This past weekend was a full ride of ideas and activities. Between work during the day and recording at night, not much time for brogging. So this post is gonna have to be a long, sketchy mess. Sorry beyond infinity.
Car blew up a few days ago. Precision Motorwerks gave us a loaner car that is the exact same make, model, year and color of our '87 535i. In all regards she's a similarly wheezy walrus of the autobahn. Strange. These cars don't die, they just need transplants every few thousand miles. In this case, the ignition switch no longer wants to talk to the crank sensor which in turn doesn't want to relay gas to the fuel injector. Explosions + raw gas = bummer. So that's getting sorted. Still no heat at over 55 mph. Rad-esque.
Let's see... what else? Tam flew to UK (more on this down lower). Josh Myers played piano like a real angel baby. Damon slayed 'Fractals' with Aska. Nate wrote three of the more beautiful bass lines I've heard in ages.
I've played too many guitars. Singing and running my mouth till my voice fell apart. Now sound like a shovel scraping mud off of a cement driveway. Ate several turkey sandwiches. Gabe Carter still one of my all-time favorite guitar players. For a dude who doesn't seem to touch an instrument but every 10 months or so, that man is a giant of sound.
Goth Joel brought my Blade Runner dreams to life with sax flutters and circular reed breathing. No Age showed themselves again to be best dudes with visionary, funny brains. Engineer Kory Kruckenberg has been fantastic. The easy, graceful way he commands his studio has made a huge impact on our performances and sounds. Andy Myers conjured his inner goth-punk with vibraphones and the hammer dulcimer. With her cello and that crazy voice, Jenna Conrad has made our Ghost Wars songs sound... man, I don't even know how to describe it. She's made the songs sound deep and wide. And that Eric Fisher... Bananas. Dude finally got his Gibson Marauder. Those epoxy-dipped pickups are wild. WILD! Smoothest, darkest, creepiest tone I've maybe ever heard. With it he's coined the term "grey metal." Not quite black and certainly not death. Just grey. Vaguely sinister. Amorphously evil. Ambiguously bad. Hand in glove.
And then there's Morgan Henderson. Electric bass, guitar, piano, flute, clarinet, sax, upright bass, computers, arrangements, etc... Morgan is lovely. In the photo above you'll find him pondering the grossness of the gum wall post-viewing of Steve McQueen's "Baby The Rain Must Fall" at the Seattle Art Museum. Bad wall, worse movie. Speaking of gross... let's pause for a film review:
'Rock My Religion is artist Dan Graham's provocative thesis on the relation between religion and rock music in contemporary culture' (so says the Henry Art Gallery website).
Apart from Pattie Smith blathering inane tropes about the phallic power of male rock stars and Jim Morrison trying to wax poetic while geezed out of his mind, it wasn't half bad. However, trying to draw cultural parallels between Shaker religious rites and the transcendent power of live rock shows is pretty iffy, Mr. Graham. To suggest that the skanking, shimmying, screaming, crying, and fainting found on display at Minor Threat, Buddy Holly, and Led Zeppelin shows descends directly from the spazzfest freakouts of a 17th-Century Pilgrim religious cult is rather dim. And, terribly near-sighted. Humans have been shaking their asses to rhythms and melodies since before humans could rightly distinguish themselves from the apes. Just sayin'.
Shakers wanted to conjure the devil in effort to cast him out. Why? Because they were devil obsessed religious zealots (who in addition made some rather fantastic arts n' crafts furniture, but that's beside the point).
Rock n' rollers & punkers, on the other hand, aren't nearly as concerned with the devil as they are with finding a momentary reprieve from constraining social norms like jobs, religions, and laws. We don't take our cues from Shakers, we take our cues from primordial man. From pre-civilized man. Unless its black metal (yawn), at live shows the last thing on anyone's mind is "the devil." Kids ain't goin' to shows to say, "Laterz, devil." They're there to say, "Fuck the Man" and "Fuck being The Man."
We go to be human animals.
