Here’s a song I wrote in 1994 and have been thinking about a lot recently. We played it live at The Bitter End earlier this month; it was the first time I’ve done this song in public in about 15 years.
Jed Davis | “Symbiosis” live | September 1, 2010
Jed Davis: keyboards, vocals
Al von Schaaf: guitars
Mike Keaney: bass
Anton Fig: drums
Recorded live at The Bitter End, New York, NY
Mixed by Eric Jarvis
There is a new full-on studio version of “Symbiosis” coming on Small Sacrifices Must Be Made!, which is looking more and more like it’ll be my next full-length release. The conceit of Small Sacrifices is that it’s 2010 me (with Anton Fig, Reeves Gabrels, Graham Maby and Brian Dewan) completing unfinished songs by early-1990s me, and “Symbiosis” seemed like an obvious choice. The studio take is really magnificent, with even an even wilder drum take from Anton and harmonies by a superawesome guest vocalist!
On Tuesday, September 21, I get to do something for which I’ve waited 11 years: put The Cutting Room Floor in my rearview mirror.
I started working on this record in 1999. I finished mixing it in 2006, but it still took another four years to get ‘er the rest of the way. Musically and visually, the vinyl record is the best thing I ever made. It comes out on Tuesday, as does the compact disc version of the album. I’ve made them available a couple days early right here. If you’re gonna buy this record – which I hope you are – and you’re generous enough to wanna help me make back some of the money I’ve spent producing it, buy from that link. Here it is again.
Here’s a player that will stream the whole record:
You can embed this on your Facebook wall if you like; just cut and paste the following link to share:
The resulting player will actually stream the album right from your Facebook wall, with a link to buy it. I would appreciate if you passed that along! And say something nice about it, would ya?
In exchange for your kind support, I give you…
10 THINGS YOU DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR (one per song):
1. The title track was recorded entirely on cassette using a Portastudio. Organ, electric piano, accordion, vocal.
2. The piano at the beginning of “Before I Was Born” was originally at the end. There is a downward walk at the end of the last chorus, which was meant to flow right into the cliched chords of “Lean On Me” as the song faded out. But Dave wanted more of the bridge, so he copied and flew it to the end of the song, after the last chorus. That left the piano part without a home, so he moved it to the top.
3. The arcade I mention in “Enough” was a place called XS in Times Square. It’s no longer there; I can’t even find a photo of their giant TOO MUCH IS NOT ENOUGH sign on the Internet. Weird. I did a show there with Collider back in 1999.
4. The instrument at the beginning of “Let Go” is an electric zither, played by Brian Dewan. Brian designed and built it himself.
4a. I played drums on the track but Tony decided against mixing them in… definitely the right choice.
5. I wrote “Blood” right after getting out of a bad contract with some music biz old-schoolers in 2000. They kept telling me I could be the next Graham Gouldman if I would just lock myself in a room and “write million-sellers!” Then they tried to trick me into signing over publishing rights to four songs.
5a. The drums on “Blood” are a combination of loops and live kit, which I played – the same drum set Steve Drozd used on The Soft Bulletin.
6. The vocal in the verses of “Denny’s 3am” is from the original demo of the song, recorded in Sean’s grandmother’s attic in 1997. There was an innocence about that take which I really liked, so I flew it into the finished track right before we mixed, replacing my studio vocal.
6a. The Denny’s on Western Avenue in Albany, where we recorded the group vocal for “Denny’s 3am”, is now a Five Guys. Great burgers, but what a bummer. By the way, yes – I did pay royalties to the folks who wrote the “Three’s Company” theme for its use during the conversation in the hidden track.
7. The piano on “Interesting Times” was recorded after hours in a Latham, NY piano store. The piano we used was gorgeous but it hadn’t been tuned; Tony had fits trying to mix it.
8. “Native Son” was recorded live to tape in one take.
8a. At the time I recorded “Native Son”, Sean was hanging out with a singer named Aimee Allen who had just signed with Atlantic. Aimee got way into the track and played it for her A&R guy, who said: “Good song. You should totally rip that off.”
