So, cracking open the Nu Music Marketing 2020 Bible (Do not look for this. It doesn’t exist.) it looks like we are up to the Bio section. Prove your worth in under 300 words.
Using words. Stupid words.
I like words as anyone who happened to read this before will know. Not necessarily correctly spelled words. No words that have never existed before I forced them into some public dialog. Words are flexible and fun. Are they entertaining? Yes. Can they describe the total picture? Perhaps not.
When considering what I wanted to say about myself and CiC, I pictured creating a hieroglyphic bio, something with dogs and coffee and sunrises and stars and more coffee. I like coffee. Something that would bring the reader into my fractured world of…words. Without words.
Have you noticed if you say the word ‘words’ over and over and over again, it loses meaning? It is a sound, but not really a word. This is after repeated applications.
Anyway…. words (see?). The practical plan for Bio writing is simple:
List your accomplishments (actual not imaginary …. Though it’s only words, right? So, who cares? The Music Business cares, that’s who! Fly right!)
Describe your sound (though its accurate, I don’t think my genre tag of ‘Sounds like two robots f*cking’ will please the Overlords of The Music Business)
Always written in third person. (I prefer 5th Person because from a fifth person perspective, one starts to “feel” the system in a different way, recognizing that one’s own perspective on and in the Anthropocene is merely a perspective, which itself is a perspective, which in turn is a perspective. Am ’I Right?’
List 2 or three influences (OK, so I’m opting for Poverty, Validation and The Mountain Goats)
Always list what is happening RIGHT NOW!! NOW!!! (I am endlessly pushing a stone up a hill for eternity. Forecast for tomorrow: the same damned day)
List any Music Business contact you have. (I know Elvis Costello. Well I saw Elvis Costello. From a stage. Does that count?)
Be Engaging! (Fu* k Off!)
So I balance all of this sage advice with the fact that …well…words. Ya know? You don’t? Let me explain…
So before I write a real Bio for the Music Business I wanted to try one here:
Cursive is Code, or CiC for short is a new group featuring singer / songwriter Jason P Krug (Award Winning Mountain Climbing Professional Bowler who is three inches taller than his listed height) and Julie Kay (sweetest patch of grass on the Earth and a noted Baker / liberal nutjob).
Together and with their previous band The Grimm Generation they have knocked out Muhammad Ali, swam the English Channel, tamed a wild beast with a song…and some drugs…Lots of drugs.
The Cursive is Code sound has been described as ‘Who?’
The sound is based on their love of Sammy Davis Jr (early work), Ministry and that one song from that one move…what is that song…dammit….
This past Saturday was like most in the Summer of 2020, this Covid Summer: hot and humid, Saturday Morning roads a buzzing with trailers and boats, nothing to do anywhere. So we have taken to long rides, good coffee and a playlist that gets created Saturday Morning.
I am always in charge of the Playlist, but serve up a helping of what makes my Girl tap her foot. Oddly more often Boy Rock like Janes, Rage, Soundgarden. She is a girl too. Despite this.
It is a team effort.
My own Saturday selection tend to run the gamut of British Glam and of course, some Goats. And a selection of what came out new that week, whatever it may be.
When you meet someone that you are supposed to meet, like in a real and lasting sense, you notice that as time goes by you tend to pick up on the musical history of your mate. Because everyone wants to hear something that makes them happy, makes them shake, even makes them sad.
It is personal. But if you spend enough time with someone, you find yourself being drawn into those same reactions.
And one of those reaction, which can not be underestimated, calculated, figured is joy.
So this past Saturday I set up my list and included some LCD Soundsystem. Julie and Carmen tuned me on to them when I still assumed that they were something I would not care for. And yes, assumed they were British.
LCD is outside of any style of music that I have taken on. Its dance music, with a real working brain…but the dance music aspect I could not wrap my mind around. It was like a buzzing all around me: a quick song caught in the kitchen, a song that popped up on Sirius….and when I would hear it, the reaction was the same: WTF Is that? (the only other band I had this same reaction too was TuneYards. Whenever something would pop up that I loved and was scared by, it was always TuneYards.)
So I downloaded the LCD Soundsystem final show, the MSG show that I would NOW kill a man to see. At the time I was unfortunately blissfully unaware.
But Julie was there. She was there and had the still pefect T Shirt to prove it. She was there.
So tripping our way through the Niantic area a song came on and she turned it up loud. Real Loud. The car shook. And the song began….
It was the live version of ‘North American Scum’ with additional assistance of Arcade Fire screaming along to the chorus. It was enthralling. Incredible. The road washed out around me as I just let go and whooped along.
It was pure joy of music too loud. It was the actual Bliss of brilliant song and brilliant band, at the tip top of their absolute magic and powers.
It shook me with how beautiful life is. How lucky I am to hear this song on this day. The genuine thrill of being genuinely scared by music.
