The Story Of The Grimm Generation – Part 1

Some things you can only see in the rearview mirror. And as is often the case, the objects do seem larger than they appeared.

When we co-opted the name Grimm from said Brothers, it was not a mistake. There was always an element of fairytale about what we attempted to do. And quite like the actual stories from the Brothers Grimm, much of it was terrifying.

I had a dream. And I had someone to dream with, which is this story.The dream was always the same: World Domination. Or at least validation. Being recognized for what you did versus who you were. Fueled by a teenhood full up on rock magazines (Creem, Hit Parader), classic FM radio and that Monday after the big concert when everyone in class wore the same t-shirt.

Currently, that seems quaint. And it is. The Music Business was always a business. If the greatest musician you ever heard never left their bedroom, they would not be the greatest musician you ever heard. They would be your cousins’ friend, your coworker, your Ex.

We started The Grimm Generation with a simple concept: Children of the 70’s at 40. And what I do not believe I have ever considered was how Rock music culture of that era affected us. Infected us. 

Before the Internet, records were passed around between friends, hand to hand, and the receiver would offer something back. 

And the World grew larger. 

We dealt in myth. And we were our best customers. When you try to do impossible things, you need to think in impossible ways. I could not do it alone. And I did not have too.

The tale of The Grimm Generation is the story about a house. A domicile that gave us the space and time to create, the raw desire to reach out further. Every element of what we would become was co scripted with a collection of walls and windows. 

This is a story about a band that did not make it. A story with real magic, real tears, love and intrigue, creation and re-creation of ourselves. There is not a moral to the story. Morals are for fairy tales and despite our personal preferences, this takes place in the very real time of the late 2000’s. 

The Internet was born and we were reborn with it.

It starts with ‘The Story’. ‘The Story’ that started a whole unknown Universe of Grimm…a story that was shared by CC and Me on every form of radio, tv, print press interview available. 

And it goes a little something like this….(hit it!)

‘Carmen and JpK met on Match.Com. They went on a date that went well but it was not a love match. Both retreated to their separate worlds until a note went from Carmen to JpK asking ‘Do you like Sparklehorse?’ 

That simple question bloomed into more notes, more sharing, more details of the damages done to us by a life of suburban excess. Marriages, divorces, kids, cars. And New Wave, Glam Rock, the effect of Led Zeppelin on our growing years. 

It never stopped. For years. They realized that despite the romantic missing, they had some type of undefinable chemistry. Notes lead to cups of coffee. Stories transformed into larger lessons the more they wrung them out. Carmen would send poetry and JpK would send demos. 

These reflections became the basis of a book ‘Dispatches from The Grimm Generation’ a collection of vignettes birthed by choosing a single subject and the two writer’s impressions of it. What was discovered was this errant chemistry was a true partnership as lovers came and went. And usually left a tale or two in their wake.

The Grimm Generation was coined based on the ideas of kids of the 70’s turning 40 and how our generation was sold fairytales as a future. We were given the American Dream but the anxiety kept us awake.

This constant communication, text, emails, (never a call) led to JpK moving right into Carmen’s refinished basement, henceforth known as The House of Grimm. And the pair set out to learn about how to promote a book.

JpK was songwriter mainly, good in a short sprint, ran out of breath on a marathon, with a genuine love of good Pop songs. He had some success, but much more debt. While beating his head against the cinder block cellar one Sunday, he heard Carmen and her kids playing ‘Rock Band’. 

When he heard Carmen sing an AC/DC song, he thought ‘I could work with this’. And invited her down to sing a few of his songs…’

This is ‘The Story’. And this became what we did for the next 5 years. And what The Grimm Generation defined became our banner. We were already too old to start a Rock Band, but we were cagey promoters and had the benefit of a young Internet culture that suited us. We were both born posers and would take a position at the first click of a camera. This was when Facebook was still based on living people versus dying industry. 

We were ready for our close up.

I have known Carmen for over a decade now, with a level of sharing that brought us closer to kin than friends. 

That does not mean I know her, truly.

Carmen keeps it close to the vest, always. She is not what you would call effusive. Unless she is drinking. Then she was a red headed charm bracelet that sang out loud.

She was born in Hartford, CT and was the first American baby from a family with deep French-Canadian roots. When her extended family came round to visit, it was all Crown Royal and crazy Canadian food stuffs. And a deep, bracing whiff of redneck.

We grew up similarly as she had a few brothers and sisters, went to school, flirted with college, married young and had a few kids.

Then as was in vogue in the Nineties, divorced. As we all did that decade.

I was from Fairfield, CT about one hour south. I had a good childhood as I recall, though in telling some stories of my misguided youth, I have noticed eyebrows climbing ever higher. 

