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They call them "solo albums," but just try and make one alone. It doesn't work. You quickly understand that the people you work with all do more than just play parts - they shape the final outcome in one way or another. They all did more than just "contribute"—they left their energy inside the tracks. I'm indebted to them all.

Some of these folks I've known for over ten years. Others I've met fairly recently. Each were sent the same questionnaire of ten questions. I encouraged glibness; some took the bait while other remained serious. I can assure you that anyone who spouted effusive praise was well compensated by the Onion Boy Records Propaganda Fund well before this questionnaire was sent out.

Rick Musallam - guitar, background vocals
Griff Peters - guitar
Yogi - guitar
Joe Travers - drums
Colin Keenan - lead vocals
Tricia Steel - vibraphone
Mike Keneally - guitar, Hammond organ, piano, background vocals
Wes Wehmiller - rhythm bass guitar, background vocals
Jeff Babko - Hammond organ, piano
Toss Panos - drums
Fausto Cuevas - percussion
Sean Bradley - violin
Dmitri Kourka - viola
Dave Takahashi - cello
Nick D'Virgilio - chief engineer
Ed Monsef - additional engineering, key Pro Tools engineering
Wayne Perez (a.k.a. Gruno) - Chief Security Officer, Team Burl Core, LLC

 

Rick Musallam

1. How did you get to know Bryan Beller in the first place?

I first met Bryan Beller when I joined Janet Robin's band which at the time consisted of me, Janet, Joe Travers, and Bryan.

2. What was the first thing you thought about recording a Bryan Beller
solo album?

It's about f***ing time Beller did a solo project. I knew he had it in him since day one. I was really excited for him because I'd been hoping for that to happen for a long time.

3. Describe your overall experience tracking at Lawnmower and Garden Supplies Studio.

I've tracked at Lawnmower dozens of times with Nick D'Virgilio and always liked the vibe there. This time it was a dream come true to watch Bryan do his thing.

4. How were the View sessions different from sessions with other artists?

Bryan is a great producer, he was able to capture the creativity of the musicians around him and be very clear about what he wanted and be able to explain things very eloquently. He had some things well planned for crucial parts of the music as well as leaving enough open space for musicians to put their stamp on it. Another thing that I noticed is that his daily goals were pre-planned and typed on sheets of paper, and at the end of every day the goals were achieved.
Structured, fun, and everyone knew what to do and when to do it. No one was left hanging, I like that.

5. Say something about engineers Nick D'Virgilio and Ed Monsef.

Nick D'Virgilio continues to amaze me at work. A great vibe and great work ethic. The man knows that studio in and out. Being a musician extraordinaire himself, he knows how to make musicians comfortable while they're tracking. A joy, always a pleasure to work with Nicky. Ed is also a whiz, and he's also funny too. You can always count on Ed to bail you out of any technical issue you might have, do it so effortlessly, and keep you laughing. Nick and Ed are a great working team as well, not to mention that they kind of look alike too. :)



6. What was the toughest part of the tracking for you?

The toughest part for me was to track in the big room with the guitar amps up to 11, and trying to get a decent headphone mix from headphones that were so tight, they make your earlobes stick to the side of your head, even after you take them off.

7. After having heard the complete album, which track is your favorite?

Seven Percent Grade.

8. Describe View in three words.

How can I describe the whole album in three words? Hmmm... that's a tough one. Every aspect of this album deserves at least three words each. I'll give you a set of three thoughts that come to my head, how's that?

Well executed tunes
Well thought-out melodies
Phenomenal, world-class bass playing.

9. Describe yourself in three words.

OK, now you're asking me to do something I'm not comfortable doing and to sum it up in three words... I don't know, I guess the first three things that come to mind are:

Sensitive, moody, creative.

10. What's one moment from the sessions you remember above all else?

I guess my favorite moment was when we got to track Seven Percent Grade as a band.

A special note from Rick Musallam:
Rick would like to thank John Ferrante and D'addario strings, Planet Waves cables, Andy Brauer of Andy Brauer Studio Rentals , Paul Muniz and Digitech, and Fender for all the cool gear and support. All who worked on this recording,
thank you for making this one of the most pleasurable musical situations. Love you all.