The windows came down and Julie drove faster and faster. The world around seemed to slow. There was nothing but Julie and Me taking off for unknown galaxies in a little blue rocket.
I remembered what I should remember every day: This is what we get. Guard your bliss with more passion than you guard your money.
So you decided to purchase Cursive is Code’s debut record ‘The State Enforced Renaissance.’
Good for you! I like a person who buys records. Especially mine. I’m cheap that way.
Just as a primer I have decided to put a guide together to allow you get the most out of the Cursive is Code experience.
Despite the cute cat videos and general goofy mayhem, this is not a record for kids. As noted, the themes of this record are Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll. In what order depends on the song. The sounds will make your kids dance about in arrhythmic patterns…maybe a bounce or two…but do not let them look at the liner notes (does anyone remember laughter…ummm…liner notes? That is a Classic Rock Joke squared). There are a few swears that will be bore out when we get to playing out live at which point, I will swear like a Redd Foxx record. Naughty stuff, bad stuff, likely about your mom.
Fact is, the powers that be (meaning the companies I paid to post this) already put that ‘E’ on the record based on the song ‘It Could Be The Drugs,’ which was why I changed that song’s title in the first place.
Legal: Cursive is Code does not accept responsibility for your kids turning into Rock Stars.
What do I feed it?
Nothing. It is a record.
Where is the best place to listen?
This record was designed to create high energy, rollicking, and shimmying back and forth. Dance to it. Drive to it. Cook spaghetti to it. Fall into La Dance De La Fornicato with it, hopefully with a partner. This is NOT Sunday Morning Music, except maybe ‘Our Future Is California.’
Is there a narrative?
Excellent question. No.
What is it about?
The meat of the Cursive is Code sandwich is the history of being a local light on the scene far past one’s due date. But that is not exactly what ‘The State Enforced Renaissance’ is about.
The idea is to combine this and the next record into one big extravaganza. But then I read on Hypebot that extravaganzas are not in this year. I almost did it anyway as I am an artist. No one can tell me what to do with my art, including producing a record so dense that an average listener would fall right down with the weight of my pretension.
I did not do that. Look forward to my posthumous collection where I will unleash this particular Kraken.
No. For a change of pace for me this record is about…relationships. Yeah, I know. I have one note and I know how to whistle it.
But unlike the lovely and depressing Zen record, this one is about the good and the bad parts of lovin’.
It contains a rare actual love song to my band mate (and Mate) Julie in ‘Reward Animals.’ ‘We Kick Sparks’ is also a love song, but a bit more about adult lovin’.
‘The Wrong Playlist’ is the anthem to being in way over your head love wise and the results.
‘Our Future is California’ is the attempt to say the worst things possible in the sweetest voice I have.
‘The Deleted History Of Us’ is a modern love song…wait…. Did I put this and ‘Wrong Playlist’ on the same record? They are both about the same thing. Fine.
‘The Grand Libido’ speaks for itself, obviously.
OK, You have convinced me. Where can I find this record?
I will unleash the list in a moment. But send us emails at CursiveisCode@gmail.com and you can have such claptrappery as this popping up in your mailbox as the mood hits.
To everyone who already made a little space for this record….we deeply appreciate you. To those that haven’t: Click…buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
A gracious and salutary ….ummm.. salutation to you, Cursive Cabal.
I hope this note finds you fat with money, free with love and a good meal awaiting you. With the Gods. Or your Dogs.
So today, as we slide from post apocalypse plagues to a newer (and yet far older) apocalypse, we are here to discuss voids.
Let’s call it March. 3 Months and change and everything went upside down. A world most of us never expected…and the ones who did expect are SUCH a drag to hang out with.
90 days. 2100 Hours.
So what did you do with your void? Empty space fills the bowl that one held hilarity, kicks, communion … and we are on our own.
Did you gain weight? Knowledge? Has familiarity bred contempt? Catch any new shows?
I was getting busy when the quarantine hit. I lost Hogan and knew that if I did not get my head together quick…well, I had no idea what that result would be. After the ceremonies, Julie and I got down to it, building the beats, laying down tracks upon tracks, gittin’ all fancy. Guitars added, guitars subtracted, Julie building big brassy counterpoints and high infections of melody.
Because we can dream and we can build, it gives us control. We can spit frustration into a vocal, over-distort the guitar and then do it again, learn bass.
And when you’re done…. there is still the void.
My concept of how to make money making music was probably outdated before I picked up a guitar. The main thrust of it was ‘get out there!’ But that was never my …. desire. It all came back to the lifelong argument Dave and I would have.
He said that if you play everywhere, and are good, people will know you and you can build a following.
I said that you will burn out in the bars before you ever get heard and there has to be a better way. A better mousetrap.
The debate rages still, now more piquant as the venues are gone. As is D.H.
