My old pal Chris Davies (Garage Orchestra, Penetrator's) and I work-shopped some ideas for tracks at his place. For one song we built a track on a cassette tape consisting of a cha cha beat from an old Casio keyboard then put some staccato organ chords on it and a messed up sounding guitar...we bounced one track over to another cassette player again and again which increased the "distress" aspect of the sound. I was sure to record the "tracks", that is hold the cassette player, far away from the speakers so you could "hear the air" between the speaker and the player. I swear I could hear Phil Spector's famous "recorded air" in the final tape.
That is the track the rest of the band would have to play along with in the studio.
Somehow I was able to coerce some amazing players to join me in the studio. This is where having some money from a record label helped tremendously. (Look no one got rich. Then again no one ever does in the music business except for the insanely lucky and a few flashy pimps).
Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, NIN,imarobot) on bass, Roger Manning (Jelly Fish, Beck) plays the keyboards, Randy Hoffman (Gar.Orch/Harry Partch) on vibraphone/timpani/woodblocks, Stephen Hodges (Tom Waits, T Bone Burnett) on drums, Chris Davies lead guitar, Stew (Passing Strange, Negro Problem) on rhythm guitar and Henry Diltz taking photos and playing a bit of banjo and clarinet.
This session was recorded in June of 1999, one day for eight hours and the music tracks were done. A week later me and Lindsey and Anna sang the vocal parts. With the sisters singing the leads on the songs.
Everything looked rosy. Paul thought it was some of my best work yet. I took the demos to our guy at Warner Bros. he listened and said "I think we need to make the rest of the album now. And Cindy Lee, you need to make your next album here too."
My plan to take over the music-world, was all falling perfectly into place. Then, quite suddenly, all fucking hell broke loose...
My husband Paul, announced that he was about to embark on an affair with a woman he'd met at a science fiction convention. But he hadn't checked in with her on that just yet. It was a speculative idea. He said he thought it shouldn't effect us too much as he'd just fly out to see her three or four times a year, in Miami.
It was preposterous, it was insane and it was the same week that my point person, the Vice President of A+R at Warner Brothers, was abruptly fired after 15 years with the company. Then on the hell heels of this news, his boss, our new WB point person, was fired. But not until Paul poured water over his head during our meditation group lunch and ran screaming out of the room.
I wasn't going along with his affair plan the way he'd thought I would. He was shocked I wasn't okay with the 3 to 4 times a year plan. I told Paul he could go to Miami as much as wanted to, and explore endless possibilities with the librarian, because I wouldn't be in the picture anymore and then I moved out.
And so the four tracks were put on a shelf and the young girls grew up to be fine young women with lives and careers of their own. I went back in the studio a year later and recorded 3 songs with a string session, I was living up in LA and seeing a guy with photos on his wall he'd bought from a gallery, they were all black and white shots of dead and gunned up mobsters. ( "If you don't like these you're not gonna like my idea of a picnic in a Manson Cave.") He was a writer, one day we had a skirmish and he said to me: "You should treat me better, I'm a living legend you know".
I got a call from the living legend I was still married to, we shared a laugh, he told me he was seeing a therapist and could he visit me. Things just sorta went that direction from there on out. The evil days had passed and the heavenly spheres were back in alignment again.
A few months ago I heard those WB tracks for the first time in eleven years and I noticed that the hurt was all gone. The floods had passed and the droughts and what was left was the music. I had the opportunity to immerse myself in it's world again this week, (singing, adding Renata Bratt's cello and melodica).
It's a beautiful place, being in the midst of all that sweetness and intensity, a love affair in the form of sound.