Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rademacher with Airborne Tour Diary : Eden's recollections of PDX

Well, well, what can I say about Portland, Oregon?

Not really sure where to start. The whole operation from the get go went pretty smoothly. Slept in. Showered. Snacked. Had coffee. We were in no rush to be anywhere and we were up and running by 9AM.

Robert and his bandmate Mike were really cool and hospitable. We kicked it around their couch and our suitcases, joking about Mike (not ours) replacing me for the rest of the tour and me going to work at Guitar Center and staying in Seattle. Pretty good times, but I am very glad that didn't happen, because Portland was some of the most fun I've had in awhile.

Mike and I probably began drinking around 3PM (Greer joined in after the show at a really chill bar, Water Trough, i think, that had a bathroom door full of peeping tom holes and a slew of arcade games) and i know all of us combined racked up a pretty impressive tally of drinks, though for most of the night i hardly felt drunk (which, of course, just encouraged me to keep drinking ).

The show sounded phenomenal, in my opinion and the crowd was really responsive and in general just great. Mike started off the session early with a really beautiful sounding solo song ("Playing for Fun"), a request for Mikel and Darren, while Greer shouting the lyrics from behind the stage.

With the help of some badasses at the Wonder Ballroom ("Wonderland", some call it in Portland guess) every band sounded "frackin'" awesome. Thanks Shira, for reminding me frack even existed. hahah.

Henry clay People followed us, and blew up the stage with bright rock n' roll personalities and badass music like usual, and i danced down the halls listening to them on my way to dressing rooms... but don't ask about the dressing room... except that they were nice and full of beer. That's all you get on that one. Besides Mike forgot about it, anyway.

Joey (of Henry Clay People) handled the audience really well, if your wondering, and stalled a little for The Airborne Toxic Event who was running a tad bit behind schedule by playing a request from the audience.

Despite the intensity and energy that the crowd and bands gave off in the front room, backstage was a little different. Mikel was met with a some vocal trouble and he received a shot of cortisone to help his vocal cords.

But T.A.T.E. bought the ticket and took the ride (lol) and sounded awesome despite the earlier trouble. :-) I danced around while the Airborne Toxic Event played their set and at the end of the set, a couple of us from the the tour and some awesome Portland peeps jumped onstage for "Missy". We shook tambourines and grooved with the band.

The night didn't let up until well after we had played several games of pool, drank beer, wine, ate nachos, hotdogs, and made human pyramids. We got a nice warm place to sleep in and I passed out to the sound of tickle fights and melted tension and felt pretty good, despite everything to the contrary.

As i write this we happen to be on the road to Vancouver, everyone in good spirits, ready to commence with the music and the playing and the bonding and the drinking and the fighting and the cussing and whatever else long car rides and cramped vans do to people like us who just like to go places and play music.


» Read more on Rademacher with Airborne Tour Diary : Eden's recollections of PDX

Rademacher with Aiborne Tour Diary : Seattle to PDX

It is 11:40 am. We are on the I5 heading south to Portland, and tonight we are playing the Wonder Ballroom with TATE and THCP. Should be a fun show, we were originally booked to play Doug Fir, which I always think of as the PDX equivalent of Spaceland, but the show got moved to the larger room because TATE tix sold out so quick.

I find that amazing. We have never had a really good PDX show before. We have played the town several times and have some good friends in that neck of the woods, but we are way more used to playing smaller rooms with smaller crowds and not having anyone show up. A sold out show is a rare treat.

The band scene in PDX is very competitive. There are so many good groups. Some of the folks that I really dig from there are, well, Modest Mouse of course. Malkmus lives there as well. The Joggers are a favorite. But there are tons of lesser known groups that we have shared the stage with that are great musicians. I could see why this might lead to low show numbers. Everyone is in a band in that town and there aren't many "civilians" to support the events.

At least that has been my experience.

Last night I was reflecting on how surreal it is to be rolling in such a tight little crew with so many good friends and playing such HUGE sold out shows. I feel very lucky to be having this kind of musical moment with good pals that I have been on the trenches with for years, and TATE, if you're reading, thanks for sharing this experience with us.

