Private Pepper

Liz Spring sent me this photo today from 1994. As always I do the math in my mind — 24 years ago for those of you keeping score at home. Sitting at Bench Two on the Berkeley campus.

As soon as I saw my face I thought: “I was taking way too many drugs back then.” Pot, acid, crack, speed. My brain was going in multiple directions. I’m glad I cleaned up my act nowadays and am just a straight up alcoholic. It’s much more linear on my thinking.

I had this hare-brained idea at the time of “making it” as a musician. I had had some success as a cartoonist, writer, graphic artist and photographer, so I thought maybe my artistic talents might also transfer to the medium of music. What I mostly wanted to do was write and record songs. Which I loved doing. My dream was to record a classic psychedelic album. Call it Private Pepper. A pun. Because music had mostly been this private thing with me that I mostly kept to myself.

I ended up recording a demo of about 10 of my songs on 8-track reel-to-reel tape with some over-dubbing and psychedelic special effects. Had sort of a moody, melancholy, early Pink Floyd sound. I have no idea if it was any good. How can you be objective about something like that? But I can tell you it sounded fantastic to me when I listened to it on headphones played on recording studio-quality equipment while peaking on acid. So it passed my personal acid test.

I still have the original reel-to-reel master tape stashed somewhere in my storage locker. Maybe some day I’ll dig it up, take it to a real recording studio and finish it. Over-dub some drums and bass and moog synthesizer and tweak out the effects for the proper mind-bending properties. And then press it up on vinyl. Because that’s what I always wanted. My own record. Just to be perverse.

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