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Friday
Got a surprise call from Nick Pannu–a music journalist in Vancity who hosts his own weekly show on CivL 101.7 FM. We talked on-air about my new band Penthouse Killers, the true meaning of garage rock as well as the mystery of Vancouver Island…where Nick is originally from. All in all quite informative…at the end he plays two tracks from the new EP “A Day Like This”. The show has tens of thousands of listeners and I think that’s great because Nick has been a staunch supporter of independent arts since I’ve known him. To me, the vast majority of publications in Vancity are contrived and specialize in printing intellectual pollution for template hipsters who strive to resemble street urchins from Charles Dickens. Ha!
A couple weeks back, I sent the air-date of this interview out to everyone on my email list, but in case you missed it, I figured I’d post the podcast here.
Friday
They say a photo speaks a thousand words. An old long-lost t-shirt speaks at least a few hundred. I found this Doughboys t-shirt in an old box of records last weekend. Strange how t-shirts can bring back a wash of memories. Pretty much if you were a skateboarder or into punk in the 90’s…you would have heard of the Doughboys; kind of Montreal’s answer to Big Drill Car. This shirt was given to me by Jon Kastner–the man himself. It was the 90’s and I was touring with an indie band…I was just a kid and didn’t mind living out of a van for weeks at a time…there were so many unknown bands in those days, driving around North America in shitty vans living it for real. It was total savagery and we loved it. We had a show in Montreal and our manager, who knew the Doughboys, had gotten us onto a bill with them, which was doubly rad because like so many of my contemporaries, I was pretty much obsessed with Whatever and Home Again. I kind of lost track after Happy Accidents but those first two albums were instant classics. We were packing up our van in the alley when Kastner walked by carrying a box of t-shirts. I told him I wanted to buy one. He grabbed a shirt out of the box and handed it to me…Keep it he said and went into the club. I had a few other Doughboys shirts before that, but this one was special for some reason. I should probably stop the story there…but there’s more. The next day, our manager got us invited to the Doughboys rehearsal space in some warehouse. It was a nice space…with a seating area that was separated from the actual rehearsal room by a huge bay window. It was a totally sick jam room with these amazing monitors…we couldn’t believe how great it was compared to our narrow and dank rehearsal space back home. Someone in the Doughboys entourage offered us to try out their set up. We jumped at the opportunity and played a few songs through their system…it sounded divine…they had it set up so perfectly. Then out of left field–the bass cut out–the bass amp was suddenly broken and it seemed we broken it. I remember standing there watching Jon Cummins running his hands through his hair in a bit of a panic. He said they were leaving for a European tour in a couple days, “This is no good, this is no good.” he kept saying. I was pretty sure it was just a blown tube…nothing serious. The next night we played at a shit hole called Station 10 with some awful metal band who’s singer got arrested at the club…after their set…in the alley way. Finding this Doughboys shirt brought that all back in Technicolor.
Saturday
There was no way I was walking out of the store without buying this beauty…
Wednesday
Got an email from Boston Rock Radio letting us know they are going to spin the tracks, “Front Page Tragedy” and “Girl Like This” from our new EP ‘A Day Like This’. Boston Rock Radio is New England’s home for Rock and Metal and we’re stoked as hell that they’re going to include us in their rotation. They asked us to share this with our friends. Pleased to meet ya New England!
A few college stations wrote us back as well letting us know they’re going to play songs from the new EP. Very stoked about this. We put a lot of work into getting this album sounding exactly how we wanted it to sound and we hope you like to PLAY IT LOUD.
Thursday
Amazing…standing at the console in magical Studio 3 at East West Studios Hollywood…absorbing a mix through the best speakers in town. Hard to believe that in 1967 Brian Wilson stood in the exact same spot in the exact same room, putting together his most revered masterpiece, ‘Pet Sounds’ which in time would become a cultural phenomenon. On the other side of the glass, the Wrecking Crew would have been working through songs like ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ and ‘God Only Knows’. Wilson would have stood there and talked to them through a microphone–giving direction. Back then it was a different console…the one I’m standing with in this photo used to belong to David Bowie. I think he mixed all his best 80’s hits on it. I mean, aside from Abbey Road studios–you can’t find a place permeated with more old ghosts of composition’s aristocracy. There is an entire section dedicated to East West Studios in my last documentary film ‘The Day the Music Died” which you can find on youtube. How can a society have any sense of identity without a sense of history?

