Deniz Tek (Photo: Anne Tek)LOST FOR WORDS
Deniz Tek - guitarist, chief songwriter and founding member of legendary Australian band Radio Birdman - delivers Lost For Words, his third solo album for Career Records in five years.
Music for the imagined film. Action, Western, Surf, and Spy. Ten guitars led instrumentals with the studio band heard on his previous two albums, Detroit and Mean Old Twister.
Ric Parnell – drums (Spinal Tap, Atomic Rooster, The Deviants - many more)
Bob Brown – bass, production
Ron Sanchez - keyboards
The Fleshtones’ guitarist Keith Streng and Radio Birdman’s keyboardist Pip Hoyle joined them for the album sessions.
Produced by Bob Brown Recorded at GLEA Bozeman and Ships In Billings
Mixed by Andy "Mort" Bradley with Bob Brown and Deniz Tek at Wire Road, Houston, TX
THE MAKING OF “LOST FOR WORDS”
The best time to record is after a tour - the playing is as good as it is going to get, everything is working, and the studio is a nice change from the road.
I had toured hard with my live band in the spring of 2017 - skateboard stars Art and Steve Godoy, and guitarist Keith Streng from The Fleshtones. We played 30 concerts in 29 days across the Northeast USA and Europe. After a short rest, my wife Anne and I headed to Montana and I put the studio band together.
They were the same veteran players I had on my last two albums - Detroit and Mean Old Twister - Ric Parnell on drums, Bob Brown on bass, and Ron Sanchez on keyboards. Joining us was Keith Streng, from the touring band.
Keith, Bob and I rehearsed for a couple of days at Bob Brown’s “Ship’s In” studio in Billings, to get the guys familiar with the songs. On a sunny morning in August, we all climbed into Bob’s Volvo station wagon and headed for Bozeman - a drive west on I-90 over the mountains.
Bob Brown (photo: Anne Tek)
Ric took the bus east from his home in Missoula and met us at GLEA, the recording studio, which stands for “Gods Little Ear Acre”: the home of Ron Sanchez’ label, Career Records. We checked into an Air B&B and went over to the studio to sort out amps, get things miked up and get sounds happening. We had dinner and drinks at Ron’s and got ready to start recording early the next day.
Deniz, Keith Streng, Bob Brown (photo: Anne Tek)
Ric Parnell is the son of Jack Parnell, the legendary British jazz drummer - the only other drummer Buddy Rich is ever known to have praised, in an interview. Ric grew up in London, and played in the 70’s progressive rock band Atomic Rooster, before going on to work with many dozens of greats, including Jeff Beck, Ravi Shankar, The Deviants, Toni Basil, Bette Midler, Cher, etc ...
But Ric is best known for being in Spinal Tap, as the unfortunate drummer Mick Shrimpton who spontaneously combusted... and later as Mick’s twin, Rick.
Bob Brown played bass on my first solo tour in 1992, along with drummer Scott Asheton and Chris Masuak. I’ve been close friends with Bob and worked with him ever since.
Keith Streng (photo: Anne Tek)
Ron Sanchez, longtime friend, and label boss is the brain behind Donovan’s Brain. He engineered the sessions and played keyboards.
Keith Streng, guitarist and founding member of NYC’s Fleshtones, is a recent addition to my touring lineup.
He currently splits his time between Stockholm and NYC when he’s not on the road. He flew in for the sessions with a narrow window of time between other commitments.
The rest of us had worked long and hard rehearsing the songs, but not Ric. He doesn’t need to. It works like this. We are sitting in the studio. I say “OK, here’s how this next song goes.” I play it to him on guitar. He listens, thinks about it, and comes up with a beat.
Then we run through it a couple of times and he is ready to go. After a successful take, Ric goes outside for some “fresh air” meaning to smoke, and then in 15 minutes, we are down in the studio getting the next track together.
I played an 80’s Japanese Stratocaster, plugged directly into a Fender Blues Junior. I used no pedals or effects. We all sat in the room together and played all the songs live. One song, “It Shall Be Life”, has a fade - we even faded the song out live. “It Shall Be Life” is named after the famous line, spoken by Ten Bears at the end of the film “The Outlaw Josey Wales”.
Ric Parnell (Photo: Anne Tek)
During breaks, we loved listening to Ric’s stories. Aside from recounting his adventures with Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and others, he enjoys talking about the making of Spinal Tap. I had always wondered how it could have been so accurate. Even though it’s meant to be a satire, the band situations depicted in the movie are astonishingly real.
I always figured that it couldn’t have been done without the actors being actual rock musicians, who had been through all of that stuff in real life. Ric says that the band improvised a lot of the script - I believe it.
All the basic tracks were recorded in two days.
Keith flew back to New York to play a gig at Yankee Stadium, and I spent an extra half day with Ric and Ron getting a few percussion parts done before Ric went home to Missoula. The following week, I recorded some guitar solos and added some acoustic and 12-string parts at Ship’s In with Bob.
One of the tunes is an instrumental version of Pip Hoyle’s song “Zeno Beach” from the 2006 Birdman album of the same name. I asked Pip to overdub keyboards on that, as well as on another tune “Vanished” which I had written for Radio Birdman, but never used. He generously recorded his parts in Sydney and sent them over.
Deniz Tek and Ron Sanchez (Photo: Anne Tek)
Erik Olson, the young genius multi-instrumentalist from Powell, Wyoming came to Ship’s In and played the fabulous sax solo on “Eddie Would Go”, a song about the fabled Hawaiian big wave surfer Eddie Aikau; and channeled Booker T. on Hammond B3 for the simple but killer groove in “Boneyard”.
Bob and I got together about six months later. I arrived in Billings in 15 below zero temperatures and blowing snow so deep that cars parked on the streets were half buried. Of course, we barbecued outside that night. We did some prep work and then went down to Houston to mix the album with Andy “Mort” Bradley.
Andy is a multiple Grammy nominee, having engineered or produced over 1000 albums in his career. He started out as a Radio Birdman roadie and sound man in 1977, and eventually became chief engineer and owner of Sugar Hill Recording Studio in Houston, where he and I worked on many albums together. (Sugar Hill is the oldest operating studio in America. Worldwide, only Abbey Road is older.)
Mort left Sugar Hill a couple of years ago and now freelances at Wire Road. That’s where we mixed Lost For Words. During the mixing sessions, an intern happened to be in the room at one point. She was probably 18 or 19 years old.
She asked, “Oh my God - is that surf music??” We confirmed that it was. These three old guys sitting around mixing a surf album, and this
kid is super enthusiastic about it. That was a good sign.
As a youngster at age 12, the first song I learned how to play on the guitar was “Walk Don’t Run”. Growing up I listened to and loved the Ventures, Ennio Morricone, The Shadows, Booker T and the MG’s and still do. I always wanted to make my own all-instrumental album. With the help of my friends, here it is. We’re all very happy with it.
I hope you are too. xDeniz
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