. . .
Of course, while the nine songs we got the basic tracks for in September 2019 was a good start, it wasn’t enough for an album. We’d decided early on that we wanted to record a classically-structured twelve song album that came in between 40 & 45 minutes. And because we had another show in early November, we didn’t get a chance to do more recording until mid-November, during which we knocked out the other songs, as well as some vocals and percussion.
Then came the fun part: Doc & Don going over to Joseph’s to dub guitar solos and the mixing. Joseph spend countless hours mixing all of the songs, and by early 2020, it was close enough that Don would announce its imminent release on the Great Day show on Fresno’s Channel 26 during a set he was playing with another band.
Meanwhile, because our friends in Sparklejet and the Miss Alans were also readying releases, I contacted Victor & Scott in order to coordinate the releases so that we didn’t step on each other, given that three records by 1990s-era Fresno bands at the same time might help all of us out. Who knew? Maybe we could all play shows together, and in fact, Paul from Ragin’ Records had already volunteered to promote our record release party, which was going to happen after we got the record mastered, because at the advice of Scott & Victor, who had both released many albums, we decided to break our strict D.I.Y. rule and get the record professionally mastered.
After much discussion, we decided to get it mastered at Maximus Media in Fresno. Meanwhile, we’d already started working up a bunch of songs for the next record, as well as starting to think about possible shows in other cities.
Gentle reader, I had plans for the spring and summer of 2020. Hoo boy, did I have plans.
Then COVID-19 happened, and those plans got shot all to hell.
I mean, yours did, too, of course. I know. But I’m the one telling this story, and we had a rehearsal scheduled for March 14, 2020, as things were already going south, and as I watched MLB shut down their season while stuck in a jury assembly room during a torrential downpour, I thought “maybe I should postpone rehearsal for a couple of weeks.” Remember when we thought it was only going to be a delay of a couple of weeks? We’re eighteen months down the road, and there are still things I haven’t resumed doing, of course, that’s because of the stupid fucking assholes who refuse to get vaxxed or wear masks.
Anyways, one of the consequences of the massive shutdown in April and May of 2020 was that Maximus was one of the businesses that shut down, delaying the mastering and subsequent release of our album until the end of the summer. But I wanted to keep the band out in the world, so, I learned a new skill: making videos.
At first, it was because Nate, the doyen of KFSR’s local show podcast, had decided to feature videos that artists made at home, and Don suggested that we do an at-home, acoustic versions of “Won’t Let Go,” and “In The Rain.”
Basically, we all filmed ourselves recording our parts and after Joseph mixed it all together, I edited them together, working with a free video editing app called DaVinci Resolve, while beginning to develop an editing style which I characterized as “socially distant, but emotionally present” on the whiteboard at the beginning of the acoustic “In The Rain” video.
The “filming ourselves at home” videos came to a climax in late May with”Reset,” which was an original full-band electric song that Doc & I wrote about the pandemic, and this time I asked everybody to go ahead and lipsync to their audio parts, which was a bigger challenge, but a better result. Several months later, “Reset” ended up being featured in “Pandemical,” a Fresno State online exhibit about art made about the pandemic.
“Reset” was also the beginning of us recording new songs at home: Joseph sent me a couple of mics to properly record my drums, and we spent much of the back half of 2020 passing files back and forth via Facebook Messenger — where we’d had a running conversation since we decided to get back together — building nearly a dozen songs one track at a time. I named the whole project Exile on Messenger, and it was a key to keeping us feeling like we were still a band while the pandemic raged, climaxing with our 2020 Christmas song, “Lockdown Christmas.”
In conjunction with all of that, I also spent 2020 also working on videos for songs from our album, entitled Untitled: I’d started with “Emily’s Garden,” and then “Untitled“, both of which were built from all of the footage Joseph & I had taken of our various rehearsals and gigs. But after those two, I wanted to try something different with the next one, which was “Teenage Wasteland.”