As a kid, I had a deep love of language and what can be done with it. Being very fat kept me inside with my books, comic books, pads and pens. I wrote my first song at age 9 proclaiming my love for Kara. She never heard the song. 

Many Kara’s followed. I was a World Champ’een Unrequited Lover. And it fueled my writing.

In time I discovered Pot and my worlds turned stranger and my sense of being a responsible person slipped away. I started writing more songs.

I started with bands when I was a kid. We did what bands did back in the Actual 80’s: we started at Teen Center shows, graduated to shitty club gigs with covers, write and record original music and break up. Over and over again. Some victories, a lot of laughing, some crying. 

Repeat.

I held a job, married, had a child ….  divorced….  married again, gained a step child…. divorced…

Repeat.

I tried to push back the creative need and limousine dreams to try my hand at being a decent Husband and worthwhile Father. I did not want to tell anyone I ever even wrote music as I tried to settle. 

It was fruitless. It was what I was good at. I acted like a bon vivant living on lottery winnings. Immaturity was my brand. I operated with a dangerous combination of ego and absolute anonymity. 

This dogged me as I came up, moved away from home (by only an hour, but in Connecticut that matters), needed new pot connections and consequently made new friends. Of course, they were musicians.

I have always had an odd and maybe strained relationship with musicians. I think because I was The Songwriter my end goals were always different than the dudes I played with. Everyone wants to have a good time, jam, pack the clubs, make a little cash and do it again next weekend. That was never my goal.

I had my musical heroes but they were also my competition. And my artistic vision went beyond what I could explain to even the most open minded and dedicated players. I was scattered, I was over blown, and absolutely pretentious. I would talk about crescendo where the musician would talk about where the solo was. 

I was fated to be a solo artist as very few could deal with me for that long.

This created a situation where I was ever earnest about my work, my Art, always attempting to write a legitimate hit, mainly alone in my bedroom. I took to the recording bedroom style as the equipment became affordable.

I had a simple enough schematic for what I wanted to produce: a good chorus, short, words that were a bit darker and more detailed than will fit in a Pop song. Aiming for hooks, melodies. The fruit of what captures the ear and makes you turn to face the radio. 

Songs were a means to an end. Originally it was therapy for me. If I never sang a note these songs would still exist moldering in some low drawer. I used my frustration to create. This also led me to involving myself in personally dangerous circumstances and rationalizing I was doing it for my art.

I read the 70’s / 80’s Rock magazine like they were Greek myths. At that time, they practically were. Consider the images of the wild flowing hair, lit from behind like a perfect capture in oils. Coliseums shake as the masses gather and call their name. In unison. Loud. And lighters fill the night. In tribute to these Gods who walk with men. 

Who wouldn’t want that?

In those days it was the alternative papers that featured the local music sections. Anytime I was involved in something, I would send constant Press Releases to keep a generally uninterested World on where my mighty muse may lead me.

In 2009 I had an all-acoustic group named The Citizen Spy in the era just before Indie Folk had a genre. We were chosen as the Best Folk Group in Hartford by the Hartford Advocate. It was work to get it, to network, to suggest, cajole, beg for people to vote for me for, a band that very few had heard.

I collected the members though the tried-and-true musicians want ads. 

The Musician Want Ads were always sketchy at best. First those same alternative weeklies had their ‘Musicians Seeking …’ section and then CraigsList. These were like dating sites where no one got lucky, even by accident.

You could find someone and review their work and express interest. And never hear from them again. Maybe they died. Maybe they were arrested for ‘rocking too hard’. Maybe they were still a little drunk from last night’s gig.

You become immune to this quickly (much like Internet dating) when you recognize it’s a numbers game. Reach out to more and you will get more. The ‘more’ you get is often unworkable, unstable stuff but it makes you feel like you’re actually participating in a type of Music Business.

On the Musician Want Ads, a Bass Player or Drummer would be considered the ‘pretty girls at the dance’ as everyone wanted them. They string you along (‘play original music for little cash? Sign Me Up!’) until their ship comes in (‘play covers and make a lot more cash? Sign Me Up!’) and then disappear. 

The term that offended me when relating this to other musicians was that the people you find on the Musician Want Ads are ‘hobbyists. That made me angry. Despite being absolutely true.

I dedicated myself to finding players who could help me build something larger, grander in scope. I believed that if a group of people, even absolute strangers, can come together with a common cause, a sound that matters to those involved, they can produce something lasting, something beautiful. Something that can transcend social relations and slip into a higher airstream for all to see, all to experience. A labor of true love.  

Which brings us back to the Best Folk Group in Hartford. I worked hard to get that award. I figured it would be a stepping stone to get my name a bit more public. I campaigned for it.

And won. It was a shock. 

