Take You There is the title of The Sharing Patrol's upcoming release. That is precisely what they intend to do - to take the reader along to the place where the music is recorded, to the city, to the roots, to the friends in Seattle and to producer Kurt Bloch. Bassist Henrik Tuxen has throughout their stay kept a diary - from arrival to departure. In a highly edited version, we bring you his impressions and story from Johnny Sangster's old, inspirational world. Sangster himself has written a post-script about what it feels like to arrive back after an intense studio process to Denmarks winter and mentality.
The links below take you to a list of the Seattlites involved, just in case you get confused.
Here's where you can find Johnny Sangster's Postscript.
Here's where you can find Johnny Sangster's Postscript.
Sunday, Jan 7th
The day starts with an American Football Quarter final, top entertainment value. That afternoon The Sharing Patrol get together for the first time since the middle of December and this time in Seattle, Washington. Johnny has his grandmother's Volvo and we immediately set course for our producer Kurt Bloch's legendary Rock'n'Roll bungalow. As we enter the house we find the whole of the Young Fresh Fellows together in the living room which mainly consists of boxes, guitars, autographed Kiss records and strange works of art. In the basement there is a practice space and a darkroom. Otherwise the house contains a CD/Record/Cassette collection that would make any music library turn green from envy and Kurt's approximately 40 guitars (primarily Gibsons).
The mutual joy of reunion between us and the Fellows has us ecstatic and we can't believe that we are actually together in Seattle. We end up at the University Sports Bar where we will play a show on the 12th. The barman Joey Kline greets us enthusiastically and shows us a poster for the show the next friday. He and Jim Sangster are guitarists in Roy Loney's Longshots who we are to play with. My host to be, Jack Hodge shows up well inebriated. He is speaking total nonsense in a raging tempo, nonstop. Suddenly there are high-speed jokes flying around, the jet lag creeps in and I don't have a clue what's happening. Finally I say "Stop Jack, I'm European and I don't understand a word of what's gong on".
Scott McCoughey tells about the REM tour (Scott was one of two extra musicians on REM's world tour), and about the different bands they got to play with; Oasis, Radiohead, Grant Lee Buffalo etc. He says that it was great fun to be on tour but he is again ready to be on the kind of tour where you sleep on people's floors. He is very interested in hearing about the Sharing Patrol and also about Dogfood, and says that we should definitely give him material as he knows companies in Japan, Spain, USA and other places that could be interesting. He says that maybe Scott Litt's (REM producer) new company under Geffen could fit well with the Sharing Patrol.
Outside with Tad we start talking about the dents in his car. He tells us that one of his friends and him have an ongoing competition that involves drinking yourself totally plastered, getting in your car and ramming each other. The point is to damage the opponents car as much as possible without doing damage to your own, if your car can't drive home you've lost. Tad's car has certain problems but he claims to be leading the competition as his friend's bumper fell off during the last round.
Tues. Jan. 9th
We arrive at Hanzsek Audio. If you were somewhat geographically/historically disoriented you might presume that Hanzsek Audio was a bunker that had survived the second world war. In other words, Hanzsek is no architectural wonder. But the first impression changes instantly as you step inside, friendly faces to welcome us.A half balding studio owner Chris, an ultralonghaired engineer Scott, and a wild punk rock girl Mel, who is the second engineer.
Johnny is sick, pale and on the toilet minimum once an hour. I have borrowed an Ampeg SVT, any bassists wet dream, and it's great!!! We set up and the studio sounds great. We don't finish any takes, but Derailed is close, already on the first day.
Wed. Jan. 10th
The next morning it's beautiful and sunny out. Jack drives the holy Maserati out of the garage, and pretending to be James Bond we pick up Jonathan (Stibbard) at his sister Hillary's place. The motor sounds incredible when you rev it up and we enjoy our show-off tour thoroughly. Afterwards we head over to a cafe/bakery in Ballard close to the studio which later develops into my regular morning hangout.
