Friday, February 29, 2008

So its been just over one week since we left our shit-ass jobs for a better life on the road. So far so good. We've only had 3 run-ins with the law for noise complaints while playing, only 1 major piece of equipment fail, and enough cute tour dogs to make our respective home pets totally jealous. The drives have even been pretty pleasant.

The other day while driving, I came to the realization that listening to music in the van may just be my favorite place to listen to music. Everyday, we here at So Many Dynamos LLC fire up the flux capacitor and experience time and space travel to the next city for anywhere from 3 to 10 hours, all of which while listening to records. We listen to our all time favorite records, new favorites, righteous jam records, records that kind of suck, comedy albums, ect... Most of the time, the record we're listening to only has significance to the particular mood we are collectively or personally experiencing at the moment, and does not have anything to do with what is happening outside of the van. BUT sometimes, the music that is happening inside the van is so appropriate for the drive/scenery that it is as if planet earth itself is broadcasting music into our Van. Examples:

Sometime in the year 2005 while driving like hell to get our asses out of the State of California we happened to come across a massive field of Windmill Power Generators while listening to Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians.

Black Mountain's In the Future not only has been blowing our minds lately but was also perfectly appropriate 2 days ago while making the drive through the awesome snow capped mountains of Montana at Sunset.

Somewhere there is video footage from the second night of our very first tour way back in June 2003. The drive was again through mountainous terrain weaving dangerously through winding rock roads with large drop offs in attempt to get higher and higher up a mountain towards a full moon all during which while we were having our nervous yet perfect experience with our newly dubbed tape of Dark Side of the Moon.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

"You made me ink!"

We're in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We are staying with a fellow named Ryan Gage. He set up our show, which was awesome. I am using Ryan's computer while the rest of SMD watches Finding Nemo. I'm partially jealous.

We are only 2 shows into the tour but everything is already going remarkably better than we anticipated. We played last night in Omaha with The Show Is the Rainbow (who is one of our best friends/favorite bands/dude who saved our asses after we flipped our van) and a band called UUVVWWZ, which is apparently pronounced "double u, double v, double double u, z. They were pretty incredible.

Tonight we played an early show with Welcome To The Cinema and We All Have Hooks for Hands. Hooks for Hands is kind of the Sioux Falls version of Say Panther, who is the St. Louis version of Broken Social Scene. Aka, they're the band with 35 members and horns and really sweet songs that involve a maximum of 3 chords. They rule.

We go to Denver tomorrow, which hasn't totally hit me yet. Leaving the Midwest is kind of a big deal.

We're going to TRY to listen to the entire Radiohead discography in chronological order tomorrow. Wish us luck.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Yawn, stretch, yawn.

When we pulled into our driveway at 5:42 AM yesterday, it had just hit me how intense the previous two days were. We tracked an entire song, did the basics, overdubs, and vocals, all in one caffeine and adrenaline fueled day, and then drove the 2.5 hours straight back to Edwardsville. Wow. We have to do a few group vocal parts in our kitchen, and then it's all out of our hands.

Nerd note: this was the first time since When I Explode that we recorded exclusively to 2" tape. My biggest regret about When I Explode: i wish we would have done it digitally.

We leave for a six week tour in 6 days. I'm not in the least bit prepared. Maybe I should bring a sleeping bag this time around.

Things we have to do before we leave:
-get shirts made
-work up more new songs for the record to be playable live
-obtain a synthesizer

Things i personally have to do before we leave:
-have a birthday/go out for my lady's birthday
-figure out how to run a guitar and a keyboard into the same amplifier without using an A/B switch or mixer
-mix the Say Panther record i've been working on for 4 months
-get a haircut (additional option: get a real job)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Menomena got robbed at the Grammys, for real.

I'm sitting at a computer caddy-corner to the console at Great Western Record Recorders in Tolono, IL (15 minutes south of Champaign). Aaron is performing vocals for the 10th song on our record and Chris Walla is recording said vocals. Matt Talbot, studio owner and former member of Hum, is in the corner soldering some shit or something. Norm and Griffin are in the apartment that lives above the studio, probably drinking coffee and watching Barack Obama tear it up in the primaries.

It's the end of day two, which is the last day we have here. We spent all of yesterday working on sounds and rehearsing. The live tracking was done early this afternoon, keyboard and bass overdubs a bit later, vocals being done as I type and guitar fixes/overdubs in the late night/early morning hours I assume. Then we drive back to Edwardsville tonight, for Norm has a 6 AM blood draw at Gateway Medical Research.

Matt and Chris keep talking about gear, and while I'm a budding recording engineer, I haven't known what the hell they're talking about for about 3 hours.

I'm pretty proud of this song, very very glad we threw out the bastard track that ruined our lives 3 months ago. This is the longest song we've ever done, clocking in at 6 and a half minutes long (our longest to date was "let's move mountains", the last track on Flashlights, which was really just 2 songs put together into one track). I guess it's inspired by Beck, Yes, and Weezer. Nerd stuff: mic under snare drum near kick drum beater running through Whammy pedal set to an octave down. Floor tom mic running into an amp with a ton of reverb facing the kick drum mic. Casio sampling keyboard using a string glissando patch that's turned backwards.

