- "“Power and Light” was something we’d seen written on
the side of a van once on a 50FootWave tour. Like many eloquent things we see written on the sides of vans, it turned up in
a song a few months later. A song which stretched out in both directions, greedily snatching at parts of any other songs it
could find and stuffing them down its throat. It seemed never to be satisfied with the beginnings and endings I handed it,
always eager for more movements, until “Power and Light” was an epic, half-hour piece of piled up pieces. That
poor van has no idea what it wrought just by driving down the highway.
When I played the screechy results by myself, cramming them into demo form and sending them off to my bandmates, now
scattered across the U.S. (I so wished we were still an LA band so that I could have apologetically invited them to the practice
space for an afternoon of gentle thrashing and warm beer), they may have blanched, but they did not let on. They are superheroes,
I saw Rob in California soon afterwards and
asked him if it was even possible to learn a half-hour long song. He grinned and said sweetly, “I already did!”
We recorded this interesting monster with
Mudrock, who is starting to seem a little masochistic in his continued willingness to donate his time to work with noisy,
broke 50FootWave. He even gave us the apartment upstairs to live in during the session, ensuring that we would eat, sleep
and breathe Power+Light for the duration.
He also gave us Victor Lawrence,
a dear creature who plays achingly beautiful cello. Victor’s parts make these gritty songs heartbreaking, for which
I am forever indebted.
The first thing you notice
when you enter Mudrock’s Highland Park studio in Los Angeles is a mannequin head wearing a surgical mask with wires
coming out of the back of its scalp. I found it wildly off-putting and wondered (privately) if Mud wasn’t actually a
little sado-masochistic after all.
“Her name is Beatrice,”
said Mud, “she’s a mike. You’re gonna love her.”
“I will not love that,” I answered, stepping away from it, but unable to tear my eyes away from its dead
“You will,” he said. “Trust
I didn’t trust Mud then, but I trust
him now, because I do love Beatrice. She is an amazing microphone and her unblinking calm saw me through many a gut-wrenching
vocal. I sang to her, mostly, and she took it gracefully. She didn’t seem to mind the screaming or even the endless
leads I played, Mud crawling around on the floor, pressing his hands into foot pedals chosen from his sleek, enviable and
totally indecipherable collection of Japanese guitar effects.
Beatrice didn’t flinch when Bernie’s bass cab shook the building, or when Rob’s godless pounding
almost flattened it. She merely accepted the sounds and laid them down, adding her own personal tweak: a bizarre combination
of transistor and room. She looks like she may have seen a coupla hard days, too, which adds to her depth, makes her expression
seem serene rather than blank.
Or maybe I’m projecting.
‘Cause Mud was right; Beatrice is lovely. Which is why she graces the cover of Power+Light, brilliantly photographed
by L. Fletcher and artfully coalesced into an LP sleeve by David Narcizo.
We did eat, sleep and breathe Power+Light, or we would have if we’d taken time away from playing to do things
like eat, sleep and breathe. It seemed more important to serve this greedy, forever-long song and give it the world it had
asked us for when its van whizzed past ours on the highway so many tours ago.