Last night we played an in-store at a record store in Ballard called Bop Street Records while TATE and THCP headed to Portland. Bop Street is right next door to the Tractor Tavern in Ballard. It is a great store, but I limited my window shopping, so I don't have much to report about their stock other than that they obviously have a TON of cool stuff. I didn't really have cash to spend, so instead of perusing, I sat down and did a crossword while we waited to play. Damn it if those crosswords in The Stranger aren't tough.

Our friends, the Passive Disaster shared the bill with us. They play a a weird mix of dance-y numbers with good lyrics. For the last song of their set, a song about dancing in your underwear, the kids in the band all took off their pants. It was pretty cool. I learned a lot about the band that I probably didn't need to know, but it was fun. It for sure convinced me that I should invest in a good pair of boxer-briefs.

After that, most of the kids from the show all headed down to a local watering hole in Ballard. The name of the place escapes me at the moment. Second City? Maybe. It was a fun looking dive. I wasn't really in the mood to drink, and as I mentioned before, I had no cash. So I bailed and our drummer Eden and I headed back to the van to wait while Greer drank. we sat in the front seats of the van and we listened to records.

I didn't bring much music on this tour : an Os Mutante compilation and a copy of Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain". I love both of those records. I thought I had brought my copy of this record by a French band called Medusa. Unfortunately, I just brought the case and left the actual disc in my player at home.

On the other hand, that is all the bad news I have to report. We listened to music and texted pals for a couple of hours, picked up Greer, and then headed back to the crash pad that By Sunlight generously offered to us for a second night straight.

2 hours left until we get to Portland. Looking forward to running into some old friends, drinking, and wreaking havoc.

» Read more on Rademacher with Aiborne Tour Diary : Seattle to PDX

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rademacher with Airborne Tour Diary : Day Five, Day Six, something like that... by Greer

Last night we played at Neumo's in Seattle. It was a rough trip getting up here. Our Orange Dodge Carvan left Arcata at 7:30am. It was a beautiful day to drive through Northwest rainforests. No Rain, but no NPR in this area; we made due. (I am a very big fans of NPR, "wait wait don't tell me", "This American Life", etc.) We haven't convinced our new drummer Eden of the awesomeness of NPR, but I'm confident by the end of this tour she'll be a fan.

Around 2:30 we stopped in Eugene, OR and picked up the last half of an episode of "Wait wait don't tell me" featuring Amy Sedaris and Drew Carey.

It was looking like we were going to be on time for the show in Seattle, when we hit rain and traffic in Tacoma. So the expected 9 hour drive turned into an 11 hour drive and for a minute there it looked like we might not make the show at all, So the ease of cruising 65 and playing MASH (which determined that I would live in a house in a swamp in Louisiana) turned into "if that god-damn trailer doesn't get outta the left lane, I swear, I will slap him across the face". If you've ever been in a car for 11+ hours you know the strain it places on one's sanity.

We got to Neumo's and rushed our equipment in with 30 minutes to spare. The house sound person was a dude named Evan, who is friends with our friends The Cave Singers. He was an awesome dude and between him and Ian, the monitor sound person, we had the best sound on tour, with only a quick line check. Seattle's crowd was the warmest we've played for. Everywhere we play, people love the Airborne Toxic Event, but in Seattle people L-O-V-E them. It was really great to watch.

After that we crashed with our friends from Seattle, the band By Sunlight. They are super rad and treat us nice. They make great music as well.


» Read more on Rademacher with Airborne Tour Diary : Day Five, Day Six, something like that... by Greer

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rademacher Tour Diary : No Airborne.

Last night – Valentine’s Day Night – we were in Arcata, CA and we played a house show at a place called the Green House. We were all sick. We shared the bill with our friends, Geographer, from San Francisco. We had the night off from our tour with Airborne and the Henry Clays. We meet up with those kids in Seattle later tonight.

Over the years we’ve developed friendships with a number of San Francisco bands. Birds and Batteries. Tartuffi. We know that scene pretty well and we had heard much ABOUT Geographer, but despite our connections, we had never gotten a chance to hear them play live. I am ashamed to say that I don’t think I had even heard a myspace recording of them.

They are nothing short of amazing.