And everyone is experimenting with building better mousetraps game now.
Look beyond this day, this year, and know someday this will be regarded as a truly creative period for art.
A State Enforced Renaissance.
We reach out how we can. Social networking is just too convenient and too easy, which is why it is absolutely over-saturated with everyone everywhere.
It is also a true gut check for the times that you pour your heart into something and it gets overshadowed by a particularly cool cat pic
But Fuck. Life is hard all over. Especially these days. Let us not carry things without weight.
And if the Gods are kind and the cats are ugly, maybe you can be heard.
So…what have Cursive is Code done with their Void?:
Songs: Follow the link to check out the available Cursive is Code songs on Soundcloud. This is 4 songs…and I think a few more will be added and this will be available for purchase. Like the songs if you like, love us if you like love (?):
I hear the weather is funny in Minsk these days? Reply?
Excellent. Welcome to The Cursive Cabal. Your passage is booked. Enjoy the refreshments.
So as April passes into May, we find the reawakening of this World. Though to be fair, we are quite busy and may miss this. Or this eternal gray may kick rocks into another year of fear and trembling.
I have a record to push. So do you, likely. Or child to raise, charges to face, people to kiss (from a safe distance). We all have our projects.
So today is a peek behind the curtain, beneath the sheet, under the cupboard, over the …. whatever.
Today’s subject is songs. I had a point to make before I was reduced to a blubbering mess in my last post. This is that point: Songs are special.
That’s it! Good Night Folks!
Ok…… not. When I consider what art allows us, one thing that I don’t recognize within the forms is how something someone else created becomes ours. Personal property. A line can bring you to that Big Breakup. A melody to the wedding before.
Maybe it’s the long versus short from. It could be poetry is a reasonable comparison but no one is reading poetry out loud when your cruising around on some Friday night, of your youth, of your post youth, your pre passing.
Songs are frames for the things we want to remember or need to forget. A wild rave up attached to your misspent youth, distorted electric guitars carry us into adult hood, sweet acoustics mean Sunday Morning, shitty acoustics means Friday night.
Songs operate as placeholder for emotion. They meld with the circumstances in ways we require.
I need songs…. but these songs need words as well. Every song is not Leonard Cohen, but if they were, what would we do with Rockabilly? There is genius in the dumbness of Rock and Roll words. And the beat!
Songs mean a lot to us here at Cursive is Code. Not just the act of creating music, but attempting to share our moments and maybe hit upon yours. Or maybe just create an earworm that will haunt your day. Or a lyric that seems raw and simple but holds galaxies within.
We released our first song on Soundcloud about one month ago, with new songs following every two weeks. There are three there now and a new one next week. Where?
So I figured I would take a moment and discuss what’s up there now. We will add a new one next week…and then wait till these get heard. We are very proud. And why give the milk away when the cows a slut.
Is that how that goes?
The Grand Libido: And thank you all for weighing in on that first cut. It’s our first ‘hit’.
The know the actual genesis of this song was it was a Grimm Generation song, played out live absolutely once. I also believe the title was inspired by The Danbury Lie’s The Great Jester. I was always a fan of The Lie. Always reminded me of weird metal on acoustics. The guitar harmonies make me nostalgic.
What is it about? Dirty stuff.
Julie remembered this song from Grimm and was maybe part of the movement to go electric. She wanted to see this done. And she was right. It is a barnburner.
It Could Be The Dancing: Otherwise known as ‘It Could Be The Drugs’ till I was rebuked by The Manor.
This one …. theeeees song….yeah. It is a statement. And maybe a cruel one. Maybe self-abuse. But hey. That’s Showbiz.
This song, part of the eventual collection about being a unfamous musician has a lot of clues for those who have treaded the boards, spent countless USD on mailing actuall press kits with real cassettes. This is about the grift of the music business. It takes on the City gigs in Manhattan (Bring Your Friends! Serious-fucking-ly!), the effect the tambourine has on drunks, the uninjestable sadness that we can all be replaced by a dude with a DJ Deck and my favorite bit of reality in the form of the line:
‘It is Independence Day
For the 1200 Bands who will start up tomorrow
or the 1200 bands that broke up today’
It hurts. But it is good for you. Look around.
And to boot I snuck a good verifiable Grimm Generation reference in.
The Deleted History Of Us: So far the best recorded one. It is hard to believe this is mine. It is very different. This is not about someone in particular but it is about everyone, conversely. This is about the simplicity of ending the online relationship (even with real flesh and blood non catfishy type people) with that gesture, that simple click. Click. Do it. CLICK. Do it!!!!! DOOOOO ITTTT!!!!
Yes My Cursive People. Now we move along to the next challenge: how do you sell a record when the word record doesn’t mean record anymore? How do you get gigs in a pandemic? How do you cut through the din of Social Mania?
