A delightful photo of Bryan lounging poolside. It's 'The Life of Bryan!'

 
 
 
 


Act XVIII

Dissecting Pets

You know, there was just SO MUCH ground to cover in Act 17 that this was bound to happen. I really wanted to make this Act nothing but the final words on the labor of my past life, Z's "Music For Pets", but yet again my diarrhea of the fingers got the best of me and here we are with other stuff we need to talk about. I don't want to waste any time, so scroll down if you wish, but if you do, you'll miss the latest news on the upcoming Keneally release "Half Alive In Hollywood", the perils of parting with Prodigy, my dashing debut in the world of "adult-contemporary" music, and all of the abominable alliterations that I can think of in the meantime. Ready...set...

First of all, my apologies to anyone who has experienced any kind of "difficulties" in their e-mail correspondence with me between the days of August 22 and September 5. You see, Prodigy took it upon themselves to finally "upgrade" their hopelessly outdated off-line e-mail product that they call "E-Mail Connect", a misnomer if there ever was one. We'll call it EMC for short. On August 22, with much fanfare, EMC's "improvements" were automatically downloaded into my hard drive when I tried to receive my e-mail. Some "improvements"...the only thing I noticed was that now, whenever I sent e-mail to anyone, they were receiving two headers, both with different information. Let me explain further...

You see, to Prodigy, you are a prison number. My particular prison number was LMEV55B, and for a while, the outside world could only know me as that (at Prodigy.com, of course). Then someone over at Prodigy headquarters woke out of their stupidity-induced coma and figured out that we might want a name instead of just a prison number. So we were notified by the Prodigy authorities that we could now have a "netname" by which we could receive internet e-mail, even though underneath it all, we were still just a prison number to them. For my netname, I chose "bassboy", but wouldn't you know it, it was taken! Hence the attachment of a number that I could easily remember (that's what they TOLD me to do!!). Anyway, the big Prodigy prison number cover-up worked just fine until they got cute and went for the big EMC "improvements", after which the whole scandal was exposed in a quite ugly fashion.

The big improvement turned out to be this: people would now receive a header which would say that the particular piece of e-mail that I'd sent was from my prison number (LMEV55B@prodigy.com) on this day at this time, and that it was ALSO from bassboy69@prodigy.com at a different day and a different time. Some e-mail gateways looked at this information and simply refused to talk to my mixed-up ass, in effect saying, "When are you? Don't come back to us until you get your shit straight." I'm sure that there were other problems that I didn't even know about, but this was the main one. Even the mass mailing about my e-mail address change was a nightmare...anybody receive two copies of that? Three maybe? Gladly, these days are now over and done with...I've broken out of the Prodigy prison forever (these alliterations have got to stop, I know). This writing frenzy I'm now in is the official jailbreak party.

And to finally close the door on this subject forever, I want to publicly thank my lovely, darling, gorgeous, sexpot roommate Joanne, without whose computer none of this would have ever been possible. I can't say that she was sad to watch me walk out of her room for the last time (it only took about 15 hours to transfer all of my files from her terminal to mine), but the fact that she even allowed me to in effect hijack her computer for these nine months was way beyond the call of duty for any roommate. She's the fucking best. I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the godlike abilities of Scott Chatfield at this point. I remember asking him over and over again what a website was, and him explaining it to me repeatedly without losing his patience while the concept flew in one of my ears and out the other. Without him, this whole thing is just a damn journal. OK, that's enough syrupy thanks for one paragraph.

OK, here's the skinny on the long-awaited double-live Kenally/BFD CD "Half Alive In Hollywood"...it's done. When I mean done, I mean DONE. Both Disc 1 and 2 have been mastered. The artwork has been finalized and is ready for printing. The CD's are being pressed. I've seen the whole thing, and I'm so proud to have been a part of it that any comments I would make would be the polar opposite of objectivity, so I'll just let you decide for yourself what you think of it. By the first week of October, it should be ready and waiting for you.

