the making of…
smokin’ rhythm prawns had been together three years when we recorded ‘all you can eat.’ at the time, we were huge fans of nomeansno, and it turned out that matt’s friend from vancouver, kelly wood, knew the engineer who had produced their last few albums, including ‘wrong,’ which happens to be one of the best rock albums ever made.
we drove up to vancouver and spent a week and a half with cecil english in profile studios, eating egg sandwiches, drinking beer, and recording. we had a great time, though it was not without stress. of the three of us, only matt had had lessons on his instrument, and we got away with murder on stage through the force of our intensity and the depth of our silliness. we had gotten much tighter over the years and were becoming more and more popular in the s.f. scene, but in the studio, there is no crowd shouting, and the ears are entirely unsympathetic. so we were a bit nervous. beer helped. as did cecil english, who was a mad scientist and devoted iconoclast. he had odd theories about everything from tuning the drums with candle wax to recording vocals with multiple mics to capture depth. his techniques were unorthodox, but the results sounded great.
the album is definitely rough around the edges, but it captures our live sound. i learned later about pacing vocals in the studio, building from verse to verse. over the years certain parts of our songs had grown more and more complex in an effort to keep interested playing night after night, and instead of dialing back to the core tune, we delivered the denser live version in these recordings. on this album, everything is turned up to ten throughout, and you can hear the vocal strain here and there after three straight days singing at top volume. but again, this captures what an s.r.p. set was like: everything and two kitchen sinks.
the high point on the album is certainly matt’s guitar playing. he was always an excellent soloist, and had a knack for choosing strange notes and making them work. occasionally it sounded like a guitar being flung down the stairs, but he was always able to catch it before it bounced off the floor at the bottom. his solos were always a joy ride.
kelly wood was also an excellent photographer, and she took the picture shown above: a fire broke out off haight street the afternoon before we played a show at the i-beam, which you would arrive at shortly after turning left at the intersection behind us. this ended up being the back cover of the album. considering the drama, garth and matt have appropriate expressions, but my enthusiasm always makes me laugh, like i might have been behind the arson. i loved the nice detail of the guy holding the cigarette, almost hiding it, seeming complicit in the act. what better photo could you have to capture the spirit of the smokin’ rhythm prawns? and that shirt and jacket…
smokin’ rhythm prawns is
andy liotta bass, vocals, piano (keys)
matt margolin guitar, hooting, piano (strings)
garth petal drums and piano (string mic) and dialect coach
engineered by cecil english
assisted by brian else
mastered by george horn at fantasy studios, berkeley, ca
released fall 1991
all songs written by smokin’ rhythm prawns
album art by kate burton and charles buckley
back cover photo by kelly wood
auto mechanic john yates
label big & smelly records
published by cantankerous hobgoblin music
logos by lance lloyd
special thanks are due to the crustacean holy trinity: without whom this album would not exist (in alphabetical order): cecil english, laurel pine, kelly wood
the prawns would also like to thank (in no particular order): john offenhartz (band namer), gary liotta (for his drums), road crew: ray e. (band conspiracy theorist), tim m. and david immergluck (the tag team heavyweight champions of the northwest), lance l. (the human doodle), not road crew: brian e. (e for assistant engineer), mark and brian in vancouver (for lending us bitchin’ guitars), sheila and kelly and cec and lisa (for keeping us alive in vancouver). all of our moms and dads, kristin b, greg w at alternative tentacles, mark critchley (for all the animal noises and bells and the itch record), fast mike (for 1,000,000 frames of video). all the folks at big & smelly. fIREHOSE, debbie gordon and sister double happiness. the folks who whooped and hollered and screamed on the devil’s hayride,all our friends who we love and drink beers with and oppress in the green room. all the hand-written stuf by a. prawn.