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Griff Peters

1. How did you get to know Bryan Beller in the first place?

A phone # scribbled on a urinal somewhere at Supreme's, I think.

2. What was the first thing you thought about recording a Bryan Beller solo album?

I was well-marinated at Joe's when you first played "Get Things Done". I thought Damn, that's a lot of notes…

3. Describe your overall experience tracking at Lawnmower and Garden Supplies Studio.

Lots of hot chicks hangin' around. Plenty-o-knobs, buttons and flashing little lights. Obscure porn everywhere. An effervescent sonic love-fest.

4. How were the View sessions different from sessions with other artists?

Nobody was a dick.

5. Say something about engineers Nick D'Virgilio and Ed Monsef.

Nick, sorry about your headphones. Ed, thanks for loaning me gas money.

6. What was the toughest part of the tracking for you?

See question #2

7. After having heard the complete album, which track is your favorite?

View. It's more "me."

8. Describe View in three words.

Enormous, agile, now.

9. Describe yourself in three words.

No more lube?!?

10. What's one moment from the sessions you remember above all else?

Sitting on the back of my truck outside relearning an impossible part looking at the mountains that I'm told you often can't see sometimes because of the smog. Also, honorable mention - Joe dumping his entire stick-bag over the drumkit.

A special note from Griff Peters:
Griff Peters wishes to thank John Carruthers and everyone at Carruthers guitars for invaluable assistance, expertise, and tone-support.

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Yogi

1. How did you get to know Bryan Beller in the first place?

I became aware of Mr. Bryan sometime in 1996, when I first discovered the Mike Keneally Web site, then headquartered over at Moosenet. I read every single syllable of Bryan's "Life Of Bryan" columns, along with all the other content in Mike's site. Somewhere in 1997, I started buying Mike's albums, and by the time Sluggo! dropped, in December of 1997, I was a rabid fan of all things Mike and Bryan. Soon after that, I started taking the steps that would result in my putting together my own solo albums. As I wrote songs for what would become my first record, Any Raw Flesh? I had no band, and I would daydream about the kinds of things Bryan would do on my tunes if I were to somehow convince him to play on them - but I really did chalk that up to just what it sounds like, wishful thinking. One night in September of 1999, I found some courage somewhere in the back of the sock drawer, and I emailed Bryan out of the blue and told him I was working on a record that needed some bass playing; might he be willing come to Seattle and provide it? My timing was exemplary. Bryan replied the very next day (!) and asked to hear a tape of the material. Three days after I sent it, he called, we talked, and just like that, we were making plans to fly him up here. Before Bryan became involved in the project, my work on the album had been sporadic and unfocused - I didn't really know what I was doing, or even why; I just had a vague sense that I should be doing something musically creative. Bryan's belief in the material, at such an early stage in its progress, gave the album a validity that it had lacked in my own mind. I sometimes wonder if I ever would have finished it had Bryan not participated. So in many ways, I feel I owe Bryan a debt that I can never adequately repay. Any Raw Flesh? when completed was far and away more successful than I had ever dared imagine, and Bryan's vocal support of it is a very large reason why.

2. What was the first thing you thought about recording a Bryan Beller solo album?

I was flabbergasted to be asked, since I knew the names of the all the other gods that were going to be playing on the record; they invented the phrase "I am not worthy" for times like these. But I really liked the name of the song I was going to be on - "Projectile" sounded right up my alley, even though I hadn't heard a note of it. And honestly, I was a lot more excited by just the idea that Bryan Beller is making a solo record, more than I was going to get to come to L.A. and play on it.

