I suppose this album all starts with our move to Santa Fe in August of 2012. I was in a playground near the Farmer’s Market on our first Saturday in town and met another father nursing the split lip of his daughter. That man proved to be Jono Manson. We made small talk about fatherhood and Santa Fe and only got around to learning that we both were musicians as we were leaving. (“By the way, what do you do?” … “Oh yeah? Me too…” that sort of thing.)
Jump a month or two forward, and I get a call from Jordan (the man with the trumpet and banjo). He was on the road with my wizard guitarist Bill Titus. The two of them comprised the majority of hip hop artist Brother Ali’s band [sic.] for a couple-month fall tour. “We’re coming to visit you in Santa Fe after this thing ends,” Jordan told me. “Book us a studio. Let’s record an EP or something.” That’s the way we communicate with each other. In command form.
I happened to be having a coffee with Jono right after the call came in. Jono happens to own a studio in Chupadero, NM, which is about 20 minutes north of Santa Fe (though it feels like it’s hours out into the wild). So I made the proposal. “Hey Jono,” I said, “any chance you have a couple open days in the studio November 2 nd and 3rd ? I’d love to record a few stripped down songs with my bandmates when they’re in town. If not, no worries.” That’s how Jono and I communicate. Kindly. Like humans.
Well, he managed to move a few things around, and the dates were scratched into adobe. Jump another month forward, and the fellas and I arrived at Jono’s studio. Incidentally, a Sardinian flag hangs from a wooden beam in front of the place. It looks remarkably like the Corsican flag. Stars were aligning. Inside, we found a perfect space to record. Jono had set up an isolated station for each of us, with good sight lines. Mics were ready. And there was a Wurlitzer piano, a couple nice organs, some fine percussion instruments, a bass and some amazing sounding drums up there. Jono hit record. Quickly, the few song EP turned into a 2-day blitz recording session where we did 8 songs and nearly all the overdubs before calling it quits.
“This is real good,” Jordan said. “Get it out before the holidays.” And so I did. And we intend to cut vinyl early in 2013, as the 8-song, 35-minute running time is perfect for vinyl.
With me leaning over his shoulder, Jono mixed it over a handful of half-day sessions in the week that followed. I had my friend Dyanna Csappos make the beautiful art (in a day), and I called on my old friend Roger Seibel (SAE Mastering) to spend a morning mastering it. We somehow fit all this in before Thanksgiving, such that discs were able to be here in time to ship them back out before Christmas.
The Fire in My Head is the first project I’ve ever done with so little choreography and forethought, with so few musicians (and with so little money). There is a
spontaneity and spirit in these recordings that I’m not sure are in any of my others. My voice, I believe, is more relaxed, a testament to the vibe in Santa Fe (and Jono’s studio) and to the fact that I didn’t know we were even going to release these sessions.
Jono plays guitar on one song. Otherwise, every note was played by me, Bill and Jordan. And though I overdubbed a lot of harmonies, vocal doubles and percussion in my home studio, everything else we played was just what we found lying around the studio, was just what we had time to do in those 2 days. During mixing, we also didn’t have time to be too fussy. We didn’t “comp” vocals—an industry term from basically compiling a composite vocal track made up of moments from a number of different takes. For that matter, we didn’t “comp” together any of the instrument tracks. What you hear is what we played. And though there is a chance I might labor long and hard over my next recording, at the moment, I believe this is the way to go.
So here you have it: The Fire in My Head. I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it. I hope that you can hear a bit of the Southwest in these songs. And I hope you’ll come and visit. Who knows, maybe we’ll make a record when you do.
I remain, David