I Just learned that Toast went live digitally world-wide yesterday.
Nevertheless, I’m posting this with a heavy heart. Why? One of the producers of Toast, Nick Blagona, is one of my closest friends and he’s currently in a hospital in Hamilton, Ontario having recently been told by his doctors that there isn’t much more they can do for his failing heart and kidneys other than keep him comfortable. Nick would want me to share this music and story.
Toast was the first time Nick and I worked together making a record. I met him on the back end of my previous record, Dawn, in 1998 or so when Armand Petri told me he was in Toronto and available for mastering at Metalworks. I remember him saying something to the effect of “I really love this music and would love to be involved earlier on your next record…” I didn’t forget that, of course, and in 2000 when things started to gel for Toast I talked with Armand, who was already in as a producer, about asking Nick to share the duties. Armand was enthusiastic at the prospect of working with Nick, and so it was to be. Nick came to Buffalo from Toronto for some of the arrangement rehearsals and recording at Alan Dusel's Starfields, where we did basic tracks in that fabulous drum room he had at that time, and then finished the tracking and mixing at Dave Fridmann’s Tarbox Road Studios in Fredonia. Nick mastered Toast at Metalworks and it still sounds great to me.
Nick and I talked about remastering Toast before I put it out digitally and agreed that it didn’t need it. So this is the record we did in 2000, the first I recorded with Nick, and one which never saw the light of day other than the few of you who may have heard one of the few copies I had pressed.
I haven’t recorded a record without Nick since then. In fact the only records I’ve done in my own name since then were when Nick would call me and tell me it was time to do another one. Aside from my records I also had the pleasure of working with Nick on a few studio records with Ian Gillan (Gillan’s Inn and One Eye to Morocco), one live record from our 2006 tour (Gillan’s Inn Live), and then a record with Jeff Martin from Tea Party (Exile From the Kingdom), which we recorded in Ireland, and other projects from time to time.
In November 2017, I got a bunch of the guys from back in the day back together for a new record. I wrote most of the music and demo’d the tracks from my place in California. Nick and I worked through song selections and he had his usual foot up my proverbial ass to work harder, do better and exceed myself on the writing side as did my musical compatriot and brother from another mother Geno McManus, who also helped quite a bit with some of the writing and background vocals. That record, called Satisfaction Garage, will be released soon. I tend to take too long on these things and let things percolate a while longer than some would. Nick called me earlier this year after another of his health scares and he said he’d really like this record finished. I knew what he was saying and finished up the bits I was working on. Nick did a masterful job recording, mixing and mastering it, and I can’t wait to share it with you soon.
In the meantime, give Toast a crank wherever you get your digital music and send some loving thoughts Nick’s way.