We were playing in a small room towards the front of this old Victorian House. It reminded me and Greer of Cafe Pergolessi in Santa Cruz. When we arrived, we sat with the kids from Geographer, Mike, Bryan and Nate, and drank a cup of matte and shot the shit while the folks who lived in the house prepared a delicious dinner. To avoid thinking about how awesome everything smelled while we waited for the food, we set up the living room for the show. We came up with a clever backline, EQed the vocals, and turned the space into what we thought was a pretty cool looking stage.
But now I am skipping around. I just wanted to let you know that these guys are amazingly cool as well as amazing musicians.

Let’s address the amazement factor in detail. The lead singer guy, Mike, has this weird croon that might remind some people of the guy from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. High. It kind of warbles. But it is way warmer sounding and he doesn’t do yelping sort of bits. I am trying to think of another comparison to make, but can’t. It is pretty unique and sounded great with a healthy dose of reverb on it and all the lows dropped out. So cool.

The band plays with backing tracks, so their drummer Bryan is always plugged into a pair of in-ear monitors, so the “feel” of the band isn’t as loose as I usually like things, but he has excellent, lockstep timing and his kit sounds crisp and deep. It was a maple CC kit with DW hardware and one of the most unique snares I have ever seen. Huge and ringing and with a great warm sound. I am not a huge gear person, but I was so impressed with how it sounded that I couldn’t help but make a mental note.

The third guy in the band is Nate. Who was really cool. Really rad. And he totally looks like the type of guy who could be in Guns’n’Roses. That’s not meant as a dis. Just a statement of fact. The other thing about Nate is that he can play the hell out of an electric cello. During the set he also cued up the laptop and tinkled on some keys, but his melodic cello lines were a driving force behind the music.

The crowd was great. I would wager that there were 30 – 40 kids there in a VERY small room. It was freaking hot and everyone was dancing. Even to Geographer’s slower jams. And they do some very slow jams.

After the show there was a dance party that lasted a very, very long time. And I like dance parties. I danced for maybe like 30 minutes and was pretty tired. The rest of the people there went ALL NIGHT. The bad thing about the all night dance party was that I was supposed to crash on the sofa in the room where the dance party was taking place. That wasn’t going to happen until the dance party ended. So I stayed up way past my bedtime drinking and waiting and talking.

The good news about the dance party was that I haven’t seen that many people dancing on all fours together since Light FM and I went to a strip club in Sacramento.
Greer slept through the whole thing. We had gotten up at 7AM that morning and she had driven 7 hours. And immediately after we played : zzzz. She just crashed out. She is pushing herself pretty hard on this tour and doing much of the driving. I am worried about her.

We got up at 7AM this morning and she started driving again. Se la vie.
We’d like to thank Geographer for being awesome, especially Bryan for feeding me lots of beer when things looked darkest. The Green House for being great hosts and throwing great parties. Heather for the delicious, delicious truffles. Thank you.

» Read more on Rademacher Tour Diary : No Airborne.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Rademacher with Airborne Tour Diary : Valentine's Day

It is 11:33 am and we’re driving on the 101 towards Arcata, California. We are doing a radio show this afternoon and later this evening we are doing a house show with our friends Geographer. It is Valentine’s Day. They are from San Francisco.
Last night we played Bottom of the Hill and there was a mad rush to get Airborne Toxic Event on stage, because we were all running late.

Even though we had a shitload of errands the previous day, we managed to be the only ones on time that night. Unfortunately, the venue would not let us soundcheck or set up our gear until TATE got there. So we just sat around and ate pasta with rubber bands in it.

Pasta with rubber bands in it? Yes, pasta with rubber bands. They made a bunch of pasta and Greer found a rubber band in her pasta. Like a real rubber band. She thought it was linguini. But it was a rubber band. That sucked. She started chewing it, she thought it was just a piece of past cooked “al dente”, then she chewed it more and sure enough, it was a rubber band.

Some dude in a hat with too many pins in it, came up to us and said he was from Spin Magazine and started asking questions about Rademacher. How many folks in the band? What are the musician’s name? Stuff like that. Really hard hitting questions.

He seemed a little weird.

