The Studio, Real New Zealand, and The Irishman

How do I summarize the end of this tour for you!? It’s so much easier to relay things as you go, but I’ll try not to leave anything out!

Here’s what you missed.

Days 16 through 20, we got back into the studio at Revolver, and for me, the real creative part of the tour began. The first three days in the studio gave us the foundation for 10 songs, many of which didn’t have melodies or lyrics attached to them. Billy had some themes and concepts in mind, of course, but there was an opportunity here for me to put my song-writing skills to good use for the benefit of the project. Others brought their A game as well, and there was a veritable explosion of creativity in the studio! 

There are positives and negatives to writing in the studio this way. Among the negatives are; time is money, and unless you have unlimited funding, there isn’t really time to curate an idea before recording it when writing in studio. Among the positives are; when inspiration strikes, it is captured at the moment of origination, which is often the peak. Our album is true to form. There are moments that could probably be done better punctuated by moments of brilliance. There were definite peaks – when moments of brilliance were captured – and valleys – when something maybe wasn’t quite right, but time mandated that we needed to move on. All in all, it was a successful team effort throughout which everyone kept the end goal in mind, and the general feeling at the end of the session was one of collective elation. If you’ve ever worked your ass off on a group project and gotten good marks before, it’s kind of like an extra hype version of that. We worked right up to the very last minute we had available to us in the studio. We even cancelled the last 3 shows of the tour to give ourselves all the time we could possibly have in the studio. Bonus: Those shows are being rescheduled to a tour in February for which Billy is trying to secure the funding to hire me one again!!!!

For me personally, I managed a lot of firsts on this album! First duet on another artists album (yes! One of my more brilliant moments in the studio was adapting one of Billy’s song ideas into a duet!); first time for another artist to record one of my songs; first TITLE TRACK! I hope. Billy and his team are almost positive that “Say What You Mean” will be the title track of the album (See “Blues Deluge” for the original track)! I don’t know what that portends for me, but it can’t be bad!

The night we wrapped up in the studio we played our last Auckland show. After a week in the studio, it felt amazing to be back on stage singing the music we’d just recorded for an especially enthusiastic live audience. I’d only recently found out that the funding to bring me to Australia for the next stretch of tour had fallen through, and the final opportunity to play with the guys before they left in the morning was bittersweet. The feeling was mutual. The guys and I parted reluctantly.

I made the most of my free time in New Zealand by following up with all of my amazing new friends, booking a couple shows…and almost getting abducted  😬

I spent my first day on my own in NZ with two of my mates – Mike (tour drummer), and Paul (gunslinger, man of mystery). They treated me to some touristing – art museum, beach, beer and mussels  😁

I spent the second day with band friend and sponsor, Herbie…There are no words to describe Herbie. He’s been everywhere, seen everything, and is one of the coolest people on the planet. He also provided the band house, which had the best views in the city! Herbie took me touristing to all the the most beautiful places. Seriously, some of them were so beautiful I cried. Sidenote: Herbie is 71. We climbed volcanoes and sand dunes, and I was struggling to keep up with him! #goals

Day number 3 I got to hang with the magnificent Kenny McDonald who is engineering the album. The man has sold millions of records, his ear is magnificent, and he’s also the coolest dude on the planet 😆 The night we hung out turned out nearly as cool as him. We went to a bar called Grand Central to catch some live music, and the bass player happened to be the same Alex who played bass for me on our first couple NZ shows of the tour! He and his band invited me on stage, and it was a great night of music for all involved! It was also a great night of responsible booking as our drinks were taken care of thereafter 😁 Kenny is looking forward to hanging out again. 

Day number 4 of Maggie takes on New Zealand was halloween, and I made a makeshift Sherlock Holmes costume because, turns out, I dress a bit like Sherlock Holmes anyway 🤷🏻‍♀️. I borrowed a pipe from Herbie, and voila! Instant Holmes! That night I sat in on a Sunny Law Social Club band rehearsal. They’re a new band of solid Auckland area musicians featuring the x-factor’s Ryan Mathie on vocals, Paul O’Brien on guitar, Jason Lee on guitar, Bobby Dex on drums, and Aaron Corbett on bass. I spent the evening doing something I’ve rarely felt competent to do before; jamming on one of my secondary instruments. I spent the entire evening behind the Rhodes (piano), and was halfway decent!…the alcohol helped 😂 Most importantly, I really enjoyed myself. I mean to facilitate opportunities for myself to do more of that in the future. Quick plug! Follow Sunny Law Social Club on FB, and tune in to their live-streamed rehearsals. Not only are they fantastic musicians, but fun, funny people who are very entertaining! The world is a better place with them in it, etc, etc. AND! You can find video of me rocking the Rhodes on their rehearsal stream from 10/31/19 😉 

