Archive for the ‘Roger Joseph Manning Jr.’ Category

Roger J. Manning Jr.

RJMJ!

Mega thanks to everyone that has read, commented, emailed and all things in between about my adventure here with Roger. He and I both had a blast creating this piece. So, to compliment the article in full, we decided to offer up a Free Download of our entire unedited conversation. It’s almost an hour long and will be a must listen for those that enjoy Roger’s work. In order to accommodate this I have started a SoundCloud page for MUSIC-SURVIVAL-GUIDE where you will be able to navigate to and listen to or download the file. I figure this will be a good place to also house future audio in relation to other artists that are to be featured. It’s also just another step in growing M-S-G.

And, be it that this is totally unedited I wanted to point out a funny thing that happens at about 10 and a half minutes in. I forgot to silence my phone during our conversation so one of my alerts went off. It’ll be obvious and good for a laugh when you hear it.

So, go download this amazing conversation, add it to your collection, tell a friend…yadda yadda.

MUSIC-SURVIVAL-GUIDE SoundCloud Page

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AND NOW…PART TWO, DIG IN! (no intro necessary…)

RJMJ

Roger J. Manning Jr.

 

MSG – And now, I’d love to really spend some time with you in a certain world known as Jellyfish. I’d ask you if you ever got sick of talking about it, however, the last few years I personally think Jellyfish has never been bigger. What do you think about all the love and praise your old band receives nowadays?

RJMJ – Well, certainly people continue to talk about it. It means the world to me that to this day those records (Bellybutton and Spilt Milk) continue to affect people and continue to gain new fans here and there. It’s been so flattering and fills me with such joy, cause that’s what you want. You just don’t want those records to affect people the first few years they come out…The whole point of what Andy and I were trying to do, and I think what we did do was continue in the tradition of our influences, we wanted to make classic rock/pop music. It didn’t matter that it was coming out in the early 90’s; we wanted it to carry on in that tradition. We wanted the hooks, lyrics, everything to be timeless about it. That’s why we didn’t follow any trends of the day. And, so far so good, it looks like that’s kinda what’s happened. So, you know, that’s a joy in my life to see that.

MSG – I’m trying to think up some original questions here, I mean there IS a Jellyfish book coming out, that’s so awesome and nuts. How do you feel about that? Was that a shock?

RJMJ – No, we’ve all been involved with it, and in fact, I’m giving my comments to the author for several chapters as we speak. It will be good for the fans; I think the author is doing a good job on the book.

%22Brighter Day-A Jellyfish Story%22 (cover)

“Brighter Day:A Jellyfish Story” (book cover)

There’s a lot of wonderful and interesting behind the scenes trivia in there. But you know…for all the joy, it’s quite a sad story in that as musicians we made some incredible art together, in my humble opinion of course but as people, we had a lot to learn about getting along, compromising and doing all those things that keep a band family together. We were very young and immature and all of us could have had better people skills and group working skills. And I think anybody who picks up the book will see that there really isn’t any great mystery as to why the band dissolved, it would have happened anyway because we had a lot to learn as four people in a relationship. You know, the joke is always a band is not two people married, but four people married or more and there was no handbook for that, there wasn’t a band council per se. So we lived and learned but the challenges of holding our relationships together was what was the demise of the band. And of course there were some musical issues to…so, that stuff is talked about. It’s been joyful and challenging to relive some of those experiences because they were so long ago.

MSG – I have no idea what content that book holds, I really can’t wait to read it. And I know there are so many things people would like to know. Like, was there a third Jellyfish record ever being planned?

RJMJ – No, we didn’t have the material. It never got that far. We didn’t stay together long enough to start working on it. We broke up pretty much after Spilt Milk touring had finished.

MSG – I know some years ago you had communicated with Andy via email after many years of silence. Was that the start of something or was that the big period you waited for on a really long sentence for such a long time?