By the third question it was pretty obvious that he had nothing to do with SPIN magazine. The door guy asked him to leave, and later explained that the weird-hat-reporter-guy had written his name in the guestlist and that this was not the first time that he had tried to pull that trick. He also informed us that Spin magazine has received a number of complaints about this particular SPIN reporter impersonator and are considering pressing charges.

Our friend Reid May helped us out with merch last night and it really made a difference. We try and watch the merch stuff as good as we can on our own, but it helps having someone there to keep an eye on the stuff as well as encourage folks to buy. It was our best merch night so far. Thank you Reid.

It was also nice to be out of LA. While I obviously love Los Angeles, and I love the hell out of the bands and friends I’ve made in that neck of the woods, it was nice to see TATE and THCP out of their own backyard and in the field, so to speak.
Bottom of the Hill is a venue that both Greer and I are comfortable in and I am sure that helped us collect our thoughts and deliver a really good show. We all had fun on stage and the crowd was responsive and we played well. So things are starting to click for us. Which makes me happy.

The Henry Clay People played well. It was weird to see the audience react to J. Siara’s antics early on with skepticism and then watch them grudgingly transform into admirers. One particular thirty-something couple I was standing next to started off by indignantly asking, “Did he just call us kids?” And then 15 minutes later I spotted that same couple chanting the words “Save Rock and Roll” along with the Joey.

Airborne played a great show despite their rushed soundcheck. Sound wasn’t ideal, but the band’s onstage energy was high as they blew through their set with aplomb. I am becoming a bigger and bigger fan of their “Goodbye Horses” cover. By the time midnight swung around, the band was in encore mode and invited the whole club to come up and dance onstage with them. The venue turned into a massive, writhing, hormone-fueled dance machine. It was pretty awesome.

Greer and I have voted Henry Clay People’s Jonathan Price the “Coolest Guy on Tour” for the last three dates running. In case you are wondering. He is a badass. And his bass is very heavy. Pretty much everyone else on the tour is tied for first runner up.

» Read more on Rademacher with Airborne Tour Diary : Valentine's Day

Rademacher with Airborne Tour Diary : Losing track of days already

So we are driving north on the I-5, driving from LA to SF, and my laptop is out of batteries. So this whole blog entry is going to end up being transcribed from scribbled notes on a yellow legal pad. That’s right, this tour diary is going analog.

Greer is driving our rented Dodge Caravan and it is 9:34 AM.

We are going to have to make a brief pit stop in Fresno to tie up some loose ends that we left hanging. They are the following :

  • Get Tape Machine and Tape and take to Tiny Telephone.

  • Get Phone charger. I forgot mine at home.

  • Get passports. Greer and I forgot our passports. We are going to Canada on this tour. Woops.

  • Get drum throne.

  • A blanket.

  • Get Greer’s practice amp.

  • Transcribe blog.

(p.s. I am proud to report that we accomplished all of the above tasks during our brief stop. Oh. and the above photo is by Jeff Koga, FYI.)

Yesterday, which we spent in Los Angeles, was a blast. Our photographer pal, Ben Hoste, came over to our HQ in Studio City and did a little photo shoot with us. We were working with him on some ideas for stop animation shorts, so, when our video of an animated killer goose goes viral on youtube, remember that you read about it here first.

Then we headed over for load-in at the Henry Fonda Theater, which is an absolutely stunning venue. IT is gorgeous, the staff is great, we had our own dressing room, the beer was cold, etc.

Once we got over the shock and awe of thinking “I am going to play here tonight!” we settled in and started warming up. Our soundcheck went allright. It is something we need to work on. The Fonda was for sure the largest room we have ever played and I was a little unsure of how much of our sound should be coming from the stage volume and how much should be heard over the monitors.

The end result was that I just frantically asked for more and more of everything in my monitors. That seemed to work ok, but if anyone else has a better idea, I would love to hear it.

One of the greatest thrills I have ever experienced, and I think Greer would be with me on this, is when a venue opens the curtains at a sold out show and you’re on stage and all these faces stretch back as far as you can see. It is pretty awesome. You look out, and there are just people everywhere.

It has happened to us once before, when we shared the stage with the Silversun Pickups, but it still gives me the chills. I wonder if that feeling will ever go away?

