welcome to tiki town
One year ago, I took the journey from south of the border to beautiful San Francisco, California. I honestly had no idea of what to expect from this new adventure. I had sent a demo to Grammy-winner and talented producer Scott Mathews
and was now at his front door. Looking at Tiki Town Studios
from the outside I had one first thought; "Wow- this is a really pink building!" Something about the island groove and Scott's amazingly kind manner throughout our pre-production phone calls, told me all things were going to be golden as I headed through the Tiki Town gates.
organ transplant at tiki town
Now, a lot can be said about the way people who've worked with big names in the industry treat an up-and-coming like me. Scott and his engineer Tom Luekens
were gracious, genuine, and ready to help me from the beginning. Not for a moment did I feel like what I had to say wouldn't matter to them. Which was very lucky to feel, because boys and girls, I had a little stage fright. Van Morrison had left some of his gym equipment at Scott's, the walls were lined with Gold and Platinum records, and seeing all my legends 8x10 photos personally signed out to Scott... well it made my head spin for a second. Especially when I came across a picture of Johnny Cash. Seeing Mr. Cash's autograph made me think of one of my dreams. One of meeting him and maybe getting him to sign the guitar I've played since a little boy. Well, he was of course sadly gone now, but it snapped me into the moment and I realized this was for real. So, let's make some music...
scott's record collection
the man in black
As you may guess, there are about as many producing styles as there are gringos with fanny packs down here in Mazatlan on a cruise ship day (that's a lot!). Scott is a true pro though and always makes sure to get the rock AND roll out of you. We are very similar in our thought that it's more important to get the feeling of the song on tape, than that of some sort of "perfection". I dig that about him and his courage to let the song evolve and leave room for some happy accidents!
scott directing a hopeful opus
Recording was fast and furious and very often we were making it up as we go. Which was great for me, as that mirrors my normal life! Scott and Tom are very gifted musicians, and, as you OKAY NOW
owners know, full of surprises. I loved when during the sessions for "Namely Me"
, Scott just went down to the basement and returned with several horns. He began mumbling something about Mo-Town and told Tom to hit the big red record button. Next thing I know that song came alive with the brass at the bridge! Of course, Tom is not to be bested that easily. After a steady diet of Saturday Night Live You Tube clips, he was ready to shout some serious 'Oh Yeahs' on "Siren Song"
. What I get a kick out of watching, is Tom the engineer up to his elbows in studio wiring, half re-building the studio, and then pulling out his viola or cello or some other string thing and transforming himself into this concert hall soloist.
bringing in the orchestra
tom adds a touch of class
had an amazing groove driving the control room monitors. I would ask the guys to please play it at the end of the day just so I could sleep with it in my head. BUT, when Scott sat at the big old piano one day and added the ivory laced hook.. forget it, I about died from sheer giddiness.
scott on the keys
Now, many of you know that Scott and Huey Lewis are amigos. I tried desperately to get Mr. Lewis to play the harp on a song or two of mine. Not for any sort of name drop, but rather to come a bit full circle. I remember playing "Stuck With You" as my first live performance at the age of 8 (sorry if that makes you feel at all old Huey). I've always loved The News! Due to scheduling conflicts, it of course didn't happen. As you have heard Scott nailed the part on "Siren Song" anyways (that guy makes me sick with all the instruments he plays), and now I just have yet another reason to do another album. Ha!
things go bad right about here...
I had lost a friend before the sessions began that year. Really, it wasn't only me, but, I was feeling the big hole she left in everyones lives. I had written this song called, "Beautiful in the Rain"
and I really hoped it would turn into something worthy of her memory. As the days went on in the studio and the song began to find it's way, I started to feel like it just might. I loved the peace that would come over people when they heard just the first minute or two. Maybe, just a little bit of the sense that life is a gift. Much like she lived. The proudest moment of the recording for me, was when my Dad and Mom were invited to the mixing session of that song. After we heard the final playback I saw my Dad speechless and maybe even a little teary eyed. My Mom was for sure. To write something that meant that much to people who've given you so much.. well, it just felt like the perfect day.
sit back and listen
At the closing minutes of my time at Tiki Town, I realized that I didn't want to go home. Which for everyone that knows me was a shock (I am usually ready to high tail it back to the breaks of Mexico). I felt like I was only at the beginning of creating amazing music, I felt that the charm of Scott's studio and the magic of Northern California were just sinking in, and mostly I realized that I didn't consider Scott and Tom as just my producer/engineer team but as friends. Saying goodbye to this place was saying goodbye to two cool new mates for sometime.
So, here we are. OKAY NOW
has made it's way all around the world, to all sorts of amazing people. Yet, it started because somebody took a chance on a demo from a minor vagrant, so-so surfer, song writing singer and well-known partially recovered Eddie Cochran addict.
What more can I say but THANK YOU! Thank you for spending your hard earned money on OKAY NOW, thank you for telling your friends about it, thank you Scott for the spark, Tom for the fuel, and all of you for ignition!!
PS- There of course is as they say "the rest of the story". Such as why the term 'Goulet' will always make me shiver. What does cheese really mean? If you touch the hem of Elvis' shirt does it make you sing better... you tell me.
the king's cloth
making deals - making records
tom at the controls
he's got the cheese