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Sonny Vincent - Testors - Vocals and Guitar
Rat Scabies - The Damned - Drums
Glen Matlock - Sex Pistols-Bass
Steve Mackay - Stooges-Sax

Badassed line up, huh? But it didn’t come together by design. No, folks, it sure as heck didn’t. Well… even though I have a ton of stuff to do today, I am obligated to tell the story of this album before the Illuminati get ahold of it and rewrite history to suit their plans. (I understand they dance to my song, “I See”, at their meetings and picnics. Apparently, it’s a horrible sight of angular frenetic dancing with grimaced faces and clenched fists.)

This album was three years in the making and it all started with a phone call from Herman Verbelen. I have some friends in Belgium, notably Herman, Isabelle, and Ronny. Growing up in Brussels, they were Punk Rock/Garage fans and later followed their maniacal interests by booking bands, promoting shows, and supporting every scroungy passion powered band that came around. Everyone has crashed at their place and enjoyed a gigantic American-style breakfast (in Belgium, nice!).

Anyway…one day I get a call from Herman, “Hey, Sonny, Ronny and I have spent all our time and money going around Europe in a van, collecting vintage analog recording studio gear, and installed it in our studio. We have a 24-track tape machine and a killer board, along with all kinds of stuff from the 50s and 60s. Would you like to come over with your band and record two or three songs for a test run in our studio?”

I immediately said yes!!! In my head, I was thinking, “Free at last, thank God Almighty, free at last.” Analog tape? Vintage board? All from the 50s and 60s? I’m there, Mo Fo! I said to Herman, “I’ll call the guys and we can organize a date.” OK, folks, strap in and get ready for some whacko stuff that is somehow stupid yet beautiful and complex. Hmmm…reminds me of someone.

I first called the drummer I just did a tour with, a young kid from Germany, and I ranted, “Vintage gear!!! Analog tape!! Let’s go to Belgium!!” But he explained he couldn’t get time off from his job. This made perfect sense to me since it was the same guy who, we discovered on tour while talking in the van, did not know who Little Richard was. I nearly puked. We wanted to eject him from the van. In his defense, he was 21 years old and on further questioning, he did know who Elvis was.

Next up was another drummer, a 47 year old guy who I played with in the past, also from Germany. I effusively explained the chance of a lifetime to him. Believing in my heart I was offering him the keys to the kingdom of heaven forever and ever, amen. Remember, folks, studio gear from the 50s and 60s! Ahhhhhh!!! I said, “Dude, get on a train to Brussels. Everything will be set up. Drums are there, a private room, it’s all good, buddy.” He said in a firm 47-year old German voice, “Sonny, I am 47 years old. I don’t get on trains to Brussels!!”

WTF! One guy was too young and the other too old. I don’t wanna dis my friends here, they are both fine people. Perhaps I’m just stupid and love Little Richard more than life itself. I would have walked to Belgium from Honolulu and that would require foot pods, I guess.

There I stood with the phone in my hand, flabbergasted. Who can I call? I need a good drummer to record some songs with me in Belgium. Suddenly, an idea! The previous year, I had been in London and jammed with Rat Scabies of The Damned. We rented a rehearsal studio in the heart of London and ripped into some of my songs, loud and wild. We also hit it off well as delinquents! Ratty is a charming and funny guy.

I called Rat. I explained the situation and, without skipping a beat, he said, “Sonny, if you get me the gas money to drive to Brussels, I’m there!” Now we are talking, folks!
I called Malte, the guy who put out my last album on his small label, Still Unbeatable Records, and he sent Rat gas money.

I figured I could get me and Rat down on tape and add the other parts later.
At the outset, I must explain that, from Herman and Ronny’s perspective, I was invited to come over and record a couple of songs to test the equipment to see if it functioned, etc. We spoke about a simple recording with two microphones in the room recording live. But when Rat drove up, he had a giant anvil case with tons of microphones of his own which he set up all over his drums.