When it came time to play the gig, The Citizen Spy had already broken up. Because they were hobbyists. I had conceived and achieved and succeeded, and found myself alone again, not a step further ahead than I was

I was heartbroken. Until that Sunday night about a week later when I heard CC playing Guitar Hero.

2007…. or so

I was renting a room from a bandmate at this time and decided I needed to go. Carmen and I had already been in a constant conversation on every conceivable method of communication. It was a natural step.

It was the emails that bonded us. Texts are quicker, Instagram can show fine details, but sending emails was a perfect form of communication for us. It was like writing letters and throwing them into a virtual Sea. There was a weight and breadth to them, despite being composed of circuits and electric ink.

We started with Sparklehorse and coalesced into something deep, then deeper still. It was all about feelings that neither of us shared with other friends or family. We allowed ourselves to let go and share with someone who would not judge, even as we clicked through a series of actions we were less proud of.

This is where the talk of the Grimm Generation really started, as a code for ‘Children of the 70s at 40.’ We felt that what we were taught growing up was a very soft glow version of what life would really be like. 

We missed the Drug Era but of course, drugs were appropriate for every Era. We missed the movements of a real Culture that we were too young for. These lessons never set in with us as a generation, and we fail spectacularly. We marry because it is what we believe we are supposed to do. We have kids because we are married, whether we wanted kids or not. We bought houses that we lost when the market crashed.

In retrospect, was this a series of excuses for not having our shit properly together? You’re damned right it was. 

The true political intent was just a false flag. We had someone to talk too after being on Match.com too long where every communication was either someone selling you something you do not really need or you selling yourself. 

The unceasing communication we struck was about the book that we were co-authoring. Neither of us had any type of experience in marketing a book, my scant experience in marketing a record was good but ultimately not useful.

With my living situation deteriorating, when Carmen mentioned that she was refinishing her basement, I jumped on it. I have always had a lovely relationship with basements and the House Of Grimm basement was perfect. And would allow us to really focus our attention toward the book.

All of this was happening in the background of my personal Waterloo, the Hartford Advocate Poll debacle.

It wasn’t anyone’s fault. Even by this point, less and less people read print media. These proud giants of alternative thinking were rotting in their boxes. 

Where once the Grand Band Slam was a multiple night affair, everyone was involved and partying, playing a variety of clubs, outdoor gigs. Just a real general hullabaloo. it was shrinking in significance almost daily. The print media. The Scene itself.

I was offered an outdoor gig that was cancelled. I set up my own celebration gig on the day after New Year’s. Even the band did not show. No one came except for Carmen and her beau du jour. I was crushed.

And wallowed in it. Constant angry pacing in my 15-foot square underground sanctuary. Carmen was upstairs with the kids (approximate ages: Boy – 10, Girl – 6) playing Rock Band. And then Carmen took the mike and sang an AC/DC song. And I heard something there. Something undefinable. Something I needed.

Carmen had no background in music aside from a grammar school chorus and years of listening. There was something in her voice that was dusky and true. Not a traditional sound, but something that called out from late nights, broken hearts, too much liquor, on a loop. 

It was a sound my more traditional voice could not convey. It wasn’t ability, it was atmosphere. And as I listened, I considered what if I took my decidedly pop songs and put them through that voice. I had no idea what would happen, but it kept me from thinking about the great expanse of what was not happening for me.

Since we lived together and had working projects, there were a lot of shared cigarettes on the screened in porch overlooking Park Ave in Windsor. This time was always about what happened next for the book marketing. 

The book was The Thing. The book was our shared vision, our lopsided child. We went back and forth, story for story, until we selected the best subject and best writings that we produced. One of us would pick a subject (‘Lust’, ‘Butterflies’, etc) and we both would write our take on it. Some of the stories were long. Some were 3-line poems. It was an individual choice as to how to best capture the subject.

We felt like we were doing something so far unknown to the Market. The ‘Story’ and the stories we shared would leap out from the page and engage people our age. That was our market, clearly, as we wrote this about turning 40 in the high 2000s. We presumed that people would hear about it and reach out with their own tales of Grimm Generation excess and a community would be built. 

Nope.

We sent out the book to a hand-picked focus group who read it and provided insight, accolades and grammar hints. 

Just like real authors do. 

We then adjusted the tales through the insight provided group and built the book as suggested by the several thousand websites that offered encouragement and advice.

Just like real authors do.

We started shopping the book. When we received the first rejection (like real authors do), we laughed at the lack of imagination of the Big Book Business. By the third and fourth rejection letter, we were laughing a bit less. Seven and Eight hurt like Hell.

This process, unsuccessful as it was, really forged the Grimm dynamic that would become our trademark. We were hucksters, shameless.  Specifically, together. We brought out the carnival barker in each other.