3. Describe your overall experience tracking at Lawnmower and Garden Supplies Studio.

Bryan was up in Seattle doing yet another session for me in the summer of 2002, and he asked me then if I'd heard Kevin Gilbert before. I hadn't, and was duly chastised, and then vigorously encouraged to pick up a copy of The Shaming Of The True. Bryan was learning it for the show NDV put on at Prog West later that year. Since Bryan tends to recommend only fabulous music to me (on a previous trip he'd played Self's Breakfast With Girls for me, starting me off on a months-long obsession with that album), I bought a copy of Shaming solely on his say-so. By the time I set foot in Lawnmower on May 11, 2003, I was a full-on Kevin Gilbert fan boy. The vibe in Lawnmower is indescribably cool. Everything you could ever want to make a record with is crammed in there. The air was electric, everyone was very conscious that something really, really great was happening. I hung around the studio, where so much incredible music has been made, for three fifteen-hour days in a row, and I never got bored or tired. I was hanging around in Kevin Gilbert's studio with a bunch of friends, who just happen to be some of the world's finest musicians, making Bryan Beller's debut solo record! Who needs sleep when you get a chance for an experience like that?

4. How were the View sessions different from sessions with other artists?

Heh. Unlike just about everyone else involved, I'm not a "session cat." Other than little cameos I've made on some recordings of bands I've been friends with over the years, I had never been in a studio making a recording for someone other than myself. I'll tell you, it's a whole different ball game when you aren't the guy signing the checks. My hat is off to those with the intestinal fortitude to handle that pressure on a daily basis.

5. Say something about engineers Nick D'Virgilio and Ed Monsef.

Inspiring. Calm. Collected. Focused. Hilarious. Devastatingly talented. Generous with their time and knowledge when silly out-of-town shmucks ask them questions about what they're doing with that knob over there. No, that other one.

6. What was the toughest part of the tracking for you?

Trying to keep the aforementioned "I am not worthy" feelings at bay. I was nervous. Turns out I had learned some of the parts a little bit wrong. Trying to remember the hastily re-learned licks, I kept forgetting where I was in the track. All the while, I was intensely conscious of being on someone else's dime. Bryan was great, I'm pretty sure he was very aware of how I was feeling, and he want out of his way to be helpful and kept things light. Rick Musallam was also invaluable in this regard, and oh-so-supportive. Rick let me play his Les Paul for the last overdub I did, through my Lab Series amp. I've always disliked Les Pauls, but Rick's is sweet. Next time you see him, ask him if you can give it a play.

7. After having heard the complete album, which track is your favorite?

Ah, jeez. I'm terrible at picking favorites of anything. I'd say it's a three-way tie between "Eighteen Weeks", "Wildflower", and the title track. I'll say that when Bryan played me the demo of "Wildflower" for the very first time, I was completely emotionally destroyed by it - it's such a beautiful thing, definitely on my short list of "Tunes I Wish I Had Written."

8. Describe View in three words.

Unexpected, Glorious Gift.

9. Describe yourself in three words.

America's Luckiest Leprechaun.

10. What's one moment from the sessions you remember above all else?

It was nearing the end of my last day at the studio, around midnight or thereabouts. Bryan, NDV, Ed, Rick Musallam and I were the last folks still standing, and Bryan was doing his last overdub of the night, the grand piano track on "View." Rick and I were sitting and silently listening at the rear of the control room. Bryan took a couple of passes at the beautiful intro figure, playing to a click, but was unhappy with the results for reasons I can no longer recall. Before having another go at it, Bryan played the part again just to practice it. Rick spoke up: "That was beautiful - the best you've played it yet, and you did it without a click. You should really record it without the click." Bryan seemed skeptical, but he did the next take with no click, and that's the one on the album. I held my breath as he played, knowing that it was the one, knowing that we were going to be done for the night, knowing that my time observing the sessions was over. I remember feeling intensely grateful for having been there, for being involved in some small way. And I was sad that it was all coming to an end. After all the goodbyes were said, I drove in silence back to my sister's in Hollywood with the melody of "View" repeating over and over in my head.

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Joe Travers

1. How did you get to know Bryan Beller in the first place?

Berklee College of Music circa 1990.

2. What was the first thing you thought about recording a Bryan Beller solo album?

Finally

3. Describe your overall experience tracking at Lawnmower and Garden Supplies Studio.

Had a good time, no problems at all...loved the convergence of talent & friends.

