Thanks In Advance - An Introduction|
Bryan here - welcome to the extended liner notes for my second album, Thanks In Advance. I created this page mainly because I'm a big believer in not cluttering up the CD booklet with large amounts of text, and instead letting the design breathe and make a statement all its own, which Mike Mesker's amazing artwork does quite ably. I'm not sure it holds that a 28-page booklet was required just because I had something really important to say, and that everyone had to read it while listening to the CD or the world as we know it would suddenly implode.
But I did want for those who wished to dig a little deeper to have someplace to go to hear from me directly, and that's what this is all about. Most likely you got here by seeing this web address on the inside of the CD booklet and you decided to check it out. If you're one of those folks, let me start by thanking you, each and every one of you, who bought the CD (and DVD as well, for those who did). You have my unending gratitude and I really hope you enjoy the music for years to come.
But even if you're just casually browsing the site and don't have the CD yet, it's here for you to get a sense of what really went into the making of this record. It's basically just a lot of text, plus some pictures from the tracking sessions. Hope you enjoy.
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Composing & Intentions
What It All Means
Pictures From The Making Of Thanks In Advance
In January of 2005, something happened that changed my life. A dear friend of mine, bassist Wes Wehmiller, died suddenly from thyroid cancer at the age of 33. I've written at length about this in a novella I published online called "Relearning To Fly", and without trying to explain it any better than I did in that writing, the experience inspired me to quit my longtime corporate job at SWR bass amplification without any idea of what was to follow. I imagined that I was going to return to my roots as a freelance musician, and that would lead to greater fulfillment in general, because one thing I took away from watching my dear friend unexpectedly pass was that I didn't have any guarantees, and time doing what I didn't really want to do was a true waste.
What followed instead was the realization that, whatever lack of joy I felt, it wasn't externally driven, because months later I still felt a certain sense of dread in my everyday life, a lack of moment-to-moment fulfillment that I couldn't quite place, and I didn't have a day job or anything else easy to blame it on.
Into this void stepped a woman and singer/songwriter named Kira Small, who invited me to experience life in a radically different way than I had in the past. The intense process of reevaluating the way I looked at everything will be the topic of my next long-form writing, but suffice it to say that it took months. In the meantime, I was falling in love with her. She lived in Nashville. I lived in Los Angeles, unemployed, drifting, and searching.
By January 2006, things had changed completely. I experienced an epiphany that shifted the way everyday life occurred for me. The months-long process of self-discovery uncovered a pile of self-generated noise in my head. It was the sound of a few negatively-centered messages playing on an endless loop that inevitably transformed any potentially fulfilling incoming experiences into either something to worry about, or something to become angry about. Just knowing that this was the case, and owning it myself, as opposed to blaming other people or circumstances for it, was the key to unlocking the whole thing. Though it sounds melodramatic, I felt like I had been given my life back.
The sense of dread I felt was largely gone. Instead, I found myself grateful for experiences that used to throw me into fits of self-doubt, anxiety, and even anger. That gratitude, and the resulting conversations I had from looking at life that way - as opposed to putting it through the noise-machine-filter I'd used previously - began utterly transforming my every day experiences. Now, don't get me wrong. It required practice, and it still does. But it worked every time I tried it, and it still does. It's amazing how simple it is, really. Which is not to say it's easy, because it's tough to find something to be grateful for when life presents challenges, or what I perceive to be challenges. What I've learned is, it's just a choice of how to look at something, as is everything I think about.
(Again, the "how" I achieved the epiphany is something I'll write about in the not-too-distant future.)
Also in January 2006, I moved to Nashville to be closer to Kira. With no work lined up and no plan other than to be a musician, it really was like starting over.
Three months later, in April of 2006, a melody popped into my head out of nowhere. It was eerily similar to what happened when I first heard the melody for "Bear Divide" back in 2002, which led to the writing of my first album View. I had no ideas or designs on writing or making a second record; I was much more concerned with getting started on my new life as a Nashville musician. But curiosity got the best of me, and I broke out my old BOSS BR-1180 hard disk recorder and started putzing around. A day later, the demo for "Snooze Bar" was done, and I realized I was writing another record.