Individually we were still both a bit shy, closer to unknowable.  United, we were glamorous grifters. We were good at it. Marketing that was funny, a bit salacious, but never uncomely. It entertained us greatly.

I expected to go into the book using this same level of grating glory, but I could not have anticipated the addition of Carmen. We fed off of each other, each idea discussed among smokes and bigger cups of coffee till we tore down every idea and rebuilt it to hold up to the GG standard. 

We were in a single clear conversation for about 8 full years. The circumstances changed, the band members came and went and we were always looking at what is next to advance the Grimm agenda.

I have worked with people before, but it was nothing compared to what CC and I had. 

We believed we could sell ice in the Antarctic. And because we believed it, we could do it. I always thought that if we tried hard enough, the two of us could will the house leave the ground and lift off into Space. Simply because it never dawned on us that we couldn’t. 

We were not invincible. The rejection letters cut us in the places still exposed: lack of confidence, a genuine shared and fought against pessimism, old childhood ghosts of limits to what we can expect and what we could accomplish.

This January Sunday night, when a text was received and I slipped upstairs for a smoke, a new conversation began.

‘So…by now you do recognize I am quite mad. Right?’ I started with.

CC looked wary…trying to assume what angle this conversation was going. ‘I am aware.’

‘I heard you singing on Rock Band. And I have to say…. I could do something with that voice.’

‘Something … like what?’

‘A band!’ I exclaimed while she looked at me with an almost sympathetic nod noting I was indeed quite mad.

‘What am I going to do in this band? Sing??’

‘Yep. You’re the Singer, I’m the genius behind the scenes that plays guitar and broods.’

‘Genius?’

‘W.E. I think we can do something…. something bigger than the book, using the same philosophy. Children of the 70’s at 40. We may not know what people are reading, but we know what they are listening to. Their Facebooks are lousy with the stuff.’

‘True.’

‘So, I have the songs and you have the voice. It is something I am far more familiar with than book marketing. Why not?’

‘Because I can’t sing.’

‘You can. And really…who cares? Need I produce the list of non-traditional singers who have populated the pop charts? Dylan anyone?’

‘C’mon! You are high.’ (Note: I was.)

‘Yes…. but that doesn’t mean I am wrong. Let’s do this. For the next book meeting, I am bringing my guitar and you bring extra wine. If I am wrong, it will not take a lot for time to discover that.’

To Be Continued ….

The Nu Spiritualism: Indie Music Marketing

The thought came to mind while watching the apple music commercial. Clarity. I am being marketed too as a creative artist with something to say, even in this glut of like minded folks.

Like you. And you.

And why shouldn’t I be marketed too? I spend money (or consider at least ) on books and websites to connect me to the largest audience possible to hear my songs.

And I realize that my decision making on where to put myself virtually is knitted together texts of faith and angle, something that gives a small advantage. Cause it’s the wild west out there. No one has a clue and the maze reconfigures monthly.

And it brings me to the spiritualist movement of the late 1800s all of knocking tables and ectoplasm. People went crazy for trying to reach across the veil and commune with the dead. And for every request, new technologies of bad science and melodrama were devised to refine ones access to the beyond.

I won’t be so cynical as to use the idea 9f snake oil salesmen. I do believe every new online music platform or least starts with real belief. It’s simply were cynical creatures. When some one sees a need, someone else needs profit from it.

Consider how we got here. The desire to share music among friends via Napster. In it’s design, it wasn’t created to upset the apple cart. It just did.

So pick your poison: seance or EPK? Spirit photos or the dream of going viral on YouTube? Tarot cards or download cards? Ancient texts or Twitter?

Whatever your choices, pack an extra thing in your ole’ kit bag: Belief.

Belief confounds the Improbable.

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The Zen Menu – The JK’s at Klekolo World Coffee

I’ve made much hulla and some baloo about my love and appreciation of Klekolo World Coffee (https://jasonpkrug.com/2015/03/26/when-klekolo-was-the-center-of-the-universe-2/), the home of my spiritual rebirth and purveyors of fine bean. So it seems only right that one of our rare gigs (Julie Kay and Myself, of course) is at this very place. And yes , on this very day.

And we’re bringing something special tonight. A taste of a harvest meal upcoming.

Since The Grimm Generation went on super secret hiatus, I started crafting songs about loss. Conceptual. Very real. And a record was born. Still cooking with our top scientists working on it (Hi Adam!). So what we have here is a preview of whats to come. Played live in one set. Acoustic voice and stompy foot. Cello sensuality in pluck and box. Lyric driven, image laden. We’re coming from and for the heart.

So as a delectable aperitif, the set, as it will be played tonight at 7:00 PM at Klekolo World Coffee, Court St in the grand old dame of Middletown.