4. How were the View sessions different from sessions with other artists?

Well, it was for Bryan Beller of course! All Hail!

5. Say something about engineers Nick D'Virgilio and Ed Monsef.

something

6. What was the toughest part of the tracking for you?

trying to get decent internal sound on my video camera, & not obtaining it.

7. After having heard the complete album, which track is your favorite?

Don't have a fav yet.

8. Describe View in three words.

It's about time

9. Describe yourself in three words.

got any Advil?

10. What's one moment from the sessions you remember above all else?

Mike Keneally's spiritualized stoned state of bliss during Rick Musallum's guitar solo overdubs on "Seven Percent Grade."

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Colin Keenan

1. How did you get to know Bryan Beller in the first place?

In the actual sense, at Berklee school of music. In the biblical sense, in the back seat of a car.

2. What was the first thing you thought about recording a Bryan Beller solo album?

How can I get out of it?

3. Describe your overall experience tracking at Lawnmower and Garden Supplies Studio.

After the chloroform wore off and the bleeding stopped, I felt the overall experience was (like all good things) blissfully degrading and just a little painful.

4. How were the View sessions different from sessions with other artists?

Other artists didn't insist that I track naked with a carrot shoved in my ass.

5. Say something about engineers Nick D'Virgilio and Ed Monsef.

Professional, flexible, fun.

6. What was the toughest part of the tracking for you?

Everyone watching me, then pointing and laughing.

7. After having heard the complete album, which track is your favorite?

Anything but "Bite"

8. Describe View in three words.

Long, long overdue.

9. Describe yourself in three words.

Words not enough.

10. What's one moment from the sessions you remember above all else?

Leaving.

A special note from Colin Keenan:
I want to thank No One! (I am endorsed by various vodka and tobacco companies - too many to list)

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Tricia Steel

1. How did you get to know Bryan Beller in the first place?

Beer for Dolphins

2. What was the first thing you thought about recording a Bryan Beller solo album?

Cool...vibes and bass always sound sweet

3. Describe your overall experience tracking at Lawnmower and Garden Supplies Studio.

quick, easy and fun...a little surprised at the lack of vodka

4. How were the View sessions different from sessions with other artists?

I could tell that not only was there a plan, but a well thought out plan...Beller's goals were realistic and he stayed on track. I've been on so many sessions where minds are changed and timetables aren't met. My track probably went so smoothly because Beller wrote the perfect chart for the vibes. Everything fit nicely w/ 4 mallets and the chart made sense...as a melodic percussionist, perfect charts are rare.

5. Say something about engineers Nick D'Virgilio and Ed Monsef.

Nick was a monster punching in and out, um, not there there was any punching needed for my parts, and stuff ;) Ed was super nice. I think the sight of a vibraphone may have been scary at first but he mic'ed it beautifully.

6. What was the toughest part of the tracking for you?

overdubbing, I always prefer playing with real musicians around me for vibe (no pun intended) purposes but Travers put down such a solid drum track that I got over that rather quickly

7. After having heard the complete album, which track is your favorite?

Bear Divide.

8. Describe View in three words.

Driven, Versatile, Lyrical

9. Describe yourself in three words.

Productive, Motivated, Fun Loving

10. What's one moment from the sessions you remember above all else?

Beller conducting me through the glass, like I was watching him

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Wayne Perez (a.k.a. Gruno)

1. How did you get to know Bryan Beller in the first place?

The first time I met Bryan it was in a dream. For some reason, in that dream he was wearing a bow tie, football cleats, an orange fedora and the speedo's that you always see him in. In that dream he kept on whispering, "Look at me! I can play bass!" as he paraded around Disneyland. Scratch that. Don't use that part.I think I met Bryan through Nick D'Virgilio. Nick is that dude in that one band that does that one song… yeah, that one.

2. What was the first thing you thought about working on a Bryan Beller solo album?

My first thought was, "What took so long for him to finally do this?" Bryan has talent. I knew it would come out great from hearing the demos. I just wished he stood with the original concept for "View": recording it all on kazoo and washboard.