Selective words from this song:

The fault line slipped
The fault line slipped
The fault line slipped
And my knees keep shaking

The seismic waves
The seismic waves
Are crashing into
The surface breaking

The plates collide
The plates collide
And we're all just
Fossils in the making

The Arch collapsed
The Arch collapsed
But I still see its shadow
Cast over the river

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

6 songs that remind me of "Low Rider"


Battles - Tonto
Beck - Devil's Haircut
Broken Social Scene: Cause = Time
Modest Mouse - Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
Of Montreal - Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse
Radiohead - Bodysnatchers

Anyway, in less than a week we're meeting Chris Walla at Great Western Record Recorders in Champaign, IL to record that pesky 10th track for our record. It's 6 and a half minutes long.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Week's show reviews plus ANECDOTE 1

So Many Dynamos played 3 shows this week. Here's how they went:

Friday, Jan 26 @ Billiken Club, St. Louis, MO
Awesome, awesome, awesome. It was one of the best lineups we could ever play. Say Panther opened. I've been recording them in my basement studio and have fallen deeply in love with their songs, so it was great to see them played live again. Maps and Atlases played second, and they're probably the best band in the universe. We headlined, which is quite a difficult task to do after Maps, but it went well. We're in that awkward stage where our record isn't out yet but we're playing new songs from it, and luckily the crowd seemed interested enough for it to not be weird. Everytime we go a while without playing a show in St. Louis, i assume everybody forgot about us and doesn't care anymore and, thankfully, this show proved me wrong.

Thursday, Jan 31 @ Stagger Inn, Edwardsville, IL
Our dirty secret is that we don't live in St. Louis, we live in Edwardsville, IL. It's a college town 30 minutes from downtown STL where the cost of living is cheap and we've been living there for 3 years. For some reason, this was the first time we've ever played in Edwardsville. We played at Stagger Inn, the bar Griffin works at, with the Red Light Runners, who are fellow employees there. Our dear friend Steven Colbert (pronounced Coal-burt) played inbetween bands. There was a storm all day and all night which detracted from the draw, but we made the best of it and Steven certainly enjoyed the free Stag pitchers.

Friday, Feb 1 @ Black Sheep Cafe, Springfield, IL
It's been about 2 years since we played Springfield, and Red Light Runners invited us to come up with them for this show. We didn't really have any reason not to! We played with 3 ska bands. Ska is alive and well in Springfield, IL. Mustard Plug played there earlier in the week! The show was great, no complaints.

I've decided, in an attempt to add interest to this blog when we're not active, to post stories about things that happened to us a while ago that are still entertaining. Here goes nothing:

Anecdote 1: The Most Uncomfortable Stay

Last year, we spent 2 months on tour with HORSE the band. They are great friends of ours, and I think they brought us on tour as sort of a science project; they like our band, so will people that like their band like us as well? It's almost musical Reaganomics.

The first show was in Dallas, TX. We were really nervous, and we fumbled through our set with minimal heckling and even more minimal responses from us. By the end of the tour we were experts at verbally destroying hecklers, but we were still new then.

When the show was over, we realized that we had no place to stay. The crowd had dwindled and we had lost any chance to publically announce our current homelessness via a sign or stage announcement. We went around to everybody that was still around and asked them if we could stay with them.

16 year old kid: "You can totally stay with me!"
Us: "Are you sure? Do you live with your folks?"
16 YOK: "Yeah, i live with my dad."
Us: "Are you sure it's cool with him"
16 YOK: "Oh, yeah, it's totally fine"
Us: "Oh, thank you, thank you"
16 YOK: "Oh man, you're totally going to make my spring break"

We followed the kid to his house, got our sleeping bags out and walked up to the house. The house was dark when we walked in, and the first thing I saw when I peered in was the mounted head of a lion. His dad is a hunter, and had gone on trips to other countries and illegally hunted some endagered species. He had a prize lion and a giant zebra rug hanging from the wall. Yes, a fucking zebra, head included. He also had the Texas state record for longest hunted alligator, which was stuffed and hanging out like a tacky coffee table. We ate wild boar sausage, which was actually the highlight of the evening. It's pretty great with some ketchup on it.

The house was gigantic, but we were quarantined to one hang out room which contained a pool table, a drum set, a couch, a TV, and a mounted lion head. All night the kid was very hesitant to let us out of the room and kept telling us to be quiet. It was a pretty small room, and I personally slept inbetween the couch and the drum set with my legs under the floor tom. They left the TV on all night, Jay Leno and then infomercials.

We were woken up at 8:45. "Dude, you guys have to leave. My dad is going to be up soon". It all made sense. We have a rule of never staying anywhere we're not wanted and we'd unintentionally broken it. The kid lied to us, he had never told his dad that we'd be over. We asked if we could take a shower. No. We asked if we could use the computer to get directions to our show. No. We couldn't leave the room except to get out of his house, right now.

We were groggy and sore from an unsatisfying night of sleep, and the kid stood there with arms crossed, tough guy style, watching us roll up our sleeping bags. We got into the van and drove off, shocked at this kid's complete lack of tact, and drowned our sorrows at the Cracker Barrel.