For your consideration…

‘Push Play’ – ‘…whats so special about you?’
‘Twin Twisters’ – ‘…As good an epitath as any for us…’
‘Hidden Lake Smells Like Gunpowder’ – ‘There’s not enough medicine to make me feel. And EVERYTHING is medicine…’
‘Determined To Fail’ – ‘…past the cracked cross of the Evangelical warehouse’
‘Last Leaves To Fall’ – ‘… These nights, they expire. All hope. All desire…’
‘Your Body Betrays You’ – ‘… have I got your attention?’
‘Lush’ – ‘… As we wind together like vines, we bear fruit in this unbearable heat…’
‘Last Days Of Rome’ – ‘… And we squandered what we were given. It wasn’t healthy, but it was Home…’
‘Ring It Out’ – ‘I’m a bad liar. I won’t hide it. You fill me up and I get drunk with it…’
‘Believe In Me’ – ‘astral are just pricks in the dark’
‘Nu Constellations’ – ‘… aren’t we done with all the gravity of old reputations?’
‘Cut Down The Moon’ – ‘…a war was fought. No one knew….’
‘Outloud’ – ‘If you want to love me, you can love me.’
‘The Boy King’ – ‘the allure of the utter wreck, The Boy King takes another sip…’
‘Saving Grace’ – ‘…It’s intimate. But a different kind…’
‘I’ve Never Been Here Before’ – ‘I kicked some friends when they were down. I kicked up dust till I cracked the ground’
‘The End Of Mystery’ – ‘… Regards unopened, ghosts in the wire. The songs stay unwritten, nasty looks from the choir…’

And plus, paying respects to where we came from…

‘Bigger Than’ (The Grimm Generation) – ‘All my sad songs are about you now.’
‘St Joan (Of Rt 495)’ – ‘Cops are scary’

Please join us for a live viewing of the upcoming album ‘The Zen Of Losing’ as performed by Jason P. Krug (vocals, guitar) and Julie Kay (cello) at Klekolo World Coffee, Court St in Middletown, 7:00 pm sharp.

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Brush Your Death 100 Times A Day

After a brief period of death and resurrection (I should note that I neither died nor was resurrected. I do tend to be dramatic ) I have come out the other side of this mortality wormhole with knowledge. Well….not knowledge. ….let’s call them paranoia based lessons to live by. Or die by. Whatevs.

1) when we get sick, we go into Safe Mode. All higher functions miss the Start menu and you lose all ability to color your world or place your self in the frame. It’s hard to consider the Great American Novel when your your thoughts go into rogue survival mode. It’s ok.

2) freedom of choice drives everybody crazy…..to paraphrase X. And without the ability to appropriately focus on my entertainment choices, I let go and listened to satellite radio. That’s my version of giving up. And though I understand the appeal of new music discovery, I found the content was too light, too repetitive. It was good for my distracted state, but what does that say? Is the fear that if we get overly engaged we will drive into the ocean over and over?

3) life is precious. But precious things are by their nature dull. Live agressive.

4) if you survive, show off. Go public. Maybe plan a date to show off how alive you are with a dear cello playing friend. (Klekolo, August 18th @ 7:00 pm)

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Your Parents Did It To Aerosmith

…And of course that makes sense, now. Here in the future (where you and I will spend the rest of our lives…). Cause look at them. Your parents, I mean.

Older and out of touch. With a ton of stories you will never hear from their lips. Good ones. Maybe a bit too much eye liner to combat the clock. Maybe Dad releases a country themed single to capture the market that he never knew existed till some Desmond Child’ish creation said ‘Hey Dad! Cornpone is the new black!’.

You listen to this decades Aerosmith and consider your folks and think ‘sure. I can see that. My parents are lame. Of course they would copulate to soundtrack music’.

And sometimes it takes a dude on a coffee buzz to adopt the Lester Bangs style of ‘wise’nd old coot’ to tell you the truth. And it may make you a bit uncomfortable hearing it. But that’s my job ….. no, jobs pay something….my calling. Yeah.

Here’s the truth: Aerosmith was once the coolest band on the planet. And your mom ran around like a tramp. And your dad followed her like a dog. God Bless America.

It’s is easy to forget….no…it is IMPOSSIBLE to remember how great 70’s Azimuth was. Not simply as ‘The USA’s Rolling Stones’ but the real skill, the real composition of a great Rock and Roll band, in every form. Live, studio, drug fueled exploits, models, childish inter-band turmoil (cause to be a Rock Star is to adopt teen hood as a lifestyle. And teens is dumb).

(Except you. Your special).

They wrote big hits, even then. ‘Dream On’ right out of the gate. ‘Mama Kin’ on that same debut record. But they really got interesting with their sophomore ‘Get Your Wings’. I suggest you go to the library (just kidding, kid)….I mean hit YouTube and find it and listen all the way down from tip to tail.