3. Describe your overall experience tracking at Lawnmower and Garden
Supplies Studio.

It was ton of fun! I thought I could only get this much fun scraping the gum off of my shoe but boy, I was wrong. Some days were very long and some of our nerves were tested to the extreme. Overall, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Bryan helped to make the sessions a pleasurable experience. Lawnmower & Garden is a magical facility to work in. I have been there many times over the years. Each time, the sessions go along fine and partly due to the great staff.

4. How were the View sessions different from sessions with other artists?

I have never been to a session where the artist treats all involved to pedicures from dwarf strippers. It was an added bonus. Sir Beller made this a different type of session. He seemed to keep with the "family of musicians" mentality. Each person came to do their parts and it was just so laid back even though, deep inside, Bryan was spazzing. There is a lot of pressure in recording any cd and this was Bryan's baby. He nurtured it with his heart and you can hear the result of that in the finished product.

5. Say something about engineers Nick D'Virgilio and Ed Monsef.

I like to refer to these juvenile delinquents as "The Lawnmower Twins". One day at the studio it was just Bryan, myself, Ed and Nick. Nick and Ed were working side by side on the computer and Bryan and I were talking about 10 feet away from them. So we look over at Ed and Nick and we couldn't tell the two apart. They were both wearing black shirts and jeans and they both had these enormous afros going. We aren't talking controlled fro's either, nah, these were huge outta control gobs of curly hair. The thing is, it is their natural hair! So they got dubbed "The Lawnmower Twins". If you really knew them well you could call them "Fro Bro's" but keep at least 20 yards distance when calling them that… and be prepared to run. Now, on to each dude.

Nick D'Virgilio- This dude is such a dude. He is like a brother to me. You can joke all day with the guy and when it comes to working, he gets that hard hat on and gets all down and dirty into it. Any project that Nick works with is sure to be a winner. I am glad I have known this kid for all these years. Look out for the nostril & neck-vein bulging: that's when you know he is in that work mode.

Ed Monsef- Master of many talents. We won't list his porn credits though. Let's just stick with his engineering stuff. Ed amazed me. I hadn't worked so closely in a session with him before. First, working so closely, I am glad he uses quality deodorant. This guy knows his Pro Tools thang! Quick with the mighty Apple keyboard. His knowledge kept working on overdrive into the wee hours. Amazing talent. Also, co-founder of "Team Burl Core-Respect Division, LLC"

6. What was the toughest part of the sessions for you?

Deciding on where I was going to eat when the consensus was for Thai food (yuk!) The only tough parts were hauling some of the gear back and forth. I guess also the long nights. As I said earlier, it was still great.

7. After having heard the complete album, which track is your favorite?

"Bite" would be the front-runner. It's the only tune I can mimic perfectly. "Get Things Done" is next in line! I must say, though, working in and around these tracks makes it difficult to stick with one or two songs only. Seeing these tunes formulate and grow each day really brings you closer to them. Plus, Bryan is paying me by the word here so I am trying to fill this thing up as much as possible. This should get me another 10 cents: cabbage, brown, leaves, auburn, belch.

8. Describe View in three words.

Maybe not exactly three words but I will use these:
Quizno's
Cherrie's-n-Cheesecake Newton's
Gnar-Gnar Core

9. Describe yourself in three words.

Vile
Despicable
Horrid

10. What's one moment from the sessions you remember above all else?

All of the off-the-cuff humor and debauchery that occurred when the "record" button wasn't on. Getting to hang out with the same guys day in and day out makes for great memories. All the joking around between all of us was priceless. Tales each guy had from other sessions or shows. Talking about different music with each other. The dwarf strippers who came by and performed the pedicures. Damn, they know how to work them little fingahs!

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Mike Keneally

A special note from Mike Keneally:
MK thanks BB and everybody else

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Wes Wehmiller

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Jeff Babko

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Toss Panos

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Fausto Cuevas

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Nick D'Virgilio

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Ed Monsef

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