You know how this goes so let’s get to it …. Opening crawl ….
On November 13th, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. That request came from his wife…..
Wait ….. no…. that’s not it. Sounds familiar though, huh?
Jason P Krug set out to write the perfect song to soothe his monster movie brain and locked himself away with copy paper covered in words, a cheap nylon string guitar and a recorder. He was never seen again. Years later, during the excavation of his residence a record was found. This is that record…..’
The fact is … this is practically a true story.
In a time (and I can not get accurate with dates as I used those parts of my brain to store the smoke) where I was struggling with and without bands, I needed something to do …
OK, now here’s the real, REAL truth: I think this record disappeared because I recorded it on someone equipment who did not want me using their shit. Sorry, Fucker.
So I sat down and got down to some pickin’ and a’ croonin’. All of these stories are true. I could put the names on them … if I could only remember the names.
Anyway …. A new band came along and I was off to the races. This record was left behind and stored on a drive. And I went on to do The Citizen Spy, The Grimm Generation and Cursive is Code and record my solo ‘The Zen Of Losing’ record.
Years later (so…now) I was gifted the drive that contained a lot of my earlier material, songs that I had also forgotten. I have a habit.. and it’s a bad habit… of writing a whole new set of material for every band I ever get involved with, so a lot of good songs got pushed back for the new songs.
Which explains what happens next (foreshadowing) …
So when I came across this lost record, called then and still ‘Nylon’, I really liked it. It was almost shocking how it affected me after all this time.
It’s a f****d up record, really.
It is imperfect. It is spare and bare. There are mistakes on it. I am cool with all of that. The Only Music I Listen To Is The Mountain Goats.
And there is a type of kismet in finding this. As mentioned above, I have a bunch of material that people have liked but I abandoned for new sounds. And now Julie and I are working to bring those back.
So …join us as we plumb the depths of the JpK. In the meantime….. I hope you like this.
At this time, we were also getting played on the radio pretty regularly. Local Homegrown type shows that we always submitted to, quite a few radio interviews as well. The most exciting thing was that Grimm was getting played on the big broadcast FM station in my growing up area 99.1 WPLR was playing us on their Local Band Show. Not during Prime Time, sure, but I grew up on this station and it felt pretty great. All my old friends were impressed.
We were not making money quickly enough so we begged and borrowed cash where we could to start the sessions with Tyler. We had a series of practices split between the House of Grimm and Kerry Carriage House practice space. We worked on details, tightening. Lys started playing a mean electric guitar as much of this material was rocking.
We started recording on a Saturday and as expected, Kerry was first up with drum tracks. We actually had the whole band wired up down there to the best effect. The basic tracks were Kerry and my acoustic guitar and Carmen’s voice. It was such a different vibe from recording in Storrs with the Scamp. It was very professional. It was not nearly as fun.
I think that same description could be said of GG around that time. We were achieving something trackable, something noteworthy. But even then, I could see the cracks start to develop. This was our dream, Carmen and Me. This was not their dream. We were asking a lot of everybody with a constant gig schedule and little pay.
What we were doing was exciting, to all of us I believe. We were striking out with a unique type of Pop Music that was quite difficult to fit into any genre. We would stick with the ‘Indie Rock’ tag because that was the closest. By this point, our New World of Facebook was getting crowded in addition to the constant urging of Facebook to pay, pay, pay. The ground was shifting beneath our feet and I am not even sure if we were aware of it. By this point CC and I had been operating GG for about 5 years. And despite our constant cheerleading and trumpeting the ‘Cause,’ even we were wearing a bit thin with each other.
We had been having a single conversation for years and the frequency was insane. We had days where hundreds of notes flew between us. Texts likely even more.
Recording what would become ‘The Big Fame’ continued with band members scheduling their time with Tyler, showing up and leaving tracks. Tyler would send rough tracks that we would all obsess over though mainly Lys, CC and Me.
We added a song from the GG3 days into the mix as well because ‘Real Bad Voodoo’ had a perfect presence among these tracks. We invited Dave Hogan in as he played on that track more than everybody and he was cool enough to do a couple of other tracks as well.
Retrospect. That is really where the gold gets separated from the stones. We should have had him play on the record more.
The main difference in sound between the first record ‘The Last Record Party’ and our next full length ‘The Big Fame’ came from the band we were working with who had been playing these songs out in the World with us for over a year. Where, for ‘The Last Record Party’ we asked people to participate and make it awesome, this band knew exactly what they were doing far before we booked the date with Tyler. The other difference was in the songs we were producing which came from a slightly different place than previous, by this point Carmen and I had been writing regularly for a few years and the increasing confidence and inspiration coming from sounds that were around us which was no longer Classic Rock.
Carmen was the first person I knew who discovered new music online. It seems silly now, but fact was, before Spotify, it was YouTube. And Carmen was always on the hunt. She introduced us both to some higher quality sounds, some different sounds. And the new sounds were creeping into our work. We just wanted to be a Rock Band. Now we wanted to be something more. No…that is not true. We did not want to be more than a Rock Band. It was something that was happening beyond our control.
‘The Big Fame’ starts with my song. ‘Earthquake, Hurricane, Flood and You,’ which was a true story. The year around the recording was simply madness with the major weather events that were happening. This was a love song in my style before I became better at love songs. I love this song like an errant mischievous child. It starts with that chug which always fires me up. We worked with the right Drummer on the record as Kerry provided that fast, unrelenting beat that everyone laid into. This featured Lys and Dave on monster guitars. I loved the way they played off of each other which was even better when they did it live. Lys had a Mustang that roared and perfectly abetted Dave’s cool Les Paul sound. Julie cello on this was perfect and nearly unbelievable. Who would even put Cello on a song like this? We would. Also, one of my livelier harmonies. I did not sing a single song on this record. This was the Grimm show and that put Carmen in front of the mike.
