so what is up w/me in pedro? well, I just got back from tour doing the bass with porno for pyros. it was mainly in the midwest and northeast of these united states w/one canadian jog to toronto thrown in. the band played great, how can I tell you what it was like to get to play w/stephen perkins and perry was fantastic but sadness has struck this tour down. the u.s. west coast and south american legs of the tour have been cancelled due to a sickness that has hit guitarist peter distefano. he is now fighting cancer w/intense chemotherapy. please wish him good thoughts for recovery. I love this man much and this is a really lame thing to happen, how my heart goes out to him. we were playing together so well and the gigs were so fun, it just drives me crazy trying to think of reasons why things are the way they are.
playing these last eleven months as a member of porno for pyros has been a real experience for me. you see, I've really never been a sidemouse in anyone else's band before. by sidemouse, I mean that I'm more of a deck hand rather than a skipper in this case. in no way do I mean this in a negative sense. I've found that there are some things you just can't learn by always being in charge. I learned invaluable lessons about playing music different from your own from these guys and am forever indebted to them. they taught me much about ensemble playing, supporting a front man and taking direction on the fly while the gig is going. I learned to help the moment by fundamentally learning to relax and then snap w/a natural motion. the songs were also really fun to play, I dug it! first time I played w/dancers (well, not counting d. boon) first time I ever toured wearing an outfit and played on stage every gig bare footed. first time for a lot of things for watt.
update! (7 jan 97)
peter's cancer is in remission! this is great new cuz it means he's getting better and the cancer isn't getting worse.
me, I'm back to watt world and hard at work w/my punk rock opera, "contemplating the engine room." I was there to help (and to learn) but it's back to the pad in pedro and take everything that's gone into watt all these years and journeys and become what he's gotta be. love those porno cats, though - always will.
11 october 96 - burlington memorial auditorium, burlington, vermont
porno for pyros set list diary from watt
a song by song, blow by blow account of a porno gig w/watt on bass
orgasm - started the set out right. perky told me before the show he wanted a few cycles of bongos before I kicked in. I asked him to give me a signal - a wink of the head, a shake of the bindy (that india type of dot him and perry wear between the eyes on stage), just something to give me the word to springboard. I waited, perkins played, then came the signal - watt jumps on it and the gig has begun! perry gives us a few bars to play ourselves, peter playing his guitar w/a bow, jimmy page style. then perry comes out and greets the crowd w/hand gestures and the vermonters welcome him whole-heartedly. I feel happy for all the joy flowing. it's a calm song and so I gotta stay reserved, just squeezing out the riff w/small improvs every other four bars. the song sets up the evening, sets us up to try and deliver. it might seem like a fucking gym but perry makes the pad a temple. perkins is like a mouse factory - clicking and ticking. tj is flying the samples in and out. we're taking off.
porno for pyros - here's the one where perry gets to introduce the orchestra as an entity "porno for pyros". he is always spontaneous and never says the same spiel twice. the tune has a very heavy funk groove and I dig into as hard as possible - not going for the slap stuff but rather using fingers, in fact using both my index and middle fingers together in a sort of thick flipper sort of way so I can make the bottom flat. later in the night after the gig tj has to tell me i'm holding the "pyros" part of the chorus too long. I make ajustments for the next show. I see the kids laughing at seeing watt sing for the first time this night. favorite line is "destroy it"! very tight job, me and perky wail into it.
good gods/urge - watt almost ran out of air on the last one so I bend down and catch my fucking breath. perry gives a good spiel about what's going now w/this crazy world. perky starts this one off w/his shakers and peddle samples - he can fire off kick and snare sounds w/his feet while he's shaking those shakers - he's all the way wild. I gotta bring back a little low end cuz of the gentleness of the first part of the song. perry is very impassioned as is peter and i'm very inspired by both of them. just before the wild part (the "urge" part) I get a few bars of bass solo - whoa! I tried to stay down there w/the team while at the same time trying to provide some movement on the bottom. then everyone cuts out and i'm on the intro to the wild part. when the rest of the band kicks in, perry jumps way into the air and the shit goes crazy. "just give 'em the urge" he sings to the crowd. they certainly get it, it feels like. I get to yell "kill, kill, kill" right after pete's guitar solo and when we get real small and quiet. we build the tension and the perry pops it and we release into a tight flexed arm that comes down on a table w/one loud, tight slap. boom.
