"I'm Jesus Christ in a miniskirt."
Alberto and I glare at Rob. We are unimpressed at the stupidity of his statement. We, of course, do not care about
the blasphemous, heretical content of his utterance -- that is laughable. However, Steve, our engineer, is a
Christian. Our constant profanity and irreverent songs are already wearing on his nerves. We do not need Rob's
perfected ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time to further complicate our recording session.
We have been recording for four hours and we still have at least another four hours to go. The plan is to finish the
album in one evening. If our track record is any indication, we should have no problem. Our method is relatively
simple. First, we record the tracks live in the studio. We play them almost as if we were doing a show. We even
have a set list. Using the list we quickly move from one song to the next with as little delay as possible. We took
pains to map out the songs in roughly the same order as we expect the album to flow:
Grow Up Shut Up
Love in my sock
I Can't Believe She Fucked That Loser
I'm in College
Russian Dog Girls
Rubber Baby Bop
Really Slack Blues
If I Was Married to Courtney, I'd Blow My Head Off Too
I Wanna Suck Face With Jeannine
I Was a Teenage Metalhead
Wrong Side of 17
(I Wanna Be) Ron Jeremy
2 Inches, 2 Minutes
No Life Crisis
Another Day in the Life
Opie's Got a Boner
Secondly, we will go back and record vocal tracks for each song. The initial vocal tracks are tainted with
background noise from the instruments. The scratch vocal, as it is called, is then discarded and the engineer will
use the clean vocal track for the final mix. At this point we will also add guitar leads to the few songs that require
them and add backing vocals as necessary.
Studios allow for much more flexibility but our budget dictates a quick and simple recording session. Besides, the
origins of punk are submerged in high energy, low budget recordings. Skurvy has even done a couple of no
budget, live cassettes that sold quite well in the annals of punkdom. Our first cassette, As Skurvy as They Wanna
Be, was recorded at in Greg Gallo's house. Our second cassette, If Karma was a Skurvy Tape, commemorated
Skurvy's triumphant 1994 reunion.
The 1994 reunion brought together the current lineup. Alberto and I maintained Skurvy the Clown throughout his
military career. We constantly corresponded. I still wrote songs for Skurvy even though I was playing in another
band. Alberto would send lyrics and songs ideas and I would formulate them into songs. By the time October 1994
rolled around we had sixty or seventy songs written.
In the summer of 1994 Alberto wrote me and warned me of his impending three-week leave. It was unquestioned
that Skurvy would be part of Alberto's vacation. The immediate problem, however, was the serious lack of a bass
player. Our earlier bass players were not even a consideration. But a former band mate from my teenage years
had recently returned to Florida. Enter Robyn Blair. There were no tryouts or auditions. I called Robyn shortly
after I received the letter from Alberto. There was no hesitation on his part. The line up was solidified.
October of 1994 was endlessly productive. Alberto was home for 21 days. With a new bass player we learned 56
songs, wrote 18 new songs, and learned 8 new covers. We played live three times; two were full shows. And we
recorded a 36-song tape. We worked nonstop. Often we practiced eight or more hours straight in an evening.
Tonight's marathon activities are nothing new to this band.
Alberto and I sit in the engineering booth sipping Cokes and discussing the game plan with Steve. Rob excused
himself to go smoke. The pretense is just an excuse, but Alberto and I are relieved that Rob did not announce that
he was going outside to get stoned. Steve certainly would not have approved.
"So," says Alberto to Steve, "how should we credit you on the album?"
"Uh, I think we'll remain anonymous," says Steve with a nervous look. Looking around the studio I must confess I'm
not surprised. The walls are lined with albums from local Christian musicians and church groups. I suppose our
particular brand of raunchy punk rock would not sit well with his holier-than-thou clientele. "Unless, of course, you
sell a million copies," adds our engineer. That comment does not surprise me either. We may not be his normal
clientele, but our money is just as green.
Steve excuses himself to go to the rest room and Alberto and I stare at each other a moment before laughing. "Can
you blame him?" I ask Alberto. "We are a tough pill to swallow."
"Not at all," concludes Alberto. "But I think a picture of Curt Cobain with a shotgun in his mouth would look good
beside this." He points to a picture of a guy with a pompadour haircut and a cheap suit. The photo reads:
Reverend Herman's Songs of Salvation. We both laugh. There is something truly ironic about Skurvy the Clown
recording their childish anthems in a studio seemingly dedicated to Christian music.
"I hope Rob doesn't get too fucked up," I say in a hopeless plea.
|Chuck on the Courtney Sessions
An excerpt from Last Call: By the Way, This is Skurvy the Clown