VOLUME 3 of The Great Release Project
It was the completion of another Cirque production, this time in Las Vegas, that opened the space to create Alpha Fox. I was living in a one-bedroom apartment off of Sahara and turned the bedroom into a studio, complete with acoustic treatment and all of my gear within an arm’s reach. I was going through an analog phase, using a Toft 24 console for EQ and using other vintage staples such as Eventide and Lexicon products for the outboard.
The grooves were created quickly, from a variety of sources, including an iPad app. On one of my many drives back to Southern California late at night, I decided to playback the grooves on my iPhone and record whatever lyrics came to mind on an iPad. At the beginning of the drive, I listened to the Cure’s Pornography in its entirety, and hit record on the iPad as I passed Baker.
Forty-five minutes later, I had rough lyrical ideas for all of my songs. When I returned to Vegas, I finished the lyrics, but with only three days to record them, as I was about to move back to Southern California that weekend, go to a Michael Brauer Mix With The Masters seminar in France immediately after that and prepare for another Cher tour starting after the new year.
Still using the moniker Uh, I originally called the album 45 on the 15, representing that most of the lyrics were created while on a 45-minute stretch from Baker to Barstow on Interstate 15. I had taken a picture of a tarantula at one of my sons’ Cub Scout camping trips, filtered the color and used that as the album cover.
The next two years included a lot of personal development and major life changes. After the Cher tour the following year, my marriage ended and I addressed a lot of issues I had growing up, that were preventing me from living the life I wanted to live. As a part of that process, I decided to give up the moniker Uh and just release the album as myself and re-title it Alpha Fox, word play on some of the Red Pill Philosophy.
Elevation was created by experimenting with a Pro Tools upgrade, and is probably the only song I have ever written entirely in that DAW, using its instruments and plug-ins.
It’s Automatic began as a simple toying around with a webpage called “Otomata.” I liked what I did and recorded it, creating a long loop and writing the rest of the arrangement over it. The lyrics were inspired by some great dates I had, and reflected my general philosophy in the bedroom. As I was finishing the mixes, I started randomly singing, “la da da dee da de da de da,” put it down, and finished mixing the track.
Poor Boy is half fiction, half non-fiction, reflecting on what it was like to be picked up one day from a bus stop by by a gorgeous college classmate in her expensive sports car. I added the tongue-in-cheek spin to it that she was from a family of Skull and Bones descendants, who were rich, rigid and ridiculous.
Weed Me Out was a groove I started in a new app called Tabletop, eventually exporting it to Logic for mixing. The lyrics describe a metaphorical, fed up Charlie Brown who finally tells Lucy to kick her own goddamned football. I would like to thank Björn Börnecke, who killed the guitar track.
Yours For A Minute was another lyric born from the random chanting and improvising while listening to the grooves on the I-15. I had started by singing “slap and tickle,” and then ended up with “we don’t have much time.” A re-write when I returned to Vegas the following week revealed the song title. At the end, I wanted to do something crazy like the B-section in Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love. I made multiple passes going nuts with the faders and pans in automation, coincidentally, in a section that lasted a minute.
Give It All Night was also written using Tabletop, adding a few modulations at the end. When I was at the Michael Brauer MWTM seminar, I used this song as my guinea pig to try out his multibuss compression mixing technique, using strictly plug-ins in the digital domain. This was the mix I ended up using for the song.
Walk Through The Heat was a song I had written in Brooklyn during a heatwave in the mid-90’s. I had forgotten about it, and then came upon the lyrics while going through some archives. I remembered how I heard it in my head, and used a Roland TR-808 for the drums (twiddling the knobs in real time while recording), and a Roland Juno 60 for most of the synths. I wanted to impart the feeling of being hot and moving slowly in a concrete jungle.
Rain was written as a groove, lyrics almost verbatim from the impromptu writing session on the I-15. One of the verses at the end I repeated unintentionally, but left it in because I liked the feel of it.
Back It Up was written using Reason, with the lyrics inspired by being in a relationship with someone with a personality disorder. Quickemonic was a word I made up toward the end of the song.
Searchin’ began as a vocal sample I laid throughout the entire song at various volumes, mostly at subliminal levels. The lyrics were inspired by a dream I had, that came true about six months after I wrote it. The full realization of the song's meaning came to life for me about three years ago. The bassline was also created using a sine wave and Steve Duda’s LFO tool. The B-section melody was something I came up using my grandpa’s Casio when I was 17 years old, and had never forgotten.
The World Is A Better Place was inspired by a Facebook post by a background singer I had worked with on tour some years before. She was adopted, and reached out to her birth mother, who didn’t react the way she had hoped upon their reunion. I wrote this for her initially, and as I was writing the second verse, realized it could be for anyone who is adopted or feels neglected. It’s a celebration of that which makes us special as human beings, and probably the fastest I ever written a song.
As a part of my post-divorce dating and discovery of Tinder and Bumble, I played Alpha Fox often, while on dates, usually at the ladys’ requests…
Thanks again to the Erwin, Hoang and Masson families, Wahweezie, James Gadson, Pete Warner, Thomas Day, Steve Rainz, Benorce Blackmon, Gina Gleason, Billy Z, Michael Brauer and my MWTM 13 friends worldwide, the Michael Jackson ONE™ Family at Mandalay Bay and all my road brothers and sisters throughout the years.
Cover photo by Nicolas Nami