In 2001, I emailed Bertis Downs. Bertis has a pretty good job: manager of R.E.M. In the email, I explained that I had an idea that was a little different and I thought R.E.M. would be perfect for it. Two days later, he called me back, explaining, "I have no idea why I'm calling you. I get emails liked yours every single day but for some reason, I felt compelled to respond to yours."
By the end of the call, he was sold. "I think the band would be very interested in that."
And that's where it started. Bertis gave me a contact at the Network and, about a year later, I had my first meeting. Unfortunately, budget prohibits us from R.E.M.'s involvement, but special thanks to Mr. Downs. He gets the first in a long line of thank yous.
It makes sense that the pea at the top of the mountain that is this project was a conversation about music. It probably isn't exactly a shocker to anyone when I say that music is a thing for me.
A big thing.
And every time I'm in New York, the same musicians come to mind: Bob Dylan. Leonard Cohen. Monk. Mingus. Coltrane. The Ramones. The Velvet Underground. And, for this trip, since I have to pass The Ed Sullivan Theater every morning and evening, The Beatles. All pretty great, right?
Don't answer. I already know.
Nnn- I said don't answer. Man. Some people.
I usually want to walk around 52nd street, where Birdland once stood. However, I have no interest in visiting the former site of Minton's Playhouse, on 118th Street. But I never do. [For anyone who isn't sure why, just listen to "Across 110th Street." It should explain everything.] Instead, for one reason or another, I end up somewhere around CBGB's or Max's Kansas City — both of which give Minton's and Birdland a run for their money.
Then there's The Brill Building — also on the way to my temp job. ...What? "The Brill Building?" Phil Spector. Neil Diamond. Carol King.
Anyhow, it makes sense that, at some point, the topic of music should come up on this blog. Like, say, now.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be in the sound design portion of our program. [And playing the roll of Terrence McClusky will be the talented Mr. Omar Epps.] I know I say this about every phase, but I really do love sound design. With a few strategic clicks of the mouse — okay, maybe more — a brilliant sound engineer can create explosions, tidal waves, Beatlemania, the birth of a platypus, and moon landings out of nothing. And I've been fortunate to work with truly brilliant engineers.
This time round is no different. I had never met Michael Wolf until this project, but within five minutes I knew we were going to get along famously. Jeff Garton made me look good. Michael will make me sound good. As will the bands we're compiling for the project.
I'm excited to have bands like TV on the Radio, The Doves, and Sigur Ros involved, because it's been years since they've played in their parents' garage. And they're being heard, which is nice.
Just as exciting for me is the involvement of bands that really should be heard - bands like The Gits. Anyone who enjoys enjoying punk will enjoy them. Whether they like it or not. And Matt Dresdner — friend and Gits bass player — was good enough to let me use one of their tracks for one of the stranger installments. I won't go into the scenario, but much thanks to him for being open minded. [Get The Gits' entire catalogue on iTunes.]
Next up is Visqueen. I can't say enough good things about them. To describe — infectious power pop comes to mind, but it's more than that. Rachel Flotard has an incredible voice. She too has been great about using her music, despite logistical nightmares. [Get Visqueen's entire catalogue on iTunes.]
At this point, thanks should be given to my good friend Seif "Gooshmandzadeh" Hamid for contributing one of his tracks —which would be yet another favor he's done for me on this thing. Not the least of which being lending his name to one of the characters. [Goosh, Seif. Goosh.]
All told, we have about a dozen tracks lined up for the soundtrack, featuring IQU, Band of Horses, United States of Electronica, and The Bees (U.S.). And I owe all of 'em a debt of gratitude.
And the network owes all of 'em greenbacks.