Friday, July 4, 2008
Embracing Black Outs
Justin Angelo Morey is a magnet for black-outs. On the eve of the thirty-ninth anniversary of Brian Jones' death me, Morey, and Wiley get caught in the maelstrom of a Pearl Studio power outage. We take solace in the fact that for once the absence of electricity is not caused by Morey's First Class hair drying apparatus. It turns out that the culprit is a faulty transformer which PSE&G apparently fixes the day before, apparently being the key word. We arrive thinking PSE&G's presence a second day in a row to be a bit strange. At first, the power in our room seems fully restored. The false sense of restoration lasts less than an hour. Lo and behold, the Black Hollies persevere against absurd conditions as the band finalizes a song arrangement in the hallway of their rehearsal space, at first under the hazard lights of the building's exit signs and then eventually in complete and utter darkness. The band notes shortly thereafter an investment in candles to be of utmost importance.
During the eve of the eve of the thirty-ninth anniversary of Brian Jones' death myself and Morey battle through a half-powered session trying to get ideas to tape without the availability of proper amplification. Our studio is barely lit by half dim X-mas lights as the air conditioner drools at an extremely weak frequency, kryptonite to Morey who is an admitted freon addict. Instead of calling it quits we decide to make due and hash out an idea by taking advantage of the fact that it isn't quite "rock o'clock" throughout the rest of the studio yet, meaning, "Dude, I punch OUT at five from the day job but I punch IN at 7 at the studio where me and the boys try to take it up a notch and let our neighbors know that the 90's were, and remain to this day, a very powerful time for music. Rock o'clock is the only time we can unwind after a long hard day of feeling Minnesota at the office." The jobless members of the Black Hollies prefer to keep early studio hours to avoid the off-putting rock o'clock hour at all costs. It is, at its worst, a time when the sounds emanating from other rooms in the studio produce a mock weight lifting, more specifically bench pressing or quad exercise motioning from either myself or Morey, meaning, "Hell, I drink Bud. I'm strong. My nation is strong. 'Aint no mistaken my fuckin' music is goan be strong. Raaaah!!! Riffs and spliffs, maaan. Candlebox rules!"
So, all the other tenants heed Joe Pearl's, aka the landlord's, notice that the juice in the joint is fucked. Apparently me and Morey miss out on the memo. Not a soul lingers at the studio so I place a phone call in a disguised voice to Joe Pearl's voice mail. I alert him of the power problem in case he is unaware of it. I say in a deeper than usual voice, "Joe, it's Tommy Plascko from The Boots band calling. There's something severely wrong with the power at the Forest street location. Just wanted to give you the heads up..." This way Pearl knows what's up but doesn't call anyone from The Black Hollies.
Distance from a landlord is crucial. It is important to note that myself and Morey avoid all things Joe Pearl related but not because upon first look Joe Pearl resembles a lost extra from the cast of Hillstreet Blues, sporting eggsalad yellow socks peeking over the cusps of a weather beaten pair of Spaulding high top sneakers which match his Spaulding sweatshirt, a paradoxical compliment to a pair of distressed blue denim cut-off shorts which bleed frayed white cascading shag just above the knees. In order to gain insight as to the particular vibes that Joe Pearl unknowingly channels please understand that Spaulding is to the 1980's what the Champion brand is to the 1990's. Pearl's hair is a relaxed curl congregation, the paradigm of Pert Plus in action. When checking any microphone Joe Pearl opts for the industry standard, "Two, two," sometimes straying and adding his own, "Hey, hey... Hey, two." The Black Hollies attempt to avoid all face to face encounters with Pearl because the band is admittedly first of the month challenged and suffers from a severe earning disorder which usually results in Pearl's outrage culminating in a voice mail left on Ferrante's mobile, the gist of it usually, "Nick, it's the 22nd of the month and I still haven't gotten a fucking check. I think you need to make a phone call. Click." To his credit though, Joe Pearl has been entirely flexible and supportive of every incarnation of band The Black Hollies have been involved in for the passed fifteen years, not to mention that Pearl can blow a mean woodwind.
Attempting to defy the power as it sporadically surges from the studio's damaged transformer, me and Morey record a sketch of an arrangement on the eve of the eve of the thirty-ninth anniversary of Brian Jones' death. We ignore the acid trip like swooping, swelling, speeding up, and slowing down sounds during playback thinking that the next day when the power in the studio is fully restored the aforementioned blemishes will remain undetected. After splitting a jug of southern wine we call it a night, encourage each other that we made the best with what we had, and look forward to working with Wiley on the arrangement the following day.
Deja Vu hits hard on the eve of the thirty-ninth anniversary of Brian Jones' death by drowning when the three of us listen to the previous session's distorted play back and go through the same emotions. We curse the lights as they die, not knowing when or if they'll be turned back on. At this crucial point, the easiest thing for the Black Hollies to do would have been to call it quits for the day using the excuse that the entire studio is maim as a result of not having any electricity. The funny thing is that the Black Hollies don't even discuss this option among each other. The band carries on sharing southern wine in the light's absence. While in the not illumined hallway we use cellphones to light our way in order to use the toilet. My camera's flash attests to how we each look ridiculous in the dark affirming once again that we're not dead but alive, not really knowing how far one of us is from the other, listening, and using our ears to determine which moves our hands will use to navigate the necks of our guitars. The best ideas often flow swiftly. So what a bummer it would have been to have to leave on account of a black out. More than ever we refuse to let go of our passion. After almost two hours of renegade operating the repaired transformer restores proper power to The Black Hollies' rehearsal space. The clock struck rock with the coming on of the lights as slowly but surely the other tenants arrived at Pearl to maximize their monthly rates. The Black Hollies celebrate overcoming the night's obstacle by sharing the final sips of southern wine together and putting to tape the structure for what the band considers to be it's most developed work, a testament to Palestinian Bluetooth's ethos that the easiest way is always the most boring and least fruitful.