Here we meet a friend of Jack's named Roisin (pron. Roesheen), who is the guitar player in the local girl punkrock group 7 Year Bitch. I remember seeing them on posters in Copenhagen, and indeed they had toured in Denmark with the danish group Psyched Up Janis. According to Roisin it was a fine experience and she talked about a tiny island they played on, unfortunately I can't help her and explain that they is actually many small islands in Denmark. It turns out that Roisin's boyfriend Mike Chandler is one of Johnny, Jonathan and Jack's schoolmates from Lopez Island (a small island in the San Jauns close to Canada). We are invited to see 7 Year Bitch the next saturday where a local band with Mike McCready (Pearl Jam) are opening.
The day before we hadn't gotten all the drum gear together as we had hoped. Tad (YFF) had brought some and Kurt had a few things around. Kurt meanwhile told us that he had an interesting experience upon coming home the night before. On the porch outside his bungalow stood according to Kurt "two drunk drummers", each with a floor tom which they had brought when they heard that we were missing drums. The two drummers were Mike Musburger and Jason Finn. With their gear we have the last missing pieces and we achieve a very satisfying drum sound in the studio.
Johnny is still sick but the recordings gallop along and we manage to finish five basic tracks (Drums, Bass & Guitar) - a new record in Sharing Patrol history. Our german friend and photographer Hammi drops by and we talk about the pictures we want to take. Throughout the day many friends come by the studio, and it seems to create a precedent. It evidently influences us positively as we seem to record the actual takes when there are guests present. Among others today, Rusty Willoughby comes by. He was the front man in the recently disbanned FLOP, and has just finished a solo project for SubPop at Hanzsek where he plays all instruments himself.
Friday Jan. 12
A highly eventful day begins. Mike Musburger is in the studio with Kurt when I arrive. He wants to know everything about the Sharing Patrol, precisely how many releases we have had, how many singles were released per album, etc. He wants to get ahold of it all, he says. He approves enthusiastically when I show him The Sharing Patrol (1990) which he has never seen.
Hammi comes by after a round of golf with Jim Sangster, he says he got stomped. We are a bit stressed with the recordings as we have a show that night, a situation we are totally unprepared for. We haven't played a concert since the middle of august, and during the fall we have only been in the practice room where we typically worked on vocals and music separately. We get Jack to pick us up in one of his five cars, a gigantic van that easily could be used as a tour bus. In fact it is often used for just that, especially by FLOP. Jack illustrates for me the many dents they have put in it. Luckily we manage to knock two basics off before heading off to The University Sportsbar.Suddenly we are standing there, we are the first of three bands to play. We've never seen the equipment we are to play on, the monitors are microscopic, we have just enough time to check the mikes and amps, make a set list and "by the way, you're on in ten minutes".
All of the sudden we can feel the nerves. The local sons have finally returned after twelve years exile in Europe. But as I tell Johnny, "take it easy, it's just another Seattle show". And people have really turned up for the occasion: besides the whole of Jonathan's family (Mom & Dad + three older sisters) the audience includes all four Young Fresh Fellows, Conrad Uno, Jason Finn, Ken Stringfellow, The Fastbacks, most of 7 Year Bitch, Pat Riley from Stone Gossard's (Pearl Jam) record company + many of Johnny and Jonathan's old friends from in and outside the music business.
We go onstage, and everything's fine but suddenly we play a couple of hopeless tunes. After that we think "screw it" and the rest of the sets goes off very convincingly, considering the circumstances. We get an overwhelming response - the Fellows are nearly ecstatic, Jim Sangster says; "you blew everybody away, nobody plays that kind of music around here". My other host Paul says "you sound like Grand Funk", Kim Warnick is totally excited. She nearly attacks Jonathan but he doesn't understand a word of what she says to him. Kurt through the noise has to translate to Jonathan what she means. Finally Kim says to Jonathan "Do you Speak English?"
