It was around 10:45 PM on a chilly January 29th when Salma finally stopped dancing. Well, actually, she didn't - the loop of the Mexican seductress doing her famed bikini dance scene in "From Dusk 'Till Dawn" continued to captivate anyone who stared up at the monitor suspended in the corner of Bay 7's studio B, but when I asked engineer Joe (Barresi) if she was done, knowing exactly what I meant by this, he nodded a very relieved "maybe." "Easier than touching the sun, wasn't it!" I said, giving him a high-five before taking a sudsy chug from the nearest Corona. "I thought we were here to kill the fatted calf. Who has a wrap party before they're done with the project?" After one last glance at the salacious thing on the screen, I headed towards a clamorous-sounding version of Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" blasting in the next room where Joe kept his PlayStation 2 "Guitar Hero" game (No, not the room with the crapparatus.)
Earlier in the day, the members of the band had invited a few of their closest friends to the studio to celebrate their finishing the mixing of their new record. However, when I arrived, even being a couple of hours late due to pub duty, they were still hard at work on it. Evidently, there was a recall of a certain song or perhaps it was just an intro or segue OR... no, the recall couldn't be for Danny's ****!.. Whatever it was, not wanting to disturb them, I sat down at a table on the patio where Sasha, Kat, Vince and Willis were drinking Stellas. Camella and some of the others were in the lounge watching The Simpsons, Kat told me, and then suggested that I go snag a beer from the studio's kitchen. While doing so, I noticed that instead of the monster barbecue that Danny had touted the night before, there was catered Mexican food in aluminum containers and only two Stellas left in the refrigerator. In the corner, the band's manager, Pete, was telling MJK what time the car was going to be at his house in the morning to take him and the others to LAX. So, that's what threatened tonight's festivities. The guys were scheduled to fly to Portland, Maine early in morning to have the record mastered by Bob Ludwig, but here it was after ten at night, and they were still tweaking things. Cutting it pretty close, I thought, but it's probably just Danny's **** - they'll be dismantling lobsters soon enough.
When I returned to the patio, a few others arrived, including a runner carrying a couple of cases of beer. Well, well... perhaps there was going to be some kind of soiree, after all. As I greeted a couple of shivering lovelies, Danny emerged from the studio carrying a freshly-burnt disk and disappeared into another room to hear what this latest mix sounded like on a different stereo. I believe he then took it out to the parking lot and played it in someone's car. I don't think he knocked on the doors of any houses in the neighborhood to see what it sounded like on their systems, but I could be wrong, because I know that's what some of the band members did the last time around (It was kind of funny, too - many of these people who didn't even know who Tool were being asked to sign confidentiality agreements.)
While listening to Camella's story about how she got pick-pocketed by a Howler Monkey in Belize (to the tune of $100.00 although I'd be willing to bet that the trained monkey's split was less than 40%), Justin appeared from the shadows holding a glass shotgun filled with reposado tequila*, sticking the barrel into the mouth of anyone who wanted a shot. And if you're a shivering lovely, what do you do after sucking the tequila-loaded barrel of a glass shotgun? You go shake the headstock of a plastic guitar controller and rack up points for f***ing "star-power", that's what you do! (After all, everyone wants a limousine to pick them up at 8:59 AM to take them to LAX to fly to the opposite coast to dine on Maine lobsters.)
* A gift from Adam to Joe Barresi.
Contemplating a Patron/Corona/Patron series of moves while sitting alone at the table, my friend Benny approached and asked me if I'd heard the latest mix of Justin and Maynard's intro (?) on a particular track? I told him that I hadn't, and that I could wait until it's mastered... or even longer. Yes, that's right all you hard-core Tool fans, I'm in no hurry to hear this recent addition. You see, that's my secret. Here it was a chilly night in January, 2006 e.v., and I still haven't heard all of "Opiate" not to mention at least two or three tracks from "Undertow." That's why I'm not that impatient to hear new material. I could listen to a 'new' (new to me, at least) Tool song anytime I want. Others could do this as well... perhaps not with the older stuff, but with the new album. I'm guessing that the most enthusiastic Tool fans have probably heard all of the band's previously released material, but when the new record comes out in May, these people should try to constrain themselves from listening to the entire CD in one sitting. Save a couple of tracks (or, say, just track #2) for a month, or a couple of months, or for a year, or a couple of years, and then while everyone's itching for new material, YOU HAVE SOME!,. and now it's only a matter of year or so before the next release! Anyway, that's just an idea those of you who get really impatient might want to consider. Now, let's see... what about a Corona/Patron/Corona move?
As Maynard and his lady friend headed out, I wondered what was in that box he was carrying? Could it have been that vintage Neumann (CMV3a?) microphone that Danny coveted seemingly more than the mumia of Zeziroth? And speaking of old Georg, does anyone else think that he was given the whole nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cad) battery thing from something that crashed near Roswell? Yeah, I don't either. Waiting for whatever it was that I was waiting for, I decided to check some emails on my laptop: "What's currently in the Silver Coleman?.." (A bit of plutonium-laden sand from Area 51.) Is Icelandic Barbie going to the 2006 Porrablot?.." (No, she prefers Vox at the Nordica.) "Can I order a copy of Ijynx without a credit card?.." (Apo Pantos Kakodaimonos.) Alright, finally a band-related question: "After reading the January newsletter I got inspired and built myself a Ouija Board. But... when I tried to use it, I got a strange feeling in my hand and threw the damn thing out the window (literally). Is it safe to use a Ouija Board?"
