It was a house on the Terrace that we found when we learned the big warehouse space that we called home was about to be torn down. Old and stucco, full of earthquake cracks and rundown but with a majestic view of the city. Valhalla was painted in spidery writing on the façade.
There was plenty of space, huge rooms and I had an art and music studio set up with a drawing board and my 4-track. The kids were just little then and it was a good place with lots of visitors and we also had various flatmates over the time we lived there.
When Steve Braunias moved in he was just starting out as a writer and I was working on the songs for the Idiot Sun album. He and I found we were obsessed with similar things; re-runs of 70s TV shows like Das Boat or the Survivors and we thrashed the same albums over and over.
It was a point of contention as to who bought it, but when Sign o’ the Times came out in early ‘87 that was all we wanted to listen to for a while. The double album as an art form, like Exile, Double White, Physical Graffiti and Something/Anything all rolled up into something new but just as timeless and challenging. The single Kiss followed with the scratchy Telecaster and the naked soul.
When Steve moved out we had to split the records, I wound up with sides three and four of Sign o’ the Times and I still see it as one of the most perfect records ever made even though it’s only half of the whole.
One night in that house I was up late working on some drawings with my drop compass – there was the sound of someone shimmying up the drain pipe and breaking in through the bathroom window.
I went running out to protect my son’s room and there was a woman screaming in from the bathroom, demanding to see her ex-boyfriend. Though I knew he was home I held my ground and tried to calm her down.
She was left-handed and very strong and just kept smacking me on the right side of my face and ear – I couldn’t lift my right hand to defend myself because I was still holding the drop compass and I couldn’t afford to drop the drop compass or she would stab me with it I was sure so I kept taking the blows and tried to guide her downstairs and out with my left arm.
There was also a bomb scare – we believe it had something to do with Mad Marty who lived next door at times but nothing has ever been proven. It turned out to be real dynamite but with a phoney alarm clock detonator and the Labour Department took care of it.
Other than that, Valhalla was a good home.
Prince was born around the same time as me and for some reason I’ve always loved that fact because he was a true genius and that is –
The dream we all dream of