I've Always Been This Awkward - Fifteen

Chris Cornell was on the radio this morning. I forgot how much I liked Chris Cornell. My non-stop world-traveling friend, Johnny B. ran into Chris Cornell and his family (and his "hot nanny," apparently) a couple of years ago in a fancy airport lounge in Paris and John told Chris Cornell how much his friend, Ty Hardaway, enjoyed his music. Like, by saying my first and last names maybe Chris would go, "Oh great, Ty Hardaway, I'm so psyched!" At that time I hated Chris Cornell's music though.

Chris Cornell was on the radio doing kind of an in-studio interview and promotion for a new record coming out later this autumn. To be honest, I really love Soundgarden. I still cannot stand "Black Hole Sun" or "Spoonman," but the stuff that bends minds, like "Limo Wreck" and "The Day I Tried to Live," is totally my bag. True, Superunknown was huge, but it wasn't my favorite Soundgarden album. While I love several songs on that record others really suck. C'mon, "My Wave?" Please that's dogshit music. Badmotorfinger (1991) totally rocks. Ultramega OK (1988) is great rock and roll. My favorite Soundgarden record though is Down On The Upside. That shit is gloomy, powerful, and depressing. Nobody likes that album but I fucking love it!

Then Soundgarden ended and Chris Cornell did the solo record Euphoria Morning, which was another great, great album that was also sad and depressing. In many ways it was Soundgarden's last record since several of the players appeared. And I love it! He then did a record I gave no notice to. I assume that album sucks because by that record's debut in 2007 I had lost 90% of my respect and admiration for Chris Cornell because of that horrible nonsense called Audioslave. I detest that noise so much I cannot even communicate the depth of my disdain in writing. Maybe this is a start: Audioslave makes me want to pierce my eardrums. Hate is too soft a word. I hate Audioslave more than Hitler would hate me. Obviously.

But I had heard through the mill that Chris Cornell was doing a new record to be produced by Timbaland. You know, that Timbaland, the King Midas of the hip-hop scene? Still sore from the Audioslave debacle I was hesitant to give any new Chris Cornell record credence. But while on the radio, they play several songs from his new record, Scream. And you know what, through all the levels of hate and disgust and through the low-fidelity of the FM radio (in the car) I heard some really, really interesting and compelling sound recordings. Then I listened to the interview and remembered that, Oh yeah, dude is one of the good guys. Good stories. Intelligence. Adventure.

Perhaps I can begin to forgive, it's not like every project I've begun has been perfect. Forgiveness is...divine.

It was Down On The Upside's "Blow Up the Outside World" that I "auditioned" my drumming for Rich. I just recorded myself playing along to that song on some of the pieces of a drum set in Rich's basement after not having played the drums for like nine years. Maybe auditioned is too formal a word. More like I demonstrated what I could possibly someday do with two sticks and some drums. Maybe I was auditioning for myself.


Several days or weeks before that recording session Rich had been chillin' at my The Zone when Rich mentioned that he had "recorded some songs into the answering machine." I mentioned that I played some drums. Then he said that there was a drum set in the basement of his group house; that the guy whom he replaced in the house had left it there. What? Sometime around this time Rich had declared me—in reference to my The Zone lifestyle—the king of leisure. It sort of came together

Around that time Rich loaned me his Monkeyboy tapes, music he had recorded into an answering machine and he mentioned two things about it: 1) No one had heard these tapes, and 2) He couldn't imagine ever playing any of these songs for anyone ever. The Monkeyboy tapes are titled, "Tape I - Fall 1995" & "Tape II - Spring 1996." Ha.

"Butterpump" was on one of those tapes as was "Gay and Mexican," I believe. Great songs. Greater vision. The original tapes are still in my archive, slots one and two, upper left hand corner.

So one day while Rich was at work I looked into this drum set in the basement business expecting to find a total piece of shit that would do no one any good. What I found was the foundation for putting together a pretty decent set. It was in no shape though, but I decided to put it together as best I could and see if I could get some sounds out of it. I put on Down on the Upside and played along to several songs until I even embarrassed myself. I had little drum set experience at that point. I totally sucked but spark became a blowtorch of inspiration; we could do this shit. So I played that tape for Rich.

It was summer. We were on the cusp. Of something. We somehow decided to take our informal bad boy act to the outside world, to kind of blow up the outside world. We probably did it half for validation and half out of pure hubris. We had ideas. It must have been July because sometime between July 10th and 11th 1996 a contract was signed between us and the Kingdom of Leisure was born. We call it tKoL (pronounced, TEE-coal).

Oh the places we played (clubs, bookstores, house parties, and the Lost Dog) and, even weirder and more important, the places we recorded. We recorded while house-sitting, we recorded in mad Mike's Williamsburg chump love mansion, and at the Cat Box in Virginia. But mostly we kept the recorders going at our very own Smelly Hell studio and, more often than not, on the road. Twelve years later, we're still doing exactly everything we want to do even though we have about 3,000 miles between us.

That's show business, folks.

[To Be Continued]


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