Write a Blog? Nooooooo….
Till next time my friends. Look for Cursive for Code to pop up in the weirdest places.
And he was not wrong. DH and I had this conversation over years, decades, lifetimes.
The simplest breakdown of the conversation was what are we trying to provide for this World, beyond our sunny personalities, beyond our genius swearing. What is it that we have that to share?
4 chords and a truth. With something catchy to chase the bitter with the sweet. Simple sentiments or complex linguistics. Just make sure the hook irresistible and the length short.
I am a songwriter. I am not a poet, despite my best poses. I don’t write novels as I consider how many songs I can write in that same amount of creative burst. I deal in volume (was that pun intended? I leave that to the reader to consider) and for every bad song I make, I do write a few fine ones.
Of course, that brings into question what you consider a song.
I don’t preach on this subject as I believe Pop Music is a commuter train that we all use…for a time…and then it passes us by and gets delivered to those who need it: Kids. If I don’t like the genre you work in (and I do not), I don’t believe my genre is ‘cooler’ or more ‘rad’. It is just mine.
What I create is words with (hopeful) meaning, chords that soften those often stream o’ consciousness thoughts and something to listen to for 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
I have often wondered what it is like to excel at a particular instrument. It has never been something I have ever been overburdened by. I admire musicians…I love musicians…. but I cannot say I understand them.
And vice versa.
I miss Dave. That all this mess of words is saying. I would have wrote him directly if I had the ability to do so.
Hey You! Yes YOU! You in the glasses! (that was just for me)
Yes I have a great opportunity, big payouts, we finally take down ‘The Man’. Just you and Me and a couple hundred thousand friends. We’re gonna cabal the night away.
That’s why you don’t see this blog anywhere else. This is just for Us. Shhhhhh….. You may note from my usual method of screaming ‘PAY ATTENTION TO ME!’, this ain’t that. Sure, I will post on walls (even a bathroom walls but the number always gets wiped away…) feeds, pages… if I wasn’t so lazy I would post bills and hang flyers….but going out side is so 2019.
Nope, its just us now. So chilllll…relax…let me drop some knowledge. This is the birth of the Cursive Cabal.
So…if your reading this….you’re interested in what I have to say. And if you read any of my previous blogs, you will note I’m not exactly a deep thinker. This will continue that grand tradition. But…more honest. Cause I am among friends here.
So….Cursive is Code. This is the new band, this is my new Magnetic North, this could be the last band. Who knows, right? Cause not all the members of this band will make the record. If you read this before, you know exactly what I mean.
Here is the tale: So when Grimm kicked the bucket, I decided to follow my expected route of Singer Songwriter sensitive heartbreak route. And I brought in Grimm Cello player Julie Kay to help me. I never discussed this before, but she helped me beyond any expectation I had. It wasn’t simply the beautiful playing or the Astral Weeks style bass thing she brought (which ticked off one of my musical fantasies). She was playing hurt. She was scheduled for a surgery…and she came down to the basement and sat uncomfortably, in genuine pain…and would grin and bare it.
If I had…if I was better at being human….would I suggest she not come, not put herself through excess pain? I can say we don’t know…I can also say it made no difference at all cause she was going to come anyway. She believed in what we were doing. She believed in Me. She would work her way down the stairs to sit in my bachelor pad (which looked a lot like a 13 year old’s basement except more cheesy keyboards…I think that was captured in a video somewhere….) or take a trip out to Collinsville to work on some songs with old music mate Adam Hagymasi, who did about half of everything on that record. If it wasn’t an E Bow (That’s Hogan) or fumbly acoustic (Moi), everything else was Adam. But Julie would take these trips with us while we worked out the basic tracks.
The record turned out good. I still have some free downloads if you want one.
This was….or wasn’t…I cant be sure…when I fell in love with Julie Kay. We did not connect till about a year later. And…Wow. We grew much closer. And live happily.
Anyway….yes, this is more honest…more deep .. than I expected to go…
So, a Misery Monkey like myself, now all flush on new love… time for my next record. I mean…I live with my band! (Julie) It was a test of my theory that writers write best when mostly miserable. And I was right! Unfortunately…
I was blocked. New happiness made no songs. And I somehow wised up to the fact that forced unhappiness is just dumb, dumb, dumb. Look around now. You just never know.
So I lived happily…and even the anguish of not creating abated a bit. We formed a band based on the acoustic sound, played some shows, had some fun. I was writing new songs but I just could not get motivated to do something with them.
Meanwhile….a bit of history. Dave Hogan and I started together in our first band….and played together from project to project the entre time I knew him. Our musical tastes were different…and always had been since age 20….but we came together on a mutual love of vintage guitar rock and British Glam. So Humble Pie….Mott The Hoople…Black Sabbath….BOC…..despite the time and tides of projects and bands, the friendship was based on these fundamentals. I don’t mean that to sound tribute or light…sure we came together on a few bands and differed in so many ways…but the way we loved these bands was zealous. Religious.