RJMJ – I would say it’s more of a period. That email and a past few emails have been sprinkled with communication between he and I. But it’s mainly related to business issues that needed to be taken care of. Random stuff that came up, the Jellyfish catalogue we needed to talk about…I’m just happy that Andy and I for all intensive purposes have made amends and that’s a good feeling. I think both of us know that if we wanted to reach out any further via email we’re free to do that. There’s no apprehension. But as far as any desire to pursue any more Jellyfish music that just simply hasn’t been talked about. I just think everybody is going 100 miles per hour in their respective careers. From what I understand Andy has been very successful scoring children’s shows for the Disney networks and other things I’m not aware of and so it just hasn’t come up in conversation.

Andy & Roger 1993

Andy & Roger 1993

MSG – Do you have any sort of relationship with him now? I mean you guys were best friends and business partners, collaborators, etc. for a long time starting the ball really rolling with Beatnik Beatch, your project that lead you guys to Jellyfish.

RJMJ – I’d known Andy since highschool. The upcoming book gives a colorful history.

MSG – When Jellyfish came to an end, how did you feel? Were you upset or were you somewhat happy to start a new chapter?

RJMJ – A little bit of both. I mean, I definitely needed some space from everything with Jellyfish and that space turned into a logical decision with everyone to kinda just end things there. So, of course it was sad, any relationship that breaks up, even if it’s healthy for that relationship and people to move on. You know, like divorced couples that are better off having moved on…there is so much of a deep connection and emotional ties with these people and sharing so many important moments in your lives together that yeah, there is a sadness and sentimental sorrow around the whole thing of course. That’s the best way to describe it. You can always say, what if you did it differently. What if the band had gone to counseling, tried to make a third record or, what if Jason didn’t want to pursue a solo career or whatever it may be then, we’d be taking about that right now. We’ve all chose a different path and they’ve been filled with all different stuff that has been fulfilling and exciting. So it’s not a right or wrong and you know it’s all learning. I’ve learned so much from whom I was in Jellyfish. I own, and you’ll see from the book, that I own all of my choices that didn’t serve the band very well, mistakes if you will. Actually I don’t believe in mistakes, I just believe, well, that didn’t serve me or the guys so next time I’m going to choose something different. You keep trying to make better choices for yourself with your significant other or rather, your four significant others in a band or your co-workers. We’re always in relationships. A band is a relationship like anything else. I learned many things from the choices that I made in that group. And guess what? I don’t make them anymore. I make better ones that have better results with greater good for everybody concerned and that can only happen from living life.

MSG – Based on all the Jellyfish stuff that has been released since the break up, is there anything left that we have not heard, any secret hidden nugget anywhere?

RJMJ – No, gosh…not that I know of. The last trickle from the faucet was the Harry Nilsson tribute, which was just Andy and I covering “Think About Your Troubles”.

MSG – Since Jellyfish, you’ve worked with all the guys in some way, shape or form except for Andy. And you know I gotta ask…and you don’t even have to answer. May that ever be a possibility again?

RJMJ – I’m never gonna say never. Certainly people have approached us. But I think what your talking about has to be a unanimous decision. So you can’t have two of the four people going, wow, I really want to do this. Four people have to wake up one day and say this would be a cool, healthy and fulfilling thing and we all talk about it, have discussions and it happens. Again, everyone is just full speed ahead in their own work and lives. Certainly everybody’s probably thought about it at one time or another but no one has acted on it because we’ve just been doing other things.

MSG – Out of all your projects, could you pick a top three?

