On a bike ride one day after school in the late nineties, I came across a binder of CDs that had fallen out of someone’s car. Inside there were albums by Pearl Jam, Blind Melon, Candlebox, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden, among others—the music that would form the soundtrack to my high school years, and which I still love. I was profoundly awestricken, then, to find myself standing in the very recording booth in a Seattle recording studio where all of those iconic records were recorded. In the very place where Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell, and so many others had belted out the soundtrack to my life, I now stood completely adulterating the image of this sacred place with ill-executed accents of Latin Americans, Asians, Turks, and Sheena.
Today we’re proud to unleash the product of several months of this vocal adulteration: two brand new, sparkly, chock-full-of-bad-accents-and-imitations audiobooks! Get ‘em everywhere audiobooks are sold, like right here:
and on Audible or at the iTunes store.
They’re both free, by the way, if you sign up for an Audible account (do that through one of the Amazon links, above).
If you want a sneak peak, or just want to hear how strange I sound in person, there’s a complementary clip to whet your earbuds on each book’s Amazon page.
Our road to this really started in my mother’s closet two years ago. You may recall that I locked myself in there for thirty-some-odd hours to record the audio for Drive Nacho Drive. Later when I began editing the audio I quickly decided that audio engineering was not my bag of chips, and promptly gave up. When last January 1st rolled around and I found myself in need of a new year’s resolution, I resolved to complete our audiobooks this year—and to do so we were going to need professional help.
Enter Nick Biscardi—friend of friend, musician, and professional audiobook producer. Bingo! He mentioned that we would be recording at London Bridge Studio, hidden away in a nondescript brick building several miles north of downtown Seattle.
Inside we were met by a painting of Eddie Vedder, a wall-o’-junk left by recording artists over the years, and several walls plastered with gold, silver, and platinum records that had been recorded there. As I made my way around the studio it occurred to me that a huge selection of the music that I grew up with was recorded right here in this little brick building—a musical Shangri La! Temple of the Dog, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Blind Melon, Candlebox, Local H, Death Cab for Cutie. I made my way around the room reading the records on the wall; 3 Doors Down, Nickelback, Melissa Etheridge, even Macklemore. I sat in front of the legendary Neve mixing board—the original from 1973 still in use today—and felt very lucky.
When it came time to record Chapter 31 of Drive Nacho Drive, the section subtitled Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town—a tip of the hat to the Pearl Jam song with the same name (and which was recorded right here)—I had the feeling that I was committing some kind of ironic blasphemy. Having been unable to get in touch with and convince Eddie Vedder to play the voice of himself in my story, I found myself imitating Mr. Vedder here in the very studio where he recorded the song which I had ripped off for my subtitle. As I feebly attempted to get my voice to sound like smooth molasses, I sensed I might be stricken by lightning at any moment.
The recording and subsequent re-takes for both books spanned the better part of six months, and in that time Remy grew up in the studio. While Sheena and I took turns at the mic, Remy played with the guitars on the guitar rack, shook and several times attempted to swallow the egg shaker, played tambourine, and built up his balance clasping the leg of the magazine rack containing a stack of Playboys. Between sets we all moseyed between the studio and the Mexican dive next door for horchata and enchiladas.
Now here we are, barely in before the ball drops in Times Square, new year’s resolution complete. I hope that, after enduring hours and hours of my infuriating impersonations of Sheena and foreign accents, Sheena’s sweet recollections of cultures and cuisines, and my toenail-curling singing in Spanish, that our voices may become seared in your mind and one day remind you of the good old days, just like past products of this studio did for me.