Native gets Down… Really Down!

Being a member of Native is kind of like being from the sixties – if you can’t remember it, you know you were there!

As curator of the vast Native Tape Vault, I am constantly coming up with nice little rarities that I was unaware existed, or had forgotten about. Of course, once I’ve found a rare item, the old brain cells kick in and start pumping out a data stream of zero’s and one’s. Mostly zeros.

But, this much I do know about today’s audio offering —

It was a mix of a song we had demoed twice in 1992, first with Anthony Balsley (our original lead singer). In December of that year, after Anthony left the band, Mat Hutt worked with sound engineer, Rob Smith, to cut new vocals over the same backing track. A remix of this session has already appeared on Volume 1 of this Nativology series.

But, today’s track is different enough that we think it worthy of your precious time and sweaty ears. Here’s why —

As we prepared our album, And Then What, the first thing we did was get really stoned. The second thing we did was review old, unreleased songs that might make the cut. Indeed, two songs included were from those earlier, smoke-enshrouded years – I Am and Tell Me The Truth.

Why this beauty remained unfinished and left to languish in our vault is a mystery. Probably time constraints were a factor.

We had planned a double-cd release, but time ran out in June 2001, and we only had about enough for an album and a half when Mat moved to California. (Later that year, all work to complete the tracks was abandoned in the wake of 9/11.)

But, for a brief moment, this gem was deemed a contender, and this instrumental mix was prepared by John Fitzwater in the waning days of 1998. It needed new Mat Hutt & Woody Wood vocal tracks, some percussion and Chris Wyckoff’s keys, which it never got. What it does have are some amazing and awesome guitar parts by Mike Jaimes and Mat, and it contains a solo that is all angst and guitar fury – Jaimes in all his unfettered 1992 glory, playing his legendary Gibson Mary Ford guitar, with all its toggle switches!

Fitz’s splendid work on the mix (with very limited equipment) shows how good this would have sounded on the record.

So, kick back with a Nutella Daiquiri and enjoy a very rocking and jamming instrumental mix, and one of the few things in our vault with both of our soundmen’s fingerprints on it (other than a certain blow-up doll!).

Down (No Vox, Fitzmix – 1998)

Cornbread Wednesday

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And Then What? Mat Gets Mellow!

This week’s goodie from the Native Cookie Jar is a sterling example of what I’ve been saying about this period in our evolution as a band – that we were getting better and better as songwriters (as borne out by the Cookie Jar – which just keeps giving and giving).

Mat Hutt, more than any of us, was always brushing up on his songcrafting skills, which by this time were Mad Songcrafting Skills!!

Case in point – this lovely piece was recorded very quickly by John Fitzwater on our brand-spanking new Protools rig, using a single microphone – and, just as quickly, it was lost in the shuffle of all the great material we were coming up with for the next album.

We had a saying in Native – “I’ll be mellow when I’m dead.”

And Mat, party animal that he was, lived up to that credo as well as any of us. He could work all day, party all night, jam till the cows came home, and still find time to come up with this inexpressively pretty piece of wonderful, evocative, enchantment.

With that, there’s not much else to say – only Mat knows what the vocal melody might have been, or what the title was!!!

Fitz simply called it, rather aptly —

Mat’s Mellow

Cornbread Wednesday

And Then What – Episode 4 – Beat Generation

Nineteen hundreds and ninety-nine ones – add them together and you get one of the craziest years on record —

Massive earthquakes killed tens of thousands in Turkey.

Two sitting presidents (American & Russian) were under impeachment trials.

John F. Kennedy, Jr., Stanley Kubrick, and Joe DiMaggio passed away.

Y2K fears had gripped the world in a paroxysm of fear.

Taylor Swift was born.

It was a crazy year.

For us who were stuck in this thing called The Music Business – we had gone beyond crazyville, and it was scary times indeed – corporate mergers had left Universal with 25% of the marketshare, which was confined to about three musical acts, all of whom were named Britney Spears.

For Native – the dream of a record deal had turned into a reality where we had been judged by the men in suits to have too much variety — we crossed genres, we experimented with new styles, and we failed to follow the dictates of the marketplace. In short, we had evolved into something the corporate heads didn’t want, and we did not want to change – we liked being Native.

So, we followed Prince’s dictate, instead. But, not only did we party like it was 1999, during 1999, we would continue to do so right up until our last gig at Wetlands in late spring 2000. It was an on-going party at Marmfington Farm, night and day, seven days a week, in perpetuity.

Amazingly, whilst partying our selves silly, we also were often sat in our studio, working out new songs. Today’s tune is one I hadn’t finished the lyric for when this rehearsal took place. Perhaps, I was weary of all the bad news, I had regressed back to my college days, and my love of Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassidy, and the San Francisco Beats. Now, I was about to rhyme Ferlinghetti with confetti.

All I know is that during that tumultuous year — having this on a tape to listen to gave us a lot of joy, and it went on to be one of the best tracks on the highly under-rated Native album – And Then What.

(BTW – we know Taylor Swift wasn’t born in 1999, that would make her fourteen, and we all know she’s sixteen!)

Beat Generation

Cornbread Wednesday

And Then What – Episode 3 – Annabelle

Today’s lost Native song comes from an extremely fertile period in our evolution. This was supposed to be the part where we were breaking up, and yet we were writing songs faster and furiouser than ever!

Case in point – if you listen to this amazing song, recorded live at Wetlands, you will be asking a very pertinent question — How, in the name of all that is good and worthy did Native not make an official recording of this great tune????

The answer is rather prosaic – we had more than we could handle. We knew Mat Hutt was moving away, and that would be the end of the band, so we spent six months trying to jam in as many songs into the digital domain as we could – but there just wasn’t enough time!

(And this is why I’ve always maintained that we never really broke up, we just lived too far apart to do any playing!)

As it turned out, working with our Producer, John Fitzwater, we laid down enough tracks to compile an album and a half – and that’s what became And Then What (finally released in 2006), and our EP – December Roses (2012). Both are featured on our Bandcamp site, which you will be whisked to in a blink of an eye when you follow the magic linky thing below —

Annabelle (Wetlands 1-10-99)

Cornbread Wednesday