Bob Hoffnar played pedal steel on Bad Vibes. We used to call him Lightening Bob to wind him up. In 1993 we were intent upon winding up as many folk as possible. Bob doesn’t seem to have changed much. He lives in Austin, now, and he has 17 years more experience. He’s not been fooling around, his playing is great.
First song up is Westchester. I’m not looking for any surprises here, really. It’s basically a Country Pop song. I have a few melodies and slides which have been in my head, aside from that we let Bob play. His intonation is great and ideas are generally good so once he’s in the ballpark we just have him play the song 4 times and we comp a track. This is how I used to work with Quine. It’s a lot easier when you have an excellent editor like Mark Alan Miller to do the actual work. One down. No trouble.
And so the day goes. Next up – If I were a song. I’m not really sure what i want here, except I like the idea of the texture, and the guitars are primarily arpeggiating so there is room in the middle for some moving chord inversions. Bob nails this in no time. The playing is at once impressionistic, blurry, and yet adding significant harmony, at times it has the hairs on the back of my neck on end. The comped track is awesome. We are excited. This more abstract approach is what I want on Flipside so we forge ahead.
We get all of Flipide done except the mid section which requires a more direct approach. The playing here is a mix of atmospheric tones – shimmering chords, harmonics, etc, and low cello like lines. The idea is you cant tell what the organ, the steel or the synth are doing – they are all just moving around in there creating a dynamic foundation for the song – the guitars and drums to play on top of. I’m tired but excited right now. Every song we work on I think might make a great opening track… this is a good sign.
We’ve done a lot and it’s only 2.30PM so we take a proper lunch break. Nowhere I want to go in Easthampton is open to we go the Amanouz in Northampton – the Moroccan cafe. Best food in that town. Tagine Merguez is yummy, and maybe a little heavy for a work day.
We’re back at 4.30 and it does take Bob’s ears a little while to recover from lunch. Coffee needed. After he has had his caffeine he’s fine. The mid section is done and we move on to Broken Record.
Finding the right inversions and melodies takes a while, but it is worth it. I have Bob play through the whole song and the combination of the banjo, guitars and steel is great. I think we might eve add violin in Joan is agreeable.
We’re done by 9.30 or so and we head home, then walk down to the Brass Cat.