Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Concerning Beatle Bob

Those of you who were at our show at Off Broadway (or our Riverfront Times show last year, or one of the bigger Cicero's shows) know that we have been pretty vocal about our issues with Beatle Bob. It seems like the right time to address it as publically as we can, because it's Christmas and that's what the baby Jesus would want us to do.

So who is Beatle Bob? Anybody from St. Louis probably knows but outsiders do not. He's a goofy looking dude in his late 40's with a mop top who wears a suit and attends at least one (1) rock show every day in town. You can see him dancing in this otherwise unfortunate video from the RFT fest in 2006. People generally like him, because he comes and dances at these shows and usually he's at whatever the biggest show happening in St. Louis is. There's a saying that "if Beatle Bob is there, you're at the right show."

So what's the problem? Well, he always gets into shows free, always shows up late, and always pushes his way past everybody to get to the front right by the stage. This is extra annoying because we always try to make our shows as comfortable as possible for us and for the people that like our band. Sometimes we're fortunate enough to draw larger crowds at our shows and i've seen people get to the front a band or two early to ensure a good spot. This is especially unfair to them, not to mention people that are shorter and can't see over his 6'2" frame.

The other issue is that I have personally seen him steal things from show patrons and from bands. Once, i went to a show, saw him walk to the back of the venue where some kid had set his jacket, drape it over his arm, and walk out. I told people about it and they didn't believe me, until the victim was looking for his coat after the show. At our show at Off Broadway last week, there was a coat on the stage right in front of where i was setting up my pedals. Beetle Bob picked it up from the stage, despite walking in without a coat. He left a few songs into our set and walked out, big puffy jacket in hand.

He also has claimed to work at KDHX (he doesn't) and has talked bands into letting him have a promo copy of their CD for radio airplay. I've seen him do it to Koufax and Bullet Train to Vegas, and attempt it on us and Bring Back the Guns.

This got under my skin for years until I realized how uncomfortable he makes other people and got up the nerve to call him out as much as possible from the stage. I guess this rant is fairly immature and would fall under the category of attempted libel, or at least bad journalism. The only reason I don't care is this: i feel like it needs to be said.

In fact, I've said all of this to his face, not into a microphone from a stage, but face to face at a show (specifically, Robyn Hitchcock and Sean Nelson at Blueberry Hill). His response? Act like he has no idea what I was talking about, and then just walk away unfazed and cheerily talk to somebody else. It was incredible, to be honest. If he was in any way shocked at what I was saying, he would have tried to defend himself, but he didn't because I'm sure this has happened before and his reaction was flawless.

So Beatle Bob is an enigma, and I'm not trying to rally the troops to ostracize him from anything. I just want to explain, in full detail, what our issues are and why we said what we said at that show and will most likely continue saying whenever we see him at shows. Considering he didn't dance at all during our set at Off Broadway and left after 3 songs, this probably won't be a problem in the future.

Monday, December 24, 2007

All i want for Christmas is somebody to write a song for us so we don't have to

It's Christmas Eve. I'm doing some morning laundry because i have three (3) mystery items to buy for my family before arriving in St. Peters before 3 pm.

A few nights ago, we participated in the "Very Mery Christmas Spectacular" show at Off Broadway, put on by the folks that run the Bluebird. It was one of those phenomenal shows that puts everything in perspective, which is really what we needed since our last 2 shows in town have been pretty weak and we haven't been playing very well at them or sounding very good. BUT, all went well at Off Broadway, we debuted a new song ("Oh, The Devastation", formerly working title:5/4) and i played the Casio SK-5 sampling keyboard live for the first time.

The most surprising thing of the night was being pelted by confetti during our last song, "It's Gonna Rain".

I saw Shrek last night and laughed much more than I should have.

So, all of this holiday madness has detracted us from writing our 10th song from our record. We're about 2 minutes into it and pretty stoked on it, but the song is having an existential crisis and is not sure what its purpose in life is yet.

Merry Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate), and God (or whatever deity you beleive in) bless us, every one.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Finally, there is clarity and there is purpose after all

I'm very strict about proper grammar and spelling when I send text messages. Meanwhile, Alex Newport is a chronic text-message-abbreviator. Digging through my phone's inbox from the last week, there are gems like "R u guyz able 2 listn 2 a test mix" and I'm about 90% sure he sent me a kissy-face emoticon once. I gave him a hard time about this for a while, but ever since I departed LaGuardia Airport at 6 AM on Saturday, I've been giddy every time I receive a message from him. He may text like a 12 year girl, but I act like one when I find out there is a new mix ready to be heard.

Last night at 10:30, I received a message telling me that "ghost song" has been finished, and the changes we requested "new song 1" were finished. The crazy part about it is this: we're almost done with our record. Every song that we've written and recorded is now also mixed. We are 90% done with our record.

The other 10% will be the new song we will be writing soon. We have a general idea for the next one; we have shat out an egg of a song and now we must hatch it.

So what is next? We send the record to every single person we can think of that may be interested in assisting us in releasing it. I hope this doesn't affect the blogging, because we may have to be a bit more cryptic about things as to not rub anybody wrong. It does mean that we can do more fun things, like SO MANY DYNAMOS KARAOKE!!!!!

