Taking it to 11
Still on the road, but pining for my little studio back home. Right now I’m in the land of windmills, stroopwafels, and red light districts, visiting with some friends and associates. Some of the talk has revolved around music: we’ve been holding a little debate on the relative merits of guitarists such as Clapton, the Edge, Gilmour, and Keith Richards, and bands such as U2, Queens of the Stone Age, Rush, the Stones….. And yes, we are of a certain age, but we do hold these discovered truths dearly.
Also trying to dig through the debris of the name change from Steeling Time to Tunnel 18. The latest issue is that there is a UK band who also released an album in 2015 using the band name Steeling Time. As a result, the Spotify accounts are mixed up and… well, it’ll get worked out.
In the meantime however….
Supplemental Addition – Sound Studio Real to Reel (Various Artists [but mainly Dave Grohl] – 2013)
I know. I’m supposed to be done – I gave you a list of 10 really influential albums. Albums that helped shape who I am as a musician and songwriter. Albums that showed me what was possible and challenged me to learn my instrument better and to keep pushing to find my voice.
Of course, any decent collection of rock albums has to go to 11.
I took a significant break from playing music and writing songs from the time I was in my mid 20s until… Sometime after that. It’s not that I forgot about music, it’s more that other things took priority, I forgot that it was something that meant as much to me as it did.
As you saw from one of my earlier installments, I was a huge Nirvana fan. And then after Kurt Cobain’s death, I followed what Dave Grohl was doing with Foo Fighters with intent interest.
I have absolutely no shame in saying that I have a huge man crush on Dave Grohl. Of the people who are active in music right now, he is the guy who not only can span most musical styles, but chooses to do so. He seeks out opportunities to play with people across the musical spectrum, and seems to have a blast doing it. This is his life, his dream, his passion, and he’s in-fucking-credibly good at it.
In 2013, Grohl learned that Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California was about to close. The studio had been home to bands including not only Nirvana, but also Rage Against the Machine, Fleetwood Mac, REO Speedwagon, Neil Young, Nine Inch Nails, the Grateful Dead, and many, many, many more. Defining albums were written and recorded here. To celebrate the studio and the music that was made there, Grohl purchased the Neve mixing console from the studio, moved it to the Foo Fighters’ own private studio, and then brought a set of musicians with strong connections to Sound City.
All of this got turned into a movie and an album: Sound City, Real to Reel. In addition to the Foos (all of whom participated), the album includes contributions by Chris Goss (Masters of Reality), Brad Wilk & Tim Commerford (Rage Against the Machine), Stevie Nicks, Rick Springfield, Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Paul McCartney, Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), and even an appearance by Dave’s old bandmate, Krist Novoselic.
To be truly influential, a work of art has to inspire someone to action. It has to force a change in behaviour, and perhaps even of belief. It has to fundamentally change the listener – a challenge well beyond simple entertainment and enjoyment.
I saw the film and then listened to that album over and over again in 2014. That movie and that album made that happen for me.
Watching and listening to Sound City, Real to Reel finally got me to believe that not taking the chance to write and record music would be not only idiotic, but a real self-betrayal. No, I might never be able to play alongside these legends of my youth, and certainly not as well, but I could and should write and play about the things I felt and loved and thought. The songs were there in me, and good or bad, they belong out.
I wrote the first songs for Time and Motion in the summer of 2014. I started recording them in January 2015 (under the band name Steeling Time), and by November of 2015 the album was done.
So, that’s the list of albums done. But it did make me think that I have another topic I wanted to write about: studios. More on that the next time we talk.