Thursday, August 28, 2008

Concerning beer, our newfound tourmates, and my probable second career as an ad executive

After months of sitting home and rotting like a forgotten nectarine, us four Birdmonsters are gearing up for a tour. And while I'll miss the comforts of home (like, say, blankets not infected with herpes), I'm thrilled to be heading out. After all, tour is just code for "traveling with my three best friends, playing music every night, and sampling the myriad beers of the Pabst Brewing Corporation."

(Parenthetically, you truly need to check out the "quality" beers distributed by the Pabst Brewing Corporation. It's a veritable "Who's Who" of hobo-quality swill. Blatz? Rainer? Lone Star? Oh yeah, they do all three. And since nothing says "quality" like a luke-warm 40, Pabst also distributes Colt 45, St. Ides, and Country Club. Now, I'm no beer snob (nor could I afford to be one) and I enjoyed a cold Pabst no less than twelve hours ago. I'm overjoyed at the prospect of Lone Stars and Pearls in Texas, Olympias in Seattle, and a Stroh is Detroit. But you can't call a collection of notoriously low-rent alcohol "quality." It's like being a Kansas City Royals fan: you're in the Major Leagues, but just barely.

And while we're digressing wildly, it's worth noting that Pabst is now the largest American brewery. In case you didn't hear, Anheuser-Busch, brewer of Budweiser, the red-white-and-blue-enest beer on God's America, is now owned by a Belgian-Brazilian brewmonster known as InBev. Coors, on the other hand, is half-owned by Canadians. While some may read this as further proof of our nation's decline into less-than-Superpower-dom, I read it as a staggering opportunity for Pabst. If I was them, I'd make commercial where a cowboy in a pick-up truck is drinking a PBR and listening to a baseball game. He'd look stoic and withered and the announcer would say "Pabst Blue Ribbon is the last true American beer for true American originals," then the voice-over comes back "Budweiser would have you believe they're the great American original too, but they're owned by someone else." Then you play this video:

That was awesome.

Then you go back to the cowboy in the pick-up and do a slow zoom out so you can see the amber waves of grain rolling in the distance. "Pabst. Because you love beer," says our announcer---and it really should be Sam Elliot doing the voice-over, now that I think of it. Screw that. Sam Elliot should be the cowboy too. Sam Elliot should also be making me coffee and spitting Skoal into my trashcan. I need to make this happen.)

Okay, like Snoop said, "back to the lecture at hand": tour. I've included the requisite dates over there on your right and, as we fill out the tour and eliminate off-nights, days of rest, and other probably-needed days of respite, more dates will inevitably be added. (In the past week alone, we've added days in Tempe, Detroit, and Toronto, as well as a pair of Virginia ones.)

However, this post is not about us. And although up to this point it's been mainly about Pabst, our original goal was to introduce you to our indefatigable tour mates: The Rumble Strips.

All shows from October 4th through November 1st will be with these fine Brits. This means several things. Firstly, we will all have to struggle against accidentally slipping into English accents. Inevitably, this is easy at first, but then all of a sudden, you're saying "cutlery" instead of "silverware" and "cheers" instead of "thanks," and then you're discussing the UK-India cricket final in a Costneresque lilt. I pray we persevere. It also means that we get to spend almost a month with some seriously good musicians and songwriters. When we were approached with the offer to open for these guys, I admit I hadn't heard their music before. That's not surprising. I just heard the "Vampire Weekend" CD a few weeks ago. I also hear these "Beatles" are pretty slick too. Point is, I'm out of the loop. It's a symptom of age, I think, to fall out of that insular circle of right-now-hipness, and if that is indeed true, I'm getting pretty Methusilahy over here. And while I hadn't heard the music yet, when I did, I was impressed. It's a lovable amalgam of British pop, Soul, Rock, and maybe a little Folk, spruced up with horns and some rather inspired arrangements. In other words, it's good. Plus, they cover Thin Lizzy. That's reason enough by itself.

So do check them out. I feel like it's a great pairing and I'm giddy about a month of hearing them near nightly and sharing the great American beer tradition with them, which, as we noted above, means one dollar cans of Pearl Light.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

An Open Letter To Two American Heroes

Dear Twenty-Something Couple That Sat Next To Us During "The Dark Knight,"

Hey there. That's a really nice shirt. I love Big Dogs too. I'm partial to the one that says "While you were reading this...I farted!!!" but yours is pretty fresh. Keep doing what you do.

Except this one thing. See, I think it's great that you and your wife came out to see Christian Bale clobber henchman-face with his bat-fists and I think you made the right choice seeing it in IMAX. I mean, listen to that sound quality! It's like Batman is driving in my frontal lobe. And, really, what's more American than a 900 foot screen? That's right: a 1300 foot screen. But seriously: great choice. I'm here and I think I'm pretty smart.

But you know what? You shouldn't have brought the eight month old baby. I mean, you really should have thought this one through. You know this isn't Wall-E right? I mean, I hear this thing is mega-violent. And exceedingly creepy. I saw a man with a facial scar in Army fatigues weeping when he left the last showing. But look: I don't want to tell you how to raise your kid. Not my place. I know after this, you and the wifey are taking your baby to "Disemboweler Three: Return of the Mellon-Baller," but I just wanted to say my piece. I don't think this is a good idea.

Right, right. You disagree. And that's fine. But your baby's crying. Don't leave the theatre though, whatever you do. I mean, I'm sure whatever he's crying about has nothing to do with the homicidal, knife-wielding clown. Kids love clowns, after all. Just sit right there and give him a bottle. That should take care of everything. That's how Batman kills the Joker anyhow: warm milk bath. It's unstoppable.

