October 17, 2002
Some of My Best Friends are Evil Madmen
Last week my friend Alex Spencer and I dragged up a whole mess of music equipment to Gonzo lodge (his cottage). There, we spent the week eating chili, drinking whiskey, and making arts of various sorts.
Over the course of the week, the colours gradually turned from a pure summer green to brilliant autumn reds and oranges. It was a lovely experience to walk way from this modern computerized recording studio we had created, and step into the near perfect silence of the Muskoka fall.
We spent the better part of Wednesday and the worse part of Thursday writing and recording a bizarre concept album called Some of my Best Friends are Evil Madmen. Briefly, it's about an atom, a madman, his thumb, a professor, his sidekick, two cowboys and a tray of brownies.
The album was created according to the rules at Album-in-a-day. That means we did it in a single gruelling 24 hour stretch, using no material or ideas from before we started. The Album-a-day method is designed to increase your creativity by adding constraints. I have also found that the whole process is a testament to the artistic heights that are possible through sleep deprivation. Truly a ray of hope for the children of tomorrow.
Anyway, this is the second time I have attempted an Album-a-day project, and the first time I've actually finished within the 24 hours.
I have to say the hardest moment for me this time was around 3:00 AM when when we were almost halfway through our available time. I started to panic. Alex calmed me down and convinced me that it was still possible for us to finish in time. He then proceeded to cram a full night's sleep into 35 seconds, and thenceforth remained bright and cheerful for the rest of the project, while I descended into further into a sleepless delerium.
The most magic and surreal moment was when we took a break in the middle of the night to look at the stars, and, using Alex's telescope, we managed to catch a few glimpses of Saturn. (Saturn moves so fast that by the time you find it and home in on it, and the telescope stops shaking from the movement, the planet is almost out of frame again.)
Our saving grace came in the form of a pair of cowboys named Tex and McGraw. Since our story is a bit <ahem> convoluted at times, we conceived of these characters to help us narrate our way through the more abstract sections of the plot.
However, we soon discovered to our delight that these two cowboys could ramble on endlessly about topics only tangentally related to the story. Our problem was solved. With their help, the album soon balooned out to a bulky 30 minutes, which is ten minutes more than the Album-a-day rules require. By the end of the project, Tex and McGraw could do no wrong in our eyes. Anything they said had Alex and me in stitches. But then again, we were sleep-deprived.
On Friday of that week, still recovering from the project, Alex and I had this brilliant idea that Tex and McGraw should narrate the end of the world. The premise was that what with space aliens, death lasers, nuclear war, the ozone layer and what not, humanity had 20 minutes left to live, and Tex and McGraw were going to go on the air live for one final broadcast and describe the events as they unfolded. Alas, we didn't end up finishing this, much to the relief many of our friends who just know they would have had to politely listen to it without strangling us.
Also that week during our stay at Gonzo Lodge, we made a movie or two with Alex's new DV camera. Details to follow.