Chris Colbert (part 2) on Extra Fluffy, Steve Hindalong, Mercury, etc

Chris Colbert (part 2) on Extra Fluffy, Steve Hindalong, Mercury, etc

by Jason and Brent

Who is the songwriter you most respect?

Bob Dylan, the only real poet of the rock and roll era. His lyrics are as relevant now as they were in the sixties, and his current albums are masterful. If you are a touring musician the highway 61 revisited record will make you cry. if you want to know how a rock star should act, check out the movie don’t look back.

Who is the producer/engineer you most respect?

Roger Moutenot, solely for the Yo la Tengo records, and Geoff Emerick, for The Beatles. I have a lot of respect for a lot of the Steve Albini stuff, I respect his ethic about the historic effect of our trade.

When will a new Duraluxe cd see the light of day?

I have no idea, nobody seems interested in Duraluxe, at all. troy and I write songs for fun, but people have stopped caring enough to give us any sort of budget to record or tour. We’re not that fashionable right now.  We don’t really have a vast catalogue of unreleased songs, maybe 40 songs we are sitting on that have not seen the light of day. Some of these recordings date back 5 or 6 years, songs that didn’t fit on a record. I don’t know if they will ever see the light of day.

The new song, sweaty cigarette, appeared on the new GTA comp.  What was the inspiration behind that song?

Sweaty cigarette is a Troy song. he says it’s about touring in a hot, smelly van.

What is the least favorite cd you have worked on?

Least favorite musically or personally? There is a big difference. Some of the biggest records I’ve worked on were nightmarish ordeals (see TPC’s Mercury) due to environment and personalities, some were just bad music, like Swing Praise 2 or Fanmail 2000. I worked for months on a Randy Stonehill kids record, with Terry Taylor. I love Terry, but I thought this record would kill me. Stonehill is a pompous, ego driven ass who has lost the ability to sense his own irrelevance. Some bands have been rude, disrespectful, like Sean Turner from Johnny Q Public, who ripped off the green room. I had to threaten to call his mom to get him to cough up even a little money for some new crappy project he was working on a couple years ago. People lie, a lot, in the Christian market and they think they have a special deal with God who will absolve their crap because of their great art. Yeah, right. just pay me and I’ll do a really good job.

The green room closed because the owner, Gene Eugene was a partner in the studio but not the owner, didn’t want to do it anymore. It was a tragic scene when I went to the funeral and the wake. People were taking tapes, threatening to sue, somebody even stole Gene’s guitar. People are animals when they should be saints. I went to help my friends., I got lied to a lot. the owner didn’t have the spirit to do it anymore. She wanted to get her life back, and she wanted the space to mourn Gene, which was hard to do when Christian labels are beating down your door and threatening to take your house away because Gene didn’t finish a record. He didn’t finish some records because he fuckin’ died, man!

What is your working relationship with Steve Hindalong like?

I have not worked with Hindalomg in a few years. I think I met Hindalong on the Lifesavers Pop Life record, back in blonde vinyl days, 1990, I guess. I’m not sure how many records Steve and I have worked on together, but it was some cool ones, Joe Christmas, Morella’s Forest, At the Foot of the Cross, The Prayer Chain, and The Choir stuff. I also spent a lot of time on the road with them, mostly for their Circle Slide days. They were great then. I had seen Youth Choir a few times, I thought the stand-up drummer thing was kinda dumb, I did like the fact that derri was using two vox ac-30 amps, though. I never understood the whole electric flute thing that Dan Michaels played.

Anyhow, what I got from Steve was mostly about rhythm and how to produce vocals. His percussion playing is amazing, he’s a pretty solid drummer, great fills. I don’t think that I really understood timing and rhythm before I worked with Steve.

Being the engineer when he produced was a fairly creative environment, I could do whatever I wanted sonically. He sure didn’t mind a little distortion. I think he likes the degree of mystery I leave in the recording process. I don’t make things too clean.

Some of the orchestral sessions I worked on with Steve and Derri for at the foot of the cross were fun, a full orchestra, big money, all into two microphones. When the arranger set down a stack of sheet music in front of me and said he made noted about where I should punch in, that was funny. A day like that is maybe $5000, and I can’t read music. Fortunately the house engineer could read.

