Baroness Studio Diary - 5/27/09

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I awake around 7:30 this morning. The same time as yesterday, and the day before that. I believe I have been waking up at 7:30 for a couple months now. We aren’t slated to be at the studio until 11:00, so there is no real reason for my early rise aside from the fact that when I am home, my dog, without fail, pokes his head in the door every morning at precisely 7:30. So now, a thousand miles away from him, I am still waking up at the same time. After the washroom visit, I make my way outside to the walkway where I find the Bearded One, who is also a morning man. We share a cigarette and speak in hushed tones about the colorful neighbors that share the surrounding rooms of our hotel. Beneath us a door opens and a middle-aged gentleman walks out into the sun, blinking and rubbing his eyes. In his dirty yellow sock feet he makes his way slowly toward the middle of the parking lot, back bent, head turning from side to side in slow, precise sweeps. At some point he stops, bends down with the agility of a 90-year-old man, and retrieves a squashed cigarette but from the warm black top. He picks at it for a spell, whisking away invisible dirt and then rolls it back and forth between his tar stained thumb and forefinger before pinching it tight like a teenager smoking their first joint, and, bringing it to his lips, simultaneously ignites a flame. He inhales deeply then exhales through his nose, tilting his graying head back toward the sky, eyes closed and hands stretched outward. The smoke rises, carrying his thoughts out into the world, slowly dissolving into nothing. He returns, dispensing the filter into a Pepsi can that sits by his door, then disappears into his room.

Once in the studio we sit down with another cup of coffee and discuss what songs shall be attacked today. I have discovered a mug that I find incredibly entertaining. It is a blue glazed handmade mug resembling a whale. Its tail juts out from the side of the mug acting as the handle. Upon questioning, I am informed that the owner of the studio we are tracking in (his name is Perry) acquired it back in the mid '80s while on his honeymoon in Hawaii. The reason I find it so captivating is due to the fact that the whale's tail is hollow on the inside, allowing the liquid to trickle in and out, making a quiet bubbling noise like blowing softly on a straw into a glass of chocolate milk

The morale in the studio is high today. Everyone seems to be well rested and overly energetic. The past week has gone by very smoothly and our comfort level around John Congleton has grown immensely. At this point, none of us really know what this record is going to sound like. What I do know is that we are all very confident in the fact that whatever it does sound like, it will be something honest, from the guts and the heart.

We decide to record a cover song, which has been up for debate for the past six years. Not the song in question, but which song to cover. We have played parts of songs in our live set, but never actually covered a full song before. Every few months somebody goes, "Let's cover this," and a few of us nod our heads and utter a half-hearted, “Hell yeah.” Then a few months go by and nothing ever happens. I guess we were holding out until it made sense. Today it makes sense. We decide unanimously on the band and after a brief back and forth about which track, we are finally ready to record our first cover song. We spend the next hour learning, playing and recording this bit which seems take all of us back to high school, and in no time, the room is filled with smiles and laughter. The man with one eye takes the duty of vocals and the rest of us follow instruments accordingly. After a handful of tries, we are satisfied with our performance and step out for a smoke and more laughs.

As the break subsides and we make our way back inside, I realize that the door is locked. To make matters more ridiculous, I seem to be the only one with a phone, and the only one without Congleton's number. We bang on the door, but he is eight walls away and probably submersed in his computer box. After 15 minutes I realize that he is not going to come looking for us. Eventually I end up calling a friend who I think has Congleton's number and leave a message on his phone explaining the predicament we are in. Another 10 minutes goes by and I hear back from a gracious friend and fortunately he delivers what I am after. Three minutes later, we’re back in side laughing, this time not with, but at, each other.

The rhythm section is officially done. Tomorrow, Allen and I will leave the studio and the lovely extended stay to fly home. The remaining two gentlemen in the band will stay with Mr. Congleton to finish what we have all started. As long as the record sounds good, I hope to work with Congleton again because from my perspective this has been one of the most enjoyable recording experiences I have ever had the pleasure being apart of. I believe we have created something that we are all proud of and I hope the finished effort will leave people excited.

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