Prior to the show we had agreed to return to the studio to record "I Don't Need No Doctor", I figure that the plan is blown now that it is past midnight, but Johnny is up for it. We send Kurt out for beers (of which I already have tasted a few) and drive with Jack back to the studio.
We set up and start to jam. Two or three of Jonathan's family members show up along with Jonathan's old school pal Don Blackstone from Gas Huffer and suddenly it's party time in the studio. The second take of I Don't Need No Doctor is going fine. I have my head turned towards Jonathan and therefore get a shock as I turn around. Inside the actual recording room is Kurt Bloch dancing the Pogo and totally freaking out, we continue playing and nearly die laughing. Afterwards Kurt tells us that he was convinced that the version was totally perfect but he was afraid that we would stop too early so he had to do something to make sure we didn't stop. We didn't. Listen for yourself, "I Don't Need No Doctor", 9 min. 45 seconds.
Now any form of logic would say that we should head home and sleep, but we choose to take a musical sleeping pill first; Ocean of Despair, one of this sessions slowest and calmest songs. We land and get the basic in the can. Yet another mega-day was finished.
Sat. Jan. 13th
After some difficulty we get the last basic, This Passion in the can. Jonathan's father Syd comes and does 15 - 20 sketches of us in the studio. We are very happy with the final take of This Passion and Johnny feels inspired to sing the lead vocal right away. Jim Sangster comes by the studio with Steve Berlin who is to produce the next album with The Picketts. The Picketts are a country - rockabilly band that Scott McCaughy's wife Christy McWilson and Jim Sangster are in. Steve Berlin plays saxophone in Los Lobos and has produced numerous records. We start to talk with Steve Berlin about two legendary concerts in Copenhagen. Both Ungdomshuset (84) and Montmartre (88). He remembers especially the last performance. It's interesting to watch him, you can see that you are truly dealing with a musician. He listens to This Passion without showing a thing until the last chorus where Jonathan turns the drum beat upside down, that's when the big smile comes forth, promptly. We all agree that Jonathan is The Bad Man.
Tues. Jan 16th
Ken Stringfellow from the Posies comes to the studio. Jon Auer (the other main person in the Posies) is unfortunately ill and cannot join us. Ken tells about the new Posies record, they have done some mixes with Pearl Jam's soundman so the original plans of Brendan O'Brian mixing the album will probably be dropped. Ken says that he has informed their booking agent that The Sharing Patrol is one of the bands they would very much like to play with on their upcoming European tour. He is not sure yet whether they will headline or play support for something bigger, he himself prefers the latter.
Ken starts playing piano on A Little Sugar and it doesn't take long before a big smile spreads through the control room. Afterwards we ask for some vocal ideas (Ken can sing pure in an incredibly high range). He says that the song seems complete but he manages to find a single voicing for the outro, and succeeds in truly colouring the song.
We continue in good spirit, but under substantial time pressure. As the final thing that day Johnny records the lead vocal to Ocean of Despair. To get a sufficiently psychedelic effect Jonathan stands on a chair and swings a microphone above Johnny's head. Kurt finds out later that it was not a 250 dollar microphone as he had thought but a mic worth 1200 dollars. He says that if the owner had come by he would have flipped his lid. "Wild Bill would have bust a nut!" Kurt accidentally found out that Chris' first name is William, he is a friendly fellow but also very much the man in charge; for example there is a strictly no-smoking policy in the studio (suits me fine).
Our first block of studio time is finished. We have been in the studio each day between 13 and 17 hours.
Monday, Jan 22th
When I arrive at the studio Andrew Mckaeg is standing with a set of headphones pressed up against his temples and a wide smile on his lip. He is listening to our version of I Don't Need No Doctor and asks afterwards if we are in need of an extra guitarist, he is ready and willing.
