Thursday, 19 March 2009

Ulcerated airways, LA seiges and the Frampton story (no, really this time!)

Whew! These blogs are getting longer and longer. *note to self to learn to edit properly* Best warn you, dear Follower, this ain't no soundbite either...but there's lots of juicy stuff to get in!

Despite the intended motivation of 'Corn Salt', I can't really tell you much about food right now, as I haven't eaten a great deal more than plain jacket spuds (done properly mind, with the skin so cracklycrisp that it's separated from the meat of the tater and is marked with dark spots much like the skin of a 90 yr old - yum ;), and straight-from-the-tub, unadulterated, Leyland Farm cottage cheese. This week has been a real lesson in how much I love food, how much I miss food when I can't have it, but also how damn lucky I am to be able to open a cupboard and have a million and one different foodstuffs available to me at any time (plus an enormous fine foods warehouse next door, for when we run short of anchovies or rolled oats).

The reason for this food revelation? Well, in my last blog, I mentioned that I had 'a bit of a sore throat'... not meaning to deter you at the off, it quickly transpired that I was in fact being extremely British about the whole affair; I actually had something more unsightly and considerably more crippling than just your average painful pipes. It led to a trip up to the Emergency Doc at the hospital on Monday night - where I was informed I had an "infected uvula" (tasty!), given drugs the size of kinder eggs to try and swallow & told to 'get some sleep'. Following a night of absolutely no sleep at all and half hourly episodes of being sick as a dog (MAN that gagging hurts when you have an infected throat!) a trip to the regular doc the next morning saw him take one look down ma pipes and come out with the exact phrase "well, that's pretty disgusting isn't it?!". 24 hrs, not much more sleep and several bizarre leg rashes later, i was summoned back into the doctor rather urgently as he thought I might have scarlet fever (I don't, obviously - it was a reaction to the new drugs he'd put me on, but it was all very dramatic for a brief moment)

Still, am mostly healed and eating almost normally, even tho I seem to have the permanently nauseating taste of what i can only describe as household waste lingering at the back of my mouth which does kinda taint the palate. But this blog isn't dedicated to my ailments, in fact the intended thread of this was to regail you with tales of sun, sand and singing (with rock stars!!) in the crazy wonderful world of Los Angeles CA - all before my throat erupted of course...

About 3 weeks ago, my colleague Bob Miller and his gorgeous goif Christine Collister had returned to stay with us following their latest six months spent travelling the world - such is the wont of a superstar manager! *sigh*

One evening, they suggested it might be a good idea if Dave and I return to LA with them, to check up on our good friend and Running Media artist Davy Knowles. Davy (from America-trouncing blues rock band Back Door Slam) was due to be finishing off his time in the studio, working on his forthcoming album with producer Peter Frampton (yes! he of big hair, talking guitars and Simpsons fame!); this final week of recording would be great to catch on camera.

So, less than a week later and we were en route to LA LA land, packing several cameras and a bikini (just in case). Ooo aren't we just the last minute jetsetters!

The trip started out eventfully enough, as we'd headed to the UK on the same weekend as Roy's wedding and The Hilarious Philip Selway Encounter mentioned in the previous blog. Just 24hrs after that debacle, we were sat in the early evening sunshine in a little Italian Cafe on Sunset Blvd, savouring a superb blue crab ravioli and freshly baked focaccia, dreamily aware that somewhere down the road, the Oscars were kicking off...

To add to the surrealness of this picture, while we drank our last mouthfuls of heavy red wine that first night, we became aware of a 'skerfuffle' over the road; minutes later, sirens were bearing down on us from every possible direction and we watched as, just feet from our table, half a dozen state troopers & an LAPD 4x4 blocked the area, while a police helicopter swooped in and circled the skies above - unnervingly shining it's searchlight on the area immediately surrounding us. Of course, none of the other diners seemed concerned by this and in my jetlag my brain assumed that I'd stumbled onto a film set so was equally unperturbed; maybe I'd have felt a bit more wary of the town if I'd been 100% with it?! I have to admit, the following morning, i was scanning the 12 million TV channels and 36 versions of 'COPS!!' for news of Our Incident (none found).