Day number 5: More touristing with Herbie! #besties #iwish

Days number 7-10: I popped into Taste of Auckland to meet a couple of legendary local musicians and try some seriously delicious local food! My ride and companion on this venture, Wimal, was incredibly knowledgeable and easy to hang with, but the going was slow because HE KNEW EVERYBODY. Everywhere we went we paused to have a chat with someone he knew. It was great, and fascinating, and also…we ran out of time really quickly! I’d barely managed to see, hear, or try anything before, crikey! I had to catch a bus from Auckland to Whangarei (3 hours) where I had a show that would start nearly as soon as I arrived. We made it to the bus station with, literally, three minutes to spare. I was feeling the stress. Wimal was unfazed. 

After narrowly sliding into home, I managed to make one super cheesy fb post inviting people to my gig that night via poem –

Taking the bus to Whangarei

Posing and posting, headed your way

Before you scroll past, please give this a like 👍

And let your friends know I’ll be rocking that mic 🎤

– closed my eyes for a snooze, and awoke in Whangarei. Here’s where things get interesting. The gig in Whangarei was small and remote, but I was pleased and surprised by some familiar faces and some not as familiar ones. The audience was great and when the bar closed (11pm. It was a Saturday, but again, remotely located) some of us were still raring to go. Three girls about my age asked if I wanted to go clubbing. Umm, of course! I will always jump at the chance at girl time! And I’ve never gone clubbing in a foreign country, so hey! Over the course of the night, one gentleman in attendance had gotten extremely drunk and overt in his attempts to draw my attention. Overhearing our conversation, he promptly offered to come along and pay for all club fees and drinks. I wasn’t sure about all that, but my new mates loved it, so fine. Thankfully, another guy at the bar offered his vehicle and himself as the designated driver. We did a final round at the venue, and we were off! We got to the first club, and did a round of drinks each before deciding that this bar wasn’t happening enough. Onward to the second bar, and the ladies and I made a pit stop in the bathroom. I’m none to accustomed to cubbing myself, but I know how girls group together. I’ve seen TV. Once in the bathroom, one of the girls turned and offered me an unidentifiable substance. No mystery drugs for me, thanks. The ladies did their thing and we returned to the dance floor, only…we didn’t dance. They just followed each other around, weaving through the packed throng of club goers like a line of ducks, me in tow. Sugar Daddy Drunkface caught on and brought up the rear, brushing against my ass with increasing frequency. It was the conga line from hell. Finally, I decided that I wasn’t having any fun and broke free to question our designated driver friend about the mystery substance. “Oh, that’s probably meth,” he said. #aintnobodygottimefordat “You can hang here with me if you want.” 

After trying and failing to create any kind of engaging conversation with our D.D., I looked out into the club and locked eyes with someone whose face I knew. An Irishman I’d met at a gig near the beginning of the tour. I didn’t remember his name, but I remembered he’d made a positive impression during a short conversation we’d had back then. We reintroduced ourselves, he bought me a drink (which disappeared conspicuously only to be replaced by a drink from Sugar Daddy Drunkface. I stopped drinking and resigned myself to just being a friend of the bar at this point), and we chatted for a minute. Having taken stock of my situation, I told him that I was out with some people I didn’t really know and wasn’t feeling especially comfortable with. He offered his company for the rest of the evening, and we parted to tell our respective mates the new plan. Only, I wasn’t there when he got back. When I went to tell our D.D. that I was peace-ing out, he frankly informed me that it was rude of me to leave with different people than I came with, that he didn’t trust my judgement owing to alcohol consumption, and that we were all heading to his house. Before I could process what was happening, he picked me up and the group absconded with me to the van. I repeat, THEY PUT ME IN THE VAN! Rule #1…NEVER GET IN THE VAN! 

The three girls on meth piled into the van after me, the two guys got into the front, and we left. The situation didn’t look good, and I was sobering up real fast. Maybe they really were concerned for my well-being, but they were restricting my autonomy, and I wasn’t about to take that lying down. Meanwhile, the Irishman, realizing I’m no longer in the bar, found me on fb and sent me a note via messenger: 

Him: “Where did you get too? Give me a shout.”

