The Wild Blue Yonder
I was trying to have a career as a bass player, but I’d been writing tunes all along. In 1987 and 1988 I started to write for a band I’d front myself, as the previous couple of bands I’d tried to put together always fell prey to the whims of singers. What came out surprised me as much as anybody. I’d always been a fan of roots music, but the ‘twang’ caught me off guard. I decided to go with it because it felt so comfortable and the songs were just flowing. Jeff Buckley was living with me at the time (September of 1987 through spring of ‘88). He was great to bounce tunes off. I’d met Jeff at Musicians Institute where I had previously taught bass. He had finished school and was concentrating on studying music on his own. I was 10 years older than Jeff.
Late in 1988 I recorded the first demo at Arnold Mitchem’s 4 track studio in Sylmar with Jeff on some guitar (solo on The ‘L’ Word) and back up vocals (I had to talk him into singing!), Keith Wyatt on the rest of the lead guitar, myself on bass, rhythm guitar, and vocals and a drum machine. In late 1988 Jeff signed on to play guitar in the band and we started rehearsing with Danny Carey on drums (I met Dan while we were both working for a Hollywood audio/video company called Ametron) but by mid 1989 Jeff decided he needed to work on his own thing. Jeff stayed on until we could find another guitar player. We were fortunate to get Keith Wyatt to join us. About that time I decided I could better front the band from behind a rhythm guitar and so my good buddy Arnold Mitchem signed on to play bass. (Jeff finished the first demo of his own music in the summer of 1990- the ‘Babylon Dundgeon’ tapes. I was floored. I hope you get to hear them someday. The guitar solo on Eternal Life is amazing.)
Meanwhile I had gotten a gig playing bass for Carole King. In between recording and touring with Carole, The Wild Blue Yonder started playing shows around LA. Our first show was Club Lingerie on Jan 16, 1990. By then I was sending the demo around to record companies and trying to get us some press. We did get some positive response but the closest we got to some kind of a deal was when a woman in LA doing country A&R for one of the majors took our tape to Nashville. They thought it sounded like punk rock. While the band was hot from lots of gigging we recorded basics for the album at Rudy Guess’s studio in N. Hollywood. I’d decided to do it on 8 track because Arnold owned one and I could take it home to do vocals and overdubs. While I got busy doing that Danny got signed in two of his other bands! First Green Jello, and then Tool. Keith, too got busy doing other projects. What turned out to be our last show was the Palomino on June 10, 1991. I mixed the record at Barry Paul’s studio in the spring of 1992 but it wasn’t until 1996 that the record ‘shipped’. Probably because it was a completely D.I.Y project and I was always broke. I still think it’s a great record. Everyone played their butts off and I think the songs hold up just fine.
Jeff went on to record and tour ‘Grace’ before tragedy struck. Danny is doing just fine in Tool. Currently Keith is playing with The Blasters. Arnold makes and sells his own records. And my story continues with The KaliYuga Trail.