Un-rock Star

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As for his new band, he knows its chances of success will depend less on his name than on the music. The niche of devotees he still has among Pearl Jam fans is curious about his new venture, but whether that translates into notice by a mainstream audience is uncertain. Based on the limited-issue CD, the band's sound has an appeal that will likely draw more appreciation by connoisseurs of rock musicianship than by a mass audience accustomed to the catchy ditties played on radio and MTV. Green Romance Orchestra is, as Abbruzzese puts it, less about songwriting than about guys wanting to jam.

"We weren't ever planning to be a band," he says. "We were just a couple of guys getting together and having some fun."

Castell takes a break from the sound-mixing chores of "Dust," one of the cuts for the CD, and Abbruzzese slides into the chair at the mixing board and listens to the playback. Wearing glasses and with his long hair tied back, he looks like a studio tech geek. He mulls over the daunting array of volume levels and LED lights.

Switching through the tracks for each of the song's instruments, he stops at the one playing his own drumming. The sound pounds through the speakers with a commanding force. It reveals that Abbruzzese's drumming skill can easily be listened to on its own, apart from the other elements that make up the song. Mixed back into the rest of the track, the beat meshes into the overall sound of "Dust"--carrying the song's rhythm without being overbearing.

As he continues to flip quickly through the tracks, both his and Castell's ears pick up something that doesn't sound like it's supposed to be there. A backtracking and search narrows down a split-second fuzzy noise on a guitar track, which Castell labels a "digital glitch." He plans to remove it through the computer, but Abbruzzese says it isn't necessary. He plays the song through the glitch-affected portion of the tape, demonstrating that it is impossible to pick up when the song is mixed.

Castell whispers not too secretly toward Muller that he'll delete the glitch when Abbruzzese is asleep. Abbruzzese smiles, telling Castell he doesn't need to go to the trouble. Besides, the glitch adds a certain uniqueness to the song, he jokes.

As Abbruzzese plays back the entire song from the beginning, he rests his head on the mixing board's armrest, feeling the song's rhythm. He knows that Castell will wipe out that glitch, despite what Abbruzzese said, as any studio producer perfectionist would.

Listening to the playback of "Dust," head on armrest, Abbruzzese doesn't look worried about anything. It's the near perfection of the song that he's taking in. Everything else in life is minor details. "I've been to a place that as a kid, as a teenager, I always wanted to go to. I wanted to experience it through music, and I did it. And it was great.

"Now it's back to reality. Now I can just play music. If that stuff or whatever doesn't happen to me again, I don't care. I've been there, and it was really good. My ego is good. Success to me doesn't involve that anymore. It's beyond that. Success isn't limos. Success isn't money. Success to me is relationships with myself and with the people I love. I could definitely be a fuckin' happy gas station attendant. No problem. I'd be a good one because I'd be pumping the gas because I dug it.

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Howard Wen