Wednesday

It’s finally here! Check out our rockin’ new EP, A Day Like This. PLAY IT LOUD

Wednesday
Won’t be long now…Penthouse Killers ‘A Day Like This’ is finished and will be in stores soon. Buckle up.
Friday
This week I shared the final mixes from Penthouse Killers ‘A Day Like This’ with a number of friends…most of which are songwriters or producers or both. One reoccurring question was how I got the guitars sounding so heavy. Well…having a shredding guitar line is a start. Using a killer guitar and amp is another important thing to do. If you don’t use a USA made Fender Strat it won’t sound nearly as wicked. One friend was sure I was using a Strat with custom pick-ups. Not the case. The Strat pictured above is the one I used on both EP’s and it’s got the original factory pick-ups in it. I run the Strat through a Marshall Stack and don’t really do too much to the track once I pull it into the mix. Why would I want to mess with the wicked natural sound of a beautiful USA Strat run through a stack? Some things you don’t need to fix.
Wednesday

Ripping it up hard folks. Just finished the last mixes on the new Penthouse Killers EP. We’re calling the album ‘A Day Like This’…will post the cover soon.
Tuesday

Really I’m not sure how I can perfect the mixes any further. Certainly one can always perfect them more–especially if you’re a perfectionist. I’ll admit, the lengths I go to in getting the perfection I know that I can achieve and do achieve is at times maddening to others and I have to wonder why. The funny thing is that I could go to even greater lengths…but I feel I’m actually letting certain things slide some of the time. It’s not about what others will notice as much as it’s about what you’ll notice later and what will drive you mad when you’re listening to an imperfect mix. Recordings are forever after all.
When I was working on stuff with Rhys over at East West Studios on Sunset…he and I had some interesting conversations about Studio 3, where we were working at the time–I posted a photo above of Rhys and me in that legendary room doing some mixing on the old console that used to belong to Bowie. You could feel the ghosts of old Hollywood in there. He would tell me about the legendary producers that worked in that studio and how to this day, recordings done there are as top line as it gets. No exceptions are made. In my documentary “The Day the Music Died” there is an entire segment about East West Studios.
Sunday
Heeeeeeeere’s JT!
Friday
Friends have been asking me how I get the vocals on these new Penthouse Killers songs sounding so super fucking deadly. How do I get them to cut through the shredding guitars with such bite and clarity while maintaining the subtle nuances and tones? What’s the secret? Why are you being so mysterio? They ask when I laugh. No mysterio…it’s no secret–this isn’t the Colonel’s secret recipe. Aside from having a killer source sound and using a top tier microphone, there are a ton of ways to get the vocals super fucking deadly. One thing is having a super fucking deadly preset for the vocals. My fave is JJP vocal…it works magic…funny that it even has a ‘magic’ setting…it’s like four plugins in one. It took days to get the perfect settings, but eventually got it sounding crazy insane. Anyway, just finished tracking the last and seventh song on this EP and couldn’t be more stoked on how smoothly it all came together. Looking at a Spotify release in November.
Saturday
So I’ve got this new song called ‘Las Vegas’…it’s heavy as Osmium and sounds more like early Smashing Pumpkins. I mixed the drums last week and was blown away by how heavy Johnny plays this one–the guy is a fucking savage, truly. Off the charts. We added the bass and then started tracking the guitars and as is our wont, we ran the USA Strat through the Marshall Stack again…there’s a certain sound you get from the combo that’s magical–it can’t be imitated. However, I felt we needed an additional track of guitar that would shred it up with a slightly different texture as well. Different amp, different guitar–something extremely complimentary to the Strat and Stack. After spending the evening trying various options, we hadn’t found exactly what we were looking for. I explained this to our bass player Tommy. I explained exactly what texture and shade I was looking for…and Tommy nodded and thought about it for a few moments. He then says, “Well, I have this old vintage Crate amp in my storage locker…haven’t used it for years, but it’s a shredder for sure.” Crate? I haven’t even seen a Crate since college years. Sort of a mysterious amp…I saw a lot of punk bands use them back in the day. By that point, we’d tried a a few different amps, but still didn’t find a match. I think they were starting to think too many consecutive months in the studio had driven me mad. So, Tommy brings the amp over the next day and it’s a mysterious amp–jet black and kind of has this attitude about it…something about it is like a black hole in outer space. I wound up using a Les Paul for the additional track to get a different but complimentary texture. We all sort of looked at each other and it was understood…it was what I’d been chasing for a number of days.
Friday
Been fully devoted to working on the second Penthouse Killers EP. Surprising even myself with this new batch of songs. Only a couple months ago, I wasn’t sure if the San Andreas album was perhaps a one time thing. However, four new songs are now officially recorded, mixed and mastered. The songs are seemingly writing themselves. I’ve spent countless hours living in the studio with these songs…and strangely I’ve managed not to get too close to them. Strange indeed. After listening to the masters yesterday I laughed to myself in the studio…because I know these songs are silly good. One in particular…Front Page Tragedy…I mean, really, I’m not sure how much better we could have nailed it…composition wise, production wise, performance wise. There is also one called Draw the Line, which is a rocket ship to mars…traveling at the speed of sound with a Fender Strat strapped to it’s back. Really, when you plug a USA Fender Strat into a Marshall Stack and crank that shit up…something magical happens. When you add to that a freak-out drummer who pounds the living daylights out of his Pearls and then throw on top of that psychotically busy bass lines that would impress even Karl Alvarez…you can smash through fortified walls with the strum of a chord–you can leap skyscrapers in a single bound. Three more are in the works…EP will probably have seven or eight on it. We want to have a couple EPs in the bag before we start hitting the live venues with this project.