The genesis for “Teenage Wasteland” came from me being frustrated with Pete Townshend’s attitude toward his fans and his music during an interview I read in 1989. I don’t remember exactly what he said, I just know that it made me sad and disillusioned, and so I wrote lyrics that expressed all of that, and titled after what people had always mistakenly called future Certain Song “Baba O’Riley.”
For the sad old blue-eyed man who stayed alive
Who tried and tried and tried to say goodbye
Spent his years in a spiral suicide
And he lost all hope when his best friend finally died
Ah, the arrogance of youth! Writing a song and calling it “Teenage Wasteland.” I am now 15 years older than Pete Townshend was when I called him “old,” and so when Sedan Delivery re-grouped it became more about looking back at your idealistic youth with what Don called “wistfulness.” That also went to the music, featuring Doc on the 12-string guitar and Don playing arpeggios while I drove the verses with just my kick drum and hi-hat.
Ah, for years his music gave me a reason
Long after it had ceased to please him
Hope I die before I get too old
Or at least before my dreams have all been sold
And so, the video combined footage of us recording the song in Parkwood Studios, rehearsing it at Doc’s and playing it live at Tower District records, but also to the theme of looking back at your youth, I interspersed home movies of my family and Rox’s family. She’d been transferring them from Super 8 to her iMac, and there was footage of the 1960 Madera drag races, her and Jimmy as little kids, and her uncle playing football less than a mile away — but 60 years before — from where we recorded the album. I also snuck in a clip of Keith Moon blowing the rest of The Who up on the Smothers Brothers show.
Oh, there’s nothing to believe in any more
All my faith is gone, been swept right out the door
The teenage wasteland’s claimed another soul
There’s nothing to believe in anymore
When I wrote the words, I originally phrased it as a question — “is there nothing to believe in anymore?” — which Doc turned into a statement, making it even darker. At this point, I kick into a full beat, adding extra momentum to the song, while a heavenly choir of Josephs sing “ohhhhhhhhhhh” in the background, which somehow adds to the mood.
But maybe ah yeah it’s better anyway
Cos compromise is the order of the day
Still I remember leaping around the room
At seventeen and growing old too soon
I also used some footage of Sedan Delivery MK I performing it at the Oly back in 1990, taken by my very underage brother John, who we snuck in to take the footage. Don hadn’t joined the band at that point, but given the theme of looking back, I though it was appropriate, especially when at the end of the song, we’re kinda overwhelmed by all the people who were dancing to us.
Oh, and the footage of me opening a present as Doc sings about being “seventeen and growing old too soon” is footage of a surprise Christmas gift: my very first set of a turntable, receiver and floor-standing speakers. I’d noticed the large boxes, of course, but was told they were for relatives who were coming later, and didn’t think anything of it, until my dad told me that maybe I should opening them after all.
It was also hard to get a good take of “Teenage Wasteland” when we recorded it. We tried it in our September 19 session, but I couldn’t find the plot — and so we got this take in November, but even so, you can see on the video where I drop my stick at 2:57 instead of hitting a cymbal just after the second chorus.
The harmonica solo was a last-second thing. While Doc had always played the solo on his 12-string, he wasn’t really feeling it, and so Joseph pulled out his harmonica, and played a moody solo, capped off by Doc’s quick run on a six-string.
Because I’d found some old footage of Joseph playing the piano, I thought it would be on point to use pictures of all of us playing music from the 70s & 80s, which just somehow fits thematically, I think.
After that, it’s a couple more choruses, and one last plaintive “there’s nothing to believe in anymore” from Doc as the drag racers speed off into infinity.
I did a lot of other videos after “Teenage Wasteland,” but still haven’t topped it. In fact, I’ve put a lot of things out into the world in the last half-century, and — all things considered — the “Teenage Wasteland” video just might be my very favorite thing.
“Teenage Wasteland” Official Video
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