So there's only one more thing I want to share with you before we head off into the land of Music For Dog-Heads, and that's the state of my current musical affairs. Notice how long it took for me to talk about this. Ugh...{swallowing hard}...well, uh, I've had to do some gigs and sessions that haven't exactly been my favorite sort of stuff in order to make ends meet. Obviously I've still got the dyke and the kikes on my calendar every once in a while, but that's not nearly enough to pay my basic bills, let alone the interest on this wonderful new toy I'm currently sitting in front of. Some of the "projects" I've worked on have been too ugly to even mention, but there's one in particular I should tell you about.

Joe Flow (names have been changed to protect my revenue stream) is a guitarist/instrumental songwriter who specializes in the "adult-contemporary" market. Everywhere in the country, even where you live, if you really wanted to, you could turn on the radio and dial in the FM station that plays the kind of music I'm talking about. Kind of like Kenny G, but with the guitar as the lead instrument instead of that damn soprano sax I feel like shoving up that guy's...anyway, I'm not slamming Joe Flow here. He's a really cool guy, a great player, and believes in what he's doing, which is more than I can say for a lot of people out here in this business. Here was the deal-he had a showcase coming up and he wanted to put together a five-song set. Good ol' Frank "slumber party" Briggs was already in on it, he referred me...sure, I said. I had to read charts for the first time since Berklee, and it wasn't a pretty sight at first, but eventually I got the idea. It was "smooth jazz", and I smoothed right along with it.

I arrived at the showcase, and even that was smooth...a nice soundstage, caterers, round tables with place settings and expensive tablecloths, "smooth jazz" flowing out of the immaculate sound system, a well-dressed hostess, and lots of important-looking middle-aged people eating and schmoozing the fuck out of each other. The only thing keeping this from being a mildly pleasant experience was Joe Flow's manager (let's call him "Dick"), who was pacing madly in and out of the party like some movie-star's agent on uppers. Everything he ever said to me was always followed with "you know, you're awesome. You really are...do you know how great you are?" Thanks, Dick. You're great too, babe.

We play the show, and you've never seen so many conservatively dressed folks cheer so loudly. I never really knew what the demographic for "smooth jazz" looked like, but now I do and I'll never forget it. Joe Flow performed really well, but he was nervous and damn glad for the showcase to be over. The same couldn't be said for manager-boy Dick, however, as he strode backstage and before he could even get out a "you were really awesome!", he started talking about us going back on and doing an encore. Nice idea, but the problem was we didn't know anything else. Five songs, remember? Dick didn't care, and he started his descent into what would become a full-on meltdown, saying things like, "it'll be a fucking dagger in your career if you guys don't go back out there! Just do anything!!" It was pure genius to watch this guy lose his mind so completely. Joe eventually just walked away from him, at which point Dick turned to us and pleaded, "you HAVE to convince him to go back on! Please!!" It took everything me and Frank had in us not to just totally lose it and start cracking up. Not only that, but Dick was wrong about the career ramifications of Mr. Flow's decision...he was offered two different distribution deals for his new CD, and word was that Eric Clapton's manager was there and walked away very impressed. Maybe BFD should consider a stylistic change.

OK, then, here we are. All of you who don't consider yourself hardcore Z fans, be advised that from here on out, this Act will be dealing in depth with the making of Z's latest (and probably last) CD, Music For Pets. It'll be about how the tracks were recorded, how the sequence of the CD changed over and over again, and my take on each track that exists on all of the versions out there. So, if you're not interested in this, have a nice day and I'll get back to you when "Half Alive In Hollywood" comes out. For the foolhardy who decide to read on, maybe now is a good time to take a break, get a drink of water, use the bathroom, have a cigarette, smoke some crack...whatever helps you relax. This is VERY long and for the hardcore freaks only.

{interlude...to the sounds of "smooth jazz"...}

Let's all go back in time to April of 1994...The Spin Doctors ruled the pop charts, RuPaul and Milton Berle sparred with one another at that year's MTV video music awards, and Z had just finished a small but productive US tour promoting the American version of "Shampoohorn". Dweezil was pretty happy with the way the tour went, and he was downright amped about getting right back into the studio with the first steady band lineup he'd had in a while. The rhythm section of me, Mike Keneally and Joe Travers on drums was really humming after the drill of playing ten cities in eleven days together. And to make things even more exciting, Dweezil decided that the project would be recorded at the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen, Frank Zappa's famous in-home studio. It was to be the first live band recordings done in there since the mid-80's (the real Zappa freaks would know exactly when, but I don't). And it would be the first full album I'd ever recorded. I was psyched.