Stay tuned, bros.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The kitchen counter, the living room floor

My experience with the New York City subway system has been pretty minimal in the past, but I think i'm figuring it out. Here are the trains I took today to get from my sister's house in Harlem to the studio in Brooklyn:

A - pretty inoffensive. It runs fairly quickly and stretches across a large area of Manhattan. My train car was covered in ads for the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, which leads me to believe that the new modern CGI Chipmunks are a. creepy looking and b. "hip-hop"

E - Not bad, completely functional, but there was a guy playing the pan flute on the train platform. This is acceptable behavior.

G - Two complaints: 1) the last time I tried to ride it, it stopped running due to some form of accident and i had to take a cab the rest of the way to the studio. 2) the last time i actually rode it, my car smelled like a dirty sock full of dog food.

Yesterday/this morning, we mixed a song tentatively called "If You Didn't Want to Know". It was our attempt at writing a Gnarls Barkley song ("Go Go Gadget" with "Transformer" in the bridge), but others said it sounds like a Cinemechanica song, or at least it did until we added keyboards that sound like the first track on GO by Common. Sometimes it's hard to talk about songs without talking about other songs.

Right now we're mixing a song that I can't talk about. Sorry to be a cryptic weirdo, it is just out of my hands.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Things that rule/things that suck

Things that rule:
-sleeping on the futon at Metropolitan sound next to the space heater
-taking breaks from mixing and having Alex give me the dirt on At the Drive-In, Mars Volta, and other bands he's recorded
-the bar directly under the studio serves a hot dog with every beer

Things that suck:
-the hardcore band that practices directly below the control room
-the power supply on Griffin's laptop, which i am currently borrowing, stops charging the battery every few minutes and I have to play with the cord until i find the sweet spot so it doesn't shut off...again
-every restaurant around here only takes cash, which i am completely out of

Things are well. We did a lot of work on the 5/4 song (potentially titled "We've not seen the worst of this yet"), and we're going to attack it today with fresh ears and make a few changes requested by the home team. I'm very impressed by Alex Newport's attention to detail and work ethic. There's going to be a lot of love on this record.

The next song we will get to today is "New Song 1" (seriously, we need to start inventing some titles). This is a fast song. If anybody remembers the song "There's No I in Werewolves" by the Texas Chainsaw Mass Choir, this is like what it would sound like if we covered it.* For those of you who didn't happen to be going to art space shows in St. Louis between 2002 and 2004, this song is a little harder to describe. It's probably the only one on the record that could be described as "sassy". It's a fairly straightforward verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge number with weird instrument sounds and lyrics about drugs.

Our friend Justin Price sent us a text message while we were writing and said he wanted us to write a song that didn't have the gospel beat, but felt like an indie rock gospel song. Somehow i think this song is what he wanted.

*This statement is actually untrue. "No I in Werewolves" by TCMC is one of 2 songs we've ever covered live and our version didn't sound anything like this song. We played it once to tribute TCMC after they broke up, changed their name to White Rabbits and eventually moved to Brooklyn. While we were recording in Portland, we saw them on Letterman. The only other song we've covered live was "She" by Green Day.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

See the orchestration in the devastation (we've not seen the worst of this yet)

I slept on the futon at Metropolitan Sound and it was one of the best nights of sleep i've had in New York. Flying over here was interesting, mainly because I have never flown by myself before. I was shocked by how foreign St. Louis looks from the air. If I hadn't seen the arch, I wouldn't know where I was.

My flight was broken down in two; St. Louis to Atlanta, Atlanta to NYC. On the flight to Atlanta I sat next to a man that was reading a hunting magazine with a gigantic black bear on the cover. I was THIS close to asking him if he'd shot a bear before, but it didn't seem appropriate.

In Atlanta, the flight to New York got delayed 2 hours. I kept myself occupied with an airport Wendy's and a Musician's Friend catalog (sidenote: J Mascis has his own model of guitar? Wtf, bro). On the flight, I sat next to one of those guys that doesn't appear to be mean, but always seems annoyed by something. I asked him what borough LaGuardia airport is and he responded with an eye-rolled "i don't knowwww, Queens or something?"

The cab driver farted on the way to the studio.

Metropolitan Sound is the name of Alex Newport's studio. It is a very comfortable atmosphere with great equipment, a great engineer, and an amazing view of Manhattan in the control room. Yesterday was dedicated to importing the files from Chris's sessions, and today we will be digging into one the cleverly working-titled song "5/4".

"5/4" sounds like if you played "My Summer Girl" by The Rentals at 45 rpm instead of 33. It was one of the songs we started at home and finished in San Francisco, and it might have the best bridge on the album. It's a song I keep forgetting about, and i'm glad it will exist.

Monday, December 3, 2007

oh in the morning, i stumble....

I'm getting packed right now. I'm getting packed because i'm going to New York today. I will be spending the week there. I found out I was spending the week in New York on Friday, when Alex Newport, who is totally on "the team" now, offered to discount us a bit on studio time so that i could afford to fly out and witness the mixing sessions.

I've never gone to New York by myself, and i've actually never been on a plane by myself either. Combine this with the fact that I'll be hanging out with Alex, an engineer that I really respect, while he finishes up the record-so-far, and the reasons are obvious why I'm ecstatic.

Before I leave though, I have to record Aaron doing one line in one song, because we just plain forgot to do it the whole time we were working with Chris. I guess that gives me an engineering credit on the album. Sweet.