The Hutch Years... Volume IV

by Joe Normal

Released 2014
The Hutchinson Library
Released 2014
The Hutchinson Library
As graduates of the original Silverlake underground pop scene, HUTCH (JOE NORMAL) mined classic 60's & 70's Rock to create "retro-forward" soundscapes that draw the listener in, but quality songwriting and choice cover tunes keep you coming back.
NOTES
HOLLYLAKE & SILVERWOOD

I was either living in Hollywood and/or recording at the Silverlake studio my brother and I shared at the time when most of these tracks were written, and these recordings were made.

The Remo Music Studio is situated in a run-down Los Angeles barrio near Eagle Rock in Silverlake. If not for the battered, vintage neon sign that remains above the doorway of this old-time music storefront, the locals would seriously think the gringos that come n go at all hours were surely taking their lives in their own hands. But it seems that being a musician has the magic of making one a neutral character in the eyes of the outsider.

Regardless, shotgun blasts have been witnessed out front during sessions on saturday afternoons. Drug-dealing gangstas have been caught hiding out on the roof as police cars drove up the sidewalk and surrounded the building with sirens a-blare... guns drawn... bullhorns a'cracking.

Then there is the heat... The summer temperatures in the studio reach well into the 100s because of the absence of air-conditioning there. Needless to say, it's brutal just being in there, let alone playing the drums or rehearsing the band for hours! We were certainly sweating it out for our art.

Despite all this, I have returned there faithfully and consistently to do my life's work, and have always dealt with all of these things rather humourously.

However, the one thing that I could not bring myself to accept or laugh about was the mutant cockroaches that inhabit that space. They are literally the size of mice, and often take flight haphazardously from walls and from behind guitar amps when least expected.

My original title for this CD was actually "ROCKCOACHES IN THE BARRIO"... A play on words relating to both the bugs and the cool rockin' vintage vehicles various band members and liggers-on have driven to rehearsals and the recording sessions at this site.

Ultimately, the rent was cheap and a band could make as much noise as they wanted at any hour of the day or night without a single complaint. And I certainly took advantage of this over the five or six years I created work there.

Let me share some thoughts now on the songs that make up this CD.


1. BRINGING ME DOWN:
(No, it's not the Christina Aguilar/Linda Perry song, asshole.) This one was actually written around 1990-ish and originally had a heavy acoustic and slide guitar intro ala George Harrison's "Give Me Love", (but obviously a bit more depressing!)

As a four piece band, I had felt strongly enough about this song to begin playing it live, and ultimately began recording it after I had signed my deal with Smile Records in 2002. "Bringing Me Down" was supposed to be on the "Turn It Around" CD, but was scratched when the band line-up changed to a 3 piece, and the decision was made to re-record the CD at another location.

After my first songwriting break with SAMMY HAGAR, I unsuccessfully (however half-heartedly) tried getting a publisher to help place my songs.

My ultimate hope was to get this song to Steven Tyler & Joe Perry for Aerosmith to record. I'm sure you who are reading this would agree that their (or their label's) choice of songwriters/partners is/was lame.

Well, it makes me happy now to have the opportunity to release this song, thanks to RANKOUTSIDER RECORDS and CD Baby.


2. THE BEAST WITHIN (original version):
This recording was made right after HUTCH signed with Smile Records, during the same sessions as Bringing Me Down.

My original vision for HUTCH was to be a 4 piece band with 3 vocalists and 2 guitarists that could double on piano... Myself and my good friend Darrin Tehrani.

After beginning several basic tracks for what was to be the "Turn It Around" CD (recorded at the studio I shared with my brother Jimmy - The Remo Music Studio), my then drummer Eric Skodis resigned rather abruptly. I was terribly upset by this for many reasons, but kept it to myself. Those feelings helped to fuel the completion of "Turn It Around". I was determined to finish on-time and have it released, regardless. It was to be my first "real" record deal as the main writer for a band, and I was certainly not going to let anything blow it.

