Sound Magazine Visits The Rancho!
As far as guitarist Paul Solger is concerned, the mood and feel of Mark
Lanegan's third solo album, Scraps at Midnight, was born at Rancho De
Luna, a single-level ranch house and recording studio bordering Joshua
Tree National Park in California.
It's where Solger and Lanegan worked on the LP and where all the music
"All and all, the recording of the album was like no other
done. It was so relaxed and unstructured, but somehow this incredibly
beautiful album came out of it," Solger said. "I'm sure the
where it was had something to do with it ... It was up in Joshua Tree,
California, and in a house, so the atmosphere was great compared
The simpatico set of musicians on the new Lanegan album included bassist
Mike Johnson -- formerly of Dinosaur Jr. -- along with Solger, drummer
Kenny Richards, guitarist Fred Drake and Dave Catching, who alternated
between acoustic slide guitar, bass and piano.
Solger praised the songwriting and the continuity on the album, saying
thought that it was Lanegan's best work yet.
"It's got nothing to do with the fact I played on it, but I feel
stronger songs and plays as a whole from beginning to end better than
Mark's first two," Solger said. "Although I like them, too,
it's just that
we caught something special that week up there in the high desert ..."
L.A.Weekly - 8/30/02 -
It's always a thrill when your friends make the cover of the LA WEEKLY.
But the kind words about Fred Drake and the Rancho, in this Jay Babcock-penned
interview with Queens of the Stone Age, brought back
so many great memories...thanks.
Homme started going up to the high desert to hang out with Fred Drake
(who died at home this past June after battling terminal illnesses for
years), one of the desert's true eccentrics: a skinny 40-something musician/producer
from Texas by way of Hollywood who had converted his Joshua Tree house
into a fully functioning recording studio he called Rancho de la Luna.
Kyuss had been introduced to Rancho via Dave Catching, a veteran L.A.
underground musician who operated the studio in a partnership with Drake.
(Catching and Drake had also recently formed an experimental art-ambient-country-rock
band called Earthlings? with Wool singer Pete Stahl, a longtime Kyuss
associate.) Kyuss' sessions there -- the band's last -- had been memorable.
JOSH HOMME: The place was covered from floor to ceiling
with this amazing stuff Fred had bought at swap meets, and filled with
old keyboards and organs and little amps. Little lights everywhere. Going
to bed there was a 30-minute experience, 'cause you had to power down
BRANT BJORK: The kitchen is five feet from the mixing
board, so Dave Catching would be in there cookin' up an insane meal, you'd
smell garlic and herbs and spices, and you're sittin' there in the next
room tracking drums and the bass. Fire pit out front, a hot tub up to
the left, a huge view where you could see for miles.
We did the last Kyuss session there, on mushrooms, for three days straight.
I sat there and went, "I . . . cannot . . . wait, the board's over
here." That was probably the best Kyuss session ever, with the gnarliest
Kyuss songs ever. Were the drugs totally necessary? I have no fuckin'
idea. There's a long list of things it takes to make music, and drugs
is on there, but the list is not made in order of importance.
Like Walking Guy, Homme had wandered in the desert between cities. And
now, like Joshua of the Bible, who was also a musician, Homme began to
make walls fall, too, helming a series of "desert sessions"
that started in August 1997 at Rancho. The invisible margins that had
historically separated the high desert from the low desert were obviously
gone. But the barriers between solo and group recording projects, between
friend and collaborator, between jam and song, between musicians of vastly
different professional financial status, fell as well.
"Desert Sessions is good for musicians," says Homme, "because
you get with a bunch of people you do and don't know but are these amazingly
talented people, and hear things done in a way you never would have thought
of, and now you have a chance to. And you play for the sake of music."
Drake and Catching were there, playing, producing, cooking, mixing musharitas.
Stahl, Goss, Hernandez, Bjork and the Lallis were there, too, along with
other desert denizens and various members and ex-members of Monster Magnet,
Soundgarden, Eleven and Hole. It's in these first four sessions, released
later by the indie record label Man's Ruin, that you can hear not just
some pretty great music -- check out the heavy spacerockage of "Johnny
the Boy" on Vol. II, or the triumphantly full-on cover of the Groundhogs'
"Eccentric Man" on Volume IV -- but the evolution to Homme's
next band as well.
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