What you will note is that in the space of 2 records, they went from the blues based Boston band done good to something that started a whole new page in the Book Of Rock and Roll. ‘Lord Of The Thighs’ is page 1. I always wondered if this was Steven’s lil’ jab at the darker more Sabbath’y band of the era with that title, substituting ‘Your Thighs’ for ‘Of This World’. Alas, we will never know since Steven has clearly gone mad with syphilis and the drugs to treat syphilis (I’d like to direct the court attention to exhibit A, American Idol’…).

Aerosmith was firing on all cylinders at this point and continued with ‘Toys In The Attic’ and ‘Rocks’ and, in my opinion, deserve every blood red penny they make and throw at their butlers now based on this work.

The key to Aerosmith to me personally was always Steven Tyler and his incredible, indecipherable, single entendre lyrics and delivery of them. Tongue twisting, brilliant use of phrasing and rhyme. Really, the very first white rapper.

And his focus, which was always sex, girls, sex with girls, drugged sex with girls, sex with druggy girls. He elevated what could be considered a marginal (though fun sounding) life into real degenerate poetry. And had the voice, the linguist genius to wrap these images into unconscious on the beat jags that you find yourself singing at the most inappropriate times.

And why? Because they were young and did it like they wanted.

Like your parents. Who did it standing up. Listening to ‘Seasons Of Whither’.

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See The Boss Pedal, Be The Boss Pedal: An Argument For Digital Effects In Normal Conversation

As a clear sign that I have been driven mad, I have permanently effected the affects of this particular medulla oblogata with my recording within Dante’s digital pit, I have come to the realization that digital effects are not just for music.

Furthermore, I need to make a miracle machine (which is tricky as the dog ate my engineering degree) that puts digital effects where they belong: conversations. This may require we all walk around with permanent earphones on to get the effect (big and fat), but what are words worth? They are worthless unless you can EQ them to a listenable form and then blast them through BIG reverbs.

Effects will be the new punctuation. They will say. When I create the machine. I will be hailed as yet another distraction (like iphones and Instagram and insulin) that is keeping us from becoming the species we should be, in our most perfect and docile form.

Dull. Dullllllll. Im So Bored with your plain, simply heard speeches. Do me a favor…ask me that in Flanger. Phase me, baby.

Consider how it can really emphasize the conversations you are already having?

Don’t you feel cheated when you are angry and yell at someone and it simply dissipates? Try that with a big hall reverb. Now THATS angry and impossible to ignore.

What about ordinary dull conversations with people in the grocery line? Slip in some Digital Delay…and slowly build it, so your words leave your mouth and are suddenly bouncing, bouncing everywhere, every direction, every corner and crevice of the subconcious till theres no option for anyone but to turn away and look at the Star or People Magazine.

Late night and early morning? Need to talk to people but your too wasted to form words? Compression. Everything you say will have more impact, even if that statement is ‘I’m sorry I dropped the ball on the Perkins account.’. Your manager can only admire your honesty, forthrightness and deep sonorous tones. And this is how you get a promotion.

Tryin to explain away a prior bad act? Speak clearly through a Heavy Metal distortion. Raise the gain. Speak slowly and stare directly into their eyes and watch as they get confused, a little sad and go away.

Need a lil pickup in the bedroom? Ladies love a good Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, brother. Get all Issac Hayes and shit and lay it down.

My point being that we short change ourselves in terms of appropriate dramatics. Sometimes it takes a bit o’ science.

The REAL point being this record is killing me.

(dictated but not read in Vibrato)

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How Deep Purple Brought Me To Jesus

I have the image clear: about 7 years old in my older sister bedroom, her and her friends laughing and I’m twisting the long coil of the soup can style fat headphones (the fatter, the better. …I still stand by this, ear buds can’t hang …) and laying on the floor leafing through the LP covers as the vinyl discs get listened to and piled on top of the speaker, long dried wax and incense dust in a permanent drip on the space age black plastic stereo cover.

And though I know there was more, the art, the impossible comic book of album covers, of 4 records sticks in my head:

Black Sabbath ‘Volume 4’, Elton John ‘Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy ‘, Chicago….the chocolate bar covered one and Deep Purple ‘Made In Japan’.

Being 7 or so, the ‘Made In Japan’ cover fascinated me…..and in retrospect, maybe cause it’s the only of these records to show the band in photo. So you can imagine Highway Stars and Space Truckers and examine the front cover action shot and think ‘Yup. That’s what someone who drives a truck on space looks like.

What I did not know at the time was the Deep Purple I was listening too was as close to a true team of comic heroes Rock music would ever produce. And what they did would inform and inspire what I did for the rest of my life.