Our performance, in my opinion, was lackluster. For sure not our best. We avoided most of the big mistakes, but I slipped up on some lyrics, my guitar was cutting in and out on one song, and enough minor things went wrong that it was really hard to just get up and get into the music.

And that is the sort of vibe we want to project from stage every night. The “get into the music” vibe, not the “lackluster” vibe. It is something we are always trying to achieve. When we are playing well, that is what it feels like to me, it is a strange “mystical” point where I can just relax and let the music play itself and I can stop “thinking” about it so much.

Hopefully we can pull it together and get to that point tonight at the Bottom of the Hill in SF.

The Airborne Toxic Event kids bought us a bottle of champagne to welcome us on board their tour, which was super sweet. If you’re reading this guys, thank you.
They played wonderfully, as did the Henry Clay People. Both of those bands seemed like they were totally in their element. I think it will be easier for us to sit down and enjoy our tourmates’ performances once we nail down our set, but until then I think I will just feel anxious and tense while watching those two bands – because they are so damn good.

Somehow one of my friend’s names was scrubbed from the guestlist last night, and she couldn’t get in. I felt really awful about that when I got a message from her on facebook.

So … I am so sorry Meredith!

» Read more on Rademacher with Airborne Tour Diary : Losing track of days already

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rademacher with Airborne Tour Diary : Day 1

Our first day of tour was a blast.

For those not in the loop, we are embarking on a six-week west coast tour that includes twelve dates with LA locals made good The Airborne Toxic Event and The Henry Clay People.

Our first night was at the House of Blues in San Diego.

I couldn't sleep well the night before, woke up at 6 AM, and then we drove 7 hours from Fresno to the venue. On the way down, we stopped at our friend (and Greer's mom) Jo-Anne's house to pick up the new RIP GARDENSIDE CD. We had all the copies delivered there. We picked up the box and continued down to SD.

On the way, we popped in a CD to take a listen. To our dismay and horror, we discovered that every single copy has clips, noise, distortion and skips. This is a major bummer. I have to call the manufacturer today and ask him to replace them as soon as possible. But, essentially, the CD we wanted to sell on tour won't be available. Que lastima.

After that, we got to the venue and things settled down. The staff at the House of Blues was really, really cool. That is kind of rare for us. We know a few good sound guys and stuff, but it is great to see a really nice group of people working hard to make the night go well.

We played first, to a small crowd. My amp fell over like two or three times during the set, but that wasn't such a big deal. Annoying, but not the end of the world. We had one little bump when we were playing the song "Arkansas" -- I jacked up the intro and came in early, but most folks probs didn't notice.

I think I would give our performance a B. But we have ample time to step it up a notch while we're out on the road. By the time we get to noisepop, we should be pretty solid.

The Henry Clay People played second and put on an enjoyable show, unfortunately, it wasn't nearly as enjoyable as the shrimp po'boy that I had ordered, so I spent a large portion of the set in the greenroom wolfing down crustaceans. I shall try and listen more tonight. They have two new members.

The Airborne Toxic Event, on the other hand, got my undivided attention. I haven't seen them live in over a year and all the touring and practice has payed off. They played wonderfully. To be honest, I wasn't expecting to get as into the set as I did. Some of the new material is great. The stage antics are cool. And the level of musicianship is high. These kids can play. I was impressed.

There are some cool photos that capture the vibe of their set over here :

Tonight we're playing the Henry Fonda. Which is way bigger than the room we had last night. Should be an eye opener. I think this will be the largest crowd we've ever performed for.

Also, our friend Josiah from Light FM, sent us an MP3 of a new tune that we recorded with him. It sounds really good! Hurrah.

» Read more on Rademacher with Airborne Tour Diary : Day 1

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Iowa City (Or, "Thunderstorms and Grain Belt are Chasing Me.")

Today I have a day off in Iowa City.

Last night we performed at this interesting little place called PS1 (not to be confused with PS1 in Long Island City). PS1 (Iowa) is a small public art space in the basement of the Jefferson Building, which is on the edge of Iowa City's UI Campus.

It is small, intimate and decorated with Christmas tree lights and an intensely neon mural on the far side of the room. It is filled with folding chairs and a few sofas and benches. The space isn't designed for music, the PA is small and the room is HOT. But they do what they can to make the artist comfortable and also use it to host fiction and non-fiction readings, art openings and other events of cultural import in Iowa City.

I would recommend it for artists who don't have a big rep and are low on the gear requirements. Two of the opening artists played without using the PA and the sound carried fairly well. If you've got a big voice, you can totally take this room on sans amplification.

The downtown of the city is dominated by a large pedestrian mall that has a crapload of bars lining it. Most of them are college-y, frat-type places that have cheap drink specials and horrible music playing (think John Cougar Mellencamp being enjoyed non-ironically).

All bars weren't lame though - we did stop by this one bar just off that main drag called The Picador, which was pretty rad. They had two dollar well drinks and both of my travel companions (RC and Greer) got pretty wasted. Me too. They also had a bottled beer for $1.50 that was called "Grain Belt". Not my favorite, kinda fruity aftertaste, but you could do way worse for that price.

The back of the bar is dominated by a medium sized beer garden, and our bartender, Colin (who has a band called Super Sonic Piss) was kind enough to lay off the hip-hop for ahile and play us a bunch of Mike Judge animated shorts that were freaking rad.

We are staying with a friend here, his name is Caleb Engstrom and he has a pretty impressive collection of visual as well as audio work that he has executed. Check him out on the myspace. He is also one of the kindest and best band hosts in the world. This morning I got coffee, cantaloupe, banana, clean towel and shower. So I am off to an awesome start.

Last night we got rained on hard and there was a giant thunderstorm. Pretty awesome mid-west type weather, but it was scary in light of the recent flooding and the giant piles of sandbags still floating around the town.

Since I have the day off today, and the weather looks like it is clearing up, I am going to try to find this mysterious "co-op" where people get really delicious looking sandwiches. If you have any suggestions on what-to-do or where-to-go in Iowa City, give me a heads up!

LINK : The Picador
LINK : PS! Iowa City
DOWNLOAD : Caleb Engstrom - The Happiest

» Read more on Iowa City (Or, "Thunderstorms and Grain Belt are Chasing Me.")

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Kansas City (Or, "Fourth of July!")

Spent fourth of July in Kansas City, which was a blast. We played at this little gallery in what i presume is the "arts district" of the town as there was nothing but galleries and loft buildings around. The people were really friendly and they drank A LOT. Lots of hard partying. It really reminded me of the old days at H Street Studios in Fresno and a little bit of Williamsburg.

I guess there is a little bit of that everywhere. Art. Music. Beer.

If you're a small band coming through that part of the world (i.e. the midwest), I would highly recommend you try and hook up a gig there. I've played once before in KC at the Record Bar, which was alos a nice place, but I really prefer the laid back and ghetto environs. It is called the Skinless Gallery. The name was a bit of a turn-off for me, but the level of hospitality and the sheer number of friendly and interesting faces totally made up for the name's lack of appeal.

In Minneapolis now. Recorded this before we left.

Lyrics after the jump.

Last Year (mp3)


the road is clear and wide
the future looks bright
the sky looks like it could swallow us whole
we're on a roll

go directly to go
collect 200 dollars
it is california, dude, bro, we can just chill out
somewhere we'll find a couch
figure everything out.

hold your breath through the tunnel
clap your hands
make it all disappear
that was last year and this is another.

» Read more on Kansas City (Or, "Fourth of July!")

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Live From The Hi-Dive (Or, "No Teeth and No Hair.")

The band I am playing with this summer, the fantastic El Olio Wolof, had a show at the Hi-Dive in Denver last night (if you are in Denver tonight, go check out my pal, Nik Freitas's show at the Hi-Dive!). Overall the turnout was way disappointing, but the hospitality was really great and the staff were friendly and all that. Thanks Jenny and company. And we got a green room, which is a rare treat so far on this tour.

So I took the opportunity to write and record a little song. You can hear the openers in the background -- the Roger Green Band -- and i clipped a couple of times.

No time for "do-overs" right now.

DOWNLOAD : Put Me Down (mp3)

Lyrics after the jump.


If the future was tied up with ribbons and bows,
sky high hotel rooms and sold out shows
i don't know if i'd try quite as hard
as i do
to prove myself to you

not that i've never dreamt of success
one million sales or one million hits
but mostly i've dreamed of being the best
and a skyline with no regrets

if you're climbing a mountain
don't look down
hit a wall
don't give up no ground
can't find the party
can't find the door
just find the best spot
to sleep on the floor

and if you've got no legs
your arms will get strong
never leave love
you can't come to know harm
no teeth and no hair
no cross left to bear
just a chip on the shoulder
where you touched me there

put me down.

» Read more on Live From The Hi-Dive (Or, "No Teeth and No Hair.")

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Song #1 (Or, "Personism and Free Dinner, Drinks and Tips")

As life would have it, I am on the road, Highway 99 to be exact, in a van, an '86 (i think) starcraft. The interior is red, and relatively comfortable. I drafted the back seat, which is a long bench that lies half covered in gear and sleeping bags, but still leaving me plenty of room to kick my sneakers towards a window and lay down and stare at the wood paneled ceiling. And read.

I was just reading a Frank O'Hara biography that was given to me years ago by an ex-girlfriend. I only recently rediscovered this book.

A little academic (both the girl and the book), but the book is really fun when it comes to the parts that Frank wrote.

If you don't know Frank O'Hara, you gotta go read the guy. A true weirdo. One of the best. A poet.

Okay. Point II : I recently figured out that I can record directly into my laptop using the internal mic and a program called Audacity. Which is way super ghetto. My audiophile friends (let's call them Matt and Aaron) would for sure eschew such amatuerism, but being I have no choice, I am going to embrace it.

I have been writing songs, and in the spirit of my reading for the trip, and in tribute to Frank's totally rad movement (Personism! (The exclamtion point is mine)) I am going to dash off as many songs as I can while I careen around the country.

I wrote this one a couple weeks ago and just recorded in Joey's garage in Merced today.

DOWNLOAD : Free Dinner, Drinks, Tips

Lyrics and more after the jump.

You woke up in your old bedroom.
Woke up in your old bed.
Same glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling.
Same pillows under your head.

Same clothes you left hanging in your closet,
but they don't fit you no more.
Same notes you left in your top dresser drawer,
same view out the window,
same catch on the door.

Maybe there's no place like Booklyn.
No place like Queens.
No place left to go home to. No place left to fit me.

But I remember a day on the river.
I remember a day in the park.
I remember a restaurant with horrible service
where I would go to watch you play guitar
over the din and the clatter
and table-clothes spattered with cheap red wine from the bar.

The calamari was so-so
but time could move slo-mo
when you struck a note and it shimmered like a star.

It was a pretty good gig, I guess.
Free dinner and drinks and tips.

Sometimes I wanna go back,
look around for the address.
SOmetimes I wish time would move backwards.

Wish I knew which magic words would work best.

I woke up from a dream.

I saw your face in a dream.
A light turned on.
A door slammed shut.
I fell several stories.
Then woke up.

It was a dream.

My goal is to give you the real shit as I shit it. Take it or leave it. Right?

Write now, and when I write songs in general, I feel like it is my job to navigate the tight-wire, take up the ball, and just work my ass off to arrive on the other side.

Some people say you shouldn't show anything until your finished with it.

Now that I have crossed the river, i mean i think i got the song, and i am no longer on "this" side of the song and I am now on the "canvas" so to speak, I feel like the remaining work is more like that of a painter.

Colors and such. Well. Here it is in glaring black and white.

Hey Aaron! Hey Matt! When I come home let's color.

» Read more on Song #1 (Or, "Personism and Free Dinner, Drinks and Tips")

Monday, June 23, 2008

On the Road Again (or, "I woke up this morning and put on Earlimart’s new disc, Hymn and Her.")

I think I started getting goose bumps near 3 minute mark on track two, Face Down In The Right Town, the part where they start singing “We’ll get back home.” And a little guitar starts comping in time with the snare and it gets all kind of 70’s sounding with the horns and the back-up vocals and then devolves into this kind of breathy throat singing thing. At that point I had definitely shifted my AM gears and came out of the bathroom and stood in front of the stereo speakers in my underwear, with a toothbrush in my mouth. A little dumbfounded.

