I couldn’t be more thrilled to be posting this video! The back story:
Back in 2010, Matt Wallace and I had the opportunity to work on an album with an Australian band called Thirsty Merc. Right off the bat, we knew we were dealing with a different breed. While most bands mess around playing Beatles covers, noodling on their instruments, or telling jokes in between takes; these guys were launching off into crazy harmonic jazz explorations. While we were overdubbing I often felt as if I wasn’t earning my pay because we’d often nail entire tracks in one pass. In a time when my day to day experience more often involves copious punch-ins and edits, followed by time correction and tuning, this was pretty disconcerting! But also thrilling. These guys were serious players, led by someone I can only now refer to as a phenom named Rai Thistlethwayte. Rai was born to play music. He lives inside of it, and is able to manipulate it on the fly in ways that are truly astounding. He’s a monster on every instrument he plays.
Fast forward to the end of 2012. “Orphan’s Thanksgiving” at the Wallace household, and who should walk in but Rai? He’d decided to move here to Los Angeles to pursue some new musical challenges. We had a lovely dinner, during which Rai mentioned that he was doing some gigs at The Piano Bar in Hollywood. I knew I had to go, because I could only imagine what he was getting up to.
A few weeks later, there my wife and I were at the show. I am not exaggerating when I say it was one of the most jaw-dropping musical moments of my life. There was Rai (now known as Sun Rai), laying down his own beatbox groove, then simultaneously playing piano with his right hand, keyboard bass with his left, and singing his ASS off! All of that with the most incredible groove, feel, and flavor you can imagine. I watched over the next hour as a bar full of people who’d been ignoring the music slowly gathered around Rai. Eventually packing out the place, and starting a little dance floor in front of him. It wasn’t just me. Everybody knew something special was happening.
Over the course of the next couple of months, Rai, Matt (an equally big fan), and I got together to brainstorm how to feature Rai’s incredible talents in a way people could truly appreciate. We know better than anybody the musical sleight-of-hand that’s possible with today’s digital technology. We wanted to make sure whatever form our project took, the audience would immediately be able to connect with the fact that this guy was REALLY doing this, in REAL time, and it was REALLY that good! We eventually decided that a live in-studio series of videos was the way to go. All shot live. No overdubs, no click track, no tuning, editing, or musical “fixing” of any kind. And we’d run the cameras simultaneously, so that the world could see that they were getting the real deal.
In early April, we convened at Matt Wallace’s Studio Delux in the former Sound City complex in Van Nuys, CA. To make things interesting for everybody involved we asked world-class drummer Victor Indrizzo to join Rai for the session. They knew each other, but had only played together once informally. They’d only played one of the songs we ended up recording before the session. This was truly working “without a net!” Right off the bat we knew something very cool was happening. Because before Matt and I could even hit “record,” what we thought was a little warm-up jam turned into a full-on take! It was exactly what we’d all hoped for. What we all love. Our job as the “production staff” became all about making sure we were capturing the incredible stuff that went down over the next four hours in the best way possible. Rai and Victor’s job was to set our brains on fire, which they did!
It’s such a rare treat for all of us to work this way, and an even bigger treat to be able to now share it with the world! With that, I humbly present the first video in the “Sun Rai and Victor Indrizzo: Live At Studio Delux” series. A stunning and surprising cover of The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).” It’s the first in this series, with more to be released in the upcoming weeks! I hope you all enjoy watching and listening as much as we did making it! And a HUGE shout out to Frank McDonough, who handled the camera work and video editing!
…and if after watching you’d like to download the music, you can get it on Bandcamp!