Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Homeward Bound. Sort of.

I'm on a computer with a barely functioning "n" key. Gerunds and other "n" heavy words will be strategically ignored or accidentally misspelled. Be wary.

Tomorrow, Zach & I hop into (which was just "ito", by the way) the birdvan and depart for home sweet home. LA, we'll miss you and your smoggy, near nuclear sunsets. Au revoir. Both of us are pretending that the birdvan trip will be free of radiator catastophe, but of course, you never know. Anyway, Pete & Dave will remain behind so that Peter can sing and Dave can sit in a big comfy chair (alright, and also play guitar), then they follow us up in a nearly equally fucked automobile, also known as Peter's car. Then, it's Wednesday, for free, at the Mezzanine. Back to San Francisco. I can almost smell the foggy homelessness. It smells like victory.


So...I guess this is goodbye. Sort of. I'm thinking about keeping up the blog, in fits and spurts until the album is actually done, which we're hoping is around February 22nd, followed by printing which, god willing, will happen with suave alacrity and come out sometime in March. So, yeah, I'll keep writing. But that might just be drunken, post-show at 3:30 a.m. Justin talking. Pay him no heed.

All in all, thanks for reading when you did. Hopefully, the pointless ramblings (
"rambligs"?) and pictures kept you interested enough to check out the CD. I mean, it's pretty good. But that's our little secret.

I best get some sleep. I've got a long day of van-pushing, gatorade drinking, and listening to music that isn't Birdmonster tomorrow. If there are missing "n"s, poorly constructed senteces, or mongoloid style mispeak, forgive me. I blame the fine people at Sapporo.

You know what? There's a few random thoughts that will surface when my brain and motor skills regai their former glory tomorrow, but after a long van odyssey, I'll doubtfully be in a mental place to write it. So, I'll throw one up later this week. Blogging, god bless it, is quite fun. It's like the cigarette of the internet world, if only the cigarette of the internet world wasn't watching people embarrass themselves.

Good night.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Wait. It's the Thirtieth?

Alright. There's today, then there's tomorrow. Then there's San Francisco. That's it. I feel like its the end of a particularly great vacation, except instead of a bullshit shotglass, we'll get an LP. Beat that, Reno.

It's early Monday (2 a.m. early) and we're pretty much wrapped up. Except a vocal or two, and some random how-'bout-a-slide-guitar-here? sort of experiments, everything's done. The van, which nearly murdered me with coolant fumes, miraculously repaired itself after a cataclysmic Thursday errand. And we've almost come up with a set list for tonight's show (which is free, by the way, at Spaceland--hint). Then, we wrap up every little loose end and vamoose. A bit surreal, honestly.

Right now, I'm decompressing after a long day with some unwatchable TV. You know, I think if TV's bad enough, it's actually like giving your brain a massage. If you don't believe me, work all day, make yourself a gimlet, and watch Over the Top.

At least our ears still work though. Somehow, we've all managed to keep a discerning ear throughout the process. I was a bit worried that, by now, everything would end up sounding like the equivalent of that ugly purple color you get when you mash all your oil paints together. Today, Pete sang some vocal's through Brad's Scully, which is a montrous eight-track tape machine that lives in the corner of the studio. I think there's a picture in here somewhere...yes. There is. But I can't download it. Well, use your imagination.

Something on the TV just told me I should care about the Winter X Games. That makes me sad.

I sort of lost my train of thought there. I think that's obvious. And there's a cozy bed waiting somewhere back there. I could use that.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Calamity Strikes

I tried to post yesterday, Really, I did. Circumstances outside my control, however, prevented your Thursday reading. Say a prayer for the birdvan.

So I left the house yesterday around 2, hoping to go to the bank and my girlfriend's mom's house to say hello, then scoot on home for a long half day of recording. It was the perfect plan, really. At first, getting out of the house was nice, and the smoggy sunshine was doing me good. Then, somewhere on the 134, the van started clicking. Then, the heat gauge went from "moderately warm" to "goddamn volcano" in the span of about a quarter mile. After finally making it to my destination, AutoZone was visited, and cheap-ass radiator fixes were bought: aluminum powder called "Stop-Leak" and some crazy-ass putty if I was able to find to putty. Helped by Michael & Emily (thanks you two), the radiator got a quick dosage of aluminum and the leak seemed to stop. All for two bucks. Of course, at this point, it was 10 at night. Drat. And, naturally, when I was two miles from home, the radiator shat out again and the van devolved from sensible bird transport into rolling biohazard. Several showers later, I still smell coolant.

