, but that appears to be the only logical explanation for such a
strange little red gun.
Day two finds us all excited and ready
to go. We have managed to make the studio a bit like home in the
short amount of time we have been here. Ziggy Pig has joined us
today. We gave her a mannequin body, which resembled an
underdeveloped female torso and fitted her smooth pink head with a
boat captain hat of the likes you might see on Lemmy in the early
years. Halfway through the day I began to notice that Mr. Congleton
was getting nervous around her. This man, so outgoing and friendly,
would not even look her in the eyes and ignored her completely every
time he walked by. We decided that her bare chest should be
covered as to not distract our producer. Being the gentleman that I
am, I offered her my blue button down shirt which I acquired a few
years ago on the set of a short film that I was cast in where I
portrayed a butcher, hacking up ambiguous parts for a swine-packing
plant located somewhere in the back woods of South Georgia. It seemed
fitting, and she didn’t mind the irony.
Today was day three in the studio. We
have successfully tracked four songs and as a whole we feel confident
and excited with the progress we have made. Our relationship with Mr.
Congleton is growing more and more positive daily. He seems much more
relaxed now that Ziggy Pig is no longer in the nude, though I am
convinced he is secretly in love with her. His easygoing attitude
and ability to make everyone laugh with less than four words is quite
refreshing and highly welcomed. I look forward to the coming days
and all that shall unfold.