So we move all of our gear into the high-ceilinged recording room, which is littered with priceless Frank Zappa artifacts...original gear from the late 60's Mothers Of Invention, guitars that Frank played on tour, the synclavier used to record "Jazz From Hell", original scores and charts for everything from "Greggery Peccary" to "The Black Page", and all sorts of other amazing stuff hanging on the wood panelling surrounding us. There was a drum isolation booth, a small guitar iso booth, a grand piano...musical heaven. The control room was equipped with a massive Neve Flying Faders mixing board and the most comfortable furniture money could buy. I couldn't help but just look around, wide-eyed in amazement that I was even there.

The recording engineer was going to be Wayne Trevisani, a hardcore native Philadelphian who had just finished mixing front-of-house sound for our tour. In-house tech geniuses Spence Chrislu and David Dondorf were on call to help debug the studio, which needed some TLC after the long layoff, and the first few days were spent getting everything in working order. But it wasn't long before we were ready to roll, and I got a crash course in the Dweezil Zappa method of recording.

He liked stuff to be fresh. I mean, REALLY fresh. He would teach us a tune, and the very second that we had it under our belts, we were rolling. I'd be lying if I didn't say that at first, it was a bit nervewracking, which made me notice something-Joe was a total pro. I could make a mistake or two and punch in, but he had to absolutely nail this stuff just seconds after he learned it, or else we'd have to do it again. Time and time again, Joe cranked out flawless first and second takes. Dweezil's guitar tracks during basics, for the most part, were scratch tracks, and he'd go back later and overdub his part with the right sound and feel. When Keneally was there, he was really scary...he NEVER fucked up, ever. It was a steep learning curve for me.

My biggest deficiency was in the sound department...I was using my Tobias Basic 5-string, and Dweezil wanted a heavy rock sound, something which Tobias's aren't known for. Any pro would've had an already planned out "rock sound" waiting to go if needed, but not me...I just brought in this SansAmp Tube Amp Simulater Direct Box, showed it to Wayne, and stuttered, "Uh, I have this thing...want to use it?" I received a healthy sneer from him, one of many that I'd receive for even daring to talk to Wayne during these sessions.

So off we went...Joe set up his DW drum kit in the open room (for that "room" sound) and I plugged into this little affected direct box (a unit about which I knew next to nothing). In this setup, we recorded "Us" (remember, I'll get into track by track detail later), "Pure", "Here", "Fuckin' Glad", "Not My Fault", "You Used All My Soap", "What It B", "Music For Pets" and "Chicken Out". Then Joe moved his drums into the iso booth, I switched my bass sound to just the Tobias direct into the board, and we recorded the following tunes: "Singer In The Woods", "I Wants Me Gold", "Happy Song", "Father Time", "Ask Yourself", "The Finger", "Rice Pudding", "Polar Bear", "Song For S", "Boodledang", "Choke", "Silver Lady" (which at the time was called 'KKK') and "Purple Guitar". Overdubs were done, Ahmet added vocals, Wayne mixed the tracks, and the first finished sequence of "Music For Pets" was done, all the way back in the late summer/early fall of 1994, I think. Here it was...

1. Singer In The Woods
2. Pure
3. Here
4. What It B
5. You Used All My Soap
6. Fuckin' Glad
7. I Wants Me Gold
8. Music For Pets
9. Us
10. Not My Fault
11. Father Time
12. Song For S
13. Happy Song
14. Chicken Out
15. Ask Yourself
16. Polar Bear
17. Boodledang
18. Choke
19. Purple Guitar

Pretty weird, huh? I have a tape of it (no, you can't have it). The first things to change were the mixes...Dweezil wasn't too happy with some of the final mixes that Wayne produced, and he went to work on a few of the tunes, notably "Music For Pets", "Chicken Out", and "Us" (remember, you'll get track by track detail LATER!!). Then he decided to record more tunes, a pattern that would repeat itself over and over again for the next year.