But, well, it had to happen sometime. As the old saying goes: "The only problem with buying an 800 dollar is that you have an 800 dollar van." For now, let us concentrate on good things.

Like yesterday. Almost every single guitar was finished in my absence. They were either re-amped, honed, re-played, or just kept as was. In fact, everything I hear this morning is just barely different than when I left and much better. Actually, every instrument is slowly sounding exactly as it should and we're honing on the sound this album will have. Mixing and some singing and Rhodes still remain, but the finish line is now apparent. When all's said and done, this is going to be a really damn fine CD. It sounds full and live and fun, which is what we were trying to do when we came down here. Not to toot our own horns or anything but...


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

So I went walking today. Not too far, mind you, just a few blocks down to a corner store and coffee shop while Peter did a little early morning, gruff-voiced singing. The mission was a success, bearing that I got my morning paper and too-large cup of coffee. I was proud of embracing my San Francisco-ness by walking the half-mile in this city of cars. Of course, on my stroll back, I was approached by the only pedestrian without a dog or stroller, who proceeded to ask me for cigarettes, drugs, and the Sports Section. Three resounding "no"s later and with a block to go before I could peel off politely, I decided to ask him where he was off to.

"The pet shop, man," he said. "I'm gonna get a hamster."

"Nice," I replied. "What are you gonna name it?"

He giggled. Really. "Nothing, man! I'm gonna use it as bait to catch a fucking shark."

I will never walk anywhere again.

Safely cloistered back at the casa de Brad, I can say that yesterday's lunacy has left me. Not completely, of course, because, well, what fun would that be? But I'm again capable of rational thought. How comforting. This fairly enviable return to pseudo-sanity is owed mostly to the glory that was yesterday, although I could scarely tell you which day of the week it was. We played pianos, tamborines, and guitars of various flavors. We sang---well, Peter sang---we saw, we conquered. And then, late night, while scheming some overdubs, we dragged out a song we had yet to work on, settled into some plush rocking chairs, and listened. Then listened again. Then we laughed. Mainly because nothing needed to be done. No re-dos, no overdubs, no tinkering of any kind. It might not sound like a whole lot, but in my noggin, it's taken on the mythic import of the Arc of the Covenant. So rejoice with Birdmonster. I implore you.

Today, who knows? Plenty of sitting here, listening to Pete sing, re-mixing, and hubris. I'm going to angle for a porch-side hoe-down at sunset and see if I can get a taker. All in all, we're still ahead of schedule, which is comforting thought with roughly a week left.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a hotdog waiting for me. Thank God I gave up on all vitamins three weeks ago.

see! i did take a pic of the bidet at grandmaster. wasnt it worth the wait? -zach

Hooray for pictures. They're everywhere. And by everywhere, I mean this post and the next two. I'd like to point special attention to the post below, first picture. That's Brad. There's also one of Zach chanelling high-school Zach for long supressed cello skills. We laid some down on Ice Age, and it sounds glorious.

Moving on.

I really think this morning was it, the point where I finally lost my mind. I woke up with Constant Craving in my head and I couldn't stop laughing at my bagel. It's all downhill from here. However, bearing that in mind, I'd like to sum up some recent events without you judging me harshly. Here goes:

We're mostly done with about seven songs. The vagueness you're reading into that sentence is there for a reason: we've actually worked on far more but completely finished far less, I decided seven was a happy medium. I'm sure you'll agree. A typical day consists of sleeping till eleven, doing various musical things for about thirteen hours, and then attempts at being social, cultural, and exotic (read: we went bowling. I lost). Somewhere, there was tuna fish and Dave almost stealing someone's car. Silly Dave. Silly tuna fish.

The thing is, we've really done plenty since I posted last. I just can't quite put my finger on what it was. I recall lots of loud guitars, some banjos, a jangly acoustic, and some singing. The pictures are nice, because they remind me what we actually did. Look! There's Peter playing the slide. And us in the control room. And me looking like Geordi LaForge. Browse around, please. I promise that tomorrow, I'll write something that contains at least one cogent thought.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Our first proper day off turned into a pseudo-half day off. I'm reaching the point where I'm nearly incapable of entering into normal conversation and I have zero idea of anything that's happened in the real world. Cure for cancer? Indonesian civil war? The release of the infamous Barbara Boxer Jazzercise tape? Sure. I'm wandering around in the dark here, people.