We mix A Little Sugar. Tad comes by and is thrilled. Kurt said a few days earlier about the song, "It's got one name written all over it...Tad Hutchison". We eat at the Spaghetti Factory, which turns into a hysterical experience. Kurt and Tad are latent explosives together. They both have a highly developed sense of humour which often explodes when they are together. When the waitress kicks off with some absurd comments I know that things are going to go wrong (nearly every sentence ends with "and it's not my fault"). The seance develops to the near hysterically funny and I am closer to throwing up from mere laughter as I have ever been. I eventually stumble out to the toilets and I feel that my final hour is near. I survive, but it's a close call.
Monday Jan. 29th
For days now we have been talking about throwing some sort of farewell party, but it has been difficult to find the proper location. Hammi pulls through and offers to have it at his place. The plan is to buy some chips, cheese, beer etc. and hear the new CD master and then to go bowling.
I start the day at the bakery, bid them farewell, meet Mike and Roisin and say goodbye to them as they cannot make the party that night. I take the bus downtown. I have to go by the Sit & Spin where I forgot my sweater last friday. I find it, do a little shopping and head back to Ballard. We meet at Hammi's at 7pm. The CD sounds like it should and after 3 - 4 hours it's time to go bowling. I do pretty well but have to accept my position as the eternal number two on my team, Tad is a little too hot.
I talk with Susie from SubPop and tell her that now I have a much better understanding of how the Seattle scene actually fits together, I could never before see how for example Nirvana and the Young Fresh Fellows derived from the same scene. She says that YFF were the ones that started it all. They had shown that it was possible to do it yourself and that inspired a bunch of other bands who went out and did just that.
The key is as Jim says to "go out and see your friends play music". The solidarity and close friendship between musicians in Seattle is undoubtedly the scene's most important asset. This also means that certain bands popularity in many ways benefits other bands, the popular bands take their friends with them on tour. For example last fall Pearl Jam wanted to have the Fastbacks open for them on a number of US shows. Certain Fastbacks member were a little uncomfortable with performing in front of 35,000 Pearl Jam fans. So the concert started with Eddie Vedder walking out and playing a solo acoustic song whereafter he says "Will you please welcome the Fastbacks, my very good friends from Seattle". From there on out the Fastbacks can walk on water and they have the crowds full support the whole show.
Meanwhile it's gotten late, we must say goodbye which is sad upon the tremendous experience it has been for us to be in Seattle. We try to hire Kurt to do sound on our upcoming Danish tour but unfortunately without much luck.
The Young Fresh Fellows (See Related Links)
Scott McCoughey: Lead singer, guitar, keys and songwriter. Has released a number of solo albums, the latest under the name The Minus Five with Peter Buck (REM) and Jon & Ken from the Posies. Has worked for PopLlama Records for years. Last year he was on world tour with REM as extra guitarist, keyboard man and bassist. Wrote in 1986 the song The Sharing Patrol Theme as a tribute to us - released on the YFF album Topsy Turvy.
Jim Sangster: Johnny's older brother. Bassist in YFF, Guitarist in the country/rock band The Picketts and guitarist in Roy Loney and the Longshots. Jakob's host during our stay. Works both for Jack and for PopLlama.
Tad Hutchison: YFF drummer and self-taught artist with a very personal style. USA's answer to Monty Python. The man behind the concept The Sharing Patrol.
Kurt Bloch: Guitarist YFF, along with the other Fellows a legendary figure in the Seattle scene. Guitarist and songwriter in the 17 year old punk band The Fastbacks. In the recent 4-5 years produced 30 - 40 records. (See Related Links)
Chris Hanzsek: Owns the studio, also known as "Wild Bill" (when he is not around.)
Mel & Scott: the two main engineers.
Pete Gerrald: Freelance engineer, works a lot with Kurt. Helped a great deal with our mastering and digital editing.
Jack Hodge: Jonathan's schoolmate & my host during our stay. Owns the Maserati that adorns the cover of Take You There. Set designer and constructor for commercial film shoots, and hires his friends to help him out.
Paul Roby: My other host and Jacks friend.
Syd Stibbard: Jonathan's father, eminent illustrator.