Some go to dance, to sing, to wiggle; some go to exchange phone numbers, glances and texts; some go to stand and stare, to gawk and guzzle; some go to ponder their place in the world, in the crowd, in the line, and on the sidewalks afterward. We go in hope of seeing something spectacular and, more importantly, to be part of the spectacle and walk away feeling empowered (or depressed depending on disposition) by having been a part of something unique and ephemeral.
People go to rock shows to transcend legacies and disconnect from culturally codified expectations. To instead live in the moment for however long the moment lasts. Which all may sound rather mushy, but fuck it. That is the aim of a great rock show. If you're in it for life then on some level you probably realize it is communal, it is animal, it is primitive and subcultural. It is not religion. It is biological. And it usually requires extreme decibels, several amps, a bit of humor, and massive heaps of pathos. And a great drummer. Like Dale Crover. Or Ginger Baker. Or Britt Walford.
Anyway, despite Graham's rather thin thesis, his film was way better than that Steve McQueen flick. Woof. Watching McQueen play a small time Texas crooner all twisted up about the conservative demands of his cranky adopted mom = snoozefest. Sorry Morgan and Jessica, we thought it was gonna be a real olde timey barn burner. Better luck next lurk!
Now back to the brog in progress.
After the Henry, we ate at Thai Thom in the lurkiest of lurk zones—The U District. Rugged. Happy to say Thom's is still delicious, and it is still rife with scurrying roaches. As always, that one dude was washing dishes and scooping rice. A lot of dishes. As always (Part II), the chef had a hard-on for conjuring great balls of fire in his wok. Three foot high flames to singe the eyebrows and char your cheeks. The original rock n' roll Thom no longer cooks there. Apparently he's now in real estate. Ha! Life is weird like that. Oh well, the show must go on... and on... and on....
William Goldsmith. Cat herder. Alien conspiracy theorist. Stand-up comedian. Martial arts expert/killing machine. Brilliant drummer. Lovable beyond belief. Occasionally crazy as a bag of hammers. Lover of form fitting jump suits, zip-up-the-side boots, big screen TVs, John Bonham, and nitrogen enhanced water. We've come a long way, my friend.
Happy to see Will's basement is once again a real beehive of music making and positive weirdness.
Dan Hill's garage is serious business. Scooters, motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles....
... and tools.
Lots of tools.
And helmets. And repair manuals.
Dan, you're my friend. Thank you.
That's right, Dan wired a modern color TV screen into an old console. He likes to watch b&w episodes of "Dragnet." Makes no sense but looks hella sweet.
Morgan has a new band named Past Lives. The notes him and Devin choose to shape and mangle are worth every second of your attention. Soon they'll be coming to a dank hole near you opening for The Thermals. Arrive early, leave late-ish. Buy a cd, it'll put gas in the tank!
This puzzle picture still hangs above the men's urinal at the Sunset Tavern in Ballard. Years mean nothing to that place. Mind blowing. Apologies for taking such a crappy photo, her socks seal the deal.
Last weekend, Gabe came over for rehearsal before heading into the studio. When not laughing our asses off, we mauled guitars for several hours trying to remember how the hell we'd written those parts three years ago.
Flannel to the max! That's a lot of soft cloth. So gross. Some things never change in Grungetown, USA. We're now up to our scalps in recording. Tomorrow night is our last in-studio session. The past eight days have been a tremendous joy.
I've been saving the most important stuff for last. Very sad about Tam's departure to the UK. Her granny's passed away in Wales. Wish I could have gone with her. Would have liked to help keep her spirits strong and do what I could to uplift her mom. All three were very close. So light a candle and say a few kind words, if you will, please. From all accounts Tam's granny was a fantastic lady. I thank her for raising Tammy to be a gentle soul and a sweetie. And I thank her for Susan Josephine's spunk, wit, and bluster.
On a related note, within a few days of Tammy's gran passing, the Shellzbot lost her mom. Shellz and I go way back. I know how tough a blow this is going to be for her. Each in our own way and every day, we'll help you pull through.
This is going to be a time of growing pains and expanding brains, I can feel it. This will be an incredible year. A hard year. A beautiful year. Time is meaningless and time is everything.
Love & Strength to you and yours.