Yesterday was a veritable smorgasboard of overdubbing, singing, and fat-assed-couch-sitting. We worked primarily on Bar in the Back of the Basement, which is a spastic, minor-key, cow-punk song. Overdubs consisted of some acoustics, clapping, guitars, and this reverby Rhodes thing that sounded kind of like a broken Russian music box. All that minor-keying made think evil thoughts. None were spared. We also managed to squeeze in some vocals for the above-mentioned tune, a few backrounds for Balcony, and some banjo for an acoustic one we used to play live all the time. It sounds kind of, I don't know, civil war-y? Sure. Let's stick with that.

Moving along. Today, an old friend is stopping by and we may again venture into the outside world. This frightens us all. I'm well into a winter beard (out of sheer laziness, I assure you, because I look like a hobo) and I think Zach has been wearing those pants for three months. In other words, we look crazy. Keep your children away.

As always, more later.

Friday, January 20, 2006

I've never spent this much time in Los Angeles straight. One thing I like is that everyone knows directions to everywhere because walking is illegal. I also like that I get to see billboards of the movies no one will ever see. They're making a Curious George movie, I now know. That book was way too intense anyway.

So, today we started overdubbing and vocals. The meat and potatoes of the CD remain the live stuff, but the sour cream and chives are rather fun too. We tackled Balcony this afternoon and evening, which is a country-ish one with a melodica. I even got to play the banjo, which everyone loves. It's like the two dollar bill. I defy you to hate the two dollar bill. And hey, Peter just finished the vocals, so we're moving right along. Everyone's still motivated and I have yet to devolve into the mush-brained weirdo I can become after this much music. I guess we've got another couple weeks down here, so there's plenty of time for my noggin to fill with paste, but right now: a-okay.

We had dinner tonight with Mark from Music for Robots (linked over there. On your right). He's a fine chap and he took us to a place with Monte Cristos on the menu, which, in case you don't know, is the sandwich equivalent of a religious epiphany. It was strange being outside of the studio atmosphere. I felt like I left the quarantine. I think I have hives.

Oh yes. And Zach posted some new pictures below the last post. We decided to save some from Grand Master since scenery will become nice and monotonous for the next couple weeks. So enjoy. And keep leaving comments. We like comments.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

We picked up the last of our instruments, cords, and doodads at Grand Master this morning, shook Andrew's hand and were on our way. After copious errands, we made it home to finally listen to the songs in a new room, outside of the studio, with a minty fresh brain. They're better than I remembered.

Which is odd. I mean, in the studio once you hit a song, you leave it behind, only vaguely remembering how good or bad it was. Those three days are a bit of a distorted mush for me, so listening this morning screwed the noggin back on. The big thing is, they sound like us. That was something we felt we missed on the EP, I think. People that have seen us live know what I'm talking about.

And in the end, LA was a good choice. Sure, there's that whole choking smog-of-death thing, that billboard overload, no pedestrian kind of vibe to the place, but it's not home. It's not San Francisco. And as much as we love it there, doing this out of town was the best decision we made. It didn't necessarily have to be Los Angeles, but there aren't any nice studios in Reykjavik, so we went with option two. I mean, this is a self-funded operation here, people. We need focus. I get too cozy in the foggy confines of our fair city.

Also, please forgive the laziness with the pictures. Today was a pajamas sort of day and what we accomplished would have translated to a bunch of photos of five guys around some tape & computers, which, in turn, would have translated to you passing out from boredom at your desk. So, you're welcome. Tomorrow's the good stuff anyway. See you then.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Well, that's that

After three fruitful and incredibly loud days at Grand Master, we're done with the basics. Hell, we finished early. Robert Horry would be proud. Right now, cords are being detangled, the dashing and helpful Andrew is transferring the last couple tracks of the day onto the Birdmonster hard drives, and a warm plantain sandwich is on it's way. Yet again, all is well with the world.

Of course, much is left to do. We're taking it a song at a time at Brad's: vocals, overdubs, and harmonies for a new song every day of the week.

In fact, that all starts tomorrow. We'd originally planned to take a breather tomorrow, but everyone's got that nervous excitement going, so we're going to smooth the songs out tomorrow & choose one to start on. I figure I can talk about 'em a song at a time while we're hashing out them out, since I haven't really typed about any of the individual tunes yet. I figured a big long list would've been boring, right? Right.