The answer is that Ouija Boards aren't dangerous (unless you're standing under a window when someone throws one away). Hitler PEZ dispensers are dangerous!
No, actually, although most people are protected by their own ineptitude, Ouija Boards can be dangerous if not used properly. They're certainly not just a child's plaything, and if you don't believe me, try burning one, and then when you hear the damn thing screaming, you tell me Ouija Boards aren't dangerous!
Intemperance being what it is, Danny joined me at the table with a satisfied look on his face that could only mean one thing (and I'm not talking about the band finally finishing the record). Having anticipated this, I offered him a celebratory Padron anniversary series cigar from a box that he'd recently given me as a birthday gift. After we fired a couple up, I asked if he'd managed to get a gong on the new one? "Yeah, on *****" he said with a mischievous smile. "But the real question is... is it loud enough?" "What's that, Blair?" he asked, not hearing the question. "Is it loud enough" I repeated the question, thinking to myself that going deaf from an eternal cymbal-ring is a small price to pay for the epicurean life of Maine lobster. "Yeah" he exhaled bluish smoke with a fiendishly pleased expression. "Been messing with the Goetia again, huh? Paimon on his Dromedary... So, tell me, what did you offer the old boy?" Before he could answer, once again someone appeared in the shadows, pointing a shotgun at us. A bit startled at first, thinking it might be Dick Cheney with his Perazzi .28 loaded with buckshot, I breathed a big sigh of relief when I saw that it was only Justin offering us another shot of tequila from the transparent barrel.
In the next room, my worse fear had come true. Some of my best friends were staring at a TV screen and pressing colored buttons on a plastic guitar controller while pretending to be playing to "Smoke On The Water." (WARNING: there's no panacea for this addiction, not even Green Lion's Blood.) And they went at it for... approximately 8 turns of my purple sand timer (that's for you, Adam). Before they were finished a band member had dueled with his girlfriend, and a girlfriend had beat a band member. Then it was band member versus band member and, amazingly, once again, a band member was defeated (at least they didn't put the stickers on). Finally, Joe walked in and calmly smoked them all, racking up a shit load of points during "Frankenstein" (way more than 2600). Tapping my shoulder, Adam asked me if I was sober (or that's what I thought he asked). "Yeah, I'm sober" I said. "No", he laughed, "I said I'm glad it's finally over." "Oh..." (thinking that I'm going deaf myself, and I don't get to eat Maine lobster dipped in melted butter served in silver tureens).
While checking more email, I noticed that lots of people had questions about the word EEJIT (the Irish idiot thing) and it's connection with the date April 4th as mentioned in the transcript of the Ouija Board Working. The answer is that at one point, way back when, April 4th was the most likely release date for the new record (which, by the way, is ONE disk, not two), and I wanted to sneak this info to members of the Tool 'Collective.' So, Graves and I altered a few things in a photo that was posted on the TA site, believing someone would notice it and make the proper connection. However, release dates and such are fluid, and the date has since changed. You can't blame us for trying, though.
Wandering into the now empty studio B, I checked out the Devo dolls that were propped up on the mixing console. I couldn't help wonder what, if any, effect my Icelandic Barbie would have on these. Glancing down at the most recent track listing, I noticed that one of the songs - the Daedalous piece, itself - now had a different name. As I contemplated the new title, it suddenly struck me that the Elemental, Obelisong (evoked during a recent Ouija Board Working), was clearly aware of this even though I hadn't even the slightest inkling at the time that ******** was just a temporary (joke?) title.
This was evident by something that happened during the Working that, at the time, I thought was insignificant (a curious bit of side phenomena, perhaps, but one that wasn't even worth mentioning in the transcript). What had happened is that, after the message indicator spelled out ********, the planchette then moved very quickly across the board and actually bumped into the leg of one of the sitters. This was Srr. (technikrym omitted). What makes this particularly remarkable (in light of this new track listing) is that the Soror's first initial is M. As it turned out, the Ouija entity also knew that a certain segue that I thought would surely be included on the record would NOT make it due to time constraints. This is why, when asked (TWICE) bout the name of this particular track, Obelisong replied that "THERE IS NO NAME", something that didn't seem right at the time, and only makes sense now that the record is finished.
Not all that excited about the "Guitar Hero" clinic that was still going on in the other room (I'm waiting for the PlayStation 3 people to create "Tabla Hero"), I sat down in the adytum and scrolled through a few more emails on my laptop. Somebody wanted to know if the new album had any expletives on it, or if Maynard was just too "enlightened" for that now? Well, the coin-toss tentative titles for the record (submitted by MJK) are "Cuz Fuck You. That's Why" and "Urine Arsehole", so you tell me if he's too enlightened...
It was getting late. The glass shotgun was out of its reposado ammo (those are refillable, you know!) and the guys had an early wake-up call. I decided to head to my favorite 24-hour diner and then back to the pub for a couple of "Mind Erasers." I'd acquired far too much information (especially about Danny's ****, that which he didn't get to use at O' Henry) for one night, and couldn't trust myself not to write about it in the February newsletter or elsewhere on the site. But here's the really amazing part: when I walked into "Sittons" (a diner in North Hollywood), who do you think was sitting there all alone in the corner? That's right... none other than my old Valentine, Sharon Peters! Oh, you were thinking... No, when I left Bay 7's studio B on that chilly January night, Salma was still dancing, although she was now doing so for someone else (the Devo dolls?). The band had finished mixing the record and in a couple of days it would be mastered (though I'm told that Joe still sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking that there's been another recall).
Photos by Rynne, Heather, and Adele