But Joe was totally psyched because Dweezil went out and bought a green-sparkle John Bonham-model drum kit from Ludwig, complete with the 26-inch bass drum and all of the necessary Bonham accessories. He wanted that "Zeppelin drum sound", and he was sparing no expense to get it. So Dweezil put the kit in the open room, put Spence Chrislu behind the mixing board (Wayne was back in Philly by this point), and we started up again, this time with me playing my purple Peavey Accelerator 5-string. You're all probably like, "what? why??", but I can tell you that through my rig, dialed in properly, this bass has a pretty cool rockin' sound. On we went to record "Based On A True Story", "Badass", "Enigma", "Flibberty Jibbet", "Coyote Face", "Evil" (the bonus track at the end of the US version, for those of you who don't know) and "With You". Two anamolies occurred around this time-one, a live-to-two-track jam turned into the basics for "Feminine SDH", and two, an MTV short-feature soundtrack that we recorded turned into "Silver Lady Disco". More on that later as well.

So now we're in March of 1995, and Dweezil and Spence are redoing the mixes on some older tracks, and finishing the mixes on the new ones, and before long we had a new, "finished" version of "Music For Pets". The plan was to release it in Europe, tour over there, then release it in the States later that year and tour here. Well, it didn't quite happen that way...but we're not here to talk about that. This sequence came out on what is now known as the "French" version of "Pets":

1. Singer In The Woods
2. Pure
3. Here
4. Flibberty Jibbet
5. Coyote Face
6. What It B
7. Ask Yourself
8. Feminine SDH
9. Us
10. Not My Fault
11. Father Time
12. Song For S
13. With You
14. Evil
15. Based On A True Story
16. Music For Pets
17. Polar Bear
18. Happy Song
19. I Wants Me Gold
20. Boodledang
21. Chicken Out
22. Enigma
23. Badass
24. Silver Lady Disco

Whoa...that's a lot of tunes, for cryin' out loud. Note the omission of the following from the previous sequence: "You Used All My Soap", "Fuckin Glad", "Choke", and "Purple Guitar". Reasons will be given in the track detail, if you're still alive by then. Hey, I warned you, so I don't feel guilty.

Of course, by the time we got into the fall of 1995 and distribution problems were holding up the release, Dweezil got antsy again and wanted to record MORE songs. So, again, off we went, not to the Zappa home studio, but to Joe's Garage, the place where "Shampoohorn" was recorded. This didn't thrill any of us...anyone could hear how much better the new tracks sounded than the ones recorded at Joe's Garage. It was never meant to be a recording studio anyway, just a rehearsal studio, but by this point the line between the ridiculous and sublime had already been sufficiently blurred. I grabbed my Fender Jazz Deluxe 5-string (my Tobias had been stolen by now) and we went and did the last batch of tunes in late 1995/early 1996, I think (don't quote me on the times). They were: "True Face", a new version of "Flibberty Jibbet", "Happiness", "Mind Control", "Mission From God", and "Schmuck". Vocals never got finished on "Mission From God" (a really cool, funky grinder of a tune) or "Schmuck" (quite possibly the best song out of the entire sessions, an unbelivably heavy Soundgarden-esque romp), so they never made it anywhere. So finally, in March 1996, complete with "artwork alterations" and everything (see Act 10's "Canine Cabezas" for a reference if you don't know what I'm talking about), the US version of "Pets" was released, and it looked like this:

1. Silver Lady Disco
2. Coyote Face
3. True Face
4. Feminine SDH
5. Boodledang
6. Music For Pets
7. Us
8. Chicken Out
9. With You
10. Song For S
11. Father Time
12. Happiness
13. Pure
14. Mind Control
15. Flibberty Jibbet (new, 90's version)
16. Based On A True Story
17. Silver Lady
18. Choke
19. Singer In The Woods
UNLISTED BONUS TRACK---Evil

Note the following...the return of "Silver Lady" and "Choke" from all the way back in '94, the flipping of "Silver Lady Disco" and "Singer In The Woods" as opener and closer of the album, and the fact that a conscious effort was made to make the album shorter than the 24-track behemoth that the French version was. Just about everything else ended up on the bonus CD in this order:

