It’s funny you’d mention Largo and The Mint


“It’s funny you’d mention Largo and The Mint. I used to play at those two clubs in particular with my band, we were called Goldenboy, and I was playing with this guy named Jon Brion who was producing Elliott Smith at the time. We would open for Jon a lot, sometimes just hanging out before or after the shows. He had been working with Elliott at the time on this album that you’re mentioning and Elliott had just finished his Figure 8 tour. He had been playing all over the world, large venues, sold out, 3000, 4000 seats venues and his career was pretty awesome at that point, he had music in a lot of soundtracks, DreamWorks was his label and they sort of thought of him as their golden boy. He was their guy and they were really pumped about his next album. But Elliott was struggling with some demons and having some chemical issues, if you will… Continue reading

We had meetings with Lenny Waronker and Luke Wood

soundcitystudios plasticsoul mcconnell

“We had meetings with Lenny Waronker and Luke Wood where we’d play them some of the songs. Waronker looked really tripped out by it. I think he was probably thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is the most crazy drug album I’ve heard in fifteen years.’ It was kind of like that. I think he felt almost like he was going back to the ’60s listening to this album. Lenny seemed very supportive of Elliott. He seemed concerned, he also seemed afraid of Elliott, too, kind of scared of him, intimidated by him. It wasn’t like he was saying, ‘This is unreleasable.’ It was more like he was saying, ‘This is really fucking trippy.’ Continue reading

He was very into quitting drugs


“He was very into quitting drugs. I don’t think he liked being on drugs, and I don’t think he liked people knowing he was on drugs, necessarily. He was always lying to people about it. It was almost humorous to me. It was almost kind of a joke, ‘Yeah, I know. I’ve been straight for two weeks. I’m doing great.’ And then after he’d say something like that to his manager or whoever, he’d come inside and smoke some heroin and some crack. It was kind of a joke after a while – ‘Oh, yeah, guess who’s sober?'”

David McConnell

I don’t think Elliott really wanted to die

“I don’t think Elliott really wanted to die. There are people who I think are truly in so much pain that they want to end their lives. I don’t think that was his situation. I don’t think he was going to call Dr. Kevorkian to end his life because he was suffering so much. I think he was in a lot of pain, and I think he was trying to reach out to the universe somehow. And I think that he talked about ending his life a lot, and that was a byproduct of his drug use and the fact that he felt like shit. But he was such a sweetheart, and I don’t think he wanted to die. Continue reading

The move to L.A. was probably part of the problem


“The move to L.A. was probably part of the problem, but he also once told me that his girlfriend Joanna told him that if he ever did heroin, she would leave him, and that was the only way he could finally get out of that relationship. He was kind of fed up with the relationship. This is what he told me; he said they were fighting and she said, ‘If you do heroin, I’ll leave you, or become a junkie, I’ll leave you’ – he said that’s about the time he started doing heroin.”

David McConnell

I don’t know how that story developed


“I don’t know how that story developed around Everything Means Nothing to Me. I mean, I don’t know why he told that story to David McConnell, and I’m not sure I’d like to know. He probably didn’t think it would spread and become some kind of post-mortem statement adding to the nauseating pile of hindsight wisdom meant to “explain” him and his alleged “suicide”. It really bothers me. That song was very important to him, but not in any negative or self indulgent way. When he discussed it with me in early 2000, there wasn’t any blood or drama involved, it was still a “new” song at the time, and he was proud and protective of it. Continue reading

Around the time Elliott was recording what would be his final album

©Ben McKeown

“So around the time Elliott was recording what would be his final album, I got to visit the actual basement on a hill. Satellite Park Studios. It’s a gorgeous house on the cliffs of Malibu owned by Josie Cotton with, you guessed it, a recording studio downstairs ‘basement’. I got to play Elliott’s guitar, the piano he used, and at the very least look at Tom Waits’ Chamberlin. The next best thing to meeting them I guess. Anyways, I was there with another band who was also recording there and one night, everyone but me had a lot to drink and the engineer opened up and I got to hear a story about Elliott. I was really eager to hear any Elliott stories but I wasn’t about to ask for any so I was glad when he started talking about him. Continue reading

McConnell says Smith’s death and the controversy around it

“McConnell says Smith’s death and the controversy around it, which ran counter to their relationship, almost killed him: it was a battle of who had the right versions of the right songs, more driven by manufacturing some cumulative closing statement from Smith than properly releasing his vision. McConnell says entire chunks are missing from the album. When he listens to the record even now, he listens to the mixes he finished with Smith.”

I think people’s jaws would have dropped

©David McConnell

“I think people’s jaws would have dropped…. They’d think he was even more profound than they realized, because artistically, the direction that he was going in, he would have definitely had the next White Album, and it would have been the most talked-about thing this year, musically. It would have just been this combination of this insane experimentation with beautiful song structure, everything that’s beautiful about him, mixed with this insane kind of drug-induced, emotionally charged …

There was something else coming out of him on that record, coming from deep inside, something that I don’t witness when I work with most artists. It was definitely magical; it was scary – it was all those emotions in one.” Continue reading