9. The “I Have A Rose” rose was my most prized possession. I don’t have it anymore… somebody threw it out when I wasn’t looking.
10. I recorded the vocal at the top of “Queens Is Where You Go When You’re Dead” on the J train at 4:00 in the morning. A week later, I was again on the J at 4am, riding home from work, when three dudes dragged a guy into my subway car, stabbed him right in front of me, and then ran off as the train doors opened. The victim, gushing blood, staggered out onto the same platform; the doors closed behind him. I have no idea what became of that dude; the incident did not make the news.
Okay, that’s too grim a note to end on. How about one more for the hidden track:
11. We almost got kicked out of Denny’s for pounding on the table for the “Denny’s 3am” recording. This brings to mind the Denny’s Appreciation Society, a UAlbany student organization formed for the express purpose of getting the school to pay for their fourthmeal. They did in fact receive enough funding for one trip to Denny’s, during which they kicked up so much noise they were all banned from the establishment!
Lots of music is getting made but none of it is being posted in this blog! Let’s fix this.
The members of Avi Buffalo are among my favorite humans. They inspire me and restore my faith in the future of music. And they put my picture in the “Influences” box on their MySpace page… not even the Beach Boys were worthy of such an honor!
Avi and I have been jamming whenever the band comes to town. We record these guitar-keyboard improvisations into Pro Tools and then overdub whatever seems right – usually a track of sounds captured by microphone. Not necessarily vocals; mostly odd mouth noises or scraping of the mic against objects, which we bus through effects that are tweaked on the fly. I would never have thought to play an effect like an instrument, but it’s second nature to Avi.
We’ve got more than an album’s worth of this stuff recorded and a lot of it is surprisingly listenable. It helps that Avi has an almost supernatural connection to his guitar and complete understanding of the effects he runs it through. And I think it’s clear that we’re having fun. We’re gonna press the results to vinyl (one 35-minute jam had to be cut down by a third just to fit on one side of the record). I want to call the project Space Toilets, but I haven’t gotten a thumbs-up from Avi yet so this may be the first and last time you hear that name.
Here’s the first piece we recorded:
Avi Buffalo and Jed Davis | “The Wizard’s Demon End”
Avi Buffalo: guitars, vocals
Jed Davis: keyboards, vocals
Produced by Avi Buffalo and Jed Davis
Recorded by Jed Davis
Mixed by Avi Buffalo
Last weekend I brought my laptop and Pro Tools rig to the ATP festival and we did some tracking in the hotel room. In addition to the aforementioned 35-minute improv, we added Avi’s beautiful guitaring to a tune I’ve been building for quite a while. This is a song for Failing Upwards called “Never Turn My Back”:
Jed Davis | “Never Turn My Back” rough mix | September 11, 2010
Jed Davis: vocals, keyboards
Avi Buffalo: guitars
Anton Fig: drums
Stevie Blacke: strings
Meanwhile, work continues on the record I’m producing for Kole. We’ll be finishing up drums over the next couple of days and moving on to bass. Here’s one of the raw tracks Jerry will be drumming on; I wrote the first draft of this song based on stuff that was going on in Kole’s life, and then she ran with it wonderfully, tweaking the lyric and adding some really touching, very personal stuff.
Kole | “The Good Parts” demo | August 4, 2010
Kole Hansen: vocals
Jed Davis: piano
I do have some disappointing news to report: the 15th anniversary of the Hanslick Rebellion is gonna come and go pretty quietly. We weren’t able to get a recording schedule together, so we have nothing to release. It’s too bad. We did have some excellent material written, which I hope we’ll be able to bring to you someday. Maybe if we start working toward the 20th anniversary now, we might make it.
Here’s my rough demo of one of the tracks we sadly won’t be recording this fall: “Dear Friends And Gentle Hearts”.
The Hanslick Rebellion | “Dear Friends And Gentle Hearts” demo | May 31, 2010