Congratulations! You will soon be the proud owner of a new Klockwyze CD and you are part of the 12% of people who still buy CD's. You are also part of the 3.2% of people who read this stuff.
The approach on California Smile was to document what Klockwyze has been doing in our area over the years. Kind of like a photo album, you have your portraits and you have your snapshots. Along with studio quality recordings we have live snippets, interludes, and audio from moments in our past. Production of this record consisted of several sessions over a few years.
In winter 2009 four members of Klockwyze flew to Atlanta, GA to start the recording process. First: bass, guitar, and scratch vocals were tracked. Then, we reserved 12 hours at Tree Sound Studios where Brian smashed his drum takes in four hours! While buzzing in the after-glow of a flawless drum session, Greg was buzzing on an endless supply of Craft Beer at Tree's waiting room.
Summer 2009 Paul Lipscomb flew to Orcutt to record lead guitar, bass, horns, keys, and most of the vocals. We recorded in Quazi's parents house in Foxenwood Estates while they were away in the Philipines. These sessions were later to be named the "tanga" sessions. (Tanga is Philipino for "idiot").
In February 2010 Klockwyze rented a unit at Donovan Self Storage. There we converted a standard storage unit into a fully functioning recording studio equipped with vocal isolation booth, mixing station, and microwave oven. We named it the bat cave because it smelt like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland (pre Johnny Depp). The location played a key part in the artistic inspiration of making the album because it was a staggering distance from the liquor store, Greg's house, and Stevie's house. There we finished the recording process wrapping up saxophone, trumpet, trombone, keys, vocal harmonies, and percussion. Then it was off to the mix.
The mixing stage was definitely interesting. We had just a few days left in the bat cave to mix down California Smile, so we were forced to complete most of the mixes via email to Paul in Atlanta. After several packs of blank CD's we were ready to release in early 2011. But...we all agreed a pre-apocalyptic release would be better suited for Klockwyze.
The live recordings and audio were captured by Brownie either from rehearsals, shows, or band interviews. Brownie was a key element in adding these personality tracks. The album opens from a band interview we did at the historic Santa Maria Inn. Without any permission we strait bum rushed the lobby and moved the furniture to our specifications. After a few bad words and spilt brews it was time for us to leave.
The album’s first song is called FAKE THE SMILE. It's about taking the high road. Hug it out. Don't get caught in some whack ass argument, even if it feels like crabs in bucket trying to pull you down... keep your head up, it's gonna be ok... just fake the smile and walk away.
>... being a nice guy isn't always what it's cracked up to be because nice guys always finish last.
Here is a good memory. When wrapping up the recording we threw a party and invited some of our closest fans and friends. We recorded everybody chanting the chorus of FIST IN THE AIR and used it on the record. (Don't think you will get any royalties if you attended the party). The message is purely about standing up against injustice.
Along with many other different genres of music one of the funnest ones for Klockwyze to play is ska. This track gave Robert Petersen an opportunity to bring some Central Coast rude boy flavor to the album. MONKEY BUSINESS was written with some of the happiest chords in the major scale, but the lyrics are a different tale. It's an upbeat tune about being down and out.
A lot of our stuff has to do with beauty on the brink of self-destruction, and LIFESTYLE is a prime example. The punk riff and bridge was all Greg with a Black Sabbath influence. The lyrics were written by Steve, and the hip-hop ending was Brian's baby. "I remember Flexxy wanted the Paul Revere's Ride drum beat", said Steve. Paul had the bright idea to put some piano in the background (which really added flavor). The hip hop verse on the end was pure fluke. Paul was checking the levels before the session. He said to Stevie, "just sing to it." Paul pressed record and that was the take.
Our good friend and one time drummer Jacob Bonilla (Venomous Voices) let Stevie borrow his MPC. Stevie became a recluse for several days living off of beats, loops, and vinyl samples. ARTIFACTS is a bi-product of that. The drums were sampled off an old Barry White track, and the harpsichord sample was from a "Zodiac" record. When we had everybody submit bonus songs for the record, Stevie showed the track to Jeff. With no hesitation, Jeff overdubbed upright bass, and Stevie added bells and a verse in a Beastie-esque fashion.
In 2007 / 2008 there were a couple of songs recorded by Klockwyze that were played over the air waves. SHARK TANK was the first. This track embodies our dynamics and delivery. The song showcases our signature "rough" hip-hop style. Brownie comes in on the upbeat reggae, along with the guitar riffs, AJ’s thumping bass line, and Robert's stabbing horn lines complete the track. Together it makes Shark Tank a timeless treasure.
Another one of Klockwyze’s timeless treasures is LIGHTER. This one is for all who have lost their lighter. Whether because of a friend with sticky fingers or a hungry couch cushion (you know where we're comin' from…) when you need one and don't have one, and you’re sick of the smell of burnt eye lashes from the candle you lit on the kitchen stove.
Some songs come easy, and some songs take a while to develop. STONIE DAZE was one that almost got lost in the shuffle. AJ and Stevie jammed this one for a while and recorded it on Brownie's answering machine. Then Brownie came to practice the next week with lyrics and a concept. Robert added a delightful horn melody using a muted trumpet then Greg and Brian later added harmonies. The bridge was originally written as an instrumental, but in pre-production we all urged Greg to do a sweet R&B solo. He nailedit! It became one of Steve’s mom's favorite songs. Now, it is forever embedded in the lineage of Klockwyze.
