When The house Starts Rockin'...
It’s getting down to the wire now for the re-record of Stay Hungry. This is when things start reaching fever pitch in the studio. And when creating any masterpiece, it’s about this time when one starts putting on the finishing touches. For da Vinci, it’s the last stroke of the brush. Michaelangelo, the last scrape of the chisel. Mark the Animal Mendoza….it’s time to bring on the gang vocalists!!!
The band requested friends, family, and colleagues (and one roving reporter!), to join them in singing background vocals on “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, “I Wanna Rock”, and “SMF”. We were happy to oblige and completely grateful to be a part of the making of what I will continue to tell you, ad nauseum, is truly a work of art! Plus, FREE PIZZA!!!!! Bonus!!! Seriously, this was an honor of such great magnitude that it has taken me over two months to get this on paper.
This was really thrilling for us on so many levels, and we arrived at the studio ready to rock! Mark greeted us and told us we needed to wait until the film crew arrived. FILM CREW????? You mean this is going to be recorded on film??? We found out that this will be included as part of the DVD coming out later this year. What a great idea to film the making of the CD for posterity’s sake.
Once the crew arrived, about 20 of us filed into the recording room and all gathered around three microphones located in the center of the room. We then discovered we were going to be led in the choir by chorus masters MAM, Jay Jay French and AJ Pero. Anyone who has ever attended a TS show would know at this point we were in for a heavy duty, no holds barred, barrage of humor in the first degree.
First up were the vocals for “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. Never having experience anything like this before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Mark handed out headphones to everyone, and arranged it so that the taller people would be in the back and the ratio of male to females would be evenly distributed. Much to my dismay, I was pulled out of the back and made to stand front and center. I was horrified, to say the least…especially because MAM had a clear view of me and would growl at me when he felt I wasn’t singing loud enough. That’s enough to scare anyone into doing just about anything. Luckily, there was a young man a tad shorter than me that I put in front of me. I tried to hide behind him as much as I could!
What happened next is that Denny (sound engineer savant) in the control room would play the guitar leads before everyone would have to sing the “Whoa-oo-oo’s. Think it’s easy, right? Wrong. You know how there’s harmony that you’ve been used to singing for 20 years? Well, we weren’t allowed to sing that. Once we got that through our heads, it went fine from there. The “Yeah’s” went fairly well, we got those down pretty quickly. Singing the chorus went well, too. Funny how the hardest part was the “Whoa’s”! At one point during the song, we were going to be doing another take of the chorus. Mark said “Ok, now we’ll do the second chorus the same as the first. ” Well, that opened up the door for Jay Jay to say “Second verse, same as the first!” And all of us went into a rollicking rendition of Herman’s Hermits “Henry the VIII”. That was hysterical. Also proved the median age of everyone in the room since we all new every word. That was really funny, and helped me to relax a bit!
Next up was “I Wanna Rock” Again, you would think it would be easy, right? All you have to do is shout “ROCK!” or “NO!”, or “GO!”. Wrong. After 20 years of singing along with these songs, it’s really hard not to sing along as you always have. You need to contain yourself because tape is rolling and you have to make sure you don’t sing with any of Dee’s lines right before your part comes in. Denny would play the line right before we came in. We would hear that through the headphones. Dee would sing “I Wanna Rock” and we’d go “ROCK”. That was fine. That hardest part for me was not to sing with Dee the third time he sings the line “I WANT TO ROCK” in the chorus. Just had to mouth it to myself so I didn’t get caught! Fortunately for me, MAM was looking somewhere else at the time…I hope!! When it came time to sing “rock” in rapid succession back and forth with Dee, a few of us were singing Dee’s “rock” instead of our ”rock”, so we had to do that over a couple of times as well. It was truly hilarious. Also, we were all required to harass Denny as much as possible. The poor man takes a merciless beating at the hands of the Bad Boyz of Rock and Roll. We were told at one point, when he was ready to record us saying, “Rock”, to yell “Denny Blows”. We did as we were told and although I couldn’t see Denny’s face, I’m sure he wasn’t all that happy about that. Nonetheless, it was pretty funny! He’s a good sport, and I’m sure pretty used to the abuse after all these years.
The last song of the night after a break was “SMF”. Took a little while for some folks to get down the timing of the last “SMF “in the chorus where it kind of slows down and you punch out “S-M-F”. I’ll tell you, as I was singing that, I really felt it. I’m here in a room with three of my idols in my favorite rock band of all time, and declaring loud and proud what it all comes down to. I’m an SMF!!! A truly defining moment.
It took about 20 minutes to a half an hour to record each of the songs. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for an hour and a half I was in Heaven. All of us had a blast and we were so happy that Mark asked us to be part of, if you will, the history of Twisted Sister. It’s hard to put into words what that experience means. I was filled with pride and gratitude and will never forget that night. It’s locked away deep in my heart, something that no one can ever touch, something that will be with me forever.
Thanks to Twisted Sister for another fabulous memory.
Still Hungry CD-DVD Update - 5.20.04
The Making of 'The Beast,' Part One - 6.25.04
A Thank-You Letter To Twisted Sister, 8.18.04
When The House Starts Rockin'... 9.29.04
Another DVD Update - 3.30.05
Yet Another DVD Update - 4.26.05