Because Deep Purple was unique and always would be. They were that Avengers style super team where each member was a fifth of the power, and without these 5 you have….oh I dunno. …Vanilla Fudge. Every member was necessary …. not the instrument they played…..them playing it.

And of course these 5 dudes created a song that went far beyond their generation, far beyond their own life span as a band….and surely as corporal beings. You know the tune. ‘Duh Dunh Dunhhhhh, Duh Dunh Dunh Dunhhhhhh….’ etc.

THE riff of Rock written by bass player Roger Glover, who wrote others. He was perhaps the most restrained, most common in appearance. …and there lied his mutant ability to produce timeless riffs.

Ian Paige was always a cult figure, a deeper Neal Pearl style worship amongst those who know. This was beat (in perfect paradiddle) into my head by my old friend Vic who was so stupidly talented, he learned these Paice driven monsters beat for beat. And to simply watch him play with (big and fat) headphones on was a revelation to me if what drums REALLY did if you watched someone who knew how to play them proper. Ian’s ability was to make it look easy and simultaneously impossible.

Jon Lord. He was the heart if this sound. This was not simple worship of Hammond B3. It was using it as a tool, and pushing the good taste and warm whirly tones into an over driven groans and wails and the low rumble of (big and fat) American automobiles. He was the strong one, the honorable one, the mad scientist who ain’t that mad.

And the difficult one, the dangerous unpredictable one. The one who played with black magic and risked his soul within the complexity of each incredible solo. And the one who started me on my vague obsession with megalomania. Mr Ritchie Blackmore. He was Dr Strange with a stratocaster.

And on vocals and bongo, Jesus Christ.

Ok. Ian Gillan was not actually Jesus Christ. But he did play him on the stage. And through this, at a later age than church would prefer, I came to know The Passion Of The Christ.

It’s hero worship. When your a fan. …a real fan….you track down where your hero’s come from. And in this fashion, me and my friends came to know Jesus Christ Superstar. And despite being Sabbath obsessed darklings, we came to know every word. Every plea, every plot of the Christ story. And to this day, this is where my true understanding of Christ came from.

But one doesn’t get defined by being Jesus. ….Jesus aside. Ian Gillan was one of the best singers in and out of Rock. And looked damned good doing it.

There is no band that ever sounded like Deep Purple. And there will never be again.

Jon Lord left this plane for farther shores. And I think he is still out there, awaiting the call to save us.

SAVE US.

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The Fifth Horseman: Playlists

What is an album?

For the sake of clarity, Ill put a definition on it: approximately 45 minutes of a single artist or group of artists (or ‘band’ as the kids call them today)whose intent is to capture your attention, imagination and share some personal POV’s….or big comic book epic’s about Norse Mythology, whatever.

The expectation was that if you can create a ‘single’, a pop length taste with hooks and ‘legs’ (thats Hollywood talk I’m just misappropriating) then that would serve as bait for you to buy a Long Player. And take a trip inside the mind of the artist.

There’s a certain level of bait and switch in 85% of these releases. We have all bought a record based on a single and came away disappointed. I don’t believe there’s any guile attached to this. It’s only natural to lead with your strongest move, and if you could dance to it, all’s the better.

It’s craft. It’s musicians giving you what you want….but adding in their own acts of personal exploration and musework. And all it costs is 45 minutes of your time. A worthy investment…if the album doesn’t suck.

What is a playlist?

A playlist is a bait buffet. All killer, no filler. No single artist, songs based on moods or holidays or just for kicks. Some playlists capture a time they were created and always bring you to that point. The songs act as photographs reminding you that you of forlorn summer or that you once loved Terrence Trent Darby.

In a sense, you become the artist. You create the moods, call the causes and use your own sense of what works using others work. You mix era’s and genre’s, speeds and volumes based on whatever you feel like. Why make ‘Blood On The Tracks’ when you can create ‘Divorce Playlist Volume 1′?

When we discuss whats destroying the Music Business, let’s call it for what it is: Freedom. The freedom of the listener to cull through the history or recorded music and pick the particular tastes they savor. It is creation. It’s imaginary radio where you are the DJ, the sponsor and audience.

As a recording artist, it is a frustration. As someone angling for that 45 minutes of your time, it’s another obstacle. Another distraction in an increasingly distractable world.

What happened is music making moved beyond the music makers and became the trade of anyone inclined. This is progress. This is new.

And the one thing Playlists offer is discovery. You can find sounds you never heard before but love as much as your ole’ Ian Hunter records. Carefully cultivated and collected in a thematic list.

Spotify is not the problem. Nor Apple Music. YouTube. It’s freedom of choice that buggers us. So we must stop freedom of choice at all costs. Individuals deciding for themselves has made this world sick and shallow.