meija - then it's immediately into "meija", tj flys in the bongo loop, perk winds up a press on the snare and i'm in w/a very well written bass line. much respect for martyn for coming up w/this - it's a joy to play, believe me. I gotta concentrate and do this thing smooth (or better yet, "smoov") so we can settle into a nice foundation for perry to play his harmonica over. then it's blam, right into it and the band is swinging. perry's throwing his arms side to side, sailing us like we're a ship. my eyes don't leave him for a second. brave captain. the band cuts and gives me walking bass solo. I hang on 'til the last moment and then slide up the neck and beat my machine hard, signalling the rest of the band to come and join back in. I love it when perry sings "everybody", it means a lot to me. there's not a bunch of notes in the main lick of this song but you gotta play it right. elegant lick. a lot said w/few utterences. I dig it. this song's got me a bit pumped though and maybe i'm a little ahead of my pacing cuz i'm feeling winded again. maybe burlington is at a higher elevation or something. maybe i'm almost "9 and driving my self into a frenzy. gotta relax and get it together. like perry says "don't go down".
cursed female - for this tune perry always has a good spiel for the folks about the duality of beauty but each night he manifests it differently, always keeping live and vital. he tells them what a curse to be pretty, what a burden maybe it is. he told me he wrote this bass line and it's a monster to play - I love it. I sink right down there w/perky's toms and bolt myself in. perry dances thailand style w/the jerkyness and strange eye movements that make him look a trip. goes perfect w/the song. peter's back on the bow putting out the low chords that sweep through the rhythm and swoon out over the crowd. perry's harmonica is calling out like a cat in the night. I like to crouch down in this song roll my body w/the beat. perry has me in these loosed fitting outfits, sort of like a kaftan or something. I never wear underwear or socks ever in my life and for gigs w/pfp I go on w/no shoes so things are very comfortable for me out there on stage. the sweat is starting to soak me up though but I lose myself in concentrating on focusing w/the band - making the fist clench for this baby.
thick of it all - this one has me tune my 'e' string (the one w/the lowest pitch on the bass) down to a 'd'. tj fires up the drum loop and perky syncs into it. another perry bass line, this one almost has like a cello quality to it, where I swoop down the neck and then glide a little back up it. it's this one groove, over and over by the effect is hypnotic. the simpliest arrangement of the set but boy, is it powerful. we all join perry on the chorus "thick of it all" and it's a giant call and response. earlier before the set perry has jason (the clothes man - a great guy) gather volunteers as dancers for the stage. perry brings them out now and they're all dancing on peter's side, surrounding him and trying sing over his mic. one of them has a button that hooks on one of his strings and pops it right off but pete keeps on going! he's a champ. they won't come near me, not w/me swinging that thunderbroom to and fro, slashing the air and making mayhem trying to keep in the slot w/perky. I don't really care cuz I never really fit into any kind of crowd anyway. behind us there's risers and there's folks up there dancing too. it's a trip. I wonder for a second if I look old on the stage from the crowd and then think fuck it and don't care. a little of this wondering makes me lose a little focus though and I almost blow it and choke on some clams. a clam in gig talk is a fuck-up and we don't need any of the those - what we need is focus so what gets it back in gear and we close out the tune it a glorious swell, even fading out w/tj's drum sample going down in the sidefill. it's some great team work.