We seem to be in our comfort zone when it comes to playing funky tunes. DISCO BEAVER is "the ultimate 70's name-drop"… the throwback of all throwbacks... it's a glimpse into the days of shag carpet, wood grain, and gold. Lyrics for the verses and choruses were written in one day. Then Klockwyze added a bridge, breakdown, and dynamics. (Listen close at the ending there's a little auto-tune on the vocals)
The interlude for CALIFORNIA SMILE was recorded by Stevie with a Boss 8-track. Some of the fun experimental sounds he used were a cheesy air organ with a slow phase, and harmonica with a hard panned stereo tremolo effect. Greg overdubbed guitar licks and hand claps. Everybody says it feels like your bobbing your head driving down the 101 with your hand out the window on a hot day.
The next track is about a girl with a heart of stone. Rightfully named… DADDY'S GIRL. She’s the hard nut to crack, the one who has everything handed to her but has nothing. You constantly go out of your way and sacrifice to please her. You want to let her go, but you can’t. Then she tells you she just wants to be friends. WTF???
Chris Deprater had a chord progression idea for a song years ago. We jammed it for two weeks and the song never went anywhere and it slipped through the cracks (like so many do). Luckily, Brownie came with live recordings from years ago and this was one of them. When Stevie heard it after all these years instant memories of rehearsing at the computer lab in Guadalupe were triggered. We remember going to Romo's for a burrito, or stopping at Abernathy's house for a quick session. DEPRATER'S GROOVE features a classic Klockwyze line-up with young Tony Alfaro on sax, Quazi on keys, and Deprater on drums.
A lot of the Old Orcutt roots run deep with this song. Brownie and Shrub used to jam REARVIEW back in the day at the Pacific House in Old Orcutt. This track has an anthem vibe as you hear the crowd singing along in the intro live at SLO Brew, "...it's always beautiful from behind." Rearview also received radio play in 2008. We consider it one of our timeless treasures.
Here is an oldie but goodie. Originally the song was written by AJ and Paul Ackerman when Tommy Moreno used to play guitar for Klockwyze. This was one of the first songs Stevie ever wrote lyrics to way back in the day when we used a karaoke machine as a PA. Brownie plays a wah driven funk rhythm, add tight horn parts from Robert Petersen and Justin Bonfield, add Greg’s acid rock lead and you have FUNK DRIVER. (Ryan Funk loves this song)
The album’s dub track is called ILLSIDE STRANGLER. This track was originally an intro for Her Cold Heart. When we got down to recording it we noticed the song went well into 5 minutes, so we added a track marker and called it good. It's a mellow groove blended with tasteful horn arrangements. We later re-amped the snare and vocals through Greg's space echo pedal and Jeff's Pro Tools rig. We emailed the audio to Paul and he put the ourdubs in the mix.
Brownie had a sick arrangement called "Ska Light". We played it many times as an instrumental and it slowly faded into the sea of forgotten songs. At the same time Stevie had been working on HER COLD HEART. "I remember writing the finishing parts of this poem up in a trailer on the Nipomo Mesa... it was so cold I could see my breath." Toward the end of recording the track we all felt like it needed something more. We gave Jeff a rough mix and 24 hour notice to learn the song. Needless to say, he nailed the part, and added one of the sickest funeral home organ tones ever. "When you reach, heaven’s gate, save that spot for me..."
The beauty of the Central Coast is most to blame for this song: PACIFIC VIBES. Sitting on the bluffs at Shell Beach over-looking the reef, bonfires with friends and family, and standing on the surf overlooking the horizon of the Pacific Ocean... this track captures the California culture of which we represent. Greg's colorful guitar lead defines the essence of the track: "Take it slow and easy"... At the end of the song we give a special shot out to our fans, family, and friends.
We conclude the album with a mash-up of three hidden tracks. It starts with a Greg Lloyd special recorded on a Tascam 4-track tape recorder (before he was in the band). The main melody is a backwards guitar track with some overdubs and leads to make it shine. The Dragon Song was recorded by Brownie at the Pacific House. Stevie with a megaphone, and Quazi still shook from almost getting pulled over by a Sheriff, Quaz grabbed an acoustic guitar and strummed out some punk riffs… (his infamous nickname was "The Dragon" (aka Quaz-zilla). We finally end the mash-up and the album with a funk groove taken from a sound check Brownie recorded at a house party. It was an improvised jam we used to warm up to.
Each inspired member has different tastes and influences that work together as one. When the machine is firing on all cylinders it can be a beautiful thing. We have shared some of the best moments in our lives on stage, sweating it out, and for that moment... nothing else matters.
This has been a true adventure with its ups and downs, peaks and valleys, but in the end we wouldn't change a thing. To Klockwyze members of the past: Paul Ackerman, Jacob Bonilla, Tommy Moreno, Geoff Scott, Justin Bonfield, Tony Alfaro, Rick Santiago, and Chris Deprater... we love you guys.
Klockwyze would like to thank the other bands in our scene, the guys we've grown up with, collaborated with, all those who have helped us on our way (you know who you are). We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for our friends.
Last we would like to thank our families for putting up with us coming home at 3:00 AM for all these years and not holding it against us for doing what we love.
You are now in the 3.3% of people who read this stuff.