RJMJ – Well, fortunately I don’t have any regrets with any of them. Every project I’ve ever been involved with, Jellyfish related or not…session work or other, you either commit and put your heart and all of your skills that you have at that point in your life into it or you don’t. Because whatever the product yields is not gonna be worth a damn if you haven’t committed and poured your heart into it. After you’ve done that you can walk away from it and go, I did my best, I gave the world and this project specifically everything I was capable of giving and now it’s up to the fans. And so even to this day I don’t look back on anything I did with Jellyfish, Imperial Drag, The Moog Cookbook…and say well, I wish I left that song off the record or would have rewritten something. Sure there are little tidbits here and there with a, what if we would have done that what would it sound like. But, I have no regrets. Music was something we had experience with and were skilled at, but making a video wasn’t or doing a photoshoot or touring. That whole world was very new. Lots of first timers for me and my band mates in the Jellyfish days of course, in particular. And so you live and learn. There are certainly things I would have done differently with photo shoots or videos, but I think it was all fun, we were just going for it and really tried to make a difference in a world that, to this day I think is very predictable, very prefab…very calculated and geared toward the lowest common denominator and we wanted to do something that few artists had success with, which was venture into the pop arena and have success on our own terms and interestingly enough I have the privilege of supporting one of the few artists that in the last 40 years who’s done that for so long to such a degree which is, Beck. Somehow he has surfed the pop, rock, hip-hop world and done pretty well for himself. He’s got a large following, sold quite a few albums, has toured the world extensively and it’s completely done on his own terms. You can’t say he’s influenced by anybody or sounds like anybody. So it’s not a surprise I was attracted to him and his world and fortunately he enjoys my contributions. So, it’s been really great, all the projects I’ve done. It’s like, we’re gonna give you sing along hooks and quality production and what you guys decide to do with it is your call, this is what we know how to do and I think we do it as good as anybody, check it out. And I’ve been very blessed by record companies and different artists who have given me and my band mates a forum to do that and I’ve been able to provide a living for myself through music. Do I live in a mansion in the Hollywood hills with a private recording studio and a pool? No. But that stuff’s not important to me. The only reason I wish any of my projects would have sold more is because that would have meant more people heard them. You know, in any of these projects I feel we are throwing a very special, unique, fun party and it’s not for everybody but we think a lot of you are going to like it and I wish more people had either been exposed to that party or taken a liking to it, but that’s not the case…We started this conversation talking about the Jellyfish legacy and how it still has impact for a certain community in 2016 and that’s a beautiful, beautiful thing that I don’t take for granted.

MSG – How about albums?

RJMJ – Gosh, if you want three, it’d probably be Catnip Dynamite, Spilt Milk and then probably the TV Eyes record. I really liked what happened on that album. I think the writing on that record is so strong and I’m happy to say it was a pretty collaborative process between me and the guys and I just think we turned out some 3 and 4 minute 80’s pop hits in a modern production setting. I think these three records also really just kinda show my scope of what I’ve tried to offer so far.

MSG- Okay, let’s circle back to the beginning. Your new solo record…title, release date, any first time insider info you’d like to share here?

RJMJ – No title yet. I mean, I’ve got a ways to go. At this point all the guests have pretty much made their appearances. I’m fleshing out all the vocals which will take me a very long time to do and then there is instrument detail. I haven’t even thought about the fun things, like album art, title…all that stuff. And you know, nobody is more bummed about that then me. Every time I open up the computer to start working away on it, actually it’s been about three weeks since I’ve worked on it, but I go, ahh, I can hear the finish line. I get very hopeful but all I need is time and I’ll figure it out. It might be six months or more out of the way. Beck’s getting geared up for some Summer Touring which really means I don’t get to work on the record at all and that’s fine I love touring with him.

MSG – Will there be any shows supporting it and what would the band line-up be?

RJMJ – Oh yea…I don’t even know if I’m going to have the time or desire to play live shows for the new record. I really only ever did in Japan anyway, and I currently don’t have a Japanese album. Just gotta see. I’m very excited about putting it out fan funded though.

MSG – I know you’re also a gear guy and have tons of trinkets. Is there a favorite piece of gear you have?

RJMJ – Wow…well, they all do a little something special, right? The most fun to play is the Hohner Clavinet. I recently acquired a rare model to precede the D6, which is the common brown one you see everybody playing. I acquired a C5, which is a red and white model and it sounds a little different from the common D6. It’s just fantastic sounding. I’ve got it on the new solo record and hoping to use it even more. It’s an instrument I feel a kinship with. It’s the closest I get to be to a guitar player, you can put it through amplifiers; processors and effects like guitar players and really turn it up. I mean, I did that a lot with Imperial Drag.