dogs rule the night - here's where I get to start the tune off w/perky giving me a click-click w/some hi-hat rimshot stuff. it's just one big fat 'g' note over and over but it's got a great syncopation to it. I don't think I could ever play it like martyn but I do play it like watt . perk looks up and smiles, he's the best. perry's back into his jerky thailand dancing and it looks great. this song is way rocking and i'm shaking my body as hard is it well go, just vibratining like mad, staying in the slot but trying to move it too. when pete's guitar solo kicks in, perry grabs the moroccas and starts shing them wild like. comes up to the four bar part and I give the bass a big dive bomb swwop all the way down, blasting pete into high gear, and the shit is intense. then we get to the final chorus and this is where the whole roof comes down. "in the town, the sun went down" perry sings and I send up a big boom and we're into the last chorus and I pop out some twangers. now I used to really have a problem w/this when I first started playing w/these cats and i've calmed my "dink" thing down but every once and a while when the moment seems to call for it, I let it fly. we go into the tailend solo very wild and I leave that fat 'g' note to almost duel peter for top wailer. perky gets the picture and jumps into the ring too. we do the three way w/perry keeping time w/the moroccas. we do a slow fade w/tj zapping in the sample that just nails it each time around. we bring it down gently and easy into...
black girlfriend - a gentle segue from "dogs" and we're into "black girlfriend". this song was so beautiful, I just watched perry the whole time, taking direction from his signals, bobbing w/his guides and keeping my spasses in check. the funk stomp is one motherfucking stomp and a half. I look at perk and crack up! I get the little spiel in "looking in my car" w/the real low voice and it's more laughs. lots of dynamics, the roller coaster is a great ride.
tahitian moon - the single. me and perk wail on this one together for the intro. pete jumps in along w/teej who's flying in some intense samples. perry's spinning. we wind it up and up and crank on the tension. the band is super fucking tight. perry starts singing the voice and we all bind around him. it winds and winds and then ffffffffow! we're into the chorus and the whole thing unfolds like a fucking flower. I'm playing a part different to the chorus on the record - when I heard it, I thought of roxy music and did something like "out of the blue". well, at least that's what it sounded like in my head, I don't know. the middle part is all subtle by w/drive - my bass a propeller and making an undertow for perry to float on top w/shimmering far east crys and shit. we're in the dream space and then snap! perk yanks us back into the opening riff, twisting the throttle off of the fucking bike. chorus once more and it's the "out of the blue" thing again and I'm launced and begin my space walk. it's a trip.
porpoise head - this is the boat ride, the deep sea dive. it's the water enviroment we plunge the room into now. big trombone glisses for me on the bass neck, wooming and fooming. perk is dink-dink-dinking on the electronic drum stuff. teej is making a nauticle sky out of our horizon as we press on, perry outlining the trip w/landmarks of spiel. the chorus comes and we dive away w/the big, full voices - singing of the glory of the porpoise head. back to the drink and our gills are back in action. another chorus and we following perky down the street in a marching band-like vision, him rat-a-tat-tatting on his snare and per going "ba, ba-ba, ba-ba, boom ba - ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba ba" and we're all in step. I'm digging it. bigtime. the ending chorus build up and it's "hey" and then "ho" and we sail away past the horizon and into the sunset...
bad shit - the finisher. perry turns to peter and gives him the word. pete starts swashing the strings in the opening rhythms. a stop and then we're all kicking like kato, dabbing on the beat w/some big time pokes. perkins slams! lots of jamming, lots of wailing. this is the end of the set, we give it the gee-oh! we give it big time. the gig is over and we're off the stage. I can't believe it! it's like a big collapse thing for me and I hold my chest and heave the big sighs.
pets - the best one riff song of all time! starts w/that low throb on the bass - me, faking martyn's digital delay w/my thumb, it's quite a hoot! great philosophy, great observations - perry has it all in this one. so simple and elegent, even talking about it too much would run this groove. an absorber. we brace for one more...
mountian - this one is funny, I get to do my little dance. it's a little indian stomp and I dig it. feels funny playing a jane's addiction song but then it feels great playing it. perkins is in full plow and perry is belting the motherfucker out. it is all laughter and joy for watt. I look around and see the cats on stage w/me and am digging it very much. what a trip to do your first apprentice as a deckhand (sidemouse). I couldn't have asked for a happy and intense time. I learned so much working this shift, I am eternally greatful for the kindness these bros flowed. as we come off that final d chord and wail into the finish, I am one joyful, old punk rocker who just had his ass kicked into the next week, flying aboard his thunderbroom. thank you, thank you, thank you: perry, stephen, peter and teej. much love from watt.
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