Honestly though, we couldn't be happier. Recording seems to be a process which has always run over time for us and this time, we finished her up early. In fact, I'm paying to type this right now. At least I'm enjoying the ambiance one last time. Tomorrow, we're land lubers again. I hope I don't get that weird quesy thing again. We'll see.

Monday, January 16, 2006

I love yellow curry

I'm back in the ship's cabin. And the sailing's just fine.

I started this post maybe 5 hours ago and foolishly closed the window, as usual, forgetting to save anything I wrote. We didn't lose the great American novel though. I promise. And you know what? It was for the best. When I was typing it, I was merely recapping yesterday's exploits and yammering about today's plan. There was one good joke about the chili burgers we ate, but it's not worth reliving. I'll just say this: "Don't eat at Tommy's." Now, the plan has actually come to fruition. I'm not just predicting anymore. I mean, I just cackled maniacally. You should have heard it.

Zach posted some pictures he took around Grand Master below yesterday's post. Yet, no flowery bidet. The man needs a talking to. They do this place justice though. Truly strange. It's like an old shoe. Does that even make sense? I think I'm reaching that point where my brain turns into a soggy paste. I think I should go eat some Thai food. Which smells delicious, by the way.

Last thing: We're going downstairs now to record the eighth song. To our unending surprise, we're actually ahead of schedule. In fact, there will be computer time later tonight. To the galley.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

I'm upstairs at Grand Master right now, sprawled out on what looks but doesn't smell like a brown leather couch. Downstairs, guitar amps are getting fiddled with and we're probably about two hours from starting in earnest. Honestly, I'm giddy.

Yesterday's session was more weird acoustic goodness and instrument jerry-rigging. Loudness ensued. Peter regaled us all with "You're Drinking My Grandma's Soda (and I Don't Like the Look on Your Face)", a song so epic, so divine, that my ears melted--from the next room. In fact, I'm recording deaf. Just so everyone knows.

So, Grandmaster: truly bizarre. This upstairs lounge feels like a ship's cabin. It's all teak wood and rickety windows and crooked slats. Leading down from here is a spiral staircase surrounded by mirrors. But they're panelled so you kind of feel like you're in a fun house and, since the handrail is metal and the carpet is plush, you get electrocuted eighty percent of the time. It keeps you alert. Take it from me. You know what? I can't do this place justice with babbling. We'll post some pictures of it soon. Two words though: flowery bidet.

Alright, I gotta go play some music now. More later.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

A brief recap

So, we're here. Los Angeles. You can almost smell the Roscoe's on my breath. Which is probably bad, being as I ate it for breakfast yesterday. But, man, that was a good waffle. I may never brush my teeth again.

We arrived Thursday night, after a gloriously uneventful caravan down the 5, to our Producer/Engineer/Crock-Pot-Chef's house over by Colorado street. I'd give you a better idea of where we're at, but I can barely make it to the bus in morning, so be happy with "over by Colorado street." Not only was Brad willing to record our LP, but he was willing to slow-cook pork, potatoes, and zuchinis for our arrival. And let me tell you one thing: Falling. Off. The bone. Goddamn.

To bring everyone up to speed, we're going to be recording both here & at a famously funky studio near Aomeba called Grand Master. In fact, we go there tomorrow, (which is Sunday, right? I've lost track), spend a full three days recording amongst teak wood & red velvet, then finish the overdubs, vocals, melodicas, and dijeridoo solos back here at Brad's house. That's the plan, at least. So far, so good. But we haven't really started yet, so, hey, that was easy.

Basically, in the day and a half we've been here, we've recorded a few reels of weird, acoustic/banjo/cello versions of our softer songs, and some blown out, vocal-less electric takes of the tunes that don't lend themselves to the pluck-treatment. Janky-ness and blown out mics abound, but they sound really...I don't know...cozy. There are also some fabulous tones to be had from these overblown little amps, so they'll be making an appearance in a week or so. More later.

For now, it's early Saturday...well, it's almost one, but bear with me.,,and we're going to spend the day visiting Grand Master, cooking, and playing some more bizarre versions of the songs we know and love. So I'll wrap it up. I'm going to try & update this once daily, but right now I'm using dial-up, which is the digital equivalent of the Flintsone's foot-car, but it's getting the job done. When we sort out pictures, we'll post a few, which will hopefully be in the next day or so. I promise later versions of the blog to be filled with multimedia, witty repartee, and properly spelled words. Now, I'm going to go enjoy the rain we dragged with us from the City.