MSG – Your studio, cleverly named Stu-Stu-Studio. Is it a place constantly changing or do you try and find something that works and really try to take that and use it to the fullest extent?

RJMJ – No. I lived in that house for 11 years and my partner and I ended our relationship and I moved on which meant moving out of the house as well. I now live in a lovely new home with my fiancé, Laurel. We are going to be married sometime in the immediate future. I’m very excited about that. This house does not have room for all of the gear. It’s pretty much me and my computer and the occasional piece or two. Most of my stuff is unfortunately in storage right now and I go pull things out for sessions and different projects. But I was definitely spoiled at the last place where I had most of it out on display, plugged in and ready to use.

MSG – Currently, what’s a day in the life of Roger Joseph Manning Jr. like?

RJMJ – Everyday is about making music or growing as a human being. What I mean by that is music has always been a connection to spirituality. I’m not a church goer in a traditional sense but I do believe that we are all something greater than these bodies, that we are an eternal, spiritual, loving force and I know that’s real because music is real. We’ve all been affected equally by certain music and certain artists and then not so much by others. I’ve been exploring as much my musical life and that continues to grow, and my personal spiritual life, what I mean by that is I’m doing a lot more reading, listening to lectures…for the goal of creating more peace in my life. More tranquility, more love. And, it filters right back into my music. In fact, Catnip Dynamite has a lot of lyrical writing about my explorations in that area, which is not what I set out to do, it just kind of flew out of me when I started putting pencil to paper. And I work on projects local and abroad with file transfers and stuff. So, tell your friends! Recently I’ve been doing a lot more arranging for peoples records like strings and orchestral arrangements. I’m on a lot of records recently, Young The Giant, Paramore, Jimmy Eat World, Haim…It’s a variety of things in which I get to just be an arranger. I’ve been enjoying creating more and more of that work. In fact, I have a website for that which is called RogerArranging.com – We are always looking for fun projects to be involved with. Solo album between those cracks and Beck, which is really a part time job because he doesn’t tour or record all year around and just loving the variety of work I get to do, it’s really fulfilling.

MSG – Well, I thank you Roger, I hope you enjoyed the interview; I tried to touch on a bit of everything. Anything else you’d like to leave us with?

RJMJ – Haha, loved the interview, you know I have no problem talking about myself for 45 minutes, haha. And just a big thank you to everybody that will listen and continue to support and take an interest in me and what my former bandmates continue to do. That’s what keeps it all going around. I can’t tell you how many Beck shows I’ve played where some really great fans come up to me afterwards and have reminded me how much those earlier records have influenced them and are still listening to them, that just never gets old. One compliment a month is really all I need for the rest of my life. Thank you again for this opportunity. Great interview, thanks Soda.

MSG – And thank you Roger.

RogerJosephManningJr.com

***Although this is the end of the transcribed interview, there will be a very special Part Three! So come back next Wednesday 05/18 to see what that might be!***

Roger & Soda

Roger and I in NYC years back at a Moog Cookbook show. Wasn’t old enough to get in, had to sneak it. Was a blast!

 

 

I was once a little kid obsessed with music and now I’m an adult…and well, obsessed with music. I’ve had and have the opportunities to live out many musical and artistic fantasies. Touring the Country, playing in awesome DIY bands, making/slinging merch, working with incredible artists that I love…the list goes on. And here with MUSIC-SURVIVAL-GUIDE I have been able to expand on my universe and mash two things I love into one, Music and Writing. I’m so giddy over this installment that I literally can’t contain my excitement. You see; Roger Joseph Manning Jr. was a big part of my all time fave band, Jellyfish. I’ve never been so enamored with a band in my life. I also never thought I’d be writing a piece like this, ever. I’ve truly been charmed and lucky enough to have all of these great experiences, aaaaand just recently I got to do a phone interview with this Jelly hero of mine. I’ve actually known Roger for many years and we’ve been distantly in touch. Some time back I had a day gig in which I insured musical gear for a number of musicians. Roger being one of them; at that point we reconnected once more and were in touch on occasion. He was always a blast to talk to, humble and excited to be held in high regard and always grateful for his past projects. But even now, today, he grows more successful. His recent work with Beck garnered him a part of a Grammy Award winning album with fellow Jellyfish alumni Jason Falkner. Manning has lent his talents to many records over the past 25 plus years, but within the last few he’s grown quite mega, and I was able to talk with him about it, and we covered A LOT. I wanted to do a really solid interview with him and get it out there. I think everyone will be pleased with the following content. It was such an honor to do this. So, get ready for a treat. Let’s go!

