On the last day of each year, I like to tell a story that happened to me during the year, so can I remember a lesson for myself, and to perhaps pass it on to a few more. This year, I asked one of my favorite bands, HONEYHONEY, to write this essay, which is titled “Rodrigo’s Gift.” I think you’ll enjoy it.
Wishing everyone a wonderful 2016!
Editor-in-chief, writer, photographer
Speakers in Code
HONEYHONEY is Ben Jaffe and Suzanne Santo. They released the album 3 in 2015, and “Yours To Bear” landed on our 60 Best Songs of 2015 list.
Rodrigo’s Gift (written by Ben Jaffe of HONEYHONEY)
We were in Rock Island, Illinois recording a Daytrotter session. Summertime, in between tour stops, this was our “day off”. (I don’t know much about Daytrotter but here’s what I do: It’s a pretty successful recording series. Touring bands, and locals, too. People come through and spend a few hours in one of a community of INSANE recording studios. Daytrotter releases the session a few months later to a network of subscribers with a cool illustration of you that, if you’re honeyhoney, makes you look like Christmas elves.
The studios are INSANE for two reasons. First off, the gear, instruments, and equipment are second to none. BALLIN’. If there was ever evidence of the sunny side of hoarding, this would be it. Secondly, the studios, at least the two we’ve been to, are in bizarre places. Abandoned office buildings, linoleum coated accounting firms, seemingly abandoned in the 70’s at a moment’s notice. (Maybe they all went out to lunch and just quit one day.)
Anyhey, here we are, honored to be recording (for free!) with a reputable organization as well as exhausted from what had been almost 3 weeks without a day off and another 7 days before one would come. We set up and got hungry. I drove off to get some Mexican food, and came back 20 minutes later to chow down and get to work. Work commences. Someone needs to get in the car.
“Ben, where are the keys?”
“Over by the table, by the food.”
No keys. Okay, we’ll find them later, time moves quickly in a recording studio and, *Rodrigo, the Daytrotter engineer assigned to our case, keeps a busy schedule. We keep rolling, halfway done, then, “Okay, those keys?”
We actually NEED them now, a piece of gear has been left in the car and, uh, we need it. No keys. Spots are checked, checked again. Bags emptied, tension palpable. Spare key? In the car.**
Rodrigo peers around hopelessly as his work day gets longer and longer. Remember, this place is a hoarder’s wet dream, the landscape isn’t exactly sparse. Wounds of the past begin to open. In all honesty, I am statistically the most likely to lose the keys on any given occasion. Things begin to go grim. If our morale had been a sputtering prop plane going INTO the session, we had just lost an engine.
Quick side note. Touring is fucking hard. It took me all of my 20’s to admit that but weeks of heavy travel, emotional vulnerability, and enthusiastic alcohol consumption make it pretty easy to understand why most bands shatter and get graphic design jobs before opting to climb back in a van for another run at the salt mines.
That in mind…
The climate generated by Ben and Suzanne has gone frosty. Suze is pissed and wants to get in the car, more than a little dismayed that her partner picks some of the worst times to make things worse. Fair enough. From my side I’m embarrassed, defensively pissed at everyone for being pissed at me, and baffled by my savant-level gift for losing keys.
We call AAA in defeat. 20 minutes later, Gary, with a resplendent blonde mullet, nearly busts open our window to unlock the driver’s side door and we’re saved. We can open the trailer, load our gear, get out of dodge. Forget that song that we weren’t able to record. We’re pretty much ready to go save for the swollen boulder of resentment that lies between Suze and I, and the small fact that we still haven’t found the keys which also happen to let Suzanne in and out of the front door of her house.
Now, Suzanne and I get sore at each other plenty. Sometimes constantly, which for two people who share about 6 cubic feet of space on average, isn’t much of a surprise. We redeem ourselves just as often with good old fashion “we’re adults” discussions that eventually cool us off, but something about this day, deep into a tour, new record about to come out, chock full of Rock Island burritos, we were just letting each other have it. It was underneath a lilting elm that we battled.
Rodrigo was locking up the studio and walked by, putting his right hand in his pocket.
“Oh hey, here are your keys. They were in my pocket. Haha…I do that all the time.”
He walked off.
That was 6 months ago now. We’re learning to laugh about it.
* This name has been changed to protect “Rodrigo’s” identity.
** do not keep your spare key in your car.