Our plan was to spend a portion of our time working - filming interviews and promo vids with Davy K and the aforementioned songstress Christine Collister - and the rest of it enjoying the sights, sounds and sunshine of the city, maybe doing Disney or Universal and taking a drive up the coast midweek? I have to admit I'd been buoyed on by Stephen Fry's most recent twitter dialogue, which was based around his time spent in the same city working on an episode of 'Bones' ; he talked about balmy days, lazy lunches, beautiful views and - the thing I was most excited about - whalewatching. It just so happened to be the season for this, off the California coastline, and tho I was privileged enough to kayak with several giant basking sharks last year (that's a whole other story!) I've never done the whale watching thang and was desperate to.

Of course, none of this happened. Our initial plans to kick back and enjoy/ explore/ envelop ourselves in LA culture were quickly thwarted by the need to shove a camera in either Davy or Christine's face at regular intervals, poor sods, or to have important meetings with important people, or to catch up on work on the laptops. But despite this, it quickly became apparent that LA makes 'working' so much more bearable!

The apartment we were staying in had it's own private tennis court, swimming pool and small gymnasium, so we would start every day with one or all of these activities. The fact it was almost permanently sunny, and rarely below 70degs, gave everything a much rosier glow too: for instance, getting an interview with Davy at the Griffith Observatory also gave us the chance to witness the stunning LA landscape at sunset, and we took a fair few minutes out to explore the exhibits too. We were also pretty pleased with Davy's choice of Paradise Cove at Malibu Beach as another location for a second interview - again, we were working, but in an area like that it certainly didn't feel like a chore!And the people we had our various important meetings with were all fantastic - creative, inspiring, Happy people.

Then there's the star spotting, which you might have noticed I'm a sucker for! On several occasions we spotted celebs, such as David Spade who trundled past us - on his blackberry of all things (a reference you'll get if you've seen his hilarious blackberry self help video). There were plenty of other famous folk wandering about too, but as my memory is particularly lacking in it's ability to recall, something a memory should really be able to get a handle on, I couldn't tell you who any of them were...but it certainly made everything that little bit more exciting.

But our main brush with celebrity came in the studio. As previously mentioned, Davy was working with Peter Frampton on his album so, obviously, we had the chance to meet this rock legend when we went down to film the boy Knowles in his element. Peter was absolutely brilliant - funny, charming, warm and incredibly down to earth for someone who can boast the biggest selling live album of all time.

He allowed us to film anything and everything, and on more than one occasion he played up to the camera brilliantly. On the second day in the studio, Davy asked Christine and myself if we'd sing some backing vocals for him on one of his tracks.
Then, Peter suggested he join us...and so, a few minutes later, there CC and I were, humming away around a microphone with THE Peter Frampton harmonising with us... now that was surreal even for the standards of the previous ten days! It was a superb experience, with us 'Framptonettes' sitting in the studio working out our parts together, having a whole lot of fun and also getting to contribute to what is one of the stand out tracks on the album (not that we're biased ;-)

Christine, having been a huge fan of Peter's in her teenage years and admitting to him being her 'poster boy', was the most ecstatic of all of us - be sure to keep an eye on her website for her own excitable diary in the weeks to come!

After that quite frankly ridiculous experience, we visited the studio a couple more times to catch the flavour of the final days of recording. Davy was on great form, really excited about the record and rightly so. We also had great fun filming some John Mayer-style comedy sketches with the boy Knowles and some of his 'staff' - the most amusing one had to be an interview conducted with Jon Pleeter at the mighty CAA offices... watch this space for links!

So, no Mickey Mouse, and no Jaws, but plenty of good times had by all. Those ten days in LA really enlightened me as to why it's such a great place to be for creative people. I really surprised myself by admitting that I could easily move out there - and actually, because of the quirk of family fate that leads me to have an American passport, I actually could....hmmm..... see y'all!!

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