Composing & Intentions
I believe in albums - full-length records, like the ones Pink Floyd did in the '70s, and like Nine Inch Nails has been doing at least since The Downward Spiral. Not that everything has to be a concept album, but I like for the whole piece to mean something. It occurred to me that I had a story to tell, one of self-exploration, descent into panic and fear, and ultimately, a breakthrough in the way life can occur.
I write mainly instrumental music, so I don't have much of an opportunity to reveal what I'm trying to say in language, other than the title of the song and the title of the album. So when I set out to write the record, I came up with a series of song titles that would hopefully tell the story in the intended arc: coping, dread, fear, anger, panic, terror...and then epiphany and rebirth. Once I had the song titles, I put them in sequence and tried to write music that would evoke what each song meant, both individually and as a part of the narrative as a whole.
The song titles came quickly. I knew I wanted "Casual Lie Day" to have a sense of brooding, orchestral melancholy about it. "Cost Of Doing Business" was supposed to be clangy, aggressive, ragged. "Cave Dweller" was about hidden, buried fury. As for "Love Terror Adrenaline/Break Through," I had the whole thing in my head almost immediately after I said the title.
Thanks In Advance is a commonly used phrase in business letters and e-mails. (I explain this in the DVD, but I'll just go over it briefly here.) It usually accompanies a somewhat urgent request, as in, "Please send the requested file no later than Thursday afternoon. Thanks in advance, John Smith." To me, "thanks in advance" was a fancy way of saying, "You need to do this for me, when I tell you to, and I'm going to say 'thank you' now so at least you'll feel appreciated for complying." It actually infuriated me in some way, the presumptuousness of it. Then I thought, there it was, my noise-filter machine in action, making something as simple as a signature to a business letter fuel for my own righteous indignation.
But viewed through this new way of looking at things, I realized that Thanks In Advance was a double-entendre; it could also mean, literally, "Thank you in advance" for anything that happened, for the everyday things in life that used to spur me to anger and other unwanted reactions. It was a three-word embodiment of what I was trying to be on a daily basis, however imperfectly and humanly I was doing it. The record now had a title.
The song "Thanks In Advance" has its own organic origin that's best explained on the DVD, but it's ultimately about gratitude for life itself. As for "From Nothing," if you want to know how life first occurred for me when I removed my own internal noise machine from filtering it, it resembled the sound of this song, from beginning to end.
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Musically speaking, I had a blast making the demos. I played real guitars for the first time, and along with programmed drums, synth keys, and bass tracks, I was extremely pleased with the way the "album demo" turned out, so much so that I released many of the individual song demos as bonus audio tracks on the DVD To Nothing. I'm no guitar player - I can't even hold a pick properly - but give me a lot of time and the ability to track three of four notes at a time, and I'll get the job done. It was way more fun than it had any right to be, and considering that the guitar is the main melodic voice in the majority of my music, it was beneficial for me to get that far inside the actual parts.
By April of 2007 I was done with it all, and was about to get cracking on the tracking when Steve Vai and Dethklok called. I ended up on the road for nearly six months between both tours, but I wrote a bunch of charts and made a ton of phone calls on buses and in hotel rooms. By the time it all ended in November of that year, the plan for tracking Thanks In Advance was pretty much in place.
I know in this day and age of digital recording and file-swapping, it's easier and more affordable than ever to make a great sounding record without even leaving the house. Two things kept me from doing it that way. One, I don't have a home studio, or even Pro Tools (as of this writing, 9/24/08); two, I always envisioned me being there, hanging out with and producing the musicians I trusted to bring this music to life. But with living in Nashville, and most of those folks living in Los Angeles, and my favorite bass tracking studio in San Diego, what to do?
I knew I wanted some of the folks I'd met in Nashville to give the record a different flavor, both of the old-school and young hot-shot variety. I also wanted to get the View crew back together for the bulk of the tunes. So I planned some sessions in Nashville in December of 2007 to get two songs done, and then the idea was to pack up the minivan with everything I needed to get the rest of it done in a month-long car excursion to Southern California. Road trip!
