Our Last Enemy's Exclusive L.A. Studio Diary - Part 2

Part two of Our Last Enemy's studio diary continues the story of their recent Los Angeles adventure.

Day 12

After having a chill out day, we had another one. We woke up and decide to get some food. We were lazing about and slowly getting ready to go for a walk to downtown Reseda, when we hear a whole bunch of noise at the front door. Christy comes through the door with all of the guys from God Forbid. The band had come over to see Christian as he produced the vocals on their newest album (which should be dropping about the time of this blog being put up) and they were also playing the Whiskey A Go Go show with Arkaea the next night. They come in with In N Out burgers and Chips (fries, we made that mistake with ordering a few times), we do the meet and greet ,and they have a bit of a chuckle about where we were sleeping (it's blow-up beds on the lounge-room floor, which they stayed on when they were here). Everyone introduced themselves, then they went out the back to eat, and we walked up the road. They were really nice guys, and the new album is metal as hell!

 

Day 13

Arkaea are doing their first ever show at the WHISKEY A GO GO!!! We are all given All Access passes, which lets us hang in the dressing room and drink free beer… bonus! We were like 'fuck yeah, we get to go to the famous whiskey where bands like Motley Crue and Guns n Roses cut their teeth!'

Matt and Oli went with Jeremy, our engineer, and Jeff, John and Jake went with one of Christy’s friend’s Starr – who used to manage Gidget Gein (ex-Marilyn Manson) who sadly passed away recently. She gives us limited edition copies of his last record which was great. Thanks Starr!

When we got there it was around 6 pm and head to the Rainbow, where the who’s who of the music scene come to get loaded. We had a little time to kill before the show started, so we sat in Lemmy's (Motorhead) spot and drank up (he wasn’t sitting in it of course!). It was great being there with Jeremy, who would say things like, 'back in the 80s, bands like Motley used to run this town'.

It was great hearing a first-hand account of what it was like to be on Sunset Strip in the 80s from someone who was in the midst of it all, and we were at the spot it all went down -The Rainbow Bar n Grill – a famous spot for any self-respecting rock'n'roller/metalhead who knows its shit. Jeremy showed us all around the place; it's actually not that big, he takes us to the special spot that Lemmy from Motorhead sits every time he goes there – so we had to sit in that chair!

It was great being at the Whiskey a Go Go, a place that had so much history, where so many legendary bands had cut their teeth, a place we had read about in books. And there we were, five kids from Sydney getting VIP access. We went straight to the bar then met up with the people we knew and then tried to mingle. At one point, Matt was sitting at a table with Pat from Damage Plan, Nadja from Coal Chamber, Angie Savage (porn star) and Tommy Vext (ex-Divine Heresy/Snot).

Nice company!

We did a shitload of networking, meeting reps from Century Media, photographers from Florida and a bunch of managers and promoters. We talk to the guys from DevilDriver, as well as the drummer from Into Eternity (great prog metal stuff, especially if you like Dream Theater as much as Jake!).

We watch Arkaea destroy the stage to a packed Whiskey house, and even get a shout out on stage, ‘Planet of the Heaps’, and ‘these guys are living in my house’ - from Christian. And with Jon laughing over the PA he said, 'only the Aussies know the songs'… haha. Classic.

We hang backstage with God Forbid and we also meet Metal Sanaz (who’s a really hot promoter/don't-know-what-she-really-does-in-hollywood chick) and wait for them to hit the stage. We get to hear the new songs from the new album: heavy shit! They give us a shout on stage too, being the ‘Aussie band in town’, and 'This song is to our Aussie friends'. How metal - God Forbid dedicated a song to us! Fucking awesome.

By this point we are pretty drunk and enter the moshpit to show em how we do it down under!

We make a lot of connections which hopefully will come in handy down the line, and have a killer time on Sunset. Talking with Pat and Jon about the show afterwards, up walks Gene Hogland! He and Ray do the drummer thing, and we try to get back into the Rainbow… denied! Can someone be too metal? Or just too drunk?

John, Jake and Oli end up kicking on back at Raymond’s house where John spills a full beer on Raymond’s carpet (haha: go team). John was thinking, 'ohh fuck I just spilled a full beer on Raymond from Fear Factory’s carpet'; Ray goes 'ahh that’s ok, I’ve had worse spilt before, don’t worry about it.' Ray is a really nice guy! They drank Jager till the early hours… stumbling home with the sun well up… very metal night!!

