Violet and Black - 1989
Violet and Black was produced by Arthur Barrow. He was a long time alumni of Frank Zappa's band where he played bass and keyboards. Needless to say, he is exceptional at both. The record was made after signing a new contract with IRS Records in the US. Duke Street still controlled things in Canada.
We started the album in Toronto at Manta Sound with the same core band I made Gravity is Mutual with. After completing a few songs there, I went to Los Angeles on and off over the next six months to record the other tracks, mostly at Arthur's studio, Lo Fi, in Santa Monica. We mixed at a fancy place in Burbank with Joe Chiccarelli. Working in Los Angeles meant leaving the band back in Toronto, which was a drag at the time.
There was also one other additional song, "Are You Sending" that we recorded at the very end, in NYC with Richard Gottehrer and Jeffery Lesser and their crew (JD Dougherty on drums!) at a studio high above the garment district. I was a little creeped out first night of that session. Richard and I were walking to a restaurant a few blocks away when guy chasing another guy - on foot - bumped past us and down a side street. I turned around to see the knife flashing back and forth in the alley dark and all the yelling. We flagged an NYPD car - cop rolled his eyes before heading off towards the mess - and we went on our way. Drank a bottle of Barolo with that dinner.
In the middle of this continental ping pong, it was great to reconnect with Greg Roberts who I had worked with on the Serious Interference record. He brought valuable perspective at an important time and also some helpful overdub ideas to a few of the tracks. He also produced the closing track "Bluefield".
You might feel like a big shot flying around like that, but only until the recoup bill comes on the record company statement.
Strange thing, when I think about V&B, mostly I remember the feeling about half way through that I was pretty much alone making it, even though I was usually surrounded by people. Most all of them very talented ones.
Arthur and I would sometimes sit on the back step at his studio late at night. He would try to point out constellations. He was a real star gazer. He would rhyme off names and distances and features of planets and stars - atmospheres and orbits. I remember how those conversations lightened things in a good way at the time. I still look up, for similar perspective from time to time. It's no lie that I think of him for a few seconds pretty much every time I do.
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Drums - Bob DiSalle, Robert Arthur Williams, J.D Dougherty
Bass - David Woodhead, Arthur Barrow
Keyboards - Doug Wilde, Arthur Barrow, Rob Gusevs, Greg Roberts
Percussion - Matt Zimbel, Mike Sloski, Brian Leonard
Harmonica - Willie P. Bennet
BG vocals - David Woodhead, Doug Baynham
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