1. Badass
2. Enigma
3. Fuckin' Glad
4. Happy Song
5. I Wants Me Gold
6. You Used All My Soap
7. What It B
8. Farfignewton (I'll explain this later)
9. Ask Yourself
10. Polar Bear
11. The Finger
12. Not My Fault
13. Rice Pudding
14. Here

That covers just about everything except for the epic instrumental "Purple Guitar", which ended up on a limited edition French Bonus CD called "Live Beef", which only the first 3,000 buyers of the the French "Pets" would ever see. I believe that everything else ended up on some released version of "Pets" somewhere in the world.

So, my thoughts on all of this? Aside from having had my picture removed from an album that I worked on for almost two years, it was a hugely positive learning experience for me. It's too bad that the futile process of trying to release an album independently played so much havoc with the recording schedule, becuase somewhere in all of these tracks was a really cool, rockin' 65-minute CD. It just went on and on for so long, I think that somewhere along the way we lost the big picture, and that was the fact that Z sounded best when it rocked out. Some people might say that the sound I'm describing was already dated by 1996, and they've got a point, but I believe that after a while you just have to go with your strengths. The US "Bone-Us" CD (as Brad Dahl says, "bone-us is right", after learning that if you'd bought "Pets" off of the shelves when it came out, and you wanted the "bone-us" CD, you had to buy the whole Pet Box, which included the original CD that you already owned! What the hell was that all about?), when you listen to it, is a damn good CD in it's own right, and minus a few of the novelty tracks and plus a few of the better US "Pets" tracks, would be a damn fine album. But, as I said, after a while, it was hard to take a step back and just look at the whole thing from afar and see that. Especially for Dweezil, who worked endlessly to fix weird mixes, to enhance strange sounds that somehow made it to tape, and to try and figure out a good sequence from all of these distinctly different sounding recording sessions. By January 1996, almost two years after we'd started to fix up the Zappa's in-house studio, I did not envy him at all.

Let's take one more break, drink a beer, take a bong hit (or, as Martha Lawrence would say, a "bhang" hit...did you know that "bhang" is the correct spelling of the word "bong"? Do you even care?), and rest a bit before powering through the track-by-track breakdown of cool little things and weird moments in each of the tracks from the "Pets" sessions. By the way, in case you're wondering, this IS the longest Act that will ever exist. I wouldn't normally go this long (not even me), but this is part of what I feel is a debt to people who actually cared about Z enough to notice me...and leaving Z when I did made me feel a bit guilty about people who'd waited two years for Z to tour again only to have me and Mike bust the whole thing in half, so consider this my penance. I hope you're satisfied. Now go relax, goddammit.

{again, the sounds of "smooth jazz" fill the room...aaaaaaaaah!}

OK, let's get into it...the "Music For Pets" tunes, track by track, starting with the official US version:

"Silver Lady Disco"-this was recorded for an MTV comedy short called "Manetti", which was a parody of cheesy 70's cop shows (now you get it, right?), performed by marionettes. It was ultraviolent, and pretty funny, but only aired a few select times, mostly in the middle of the night. I'm glad it made the cut, because it's a good example of what this band could do when it wanted to stretch out a bit. Keneally played the synthetic horns and strings on the Synclavier.

"Coyote Face"-originally intended as the second half of "Flibberty Jibbet" (French version), and that's the way we did it live. Z goes punk. We played the shit out of this one live. More guitar tracks were added for the US version.

"True Face"-now I really like this song, but I always thought that it should've been much later in the sequence. This is exactly what I mean when I say that Z should've "stuck to its strengths". A band like Portishead could have made magic out of this. But give Dweezil credit...it's like nothing else in Z's catalog. I also wish we recorded this one up at the house instead of at Joe's Garage. I love the acoustic guitar solo at the end, and the eerie bridge I dug a lot as well, but I got a lot of negative e-mail response on this track, more than any other.

