On my way home last night after day two of the “Sugar Bowl” video shoot, I was overcome with a wave of wonderment at our good fortune in working with this amazing array of people on Ghost Notes. As it happens, a handful of them make up the same team that helped us create and roll-out American Thighs. Their art helped to forge our identity, and we are forever inextricably linked to them.
Winding through the dark hills of Los Angeles, I thought of Brad Wood, who produced American Thighs so many years ago in Chicago, and who tended to Ghost Notes with surgical precision. His ear is infallible and his reserve of creative brilliance, endless. He makes it all fun, and his passion for his craft lends to a highly charged, creative atmosphere in his own Seagrass Studios. He also happens to be really good at dealing with bands and the fiery furnace that sometimes rages within. He is accustomed to navigating the choppy waters of creative discussions and, on these occasions, guides us deftly through to calmer seas. He knows when to step aside when sparks fly, and how to subtly and effectively mediate when it’s appropriate. He is also a great team member and a positive presence in the room. On this record he has been an inspiration to us. There is so much more to being a producer than pressing buttons, honing performances, and even offering creative input. He is a musician, a composer, a collaborator and a professional listener–to music and to people. He is also simply a righteous dude. He made us feel perfectly at home and safe to find our way through this process. A good producer facilitates the best possible expression, the best performance, and he did this countless times. And then there were the moments of pure musical magic. He has truly been like a fifth member of our band.
Then there’s Alison Dyer with whom we got to reconnect last week on our photo shoot. We had our first big photo shoot with Alison in ’94 when we were launching American Thighs. Alison is still the coolest girl on the block. Back in ’94, Nina and I were so enamored by her, we thought we should have been photographing her. She was fantastic and beautiful and amazing then, and she is all of those things now. So much of the success of a photo shoot depends on our level of comfort with the photographer. We knew, in contacting Alison again, that she would put us all right at ease–even and especially the guys, who are not so keen on cameras and the whole photo shoot “thing”. To our delight, Alison was game. First Nina and I spent the afternoon with her, shopping and grabbing lunch. We talked fashion and faces and vision and discussed shots and caught up on life in general over lunch, so by the time we got to the location last Monday, we were all perfectly primed for the shoot. We realize at this point that its all about having fun. And we did. We love the photos and agree that it definitely shows who was behind the camera.
Lastly, we have just spent the last two days with Tim Rutili of Califone/Red Red Meat fame who also happens to have shot our “Seether” video in 1994. Our DP from that very shoot, Jeff Economy, also flew out from upstate NY with his camera, because it was understood by all that he simply had to be there. (The two of them worked together on film projects for years, so their coming back together for this poetically mirrored my partnership with Nina.) Not surprisingly, Tim assembled a wickedly talented team and scouted the most incredible location for the video shoot. His imagination continues to wow us, and we readily surrendered to his vision. It was SO GOOD to be in his company again–both professionally and personally. I love that I can listen to his music driving home from dropping my daughter at preschool and text him about how he just brought me to tears on the 5 Freeway at 10am. Tim is one of the great songwriters of our time and one of the raddest people around.. He personifies cool and class and good taste. We knew we were in good hands.
The most notable thing about working with all of these individuals is that they have ALL gotten better. Yes, even better. They are all class acts and incredible artists. And they all put us at ease. We have had a blast. We are so proud of our new album. We ❤️ Alison for taking our photos, and we can’t wait to see the video. We already know it’s going to be bad-ass.