I used to have a website called Androo’s Random Life. I haven’t paid for the domain in like 2 years, but it’s still there (androosrandomlife.com). I don’t know how it’s still in existence, but it has some stories that I really enjoy sharing with people…and I’m going to be reposting a few of them. The only thing I’m going to say about this story is that my favorite band is Skillet. I love them. And now I will be sharing a story with them that’s one of my favorites to tell…
For those of you who don’t know me, you wouldn’t know that I wrote and recorded a song in a professional studio. For those of you who don’t know me, you wouldn’t know that the song I wrote and recorded was with Ben Kasica, the guitarist from Skillet, and was recorded in his studio, Skies Fall Productions. (Just a side note, I would recommend that company. Apart from being biased because of Ben, the song turned out amazing.)
Back in May 2009, I decided I would write Ben and ask him about recording my song. The e-mail conversation literally went as follows:
On May 12, 2009, at 11:36 PM, Andrew Stillman wrote:
> Hey Ben,
> The chances of you remembering I e-mailed you like a year ago are slim to none…but anyway, I wrote a song and I really wanted to record it. Problem is, I don’t have band. But! You have a recording studio. Problem is…kind of in Wisconsin. a bit out of the way from California? Any possible thing we can work out or nah?
From: Ben Kasica
To: Andrew Stillman <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2009 8:10:04 AM
Subject: Re: recording
Thanks for writing. I’m sure we can still work something out. Not sure if you were wanting to play on it? I have loads of amazing musicians here that can actually play. Most of it would be between Nick Rad (Drummer for Acceptance, Guitarist for Hangnail) and myself . Heck if youre not the singer I’ve even got a bunch of people I hire for vocals too.
Maybe you could just fly out for a day or 2 and we can knock it out. Not sure what kind of budget you’re looking at but maybe hit me back with whta youre looking to spend on it and we can work out the details.
skies fall media group
On May 14, 2009, at 9:58 PM, Andrew Stillman <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> haaa budget. i wish i had a bigger budget. however, i don’t know how to sing and i wouldn’t be able to play on it, it’s just one of my dreams to write a song ya know? do you know how much i’m looking at for airfare? because i can start saving up for that and then figure out a way to pay you…or take out a loan or something haha. anyway, i know it’s all kind of a long shot, but thanks for taking the time to write back! hopefully we can work out something.
From: Ben Kasica
To: Andrew Stillman
Sent: Friday, May 15, 2009 10:39:35 AM
Subject: Re: recording
Ya know. U could just hire us to do your song for you. We could knock it out in a day or so. Hire one of my friends who is a singer.. Go from there. Flights are typically $200 round trip
Benjamin Judah Kasica
Done. That was it. we talked prices a little bit, I bought a plane ticket and flew out to Wisconsin to record the first and second of June. For anyone who doesn’t know me…June 1st is my birthday. Which means that I was going to record a song with my favorite guitarist of all time for my 20th birthday. I’m still not quite sure it was as epic as my 19th birthday, but it definitely ranks way up there.
Flying out to Wisconsin was a trip in itself. I had never done anything travel-wise alone (apart from going from college to home and back) and I was really afraid to fly. (Mostly because when I was 11 we hit a tropical storm on our way back from Hawai’i and the plane shook so hard the power went out and I thought we were going to die…Only I would have a story like that, right? My whole family insists I was dreaming that, but I swear to you it happened.) I had arranged with Ben to be picked up in the Milwaukee airport, and told him I would let him know when I was leaving Denver (for my layover flight) so he would have an idea of what time I would be landing in Milwaukee.
When I got to Milwaukee, my phone kept ringing from the text messages I didn’t receive, and they were all different numbers. The first text was Ben telling me he wasn’t going to be able to pick me up and that Nick (the other engineer of the studio) was going to be the one to do it. The next text I got was from Nick telling me Ben had asked him to pick me up, but he couldn’t and he would try to find someone. The next text I got was from a guy named Everett who apparently worked for the studio and he said he would be picking me up.
Everett and I start texting back and forth trying to find each other, and I have no idea what he looks like, and same with him for me. I mean, at least if it were Ben I would be able to recognize him and go up and introduce myself, but this was a little more difficult. I was finally walking near Everett (I told him I was 6’5″ and impossible to miss) and we finally met, blah blah blah.
