JJerry Granelli is a man in motion. During conversation, he moves constantly, pushing hands, lifting arms, craning neck, bending and straightening core behind his desk.
While making 1313, his new solo drum/percussion/electronics record (named for the address of his office and an adjoining performance space), Granelli powered through the four-hour, one-night recording session back in April.
He lost power only once.
"There's one on there called "Love Song For U" and I was just stopped cold in my tracks," Granelli recalls of the one point he got stuck. The 70-year-old's co-producers on 1313 (Charles Austin, who also engineered the album, and Darcy Spidle, head of Divorce Records, which is releasing it) encouraged Granelli to take a break. "If I give up now I'm defeated," he remembers thinking. "It was just a matter of [a different] motion with the bow and this one sound I punched up and then it came out." Granelli repeats the actions as he speaks the words. "Then the rest of the pieces opened up."
And once they were done, Granelli recounts, "It was clear there was no more music to be made that night."
Only on "A Nice Bunch of Guys" are overdubs used; that's one in eight compositions. Each has its own tone, mood, rhythm and sound dimension---their own place in time and space. For "Hail---non-stop," cymbals speak clearest, but they're not the only voice on the track. "Remember what it's like to listen to hail on a tin roof," counsels Granelli, clearly back in the moment. "If you're willing to listen it's just got rhythmic possibilities."
Similarly, the relationship of feet striking the ground beneath them informed another song, "Walking On a Road with Some Bells Around Your Neck." His studio collaborators commented that the bass drum seemed, as they put it, "fucked up." Granelli validated their concern: "It is fucked up. It's this guy walking down the road and there're these bells hanging around his neck and his feet are just fucked up."
For that matter, he says, smiling widely, his high-hat was screwy too. "You really have to know what right is to know what fucked-up is."
Still, Granelli credits Spidle with, first of all, encouraging him to record his first solo record and then for, along wtih Austin, supporting him attentive, open minds while he did.
"I probably had the most doubts going in," says Granelli. "Basically [Spidle] said, 'I just want you to do what you do.'"
A trust formed. A belief in letting oneself go, as happened for Music Has its Way with Me (a recording with Buck 65, then Stinkin' Rich, in 2000) and as defines one of his bands, V16. "You know when you're a kid and you're running down a hill and you realize if you panic and try to stop you are just so dead. All you can do is just let your feet move."
But shouldn't one, the older one gets, avoid running down hills? After all, falling hurts. "Falling's gonna hurt! But it's your only hope."