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Because it’s a distribution deal, not a record deal. GW And Frank Zappa contributed some of the studio gear?
And I’ve sold, like, 300 to 400 thousand copies of . VAI If not for Frank’s support—with the equipment he gave me and his encouragement—I never would have made or released ] machine that I mixed down to and that I ended up purchasing from him.
And now the indie concept was fueling another kind of rock phenomenon. “To this day, Sony distributes , and they have to account to me for .50 for every CD sold,” Vai says. It worked out really well that it was far away from L. And this house had a tool shed in the backyard, with two good-sized rooms, built by the previous owner.
“That’s more than they’ve ever paid any artist in history, I’m sure. I spent five months and ,000—money I earned giving guitar lessons—and I built this studio, Stucco Blue, in that backyard shed. I went out, bought the wood, built the studio and put the gear in, entirely by myself.
“Record labels bank on the fact that artists believe that a record deal is the Holy Grail, so they’re willing to sell their intellectual property very cheaply.
But I had no attachment to the idea of being famous or having my record released by a record company.
I wrote this linear piece of bizarre music, with all these polyrhythms, and I recorded it eight times on each of the eight tracks, each time changing the [ tracks originated as wild studio experiments or even jokes. And because these tracks were basically goofball home recordings, Vai’s initial thought was merely to press up the music on a limited run of flexi discs that he would give to friends.
I started recording stuff the day I started playing guitar. There’s maybe the idea of some kind of posterity, which more and more seems like a big waste of time.Settling into a sofa after the shoot, he seems eager to discuss his plans for the special 25th anniversary reissue of in their original form, and releasing that, along with a photo book and the whole story of that time in my life,” he explains. When I listen back to some of it I think, Who the heck was this guy who made this silly stuff?“The bonus material includes a whole slew of stuff that was recorded even before , in an earlier home studio I had. ” That guy was a guitarist in his early twenties from suburban Carle Place, Long Island, who’d been plucked from the Berklee School of Music by none other than Frank Zappa and whisked off to L. to serve as Zappa’s music transcriptionist and “stunt guitarist,” the Zappa band member who played the “impossible” guitar parts. Vai also possessed an almost lifelong obsession with audio recording.The flexi disc idea may well have contributed to the genesis of the album title But when printing up the discs proved to be too complicated, Vai decided, reluctantly, to attempt to secure a conventional record contract. Then as now, the standard record deal involves signing away all of your copyrights in return for an upfront advance (generally around ,000 at that time) and a minuscule royalty of a few cents for each record sold.“I thought, This is absurd; I’d never sign anything like that,” Vai recounts.