In the early 2000s I used to work in this rehearsal studio just south of Los Angeles. It was a mostly easy job where I would set up bands for their rehearsal and then hang out playing my guitar most of the night. One evening a manager guy comes in with some twenty-something band that he’s trying to get a deal for and they are auditioning guitar players. The manager is a bit of a loudmouth and the band seem both very cocky and very green.
The band and the auditions fizzle out but I strike up a conversation with the manager guy. His name is Martin and he name drops at an Olympic level. We had a lot of the same favorite bands, he talked about breaking the band Fastball, having the masters to the first Elvis recording, saving REM’s Peter Buck’s guitars from falling over, hanging with Drivin’ N Cryin’, Rage Against the Machine, The Police, No Doubt, being screwed by labels...it just went on and on in an nearly endless list of who’s who in rock and roll but I was also young and green and very taken by him. We ended up talking until nearly 4 am and become...friends?
“I’m taking you out tonight, I want you to meet some people.” and he picks me up and we go to LA’s comedy club where he knows all the comedians that I would later see on tv. We don’t actually go in the club to see the show, we go around back and hang out with them between sets. We sit with Billy Bob Thornton at the Rainbow and wave to Lemmy at the other end of the bar. It’s getting late and he says we have one more stop to make and next thing I know I’m struggling to stay awake while talking to Miles Copeland in some swanky bar where I can't afford a drink. I think we talked about the Go Go’s.
His name drops are holding up, he seems to really know all these people but no one seems to want to work with him. It’s odd.
I’m back east visiting my folks and I get a phone call from him inviting me to go see Kevn Kinney doing an acoustic show. A few hours later the phone rings and it’s Martin and he says, hold on Kevn wants to ask you something. “Hey, how come you’re not at my show tonight?” yells Kevn Kinney into his phone and I have a very brief conversation with the leader of Drivin’ N Cryin’ explaining that I’m on the wrong side of the country tonight.
“Bobbo, I need you to play guitar in a session tomorrow. I’ll pick you up at 9. Be ready.”
The next morning I pack up my amp and a couple guitars into his car and we drive to Malibu. We’re recording in Rami Jaffee’s house in Paradise Cove. The drummer on the session is from Megadeth. The bass player is a one hit wonder who was also in Wham! Rami is the keyboardist from The Wallflowers. The singer is a woman from Seattle that I never met and me on guitars. We’re doing two songs; one original and a Toad the Wet Sprocket cover. I learn the songs on the ride there. It turns out the original guitar player on the session was the singer’s boyfriend or something and he couldn’t perform under the pressure and was self medicating with pot to calm down and that wasn’t working and he pretty much was just a puddle in a chair most of the time.
The session goes great. Rami and I hit it off while bonding about Daniel Lanois albums. We end up making weird noises with a lap steel, I rock the guitars and help the other guitar player by writing a part for him and showing him how to play it, as well as intonating his guitar so it will play in tune - just so he could still be on the song. Rami and I recorded some backwards piano parts and had a super productive day. The songs sound very rocking and it’s probably the most “modern rock” thing I’ve done to this point. It has commercial appeal in a way that KROQ would play it. We’re all pretty jazzed on the session.
The mixes get back to the singer and she is mad that her boyfriend’s guitar is not on there. Then Martin stiffs Rami on paying for the session and the whole project falls apart.
Because I was brought in by Martin it takes me a while to get back in good graces with my new rock star friend Rami but we finally patch things up and I record my next album at his house with him playing Hammond B3 on a bunch of the songs and he ends up staying at our house while we’re on tour while he’s between things because his daughter lives near us. One day I'm recording with Rami and his phone rings, it’s Dave Grohl asking him to come do some overdubs on the new Foo Fighters album.