I have a hard time thinking of many specific stories, it’s been a while. I stopped working with Steve when I went to Athens, Georgia to record the elephant-6 bands

oh yeah, when we worked on a record for a band called My Little Dog China, I got sent on a beer run during an ice storm. I wiped out on the ice and broke my wrist in a lot of pieces. I still went for beer. When I returned I told Steve that I needed to go to a hospital. he said we would go right after he finished the vocal he was working on. well, five hours later I was still punching in vocals left handed. he drove me to the hospital, I had an operation on my wrist the next day. When I woke up the next morning I checked out of the hospital and went straight to the studio and Steve had me start the mix. I kept passing out on the mixing console. Steve would have to wake me up every 20 minutes or so. I still have a lot of metal in my wrist from that.

Will Caryn Colbert ever do anything musical again?

I have no idea where she is. I can’t imagine her doing music. She ripped me off. She cheated. Straight up. She has refused to talk to me for years. She had an affair with a well-known Christian music producer, then kicked me out. I find it hard to care. Easy to forgive, but hard to care.

How did the extra Fluffy songs come about?

I’ve been looking around for a copy of that. I can barely remember what songs are on it. Flying Tart Records bought a week of studio time for me for a fluffy record. the drummer was in Khazakstan, the singer was in Bolivia, and the bass player was teaching high school, so I called Zack from Joe Christmas (now summer hymns) and Tess Wiley. I think she still was in sixpence then. we just made stuff up in the studio, totally messing around, pulling lyrics from people magazine interviews, off of television, I remember making sample for drums off the Morella’s Forest e-p masters. It was a fun free for all type of affair. A lot of people have asked me if it was a 4-track record, when actually is was recorded through a vintage Neve console onto a Studer 24 track tape machine. Great gear, little concern. I sorta didn’t think flying tart would put it out, but I think it ended up being pretty cool. We played cornerstone on that record. We had Tess playing guitar and singing, Chris Simpson from Mineral\Gloria record playing bass and singing, and Matt Hammond who played with Bob Mould, a rock star affair! I don’t think anyone in the audience knew who was on the stage. We rehearsed in the hotel that morning.

That was one of my favorite shows ever.

Can you give us some insight into the original Mercury recordings?

I’ve dug around my archives. I can’t find much, It was a long time ago. As I recollect it was the label taking off a couple songs and adding a couple songs, or was it just adding sky high and taking off chalk, I don’t know. I did some remixes after gene mixed it, but I can’t recollect what songs. Perhaps it’s best kept a mystery. I think it’s cool, yet odd that this record is still a discussion so many years later. They were a great live band, some of the most exiting shows I ever mixed were TPC shows. I don’t think the cd’s capture it, and the endless reunion shows don’t have the danger or magic, not that I’ve seen many of them.

When I think about Mercury, or most records I work on I remember the hang, the fun, or the fights and blow-outs, not the work. If I worked at Burger King I would have a hard time remembering a fish sandwich I made ten years ago, nobody how much people I don’t know liked it. I don’t mean to diminish it at all, but it’s far, far from my favorite project. I think the same crew completely out did themselves with the Lassie stuff, and the Cush full length is far more listenable to my ears. Maybe I don’t feel the angst of middle class Christianity, which is where those guys are from. Records have a social context. I’ve never felt welcomed in mainstream Christian culture, and at the time TPC was the voice of the youth of that culture. I grew up poor, and I came from punk rock, I just didn’t identify with the message. in the context of the world I grew up in most Christian music seems trite. I don’t diminish the impact it has on people who feel part of that something, but that something never hit me. I’m old enough to remember the end of the Vietnam War, relatives of mine were there, I lived in a terrible part of Los Angeles County growing up, food was an issue, gangs were an issue, being shot at was an issue, so somebody should explain what part of the Mercury cd is really gonna have an impact on me, or better yet, on young people today who live in those conditions. It’s a white man’s record, talking about white man’s issues. The only Christian album from that time that really had my attention would have been Dig by Adam Again, Gene was talking from my side of town, not so much from suburbia like TPC. I love those guys, they are some of my best friends, but I have never thought it to be the most challenging of their work.

Thanks so much for the interviews!

My contact info, fabulouschris@hotmail.

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