Noble X — Episode 5: Tracks
John’s eyes pop open at the first chimes of his phone’s soft alarm. This day has been Christmas on John’s calendar for many months and his excitement has built exponentially in these final weeks leading up to it. For the time being, John is able to forget about the peculiar experience he recorded before sunrise. This is everything to him.
John has aspired to record his original music in a professional recording studio for some time and today, he finally gets to do just that. He reloads his backpack for today’s purposes, skipping his typical daily grooming. He doesn’t want to be late and having savored those critical final sips of sleeps, he is now cutting it too close for a shower. Out the door moments after waking, John is riding a wave of unnatural energy. For a man who has slept but a few precious winks, John feels fresh and alert with a laser focus and heightened sensitivity to everything around him.
He arrives at the recording studio in a flurry of jovial greetings, making himself at home for a long day’s work ahead. First John walks into the common space, putting his contribution of beers and snacks in the fridge, then on into the control room where the engineer, Neil, is expecting him. They bro-hug. Neil's already got his guys working on setup in the adjacent live room.
John sits down on the control room couch, thrumming with excitement, unpacking his notebook, preparing to document as much as he can. His bandmates begin arriving one by one. Jeff arrives first and squeals with delight, gazing through the thick control room glass into Studio A, their office for the day. Minutes later Bryan, Dana, and Mark appear, holding more beers and snacks, their faces alight with glowing electricity as well. It’s Christmas for them too.
They drift into the live room on the other side of the glass behind Neil as he directs a small crew of interns calmly on microphone setup, sharing his wisdom in the process, a natural teacher. Dozens of microphone makes, models, distances, and angles go in John’s ear. He makes a game of remembering as many as he can, scribbling furiously in his notebook.
His bandmates are unable to distinguish any cause for concern at John's excitement. This is his passion project. This is tremendously exciting. They have looked forward to this day for a long time too and are relishing this experience. They notice that he is brimming with confidence and ideas and nothing more.
With Studio A set and players in place, they gleefully presses record on the day’s first takes, separated by a wall of glass, the band on one side and Dana in the control room with Neil. John lays down his guitar parts with great gusto, transfixed by the giant Jimi Hendrix poster he is facing, while Jeff thunders with booms and crashes, driving the songs with a steady pulse, and Bryan’s bass supports it all. Dana and John sing scratch vocals to guide them through the songs. They capture solid skeletons of the songs over the next several hours.
Rotating clusters of John and his bandmates huddle around the mixing board, scrutinizing and celebrating; excitement swelling with each listen, stuck in a song loop for hours at a time as they start dressing them up, layering guitars upon guitars, adding voices on voices, listening intently with each subtle evolution. John’s boundless energy surges further with each carefully crafted layer and before they all knew it, many hours had passed. John orders pizza for everyone and they continue to work.
The pizza arrives and they break at last and feast! After eating, his bandmates grow drowsy, filled with pizza and satisfaction with what they have accomplished today. John wants to do more, so he stays.
It is only John and Neil now, adding some acoustic guitar in Studio A. Neil suggests calling it a night into John’s headphones at last, to which John concedes. He just doesn’t want to go home. It feels good here and he knows there are demons lurking at home he is avoiding. Nonetheless, he thanks Neil, collects the leftover pizza, and says goodnight. John loads his car and cruises home, adrenaline coursing through his system. He’s beyond exhaustion and seriously considers that he may never need to sleep again. It’s late when he gets home and the workday barrels closer. Sunday is all but over. His mind begins splitting, arguing with itself, both his voices.
"I’ve got to work with kids tomorrow.”
"But I’m not even remotely tired. I think I’ll stay up and watch something.”
"But then I’ll be totally wrecked come morning.”
"You don’t need to sleep anymore. See what happens."
"You’ll be fine. Remember the study? You’re on a mission.”
Stay tuned for Episode 6.