Roger J. Manning Jr.

Roger J. Manning Jr.

 

MSG – Really hard to find a starting point for this one. First, 1000 thank yous Roger for doing this! I wanted to have a bit of a theme here as I’ve decided to call the finished piece “The Roger Joseph Manning Jr. Variety Show”. Let’s start from the now and take a bit of a trip through the past; you’ve got another solo album on the way. That’s super exciting. Can you tell us about it?

RJMJ – Well, if people are familiar with the first two, it’s kinda keeping with that. I explore my favorite styles, 60’s/70’s. Some songs are very guitar heavy and others keyboard heavy. Lots of different feels and grooves and I’m liking getting it out of my system. Some of the songs/ideas are generated from the Jellyfish days or Imperial Drag days, so they are unfinished ideas that were around that I have a lot of faith in. Lyrics take me a while; I’ve had the privilege of working with two great lyricists in the past. I have fun doing them but am not particularly fast at it. The record has been in the works for over two years now and that’s only because I’ve been busy traveling with Beck and doing session work.

MSG – Now, this is your third Solo Record. Can you compare it to its predecessors Catnip Dynamite and Solid State Warrior aka The Land Of Pure Imagination?

RJMJ – Yeah, you can actually think of it as the third in that series. There’s not anything that is going to surprise the listener as to what I’m going for, just more songs within the standards of which I look for in quality songwriting. The only thing different is that there are more guest players and a lot of guitar on this record. Victor Indrizzo plays drums, Steve McDonald plays some bass. My brother Chris has been helping me record vocals. He’s been a godsend and a great set of ears to help produce the vocals. I’ve tried to do this in the past by myself and I wanted to get some fresh ears into the process.

MSG – The first two records have both had a few different types of releases domestically and overseas. What are the plans for release on this one?

RJMJ – For this one the plans are different in that I want to do a fan funding record. When the time is right and nearing completion I’ll launch a campaign on Pledge Music. I’ve had great conversations with the people over there. I’ve had friends who’ve had great success with that forum and I’ll be exploring it myself, and offering incentives from unearthed Jellyfish paraphernalia and other rarities and one of a kind items.

MSG – You also cut a mostly electronic type record a few years back under the name Malibu. Was that a one-time thing?

RJMJ – Yea, it was a one time thing…I’d love to do another one but just don’t really have the time. It’s always a dance; working on the projects I enjoy that pay my bills and then those I enjoy that don’t have an income attached to them. And so, it’s a juggling act like anyone has to do.Malibu Robo-Sapiens cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

MSG – What was it like recently to be a part of Beck’s Grammy Winning record Morning Phase?

RJMJ – Absolutely incredible. It’s the first album I’m aware of that I’ve had a big hand in that received that kind of recognition. It’s a culmination of my history and involvement with Beck and that group of musicians. We all kinda started together in ’97, that’s when I joined up with him and that group of people and played, recorded and toured with them off and on since that time. Then early 2000’s I wasn’t involved with him simply because I wanted to do original stuff, remixes, session work…and when your away from home so much like that you’re not in recording studios. So for most of the 2000’s I didn’t have any direct involvement with him even though we stayed in touch. And in 2011 he surprised all of us and invited us back into the fold and all jumped at the idea to work on his new record. But, it was such an ultimate surprise and honor to get those awards and it felt really good to be a part of something that caliber.

