California. Just typing it makes me feel like a movie star. Palm trees, cameras, and rich/famous lining the streets! So romantic. The land of opportunity for so many, that place is crammed to the max with Hollywood hopefuls and regulars alike. We, however weren't going to tour or vacation. We had a job to do.
We loaded the plane early Monday morning and took our seats in the ninth row. Paul took the window seat living me with access to the aisle in case of a sudden trip to the lavatory. It was my first plane ride without motion sickness medication and I was apprehensive.
Not to mention how glamorous I felt (and looked) before the plane even left the ground. Thankfully, Paul had enough energy for the both of us and I fed off it for most of the morning.
We said goodbye to the Utah mountains and sipped our warm orange juice thousands of feet above solid ground.
Nauseous but holding firmly to my breakfast I walked down the steep steps of the plane followed closely by a band of Rowberry's.
Baggage was collected and we filled a shuttle heading toward Enterprise for our car rental. Natalie, my little niece, was getting a little grumpy so I offered to take a picture. I pretended to be a paparazzi and told her how gorgeous she was and to smile and that she was a star and it sent her into a fit of giggles. She loves to giggle, and she has a talent for it.
"Grandma Rowberry" thought we were pretty goofy.
We arrived at the rental place and were giving two of these beauties to drive around like a fleet. I started drooling as images of Paul and I driving to church with five kids in the back began to waft between my ears like a palpable mist. While most of the Rowberry's loaded into one, we got the second to ourselves for that maiden voyage. Paul sat in the seat for a bit before he finally turned to me and asked, "Is this thing on?" I listened. It was so quite that I wasn't quite sure. He turned the key and the engine shut off. We smiled at each other as he reignited the engine and slowly pulled out.
We followed my father-in-law, but keeping up with him in LA traffic was a little harder than we thought. Paul gave the gas pedal a little extra push and a powerful roar hummed beneath the hood, and the van took off.
I can't quite describe Paul's reaction to the power of that van, but if you can imagine handing little boy Stalin a magnifying glass on a sunny day in front of a colony of innocent black ants and listening to his laugh as he "scientifically" changed those black ants to "fire" ants, that would about be what Paul's laugh sounded like. He apparently was really liking that horsepower. . .
We picked up my sister-in-law from her apartment and headed down to the studio for our first practice with The Pumpkins, stopping at Wendy's on the way.
We were hungry and desperate for food, and once we got everything we ordered we ate fast because we were running late. Being late for your first rehearsal with world famous rock group is probably on the list of things not to do when making a first impression.
We pulled into the parking lot and were greeted by this sign. Apparently, there were a couple other famous people rehearsing that day, like Gorillaz. . .
And Jordan Sparks. Her fans waited outside the gates.
We however, were oh-so-special and got to actually enter the studio where the lady at the front desk directed us to Studio 1.
See, Studio 1.
I immediately began taking pictures, trying to record every moment for my posterity.
I wanted to memorize every guitar and speaker and. . .
microphone apparently. However, Linda knew something was wrong. She knew those weren't Billy's guitars. She asked if this was the Pumpkins room and we giving a resounding no. We returned to the front desk to ask again for the studio number we rightfully belonged in.
It was number 2, which was fine because 2 is a cooler number anyway.
Billy was already set up when we walked it which helped us feel more comfortable about that being the right room. He was sporting a guitar that was recognizably his to the trained eye, which let us know he wasn't one of those superstar lookalike people, which was also comforting.
Our little 'choir' stood beside the base player. His name was Mark, and he was SUPER friendly and fun to talk to.
This is the drummers. . . butt? it was suppose to be his drum set, but he stepped in front while I was taking a picture.
Pregnant Linda took her place at the organ. Her baby was loving all the noise and wiggled up a storm.
The Smashing Pumpkins began rehearsing just as a band before they asked us to come sing.
Our odd little group set on the couch and admired The Pumpkins talent.
We were all giving earplugs because the studio didn't have insurance coverage for hearing loss. ;) I'd never really worn earplugs before and I was having a hard time judging my volume as well as the volume of those around me. Billy and the band seemed completely comfortable. They had worn earplugs numerous times before and had volume and pitch control down to an art.
Little Kayla, my other niece, was having a hard time standing still. She loved dancing to the music and thought the '"marshmallows" in her ears were silly.
Billy did a lot of sound checks to make sure he had the balance he wanted. This was the first. Mostly my camera just picked up the bass because I was standing by the bass speaker. But the bass guy was so cool that it made my amateur photography almost cool.
When it was time, we took our places for our singing debut. We were. . . nervous. . . wouldn't you be? Our background singing sounded like mere whispers hidden beneath the amplified guitars. The sound man asked us to stand closer to our microphones, sing louder, scoot toward our mics a little more, okay, more volume, maybe some more volume still, closer, louder! He was very patient.
We practiced for three hours before Billy called it a day, although the Rowberry Choir rehearsals had just begun.