"That's Tripgrass, Man" - A Studio Diary

tKoL tripgrass trilogy - Part 2 (TTT 2/3)

Ground Zero: deconstruction/reconstruction

All digital, StudioLive, guests. A grand plan. Playlist (mid-October)
"What most people don't realize about the next album is that the drums, both principle vocals, the guitars and some effects were recorded during live improvisation sessions. We're adding a very rich and sweet icing to the already delicious and satisfying cake. If you thought "New America" was a prophetic high-concept record...you'll be primed to immediately absorb the full meaning of this next record. For newcomers, the songs will infectiously pull them into the fact that the "collection-of-songs" are sequenced to tell a story; to be a 64 minute music movie digitally indexed for you leisure. Like "New America" headphones are wonderful but not essential...a good a thing."

- Ty Hardaway, August, 1998

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Sometime in October, 1998, in favor of working on the album, tKoL discontinued updating the electronic version of the Studio Diary. Hopefully, someone will transcribe the studio notes someday.


So much has happened in the past week. The biggest news is we've recorded Rebecca "Icing" Walter's wonderful voice on the Tunneldump duet. So professional was the effort that traditional producing was not necessary. She flows like the finest red silk. We hope to play with them in December at the Galaxy Hut. Them? Her incredible new band Powder Puff Derby. We've heard a preview tape and they are wonderful. Warm, sexy and very, very mysterious.

Other than that, we've devoted two sessions to gaining some touch for the 10.03.98 Metro Cafe Concert - which was great. It's now back to production of "Water Dude." Along the way we happened to finish some of the concept and mock-up work for the November preview tape, "The Gift." So much, so wonderful.


Mixing and editing. So easy now...it all makes so much sense. Perhaps we'll play. Autumn is tKoL.


Worked the finishing touches, the "Insult-to-Injury" touches, to G-Story. Whoa, Nellie! BigButterPumpRoom's gonna work out just fine, huh? High concepts.


Got Jamie Perez' track finished. Blew his mind out of his head with tripgrass preview...welcomed Callie aboard. Working on background elements. Growing into the music.


Thanks Frank Brown for copying the Phantasmagoria DAT to MD...for free. Mining and exploring.

09.07.98 - 09.13.98

Back to work. Hunted down the famous baritone voice of storyteller, Jack Dunn. Jack was "pumped" to appear on the record. Mixed it in! Developed plans for release and promotion and touring. A grand week of administrative work. Look for the 3-song preview toward the end of October.

09.02.98 - 09.03.98 (three day mix)

Work days: today and tomorrow. Will mine Garden Party show and get back to work, back to mixing. We need a new sequence demo. Slow, slow, slow process. So much more work to do. Artwork almost finished, however. Sharp! But, we need music/times to proceed. The newest working title is, "Water Dude on the Radio." Whatever. Brilliant.

New mix works great, instrumentally. Terrific separation of drums and guitars...guitar sound = fabulous! Vocals are too isolated and choke-y...to nasal. Must open vocals and center more. So, another grueling mix day. Good for us.

Garden Party mix is nice. Really nice for one track analog. We must remember to take portable MD recorder to show (can tap from PA).

Break-through mix day. A day to live forever.


Jon Clough in town. Brings gifts. Sings on ButterPump and Earl Flatt. Incredible takes, will make parts perfect. We play the NPR/Barnes & Noble Garden Party. Great time. Recorded the first half of the show, will mine for useables for record. We play a great show! I love the mix.

08.15.98. - 08.27.98

Listening and trimming. Editing and dubbing. This incredible album is down to 13 tracks; 63:47. Still no decision on album title. But, the concept is of a two act play. There is a prelude and an intermission. Fab concept and it makes a lot of sense. We've gotten very close on sequence. It's starting to flow and has a real spirit (a kinetic energy that grabs you and hurls you along). We must take a break from the sounds. But, there are some very, very wonderful sounds...we're very proud. We just have to do it right.


Slapped together first 'rough-cut' of album sequence utilizing our new two-act concept. Now, we listen and take notes and incorporate ideas into the final production. Long road ahead, but it's our baby...we'll spank it if we want! Still hoping for February release...who knows. Great record though.


Listened to about 6 hours of studio sessions and selected approximately 90 minutes that could make the album. Of course, a standard CD capacity is 74 minutes. Blessed in bountiful harvest! Trimming appropriately will be challenging, but will result in such a tight record.


Packed up and played Iceboxers reunion tour show at packed G&T in D.C. on a Tuesday night. Fun time for a last minute concert, who's who in DC music scene [ click ].


