One night when we, The Rum Diary, were playing at the Tradewinds in Cotati, one of our old haunts, a gentlemen came up and introduced himself after the show. He wanted to bring us to his studio, produce and record our next album. We had heard this many times from many people, but this was different. This guy was interested in MUSIC. He talked about it beautifully, elegantly, and we instantly trusted him. There is a big difference between trying to drum up business for your studio, and going out to watch bands, finding musicians you want to work with. He knew about our band, he had ideas of how to capture our sound in the studio, he was so fucking charming when talking about music, so understated, so mellow, yet fiercely passionate and knowledgeable. It was irresistible. Of course we fell for it.
We recorded two albums with Tim, spent many hours in the studio with him. He was a good friend and a true artist when it came to music, recording it, playing it, thinking about it. He and I spent much time commuting into the city from Sonoma County. We would listen to music on these drives, we would introduce each other to new music, he would deconstruct songs and talk about the beauty in them. Since then I always wished I had the musical brain that Tim had, always focused on feel above technique, finding the beauty in mistakes, making music interesting again.
We also had the privalege of meeting Jude, Tim’s wife, who was an incredible artist herself. Our hearts go out to her and their daughter. We love you Tim, music will miss you.
Year 2005, mixing the last Rum Diary album, We’re Afraid of Heights Tonight. We had not worked with anyone like Tim Mooney before. He came to us with an interest in producing and mixing. He was a veteran of sound, an accomplished musician and engineer. I recall being a bit intimidated, but after a few minutes speaking with Tim that all vanished.
His studio in San Francisco dubbed “Closer”. Joy Division reference. I really liked that. I knew then that this guy was in the correct mindset. He liked our sound; he had great ideas on how to manipulate it. He spoke of sounds coming from different “rooms” like a separation but still together. I was starting to like this guy a lot. He would sit cross-legged in his chair and nonchalantly twist and turn knobs like he was piloting some strange sound device. He had a deft touch that could only come from somebody with an inherent ability to precisely control and utilize sound to its greatest level. He was funny and patient too, with all of us sitting there each with his own opinion, he would take into account everyone’s input and do his best to make it work. He had a wry smile that suggested he was in on our goofy antics and inter-band jokes. I liked Tim a lot, and I wish I could see him again one last time.
Tim Mooney was a member of American Music Club, he played on Sun Kil Moon’s debut LP, 2003’s Ghosts of the Great Highway, and was a prior member of the Sleepers, Negative Trend and Toiling Midgets. Tim was also a producer and engineer, and operated his own Closer Recording studio in San Francisco.
On a beautiful April Friday afternoon, Jonny Latimer and I set out on the first bike trip of the year. Jonny is a seasoned randonneuring vet, this was my first time at the rodeo. I am the annoying guy with the new and shiny Ortlieb panniers. He is the guy with the classic Cannondales covered by a perfect amount of dust.
Start: Ebarcadero BART
1. Sartaj India Cafe, Saulsalito – Apple pie and ginger chai tea for breakfast, don’t ask where the apple pie comes from unless you want to be seriously disappointed. I, myself, couldn’t tell you because I have blocked it out.
2. Iron Springs Brewery, Fairfax – I point out that the sun is still pretty low to be drinking beer, Jonny still convinces me to try a sampler paddle. It’s the perfect fuel for riding, he claims. I prefer the stout, as always, and a nice fuzzy haze settles over the morning.
3. Samuel P Taylor Park, Lagunitas-Forest Knolls – we arrive early and set up shop at the hiker/biker campsite. Out of the woods comes a disheveled adventurer by the name of Andrew. To my shagrin, what followed was a hushed and paranoid discussion of religion, conspiracy and the third reich. Jonny, of course, was in heaven and comfortably held his own with this knowledgeable fellow. (Question: You guys brought a red and white checkered tablecloth? Answer: No, it was there)
4. Nicasio Valley Cheese Company, Nicasio – I will always be surprised how pumped up other bikers get when they see you riding loaded up with camping gear. We got hand signs for rock on, hang loose, thumbs up, all of em. Something about bike camping speaks to the core of Californians, and I hope it’s not just that you get to buy lots of stuff at REI. It’s vacation, it’s camping, it’s biking, it’s freedom, it’s exercise, and it’s carbon-free all rolled into one. Anyway, This cheese factory is a popular stop for riders, so we found ourselves explaining several times where we started, where we were going, thought about exaggerating those facts in the future, had danish and some coconut water and we were off.
5. Butter and Eggs Parade, Petaluma (by accident) – well damned if it isn’t a flat bed truck blasting pop country with line-dancing girls in wranglers and tube tops. Ehhhh, no thanks. We work our way through the crowd. The contrast between this and the ride from Samuel P Taylor to Nicasio, which was definitely the most beautiful I have ever been on, was stark.
6. Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma – here we had an excellent lunch. Jonny got bit by a dog…in the FACE, and got a free meal. I had this pint of stout that was brewed in an aged whiskey barrel or some shit, didn’t like it. Sorry, I don’t like whiskey, but the food was top-notch, however depressing the east side of Petaluma is.
7. Oliver’s Market, Cotati (the ol’ stomping grounds) – How many times over the years did I walk into Oliver’s, curse the higher prices but praise the selection, salad bar, taqueria, sushi bar, bakery….too many. I still love this place.
8. Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa – Here we met some friends for lunch and had the best beer yet. We also had some unusually spicy chicken wings that made us hallucinate. Jonny picks up a growler of Pliny the Elder.
”]”]”]9. Spring Lake Campground, Santa Rosa – I wasn’t really prepared for what happened next. We meet a big group of riders who are making their way up north and join their camp. Everyone is very friendly, but one gentleman who was soaking up whiskey like a sponge starts challenging every person to a Greco Roman wrestling match. He takes down opponent after opponent, I cannot participate because of my fractured foot. But also, I’m not going to lie, wrestling with really drunk strangers is not something I am in to.
10. The Recyclery, San Rafael – In my estimation, you can find the best deals at this place over any other in the Bay Area. Also, note that Parks and Records donates to their non-profit, Trips for Kids. I pick up some extra padded riding shorts. Yeah, spandex, go ahead, laugh. It felt like I was sitting on a cloud for the rest of the ride.
Finish: Ebarcadero BART
I’m not going to lie, I didn’t really know about this either, but, On Saturday, April 21st 2012, hundreds of independently owned music stores across the world will simultaneously unite with the purpose of celebrating culture and the unique place that they occupy both in their local communities and the world. There are deals to be had, moves to be made, records to be collected.
The last time I wandered into Amoeba, I found a translucent blue vinyl copy of Steel Pole Bathtub’s “Scars From Falling Down” for something like $9. It was like a gift from the heavens. And before that, I traded in about 15 CDs for Godspeed You Black Emperor!’s “Yanqui U.X.O.” A good trade I would say.
So, to make a long story even longer, if you happen by Amoeba or Rasputin in Berkeley or SF, look out for Parks and Records releases “Our Future Selves” by Shuteye Unison and “Where to Swim” by Carcrashlander. You can even find “Poisons That Save Lives” by the Rum Diary.
I recently asked all the musicians on Parks and Records to send me some listening recommendations.
This is not some snobby, nose-upturned list of bands we think are cool and that you should like.
This is not a list of bands we want to be associated with ( I honestly don’t know half of them…)
This is music that we have been listening to lately for relaxation and inspiration. This is what Silian Rail is listening to from the comforts of their touring station wagon.
Ryan (B. Hamilton)
- Tyler Wagner – Live at C.A.M.P. (note from blog author, if you haven’t watched this, you really should)
- Bill Withers – Live at Carnegie Hall, Desert Sessions 3 & 4
- Art Tatum – 20th Century Piano Genius
- Thin Lizzy – Vagabond of the Western World
Macy (B. Hamilton)
Eric and Robin (Silian Rail – from the road!)
- Wye Oak- Civilian
- The Mallard- Yes On Blood
- B. Hamilton- Everything is Broken (Eric’s note: we are not just kissing ass)
Schuyler (Shuteye Unison)
Jon (Shuteye Unison)
- Phil Collins – No Jacket Required (he’s not joking)
- Five Speed – Practice Sessions (totally obscure, no link)
- Def Leppard – High n Dry
- Superchunk – Majesty Shredding
Jake (Shuteye Unison)
Daniel (Shuteye Unison)
- Tunng – And Then We Saw Land…)
- Toro y Moi – Causers of This
- Maserati – Inventions for the New Season
Would you like to catch one of our bands perform live, in between filmings of Cribs, European tours, vacations that are secretly rehab visits, breakups with celebrities, cameos on the Simpsons, etc.?
Here are some dates:
- 3/29: B. Hamilton @ the Great American Music Hall, SF
- 3/30: Silian Rail @ House Show, LA, CA
- 3/31: Silian Rail @ Tin Can Alehouse, San Diego
- 4/03: Silian Rail @ The Center, 548 Fillmore St., SF
- 4/06: B. Hamilton @ the Uptown for First Friday in Oakland
- 4/20: Shuteye Unison and B. Hamilton @ Space Lounge, Berkeley
- 5/03: Silian Rail CD Release at Bottom of the Hill, SF
- 5/06: B. Hamilton with Battlehooch at Brick and Mortar, SF
More shows to be announced very soon.