During the previous few weeks working with Steven, Chi, in addition to his usual insistence on having a vocalist on the album, also said that he wanted to bring in another L.A.-based musician: a highly talented string player/multi-instrumentalist with advanced production chops that he had gigged with several times in the past to play on the album and also perform with us. I had no objection since I happen to like this person very much as well as know and respect his playing.

 

Listen while you read to a live performance of “Loss”, another track slated for the now-suspended “Victory Speech” project.

April 2013

I eventually got in touch with him and he came over one evening in early April to discuss potential collaboration and we played through some of the repertoire slated for “Victory Speech”. It just so happened that the two projects this player/producer had devoted himself to over the past few years had recently blown up in his face and left him temporarily at loose ends so he was in a position to collaborate, and while his experience with the aforementioned projects had put him off of working as a player, he was very interested in the music we played for him that evening and offered to have us come over and grab some quick recordings of as much as we could do in a long afternoon. That would give us some quality demo material as well as building blocks for further development. He was headed out of town for a few weeks and said he’d get in touch to set a date when he returned.

In the meantime Steven came over for another session and brought an extremely complicated 16-channel mixing console he had picked up from my childhood friend through whom I had originally met him and tried to get it up and running. We were not successful in only one session. Chi got a gig driving a vendor up to the Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco the following weekend and Steven and I had another go at the mixing board, again to no avail.

When Chi returned to L.A. from the driving job he announced that he wanted to quit working with Steven and instead take the other player/producer up on his offer and resume recording with him. I reluctantly acquiesced since the other guy had an advanced studio already in place that was set up for acoustic strings, and what we had been doing up until then was starting to resemble a secondary occupation when I was already cracking apart from the stress of the existing one under Chi. While I was enjoying working with Steven and hated to lose the opportunity to learn to do recording at home, Chi seemed intent on making that next to impossible for me, so we might as well at least get some recent material recorded at broadcast quality.

More online conversation:

SDM:

More than once you warned me about Chi’s built-in capacity to sabotage any and everything. Now I get to experience it for myself! No use second guessing it. Chi apparently can’t/won’t go through the growing pains and the learning curve to make a viable home studio a reality. End of story.
I believed I could be a counter-weight for you against his self-defeating narcissism. And not just his lunacy. My being there also helped defuse you when you were flash-pointing. But to function as a stabilizer requires me to be a physical presence with you for “n” hours per week. Not being there Wed evening and again on either Sat or Sun puts you back into the red zone, as the toxicity builds with Chi festering at home.

The opportunity for the three of us to forge a practical working unit came and went with the arrival of the Mackie board and everything not dropping into place easy-peazy. No doubt when I set it up back at my house in a few weeks and (name of gear-savvy well-known L.A. musician withheld) comes over to check it out, as he has offered to do, it will all get sorted cable-wise, function-wise, etc., in a couple of hours and it will be great for my boys and their (band name withheld) posse.

My advice at this point would be to get Chi to record with (Name of new producer withheld) at every available opportunity. Several times a week if possible. Get as much down as fast as you can. You might have to settle for another “10 Strings” type record. Or at least one that is supported by hand percussion and bass, rather than one that will overdub kit drums and other musicians. But get something cobbled together quickly and as much other material into the can. Otherwise there’s not much reason for pursuing it. (Name of new producer withheld) doesn’t want to play out for whatever issues of his own. That will surely trigger a Chincident at some point in the process. Material in hand, whether released immediately or not is important since it documents your own musical legacy. You have as much right to that as Chi.

Which of course all leads inevitably to the point at which you pull the plug on TPO, and on Chi. I have to laugh ruefully as I think of his dinner table comment a week ago Sunday. He told me “If you had not come to our house Brenda and I would already be divorced”. Oh the irony! What is it that he thinks will take place now? TPO is on life-support, and the plausibility of it being viable is the only reason he still has a roof over his head. How are (Name of new producer withheld)’s Chi-whispering skills? One major blow-up at (Name of new producer withheld) and the house of cards could come crashing down!

I’m with you completely on doing whatever it takes to get him out of your house and life. Depending on what he does next, and whether or not you can get him on a cruise ship gig (with the caveat question: how long will that last?), the nuclear option threshold moves closer to being the only sane course of action. When push comes to shove, dear girl, save yourself!

BKSS:

Well…that’s the ever-present caveat when it comes to Chi and employment. It would certainly be true to form for him to suddenly decide two months (or two weeks) into a 6-month contract that he can’t stand the music or a particular player anymore and quit, or just get fired for being a douchebag, so I must have a solid backup plan at the ready. “Cut and Run” is one more option, although it’s my least-preferred one.

We’ll see how it goes with (Name of new producer withheld). He has no notion of what a nutcase Chi can be….

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