"Feminine SDH"-probably my favorite song out of everything here. One day, while me, Joe and Dweezil were fucking around, I hooked up this old Kustom bass head to my rig, and it was just distorting like crazy. Dweezil absolutely fell in love with the bass sound, and we had just set up the new Ludwig/Bonham drumset, so Dweezil showed this to us and recorded it straight to two-track DAT without even having anyone in the control room. He liked it so much that he overdubbed a million guitars and vocals on it, and there you have it. For the solo, Keneally was instructed to "play what Jimmy Page would have played over these changes...if he could have". Keneally also helped write the vocal melody (that note your hear on "so LOW" should be obvious to Keneally fans). Dweezil's guitar intro to this tune...yes!!!!

"Boodledang"-my choice for a single, if there ever was to be one. Again, a vastly different drum mix on the US and French versions. The Dweezil/Keneally trading guitar solos were overdubbed, but me and Joe recorded it live with Dweezil soloing right along with us. That's why you hear me and Joe doing all of these things together during the solo and the actual solo doing something completely different, because we were playing to Dweezil's original scratch solo, which got erased. This song was written during my audition, all the way back in August of 1993.

"Music For Pets"-a very complicated vocal to pull off live. It never really got me off, but it was the title track, so there you have it. What a weird verse this song has. I think we recorded four songs the day we did this one.

"Us"-the very first song we recorded for this album, in 4/94. Dweezil instructed me to play the John Paul Jones "Good Times, Bad Times" fill at the end of the solo, as well as the "Hey Joe" outro chorus bass line. I really love the "Beatles-style" mix on this...Dweezil put the drums all the way on one side! Ahmet had a hard time singing those low notes live, which made it not as fun to do live. But dig those guitar sounds in the solo...again, Keneally and Dweezil having a field day with all of the different guitars and pedals up at the house, including a 12-string for that special "Byrds" sound.

"Chicken Out"-many jokes were made about sending Eddie Van Halen royalty checks for Dweezil's solo in this. He must have done about 300 takes of it, many of which we thought were better than the one he kept, but you get the idea anyway. The ultimate "tribute" to Dweezil's hero. A different vocal mix for the US version.

"With You"-Ahmet said he would quit the band (in jest) if we didn't record this. He had the basic melody and collaborated with Mike, who helped him turn it into a "Dream On"-type rock ballad. The mix for the US version is so different than the French one, it's practically a different song. Dig the cello! I didn't know what to think while we were recording this, and I couldn't tell if Ahmet was making it a parody or if he was really serious about it. I still don't know. Either way, it's an odd tune for Z, don't you think?

"Song For S"-bonus points to anyone who can figure out who this song is for.

"Father Time"-one day I show up at the house and Dweezil and Joe are working on this tune for which Dweezil didn't want any bass. It was a pretty cool track, and Joe really played his ass off. Dweezil went and did some overdubs, and it was even cooler. But he never told anyone what the lyrics were going to be, so you can imagine the shock on me, Joe and Mike's faces when we heard it with vocals for the first time. I was sitting in a chair that Frank used to always sit in at that moment. The chair was one of the most comfortable chairs I'd ever sat in, yet I didn't feel right in it while listening to this.

"Happiness"-One of the very last tunes recorded for "Pets", and never one of Joe's all-time favorites. I liked it until I heard the melody, which I thought (in my own worthless opinion) didn't treat the arpeggios in the verses well enough. And the drum sound at Joe's Garage...ugh. Had it been up to me, this one would have been on the bone-us CD.

"Pure"-Dweezil played a Hamer 12-string bass through his rig to get that massive growling sound for this track. You should have heard it in the room...it was huge. This was Z at its best, heavy as a ton of bricks. For discerning ears, check out the different harmonies in the 5/4 instrumental bridge...Keneally's doing some serious fucking around in there. My bass sound should have been heavier in this tune (my fault). Joe was born to play stuff like this. In rehearsals, Ahmet liked to say that he was ready to "rock the 'Pure'".

"Mind Control"-the absolute last song to be recorded out of all of these, even after the Joe's Garage sessions, back up at the house. I got to play my '51 Fender Precision re-issue through Dweezil's rig for the bitchen bass sound. I really like this song, especially the "We Can See For Miles"-type vocals near the end. And check out all of the percussion tracks Joe laid down on the outro. I've always liked the texture of Dweezil's voice for harmonies like the ones on this track.