 

Day 14-15

We all nurse killer hangovers! Christian has to attend the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) convention to do a signing at the Randall booth (his endorsement). There’s talk of us going too, but travel and accom is too much of a bother, so we stay back at the house. Christian cuts us a key to his house… does he know what he’s doing? haha! We spend the next two nights drinking, ordering pizza and watching cable. Because we are so metal we watch history channel shows about war and Armageddon. We also discover Denny's, our new favourite diner. It's 24-hours, so the staff gets to know us as we are in at all hours everyday. The diet is still not the best! But hey, when in Rome…

 

Day 16

We begin tracking the guitars today. We use some special box amps that Slipknot use on the road, called Randall ISOs (isolation box), some of Christians signature Pro Tone pedals for effects, some Guitar Rig modules and Jake has his ESP Kirk Hammett sig by his side.

Jake runs through a setup that Messhugah used on Catch 33 in the studio. Huge sound. The way Christian likes to work is get a good tone in the smaller studio using the ISO box and guitar rig plug-ins, then re-amp the guitars later on in the larger studio to get the warmer room sounds. The amps are a similar setup as Metallica and Slayer, with Marshalls cranking. Jake starts putting his tracks down along side Jeff’s drums (dive-bomb city!)

Most bands will record bass straight after drums, but one of Christian’s production techniques is to lay guitars down before bass, which lets him fit the bass in the sonic hole between the guitars and the drums. It works great. We pick up tips continually throughout the process.

We have dinner with a few porn stars who are mutual friends of people we are working with. We sure are in LA now!

 

Day 17-18

The next night, Christian makes his famous Mexican dinner for everyone (he loves the stuff). He’ll go down to the Mexican market and get some guacamole, mexican rice, Monterey jack & cheddar cheese, tortillas, tomato salsa, refried beans, mexican cream, hot sauce, and some specially marinated beef and chicken. It’s a goddamn feast. With a few Budweisers (well, we aren’t drinking Fosters like everyone expects us to) it was fucking awesome. Except for John, who gets a nasty surprise shortly after consumption…bahahaha!

Then the phone rings, and Christian invites one of his friends over for dinner. It’s another porn star, ‘April’. She seems nice enough and she watched some Alien movies with us for a while. She didn’t talk very much. She seemed shy, but she smelled nice (according to Matt, who was sniffing her); nice enough for John to walk out of the studio and say, 'I can smell a woman, is a woman here?'

Everyone loves that they can hear the songs coming together now as Jake is laying down his tracks. We can hear more and more how the songs will sound, and get more ideas for the rest of the tracking. We get more tips on things like tuning (how you sit, strum and move effects - everything); stringing guitars (don’t cut the strings!); and tones and set-ups (insider tips on how some of our favourite bands get their signature sounds). Having toured and played with almost everyone in metal (from Ozzy to Korn, Cypress Hill and to Jay Leno) Christian knows his shit inside-out on a wide variety of sounds and styles.

 

Day 19

Today we are offered more free tickets, this time to see the reformed Snot (with Tommy Vext on vocals). It’s the last show of their tour tonight at the Roxy on Sunset, and we’ve got free tickets, so everyone’s pumped to go to the show. But not all of us could go: it was decided tonight that Oli, John, and Jeff would go to the Snot show and Matt would stay in the Studio with Jake doing guitars. Dem's the breaks!

The guys go to the show with Kristy 2 and some other friends. First it’s to the Rainbow for dinner and drinks, the clam chowder is the shit! We walk straight in, as we have our names on the door. The meet and greets continue, as it’s a who’s who of the LA 90s metal scene (Snot brings a lot of people from the scene together after the tragic death of Lynn Strait).

We meet some of the guys from System of a Down and bassist Shavo does a song with the guys from Snot tonight. Jeff has a long conversation with the drummer from Spineshank - who by the way are back as a band and making a new album which is apparently the heaviest yet. We have a chat with Logan Madder who is doing the new DevilDriver album at the moment.

We continue metal networking, making sure to give everyone cards, and are surprised when they all add us on MySpace the next day! Score! The show was a lot of fun. Jeff and Oli get asked to help throw out the hundred huge ball/balloons the size of beach balls at the begging of the set which bounce all over the crowd, looks unreal!

After Snot had finished playing, a friend of ours was out the front of the Roxy when a seemingly drunken guy was hanging all over her and seemed to be trying to piss her off, so John goes to her rescue, and says, 'Hey mate she’s with me', so this guy would back off. Metal Knights! The guy’s surprised, looks at him and goes 'ohh ok,' and tries to shake his hand. Drunkenly, his hand doesn’t really go where he wants it to go, and narrowly misses John’s nuts! John says, 'hey buddy, that was close!' Then the guy says, 'oh great, this guy thinks I’m picking up his woman and I’m gay.' Turns out our friend did know him and they were just mucking around; it was the drummer from Droid. Ha! It was pretty funny.