The Nashville sessions happened in two places, one highbrow and one homespun. "Casual Lie Day" was tracked at a real-deal Music Row recording facility, Omni Sound Studios. Guitarist Chris Cottros was a Berklee College Of Music alum and contemporary of mine and Wes'. Drummer Marcus Finnie had done Kira's gig once, and played a 12/8 swing ballad (a la "Snooze Bar") more authentically than anyone I'd ever heard. His groove just swung. And Chris Cottros referred me to keyboardist Jody Nardone, who was the piano player for something called the Crimson Jazz Trio. Yep, King Crimson arranged for jazz piano trio. The right guy. We did basics for "Snooze Bar" and "Casual Lie Day" in an afternoon.
Then, for the proper amount of old-school grease, I hooked up with Kira's producer/guitarist Bruce Dees, and his longtime friend, keyboardist Clayton Ivey, for overdubs on "Snooze Bar." Bruce played with James Brown. Clayton's M3 organ was the organ in the original Muscle Shoals Sound Studio for years. (Curious? Google thyself.) Go to allmusic.com and search Clayton Ivey's name, and you won't believe the list of credits. Bottom line, both of these men have been tracking hits pretty much since before I was born. Plus, they're both a complete hoot, as anyone who's watched the DVD already knows.
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The plan held together, and I headed off to SoCal in January with a van full of gear. From January 22 through February 8, every day was spent working on the record. First up was "Play Hard" up in L.A., and it almost didn't happen. The drummer on the track was slated to be Jeremy Colson from Steve Vai's band, but something urgent came up at the last minute and he couldn't do it...so I called Nick D'Virgilio and he saved the day, making the session on ninety minutes notice (!). Guitarists Mike Olekshy (no one rocks harder than Mike Olekshy - no one) and old friend Rick Musallam went down pretty much live.
Meanwhile, though I'd tried to be present for all of the album's tracking, it wasn't possible in two cases: drummers Marco Minnemann and Toss Panos. Marco had already delivered drums for "Love Terror Adrenaline/Break Through" back in September, having tracked to the original demo. There's nothing I could say to overstate how amazing his performance was, and I barely had to produce him at all. One set of revisions to his original track and he was done, and I just don't know anyone else who could've done what he did with that song. For Toss' part, he had an amazing home studio and was constantly traveling with Larry Carlton, so I was lucky to grab him when I did. His groove on "Cave Dweller" is epic, and is a direct tribute to the kind of stuff he'd been doing with Michael Landau a few years back. "Blind Sideways" was trickier, as you never really want to track a swing tune one part at a time, but he pulled it off and made it work for all of us when it came time to overdub.
I was armed with drum tracks for those three tunes as I headed down to what would become the spiritual home of this record, Hilltop Frog Studios in Escondido (a.k.a. Griff Peters' house). Griff had recently completed a two-year renovation of the place from top to bottom, and I won't even try to describe it here (if you've got the DVD you know what I mean), but suffice it to say that the home's unusual open design became the touchstone for the album's artwork and photography.
We spent three successive days there, with a rolling crew of friends stopping by for drinks and food and hangage. It was pretty blissful, with people coming and going, nighttime hangs by candlelight, a mountaintop outdoor setting, and windows all around.
Day 1 was guitar for "Cave Dweller," a song about being stuck in an angry rut. Griff unleashed the other side of his pristine sound: the snarling, speaker-ripping, classically overdriven tone we'd all heard him use live, but not often in its full fury on a recording. Well, we fixed that.
Day 2 was Mike Keneally day. He had only one day available in a busy schedule that included imminent travel to Japan. Mere mortals would have been holed up in a practice room somewhere for months shedding the melody to "Love Terror Adrenaline/Break Through," but for our hero Mr. K., this was not required. The DVD tells the story of this day better than I ever could here, but just the existence of this song is testament to the absolutely unique genius that is Mike Keneally. I don't know anyone else who would have understood this song - with its disparate influences from Pink Floyd to Frank Zappa to Yes and plenty more - quite the way he did.