Luckily and seemingly by fate Drummer friend Thom Sullivan had become available and came aboard immediately. It was quite obvious we'd need to re-record the tracks, as the sound and energy of the new stripped down Power-Trio line-up was much more bombastic and alot more ROCK than pop.

I felt in many ways that I had met my ultimate soul-mate-drum-companion when I first played with Thom during my stint in SLOW MOTORCADE. (Check out "Sex, Drags & Rock n Roll" by Slo-Mo). We clicked in the way only brothers do, which is absolutely magical... it's intuitive. And I can't wait 'til the two of us play together again someday.

3. ICE CREAM:
A warped-sounding ditty that evokes summery images of messy, melting ice cream cones in the hands of children in humid Anytown USA Elizabeth, New Jersey. I almost expect to hear the sound of the Cicadas buzzing away in the leafy trees above the lake in Warinanco Park.


4. WHEN I'M WITH YOU:
This song is one of my personal favorites. There are a few different edits of the song, some longer, some shorter. Although I feel this one is a bit long, I stuck with a formula arrangement of the parts, which to my ear only prolongs the pleasure!

The acoustic drum beat is strangely inventive when played against that electronic drum part. And there is just one guitar on here... my trusty ol' 1973 Gibson SJ Deluxe.

The guitar solo is one of my favorites, too. It's a plain steel G string tuned way, way down so it is nice and loose on the guitar. I played those notes way up high on the neck to give it a sitar-like buzziness.


5. MAYBE BABY (Buddy Holly Cover):
When "The Buddy Holly Story" movie with Gary Busey came out, I saw it at the Elmora Theatre on a hopeless, rainy night in Elizabeth, New Jersey. My other musician and Beatles-crazy friends Paul & Terry were probably present, too. This must've been 1979-ish?

That movie grabbed me in a fantastical way, and from that moment on, I felt a connection to Buddy's spirit and his songs that was like the feelings shared between father and son. I wanted to be "just like him", as I had previously explored lyrically in my song "Hipster," recorded with my brother while in The Hutchinsons together.

Anyway, on this particular day I had left work early and headed down to the studio feeling inspired to put my idea down for this Buddy Holly cover, which was to approach it as if I was Marc Bolan jamming with Noel Gallagher. Both of whom were inspirations to me.

Finally, I got home from the studio quite late past midnight with a complete recording, a final mix, and a genuine excitement that I hadn't felt in awhile. I could not wait to tell my wife Gigi what I just did and to play it for her!

So as I'm walking in the door, there she was on the couch in front of the TV... and I kid you not, as images of Buddy Holly were flashing across the screen... The person on the nightly news spoke of events of the day, most notably that it was the birthday of Buddy Holly...

I got chills like you would never believe.

Happy birthday, Buddy.


6. FLYING:
In my last days playing in The Hutchinsons I introduced the very talented Darrin Tehrani to Jimmy and Glenn with the hopes of expanding our line-up to include him. We actually played a couple shows together before disbanding.

Darrin and I were introduced by a mutual friend named Al Berry, and we became fast friends. He owned a recording studio out near L.A.X. where I would go to hang out with him and to do some recording. We'd often sit around playing new songs for each other to get feedback.

One particular night when I showed up, he was writing this great song that needed another part. So on the spot I shared what I heard in my head and what I was feeling emotionally, and the two parts simply were absolutely brilliant together. We felt just like Lennon & McCartney!

We quickly set up some mics and threw together the recording that you hear in just a few hours, then dubbed a cassette copy that I took home. Soon the master tapes were either lost or erased down at his studio, but fate allowed this one to get through thanks to that bygone format known as cassette tape.


7. MOVIE STAR:
Living in Hollywood you are constantly pummelled by movie star imagery, gossip, and the never ending noise of pedallers of these iconic 'brands', as they are now so corporately called.

As we struggle through our personal growth to become who we ultimately are, one eventually finds that it oftentimes hurts to be honest, and following a different path than those who evolve at a different pace can cause even the best relationships to end in sadness.

The portayals of the many heros and villains we see on the big screen are so charismatic. These people don't exist in the real world, or at least I have never met one of them.

Reality TV is disgustingly painful to watch as it brings bigger and bigger assholes into our homes 'round the clock, making these awful souls famous for the sole purpose of generating more and more viewership.

It is the nature and purpose of today's media to exploit people's weaknesses and to sensationalize the activities of those who make the sad front page news.

Rarely do the vulnerable get a break or remain free from embarrassment, sarcasm and scrutiny. Where is the pathos? The empathy? Where and when is it safe to make mistakes?

And I say as I step down from my horse in nameless obscurity, "Me, I ain't like some movie star... all my lines are MINE, be they what they are."


8. MAD ABOUT YOU (Original Demo)
When this song was coming through, I knew I wanted it to be the kind of song people would play at their wedding. It's really based on some actual events in my personal life, but that chorus and bridge are purely universal.

I'd love to hear Chrissie Hynde do a version of this. I've been in love with her voice and songs forever. She always had the best guitar players, too.

So what'ya say Chrissie? Shoot me an email JoeNormalUSA@gmail.com

9. SCENARIO (Dramarama Cover):
"Hey... Are you from Joizey?... I'M from Joizey... Yeah, but are YOU from Joizey?!"

Fellow New Jersey-ites Dramarama came out to L.A. back in the days that I was still in The Zeros. We even guest appeared in their "Haven't Got A Clue" video along with a few celebrities and circus clowns... (I'd say the clowns were really us in our purple hair. )

Well, I've wanted to give some props to Mr Easdale and Comp'ny for a long time, and so we covered 'Scenario' which I always liked better than their more popular hit "Anything, Anything." This was cut live and although an inferior recording, captures the energy that Thom, Glenn, and I could generate as a 3 piece.

10. ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD (Original Demo)
My buddy Darrin was getting into his car one day and got hit by a city bus... it threw him clear over the hood of his car... and the bus kept driving.

It's not exactly something to get excited about, but nonetheless his mishap inspired this song, which I had twistedly tried to express that his troubles were over once he got the mucho bucks from a lawsuit that was surely an easy win.

Well, things didn't turn out so great, and the money was not anything to write home about. But I got this song out of it, which caught the ear of legendary rocker Sammy Hagar when we performed it acoustically on celebrity Chef Bobby Flay's "Food Nation" show on The Food Network. That lead to a nice songwriting collaboration on Sammy's "Not 4 Sale" CD. The title track, no less!

Meanwhile, I like the cool guitar-solo-break-down thing in the middle there, with me and Darrin playing some great rock n roll guitar together. And I really drilled him to get the piano part 'just right,' there as we entered before that breakdown. Hear it? Darrin has the magic touch!

11. IF I COULD TALK I'D TELL YOU (Lemonheads Cover)
Mr. Evan Dando... say what you will about him, but this melody is infectious.

This was recorded for a UK charity / tribute CD called "Squealing Fans In My Tune" in 2005 or 6, but I've remixed it with just guitar and voice for this CD because I like it better sparse.


12. LIVING WITH ME (original version)
I wrote and 4 tracked this in the dining room of our duplex on June Street in Hollywood, and fleshed the rest of it out at the "Room," (as we simply referred to the Remo Studio).

It's trashy. It's sloppy, It's all over the freakin' place! But something about it really sticks with me in a Replacements/Grandpaboy/Westerberg sorta way.

If you are familiar with this track from the "Turn It Around" CD, I hope you understand why I like this version better than the band version.


13. CROWN CHAKRA (Intro)

14. CROWN CHAKRA (Finale)
This is my brother Jimmy and I (post-Hutchinsons, around 1998 or 9) experimenting with his new sampler. We were both listening to alot of Portishead and Massive Attack at the time. That autoharp riff had a hypnotic quality that I loved and could not get enough of for awhile.

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DRAMARAMA
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IZZY STRADLIN (Guns 'n Roses)
FIONA APPLE
JON BRION
STIV BATORS (Dead Boys)
SUSANNA HOFFS
SYL SYLVAIN (New York Dolls)
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CARLY SIMON
HOWARD STERN

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