We kick on at the after-party with the band and learn you need to tip bar tenders too. Sheesh. Our assistant becomes way too drunk to drive back from Hollywood to Reseda, so John, remembering a conversation he and Matt had about the legalities of driving in the State of California, says 'ok, I’ll drive then'. (The NSW licence is recognised by California. Oh, and he hadn’t been drinking... don’t drink and drive kids!).

But this is much easier said than done. It was after 2 am, the driver's side was on the other side, and in the US they drive on the right-hand side of the road - and John didn’t know where the fuck he was going at first.

Driving down the freeway (lots of freeways in the LA area) he was told to drive faster by our assistant, as the cops will be more suspicious of you over here if you drive slower than if you drive faster – very LA. He had trouble keeping the car in the middle of the road…. But after a tense half hour they made it back… ALIVE!

 

Day 20

More and more guitars: the songs are coming together really well now. It's fucking cold, too, we freeze our nut-sacks off walking around Reseda at night.

Everyone loves how cheap cigarettes and booze are here. We try to buy more essentials out of the 7/11 but come out with smokes, beer, chocolate, frosted flakes, Oreos, and Obama coffee cups. Haha - it was so tacky, some of us just had to get one, for only $2. Being here for the inauguration was a pretty historical time, and we definitely felt part of something special. We aren’t an overly political band, but we all follow the state of the world, and this felt like something momentous and positive that we were a part of. Definitely a good vibe for creating something momentous ourselves…the album! YES WE CAN!

We then walk to Denny’s and get to our table (they now have one for us reserved). After we finish ordering, this old man sitting at the table next to us, with his wife, taps Jake on the shoulder, and goes 'here' and passes him a note. It was a poem about us, it talks about being an Australian, talks about being in a band – we were tripped out. He must have just assumed from our accents and look that we were an Australian band. Spun us out for a bit, and we take it as another fateful sign for this recording. Aussie do it better!

 

Day 21

Jake has finished his guitar tracking, and is heading home today. We’re sad to see him go, but he’s running out of money and his parts are done – and the bills have got to be paid right? We are certainly going out on a limb with this record. We have funded most of it ourselves, and it's not cheap, even with the discounts and favours we have pulled. The biggest is probably the fact Christian has let us stay at his place rent-free: that really saved us a bunch of money.

Just before we left the country, we signed a record deal with Riot!, so we know we have a great team behind us for when we release the record back home.

That evening Matt and John are hanging out in the office, when they decide to have a smoke and watch the rain. As they open the door they see five guys walking towards them, literally at the door. Who the fuck is this? Then the porch light comes on, and right in front of them is Logan Madder (ex-Machine Head) guitarist with Mike and Jeff from DevilDriver and two other dudes. Logan says, 'ahh - you must be the Australians'. We introduce ourselves, and they ask where Christian is and head inside. It turns out they wanted to borrow some bass gear off Christian for the new DevilDriver album. We all go inside and chat for a bit, mostly about DevilDriver coming to Australia and doing the Soundwave shows.

We are cooking up another Mexican feast on the bbq and we call it a metal cook up!

 

Day 22

Today we chill out. Christian has a soccer game (he plays for Hollywood united) and he is going to the big Affliction UFC fight in Anaheim. We head into Downtown LA and check that out. We stop by a big sale at the Lip Service warehouse and grab some threads. We packed light so we could stock up on clothes here. We get to the counter and strike up a conversation about the band and recording, and end up scoring a huge discount, over half off. Bonus! Sometimes metal does pay!

 

Day 23

Today we start bass tracking. Matt straps on his ESP and begins dialling in tones. Christian shows us the one-of-a-kind custom pedal Ross Robinson made for Korn to use on the first two albums (the best two!), which he gave to Christian. We start pulling huge bass sounds. He picks up a few tips on the best way to tune a bass and other techniques.

 

Day 24

Today is Australia day here (back home it had already been). We try and find some kangaroo meat to cook up, as Christian keeps asking us if we really eat it back home. We can’t find any here so he gets us to try buffalo. I guess it’s like their version of roo meat, a little left field in terms or regular meat eating.

We cook it up and dig in… it’s actually damn tasty (and expensive…). We head to a strip joint with Christian and a few friends, and drink up for Australia Day. When the bar realises we are Aussies, the DJ starts playing all Aussie bands like AC/DC, Silverchair etc. We continue on drinking back home getting into the Petron Tequila. We crank metal into the early hours. Happy Australia day!!!