And we had an often discussed plan, a goal. One more BIG rock band with me and him. He always wanted to just be a musical director in some project…and I wanted to re-use the voice I cam up singing with, less croon, more rock.
So I took this to heart and started writing again. It was not easy. It was Karma. I was always fortunate that I could write on a dime. It was my Super Power. Sure not every song was ‘It’s Alright Ma I’m Only Bleeding’ but I could attach a half formed thought with a half formed melody and shake some shit up. Not this time.
I had my concept. I wanted to write a series of songs reflecting Dave’s and my coming up through the local music ranks. Targeting specific gigs, specific experiences. The significance of this to me was that all these tales turn quaint when balanced against the entire industries apple cart getting upset by the Internet. All the old plans, the old expected results, the long time argument tween Dave and I if excessive gigging helps or hurts…. I had my concept. And dug into it.
It was rough. I will say that I had to return to rhyming dictionaries. I had to try every trick suggested on every writing site. In time…it came. It did not break out like a dam; it trickled like a stream but still filled the record.
It was not just the band concept I was working with…I also had the excitement of being happy and in love…so those songs were written right along.
So I bought an electric guitar and Julie played keyboards. Did I know Julie could play Keyboards? Not at all. Can she play? Like a MotherFucker.
Then a year in the desert looking for musicians. I had not done this…actually my only experience doing this was Grimm…. And CC and I muse that we still don’t know how we got so many people involved, taking trips out to Windsor and making something beautiful. This time was less successful, more anguish and wholly disappointing. EXCEPT….We found Dan. Dan plays bass, as well as banjo, classical guitar….and most important, was good fun to play with.
But the record was not getting made. No drummer. I worked on it with my vintage Korg Dr Rhythm Drum Machine (favored on RUN DMC’S biggest hits) and made a few tracks’, but others were beyond my rhythmic imagination.
Enter Julie, with yet another unknown talent on display: beat maker. After we upgraded the keyboard, out of frustration more than a plan, she started coming up with beats and we started recording properly. And it worked.
With unexpected results. The songs were danceable. I never created anything danceable unless you count bouncing uncontrollably as dance. Also….after working exclusively with acoustic for years…I was really digging the Electro Sound. It sounded vintage to a scene I never listened too. This was Julie influence. She opened me up to sound and brought those sounds right home to Deep River.
So now….Hogan. Weapon X (he would appreciate the comparison). And I sent him the tracks with a note on the envelope that exclaimed ‘Our Mott The Hoople Dreams contained within’.
And I was too late. And I will never forgive myself.
But Hogan was more than a friend and a stunt guitar player. He was a Saint. I never would have conceived of that when we were kids. But going to his funeral…the pure Love of all of his friends, the real heartbreak of losing a cat before his time. This record became important. Cause these songs were written with him in mind, his style, his background vocals. Based on experiences he and I both lived through…and lived with.
We often had discussion of we were just both legitimately crazy still chasing this same dream when every conceivable outlet turned against us. We always reached the same conclusion: We were.
I miss him every day.
Anyway….so back to Julie and Me and the record. We dug in….I played more guitar, more than I ever thought I was capable of….Julie brought out the strings and horns from the Juno….and we started crafting what would be and currently is Cursive is Code. The name came from a late night conversation tween Julie and Me of how generation of kids no longer recognize, much less can write, Cursive. That made it feel like a secret language, something shared among those who know.
Hello Beautiful. Yes, you. Hi ya doing, Sweetness? Since everyone is either pairing up or bachelor’ng up till the storm passes, I assume we can be a bit more…intimate. Right? Yes? Ja?
But maybe a bit of foreplay? Aww shucks, for you Kitten, anything. I know you can’t get enough of my blathering on like my opinion matters to anyone, so…this is for you, Hot Stuff:
I am a man before my time. I am version 5 of the model (of Man). I see the future and is the future.
I am The Omega Man. And guess what? So are you.
I was Social Distancing before it was all the rage.
Do you think I did NOT want to come to your gig / wedding / rescue? No, Sugar, I was training. For this.
Do you think it is easy walking around this brain with all of there genius thoughts and not near enough people to inflict them on? I had to wait.
It was a dream I had (that’s a lie; I don’t dream) that there would come a time when the whole world would see the appeal of the Curmudgeon. And now they line up at my door. Which I will never, ever open.
The very concept I hear tell of is how people need social interaction and are willing to risk their health to get it. The idea that restaurants and bars and casinos will close due to virus.
Yes, we are in the first 20 minutes of every zombie movie ever.
