‘50,000 Kilowatts’ by Antemasque is my new jam.
My personal Star Wars Intro video.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me great honor to introduce to you the newest Big Bag of Money Productions project:
‘Tacky’ by Weird Al Yankovic is my new jam.
‘Don’t Do That’ by Baby Dayliner is my new jam.
‘The Lion’s Roar’ by Cynic is my new jam.
‘Repeat Pleasure’ by How to Dress Well is my new jam.
‘Good As Gone’ by Dilated Peoples is my new jam.
One of my earliest memories involves making music in a basement. My dad’s one big luxury at the time was a state of the art hi-fi sound reproduction system complete with turntable, cassette recorder, receiver, and (from the perspective of a three-year old) enormous speakers. This was located in our family room on the lower-level of our house along with the color TV and the plastic rocking horse with the metal springs that I was perpetually on (until I broke the third one). Outside of the stuff in the garage this was his one thing, and no one else was allowed to “play with it” when he wasn’t there. (Not that I didn’t try.)
(Not the actual hifi, but a decent approximation. Hey, kind of looks like a Spacepod.)
Since my dad worked during the week, Saturday morning were usually our “father-son” time. Back then, I woke up ungodly early. So much so that my parents had to make a rule that I wasn’t allowed to leave my room until after 6am. So, on Saturdays I’d wait until the little hand was on the 6 and the big hand was on the 12 and then bound into my parents room to wake my dad about an hour earlier than he had to get up on work days. He’d wash the sleep out of his eyes, put on some coffee, and we’d go down to the basement. Since, it was still about hour until the cartoons even started, he’d select one of the lacquered vinyl discs from his collection, place it on the turntable, and drop the stylus on the groove….
And change my life forever.
The sound that sprang forth from those auditory monoliths was like nothing I ever experienced. Percussive hits so full and powerful that smacked you right in the stomach. Deep rich bass tones you could feel in the floor. Warbling treble effects that sounded like messages from another planet. And this was at low volume. I had heard music before, riding in the car with my mom, or operating my own Fisher Price record player, but nothing like THIS.
Saturday mornings quickly became music mornings as I poured through dad’s collection of original vinyls from the 60s and 70s. Forget about cartoons, Saturday meant spending time with piano luminaries like Billy Joel and Elton John; storytelling with Harry Chapin; learning to count in Roman Numerals with Chicago; and trying to decipher the mystery behind the black album that had nothing but a small prism and rainbow on the jacket.
One morning, I had to know more. So, I asked the old man, “how do they make records?” If either one of us could have known the significance of this question at the time, and how it would define my live for the next 30 years (and still continues to).
Coming from a engineering background he was able to go into terrific detail about the process of manufacturing the actual record: cutting the grooves with lathe, creating the master stamp, that sort of thing. But, he didn’t have nearly as much information about the recording process, which would soon become a fascination of mine. “How did these groups with these instruments end up on a slab on vinyl only millimeters thick sandwiched inside a cardboard jacket capable of producing this amazing noise I was hearing?” I spent hours reading liner notes to figure out what else was going on and begged my dad to make me cassettes so I could continue to listen when he was at work.
This was the beginning, the Genesis, of my music study. In the coming years I would get my own system complete with one of them new-fangled CD players, learn how to play the drums, join multiple school and extracurricular bands, and eventually go to college to major in Music Engineering - which, for those unfamiliar, is the closest thing you can get to a degree in "How do they make records?"
Today, still finds me anxious for the times I get to go into various basements and attempt to answer that question I had as a kid. Like many things, it’s a process understood, but never quite mastered. The music I make today is still an extension of those Saturday mornings in the family basement with dad.
Happy Fathers Day to all the musical inspirations in our lives!