Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Dave Carlock - A Day In The Life
JAMMING WITH GEMI TAYLOR & PRODUCING 'WHAT I CAN'T DESCRIBE'
Originally Posted: 08-24-2012 4:38 PM
Previous Article Next Article
During my most recent trip to LA, I had an opportunity to check out a new band that a friend of mine had been telling me about for a while now. They were gigging out at one of my favorite hangs, Rock & Roll Pizza in Woodland Hills. Music mixed with New York-style pies is always a good time for me, and I gave a call to another one of my usual partners-in-crime, funk guitarist Gemi Taylor, to come join me.

After the band finished playing, Gemi decided he wanted to start a jam, grabbed a Strat off the wall and started laying down a riff. Drummer Tony Whiting (Dee Dee Ramone) was down for it too. Even from the tin can stall of the Men's Room, I could hear these guys needed a bass player so I hurried up and got out there. In no time, we had a handful of remaining fans from the long-past show, dancing and standing in the aisleway between tables with new audience members coming in from the next room.

Whenever I have the good fortune to hang with Gemi, I can't help but recall the song he and I first played on together in my Woodland Hills studio. It was a song from the Transplants' second album called 'What I Can't Describe', which can be easily found on YouTube.

The track is a great example of how songs can, and most often should, determine the production direction. Tim Armstrong (Rancid), my co-producer on the record and always a great songwriter, ran with rapper Skinhead Rob's idea of doing a Transplants' song with a twist of 70's era, LA car culture doo wop. The final arrangement ended up showcasing a different sound for the band yet was still strongly considered for a single release.

Even though the band had one of the greatest modern rock drummers in Travis Barker (Blink -182), the song's sound was changed too much by the use of Travis playing full kit. So I found a drum loop to replace his main drums while keeping his fills.

Next, I called in Gemi, who I'd met shortly before in Comedy Traffic School. Yes, I did say Comedy Traffic School. He came by and laid down the killer, clean Motown-esque guitar parts that kept the song true to Tim & Rob's vision of that 70's vibe. After I played the bass, B3 & electric piano, the track was almost there but still needed some Transplants signature sound to round it out. The final pieces that stamped it was Tim playing the reverb-laden melodic guitar solo, and the lyrical interplay between Tim and Rob.

Finally, we needed to finish the big harmony vocals in the chorus. Tim and Rob decided to have guest singers on the hook of the track, a common hip hop production idea (think of all of Nate Dogg's guest appearances). So Rob put in a call to get his friends in the Boo Yaa Tribe to do the guest appearance. To enable them to learn their parts, I sang all the original chorus vocals and multitracked and layered backgrounds, including Tim's idea of call and response, and they were then invited to the studio to check it out.

When the Boo Yaa Tribe came into the studio and heard my stacked vocals, they went crazy with elation--really over the top enthusiastic--saying how much they loved the sound and insisted that my vocals stay in. The Boo Yaa Tribe wanted to layer me with their voices instead of replacing me. Rob told them the intention was to drop out my parts, but they wouldn't have it.

Ultimately, the Boo Yaa Tribe's enthusiasm kept me in the mix. It was pretty cool having these big 6'3" Samoan guys come in and love me with hearts wide open at first meeting, mainly cause, well, they could've snapped me in two. That day was one of my favorite and most surprising days working on the record. While being embraced by LA gang members, we combined all of our voices borne from wildly different worlds and made great music together.

The life of an artist is filled with moments like this, moments that you'll always carry with you. Just like that moment I found myself in--on a stage jamming with the great Gemi Taylor--forging a groove in real time with the man that was one of the secret weapons of Motown LA, a member of Graham Central Station, and Willie Hutch's right hand man for years.

When someone like Gemi pauses in the parking lot at goodbye, tells you he loves you, and that there aren't many cats out there like you, you know you're doing the right thing.

For all of you artists who know you're doing the right thing, keep doing it, and be sure to always do it well. The world needs you.

~"Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak." William Congreve

FIND A WAY MY FRIENDS
Dave Carlock
DAVE CARLOCK -
A DAY IN THE LIFE
Follow Dave Carlock
Recent Columns
NAMM 2014 PT. 4--THE HOT ZONE
» 2014-02-14 14:06:45
NAMM 2014 PT. 3--BONZO BASH
» 2014-02-07 13:50:56
NAMM 2014 PT. 2--OPENING DAY
» 2014-01-31 13:19:07
NAMM 2014 PT. 1--BACK IN LA
» 2014-01-24 14:29:27
WHEN NETWORKING, 'BE' THE PLANCHETTE
» 2014-01-17 15:47:08
WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?
» 2014-01-10 15:27:30
TRACKING • MIXING • MASTERING
» 2014-01-03 15:23:28
GREAT MIXERS NEVER DIE
» 2013-12-27 20:21:12