“I remember sitting on Brian’s couch in his studio with a trash can in my hands, in case I were to lose my cookies,” recalls Scott West, who recorded his new California Christmas album with Tesla members Brian Wheat and Frank Hannon, at the band’s Sacramento studio. “I had just come down with a stomach flu that afternoon, and I was so sick that I wasn’t able to stand up sometimes. I was throwing up between takes.”
West didn’t have the option of rescheduling. “It was the only day they were available. They had to be on the road early the next day to record the new Tesla album in El Paso. Brian said their wives were probably going to kill them, but we’d have one day — 24 hours — to do the entire album. I told him that if they were willing to pull an all-nighter, then I’d be on board too.... I actually wrote the title track, ‘California Christmas,’ on my way to their studio.”
Shortly after the session came news of a three-alarm fire at the facility. “The apartments next door caught fire, and it jumped across to the roof of the studio. I’m fortunate to have recorded there before it burned down. Many of the items lost were irreplaceable. The Neve board that we recorded on is the same console used by Fleetwood Mac to record their Tusk album. Brian had a lot of memorabilia from his tours and gigs over the years, including mementos from friends such as Paul McCartney and Queen. I just hope the insurance helps him get it back up and running.”
The Tesla duo had previously played on West’s Sex on Sunday album. Released last month, California Christmas has already seen one tune score over 34,000 downloads on Myxer.com. “Frank Hannon and I tracked a live version of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ with just piano, MIDI-ed keyboard strings, and electric guitar. We only made one pass, then Frank laid down some harmony electric-guitar lines and we were done with the track.
“We should make a decent run at 100,000 [downloads] by New Year’s. Now that’s a merry Christmas!”