Day 3 was Rick Musallam day, and we tracked "Blind Sideways," an angular number about being blindsided by life that's as close to real jazz as I'll ever compose. Rick does so many different things well that it's hard to pin down his style, but one thing I love about him is the smoothness he brings to complex lines. It never sounds like he's struggling or exerting undue effort no matter what he's playing.
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The next two days shifted over to our old stomping grounds Double Time Studios, where the Keneally classic Boil That Dust Speck had been recorded fourteen years prior. Joe Travers was down from L.A., and our whole crew piled into that small studio to finish up the rest of the basic tracks. You could feel the room shaking and swaying when Rick, Joe and I threw down "Greasy Wheel" (the basic session is now a YouTube video out there on the interwebs). Later that day, we convened to put down basics for the song "Thanks In Advance," a ballad about gratitude whose roots stemmed from a jam three years prior at Griff's place, before it was renovated (evidence aplenty in the DVD...and by the way, if you don't have it already and you've read this far, why not?). Griff eventually went back and recorded the final lead guitar track at his place, because the guitar sound in that big open space of a house was just magic. But we got Rick and Joe's final tracks down.
That led to the final day of full band tracking, with only one song left to do, the album closer "From Nothing." Joe, Griff, Rick and the amazing Scheila Gonzalez were ready for action, but also a bit confused, because usually I'm very specific about what it is I want from musicians in a session for my material. This was different. The idea was for me to loosely direct a reverse-intensity improve, with the peak coming at the very beginning, and a slow but sure decrease in activity continuing until the end, where it would dissolve into...nothing. There were only two section changes to cue, and I did them visually while sitting in the center of the room and playing the keeper track. No one knew quite what to expect, and it was completely different than anything else I'd ever done, which was the whole point. We got it on the second try.
But my time at Double Time was just getting started. Now that band tracking was complete, I had five days of studio time blocked off just to work on bass parts. This was something I learned from doing View: don't try to record final bass tracks for every song while producing. In those sessions, I felt like I didn't pay as much attention to my own parts as I could or should have, and it was something I meant to rectify this time around.
I set up a four-channel tracking system for my own bass parts. This was the basic structure, though we screwed around plenty for different songs:
- Channel 1: ART TubePAC direct mic-pre. Does 99% of the job of an Avalon U5 for 20% of the price.
- Channel 2: SansAmp PSA-1 preset 32, a sub-harmonic layer.
- Channel 3: A miked SWR rig of some kind, usually a Super Redhead with a Mr. Tone Controls 9-band semi-parametric EQ.
- Channel 4 (optional): My live pedalboard into a separate ART TubePAC direct mic-pre, with various effects engaged.
One by one, we knocked the tunes out in the splendid isolation I'd been looking for. "Snooze Bar," "Cave Dweller" and "Thanks In Advance" happened really fast. "Greasy Wheel" was another easy one, and engineer Jeff Forrest and I could barely contain ourselves with the dirty bass sound we were getting. I broke out a pick for "Play Hard" and did my best with it, which worked well enough. "Blind Sideways" was a freakin' bitch, but we got through it. Finally, "Casual Lie Day" was up, fretless and all. It took the better part of a day, but by the time we were done, we were done. There were plans to redo the original demo bass part from "Love Terror Adrenaline/Break Through," but after two solid weeks of tracking and producing, and listening to how well the original bass locked with both Marco's drum track and Keneally's guitar overdubs, I jsaid "fuck it" and kept the demo bass. I don't regret it for a second.
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I still had a week in Los Angeles, and I spent it at Rick's place gathering up loose ends. First up was the almighty Jeff Babko, who laid down organ and Rhodes tracks in his own little studio room in no time flat. Not only did he plow through "Greasy Wheel," "Blind Sideways" and "Thanks In Advance" in just four hours, but we had extra takes of solos just filled with magic; the alternate takes for the solo in "Greasy Wheel" were just as good as the one we kept. Ridiculous, but what do you expect from a guy who's in James Taylor's touring band? Another day and he knocked out "From Nothing" in one take, almost as if he was in the room with us when it went down live.
