Stoked to be able to share another live DE gig with you. This sucker is from our very first SoCal gig at Club 369 in Fullerton, CA, on April 5, 1998. I recently posted video of our encore from this show, "The Obscure," on YouTube. I was going to extract the audio myself, but it seems that my old pal Rob Preston already did that a while ago made it available to some metal mates around the globe. Rob dubbed the VHS tape off me back in the days. The footage was captured by Dan DeLucie's sister Linda and Dan's now-wife Bessie, and you can hear their voices in spots. The audio gets oversaturated in sections due to the proximity of the sensitive mic to the front of house PA cabs. Overall it's an average crowd recording. Performance-wise it's pretty good.
Heaps of hair and the '81 Seagull at Club 369, 4/5/98
Now to the nitty-gritty! What do I remember about the very important CA live debut of DE? First off, this was a KNAC-sponsored concert that was supposed to feature Gilby Clarke of Guns 'n' Roses. Gilby was a no-show, so DE headlined. Club 369 was pretty packed for a venue so far from Hollywood. Fullerton is southeast of L.A, and most don't like driving there to see bands, especially if they're gonna drink. So, it was pretty damned cool that most of our friends flocked to Fullerton to show their support. There was a rave review of the event in Night Moves, a free street-press music rag.
In early April 1998 DE had already finished recording and mixing Breathe Deep the Dark. Drums, guitars and bass were completed at Bill's Place in North Hollywood, by late January. Bill's Place is a rehearsal facility owned by Fates Warning and Warlord drummer Mark Zonder, named after one of his furry felines.
Over the course of our stay at Bill's Place, we rubbed shoulders with colorful character Chris Holmes, the W.A.S.P. guitarist, as they were rehearsing down the hall. The Steel Prophet lads were always lurking somewhere close by, as bassist Vince Dennis was employed by Zonder. We got friendly with Vince and guitarist Steve Kachinsky while recording Breathe Deep the Dark. Dan and I are/were massive Fates fans, and we bumped into Zonder, singer Ray Alder and touring guitarist Bernie Versailles (Agent Steel) hangin' around the studio. I don't know whether Ray or Mark realized how much we worshipped their band. To be frank and honest, I got the impression then (and even moreso in retrospect) that they were a bit envious of the attention Metal Blade was giving DE. Certainly I was always friendly to the guys, after all they were/are my heroes. They had no reason to worry about us, considering Fates' incredible impact on our lives. If it isn't obvious from my title "Breathe Deep the Dark" (cribbed from a Jim Matheos lyric in Fates' "Island in the Stream" off Inside Out), maybe they'd read my eventual thanks list when they got a copy of the album and see them in my list of influential bands? I could only hope! Guitarist Jim Matheos only dropped into Bill's Place towards the end of our stint. He'd flown out to rehearse for their upcoming tour, and it was cool to finally say hello to one of my most revered metal axemen and songwriters in the flesh. In my mind we were never competing with Fates or vying for a bigger slice of pie from the label's pantry.
Engineer Bill Metoyer flew down to Houston to overdub James' vocals. We would've rather been on hand when James sang, but that wasn't in the cards. Thankfully we'd demoed all the new songs in November '97 as pre-production in our jam room (located in the industrial armpit of Vernon), making tons of suggestions to James. Bill had worked with James before on Helstar albums, so we just had to trust him. Bill was able to wrap up James' vocals within a couple of weeks, and we began mixing in February.
|Me, Dan and James loungin' at Bill's Place|
Regardless of the extremely low-budget affair Breathe Deep was, it still bears the stamp of a pro metal album. But in an interesting twist of events, Brian Slagel decided he didn't like Bill's first mix, achieved with a lot of input from DE. Slagel took it upon himself to come in and guide Bill verbally through a remix. I stuck it out with Dan through the entire remix, as well. Slagel was at Bill's Place every day, and it was during these mixing sessions that I really got acquainted with him. I kept pestering Brian about old Metal Blade acts like Fates Warning, Trouble, Warlord, Armored Saint and even early Slayer. It was fun chatting Slagel up about all things metal, and he flattered me a lot by exclaiming how much he dug "Idle City / The Fortress Unvanquishable." He absolutely loved the "helicopter" riff, he told me, that starts the second half of the epic two-parter. On another occasion, Slagel told me one of my leads was a total "Frank Aresti solo," and it made me grin. (Yes, I love Aresti's work in Fates Warning!) The Slagel-approved mix was finished just before our Club 369 gig. In retrospect, like many Slagel/Metoyer mix jobs, the bass guitar is pretty buried throughout most of the album. The guitars sound pretty killer for a digital recording. But I digress.
|Gig ad from Rock City News|
The show itself was a lot of fun. We'd gotten any initial jitters out of the way when we played Houston and Corpus Christi in March. I'd grown accustomed to playing our super fast and technical tunes in a live situation and wasn't as sloppy as I'd been on our maiden voyage in Houston. Though Breathe Deep wouldn't be released in America until September, we played about 90% of the album that night in Fullerton. Only "Clutching at Straws" was missing from the set list. I was personally stoked because my fave axe, a 1981 B.C. Rich Seagull, was finally back in commission for the gig. I had a lot of trouble with it in January. The bridge/tailpiece died and thanks to Il Niño the neck was beginning to warp. I was bummed that I couldn't record more than two clean guitar sections on Breathe Deep with the Seagull. It was/is big 'n' beefy.
The audio is one continuous MP3 file. Click on the link below to download it.
|Flyer for the 4/5/98 gig by Dan DeLucie|