A 1968 Gibson ES-335
I stopped keeping a journal years ago. These albums (6 now!) have become a substitute: a place to log snapshots, stories, and observations I’ve made along the way.
The 5 years since my last record, 6 Spoons of Honey, have been a wild ride. The journal entry would start with a long slow-mo fall down a steep staircase that left me with a broken transverse process and a severely herniated L5-S1, unable to hold up my then infant son.
In the hazy Oxy aftermath, I bought a sweat-burnished cherry-red 1968 Gibson ES-335. It was the classic reckless bout of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) that always accompanies feelings of self-pity. The only reason I could afford such a pedigreed guitar was its cracked headstock joint. But the repair was perfect, a beautiful, clean incision. No longer a collector’s item, it’s what’s known as a player’s guitar. Any guitarist will know what I mean.
That guitar and I bonded over our shared age (I too was built in ‘68) and our broken spines. Looking back, I guess we kind of gave each other our purposes back. All of the non-acoustic songs on this record were written on that ES-335, and it is all over the whole record.
“The scar on my back was a note she wrote—still have to make plans”
I grew up next to Live Oak Creek in Berkeley and used to explore it after school. My pals and I even had an Adventurers Club, admission to which was earned through a solo trek underground in the tunnel beneath the city block. I can always flash back to the reverb-y black, the cold slimy walls, the rumble of old volvos, VWs, and mopars on the street above.
In my 20s, I trained in ecology and spent a few years between the U.S. and the Brazilian Amazon, where I explored a much bigger river. But the truth is, it will always remain a total mystery to me. The Amazon—its lore, its traditions—is not part of my memory.
I found my home over the last two decades, and settled back into my old neighborhood. Now my son (and my daughter before him) and I play in that same Berkeley creek after I pick him up from the same elementary school I went to (Oxford men, both of us). The story of me crashing my bike down a gully into the creek, emerging bloody and wailing, is part of his mythology of the place. We are slowly building traditions and memories here.
A Perfect Waste of Time is a 5-year journal entry for a long trip home. It’s about reconciling the desire to travel widely with the thrill of knowing a place well, no matter how provincial it may sometimes feel. The mysteries are still there, dark tunnels under the street. I’m reveling in the exoticism of the familiar. I hope you can hear that in this record.
“We travel so far, we fly by plane. But we never leave ourselves behind in the end.”
released October 20, 2016
(1) engineered and mixed by Jonathan D. Wiesler at Decibelle Recording, San Francisco, CA (decibellerecording.com
), produced by Jonathan D. Wiesler and Alexis Harte.
(2–10) engineered and mixed by Jon Evans at Brick Hill Studios, Orleans, MA (jonevansmusic.com
), co-produced by Jon Evans and Alexis Harte.
(11) mixed by Jonathan D. Wiesler, engineered and produced by Alexis Harte.
Mastered by Piper Payne at Coast Mastering (coastmastering.com
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