Rick had a decent home studio, and we brought Jude Crossen over to track the vocals on "Play Hard." Jude was yet another member of that magic early '90s Berklee crew that also included Joe, Griff, Wes, Kira, Colin Keenan, Chris Cottros, and even engineer Erich Gobel (who was managing the sessions at Rick's place and did an amazing job). "Play Hard" is one bitchy, rangy nightmare of a lead vocal, and Jude killed it just like the L.A. session pro he is.
Meanwhile, there were a few more rhythm guitar parts for Rick to do on "Love Terror Adrenaline/Break Through," and I had a couple of bass parts to clean up as well. Then there was the inevitable file management session, so that when I brought these hard drives back to Nashville, the handoff to chief engineer Mark Niemiec would be clean. Erich Gobel really did some heroic things that no one will ever know to pull that off, and I just wanted to make sure he got some love for that right here.
More than anything, I was exhausted and ready to go home.
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Careful readers will notice two songs that haven't been mentioned yet, "Life Story" and "Cost Of Doing Business." For "Life Story," I wanted to reprise the role of the Taylor AB-4 Acoustic/Electric Bass that served me so well on View, just for an interlude-type piece. It's basically about "complaining about life." Kira likes to sing along with it, "Woe, woe...woe is me..."
Speaking of Kira, there was one part left to track on the song "Thanks In Advance," and it was her. She's an amazing keyboard player, with the feel of an old black man in a hot white chick's body. Engineer Mark Niemiec miked up the Rhodes in our house and she went to town, throwing it down in one take with scant overdubs.
That just left "Cost Of Doing Business." The outline of this piece existed already, in something called "444" that I recorded for a creative idea hatched by Co de Kloet. (Again, that demo is bonus audio on the DVD.) Mark Niemiec and I went over to Muggytone Studios (Mark's basement), and set up a drum kit - Mark's a drummer as well - and we sliced and diced this four-part bass-only overdub composition into a completely unrecognizable industrial rock raveup, with both of us taking turns behind the kit, keyboards tracked through guitar amps, and all sorts of anything-goes experimentation. The noise at the end of the track is actually the sound of an amplifier's power-off transient being accidentally captured by a live channel during one of the previous sessions. Yes, I love and admire Trent Reznor, and this track is a little tribute to what he does, but I also like it as a bridge from the first three songs into the middle section of the album.
Finally, there was the horn and violin overdubs for "Casual Lie Day," the arrangement for which had been bouncing back and forth between me and Tom Trapp (who lives in Holland) for about ten days. I gave him the basic tracks and the charts for guitar and piano, and he made something wonderful out of it for a ten-piece "small ensemble" of violins, clarinets, trumpets, trombone, bass bone, tenor and bari saxes. I revised it slightly, but not all that much in the grand scheme of things. All but the violins were tracked at Quad Studios back in Nashville, with four guys in a group taking two passes each, hyperspeed Nashville-session-pro style. The very last tracks in were Ann Marie Calhoun's violins, which were flown in from Charlottesville, VA, only weeks after she won the YouTube "My Grammy Moment" contest and performed live with the Foo Fighters at the award ceremony. She's going places, that girl.
And that was that. Tracking was done.
Mixing and mastering are voodoo to me still. I know what I like to hear and I'm good at identifying frequencies, but I just don't know everything that goes into getting a great overall mix that's suitable for the fairy-dusting of mastering. I like how View turned out, but part of me wishes it were a little louder overall, that it had wider dynamic range, and was a bit more "immediate" sounding. Like I said, I know what I like when I hear it, even if I don't know how to explain it.
