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Old 09-11-2017, 09:02 PM   #1
Minion of Satan
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Location: if drumming was a contest we'd've all already lost - JC - 10/22/16
Posts: 6,607
Default Billy's livejournal confessions appreciation thread

The stuff about recording SD is some of my favorite stuff I've ever read

The first time that the Pumpkins played in Detroit in 1989 was at a small local show that drew about 50 people…as is common at the time, we often would just stay on stage after we would finish playing and greet anyone from the audience that might want to come say hello to us, or get an autograph…while doing that, I met a tall striking girl and her rocker boyfriend, who is a musician…we talked some, hung out some, so the next time we played at the same venue a few months later, we hung out a little more and got to know each other a little better…along the way, I started liking her, and as the situation with the boyfriend seemed to come and go, her and I started seeing each other some in the period following our first album…because she lived in a different city, it was more of a long distance thing, the connection being more talk than anything resembling a real relationship…so when I call her up from Atlanta and she tells me she is basically homeless, I take a leap of faith to make her mine and invite her to come live with me…I paint a fairly carefree, rosy picture, since I am single and have nothing to lose…I figure it can’t be that bad, for she has a gorgeous face and a sunny disposition…and the best body on a girl I have ever seen, period…

As our days grind on in the studio, all pressure is mounting on Jimmy…the success of every session weighs solely on his shoulders, something he is not used to…the big question every day sits whether he can top himself and play better than he has ever played in his life…we are counting on him to finish all the drums first, and I can tell that even though he is putting on a brave face, this type of microscopic attention is starting to freak him out…Jimmy is the type of musician who is at his best if he is not thinking…this doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what he is doing at any given moment (he does), but rather what he does is so complicated that it’s best if he doesn’t pay too much attention, a act like juggling with dangerous objects…because you can juggle 4 knives fairly effectively if you really don’t pay much attention to the fact that you are juggling 4 sharp knives…and this is what it is like for him, playing some of these songs at 100mph…I look for ways to help him, and notice if I give him too many details after a take, he plays worse and worse, overburdened by thought…also, he doesn’t play well if you criticize him openly particularly, or directly, but responds really well to overall grand concepts and encouragement…the general feeling for me when I work with Jimmy is one of true honor…he will absolutely kill himself and play his fingers to the bone trying to get you what you want musically, if you will walk with him thru the darkness of the whole ordeal…take after take strips Jimmy of his natural confidence, and I try to stay in the spot with him, reminding him of how far we have come, and how we are both going to get there…we start to speak a secret language no one hears, not even Butch over the open mikes…James and D’arcy don’t say a word, either because they don’t understand or don’t care, as this part of the process becomes mine and Jimmy’s exclusively…I spend a lot of energy trying to soothe him, to get him to play consistently so that we won’t have to chop up all his drum takes so much, both because the editing is so time consuming (sometimes a whole day) and the very act of slicing apart his grooves destroys his urgent swagger, killing the bands natural feel…I secretly go along with all this idealism, believing in Butch and how it will get us all where we want to go…unknowingly, I am deftly balancing two worlds on a pin, one the world of the mighty Pumpkins and our sloppy yet defined passion, the other the growing perfectionism of a coming corporate age…

The girl from Detroit arrives with her car, the kind of car that all those kind of cute girls drive (a sort of sports car that doesn’t go fast)…I am happy to see her, for it is lonely here in Marietta, and the prospects of meeting anyone special over at ‘T.G.I.F Fridays’ is fairly slim…I show her the lay of the land, and where to put all her stuff in my sparsely decorated bedroom…in fact, there is almost no furniture, save for the bed…the only thing of mine in the room is my 8 track cassette recorder in the corner, and my electric typewriter, which uses the 8 track’s box as a makeshift desk (I kneel down when I type)…at first, it is what you expect, romance and happiness, a gentle and welcome distraction…she says she is an artist, but as the days go by she doesn’t appear to be creating anything…she is welcome at the studio at any time, but mostly chooses to stay at the apartment and ‘work’…she seems displaced, but I am not sure what I can do about it…as the weeks go by, she starts to drink, usually a bunch of beers so by the time I get home at 11, she is a bit out of it and lost…this creeping drama starts to turn me cold, and within a short while of her arrival, we are sleeping on different sides of the bed…I don’t know what is happening between us, or with her, but whatever it is, it seems to be having a devastating effect on her psyche…she lasts almost 6 weeks, which sounds like a decent amount of time, literally speaking…but when you consider that we almost never see each other beyond these faint mornings and nights, it is as if she was a ghost that came, wept, and left, forever leaving her mark on the album…forgotten, but not missed…

To break up some of the incessant drum takes, we focus some on bass and guitar sounds, doing lots of tests with microphones and pre-amps, guitars and speakers, to try to bring the overall picture into a clear vision that seems readily achievable…although we have a fairly large budget (precisely 8 times larger than our first), money is being eaten up rapidly by the accommodations and studio time…even at this fairly early stage, we are already behind schedule and by logic over budget (if you calculate it out)…as is their custom, James and D’arcy pay little attention to these ‘tests’, leaving the technical aspects to Butch and I…since this is now our way of giving Jimmy a break, he is generally not even at the studio during this work…

Jimmy starts to lose it, regressing back into hanging out with losers and making quick friends with local addicts…I had hoped that by coming down to Atlanta (my real reason for getting out of Chicago) that we could keep him isolated from these types of temptations and stay focused…at first, it is a few simple ‘I had a few too many’ mornings, and we work around his hangovers and sudden ‘flu-like’ symptoms…but you can see the storm cloud coming, because he gets this certain look in his eye…at night, I try to engage him by playing video game baseball against him, and we have some wonderful times beating up on each other, each claiming his own bragging rights…many evenings, he just comes home and goes right to bed…but like some hidden clockwork, a ‘friend’ will suddenly appear at the studio to take him into ‘Hot-lanta’ for a night on the town, and he’s gone, quicker than you can say ‘wait’…this has a strange rhythm to it, these calm days and sad, crazy nights, and it is something you can get used to, like a tax you learn to pay…this is all manageable of course…that is until he disappears without a trace…
don't know how much is sensationalized or an unreliable narrator but it's a great, interesting read

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