Still crying huh? Well, don't worry about it. It's only the climax. Sure, everyone else in the theatre paid fifteen bucks for the ticket alone but you watching this veritable horror film with a hysterical baby definitely trumps the wants of needs of hundreds of your neighbors. How could we be so selfish? What sort of parents don't take their screaming infants to violent spectacles? We should take away their kids, neglectful monsters that they are. I hope you're staying for the Mirrors double-feature. That looks like a light-hearted romp.

And the lights are coming on. Feel free to throw that can of soda on the ground in front of me. I'd love to step on it for you. Thanks.

Look. Before you leave, I need to say something. I know it's hard being a parent, splitting your time between what you want and what the baby wants, but I think today you guys managed to walk that fine line of healthy compromise. You got to see a brutal action/horror allegory and your baby got some milk. That's what parenting is all about. Never change. I love you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Regarding my ridiculous masculinity, the Olympics, and some music for tonight. Also, a big slobbery kiss for Sunday concert goers

I've been away for a bit, working at a San Francisco charter school, which are public schools that enjoy reasonable autonomy from the district and their less high falutin' cohorts. I've been using my effete English degree to its fullest: schlepping boxes, organizing storage closets, and catching mice amid a chorus of shrieking. All that lifting and vermin control will make a man feel like a Man, right before that man goes home and watches Bravo in his taffeta nightie.

So that's what I've been doing. That and the Olympics. Nothing brings out my frothing patriotism like America dominating in events I didn't even know existed. Women's saber? Yeah, I watched that. Some announcer called it the "punk rock of fencing" which I suppose is kind of like the "gangsta rap of cotillion," which I hope doesn't actually exist.

And yeah, I know the complaints: "The Olympics are too corporate, the backstories are treacle, everyone's on drugs." They're all valid too. Coca Cola goes as far as to say "If you've ever purchased a Coke ever you contributed to every athlete ever that ever won anything ever in the history of everything," while NBC transmogrifies each American competitor into GandhiJesusSuperman. But I'm still along for the ride. The Olympics are one of those rare things that all of humanity settles down and enjoys together. In fact, is there another thing? I can't think of any, except maybe a collective seven-continent-wide schadenfreude centered around JarJar Binks. Even the Antartic fur seal hated that fool.

Alas though, tonight I will miss my nicotine-level Olympic addiction to, well, play music. We're doing an in studio at Stanford's KZSU radio at 9, pacific time. That link takes you to the "listen live" page, should you want to join us for an acoustic-flavored performance and an interview in which I will say something idiotic. And speaking of acoustic performances, I'd like to thank everyone who came out to our we-don't-have-a-physical-copy-of-our-album-but-we're-throwing-a-
release-party-anyway party at the Utah. We had a lovely time. And, significantly for me, it was the first time I felt like the album was actually coming out. It's been so long in the offing and the release felt so far removed from the actual, you know, recording of the music, that it took a night like this to make me fully appreciate it. So thanks everyone.

Later this week, we'll be announcing a North American (read: US plus a couple Canadian metropolises) tour while simultaneously bemoaning the certain lack of vitamins we'll be getting. I can't wait to take Centrum Silver when I'm 29. Looking forward to that. Until soon.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

In which Birdmonster shamelessly uses babies to sell it's album. Also: party.

For most Catholic or Christian tykes, December is twenty-four days of painful anticipation. The promise of mountains of plastic hoo-has awaits and, really, every day past Thanksgiving is a Rumsfeldian long slog until payday. I know, I know: Christmas is supposed to be about all that good stuff Jesus stood for, what with the sharing and the love and the fastidious beard care, but for most kids (and I'm decidedly not going out on a limb here), Christmas is really about getting mo' shit. Tragic, maybe, but it does teach kids a different, no less Godly lesson: patience. December lasts three years for most kindergartners and each night is a struggle to fall asleep. Unless they're already on Xanax. Sadly, I'm not sure that's a joke any more.

The thing is, as we grow up, the amount of days spent in shaky anticipation dwindle to almost nothing. Christmas loses it's allure, middle school had none to begin with, and suddenly, you're getting letters from the AARP. It's nothing to get depressed about; it's just growing up. Everything is a superlative when you're young. A skinned elbow is a tragedy, while ripping a magazine in half is funnier than Blazing Saddles, Best In Show, and Gymkata put together. Seriously:

I haven't been that happy in years. Goddamn babies.

Which brings us to today topic: our new album, or, the last time I had trouble sleeping due to nervous, unchecked excitement. Back in January, in the weeks that hobbled towards our recording date like an elderly woman with jumbo-prawn posture, I spent every waking hour thinking about every minute, piddling aspect of the job at hand. I did not, however, resort to Xanax, like our hopefully-hypothetic five-year-old junkie. I drank. It was great.

Today, August 5th, the fruits of our labor, after so much sequencing, mastering, label meetings, powwowing, and plain old waiting, are finally, finally available. But there is a catch: they're only available online. If you're one of those stalwart folks who require a hard copy, I commend you: there are few of us left. WIRED magazine has assured me that future albums will be downloaded directly into our brains before they're recorded by our cyborg overlords. It'll be like Johnny Mnemonic, only it won't suck that horribly. Of course, Henry Rollins won't talk to a dolphin either. You can't have everything.

Where was I? Ah yes: the album. Beginning today, you can get your copy on the interwebs at, say, Amazon & iTunes. And we'd love it if you did.

In keeping with album-related whathaveyous, we want to announce we're having a listening party on Sunday at the Hotel Utah here in glorious San Francisco. Come take the album for a test drive whilst imbibing potent potables, hooting loudly, and eating Shepard's Pie. Oh, and there will be live music as well. Oh there will be. It's going to be a celebration on par with that Bar Mitzvah you went to when you stole a golf cart, drove it into that river, and stole a handle of Jim Beam from a careless bartender. I do hope you'll join us. Say, 6:30?