By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
There was one place in town where he found something real, however: a tiny, independent record store in the lower Haight district, Rooky Ricardo's. Run by a character named Dick Vivian, it sold only old-school 45s. ("There's not even a cash register. It's just a guy and a box," Waterhouse says.)
He earned a degree in R&B there, apprenticing with Vivian and laying the foundation for the passion and authority he has today. Besides the usual record-nerd Rolodex of bands and songs and B-sides, he carries a gigantic database in his head of old-time hustlers and outsiders, the lesser-known architects who laid the foundation for music as we know it today. People like Chips Moman, who helped found the legendary soul label Stax, or Jerry Butler, a semi-obscure producer for Curtis Mayfield, or Burt Berns and Jerry Ragovoy, songwriters and record producers who shaped American music from behind the scenes.
People often ask him about the artists and bands he likes, but he'd rather just listen to 45 after inspiring 45. For Waterhouse, it's not about fostering some sort of amazing career, it's the search for the single perfect song. "I'll find a record that will blow my brain out, and then find out that person only put out two singles," he says, almost as if he wouldn't mind being one of those folks. "I just want to make great records."
Speaking of which, it's about time for him to do exactly that. On the engineer's signal, he leads his band into a slow, slinky number, one that brings to mind visions of smoky clubs where you'd want to be but probably shouldn't go. It's the first time this collection of musicians have played together, but Waterhouse keeps them in formation, and soon the song begins to sizzle.
"This makes me want to strip!" the engineer shouts, grinning as he cracks open a beer. Waterhouse drops his guitar and slides behind the battered studio piano, shouting, "Keep that going!" And without the slightest hesitation, they do. For a moment, the outside world of smartphones and laptops and MP3s dissolves, and it's back to the way things were, when American music was just coming of age — no rules, no plans, no nets, no precedents. There's a reason Waterhouse doesn't describe what he does as nostalgia. It feels too alive.