We think, pending review, that all basic tracks are completed and we can move into post-production. We'll take the weekend off and see. We think we may have nailed the elusive "Greatest Story Ever Told." Listened to Steely Dan, John Coletrane, MMW, Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson, tKoL. A weekend off is deserved and appreciated. Back to work next week. Yes, we think we can move out of the playing area of the studio and into the production area...yeah! No playing allowed for the rest of the month.


Probably the best playing/performance sessions ever; much work accomplished. Fantastic versions of many of the songs for the album. "Jack-a-pot" is done (this grew from a one-minute jam to a six minute epic). Listened to tKoL, Ween. Perhaps new keepers. Playing-wise, we've reached new, scary territory, we must back away a little and let ourselves heal.


Famous playing; Eight Room Diesel Funk. Punker than Nirvana. "Tunnel Dump." Listened to Beck, tKoL. "ButterPump" done!


The most important session ever, listened to Garret "G-Love" Dutton, Phish (SSP), tKoL...decided to rule.


Great session. No real record keepers, but mostly a wonderful listening rehearsal. Lots of bait, lots of catches. This would have been a really great live performance (for others, we caught it). Very fun, very emotional. A good day playing with the post-production gear too.

Wonderfully smooth and mellow jams - very tight and attentive. [ session setlist ] Incredible guitars.


Most of the post-production studio equipment arrived.


Lot's of good high-concept ideas during the pre-play meeting (listening to Flaming Lips, Beggars Trail and Jump Up Jacques' 7/27 mix tape). Getting stranger. More black light; more touch. Louder monitors; sicker jams. Really don't know where all this is going, but it'll make us off-the-beaten-path famous, for sure. Cult heroes?

Played with sheer joy. Played with love. Perhaps something to keep for the record... Thursday? Max concept, as an experiment. We've got time to burn.


The most beautiful, arrogant, clean and incredible session to date. I believe we may have as many as 4 keepers for the record. We knew we were tight early and laid down two 18 minute segments during the one-hour session. Perhaps the freshest music happening. Definitely tripgrass; very, very tripgrass.


Getting our touch back in our freak-zone studio. A perfect, cool, dark, clean mind-space. Recorded about 40 minutes of materials, no keepers, but played with much joy and that's truly important. Getting close. Getting really close to doin' something special.


First rehearsal since the "Official tKoL 2nd Anniversary" show fraud. In such, we thought we'd simply get some comfort and sound things done. No keepers, not even anything interesting or useful. Straight as the I-270 to Frederick. Well, in tape review, as always, true genius is revealed. Busted out a truly ill version of The Beggars Trail, "Tunnel Dump"...might put that song on the record.

This session, the Feed-the-Glorious-Mink session, could have been the album for a mere incredible band. But, if we're going to change history, we have to take our time. And, time is all we have. We've been asked, since we're not playing shows for a while, if we would allow visitors to our recording sessions? Probably. Just ask.

Back in the studio on Wednesday...thank you all for putting up with us this past two weeks. We've hated feeling this way too. We'll make you proud, we'll play you in.


Set-up studio for long-term recording. It's home for a while; wires bitched, lighting appropriate, microphones set...now to get over our collective depression and pound out some notes...


Official tKoL 2nd anniversary. Rehearsed, recorded, mixed with The Beggars Trail 12 hour marathon. Completed "Peace in the Valley" and "Water Song." A very tight 4-person group - The Beggars Kingdom? Ready for the Shep'town show; ready to record our album.


Mixed all day. Created first sequence-demo mock-up...a really good beginning, no "keepers," but a real good foundation.


Conquered the 18 min. block. We didn't think we sucked. Very good improvs.


A dark, slow, picky, confusing, frantic session. We were sure we sucked, but we didn't.


First studio session with the new digital recorders. Learning to play in 18 min. blocks. Remember, we're used to 90 min. blocks. A new sound for us, one we've never heard. Played "Kids on the Street" two beats off from each other for two minutes.


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© 1998 Powder Monkey Recording Company


Playlist for

the Kingdom of Leisure That's Tripgrass, Man

(TTT 2/3) Zero Ground: deconstruction/reconstruction
1/ Feed the Glorious Mink / 1:16
Act I
2/ Princess Bridge / 5:09
3/ Ruins of Pagosa / 1:02
4/ Whe're all the Kids in the Street? / 5:17
5/ I Like Smartbomb / 3:34
6/ Kentucky / 6:18
7/ Tunneldump by The Beggars Trail / 5:12
8/ Earl Flatt & Lester Scruggs / 6:43
9/ Tom's Three Minute Single / 3:00
Act II
10/ ButterPump / 8:18
11/ Jackapot / 3:49
12/ BFP / 2:20
13/ The Greatest Story Ever Told / 12:21
14/ Paradox / 1:51
total / 66:15