Despite being there less then a year, I did have some fun in
the spring of ’99, I found myself with a new group of running buddies— NYU film
majors, all set to graduate— and I was initiated into their way of life. It was
luxuriant, and partly pot-based— they had their weed delivered to their
respective doors, like a pizza. My main hinge to this crowd was Todd Smolar,
who I had met in .
It was through Todd that I met Paul Levin and began recording at Buttons Sound
at 45th and 5th. Todd lived on Washington
Square Park Leonard Street in Tribeca then, right
next to the Knitting Factory. Todd, while an NYU undergrad, had been the singer
for a series of bands. That spring, we wrote a bunch of material together.
Weirdly, and from out of our stoned haze, what we churned out had the slick,
commercialized feel of Sugar Ray and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Another song I
wrote at Todd’s Leonard Street
flat was Riding the Waves, from a small fragment Todd had. The first version of
the song, recorded at Buttons Sound right then (and with my State College chum
Jason Liebman also laying down guitar tracks), featured an extended intro
resembling David Bowie’s Quicksand, from Hunky Dory. That original version is
now lost, though it may still be in the Buttons Sound files. When I commuted
from Philly to Manhattan
to re-record the song in late ’99, which is what we have here, I made it more
terse and more visceral, less abstracted. That session was just Paul Levin and
I. I included this version on the first, 2000 version of Darkyr Sooner, and on
the later versions as well.