For well over a decade now, Fox Bat Strategy has existed unreleased and unheard, slowly marinating in the ether of time, all the while retaining a uniquely modern sensibility. A musical pet project of film director David Lynch, Fox Bat features a cast of musicians who began collectively collaborating with Lynch surrounding the production of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, appearing on the film's two roadhouse instrumentals: "The Pink Room" and "Blue Frank" (as well as making cameos in the film itself). Of these players: Stephen Hodges (Drums), Don Falzone (Bass), Andy Armer (Keyboards) and Dave Jaurequi (Guitar), it was Jaurequi who was brought on last to contribute to the October, 1991 "Pink Room" session...unknowingly branding the word "group" on what was until then just another experiment. Lynch was floored by the chemistry of the session and, in 1994, invited the same musicians (with the addition of guitarist Smokey Hormel) to re-enter the studio and chase that same palpable magic... This time, the music seemed to spontaneously pour forth lyrics as well. Dave Jaurequi took vocal duties as Lynch scrawled out pages of text with directives of which would be spoken and which would be sung. What finally emerged were these seven tracks...tinted with 50's overtones, sinister undertones, and an ever-present abstract etherial quality.
Discussions about additional work and more recording dates for the album came up intermittently after 1994's burst of activity, but ultimately the project remained inexplicably dormant. In 2006, word was received that Dave Jaurequi had passed away suddenly. These seven tracks are presented now in tribute to Dave Jaurequi as a celebration of his life and his music.
"It's the fifties. It's late at night and it's been raining." That was all Lynch said. He turned around and walked out of the studio, back into the control room where he disappeared from view behind the thick, dark, double-glass wall. I looked over at Stephen, Andy, Don and Dave. We all looked at each other with similar expression of "OK. What do we do now?" I think Stephen was the first to play. It was a slow shuffle. Like a slow motion stripper groove. Don picked up on it and found a bass line that fit perfectly. Then Dave fell in with a simple soul back beat chink (the kind of thing you would hear Steve Cropper play on an Otis Redding ballad.) Then Andy found a few moody chords on the piano. And a little voice in my head said "Slide. Play the slide." I quickly found the key and started to give voice to the danger I was imagining. This wet empty street. Late at night. The air sweet and clean after a brief summer storm. That simple suggestion from Lynch was all we needed.
At this point we were all in the groove. After a while this voice came into our headphones, "Stephen, that snare drum is......well, is there another sound instead?" Stephen tried playing the rim of the drum. "That's better. Can you make it sound more like metal?" For the next 20 minutes, Stephen went through a number of different sounds. He played the side of the drum with a brush. He tried scraping the drum. He used a metal mallet. He tried a music stand. He tried a break-drum. An old stand up ashtray. Finally they settled on him playing the big heavy base of a mic stand turned upside down on top of the standing ashtray with a ball peed hammer as a mallet. We started jamming on that for a while. After a few minutes the sound started echoing in our headphones (like that tape echo you hear on an old Excello blues record.) The echo track was getting louder and louder, dominating the mix. I felt like I was being hypnotized. The clang of the ball peed hammer thru the tape echo was like some Shaman's club whacking me on the forehead over and over again until I was completely lost in a trance. After another several minutes, we managed to wind it down and find an ending, a resolution to our strange musical journey. I looked over at Stephen and his right arm was swollen from swinging that hammer. It looked like one of Popeye's arms. We all laughed and put down our instruments and headed into the control room. I asked Lynch, "Was it too normal?" He thought for a moment and said, "It was normal ......but it was Abnormal."
Throughout the whole session Lynch was doodling in his notebook. We all sat there behind him listened to the play back, which sounded even better on the big speakers. That kick drum thumping against the clang of the hammer echoed through my whole body. What a vibe. It was spooky and wonderful. The engineer was now setting up a bunch of strange looking microphones in the vocal booth. When the playback ended, everyone was smiling. And Lynch handed Dave a sheet of paper from his notebook with some words on it. "David, could you go in there and read these words?" By now, the vocal booth was full of microphones. There must have been 15 or 20, all set up like at a press conference. The engineer ran the tape back to the top of our jam and Dave stood there calmly with the headphones on and read from the sheet that Lynch had just given him. As the rest of us sat there in the control room listening, Lynch kept switching the mix from mic to mic. Each one was on a different track and sounded very different from the next one. And then this strange story unfolded.
"Who's this boy, walking in my neighborhood?
Who is this boy, walking....
...walking in my neighborhood."
Within one or two takes it was done. There was no acting. Dave just simply read the words. It was minimal and perfect. Lynch seemed satisfied. He told us that he got what he was after. He thanked us all and excused himself. It was 4pm, time to go meditate. After he left, I noticed his notebook lying open on the chair. I looked down to see what it was he had been doodling and I was amazed. There was a beautiful life drawing of a male nude. It was gorgeous.
I've done a lot of recording sessions in my life, but this one I will never forget. It was one of those moments you live for as a musician. A collaborative effort, where everyone is at their best and the end result is like magic.
- Smokey Hormel, 2008