Although our new CD isn't supposed to be officially released until April 7th, I though it was time to let everyone have a listen. Here's every track in glorious lo-fi. Buy the CD for true hi-fidelity and the neat album cover by Brian Clarke:
Now if you want some of the back story on this here album, here you go.
With the current way music is distributed and listened to, we've realized albums seem to be on the way out. Prior to 1965 and The Beatles "Rubber Soul" album from which no singles were released, pop/rock albums were - for the most part - a collection of hits with some filler added to pad out a release. Now, with easily accessible downloads and portable mp3 players, it seems like single songs are what interest people the most. It's pre-1965 all over again. We'd hate to put out a full length release and have difficulty selling it as, in reality, we've actually sold very few albums. Our downloads have slowly increased over time and we felt the best option is to release mini-albums. With a mini-album, we can record more frequently and at less expense.
We've actually been able to record 95% of our next release, a Christmas album, with the money we've saved.
Anyway, we hope you enjoy the "Goodie Bag", who's title came about when my family went and saw "Space Chimps" last fall (Chimpanzees in space? Come on, it's comedy gold.). During one of the scenes a character inquires about "goodie bags" and that set me off thinking how it'd be a great title for a song, album title and even a band name.
To record the album, we set off for The Hangar up in nearby Sacramento. Run by John Baccigaluppi, The Hangar is a funky warehouse that is home to Tape Op magazine - the best magazine on recording ever! The Hangar is a comfortable recording environment where a skateboard ramp is situated in almost every room.
Our engineer, Bryce Gonzales, had us record live (Nick Baca - drums, Tito - guitar, DJ Kinville - bass) which wasn't as hard as I expected as we had been performing most of the songs live for the past year. Unfortunately, Bryce had to leave the sessions when the opportunity to record freak-folk cult hero, Devendra Banhart arose.
After a hiatus of a couple of months we able to get another engineer,Robert Cheek, to come in and record the vocals and a few overdubs. As Robert had actually recorded the Deftones' cool version of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy"in the same studio, we felt we were in capable hands.
We quickly recorded the overdubs and mixed the album and then headed own the hall to MonsterLab Audio for mastering by the golden-eared, Eric Broyhill and his insanely friendly dog, Gypsy.
We not only enjoyed the laid-back recording vibe in Sacramento, but the local restaurants are really good and sometimes you're lucky and come across some cool photo ops:
1. BIRTHDAY RUCKUS. This song came about when we tried recording our samba-esque version of "Happy Birthday" in our garage rehearsal space as a birthday greeting for Evalyn Harper. She's the daughter of Oklahoma childrens' music performer Monty Harper - whose guide to kid-friendly radio shows is indispensible - and his wife, Lisa Harper. Lisa has a terrific podcast, Kid Music Planet, and was asking for children's music performers to just record a quick little message to wish Evalyn a happy 7th birthday. Anyway, our attempt at recording a greeting failed and when the other guys left I drank some coffee and sat down with my guitar and quickly came up with this ditty. When I sent it to Lisa I even told her I was gonna re-record it with my band as I really liked it. So, Evalyn, thanks for the inspiration!
2. FIELD TRIP. Probably our most popular live song. As a father with two young sons in elementary school, I've been on my fair share of field trips. Some lame, some pretty cool. With the budget crunch schools have been experiencing, I thought about what kind of field trips schools could have if they had Pentagon-sized budgets.
I'm a huge fan of songwriter, Scott Miller, of Game Theory/Loud Family. I had to give him some props by alluding to the first song I ever heard by him when his band was operating out of nearby Davis, CA. It's in the second verse where I mention his song, "Nine Lives to Rigel Five".
3. ALWAYS MOM. My mother passed away when I was young and never got to know her as an adult. Therefore, in my eyes, she will always be young, beautiful and saintly. My own wife is a terrific mother who tireless attention to our children is amazing. With both of them as an inspiration along with all the mothers who make the trek to our shows with kids in tow, I knew I had to write of songs for mothers everywhere.
4. PRELUDE TO A THING. A palate cleanser from all the upbeatness!
5. THINGS YOU WANT. Brian Boyd is a friend I've had since high school. He's smart, funny, and very creative and is the most interesting person I know to converse with. We had agreed to record some demos of song ideas he had floating around and said he'd send me some stuff. What he sent was a full 90 minute cassette (?!) of song (in varying stages of completion), jokes, vocal impersonations, and what-not. I picked out about a dozen songs I really liked. One partial song that really caught my ear was, "Things You Want". It was an upbeat romp with a terrific melody and a cool verse and chorus to which I added a bridge and another verse. I was hoping to record it in the style of NRBQ and even tried to do my best Terry Adams clavinet imitation. It doesn't sound anything like NRBQ.
6. MY NEW CAMERA. I remember when I got to use cameras as a kid and how much I enjoyed taking pictures. With their compositionally-challenged skills, kids can take some awesome pictures of headless parents and siblings with missing limbs. I thought I'd try and capture some of the joy I feel with taking pictures and especially had fun with the Free Design-type vocals.
7. WHAT'S THAT NOISE? Inspired by the Don Knott's movie, "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken", I decided to create a Halloween song about someone spending the night in a haunted mansion. Using music from a song I'd previously attempted to record a couple times before without success, we were finally able to come up with an arrangement that worked. Like, "Things You Want" it has the close harmony singing I love doing with Nick.
8. GOODIE BAG. The title track that was inspired by the Space Chimps movie. I'm not sure when the tradition of handing out goodie bags at birthday parties came about, but I know I didn't get diddley squat when I attended birthdays as a kid.
We were fortunate enough to have our super-talented friend, Gunnar Madsen, add some vocals to our recording. When I wrote the song I was having so much fun playing and singing it I felt like I should scat. I quickly realized scatting should be left up to professionals. Having remembered that Gunnar Madsen was the singing voice of Sammy Davis Jr., in a Rat Pack biopic on HBO I contacted him and he agreed to sing. Trekking on down to his place in Berkeley, I was privileged to watch him lay down numerous vocal tracks. Each pass was different and hilarious and I wished we didn't have to stop and choose just one. It would have been great to have videotaped the session and strung all the bits together. Coulda got Gunnar placed on a psychiatric hold:
So that's it. A goodie bag collection of audio trinkets we hope you'll have fun passing time with. And, although it won't officially be out until April 7th, if you've made it this far you can find downloads and/or purchase the cd now at these places: