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NOTES FROM THE OTHER WORLD (#49)
[05 June 2003]
Lately, my studio has been busier than Tokyo station at rush hour and it has been an absolutely insane month around here so I?ll just give you little bits of juicy information. First of all, there will be a CD coming out soon which has a lot of different bands and artists that all play a Jason Becker song, or a Jason related song. All of the profits from this CD go directly to Jason and his family so when I heard about it I immediately wanted to donate a song to it.
I have no idea who else is involved, all I know is that I want you all to go out and buy one right now! I have to tell you honestly though, I haven?t heard any of the other music on the record, but I?m really not expecting much.
That?s because Jason is one of those very few guitar players that cannot be copied. His playing is so good and so refined that when someone tries to imitate it, that person is doomed to sounding like an amateur in comparison.
Actually, when I first heard about the idea to do a Jason tribute album, I said, ?Who are they going to get who can even PLAY Jason?s music?? Anyway, the point is, a lot of artists care very much about Jason?s terribly hard situation and want to do something good for him and I think that?s great. What I did was instead of trying to copy Jason?s playing (which I would have a very hard time doing!), I just recorded what would have been a very typical ?guitar battle? that Jason and I would have done any time we would get together at each other?s houses. Of course, I played my part and also Jason?s part.
I don?t sound much like Jason, so I changed guitars and amps for his part and tried to think a little bit like him. Hopefully instead of trying to play like Jason, the other participating artists will be creative and make their own unique interpretations of Jason?s music. We?ll see. Good or bad, get a copy and check it out because it?s for a really good cause.
I have been locked up in the studio nonstop recording my ?Red Dye #2? demo and I will be doing the final mix next week in L.A. When that mix is finally done, I will be so happy!! We have been working on this demo for several months now and after many edits, rewrites and rerecordings, we are finally close to having something that really kicks ass from beginning to end. I?m very aware of the fact that it?s been a while since anyone has heard any new music from me, so I hope you all think it?s worth the wait.
I also started producing a Japanese artist in my studio. She?s 19, really cute, half Japanese, half Mexican and sings pop/R&B along the lines of Dreams Come True and Utada Hikaru. As soon as I heard her crystal clear voice and her unique Japanese pronunciation, I thought she could definitely make an impact on the J-pop scene. She writes her own songs, and her lyrics effortlessly glide from Japanese to English and back to Japanese. Speaking of J-pop, did you all know that the majority of people in the U.S. domestic music business have no idea that J-pop exists? It always surprises me that when you mention Japan?s music scene to a journalist or a record company person here, many of them truly think that Japan?s music scene is driven by American artists that no longer are popular in the U.S. This is unbelievable to me. Despite the impressive fact that Japan?s domestic acts like Puffy, Bz, Globe, DCT and Hikaru sell tens of millions of records in your small country, many people here think that the international acts that consistently sell 10,000 or 20,000 records to their loyal following are the ones that experience ?Beatlemania? when they go to Japan. How ignorant we Americans can be?
Some of you may have heard me mention in interviews that I was planning a classical album (of ?music from the heavens?) with only piano and violin. That is slowly but surely becoming a reality as well. This music should not be confused with Uli Jon Roth?s, Yngwie Malmsteen?s ?classical? music where it?s basically an electric guitar just blazing along with an orchestra. What I?m doing may not interest fans of that kind of thing because there is no guitar; it?s only sad, weeping, almost Chinese style of violin playing accompanied by somber piano. Since I can?t play either of those instruments, I have a violinist and pianist come into the studio and record music that I write and arrange for them. This is something that I have been trying to put together for a long time but with all the touring and band stuff that I was doing before,
I could never get the time to coordinate recording this music properly. The problem is, now, even though I?ve started production and recording of this classical project, my ?red dye #2? group?s business is starting to get busier and busier, again leaving little time for this classical music.
Earlier this month a TV crew came into my studio to film me talking about my experience with Megadeth for a TV show called ?VH-1?Behind The Music.?(VH1 is similar to MTV in America.) This is a popular show in which they basically tell the whole story about a band or artist. People like it because it?s an hour long and it gives you a good look at the band?s ?urabanashi?. At first, I didn?t want to do the show mainly because I was recording vocals in my studio at the time. We were getting really close to finishing the tracking of the ?red dye #2? tapes and I didn?t want to give up a whole day of getting vocals done just to chat about Megadeth stuff. But being the nice guy that I am, I did the show and told all the little details about the inner world of Megadeth and my experience with the guys. I was brutally honest about why I left the band, and how I couldn?t stand the band name, but I also talked about all the fun we had and wished them lots of success in the future.
My Japanese class at the University started again and this time along with the class, I?m studying with a private tutor. The tutor is supposed to help me strictly with class subjects only, but instead of the boring stuff from class, I bring her Japanese magazines like Burrn and Zappy, and manga like Maison Ikkoku and Yoshito Usui?s ?Connection?. I really like ?Connection? but it?s very hard to find. I found it once in L.A., but never since. It?s ?gag manga? I guess, and each page has a different funny story. Most of it is really childish stuff like guys trying to kiss dogs that have licked girls? faces or under their skirts. That stuff is hilarious to me and so different from American humor. My tutor was really embarrassed the first time I showed her that kind of iyarashii manga, but after a while she warmed up and got totally into it just like me. I can clearly understand the Nihongo in that kind of manga mainly because the stories are pretty much ?one-pattern?. However, one strange Kanji compound can throw me off to such an extent that I can?t even figure out what the subject of the story is. That is what?s most frustrating about learning Japanese. Just when you think you are making some progress, you read something or hear something that you don?t understand at all and you think, ?I?ve been studying all this time and I still don?t know very much.? I?m sure many of you who are learning English know this depressing feeling. That frustration is totally natural and normal. You are not an idiot. You must use that frustration as your motivation to learn more.
Taken From: Burrn Magazine (Feb 2001) #49