Making a Record

3 Jul

My band, Savage and the Big Beat, is finishing up recording our first EP. It will be called Love and Hunting and should be out soon. My friend, Roy Robertson, recorded us in his home. Below is a brief account of that process.

I arrive at Roy’s house. As soon as I open my car door, I hear a buzzing like an electric razor. I look around to see who is shaving outdoors, but see no one. I locate the sound. There is a pile of raw chicken meat in the middle of Roy’s front lawn.

Next to the pile is a piece of poster board affixed to the ground with a stake. “HUNGRY YET?!” it says. I don’t know who Roy is attacking here. The obvious answer would be that he’s attacking meat-eaters. I think it would also be easy to assume he is attacking chickens with this display–making some sort of example out of these poor bastards. I consider throwing the chicken away–the smell is awful, and I’m worried about neighborhood dogs eating the chicken and getting sick, but then I remember a time when I was jogging and a bunch of dogs ran up and started barking cat calls, baffling me on a zoological level and offending me on a personal level, because all their cat calls were about my rounded bottom and soft, human genitals. Remembering this moment, I decide that the dogs probably have it coming and leave the chicken exactly where it is.

I go up to the door and knock several times. There is no answer. I can hear drums being pounded inside the house and assume they can’t hear me. I don’t want to call one of them and have a ring on the recording, so I open the door and walk in. Roy and my singer, Max, are sitting in the living room. Roy has an eggplant in his lap. There are several small bite marks taken out of it, as if it had been nibbled by  a rodent.

“Oh,” I say.

“Just walk on in, Kyle,” Roy says. He is wearing dark shades. His beard is wild and his hair unkempt. He is wearing an off-white t shirt that used to be regular white.

“Hey man,” Max says. His palms are resting on his knees and when he looks at me he looks very tired. He has brown hair on his head.

“We’re talking about recording,” Roy says.

“Oh. What’re you talking about?” I ask.

Recording.” Roy says.

“I mean what about recording.”

Roy grumbles and gets to his feet. Max flinches.

“Kyle, what does this look like to you?!” he asks, shoving the eggplant in my face then pulling it away.

“It looks like an egg plant.”

“Wrong!” He screams. His free hand is clenched. Max looks at me, confused and frightened.

“That is an eggplant. It looks like an eggplant,” I say.

“No talking!” Roy commands, his voice cracking violently on “talking.” He tousles his hair and pulls a section over his right eye. “Max!” He spins on his heels to face Max. “What does this look like?”

“A…b…a…dinosaur egg…?” He looks at me and smiles sheepishly.

A few seconds hang after he answers. Roy shakes his head, looks to the ground, then emits a shrill howl, throwing his head back, facing the ceiling.

“A liver!” Max shouts, his hands out, attempting to calm Roy. “A tumor! Bob Dylan!”

I scramble. “Vegan things! Quinoa!”

Roy is suddenly silent. “It looks like a giant jelly bean, dip shits.” He throws the eggplant into the chair he has just vacated. “What is the point?” I hear him asking as he walks into the kitchen.

“How’s it been going?” I ask Max. Max tells me that he hasn’t gotten to record yet. “You’ve been here for hours,” I say.

“Roy recorded all the vocals for our songs already. He told me to take them home tonight and listen to them and then come back tomorrow and I’d know how to sing them.”

“You’re kidding.”

“He’s only kidding if he tells you he’s ready to record. He’s not ready to record.” Roy spins on his heels and throws a deck of cards into the air. They fly all over the room.

“What have you guys recorded, then?” I ask. He looks at Roy and then looks at me. He begins to speak, but for a moment, his mouth opens and nothing comes out.

Then, he says “We’ve recorded–we went through the keys and the drums for two of the songs, but then Roy took us on this twenty minute walk that ended back in the recording area and he showed us that none of the mics were plugged in.

“A Rude Awakening!” Roy says from the floor as he picks up the cards.

Max continues. “Then he plugged the mics in and told us to take our places and start on the first song on his signal. He positioned his chair so he was facing us and we waited for his signal. Then we sat there in silence for twenty minutes.”

“The sssssound of silence,” Roy says directly into my ear, startling me. “Ssssslippery, ssssslimy, ssssssnakes” he says, gritting his teeth and doing a slithering motion with his hands.

“What happened after twenty minutes?” I ask. “Did you record anything?”

“Roy recorded himself slow clapping in an empty room.”

“And then?”

“Then he spent a while trying to put effects on the clap. After that, we tried to record ‘Castles,’ but Roy was playing the slow clap in our headphones while we were doing it, so it kept throwing our timing off. He also let his dog in the room and kept throwing its toys at our feet. It bit me.” Max rubs his enormous foot and looks sullenly at Roy.

“The dangers of expressing ones’s self!” Roy says. He tousles his own hair, claps once, and then produces a loud yelp.

“Okay, Roy, we need to express our songs into microphones without being bitten by dogs.” I pause for a moment, thinking of what I just said, taking an inventory of my life. “Can we please do that now?”

“Oh yeah totally,” Roy says, then smacks Max on the top of Max’s head and runs back into the recording area.

“Roy, don’t hit!” I yell after him, but it’s too late. Max sits in the chair, rubbing the top of his hair and looking sore.

“I’m sorry for that, Max. That’s just–that’s Roy. You still want to record?”

Max nods slowly, his hand still on the top of his head. I suddenly realize that Ryan is in the backroom and has been playing the same beat since I arrived.

“Roy said Ryan could stop playing when his drums sounded like the heartbeat of a whale. He’s been playing for hours. He just can’t get it.”

I sigh and motion for Max to follow me as we head back to record our EP.

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