The San Francisco Sessions - Session 2 Day 1, 7th Feb 2016
A word of advice to anyone thinking of flying out to San Francisco to make a record. Give yourself a day off to get over the journey. I’d got plenty of rest the night before – lulled to sleep by Metallica playing across the way at AT&T Park, briefly woken by the fireworks after the encore. But when I stirred this morning, I just wasn’t in the mood. I know, you fly out all this way with your best songs to play with that fantastic band and you don’t fancy it?! What a dufus! That’s what I thought, too. It’s ok, everything around me was just as I hoped. The boys managed to shape the first song, I’m Gone, into something great. But, the endorphins needed to tell my brain I was having a good time had apparently caught a later flight. Once the basic tracking was done, we did something we hadn’t done so much last time round. The building up of the track with overdubs – extra percussion, handclaps, guitar fills and such – puzzling over the gaps and inventing ways to fill them. That bit was done as a group, everyone involved, everyone taking a share. It produced a great result that I can wait for you to hear. It took up almost all of the day. But rather than pack up, Chuck suggested we have a go at breaking in a new song, even if we don’t have time to, ‘wrestle it to the ground’. I think we must have taken the energy that we’d built up in forming the last song into the studio because this one flew. By this time, my chemicals had landed and I was enjoying myself. This next one was Take Me Down, a pretty dark tale of jealousy, murder and damnation. As usual, we start with the mutual agony of me trying to lead a sort of jam to show the band how the song is supposed to go. This is kind of like the little drummer boy leading the cavalry into battle. Thankfully someone soon yelled charge and the band surged past me in a blaze of howling guitars. They quickly knew the structure well enough to pick it by following only my singing. So I gratefully put down my guitar and relaxed into what became a wild and marathon groove. We went through the song three times without stopping – just easing up a little to denote when the outro had become the next intro. It was wild and ragged and diabolic. And it was exactly what I’d dreamed this song would be. When the band eventually stopped, Matt shouted, “£*** yeah!” from the booth, expressing just what I was thinking. James said, “pick out the best twenty minutes and we’re there” and that would do me just fine. But tempting as it is, we know we can’t do that. It’s too flawed, too formless and Chuck confessed he didn’t know what chords he was supposed to be playing most of the time. So we have go at it again in the morning, map it out properly and do it right whilst trying to keep the feel. Everyone left thinking we’d made a good start. So, an early night, coffee in the morning and back on form for day two. It’s good to be back.