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Sonicnet -
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 La
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
came together.

"All and all, the recording of the album was like no other project I've
It was so relaxed and unstructured, but somehow this incredibly
beautiful album came out of it," Solger said. "I'm sure the studio and
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 to a
regular studio.

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 he
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 it's got
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 the building.

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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