MSG – Your good friend and former/current band mate Jason Falkner also played a part in this. Let’s touch on him for a bit. It started back in Jellyfish and after that many years would go by before you and Jason would work together again. I know it’s a lot of history but tell us a bit about Jason. A bit of the beginning, middle and end perhaps…

RJMJ – I met Jason when he was barley 18. I answered an ad he had down here in the paper in L.A., I was still in college and we didn’t decide to work together at that time but we felt a deep connection instantly and as everybody knows we invited him to participate in Jellyfish and that was a fantastic experience that only ended because Andy and I weren’t interested in sharing the writing scenario, we had so many songs and Jason wanted to continue to branch out, it was very clear he needed to pursue solo stuff which he did, and it made sense for him to go his own way and pursue his amazing solo career that he’s had. And along the way we not only teamed up on Beck but we had a short-lived project, TV Eyes that was both of us and our drummer friend, Brian Reitzell. That was a wonderful experience because we said let’s try to do all the things we couldn’t make work in Jellyfish work in this group. Which we did because it was very much an equal writing partnership, it was very much a trio effort with how it was all put together, so it was a lot of fun for us. Unfortunately we couldn’t manage to get any record company interested at the time and that was before what a lot of bands are doing now, TV Eyes definitely had an 80’s influence and in 2000, 2001 again…nobody was really doing that stuff, so record companies were confused and didn’t know what to make of us, so we did that for a good three years and gave it the old college try so to speak. We continue to play on recording sessions but really through our involvement with Beck we reconnected and had some really great quality hang out time as much more mature, easy going music makers than we were as the desperate, young, hungry Jellyfish guys and it’s been great to connect with him now.

MSG – A few years ago you and him teamed up as an opening act for Cheap Trick as well as being additional members of the band after your opening set. Together you guys performed a few of each other’s solo songs and a few Jellyfish favorites. For us Jellynuts, this was major. When did you guys decide to do that and how did you feel putting it together and revisiting that material?

RJMJ – Well, we were just at the right place at the right time in that we were working with a producer named Julian Raymond and Howard Willing who is an engineer who had a big hand in making that Cheap Trick record. They had both worked with Jason and thought it would be great for us to contribute to the album. That went very smoothly and the success with that lead the producer to reach out to them and have us help flesh out the band and just kinda make it extra fancy in them debuting that new record. Fortunately they agreed, lucky for us. And so, it was already amazing enough to play shows with them but then have them say, hey, for a handful of special engagements would you guys like to open up the show and perform some Jellyfish songs and some solo songs. It was just incredible. I look back on that in awe and am just amazed that it all came to fruition.

MSG – So I know we touched a bit on TV Eyes and rebuilding your relationship with Jason and working with Brian from AIR. Anything else for TV Eyes or is that kind of on the back burner for now too?

RJMJ – You know, it’s no different than Malibu, there’s no time. I’ve wanted to do another Moog Cookbook record too. You wake up in the morning and you’ve got to prioritize, as we all do…I simply have not found a way to be that prolific with my projects, I don’t know how Todd Rundgren does it! So, that’s the deal there. Brian is very busy as a very successful film scorer, Jason does more and more production these days, everybody’s busy and happily so, doing stuff they want to do, you know, keeping up a standard of living…it’s just none of us have the extra time, people start families, the old story.TV Eyes

 

 

 

 

 

 

MSG – Now let’s hop back a bit to the mid nineties when you put out a phenomenal record with a band called Imperial Drag. Some people think that’s some of your greatest work. It even included Mr. Eric Dover on lead vocals and guitar. Eric also being a former member of Jellyfish coming on board to help you guys support Spilt Milk. When did you know that you wanted Eric to front the band you were in after he was a touring member of your previous band?

