In the control room at Kilgore studios the Sierra Nevada has given way to Bud Light and between moments of quiet awe, listening to songs for Drew Gasparini’s new compilation I Could Use A Drink roar to life, there is an almost constant stream of insults and dick jokes.
“This is the bro-iest musical theater recording session I’ve ever witnessed,” John Kilgore says, surveying the room loaded with boys–producer Daniel Benge, photographer Scott Brownlee, actors Tim Ehrlich, Gabe Violett and Blake Daniel, and of course composer Drew Gasparini. He’s the reason everyone is there, after all.
They’ve been there for hours, as the empty beer bottles indicate. Stars like Jeremy Jordan, Kacie Sheik, Nick Blaemire and Andrew Kober have come and gone. Jenn Damiano, Justin Guarini, F Michael Haynie and Alex Brightman will make appearances later. Hours more will be spent in that small room, laughing and singing. And we were there to document the whole thing. Because who doesn’t want to know what goes on behind the scenes when Broadway’s future stars make a record, right?
Below, is a sort-of scrapbook of the making of I Could Use A Drink, replete with pics, observations, and the occasional direct quote–those were too good to leave out.
18 November 2012
Behold the most important clothing item of this session: Drew Gasparini’s fake glasses, which he claims to wear because they make him look smart. They’re “fashion glasses,” to be precise. Not unlike fashion jeans, as opposed to work jeans. Or safety glasses. We think Drew looks smart even without glasses, but let’s be real. Glasses never, ever hurt anything.
This is Charlie Rosen, Musical Genius and General Cute Person. You likely know him as the bass player from Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, or the other musician guy from One Man, Two Guvnors. During this recording session, he will a lot of walking around, conducting, pressing buttons, and telling people what to do and sing.
The guy on the left is Daniel. He’s a producer of the theater. He’s also Australian, which means he has an amazing accent. By all accounts, his glasses are real, and totally made of bamboo.
Kacie Sheik and Eric Michael Krop record a song called “Michigan.” In case you’re wondering — and we know you are — Kacie was wearing an amazing drape-y cardigan and Eric Michael Krop was looking a) hot and b) like Robin Thicke, two things that always go together. “Michigan” is one of only two songs on the album that stands alone, and isn’t part of a musical.
Drew on “Michigan”: This song is about trying to date my best friend. And every time I bought a ticket to go see her, I’d get a new show in NYC and I couldn’t go. And I wrote this song to be angst-y and Dashboard Confessional-y.
When they ask Kacie to come back into the control room, she demurs. “I don’t like to listen,” she says.
This is mostly what we do–sit/stand around and watch, talk a lot, listen some more. Often with an adult beverage in hand, in accordance with the theme of this recording, obviously.
Between takes, Charlie chats with us about how he does a totally niche thing in the Broadway ecosystem — He’s an onstage musician. So he can play some badass bass in your show’s band, but he also got his Equity card as an actor.
Check out Broadway’s Nick Blaemire, late of Godspell and Dogfight, recording the song “Bring Me Down” with Evita’s lovely Rachel Potter.
This is the handsome and genuinely sort of romantic profile of the exceptionally talented Blake Daniel. He hung out while Nick and Rachel were recording.
Nick Blaemire gives all of this a hearty thumbs up.
There was, by the way, an extensive conversation about whether or not it was acceptable to have alcohol appear in these pictures. As you can see, once we resolved that it was okay — the album title being about booze and all — Nick was right on board.
Rachel taking a first listen. Blaemire dug Charlie’s arrangement. His comment: The strings, Rosen!
This is the part where we should tell you — with a distinct note of personal regret — that Jeremy Jordan recorded a song for this album and we weren’t there to witness it. We could have attended the session except we were in London seeing The Bodyguard. Tragic in nine different ways, that.
Gabe Violett, Blake Daniel and Tim Ehrlich getting ready to record the song “Valley High.” At some point during this session, Charlie Rosen will conduct the singers with a paintbrush.
We asked Drew how this song came about, and he explained that he got the idea for it while he was on the toilet. For realz. He was reading a magazine article about the anniversary of the Columbine shootings. At the time, he was working on his serial killer musical Make Me Bad, and studying up on the motivations of killers.
The night ends at a bar, toasting three successful songs. Fun fact: Drew has an obscure tattoo. That’s not a squid. It’s an Italian horn — a symbol of luck and protection.
10 December 2012
Wicked’s F Michael Haynie had finished recording before we arrived, but hung around til the bitter end. We dig the porkpie hat.
This is Justin Guarini laying down his track, called “Good Stuff.” It’s hot. Like, so hot that as he prepared to start recording, Drew shouted “cover your vagina!” at us. You know, so we wouldn’t get spontaneously pregnant.
Between takes, Justin can only hear us speaking if someone presses a button, like Charlie here. This is probably a good thing, because it gets a little ridiculous when there’s too much access to him. Case in point? At one point Alex Brightman calls out “Who are you?!” Justin’s perfectly dry response? “Clay Aiken.”
Drew was super excited to record with Jenn Damiano, on whom he has a secret crush (which is clearly no longer a secret).
When he’s not sitting pensively at the board, Charlie conducts this session with the neck of a bass guitar.
Jenn is obviously better dressed than anyone else in the room.
Alex Brightman, straight chillin’ before it’s his turn to record. Remember his sweatshirt, it will be important in a second.
Brightman, singing with gusto, completely sweatshirtless. At this point he’s probably lost his shoes, too. Why, you ask? Because, whether on a bet or just a whim, Brightman had made the decision to strip record. Every mistake or screwy take meant he had to lose an item of clothing.
By the last take of the night, Drew was begging us to use this as the final line of our article: “Alex Brightman clothes himself, picks up his shoes, and exits.”
After recording wraps, we’re hanging out in the Kilgore kitchenette when someone asks Michael Kimmel — one of Drew’s collaborators, who stopped by to say hi — about the tiny cuts on his fingers and knuckles. They’re from shredding potatoes for Chanukah latkes, he says. Then someone asks if he’s Jewish. “No, I’m Irish,” he informs us, before everyone laughs about the Irishman being left to handle the potatoes.
Nope. We don’t know what Brightman is doing here, either.
The last recording session in NYC is a wrap, so clearly, it’s time for a group shot. Insanity ensues.
The night ends at… two or three am? When you’re using red pool chalk like war paint on the producer’s face, it’s time to go home.