So since I’m all skilled and such and doing the Solitary thing, I offer some advice to those over grown with Social Engagements:
The Internet. The Internet gives madness and takes away sanity. Plus cat pix. But consider this: if you hear a guy in the park screaming about the coming Apocalypse, I don’t think you would take that as a viable news source. Now consider if you don’t see the park, don’t see the stool he stands on. Is he more viable? Now give him a Twitter. My point is people spread disinformation. Its not our fault, it’s fun! Do it! Do it now! The Earth is flat, Bigfoot exists, Wheeee!
Activities. What we rarely get is a place where the World stops and we have the chance to try something we never have. Like meditation or meth. What we have hear is a global pause button engaged. So what have you always wanted to do? You have a few weeks, maybe months, so turn off the TV and Make It Motherfucking So.
Go outside. Listen…I know. Outside is scary. But they have cool stuff out there. Sun (occasionally). Trees (a lot of those bastards). Grass (not yet). Consider this a time slip. You have gone back in time 200 years…or forward 1200…either way, no one is around. Skinny dip? Yes. Skinny BBQ? Yes. Skinny ride home? Sure.
Think Big. As noted, the World doesn’t stop for us very often. But here we are. So what new windmill will you be taking on? This is a freaky time. Aim high. But stay low.
Lets make the most of this Apocalypse. Yes, we will one day look back at this and think ‘What a time…’
…. or we won’t, whatever. Regardless…the Future Goes This Way ————>
Hello. We lost a Good Man, My Friends. I was crafting this personal history of Dave and I to present to him when he was feeling better. Something so he was fully sure of the impact he had on my life and the life of the countless others he called ‘Brother’. It’s personal, full up on references earned over a 35 year friendship.
These days have had me reflecting on the past, the meat of what mattered and how I got here. And as I gaze back at what would be my most full moments, you were there, stage right, holding it down, joyous, celebratory, a quick grin between us when the harmonies hit just right and the song sails. This brings me back to the very beginning. Verillis garage.
This is where we met. And I remember it all, the state of the clutter, the too small space the blue aria pro, Vic smashing shit like a Muppet, the irrepressible Verilli acting every inch of his eventual occupation (not the drug store, the LA Hair Metaler) , you focused and concise…and so fucking young. I was too but I don’t see me here. I see you. Fuck you looked 15 but played like 50. I still remember the swells of Remember Tomorrow, the barnstorming of Tyrant. I remember the feel of really doing it, really singing into that mike, barking, and all my dogs barking with me. And Mrs Verilli. A true cartoon dragon of there ever was one, we, hard teens, metal heads, drinkers, druggers fuckers all hiding silently and wide eyed when she got home.
We were the classic 80’s movie that we did not know would be classic…cause it was the 80’s. We fought the popular kids with their poofy hair and van halen set. All the girls went dewy at the very site of Drew and the boys. And we brought pure fire. Pure anger. Purity. These are not our songs but you motherfuckers are going to hear them anyway. Loud. Fuck you all.
And I flash forward a year, a year of beginnings, a year of you blowing my mind in Scots basement with every new song you learned the night before. Yes songs. BOC songs. It was really intimidating.
You have always been like that, or appeared that way. Focused. Cocksure. Correct. I’m sure you had doubts. I’m sure you had fears. But they never crossed your face or spun up your voice, in song or in jest.
One year later, one year of basement playing, one year of focus to do what we always wanted to do: not simply ROCK but rock with songs these people should know. The UFO set. Rock Bottom, the room would fall away and its you and that solo… Let It Roll. Only You Could Rock Me (Rock Me). We won that night.
Afterward I remember Wizards Lament….my first official song and how everyone came together and started adding their parts. And I remember it all falling apart. You hooked up with Scot, we became a cover band, I started the Basement Apes with Fetcho.
And this was the part where you became my nemesis. It’s a place of honor. While we wiled away our mornings and late evenings writing, recording, The Rafter Bats ascended. I think it would be a little late in the game to say I was coooool with that. I was jealous, plain and simple. You created something that had not been created yet, much less mass produced and genrefied. You were the first Bluegrass Rock and Roll band and it drove me mad.
I will always remember the moment I heard you on WPKN, the whole band playing some live tunes on a Saturday morning. And it sounded amazing…groundbreaking. And I called you at the station. I was out on the air with you. And captured the most uncomfortable 5 minutes of radio in existence. I’m counting the Hinderberg, by the way. I said ‘Hey!; and heard grumbles and very guarded responses from you and Dennis. It was hilarious. Soon after I caught your act in Greenfield Hill in Fairfield, that farmers market and we were in communication again.
Thing is….I drew such inspiration…such pride,..that you liked what I did. It wasn’t simply anyone liked it…it was you. And I knew you were no bullshit so your not going to bother aligning with me if you did not believe in what I was doing., And that made me press farther, push harder. And when I shared the tapes of what I had been doing, The Great Upsetters came to life.
