Whether in a makeshift bedroom or a world-class studio, we've all seen it: a performer brought to their knees by the pressures of recording. Trying to remain calm, cool and collected isn't easy with perfect execution in mind, the glaring eyes on the other side of the glass, and that ever-ticking clock that keeps time in dollars. With that in mind, I present to you the coolest cucumber I've ever worked with.
The bandleader showed up on time, explaining that “Tom” would be late due to a very long previous night -- one filled with the booze, girls and bacchanalia involved in being a young rock guitarist. The news was hardly unusual, but still disappointing: stellar tracks are seldom the result of such revelry. The bandleader and I got down to laying the bed tracks -- a combination of electronic drums, bass, synths and crunchy electric guitars that made up this unique blend of house music and hard rock.
The basics were done when Tom appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Without a knock on the studio door, Tom had snuck up on us through the house's main entrance, which is never used. Dude looked a little disheveled and was definitely in need of a strong cup of java, which he explained he had spilled up in the house.
Undaunted, he sat down, tuned up and immediately began laying down his rhythm tracks. He was spot on and said he had some serious lead overdubs up next. He was doing well, but I had already decided that difficult leads would be likely to slow down our hungover playboy.
But no. Tom took us to rock school, laying down a hot series of licks, arpeggios, pinch harmonics and taps that were exciting, difficult, energizing to the song and downright killer ... and all on first take! Taken aback, we listened through, looking for mistakes or punches, but all we could request was one fix and even that was optional (and more likely on principle).
It was only then that Tom plaintively tells us he had shown up at the front door of my house, entering without even thinking with his Venti Starbucks in hand. Once in the living room Tom was met by my 65 pound dog, who immediately jumped onto him, placing his paws on his chest, growling in his face, challenging him to “present his papers,” holding him motionless. My mortified wife entered the room, quickly restrained the dog and found Tom's belongings and latte spilled all over the place. She later told me that Tom only seemed concerned with apologizing for the mess and finding more coffee.
Hung over, sleepless, caffeine-less and having just been held at bay by a big scary dog, Tom casually came downstairs, laid down a virtuoso guitar solo and shrugged it all off, like nothing. He didn't even chat, talk junk, or carry on -- he napped on the couch. I'm telling you, this guy was cool.
Readers, who���s your own favorite example of "Studio Cool"? -- Ed.