The recording of “Unkind” was more involved than usual, as I was being ambitious after having recorded Wood + Wire with a full band and hired studios rather than recording at home mostly by myself. Dennis Diken happened to be in town with The Smithereens, so I got to thinking...why not recreate the Wood + Wire recording ensemble scenario that worked before? It’s not so easily done, actually. I begged Dennis to make time on his day off to record, and eventually he went for it, nice guy.
I handed out charts, but who was I kidding? Rock musicians don’t just read off the page and give you their magic; you need to roll around and make out for a while and find the groove. These days I guide people through this process as a producer, and on this session I was learning the hard way. The recording assistant had good equipment to work with, but his greatest feat that day was successfully writing his full name on each and every track sheet. Chuck was shooting guitar fireworks in his tone corner, eyes on the music stand. Pete said to me, “I’ve never asked you to change a note the whole time we’ve played together,” but recommended I remove half of the bridge section. Dennis eventually said I should order out for dinner- “Spag and balls, a salad, a dinner roll...what more could a guy ask for?” As usual, food was the last thing on my mind.
We got through the session, I knew I didn’t have a finished take of anything. People had freely given their entire day to me, yet I was left dissatisfied. Dennis requested I’d pick up ten sets of drumsticks, and I should have known to give them all to him to keep.
In the end, I stripped away everything but the drums on “Unkind,” overdubbed everything by myself and mixed it for this 45 rpm release. It was the last-ditch effort and the one sure-fire way of getting the job done, when it comes to me and recording.
I remember wanting to incorporate some kind of Third Eye Blind element into the chorus section, after being introduced to their singer. Stephan Jenkins said, “Chris, I have to be honest, I haven’t listened to your records yet,” to which I quipped, “That’s okay, I don’t even have any of yours.”
In the song I sing about fearing the unkind people out there in the big world, leaving my rural town, but then discovering that I only get what I bring to whatever world I’m living in.