I figured, “OK. If Rat is going to have eight tracks, I might as well have 15 or more!” So what started off as a simple live recording had, at this point, turned into a multi-track album recording session.
And then things started to take form, the entire direction changed. I wrote 19 songs and recorded all 19 with Rat over the course of three days. A great time, living at Herman and Isabelle’s house. (Hi Siggy!)

Right at the start, in the first moment, after all the equipment was set up and turned to ‘Loud’, I challenged Rat. He sat at the drums and I stood there wired into two 1950’s Vox amps made by the Lord. I said, “Can you play this, English Fucker?” and I cranked out a brutal riff. Rat said, “Yes, I can, American Fuck!” and we tore into it with a vengeance. And it went on to harder and tougher levels of intensity and then into other areas of mercurial beauty. I wasn’t about to waste time screwing around. I had one of the greatest drummers in the world in front of me and that meant, “get all the passion, NOW!” We spent long, long hours in the studio: focused, inspired, and committed.

After we finished, we sat in the lounge of Primitive Sounds with Herman, Isabelle, and Ronny. We were having some drinks and discussing what had now become “The Album.” I decided that, since both Rat and myself were originally from the early ’77 Punk movement, we should get the next parts played by guys who were also from the music scene in those formative times. We decided to give Glen Matlock, the original bass player of the Sex Pistols, a call. Both me and Rat knew Glen and we knew it would be cool. Glen agreed to come to Brussels after I sent him some mp3s of stuff me and Rat had made. Malte sent him money for the train trip from London to Brussels. (Dudes do take trains to record!! Glory be!)

I said goodbye to Rat and, a day later, Glen showed up. He smoked and burned through the songs. A gentleman and a consummate bass player. Good times rollin’!

Then a new idea took form. I called my pal, Steve Mackay of the Stooges, and invited him to play sax. Steve flew in from San Francisco to Brussels on his own dime. Well…frequent flyer miles from The Stooges’ tours!!! Awesome!!! And again a great time with Steve. He wailed and cranked it hard for us. A badassed swing, intensity and natural charisma. Yup, Steve Mackay!
All in all, the initial recordings in Belgium took three months. I worked from ten in the morning ‘til five a.m., around the clock, doing my vocals and extra guitar parts.

Then I did rough mixes. The sound of the rough mixes is really amazing (if I must say) but, due to my unwillingness to adhere to the limits of technology, my rough mixes are really loud and overblown. Like maybe the Sonics in the hull of an oil tanker. I searched for an outside source to do the mixes. After a few guys gave me test mixes, I finally found Larry Ramirez. I had rehearsed in his and Derek O’Brien’s DOB studios in Santa Fe Springs, California. They have rehearsal rooms and a recording studio. I explained the situation to Larry and he said I should send him a song and he would give it a try. I was really happy with his mix and he agreed to mix the album between his other jobs.

Larry’s mixes were incredible but I was always asking for one element louder or one element with more reverb, etc. and it was taking forever due to my particular wishes. For me, the mixes were almost there but not quite. It was taking soooo long and, although Larry truly is a prince among men, he was telling me things like, “Sonny, I’ve spent more time on this than any other project in my life, including recording from scratch entire albums AND mixing them!” Add to that, he was basically doing this pro bono.

We sent stuff back and forth on the internet, but it just was not working fast enough. I simply had to get to LA to finalize the mix together with Larry at the helm. That’s what I did. I also went into Bob Lanzer’s mastering studio. Bob Lanzer is another one man army or even maybe a faith healer! My friend, Wulf Beck, designed the art and I paid him by mailing him packages of albums from my past. Wulf is another amazing and talented ‘soul man’.

I have had the honor to work with many dedicated and passionate people on this album.
And I want to thank you folks who now hold this album in your hands. I’m well aware that these songs will eventually be free all over the internet. Perhaps all the money and time invested will never be compensated for, but I don’t really give a shit. I’m the guy who loves Little Richard and that’s where I live.

I like to fuck shit up, go wild, and have a good time but I can also be very focused and serious. I am not the type to go around giving fake hippie hugs to people. If I say something, I mean it. I appreciate ‘soul’. I know this album will deliver some to you.

Brothers and sisters. Stay tuned as the adventure continues.