A guy from Maryland made fifteen - read my lips - FIFTEEN custom build bass traps for our studio. He decided that he wanted to shepherd his babies to safety himself and was going to drive up from Maryland with his truck, practically hand delivering the boxy things. But it has been an active winter, and twice his efforts were thwarted. Twice we had marked the studio as "booked for the bass trap guy", alas, to no avail. But in the end, he did show up, and he even installed the first one. Made little plaques with the studio logo on them and placed one on each of his bass traps. He had even made a song during the process of making them that he sent to Walter. Cute song, too. So now the control room in Studio A looks like a spaceship, and when you're in there you just have to take off into the stratosphere and beyond, buffeted by a clean, slap-delay-free sound. www.lofish.com
When I came to New York in 1994, I felt a little lost in this large place, coming from a tiny village in the hills of Austria. From the get-go, the Empire State Building was a beacon for me, an anchor. Living in a loft on the Lower East Side with anywhere from 3 to 7 roommates at any given time (no walls, just curtains - very authentic LES living for the time), life could get a bit crowded, I could get a bit overwhelmed, I might drown a little bit in sensual overload. But the Empire State Building was always there, like a light tower in the vast sea of humanity, guiding me home.
Today I have a recording studio practically in the shadows of the building. I get to see it every day, in all its moods and colors, cloudy, stormy, or radiant. Always there. And I look up from the struggles of my day, and can't help but grin a little.
Once a year, if the prune harvest was good enough, my grandfather would set up our perfectly legal, farm-size, distillery, where he would distill the legally allowed amount of prune schnapps per inhabitant. I think that also took into account the children, because for some reason we always ended up with a whole lotta clear, strong liquor.
In earlier years, the distillery would take over the laundry room for 2 days, and only later would it be moved into the by then vacated horse barn. I should mention here that it was perfectly customary to peruse the schnapps as an antidepressant that had a calming effect on distraught children. Whenever one of us was distressed, crying and at the end of his or her wits, my mother would sit us down on the kitchen table, pour a shot glass full of the 50proof prune, have us drink it and say, "OK, let's hear it." And for some bizarre reason this actually helped. Maybe it was just the much craved and rare attention we would get, the being seen and taken care of (albeit with strong alcohol in combination with said attention), but I do remember these moments rather fondly.
When my dad was alive, he would hang out by the kitchen window and drink the occasional shot of home-distilled with the tourists staying in our village, and just chat and have a good time. And when I was visiting home several years back, my mom (who has MS), my sister-in-law (who was very pregnant at the time) and myself (who was very rusty in all things pertaining to farm life) had a shot of the stuff, after successfully liberating a calf from it's mother cow's belly.
Nowadays I tend to get a bottle of it from my brother, who still sets up the distillery once a year, bring it back to New York and treasure it like the special, nostalgic and irreplaceable thing it is.
6am: alarm goes off, after a restless and very short night
6:30am: i leave my house and step out into pre-dawn New York, to walk over to port authority
6:45am: i ask the info clerk at Port Authority where the bus to La Guardia stops. She points me in the wrong direction
6:50am: Coffee and a cookie, stepping to the wrong curb waiting for my bus, asking another person there who tells me this is the right spot
7:05am: asking another person about the bus stop because of unexplained feeling of unease, find out that the bus leaves on the other side of the building, on 42nd street.
7:06am: running towards the bus which is scheduled to leave at 7:10am, sloshing coffee all over myself and dropping my precious cookie
7:10am: i catch the bus!!!
8am: arrival at la guardia, smooth and easy check-in
8:15am: more coffee, meeting up with the rest of the rumbatap crew. the sun is up by now
9:30am: take-off towards chicago o'hare
11:30am: chicago o'hare, transfer to moline, part of quad cities
1pm: arrival at moline, il, picked up by supernice Lance and driven across the mississippi into iowa and davenport, where the theater lies
1:30pm: meeting up with max, chikako, james and paul, who have already been through an intense week of 3 shows a day and are in the middle of figuring out the light issues in the theater
2pm: lunch of tasty and necessary sandwiches, coffee
2:30: rehearsal of brandnew band tune, while max is doing more lighting stuff in the main theater
3pm: prolonged sound-check due to some technical issues
5pm: tech/light rehearsal, where I get my major brain farts over with
6:45pm: protein bar and nuts (can't do the pasta before the show, people!!!)
7:30pm: Rumbatap show starts - we're psyched
10pm: Rumbatap show ends to a standing ovation and an encore!!!
11pm: checking in at the "Austrian/Alpine"-themed hotel, which, quite honestly, would be the perfect backdrop of a horror movie, complete with dark wood paneling, portraits of obscure royalty on the wall and a huge wooden chandelier in the entrance hall.
11:30pm: time for a post-show beer at the local bar, with lively political discussions with Lance and a general rehashing of the show
2am: bed! dead to the world for about 4 hours, then only intermittent sleep
10am: getting ready for the trip back to NYC
so long, Quad Cities, it was a fun trip!!!
Photo by James L. Shipp