Sometime in late spring/early summer 1994

©JJ Gonson

“Sometime in late spring/early summer 1994, Laurian , me and the other 2 members of our band drove our crappy van (named Sal, because it had been rescued from a salvage yard in Sacramento and the engine was almost dead) 25 MPH over the mountain passes from CA to OR to record an album in Portland with Thee Slayer Hippy (Drummer for Poison Idea and producer – Heatmiser, Hard Ons etc.).

We showed up on the appointed day at a brand new 24 track studio in NW Portland called City Lights. It was owned and run by Peter Gries and his wife O’Daly. Slayer Hippy met us at the studio and the first thing he said was, “So you brought the 2” reels of tape, right?”. I said, “No, because when I asked you last month, you said that you would get them.” After driving around for an hour or so to solve that slight setback, we walked into the studio, introduced ourselves and Peter looked at us slightly shocked, saying, “Um we were just here adjusting the air conditioning before setting out for a 2 weeks vacation. Steve (Slayer Hippy) Hanford had never gotten back to us to confirm your dates….” Thus our week of inauspicious recording began. About 3 days in, JJ came by and dropped off Elliott to play guitar on some songs. Pete Krebs also came by to play washboard. Elliott had worked with Slayer on Heatmiser’s Frontier debut,“Dead Air” and he sat in the control room with Steve and laid down some kool guitar tracks on our song, “Suit Of Running Water”.
We then set about recording an acoustic version of Reid Paley’s (The Five, Reid Paley Trio), “Stop It, Or I’ll Drink Myself To Death”.Slayer played sparse drums (almost nodding out on the stool while doing so), Pete played washboard, Laurian & I sang, and I played acoustic guitar. And Elliott dragged a large black plastic bag of beer bottles around for atmosphere. Because Slayer Hippy was in a rather bad drug phase (heroin, wine, triple espressos all at once) there were often looooong waits between takes. I remember him nodding out during a take, coming to at the end of the take and yelling into the microphone to us, “Your guitars are outta tune!” Anyway, during these lengthy pauses, Elliott would be noodling around on his guitar, playing kind of skiffle, countryish licks that were both extremely proficient and really kool. Pete Krebs noticed. Pete had been in grungish Portland bands Thrillhammer and later the beloved Hazel (SubPop). He confided in me years later that seeing Elliott play that day convinced him to switch his musical career entirely from sort of grungish stuff to the Americana/Country/Swingish music that he has purveyed to much success ever since. Pete said that Elliott blew him away that day, just quietly sitting in a corner strumming away.”

Sluggo Cawley


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