This record contained the additional mixing challenge of having been recorded in eight different studios with six different drummers, and the task fell to Mark Niemiec to make it all sound like one cohesive record. The best way to describe this process is maddeningly tedious, but in keeping with the spirit of the meaning of the record, I was grateful that we were in an environment where our attention to the most minute detail wasn't costing us $100 an hour. In the comfort of his own home, Mark created a sound for this record that tied the whole thing together, and he did an amazing job of keeping his cool while my temperament wavered between frantic and exhausted. (Check out the DVD for what this was really like, including how walkie-talkies and my car stereo played an invaluable role in the mixing of this record.)
Then, mastering. I was determined to have the record brought to the place where I always imagined it would sonically live: bright, dynamic, loud, sweet, elegant. I always liked the way Mike Keneally's records sounded, especially Dog, and he basically only used one mastering engineer, John Golden in Ventura, CA. On View I'd done mastering in one day, didn't revise anything, and felt later as if I should've gone back and done something more with it. This time, I was determined to get it "right."
This was a real lesson in humility for me. We did a live mastering session, with me in the room, and I thought we'd nailed it. I took it home with me to Nashville and discovered several things about it (mainly too much compression) that bugged me. But the sound, from an EQ standpoint, was great. So I asked for the compression to be released a little bit, and had another revision sent to me. The compression release resulted in way too much midrange suddenly appearing...and off we went down a rabbit hole of compression and EQ moves for each individual track. It wasn't until six weeks later - on the eighth revision of the master - that I was finally ready to be done with it, and while I don't regret the time I spent on it, it took me a while to get the message the universe was sending me: My music will always sound like my music, and that there is no "right."
Silly to think otherwise, right? Yet I did for a while, wondering why guitars weren't doing this and drums weren't doing that, why the snare was prominent here and the overall EQ wasn't more scooped there. I hadn't listened to View in quite a while, but after the sixth revision of the Thanks In Advance master and plenty of moments wondering whether it would ever end, I popped View into the player and had a listen. Surprise, surprise, Thanks In Advance sounded more like View than anything else. Maybe a more polished, more present version of View, but still like it in some way. And I was running from that for some reason, as opposed to embracing it. This would be a good time to thank Mike Keneally, Bruce Dees, Shawn Farley, Mark Niemiec, Martha Lawrence, and especially Kira for putting up with me during those six weeks when I thought I was losing my mind. In the end of the day, I ended up with something to be grateful for: the distinction of my own sound to myself. It just took me a while to get there and be OK with it.
That was part of the beauty of making a record with a message like this one. It served as a self-reinforcing reminder that, contrary to whatever I was worried about, everything was actually just fine. Perfect, even. All I had to do was embrace that.
This way of thinking proved especially useful when manufacturing - normally a 4-week process - required three months and four different companies.
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After all that, there was the DVD. This has certainly gone on long enough, and to talk about the making of the DVD, which itself is about the making of the CD, is to invite self-indulgent parody at some level. I just want to say that, along with Mark Niemiec, no one person on the entire project worked harder and longer to ensure its quality than Dave Foster, the co-producer and director of the DVD To Nothing. I am so, so proud of the efforts we put in together to create this thing, and I promise you that watching it will give you more of a sense of how this record came together than any mountain of text I could possibly generate.
On September 12, 2008, I sat in my office with both CD's and DVD's in stock, and thought back to April, 2006, and even earlier, and just smiled. It would have been Wes Wehmiller's 37th birthday. And I'd be married to Kira less than six weeks later.
What It All Means
In early 2006, soon after my epiphany experience, I put View in my car's CD player and listened all the way through, and for the first time I understood what I was trying to say with it. I was trying to get somewhere - on a road - and saw a beautiful, empty vista in front of me - a horizon point and a mountain range - but it was blocked by a reflection of a busy cityscape in a window suspended over the road. No matter how far I traveled down the road, the reflection was always there, and no matter how much I tried to get away from it, it would always be there.
It came to me in an instant. The album View (and especially the song "View") was about the frustration of trying to get away from something that was impossible to escape: the negative view of my own life, and of life itself, from my own mind. It was a beautifully executed, exquisitely detailed lament about something which I was completely responsible for generating in the first place.