Monday

Love this album cover for the new EP. Designer Jason came through again with a brilliant design.

Monday

Check out the new video for “The Wire”…first single from the debut EP from Penthouse Killers. We shot it mostly around Venice Beach and surrounding area. Director did a brilliant job – it really captures the vibe of the song. Stoked…check it out!

Saturday

Penthouse Killers – San Andreas just went up on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon Music. Now people in the furthest reaches of the world can vibe out to 1990’s skate rock…on their phone. Go with it bros!

Thursday

Just put the finishing touches on the debut EP, Penthouse Killers – San Andreas. My goal was to mix it in a certain way so it emulates old skate rock albums from the 90’s…like ALL, Drill Car, Down By Law, Doughboys sort of sound. Because it was recorded digitally, I had to painstakingly remove the digital frequencies and add a certain frequencies that emulate the analog sound. Perhaps next time we’ll actually record in analog. Ha!

Wednesday

I love LA.

Thursday

One of my fave venues in LA…Silverlake Lounge…have seen some epic shows here and have played a few myself. Long live original live music!

Tuesday

This is a photo I found in storage. That’s the 12 year old me with my very first electric guitar. I was so obsessed with the Sex Pistols back then. It went far beyond the tapestries, posters and God Save the Queen t-shirt. I’d spend hours playing along to Never Mind the Bullocks in my the basement of my mom’s house. Not sure what ever happened to that first guitar of mine…but we were inseparable–I took her everywhere.

Sunday

Added some finishing touches to “The Wire” tonight at the studio…I thought I sensed a spot for just the slightest bit of high piano keys panned hard left. Small addition, but made all the difference. For some reason the guitars on “The Wire” as heavier than all the other guitars on the album. Not sure why…they were all recorded through the same gear at the same level…guess it’s just magic.

Thursday

Had bassist Tommy over to the studio tonight to track bass on Inner City Girl. I’m a bit baffled at how he pulled such a complex bass line off in two takes. Anyone can play a busy bass line, but to play a busy bass line that is absolutely perfect for the song is an entirely other feat. His style of playing on Inner City Girl is very reminiscent of Karl Alvarez–the king of sick bass lines.

Tuesday

Laid some heavy guitars on the song San Andreas tonight. Using a USA Fender Strat through a Marshall Stack. The sound you get from this particular equipment is addicting.

Saturday

The thing about tracking drums is that you want to have a snare drums that sounds like a gun shot and a kick drum that hits you in the chest like a shock wave. That’s the best start I find.