In early July 1991 I was driving back from Los Angeles, through the desert towards Phoenix. After nearly a decade of being involved in music I had just finished the mix of Lycia’s first official release Ionia. It was a major thing for me, it was something that I dreamed of for years, and something that always seemed so distant, and maybe even unattainable.
I lived in Tempe, Arizona. And Tempe, Arizona was not New York or London. The type of music that I listened to, and strived to make, didn’t go over too well in my home town. I was always on the outside...but not looking in. I was comfortable being on the outside because I was passionate about the music I loved. So playing in bands during this time meant my ideas were often overlooked, or just plain dismissed. I began to hoard my better ideas and I worked on them alone at home, in a makeshift studio, recording cheap demos that only I listened to. For years. This was the foundation of Lycia. This was the beginning of Lycia. But it seemed such a stretch to go from the rough muddy recordings that I was making then to actually recording a releasable and solid album. But now it was happening. The mix was done. The cover was designed and it was ready to be sent off to the plant. And there I was driving through the desert late at night, listening to a cassette of the just completed mix.
I felt horrible. I didn’t like what I was hearing. It was different than I expected. I was disappointed. I felt as though I had failed. I still saw and heard Lycia as it was in the 80s. Lycia still felt to me, at that moment, like it had always felt throughout the 80s. But the cassette sounded, and felt, different. It seemed a bit foreign. It wasn’t radically different from what I had envisioned Ionia to be while writing and recording it. In fact it was only slightly different in retrospect. But that difference felt uncomfortable to me. Very uncomfortable. I was clearly in a very new place as I was absorbing everything during that late night drive, listening to the final mix.
Tired from the long day of mixing and driving, and a bit disoriented from a growing musical self doubt, I pulled off at a rest stop. It was a completely stoic and isolated place in the flat western Arizona desert. It was late at night and I was the only one there. I just needed a brief break and a couple of cigarettes. I sat outside on a bench smoking in that hot middle of the summer desert air. It smelled like summer. It reminded me of previous late night walks along the canal that cut through my old neighborhood in east Tempe, back when I was first envisioning what I wanted to do with music. It seemed so peaceful, so balanced. For the first time in hours I felt relaxed. The tension and self doubt about the Ionia mix temporarily faded. I looked off to the far eastern horizon and I could see the sky and clouds flashing on and off as a distant monsoon storm was raging. It hit me then of the irony of the situation of that immediate time and place. There I was, in a sense living out the major themes of the album I just mixed. I was staring off toward a Distant Eastern Glare. I was fixated with the Monsoon storms off to the east. I was in the comforting escape of the Desert, proceeded during my drive by the lonely isolation of it. I sat out for a short while longer and absorbed it all a bit more, and then I got back in my car and headed home.
I’ve thought back to that evening quite a bit over the years. In retrospect I realize what an important transitional moment it really was. That was the night that the Lycia that was ended, and the Lycia that most people know now formed. I no longer hate that mix of Ionia. In fact I like It and I am quite proud of it now. I think that Sam Rosenthal and I captured it almost exactly the way it needed to be. Looking back it seems as though that night, and that drive, was the break point. At the time it was just the moment I was in, but looking back things really changed. My perception changed. The musical style of Lycia moved in a new direction. My friends and collaborators drifted away, and some just started to get old. I moved on initially alone but soon I was headed in a completely new direction, with a new group of friends and a new set of collaborators. It was the beginning of Lycia as Lycia is now known. Only months before I felt old and left behind, and I felt as though my music life was coming to the end after nearly a decade of obscurity.
Quite a number of A Day In The Stark Corner songs were written then, and you can feel an ‘ending’ in the flow and mood of the music and lyrics. But a few months later I was headed in a new direction. There were still flashbacks of course (and they continue to this day)...but for the most part it was like looking towards the glaring rising sun on a new and fresh day. Lycia’s rebirth, a new start, the beginning of what Lycia still is.
Categories: DUSK MEMORIES