Making Songs for Nocturna

I really can't explain how it happened that one day I threw down my guitar, looked up at the sky, and said, "That's It! No more writing, it's time to record." This had not been my ultimate goal. I'd been writing just to have something to play around town. I suddenly realized, though, that I had to find a way to "clear the decks" of the old songs, to make way for the new, so I set about trying to find a way to make this happen. I had a couple thousand dollars to advance towards the project; I knew that at professional recording studio rates, I might get two or three songs recorded and mixed; perhaps by 2010 I might have an album.

I had worked with Scott Watkins several years before on a six-song home demo project, "Like a Fire," and I knew him to be an amazingly talented musician (there is not a "rock" instrument that Scott cannot play like a dream), and a great guy to work with, but we had not been in touch for a long time, and I knew he was busy touring the southeast with his funk/pop groove band, The Lint Puppies. Without much hope, then, I gave him a call.

By one of the great flukes of all time, (there have been several on this project), Scott had just decided to call it quits on the "Puppies", after several near-misses with major labels, and he agreed to meet with me at the coffeehouse, (naturally), which at the time was the Algonquin. We spent an hour or so talking about recording in general; and the incredible advances in "hard disk" technology, which enabled a relatively inexpensive home deck to build up impressive layers of sound with professional clarity. It became apparent after a while that here was the potential for a great win/win arrangement. Scott was interested in developing as a producer and needed a digital deck to get started -- for the same amount of money that I was willing to pay for a few songs, I could have a have a whole album recorded. I bought Scott the deck, he recorded my CD.

Lest anyone suspect I got "taken," let me just say it ended up taking way longer, and being far more work than either one of us could have ever imagined, and despite my increasing guilt feelings, Scott held steadfastly to the original bargain, earning my undying respect as a gentleman and a maniac. It was a great learning experience for both of us; at the end of the day we're still friends, and I'm sure we'll record again sometime. (Next time, though, he'll charge me by the hour.)

2001-2002 Phil Fox
Art by Kate Phillips.