Most of us live our lives in closed boxes... home, work, the DMV, our car, the bar, a hospital room, a dressing room at the mall. And then, when we die, we get to spend eternity (depending on your belief system) in another closed box.
I realize this.
So pardon me, in advance, for writing a mundane little tale about THE BOX WHERE I LIVED FOR THE PAST FIVE DAYS. I'm sure your box is interesting too. Please write me and tell me all about it. But right now, I want to tell you about MY BOX.
Here's the thing... MY BOX had a wooden floor, a bunch of guitars and microphones, lots of little guitar amps, cords, pedals, more lyric sheets than was reasonable, several bottles of whiskey, random foam treatments and a pair of headphones into which was piped a click track that over the course of my five day odyssey changed from "a gentle guide" to "an Al Qaeda torture device."
I used those same headphones to listen to things that sounded like drums, bass and guitar. I strummed various guitars in an approximate cadence with those bass-like and drum-like sounds until my fingertips begged to be cut off. I sang until my voice walked out on me. I counted in and out of more takes than I will ever admit to. I sat, strummed, sang, counted, vibed, discussed, listened, talked, argued, hoped and yelled out randomly in MY BOX.
MY BOX was located inside another larger box filled with more microphones, drum kits, endless organs, pianos, guitars, cables, cords, more foam and headphones. They call these boxes within boxes "recording studios." They call boxes like MY BOX "isolation rooms." If that sounds a little like prison, you are right.
Here is a picture of MY BOX:
Here is a picture I took from inside MY BOX. I'm looking out one of its portholes into another box -- the one where "the engineer" lives. (Think of Scotty from Star Trek: I'm givin' 'er all she's goot, captain!)
MY BOX was also air tight. When you closed the door, your ears popped. Most good recording boxes are air tight. Which is to say, most studios are like submarines. Which is to say, most recording sessions are like deep water explorations.
Yes. This is true.
MY BOX was actually a submarine. Together, my band (Blinding Flashes of Light) and I spent the past five days deep, deep under water... far away from our lives on the surface... exploring. We were a little team, lost and far away... searching for something both dark and shiny. We wanted to find a thrill in all of this boredom. We wanted to create a little meaning.
The final scene in The Life Aquatic with Stephen Zissou comes to mind:
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And yes, in this metaphor, the shark is the new record. Or maybe, the shark is my hopes for the record. I dunno... but I know one thing: we saw the shark. --John Common