It’s a mystery to me why that band did not go farther, and this time it was not from lack of trying. But fuck man…the times we had. The Post Office bar in Bridgeport with the undertaker bartender (Tins sister, if I remember) and the hookers and the crack addict. And this was one of those moments that meant the world to me. That empty bar, half the band tripping on acid, the other half hopelessly drunk, and when we kicked into Like A Rolling Stone…a song I don’t believe we ever played before and barely knew the words between the 5 of us….and when we started that, that 5 person draw sang like a crowd of 1000’s. Everyone screamed every word.
I don’t know if we got paid that night. I don’t know anything about that night except for that moment and the raw feelin of being fucking alive and sharing something with folks who wanted it.
And somehow we feel into the Ticketmaster National Showcase. Christ, remember that set? I bet you could still play it without much encouragement. We had it down to a super tight 38 minutes. What was it…10 songs? With the intro and outro of The Great Upsetters, the funky darkness of Something Missing, the sweet harmony of Whose Really Where. I was always proud at how we worked. We jammed hard but were never a jam band. We were focused to serve the song, that was the endgoal, and that was what we did.
The one moment you missed from that night was me changing for our set at the Holiday Inn and coming down the elevator, Phil Mogg walked in. I was in my fucking stage gear. I had to say something. And I did. En quote ‘ omg, Your Phil Mogg, your my hero and my band of UFO worshipers is just about to play a set for a national contest across the street and your band is the reason’….I said it likely faster than that with my eyes likely spinning around like a googly doll. He was polite, amused, and thanked me and wished us well.
Then onto the show. Another of these moments that I look back on and you were there right next to me. We killed it. A perfect set. Girls screaming like the fucking Beatles. Magic. Just the wrong decade. 5 years later our 70’;s worship would have been hip again. Right outfit, wrong year.
Hopi Fest. This was not something amazing musically…it just showed what an original bunch of crazy crackers we were. We stormed that stage long past anyone wanting to hear it. But we did not care. This was The Upsetters…and by definition anything the Upsetters wanted to do they did.
And the end of the Upsetters. I broke up bands for the same reason I am writing from a day job today versus my yacht…fear of success. I know it was me. I would start to think all artisty and start thing of something that would fulfill me.
I did not know then these memories would hold and hold me to answer for. I did not expect to live this long.
And I made my solo record with the invaluable help of more Hogan stock, Bill Becker. I got to know Bill pretty well during the GU year in his role of…well everything. And he was a killer bass player and partner for me. I miss him right now, even as I write this. He was a good man without any of that icky goodness that corrupts good men and makes them dull.
While Graylight Campfire ascended. Prick.
I remember a gig DayDrug did with Graylight (which I don’t think I dreamed…but who knows?) and introducing you as my friend was a point of pride. By that point, we were not simply friends. My family has not been as much family as you have. I know that sounds strange. I do not make a lot of friends. Its not a plan, a design, just a circumstance of being self obsessed.
But you are my friend. You are beyond that. We became brothers on this trip.
You have a lot of brothers, Dave, A lot of people who believe in you. Enough people who admire you. You are a beloved commodity. You inspire such…reverence when your name comes up. You think Im being fancy, but I assure you are not. It’s a shame we never really know our standing till standing is no longer an option.
This month….. I looked at what I have accomplished in my life as an artist…and I had some successes…and you were there beside me, holding it down, holding us up, bringing that unmistakable but astral tone in your sound, in your very soul.
A lot of people love you, Dave. Admire and love. You need to know that. I don’t think we ever get this explained to us when we need it, so consider me Professor X: Nothing is the same after you. You are legendary and that will grow with everyone who ever knew you.
Then Grimm. I stand by the fact that my favorite period of GG was the trio. You and Me and CC…meeting imitation Bill Clintons, playing the always drama packed Swan gigs, the video for Nothing Astral…your PART on Nothing Astral still one of my faves off the cuff Hoganisms…… recording up in Storrs with Dennis along, Fuck….. Graylight / GG set at Ideat Village which…Wow…….
I mean…we created a form of rock and roll, something that was compact but fully loaded, 3 people, 2 with instruments. And a set of songs honed down and fine tuned.
Then Lys. Seeing you two sing those Gram songs was….incredible. You too added something into them that the countless covers missed…maybe it was a true love, maybe it was revelry….. but I felt like I had a hand in something good by putting you two in the same room. I know she thinks the same thing. I always picture us in that horrible sounding space museum…. And the Daffodil Fest, with you and Lys on the remarkable non rainy Daffy day. The 2 Boots shows.
On that point….the picture. The picture taken at Café Nine of just you and me on stage. Of when you were doing an early acoustic set and I cam down. A Friday I believe. How when I saw you…and you saw me….every wrinkle of the past had faded, every sharp left turn evens out….. and it was meeting an old friend and it took that moment for me to really recognize the trip you and I had been on. We were older men then…older still now…but we just grined at each other with a look like ‘well that was a time, eh”…and played the Upsetters songs, near perfect.
