Steve and Rich were able to lure their families to the mountains of North Carolina during the week of July 4th by making promises of river tubing, horseback riding, hiking, swimming, picnicking and having an all-around lovely week.  Of course, the ulterior motive was to set up the MPQ Studios North Carolina Satellite location and work on some new Zen Fuse Box material.  The studio setup was quite elaborate (wink) and was described by a passerby as looking like an air traffic control station.  We do owe a special thanks to Jim for his assistance in getting set up, even though we're not quite sure who Jim is - is he the music store guy, or the Radio Shack guy?

Some photos of MPQ NC can be found in our photo gallery, which we encourage you to peruse.  Some interesting things in the photos include (1) Steve made his recording debut on the tiny Ashbory bass, which is sitting in his lap in one of the pics. The Ashbory is a mandolin-sized fretless bass with silicone strings, which is hard to play in tune if you never, ever practice on it. (2) There is no beer on the table. These photos must have been taken in the morning. (3) Yes, that is a KISS Army shirt Steve is wearing.  Yes, he has the official KISS Army ID card.  No, he does not apologize for it.

We were able to commit two tunes to "tape" although it will be determined at a later time whether either is worthy of official release.  We liked 'em at the time, but that could have just been the Natty Green beer having an influence. The first tune, entitled "Flat Rock" is the more melodic of the two and is an instrumental that, according to one of Rich's kids, sounds "just like the Forefathers."  Since Rich is the leader of the Forefathers, we'll accept that comparison. The tune is unique in the Zen Fuse Box songbook as it contains the aforementioned Ashbory bass, as well as Steve's recorded debut on Rich's 12-String guitar. He would have played the 6-string, as usual, but as it turns out we couldn't use the microphone for lack of "phantom power."  Phantom power is similar to Star Wars' Phantom Menace, in so far as it is annoying, with the difference being the inclusion of Jar Jar Binks in the latter.

The second tune is entitled "Yesterday Always Knows" and is more of a freakout jam than anything else. The idea behind the tune was basically that there was no idea behind the tune, except a passing mention of F-sharp.  Basically Steve and Rich kept passing the guitar back and forth and giggling uncontrollably.  As the recording of this tune progressed we really lamented the lack of phantom power for the microphone, since we really wanted to overdub some percussion and the Rubik's cube electronic game that one of the kids left laying around.  Rich, being the wizard that he is, came up with the idea to turn a set of headphones into an ad-hoc microphone.  Amazingly, it worked, and even more amazingly, it didn't sound like total crapola.  It did sound like partial crapola, but that's the vibe we were working with anyway, so it was cool.

Sometime during the week, the kids were playing in the studio, which they called the "gymnastics room."  We should have been concerned that they were calling the studio by that name, but we were really enjoying those Natty Green beers.  During one of their gymnastics sessions, which Rich and Steve were on the deck taking a break, it was announced by the kids that "we were just sitting there and then the ukelele made a sound and just broke all on its own." Upon inspection, it was found that the uke's bridge was snapped off the body, rendering it useless. Whether it was the kids' gymnastics or Steve's refusal to learn how to properly tune the uke (he tunes it like the top four strings on a guitar, which exerts a much larger amount of string tension than usual) we'll never know...

All in all, a great time was had during the course of the week and with any luck, we'll be able to trick our families into traveling to another remote recording location in the future!





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