Hillary & Mike: Jonathan's sister and her husband. Jonathan's hosts (and mine the first 4 days).
Lene & Malcolm Sangster: Johnny's wife and son.
Ken Stringfellow: (also known as Ken Posie) Kim's husband. Ken is together with Jon Auer the main half of the Posies, they have (like Johnny & Jonathan) played together since their early teens. The Posies have recently released a new album called Amazing Disgrace.(See Related Links)
Hammi Hammerschmidt: German emigrant. Photographer and graphic designer. Has taken all the photos used on the Take You There cover, lent us his Powerbook, and generally helped out endlessly.
Roisin: Guitarist in the girl punkrock group 7 Year Bitch. Girlfriend to Johnny and Jonathan's schoolmate Mike Chandler.
Rusty Willoughby: Main man in the recently defunct FLOP. Has just finished a solo record for SubPop. Boyfriend to Nicky.(See Related Links)
Lulu Gargulio: Guitarist and singer in The Fastbacks. Has also made a career as a film producer. Known for saying her blatantly honest opinion about everything. According to Paul is the "coolest woman in Seattle".
Kim Warnick Bassist and lead singer in the Fastbacks. Has worked at SubPop for many years.
Mike Musburger: Fastbacks current drummer, also in Love Battery and TubeTop, previously in the Posies but ended in a fistfight with Ken.
Susie: 4th in command at SubPop. Used to work for Geffen, was very involved with Nirvana's career. Nevermind was a Geffen/SubPop co-production. Married with Chris who (also)works for Jack.
Jason Finn: Drummer in ThePresidentsOfTheUnitedStatesOfAmerica(See Related Links), also one of the many drummers who have been in the Fastbacks.
Conrad Uno: Owner of PopLlama Records and Egg Studio, produces most of PopLlama's releases. Has had his first commercial success with The Presidents (which he also produced) which has been licensed to Columbia Records. Released in 1984 the cassette "They Share and We Share and then We All Go Out For Supper" by the Sharing Patrol.
Andrew McKaeg:Guitarist and singer in the San Diego based group U.N.C.L.E. Joe's Big Ol' Driver.
Got back yesterday to the frozen north. Was sad to leave, depressed to get back. Every thing seems so gray and crowded. Makes me long for the green green grass of Ballard. It's been a breath of fresh air to spend some time in Seattle, hang out with freinds, see what the music scene is like over there. Kinda make things here seem like a joke - everybody trying to be sooo professional and rock starish while everybody in the grunge capital of the world is still just playing music for themselves and their friends. Sure there are some ambitious people in Seattle but most people just play cause they like to be in a band and cause they love to play music.
I think that both Tuxen and Jacob were both truly amazed at the kind of sincere support we received from people in Seattle. People came to see the shows because they had heard about it and wanted to come and take part. When they came by the studio it was to be friendly and not to check out the competition or to hang out with the hipsters. It was incredible how many people came to tell us that we were their favorite band in '83 and to ask to play shows with them in Europe when they came on tour.
Usually when I go home, I spend most of my time doing family things, and that is good cause I don't get to see them a whole lot. This time I got to see friends. I didn't realize that I still had all these friends. I, being the lame letter writer I am have pretty much lost contact with most of the people I hung out with in the old days. Still there were friends from school and the days before we came to Europe who came to see us and say hello. It made me feel lucky for still having contact with these friends.
I was never too into the social life at high school. I thought they were all stuck up, apathetic rich kids trying their best to be like each other and do like their parents said. That may have been true but I realize now that they were an important part of my life which I closed the door on when I moved to Denmark. Fortunately they are actually still there, still open - probably a lot more like me than I ever thought.
I guess we will have to get back soon and do some more shows. It'll be interesting to see if we can swing a record deal. It shouldn't be too hard - it's one damn fine record with an incredibly great band. I think it was the best move we've made the last few years. Now we will just have to take that Seattle spirit and go for it!