"Flibberty Jibbet"-OK, there was a old version of this that was on the French "Pets" that didn't slow down in the verses and was a little heavier, a little less "90's". The lyric "mack a self a pro slick" is from the movie "Airplane"; one of the jive-talkin' brothers says it. I think it means, "hi!". I always liked the old version better, but I think I was alone in that sentiment.

"Based On A True Story"-aside from the "bionic man" sound effects, this one never thrilled me, even though the lyrics are pretty funny. Ahmet makes this one...especially at the end with the way he sings "booties for a mannnnnnn". That's cool. It used to segue right into the first chord of "Music For Pets".

"Silver Lady"-This really bothered me. The main lick of this song is crushing, really heavy and cool. But you can't hear the guitars! It sounds like a bass and drum solo! Dweezil told me that there was some really weird problem with the guitar level, and that it couldn't be totally fixed. Well, why did it end up on the CD then? This one wasn't on any sequence, not even the very first one which only I have have a tape of...why did it become so important? I'm only so upset about it because I love this song, but the mix is intolerable. The vocals speak for themselves, I guess. But I'll always remember this song for when Joe couldn't get the last fill right, no matter how hard he tried, and he got so angry that he threw down his sticks and stormed out of the house. It was the only time he ever even made a repeated mistake during these sessions, let alone lost his cool. He eventually came back and nailed it.

"Choke"-another track brought back from the dead of that very first unreleased sequence. We'd been doing the solo section of this track on tour, and we quickly whipped it into shape to record it. What we didn't expect was for Dweezil to play the solo of his life...live, on the first take. We were all in awe after we listened back to it. Even Dweezil himself almost said that he liked it, which would have been a major event. Our live set closer. Kind of a weird drum sound and mix, but who cares...this performance needed to be released.

"Singer In The Woods"-I got to play FZ's old Fender Jazz Bass on this. The form was, uh, "improvised", leading to some ugly chord clunges which Dweezil just adored. Check out the "back again in '94!!" lyric. That's when it was recorded. We could only laugh in '96 when it was finally released.

"Evil"-(the unlisted bonus track)--it's not too hard to figure out what Dweezil wanted on this one...Black Sabbath all the way, with a little Zeppelin thrown in for good measure. The distorted bass sound was achieved by using the SansAmp PSA-1, a device that by this time I'd figured out how to use. Ahmet sung this one through the distorted channel of a Peavey amp, I think, to get the Ozzy vocal going. How about the Tony Iommi guitar sound on this one?

And now, the "Bone-Us" CD:

"Badass"-another Van Halen tribute, but a lot more fun to play than "Chicken Out". Joe ripped off the drumbeat from some old Black Oak Arkansas tune, and Dweezil wanted to get him, me and Joe, all live in one pass, all the way through, solo and everything. After eight tries, me and Joe kept nailing it, but Dweezil was never happy with his solo. Finally, on the ninth or so try, he goes, "Either I'll get it this time, or we'll wait a while and try again". Of course, he went ahead and nailed it.

"Enigma"-Z goes alternative. A cute little pop song, which I loved playing live. Check out the very end of the track, with Joe dropping his sticks and me hitting the open 'E' string for that extra-special "alternative" feel. Whoa.

"Fuckin Glad"-referred to early on as the "Who song" due to Joe's Keith Moon-like fills and the ultra-dramatic vocal bridge. Mix problems made Dweezil shelve this one until the last minute.

"Happy Song"-what a cool song this was. I hated to see it not on the official CD. The poor guy who played the tin whistle solo actually had to play it a half-step away from the key when he recorded it due to something I know nothing about, but you can only imagine how good that sounded when he tracked it. I love Ahmet's scream at the very end. Try singing along with the vocal in the chorus...it's not easy.

"I Wants Me Gold"-Ahmet's best friend Tory Mell did all of the screaming vocals on this in ONE TAKE!! What a freak. Of course, the stock Van Halen ending was sought by Dweezil, and we delivered. In case you didn't know, one of the lyrics in this song is, "they took out my money shot/where I'm burning children for fuel". Really.