Do I believe that? Sometimes, yes. Is it true? Yup. The war between being a fan and an artist too is harrrrrd.

As for me….well, I write singles.

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Free To Be Freaky: In Praise Of They Might Be Giants

My Fellow Americans.

I’ve come to you today to discuss the meaning of true Independence. In its most effective form. I am here to praise the American Weirdo.

For I have known them. I have sang their songs, eyes closed, every lyric accurate.

I have clapped and stomped for returning weirdo heroes. I have waved flags and pledged allegiance with simple slogans like ‘Everybody dies frustrated and sad and THAT is beautiful’ or ‘I’ve built a little empire out of some crazy garbage called the blood of the exploited working-class’.

I have seen great mobs of people from every conceivable age, race, religion come together and jump at once to the sound of accordion and large, miked stomping stick.

The uniform they wore was a huge giddy smile. Everyone of them.

For I have been to a They Might Be Giants show.

If you create something that is completely original, wholly unique, a true extension of your weirdo nature, a couple of actions are expected.

1) you alienate everyone
2) the few you don’t freak out are your audience. Cater to them. Water them, watch them grow.

And as you challenge the existing system we call The Music Business, you don’t settle for acceptance. You aspire to more. You create free phone songs and truly groundbreaking videos that quietly kickstart ‘alternative music’ a decade before the term was coined.

And you keep your eyes on the prize. Be good to your audience, give to them fully, freely. Let your enthusiasm, your absolute freak-muse, infect the people.

And keep working. Let the land rise to meet you. These connections will gain there own space and invite you in. And these shoulders will carry you into the wider culture.

But the culture is fleeting. To attempt to capture the culture is to bore the culture. The culture only desires the things that no longer need it.

So be not distracted. And start touring with a horn section cause the opportunity allows.

And you succeed. You become that invaluable element in so many lives. You do it well, and your odd peeps will teach their children using your words, your sounds, your bizarre character.

It’s a truly American story in it’s purity and hope. And how hard work and weird ideas can be a commodity. And it is as true now as ever.

This 4th of July, celebrate appropriately. Put on a big fake prosthetic fore head to cover up your real head. And grab a guitar and sing a verse of ‘Alienation Is For The Rich’ and see who sings along.

Weirdo.

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Cool Cousins Bring You YesSongs

The winds raises the dandelion seeds, a perfect marriage of force and natural aerodynamics. And brings you a yard full of weeds. The rain brings you mud and deepening soil and you check the radio which brings you the weather. And you bring your boots out today.

And cool older cousins bring you YesSongs and let your adolescent self play among the covers, the Roger Dean Universe, let you wonder at the 8 foot by 6 foot poster that could only fit on the ceiling of a suburban cool cousin bedroom. They let you borrow this record while they go about with their cool friends, tasting all the fruit the decade of the 70’s had to offer. Things I came to recognize as that decade was reconstituted and re-imagnined into ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘That 70’s Show’. And Stoner Rock.

Cool Cousins who took the time to treat you nicely, like family, and share with you. Whose natural excitement and nature would have them talk to you like an adult though you were far from one? And you appreciated it.

Cool cousins who drop the needle on side one and introduce you to your first real taste of classical music ‘Firebird Suite’ as it evolves / dissolves into ‘Siberian Khatru,’ a multilayered bit of beauty that leads into what first really nailed me about Yes. It wasn’t the musicians expertise and resume. It wasn’t the lyrics which (and I know every one) but are at best vague.

It was…and is…that incredible ability to create melodies via counter point vocals. The harmonies, the arrangements, still confound me. And thrill me, drive me.And make me try harder.

This moment:

Even Siberia goes through the motions
Hold out and hold up
Hold down the window
(Outbound, river)
Hold out the mornin’ that comes into view
(Blue tail, tail fly)
River runnin’ right on over my head

Vocals completely counter to each other start a conversation, a word art piece. Though the words themselves becomes sounds, notes. Playing between counter points and true strong harmony, sometimes within a single line. As I have grown old, I recognize others used these games methods, first that comes to mind is Simon and Garfunkel. I don’t believe anyone arranged their vocal harmonies as carefully as Yes did, and it’s something that I think went over looked in the list of reasons why Yes was genuinely an important band.

And this style, these vocals ….. This whole Universe…… started with Chris. Find some old bit of YesStory or YesShows on YouTube and watch that motherfucker work.

And the carefree friends of Cool Cousins come to bad ends. And Cool Cousins did too.

And Yes takes on a greater personal significance. It’s no longer a band on a label, during a time you were barely alive for. It becomes the stuff of personal folklore. There’s lessons within each side, memories trapped within each song,

So I mourn this day. I don’t mourn Chris Squire, though he was a true hero of mine.

I mourn my cool cousin David Santone. RIP.

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