Eminence Front, part one

(Note: this is about an upcoming single of mine, a looping cover of the Who's "Eminence Front," with me on cigar box slide guitar, bass, vocals, and drums. It's coming out in 2019.)

Eminence Front: I saw the Who at Shoreline amphitheater in Mountain View in 2002 when I was thirteen years old. It was the first show they played after their bassist John Entwistle had died. It was an emotional and amazing show, and it was a defining moment of my life. I remember looking up at the sky when Roger Daltrey was wailing “Love Reign O’er Me,” and thinking, “I am going to play music for the rest of my life.” 

One of the songs they played that I had never heard before was Eminence Front. Pete Townsend led this orchestral score that intensified and grew, and by the time it all kicked in, it was this flowing and intricate, deeply layered song. 

Fast forward from 2002 to 2017. I made my very own cigar box guitar with my good friend Teddy Randazzo Jr, of Dazzo pickups fame, and I began looping a dark and bluesy song, with a bass line that held down the track nicely. I began to add more layers, bit by bit, like a delay and a wah that matched the rhythm. This song that I was working on was heavily influenced by my friends in the band Aotearoa; these guys are the big influence on my looping. This whole song is kind of of a shout out to them.

The song’s buildup became really cool, and I thought about what to do with it. In a flash of insight, I thought about Eminence Front. I looked up the lyrics, listened to the Who track a few times, and set to work. It took about a week or so for me to have a structure with the loop pedal that I felt was really tight. This song was a game changer for me, because it was a whole musical experience live looping; the audience saw me build this song from nothing into this flowing, layered song, much like I had seen Pete Townsend do nearly two decades before. 

Quick note: my electric guitar is an American made Schecter Telecaster, the Pete Townsend model from the 80s, and it just so happens to be the guitar that he plays on the Eminence Front video. I didn’t know that until very recently. I had fallen in love with the guitar in high school before even knowing it was the Pete Townsend model. It just made sense that this was how it went. 

Anyways, I had a weekly residency at Forager in downtown San Jose for the month of October, and they wanted to do a promo video of me playing to some studio recorded tracks. So I went into this really nice studio in a church in Fremont and recorded Eminence Front, and a solo rendition of Grindhouse Blues and Broken Girl. The video was never competed, but I had this really awesome take of Eminence Front. I decided to mess around with a drum line, once again, evoking the sound of Aotearoa. I have the drums at my home studio, so I started writing a drum line, which took a few months to nail down. The song is over five minutes long, and there’s a lot of parts to it. This is the sickest, baddest drum part I’ve ever recorded, and that’s because it evolved over a period of nearly four months. When the time was right, I reached back out to Anthony at the church studio and set up some time to track the drums.

I've only ever played this song live, but it's become a staple song of my shows. I'm stoked to bring it to you soon.

I go in tomorrow to record. I’ll let you know how it goes.

(Do you like my writing? You do? Thanks! Subscribe here and get free music, blog notices, early video releases, and more.)