RJMJ – A few months after Jellyfish disbanded Eric and I and Tim Smith continued to stay in touch and swap demo tapes of music we were all working on, and Tim and Eric and I were all talking about working on a project, but Tim was at a place in his life where it was very difficult for him to drop his family responsibilities and come out to California to work with us. Eric had no family responsibility, he was much more free in that respect and moved out and literally stayed on a friends couch in a guest bedroom in Los Angeles so we could try to work together to see what it might yield. Imperial Drag promoSo it naturally evolved that way, Eric and I tried a lot of different approaches. Ya know, I caught Eric at a time where he was just blossoming as a songwriter so it was easy to pick up my collaborative process I had with Andy with Eric Dover, here was a guy who sang fantastic, enjoyed writing lyrics and had plenty of good song ideas. We jumped in and found some other guys and fortunately kept the record company interest along the way.

 

MSG – Eric is an absolute animal, such a huge personality and voice. Was there ever a time after all these years where you thought there might be another go round with Imperial Drag?

RJMJ – We do have a four CD package we’re trying to get off the ground with a local record company called Omnivore who reissued the Jellyfish albums on vinyl and they want to do it but apparently there are some challenges with licensing the Imperial Drag songs contractually, so because of that it hasn’t been put as a priority but we still talk about it I actually owe them a phone call to see if they want to pursue it. It’d be a pretty neat package, there are so many demos that we did.

MSG – And, even in between and after Jellyfish and Imperial Drag you concocted a few records with your keyboardcentric experimental duo, The Moog Cookbook. You guys did mostly covers with that. It’s really fun stuff and you also took on another bit of an alter ego, Meco Eno, how did that ever come to be?

RJMJ – That was a very therapeutic project for me in that, Jellyfish had broken up and I was pretty worn out and saddened by that and Imperial Drag had not started yet but even when it did start that was a big challenge from the get go so Moog Cookbook became an outlet for me. I had met my partner Brian Kehew as we were buying and swapping old gear together and had similar tastes for the old synthesizer world and Brian and I became instant friends, he had become one of my best friends in L.A. because I had only been there about a year and we were frustrated that at the height of grunge no one was really interested in any keyboards because most popular music was guitar driven, which we had no problem with, we liked playing that music. Imperial Drag was guitar based even though I added a lot of keyboards to it. We would talk to people about these instruments and no one wanted to know anything about them, they thought they were silly, they didn’t belong on records, they just weren’t interested. Which on one hand was great cause they were very affordable to collect and on the other hand our rooms were filled with dusty keyboards that weren’t getting used. Brian and I had decided to do our own music for fun and amusement, literally comedy records to make ourselves and our friends laugh, a lot of inside musical jokes and decided to model them after the switched on records of the 60’s, and that’s why The Moog Cookbook records are all covers. We did very few original pieces. We derived so much pleasure out of doing those songs we decided to do an albums worth and see if we could get it released, which we did on an indie label (Restless) that had been around for a while so they had some reach so the CD got around the U.S., England, France…Japan and much to our surprise got way more of a response then we had ever thought including the biggest and most important being the band AIR who reached out to us to do a remix of one of their songs and they were just starting to get lots of attention in England and the U.S. – The timing couldn’t have been better. And that’s how we got introduced to AIR, they reached out to us and then they were in L.A. on business and actually visiting Beck who had also just done a remix for them and I had just joined Beck. So all of this was happening within months. And we said, how come you guys don’t tour? They said, well…we don’t have a band. Well, why not? They said they couldn’t find anybody in Paris. And I said, wait…you are in one of the most major cities in the world, clearly there are musicians you can find to play with. The reply was, “no, we hate them all!” So I said what if we went out as four crazy keyboard players and Brian and I were your backup band? They thought it was a great idea but wanted drums and bass and so, almost within the next 24 hours we invited Justin from Becks band to play bass and reached out to Brian Reitzell who was with Redd Kross at the time to be our drummer. And there is how Brian got introduced to AIR. Everyone was excited, they had never played their music live so they came to L.A., and we rehearsed and toured their record in 1998 then recorded the next one with them in ’99. Lots of really fun, eventful things happening during that time.

*****

AND…That’s it for Part One. Stop by next Wednesday (05/11) for what I assume will be the much-anticipated Part Two in which we talk about Jellyfish, Andy, Gear, favorite albums and much more!