"You Used All My Soap"-hell, if there was going to be a song on the official US version of "Pets" with inherent mix problems, this should have been it, and not "Silver Lady". Something about the low notes of the verse vocal melody and the drums clashing couldn't be fixed, but this was my second favorite tune of the entire sessions and, goddammit, I wish it wasn't buried on the bone-us CD. You should have heard what it sounded like when we kicked into the outro solo live...it was ungodly.

"What It B"-Dweezil took this old bass and slapped a guitar bridge and extra long guitar strings on it, plugged it in through his rig, and got this evil sound out of it. Probably the only song that, the second it was done, we never played it again. Wayne Trevesani (the genius) accidentally chopped off the last half-second of the last hit of this track. You can hear it if you listen closely.

"Farfignewton"-on the French version, it's just something that Dweezil and Joe did together, but on the bone-us CD, it includes a bit of "The Finger", some of the music Z recorded for the MTV game show "Trashed" and lots of other cool stuff too. A Keneally-esque link, wouldn't you say? Mike actually had nothing to do with it.

"Ask Yourself"-you should have seen all of us bobbing our heads to this tune after we were done with it...we dug the whole "surf vibe" of the chorus a lot. Dweezil really could write nothing but pop tunes if he chose to do so. I made the bassline of the chorus a lot harder than it should've been. Cool guitar sounds in the chorus as well.

"Polar Bear"-there were once five different versions of this, all with different vocal and guitar overdubs. Thankfully, only two appear on this CD. Woo-hoo-hoo!!!

"The Finger"-this is the only tune that Mike Keneally ever truly co-wrote with Dweezil in these sessions, even though Mike added all sorts of textures and stuff like that. It would've been nice for that to have been mentioned somewhere, but what can you do. Joe loves this tune, I just like it. There used to be a huge long solo section in it during which Mike and Dweezil both soloed, but it was really boring, and Dweezil rightly edited it out.

"Not My Fault"-it's hard to believe that this track got left off the official US version, since it was always such a centerpiece of the earlier sequences, but something had to go. Me and Mike always talked about how cool Dweezil's solo was in this tune. A cool rock ballad, just when you thoguht that all of the good ones were already written.

"Rice Pudding"-what can I say about this, uh, "song"? Dweezil actually recorded something like five versions of this, all improvised, all of them different. But they all had the same ending, which Dweezil cut off on purpose just to piss you off. But I know the answer. The answer is...kill yourself. Really, that's what he cut out. I never thought he'd release this.

"Here"-massive Van Halen background vocals on this rocker, one that I always liked. This tune was also written during my audition. Playing straight against those sevens in the outro always made me happy. This one was just too Van Halen sounding to be on a 1996 CD.

"Purple Guitar"-yeah, I know that it's not on any of the official "Pets" releases, but it was done for these sessions and is worth discussing, even at this point. This was a nine-minute totally over-the-top instrumental tune that we used to play on tour, and it had been kicking around for at least two years prior to when we finally sat down to attempt to record it. This one was done instrument by instrument, overdub by painful overdub. Even Joe had to combine the best of two different takes (we punched in during a long hole) to get it done, but he really outdid himself on this track...what a stud he was. The same could not be said for me...this was one of the tunes I had to learn for my audition, and I thought that I knew it pretty well, but when it came time to track it, Dweezil and Keneally discovered that I'd been playing large chunks of it incorrectly for the entire tour. It was already on the very edge of my abilities; relearning it in the studio just made my brain fry. It took me almost nine hours of painful overdubbing to finally get a "passable" track (god forbid anyone ever hears that track soloed...ouch). And then after all that, due to some huge nightmare near the end (which could only be fixed by adding massive amounts of reverb to the drums) and unsatisfying mixes and guitar sounds, it never made the cut. I didn't mind.

God, is that it? Is it finally over? Thankfully, yes. I really meant it when I said that this was for the hardcore freaks only. Hopefully I've satisfied you all enough to never ask me about this whole thing ever again. Now I'm finally going to sleep. I need some smooth jazz to get me through the night.........B.B.



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