Travis, And My Super-Wicked Corporate Day

This afternoon, I watched one of my all-time favorite bands, Travis, perform for eight people just a few feet from my desk. Then I hit the studio and got back to work on my heavily Travis-influenced album.

They were in the building for an MTV News interview, and to tape an MTV Radio performance. They played three songs from their forthcoming CD, ’12 Memories’ (due October 14th on Epic Records): the plaintive single ‘Re-Offender,’ and two highly political tunes: ‘The Beautiful Occupation’ and ‘Peace The Fuck Out.’ Then they tossed in ‘Sing’ for good measure.

Fran was wearing a newsboy cap, and had a tiny pony tail sticking out the back. He told us tales of meeting Tony Blair’s son (‘Have you asked your father what the fuck he’s thinking?’), George Bush, terrorism, media lies, turning off the television and stuff — he sounded a little bit nutty, actually — but it was great! I’ve heard him in better voice (opening for Oasis at Radio City), but the band sounded terrific with minimal volume and instrumentation, and the new tunes are great. Man, it was a huge bonus.

All of which came after a super-wicked corporate day. I’m on a committee tapped to improve intra-departmental communication within MTV News. At a 3 o’clock meeting I was asked to make the group’s presentation to the entire department, plus the VP of News, Docs, and Production, and the President of MTV Networks next Thursday. Yikes. The dress rehearsal (in front of HR) was an hour later, and I had nothing but the group’s very loose notes to work from. All of my student council and writing 101 lessons came back to me, and I drafted a pretty rockin’ presentation (chock-a-block with words like ‘leverage,’ ‘institute,’ ‘impliment’ and such). It went over quite well. I think I might have a future in corporate America should this whole rocknroll not work out.

At the studio, Kevin and I took inventory of the ten tracks on my forthcoming ‘Almost Home’ record, picking the best versions and parts, and tracking some final percussion. (‘I am the King of Tamborine!’ I yelled after one take. And I am — call me, I’ll play on your record.) Then we mapped out what’s left: two cello parts, one electric line, one mandolin track, and nine songs worth of vocals (and backing vocals). All tracking should be complete within the next ten days. Then we mix.

How’s it turning out? I was trying to pick the best of two versions of ‘Stay,’ a song I wrote in Hawaii last summer, and I thought to myself, ‘Is that me? Did I do that’ ‘Cuz it’s all been so effortless, I haven’t felt like I’ve done anything at all. It’s just flowed right outa’ me, like I am possessed, or channelling. And I’ve done so many things differently on this record: tracking tunes that are well-known (to me) instead of brand-new, singing in a lower register, keeping it mostly acoustic — basically, playing to my strengths. And as long as we don’t blow it in the mix, I think it’s really going to show. So do stay tuned…

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