When track 5 started, God Loves You The Best, and this swelling organ sound and giant drum sound came panning across my living room, I started pacing. Like just in little circles around the coffee table. I didn’t really know how else to relax. I especially loved the tag to the chorus, where they sing “God loves you the best … don’t he.” The “don’t he” bit blew my mind a little. Earlimart had created this great poetic song with really concrete lyrics and imagery and this epic feel, and then Aaron dropped in a little fucked up grammar and it kinda brought me back to reality, for a moment. Just jagged enough to make the experience even real-er.

By the time I got to track 6, Great Heron’s Gates, I broke my “no smoking in the morning” rule (as well as my “no smoking inside” rule) and when you get to track 6 on this record I highly recommend you do the same. Just relax. This song is one of the prettiest songs I have EVER heard and the barest I have heard Earlimart sound. Heartbreaking.

Every part of this song is delicious and perfectly off-balance.

Some would say it sounds like Sparklehorse.

But I would say this tune sounds like something an advanced race of aliens would broadcast thousands of light-years, across the stars, and directly into my stereo to communicate something absolutely important about the human condition that I NEEDED to know. Some kind of urgent warning. “Good on an other-worldly level”, is how I would describe it. To be fair, that is also how I describe Sparklehorse sometimes as well. But only when they are really, really good.

Let me say this : I think Great Heron’s Gates is one of the best fucking songs I have ever heard.

So that is how I fell in love a record this morning. More thoughts after the jump.

Then I kinda took a step back (I’ve spent all day with this record) and tried to analyze it a little more analytically. And one of the most critical parts of the way this record holds together is that it feels really “fresh” (for lack of a better term, ahem, it is hard to wax poetic AND be analytical). The production is keen, but not belabored, not over done. I am pretty sure I have heard every Earlimart record several times, from the really early, raucous, raw, Kingdom of Champions, sort of stuff all the way to the Treble and Tremble era piano-precision pieces.

This record isn’t either of those. It has a certain effortless grace. There aren’t a lot of fingerprints on it – mostly good performances and good songs. Which would seem like such a simple thing to do, right? But as a matter of personal experience have found is incredibly hard to actually accomplish. Keeping it simple isn’t always simple.

So it was a fucking pleasure this morning to put on this record and find this eery equilibrium in every aspect of Hymn and Her’s geometry: the artwork, the lyrics, the songs. It just made me realize that after all the transformations and hard work Earlimart have put into the music, they’re hitting a really good and “graceful” stride. I have always seen them as the "Carter Family" of LA indie rock, because they are an inspiring creative group that touches all the other LA indie acts, but now I feel like I would add the “Jedi Knights of LA indie rock” to their resume as well. If that makes any sense.

The record feels oddly perfect, classy pianos and strings, distortion, George Harrison type guitar solos, angelic choirs – just great ingredients to have in a record. I have listened to this record all morning, and I can’t help but feel that these sounds were not an accident. Earlimart had a game plan and they went out and accomplished it.

But they didn’t over think it, I imagine they just pointed into left field said “that’s where this one is going, “and then took a real big swing – and hit the sweet spot. Which just blows my mind, ‘cause I could NEVER do that. Or rather, have never been able to do that.

The final thing about this record that I love is the level of excitement that Aaron has about it. Usually when I am done recording something, I hate it. No matter how much I loved the song when I started. And I get all insecure and second guess-y and worried about whether it is any good or not.

And that makes it really hard for me to get earnestly excited about something I’ve done that is “coming out”. And I think that Aaron and Ariana have gone through some of that insecurity with previous releases.

But to listen to something like this, and later talking to them and seeing the level of excitement in the band about these songs, and having done all this other stuff and tons of tours and records and STILL being excited, well, hell, it is incredibly impressive and it makes me incredibly proud and truly happy.

It makes me want to play music.

Gotta go.

DOWNLOAD : For The Birds
LINK : Earlimart Myspace

» Read more on On the Road Again (or, "I woke up this morning and put on Earlimart’s new disc, Hymn and Her.")