NOVEMBER 2018 E.V.
A few weeks ago I visited Los Angeles to take care of some book-related business. While there for a couple of days, I also was hoping to have a listen to some of the new Tool music. Although I had been exposed to plenty of the new stuff recorded at the loft, I hadn’t heard anything that was tracked in the studio.
While driving through the Inland Empire, I received a text from Danny informing me that he was currently on his way to Marina Del Rey, where he had made arrangements to be taken by boat to an access point that enabled him to enter his neighborhood to check on possible fire damage to his property. Realizing that some of my plans might have to be changed due to the fires still burning near the city, I proceeded to the band’s merchandise facility to drop off some boxes of books.
With no further word from Danny, I headed to Santa Monica to work on the files of a book that was almost ready to be sent to the printer. While stuck in traffic, I thought about some of the great Mexican restaurants that I missed eating at after moving to Las Vegas. There was Lucy’s el Adobe, Malo, Guisados and La Azteca Tortilleria. With my stomach growling, I pulled in front of my friend’s apartment. Kent (one of the talented guitarists in the band, STURGEON) was standing outside, wanting to grab some lunch before putting the finishing touches on the layout. “Where to?” I asked. “Del Taco,” he laughed. “Del Taco?” “No colorful murals? No mariachis? No… margaritas!”
One of the reasons that I moved from L.A. was the horrendous traffic, and now I was right back in it. Had Kent wanted to go to Chipotle, there would have been valet parking (seriously), and margaritas (well, kind of), but not so at this new Del Taco on Wilshire. Kent told me that he would run in and grab the… things, while I drove around the block. Waiting for him in a back alley - which was barely even an alley – it wasn’t long before horns started blasting. Glancing in the rearview mirror, I saw about six cars with very impatient drivers sitting behind me. It’s hard to imagine, but the rutted, buckled alley behind the Del Taco was much busier than the wide street that I lived off of in Vegas. Needless to say, I went through this same maneuver – waiting in the alley seconds before the cacophony of horns nudged me forward onto the deplorable side street - several times before my friend returned with those enchanted tacos (must be the Silicon Dioxide).
As bad as the traffic is in L.A., finding a parking spot at an apartment complex can be even more frustrating (case in point later). Having spent the rest of the afternoon trying to convert a PDF file back into InDesign so that the text could be edited (I won’t bore you with the details as I have other things to bore you with), I finally got a call from Danny. Maybe I would get to hear some new Tool songs after we had dinner.
Perhaps to make up for lunch, Kent wanted to dine at the best steak house in Santa Monica. Not only that, but he was bringing an $800.00 bottle of Penfolds Grange (that my brother had given him a LONG time ago).That he had held onto it for such a long time made Kent a bit nervous about it possibly having turned, especially watching as the staff carefully attempted to uncork it. (After 20 minutes I thought they might call in a Bomb-Defusing Robot!)
Moments after we ordered our steaks (make mine well done with no melted garlic butter), Danny showed up, looking as if he’d just been through hell. He told us that after spending a good part of the day helping to unload supplies for fire victims, he had to take a dinghy to the shore and then walk about 5 miles through a choking ash blizzard to reach his house. Although the damage to the property wasn’t too severe, the same couldn’t be said for many of his neighbors. Using his scooter to get out of the mandatory evacuated neighborhood, he arrived at the restaurant with a few personal belongings. Seeing how wiped out he looked (rare for him), I figured that I wouldn’t get to listen to the new Tool stuff until we met again the following night (hopefully).
On the way back to Kent’s apartment, his wife had to make several circles around the block to find a parking place. That’s when I made a comment that no BMW owner wants to hear. Knowing that Kent’s car was parked in their one car garage, I voiced my thoughts that a cave man probably wouldn’t be able to tell that a BMW was better than his wife’s nice car, being that he would be so astonished at seeing an automobile that little details wouldn’t matter. Kent, (as any other BMW owner) would not forget this.
After a good night’s sleep with the sound of tranquil surf coming from an Oasis Sound Therapy System (even though we were in Santa Monica, where the real surf…), Kent and I worked most of the day on preparing the files for the printer. Having finished by late afternoon, we got into his BMW and headed towards the Fox & Hounds pub in Studio City. Listening to three different albums in their entirety during the 9-mile drive, Kent asked me if there were a lot of sketchy people driving in Vegas. “Yes, but their cars move. They may run traffic lights and drive at night with their lights off and toss empty Mai-tai glasses out the window, but their cars are moving.”
When we finally arrived, our friend Ben Sherazi (Rajas guitarist) was the only person in the pub (other than a waitress). Knowing that we needed to get to the recording studio soon – not the studio where Tool tracked – but Jimmy Hayward’s (Legend of the Seagullmen) studio, where Danny’s cousin Paul Vilas Jones was working on his solo project, we finished a pint just as Danny pulled up. Kent was going to lay down some lead guitar (along with the other Sturgeon guitarist, Chris Wieber), so we had to get back into the grueling traffic. Before doing so, I gave Danny the three books that he wanted: The Othering (my novel), Darklore Volume IX and Stranger Than Fiction by Mike Jay. Now, would he remember to put them in his Panamera (of course with a turbo) before leaving?
It didn’t take long for both Kent and Chris to track their guitar parts (in some great music written by Paul), so we had a few beers with Jimmy while we waited for Ben and Danny to arrive. It was late when they finally showed up, and because I had to leave at 5:00 AM to beat the traffic, Kent and I decided to head back to Santa Monica.
While walking to his car (parked on yet another deficient alley), Danny emerged from the studio and insisted that we hear a couple of new Tool songs before we left. (Not the final mix.) Yes! Climbing into the Porche, I remarked that a cave man probably wouldn’t be able to tell that it was better than Kent’s BMW because he would be so astonished at seeing an automobile that little details wouldn’t matter. While reclined in the passenger seat (with both Sturgeon guitarists comfortably in the back), Danny put the CD into the tray and selected track 3… (No spoilers here, which I’m sure you’ll thank me for later.)