Cause our harmonies……was something beyond talent or skill…there is an understanding on how our instruments bend and warp around each other. That’s history in action. Its beauty in repose.
Anyway…the GG machine rolled on, now with you in place for the Big Fame record and shows. Yes, I regret not having you on Dizzy. Yes, I regret not having you on every track. But the shws…the radio play, culminating in the big time times 2: playing for the Tom Tom Club and WPKN Sunday Brunch.
I still laugh when I think about you at McLevy hall, being wholly UNIMPRESSED by the literal Rock stars watching. It impressed me and CC and I were always good for a star fucking. And GG was gone. Poof.
Onto me beginning of this phase of my life (while Graylight ascended…did I say prick? I did? Cool) which started with Zen. Not in a literal sense…I was insane at the time. But you were there too. You were there with the necessary rock and roll Dave/J back up on Last Days Of Rome….the real picture of how talented experimental you were on the ebow shit which really made those tracks.
But what I recall best is the radio show. Me coming on to introduce Zen on your WPKN show. Still on my soundcloud as I listen to it from time to time. Not to hear me, monitor my performance. To hear Us.
It is a conversation shared publicly of you and me just talking shit, not sharing secrets that we both know. There is a love in this conversation and this interview sits upon things I am proud of. Cause we were brothers, separated by bold, by circumstance, miles, poverty. Our dreams glimmered gold while our wallets got lost. 2 men coming from the same war, and an easy acceptance of what we have been dealt.
Now…not so easy. Cause this is not fair. This is not right anymore. I could listen to that conversation forever. It is friends. Veterans of the same psychic wars. One still more practical than the other. My madness tethered by your cool. An amazing team. A perfect match.
Except my art made me want to try everything on the plate while your steady hand held the rutter and kept you focused on the horizon where everything glimmered like a future coming.
I am an eccentric and you are a working man.
But it is not fair, make no mistake.
I did it. I wrote that record. The Mott one. The one where you get to be in the sainted seat of music director…some singing….real rock and roll shit. Its about everything I out down here. The trials and tribulations of limonene dreams.
I wrote it with the clear image of some future stage where your standing stage right and leading the band through the songs…you have a smile on your face…it looks like peace.
So when it gets to be nighttime, post evenin’ activities (of course), while others count endless amounts of barnyard animals, you will find me staring, open mouthed, maybe drooling just a bit (like Rock Stars do) watching and endless supply of UFO documentaries. The specifics are irrelevant. It is always this guy saw that and that Government said its that. And no body believes anyone. And for reasons unknown, this endless babble equate to the sound of pan flutes and gentle rain on my consciousness and I drift away into a dreamless sleep.
I think it has something to do with my wiring. I think listening to other people work out impossible problems while tucked away under a blanket is my version of Meditation. It comes with certain rhythms, certain symmetry of repeating phrases (Conspiracy, Hopkinsville, Area 51, Wright….. Conspiracy, Hopkinsville, Area 52, Wright…. I can barely type this without falling into a bliss rut)
Let me say this clearly: I believe in UFO’s (and not mainly cause I am a stoner…but…) and if you do not, you need to make the math work. If you can convince me that everything from Ancient Aliens to Best UFO’s Ever Caught On Tape (yes, that was the 80’s one.) is just one big grift, I welcome this.
Life is a mess of expected outcomes. You are born and (in the best case) you grow old. What mystifies you as a child now hangs from your rear view mirror. Bright and shiny things to catch your eye and let the World outside ran around uncaught. We are lacking mysteries these days. We are too smart and far to dumb to do anything other than plunder every dark corner with information, obligation to set everything in a the proper light.
I like the sound of rain. I love the sound of our chimes ringing on the porch. I enjoy the ageless whistle of the train. But to put me into that real rest driven mood, I need endless white people spouting pseudo science. Not UFO specific….any ole’ clap trap will do.
I love theorists. Not theory so much as the people who put the time in to make these ideas bubble above the surface of their minds. Like the Ancient Aliens trick of saying ‘Ancient Alien theorists believe….’…which lends type of gravity to whatever they are saying…but a theorist is someone with an idea. You are a theorists. I am too. I have theories on UFO’s. And lunch. Cats. How to achieve that dead eyed look while living the Life of Reilly.
We are all defectives….wait……detectives…..and this World is our gritty city to bring into focus. Its our city to learn, to believe, to disbelieve the residents. We are allowed to create mystery where the World wrings them out, one by one.
It takes a special type of human gall to reason out the lack of Bigfeet running around is based on the idea that they are inter dimensional creatures.
Its takes a village to deny a village ever existed on the floor of the sea.
It takes a networks worth of pseudo science to put this boy to sleep.