Me: “Fuck, dude. I lost you.”

Him: “Where you at? I’m still here. My place is _____. You can crash there if you want.” 

I didn’t know what my plan was, but thankfully I didn’t have to think too hard. We pulled over to a gas station less than a mile from the club, and both guys got out. The D.D. pumped gas while S.D.D. went into the station. I told the Irishman where I was and that I would be heading back his way on foot. When the D.D. went inside as well (prayer hands), I simply popped out of the van and speed-walked back toward the bar. The Irishman came into view, and I looked over my shoulder in time to see the guys seeing me get away. They jumped into the van and got to me at just the same time as the Irishman who, undaunted, took my hand and said simply that I was going with him. They didn’t pursue us. 

We went back to the Irishman’s place and, aware that I had just traded one group of strangers for another, I cautiously accepted his assistance. After making sure that I was in fact alright, he made us tea and, high off adrenaline, we tried to unpack what had just happened. Suddenly, I was tired. As luck would have it, I had a gig the next afternoon literally a two minute walk from his place. He set me up in his guest bedroom, and I settled into a surprisingly restful sleep.

When I awoke the next morning I was momentarily frightened for forgetting where I was. Then everything came back to me and I was filled with tentative gratitude for the Irishman who’d saved me from God knows what…we weren’t out of the weeds yet. I emerged from my room and explored the apartment. It was big and full of natural light. He was clearly well read, and either drank a lot or very little (many full bottles of liquor). His apartment was central, but surrounded by businesses, and so was very quiet on a Sunday. I decided it had good vibes. The Irishman awoke shortly after me, and I offered to buy him breakfast as a thank you for coming to my aid last night. We had a lovely breakfast at the marina across the street from the venue I would be playing at later. I’d known from our first conversation that he was a flute player, but I’d since learned that he was a bodhran (Irish frame drum) player as well, and I invited him to sit in on our afternoon gig. He obliged, and it was an awesome way to spend an afternoon. 

After the gig, the Irishman invited the guitarist and I back to his place. He’d had a BBQ the day before, and we would be doing him a favor to help eat all the food left over. The guitarist went to drop his gear off before rejoining us, and the Irishman and I went to the store to grab a couple things and back to his place to wait for the guitarist…two hours later, the guitarist informed us that he wouldn’t be able to make it. …Working with him had been my plan for the evening, and in the absence of any alternate plan, the Irishman offered his place to me again. We ate, walked, and talked. I was increasingly sure he could be trusted, and opted to stay another night. Besides…too much excitement makes me a sleepy Maggie. Noting my exhaustion, the Irishman offered to play me some music. He fetched his flute and, honest to God, played me the most beautiful private concert I have ever been privileged to attend. He played, and sometimes sang to me, while I drifted in and out to the sound of his music. 

The next day, I was sure that the guitarist would collect me to resume working on the project as planned. The Irishman went to work, and bid be farewell, possibly never to see me again. But when he got off work, I was still there. No guitarist. He invited me to the beach. We went to one of the most beautiful lagoons/beaches I’ve ever seen, and spent the late afternoon/evening swimming, sunbathing, and telling our stories. We watched the sun set, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel romance burgeoning between us…but I was heading back to the states in 2 days, and didn’t want to ruin our little vignette. It was already so romantic and unreal as is. He wasn’t going to risk anything by making a move, and neither was I. Tomorrow was my last day in New Zealand, and I would need to make my way back to Auckland. He resolved that he would take the day off work and drive me there himself. That night we shared dinner by candlelight, and afterward he read his poetry to me. I fell asleep to the sound of his voice. 

The next day, as designed, he drove me back to Auckland. We lazed our way back, sharing music and stopping at little scenic spots. It felt abrupt and rude when we reached the band house, but we walked right into a going away party for myself and the rest of the San Francisco Band. I spent the night with my new New Zealand family making music, sharing memories, and creating new ones. It was exactly as it should be. The next day I left New Zealand on a 22 hour journey back to the states. And the Irishman…we’re still in touch 😉

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to tell you how the tour ended. Perhaps it has taken me this long to process it. It contained all the best and worst parts of the tour, and I’m sure I’ll never be the same. Thanks for reading, thanks for waiting, thank you for your continued support of Maggie Cocco’s Science for Sociopaths. Among the many good things to come from this experience has been the inspiration for at least four new songs, and I can’t wait to share them with you. 

Musically yours,


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