On our way to the house I was staying at, Everett made a joke that I still think is funny. Since I’m from California, that was big deal to everybody. It’s like a different world to them, I swear. Anyway, it was about 75 degrees when I landed in Milwaukee, and Everett said, “Man this must be cold for you.” I said, “What do you mean?” and he said, “Well, isn’t it hot in California?” “I live in the bay area.” Cricket, cricket, cricket….”The bay area’s known for being cold…” Cricket, cricket, cricket…”There are cold places in California?” Haahaha. I still think that’s funny. Everett, if you ever read this, I still think you’re awesome.
So we get to the house that I’m staying at and it’s cool. There are quite a few people there because, as I get informed later, one of their friends just got signed a record deal and they’re throwing a surprise party for him. I actually think that’s pretty cool, because when he gets big and famous I can say I was there for that. (His name is Kevin Hammond, and both his voice and his music are beautiful. Youtube him.) Apparently they had had a music festival that weekend and there was a stage in their front yard and I helped them take it down and did my part for them as best I could (since they weren’t charging me a single penny for staying with them.)
The best part about that night — Ben never showed up. Which means I wasn’t familiar with anybody. And there were a LOT of people there. And I swear everyone was named John…
Anyway, we had a good time and even though I was completely out of my comfort zone I made as much conversation as I possibly could, even though it was really awkward. People kept seeming to fixate on California. I kind of felt like I was in a different country. It was weird.
The next morning, Bethany was in the kitchen making breakfast and babysitting and stuff. I go up and we start talking a bit, and I tell her about my Skillet adventure for my last birthday. She thought that was awesome, blah blah blah. (I realize, since this has been copied from a website I did 3 years ago, that none of you faithful readers know about how awesome my 19th birthday was. I will eventually post it on here when I have writer’s block, but for now you can still check it out on the other website.)
“So how old are you?” she says.
“Yeah, today’s my birthday.”
“Can I see your ID?! I mean, not that I don’t believe you, it’s just…Why would you come here for your birthday?”
“Because I get to record a song with Ben Kasica of Skillet, that’s why.”
“But…it’s just Ben…”
Just Ben? Well, aren’t you lucky that you know him well enough to refer to him as “just Ben” and you don’t think it’s as cool as I do when he’s around. Bethany’s awesome, and she will soon become a vital part to this story, but that was a weird conversation to me because it was the first time I’d ever talked to somebody about Skillet where they knew the band on a personal level. I always think of them as all famous (because they are), but it never really occurred to me that they were just people like the rest of us, they have family and friends like the rest of us, and there are people who don’t view them as gods. It was eye opening.
I swallowed my fear and anxiety when he arrived, endured an embarrassing account of said 19th birthday as it was repeated from Bethany, and stayed on cloud 9 for a long time. We hit the studio, we start doing roughs, we start recording, we do all that stuff. By the time the drums were finished (which were the first instruments we recorded), I could already tell why bands didn’t hit the studio all the time. We had to go through the song over…and over…and over…and over…and over…and over…It was ridiculous. But, of course, it was completely amazing at the same time.
I hung out with Ben and of course we talked Skillet, and I did my best to get him to let me listen to their new cd because I saw it on his computer, but I failed. Miserably.
The next morning we were finishing up and I had to leave by 3 to catch my flight home. Cue Bethany becoming important. I leave to studio to go to the bathroom and she’s in the kitchen doing dishes and singing along to her iPod. I stare at her…I don’t think I’ve ever heard such an amazing voice. I was legitimately in awe at what I was hearing.
“Hey,” I say.
“Hey! How’s recording going?”
“Great. Um. You wanna do background vocals?”
So she came to the studio to do background vocals and she added a ridiculous amount to the song. I honestly don’t think it would be the same without her, even though she only sang three lines.
The rest of everything happens, nothing too exciting, and I go home.
Then, now, 3 years later, someone from Russia posted it on YouTube. (I have since come to find that quite a few Russian sites have it available for download, and it’s still weird for me.) When I’ve applied for jobs and schools and all that and people ask about some of the things I’ve done, I just say, “You can YouTube me.” (Seriously, “Andrew Stillman” comes up as a suggestion and I pop up first. Holla.)
So, now that you’ve endured this awesome story, you can listen to the song yourself. And hopefully enjoy it. =)