If Thanks In Advance is about anything, it is the declaration that life doesn't have to be lived that way, and that the possibility exists that it can occur in a state of fulfillment and freedom regardless of circumstance...and that the choice is ours to make.
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Who is the Thanks In Advance Executive Producer Group? They're the folks who believed in this project enough to invest in it, along with me, to make it possible.
- My parents, Robert and Laura Beller
- My uncle, Michael Lasky
- My dearly departed grandfather, Irving Lasky, who didn't live to see the completion of the project, but at least knew I was getting married
- My fellow obsessive bandleaders, Steve Vai and Shawn Farley
- My friend and mentor in business, Daryl Jamison
- My guru, Martha Lawrence
- My dear friends Rick Musallam and Lee Graham, Colin Keenan, Jeff and Rachael Nadel-Sears, Andy West, Matt Resnicoff and Matt SlavikAnd my new friends, John and Paula Wehmiller.
Very special thanks to all of you.
The album's artwork started with the photography of Griff Peters, and was transformed into the gorgeous package it became by the incomparable Michael Mesker. From there it was graphically designed into a website by Matt Robbins, and finally it was implemented online by webmaster extraordinaire Brad Traweek. This extraordinary team made it look like we did it all on purpose.
Leigh Ann Villanueva took some black-and-white pictures of me in 2006 that currently serve as the booklet's back page photo, my MySpace profile photo, and my publicity shot. She's cool.
Wes Wehmiller himself took the shot in the tray card.
To the twenty-two musicians who played on this record: Thank you for being geniuses, all of you. Words won't do justice to how grateful I am for what you did.
To all eight engineers, but especially to Jeff Forrest, Erich Gobel, Mark Niemiec, and John & J.J. Golden: Thanks for your expertise, and especially for your patience while I stuttered nervously behind you all those hours.
Let me do some shout-outs to the equipment manufacturers right here: Mike Lull and Roger Gee at Mike Lull Custom Guitars; John Willis, Tony Franklin, Tony Motta, and Bill Cummiskey at SWR Sound; Hugh Gilmartin and Steve Lobmeier at D'addario Strings; Bob Borbonus at Taylor Guitars; Nial McGaughey at Solid Cables; Jerry McNutt, Gary Morrison and Chris Rose at Eminence; Toshio Horiba at Xotic Effects; and Scott Shiraki and Darryl Anders at Dunlop. Y'all rock. Thanks for the great support and the great products.
Now let's see if I can remember everyone else to thank: Byron Stroud, Gene Hoglan, and the whole Dethklok crew; Dave Weiner, Alex DePue, Jeremy Colson, and the whole Steve Vai crew; Peter Gordon, Danny Morris, and the whole WesFest crew; Bill Leigh, Jon Herrera, Greg Olwell, Chris Jisi, and the whole Bass Player Magazine crew; Brian Brodeur...and, dear God, this will just get really stupid and hundreds-long if I try to go any further. If you're wondering why I haven't thanked you, just imagine that I'm thanking you right now, because I am, I really, truly am.
The following people let me crash at their houses during the SoCal road trips: Rick Musallam, Lee Graham, Griff Peters, Stacey Ferguson, Dave Foster. It was my honor to sleep in your domiciles.
Brendon Small: Thanks for unknowingly employing the power of metal to keep the project afloat.
Griff Peters: Thanks for letting your home become the living, breathing embodiment of this record.
Mike Keneally and Scott Chatfield: Thanks for giving me a place to grow into what I'm becoming.
Infinite and profound thanks to Kira Small, my partner in life and in love, and who in October of 2008 became Kira McConaghy Beller, my one true love.
Finally, to Wes: This record's for you, buddy. Thank you, forever and ever.
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Pictures From The Making Of Thanks in Advance
Here's a collection of pictures, in sequence, from the four months of tracking for Thanks In Advance. You can control and/or stop the slideshow with the controls at the bottom of the box. These shots were taken by either Griff Peters, Stacey Ferguson, Joe Travers, or myself. As you can see, we had a blast.