Pictured above is a performer’s view from inside the sound room at C.A.S. Music Productions. Seen on the other side of the glass is a young man by the name of Josh Bonanno. He is smiling. This is a rare photo.
Is the photo of a smiling Josh rare because he is a profoundly unhappy or otherwise perpetually grumpy person? Honestly, I couldn’t say although I don’t think that is the case. What I do think is the case is that he is an intelligent and talented engineer/producer who is passionate about his work and takes it very seriously. This is a good thing. What is also a good thing is that I get to relentlessly break his balls and vice versa.
In fact, I would feel comfortable in saying that when we’re not actually laying down a track or exchanging important information about a specific moment of performance, we are thinking of ways to unbalance one another. Disrupt the other’s chi, as it were. I know I am. He may say he is always focused on being a professional but I call bullshit. Josh likes Dave Matthews, so I know he’s always up to something that will unsettle me in the hopes that I will be “better” and therefore make his job easier. Outside of the Dave Matthews part, I can respect that.
Which is why I had him change the tempos of all of my songs save one when I went in last night. We had meticulously laid down guitar to carefully selected click tracks last week and this week I walked in and immediately told him we would be shifting four of them down about 3bpm (beats per minute) in order to keep them from sounding rushed. He hid his disgust well, and said he understood my reasoning, but I could tell it was killing him to do it. Nonetheless, Scott 1 – 0 Josh.
Anyone who has ever followed sports will tell you that an early lead is a sign of intent but it by no means guarantees a win. As it happens, Josh would tie it up moments later by putting me in the sound room and running me through a series of embarrassing vocal exercises involving making “siren” sounds and doing modulating “do-re-mi”s like I was one of the von Trapp children. So taken was I with his brazen volley that I calmly acquiesced and did as instructed. My favorite part was when he would correct my going off pitch by repeating the scale before I could complete the one I was doing. That was a tell, as it meant it probably physically hurt him to hear me sing off key so I made sure to add a few more clunkers here and there as we went. It didn’t extend the exercise that much longer but I did manage to restore my lead to 2-1.
The tone of the session set, we went song by song and in a few cases line by line until Josh “didn’t hate them”. Leads changed, there was some flagrant fouling, and at times Chris Orazi, owner of the facility, felt he needed to step in and I would say for the most part it was on my behalf. Chris is a long-time friend. In fact, we’ve been friends for about as long as Josh has been alive.
After a few hours of striving for what we termed “unprecedented mediocrity” I removed my headphones and we sat together for a pleasant chat. It was then that I made sure my victory was sealed by reminding Josh that I would be redoing a few guitar parts in a future session. Josh did his best to counter that haymaker by saying he felt he needed to clean up the mess in toto so we knew what we had, and I agreed. It was a small, sporting concession that I felt necessary for the interests of the project and after a few stories of how things were better before the Internet and, essentially, before Josh was born we bid our farewells and I departed.
As I drove away reviewing the work that had been done I received a call from Chris. Apparently, Josh had emerged from the studio with my sunglasses and thumb drive that he said I had left behind, forcing me to turn around and drive back to retrieve them.
Sly gamesmanship or considerate gesture? You decide.