This month's White Label Series is a bit of a departure from our norm. Our curator this month is Mike Watt, with this insane, spontaneous fusion of forces helped brought to be by our guy Chris Schlarb. Members of this trio are Mike Watt, Danny Frankel, and Matt Mottel: Afternoon Freak, The Blind Strut. Read their three part statement below.
My inspiration for the Afternoon Freak project got originally lit by BIG EGO studio man Chris Schlarb and it's to him I dedicated my involvement 'pert-near as much as I do the two co-conspirators Matt Mottel and Danny Frankel who I joined up with in Chris Schlarb's pad to create what I'm here writing about: the debut album from Afternoon Freak, The Blind Strut.
It was Chris Schlarb who also connected me to the good people at Joyful Noise Recordings who asked me to curate an album for their White Label Series. In my mind, it was totally natural that this choice should be the Afternoon Freak work cuz of the cats involved—it made total sense to me.
What Chris Schlarb provided for me was the opportunity to connect with one cat I had never met before who lived on a different coast and was from another generation. This is proof to someone like me, how powerful music can be, it's got the stuff to overcome "realities" such as that, in a transcendent way. Young Matt Mottel in my mind probably instigated this whole adventure but it was Chris Schlarb that made it a "reality"—he chose a beautiful cat I've known a long time for stickman, Danny Frankel, who just last year joined me, and incredible bass brother Devin Hoff, in an improvised trio project called the Emma Goldman Bust-out Brigade so I had an anchor to hold me fast in the face of the big-scary-sitch of never having met keyboard man Matt before.
The whole event involving us three... actually four—we gotta include recording man Chris Schlarb—happened in one afternoon (January 14, 2017) at BIG EGO. Of course for me it was a pants-shitter cuz of the sitch, but right away, one at a time, everyone involved made me feel more and more calm without losing focus and edge ( one time when I was recording my first opera and telling drummer man Stephen Hodges I was scared he told me, "Watt, sometimes being a little scared is like being a little excited" and I never forgot that ), without losing the "excitement" of not knowing what might result, but still having the nerve along with your cats to throw the dice as hard as possible with fists in the air yet having a trippy kind of humility all tied up there in the crux—this is what I've found to help with the listening: guitar man Nels Cline taught me that listening is most important improv collab tool ever. Also, the BIG IDEA that life is a classroom and everyone's got something to teach Watt. That makes me feel really grateful to everyone involved with this project to have Watt aboard. Hopefully, I provided good glue to stick stuff to for Matt and Danny—these brothers deserve nothing less!
On drums, Danny Frankel:
Chris Schlarb, who I met via Nels Cline, coordinated this combination of players at BIG EGO Studios in Long Beach, CA. Before I met Matt, I watched some YouTube videos of him and I appreciated his take on life. There was this moment that day in the studio, when I was drumming and vocalizing non-sequiturs, and I looked over about 12 feet to my right, where I saw Matt watching me play, nodding his head with a look of intrigue on his face.
And then we had Watt on bass, whose musical career and philosophy I've appreciated ever since my arrival in Los Angeles from Washington DC. As a trio, I heard a very flexible travelogue of sights seen and not seen. A wonderful day in outer space!
Keyboard man, Matt Mottel:
The Blind Strut is only accomplished thru acumen, compassion and confidence. Spending time in the studio with Mike Watt and Danny Frankel created a cohesive unit almost immediately. There was a willful focus to be in the moment and make it count.
Especially Watt and Danny; craftsman of the highest degree.
I was honored to make tones rise on the positive trip with these guys. An 'afternoon freak' of the highest order thanks to engineer Chris Schlarb for having the intuition to pair us together. I left the session humbled that I had had the amazing opportunity to play with these master musicians and was way enthused by the results! Dig it and have proper time with this music. Thank you for listening.
We are sold out of this year's subscription, but you can purchase digital and physical copies from the trio themselves right this way --> afternoonfreak.bandcamp.com
If you are current subscriber head over here for the Digital Download of Afternoon Freak, The Blind Strut.