Up next, ‘The Next Indie Boy,’ which we envisioned as the single. Who was ‘the next indie boy”? It was not me. This was written from the point of view of a girl who I had recently broken up with and effectively says ‘There is always another musician hanging around…’. Jerk. But fuck, what a song!!! The dual vocal chorus, two differing melodies fighting for space made me excited every time I heard it. The dual guitars of Lys and Dave really kick this one down. Bass master Eric, who it must be said played his head off on every track, his high bass harmonies on the third verse resolve added to the overall stew of kick ass, fuck you songery. This was the song we had a lot of faith in and hand made a video for it to get it out there. The classic Replacements rip of just pointing a camera at a cassette deck and letting it play.
Then another CC concoction that was just too fun to play ‘Dizzy in My Hips Swinging.’ This was a straight-out Rock and Roll song that featured CC, Me and Lys all singing different parts in the chorus as well as some sweet harmonies in the verse between CC and Lys. Kerry kept a quick galloping beat on this held down by Eric’s wild bass lines. I think my favorite part of this song was the cello swoops that Julie dropped in the chorus which added to the real ‘whoosh’ feeling of the track.
Based on our history as a band, we had a pretty clear theme for ‘The Big Fame’ record which was the trial and triumphs of a local band trying to reach higher. Although that year had a different agenda than ours. Carmen’ father passed away in that period which as a loss for everyone. She started exploring this in her lyrics, to a chilling effect. Conversely, I was starting a still happy relationship so my songs were decidedly bedroom tunes. The song ‘House Drinks’ was what I consider the best song we ever wrote and performed. This was a rather intense song, multi-layered and with multiple parts. The words were some of Carmen’s best work which was a conversation about her father’s passing. If not for this line up having played this song for a year already, it may have been difficult to record. We had little issue with this under Tyler’s steady production hand. This was one I am still quite proud of.
The next track was our heavy track and named tribute to the dude behind the kit, Killer Kerry Miller. Granted, it’s not about him, but about the power of his name. ‘Miller, Don’t You Even Care?’ is a tale of a fictional Miller and CC trying to breach his heart. This was all guitars on deck, aggressive and triumphed by a genuinely wild guitar solo by Dave Hogan. I still remember the first time CC and I heard the guitar solo after Dave left the studio and we were wide eyed and open mouthed. And then fits of mad giggling because it was a monster.
Up next was our Cello standout track ‘Until Then.’ Beautiful, bordering on baroque, with some of Carmen’s most heartbreaking and truly present lyrics. Julie’s cello work on this was outstanding. I think my personal favorite part of this was when my harmony vocal came in on the chorus. Carmen and I had finetuned how to sing with each other by then so we did what we thought was right and let the recording catch it. The final arrangement of acoustic, cello, glockenspiel was truly lush.
‘Quiet (St Francis)’ was next and was the most direct reflection of her recent loss with a story about visiting in the St Francis hospital. The words were stark and almost shocking with the raw emotion she was working through. It’s not painful because CC was not dramatic. She is plain spoken and hurting out loud. Despite the heavy lyric, I paired this with one of my favorite American Pop Music tropes, the ‘And Then He Kissed Me’ riff. That ‘dumdeedumdum’ bit. I have always had an almost unreasonable attraction to that riff, likely started when I first heard it on a KISS record. Eric would lock in with me on the bass and Lys would kick in some key harmonies for key verse lines and the chorus. All of this gave the song a sort of Kinks vibe that was almost rollicking.
Up next we brought Dave Hogan back for his 12-string prowess on ‘Road To Joy.’ It is a very un-Grimm like song as it is overwhelmingly positive. OK, that’s an over statement but it wasn’t doom laden. Lys on her Mandola, Dave on the 12 string, this was a nice song. Honestly CC and Me never cared for it after we wrote it but it did record well.
‘Real Bad Voodoo’ was up next for some good and dark guitar wankery. Both Lys and Dave on electric. This song was originally on the ‘The Book Of Love’ EP and was one of those songs that The GG3 used to play a lot. It has a delightful sleaziness to it, with some great vocals and harmonies. This was the type of song that GG was born on, so it was great to actually put it on this record. The GG3 used to rock this song hard with Dave overjoyed to wrap in some lovely Raymond Chandler guitar lines. The effect of the whole band on it was different, better, though maybe a bit less energetic than the live or EP version.
My Pirate song ‘The Wreck Of My Bed‘ was up next and man, this was a hoot to play live. Even before we started working with drummers, the collected musicians had fantastic timing so my stompy foot would come across as a primal invitation. This song was based on a long weekend and the condition of my bed after said weekend. Lys played banjo, Dave played 12 string, Eric pulled off some lovely high tone bass work toward the third bit. The heroes for this song were definitely Kerry on drums and Julie on cello. What impressed me about Julie was we made no effort to make songs that should include cello and she balked at none of it, using her instrument like a third guitar. Her tone carries this song through to its thrilling conclusion.
Another stunner, maybe slightly behind ‘House Drinks’ in my all-time favorites of The Grimm Generation songs was Carmen’s ‘The Eye Of Tranquility.’ When she presented this to me as a long form poem, I looked at it as an epic and wrote it accordingly. A very simple acoustic and vocal start as the other fall in behind and propel the song toward the second verse. The chorus was amazing and featured one of the highest vocals I ever put on record. This song meant a lot to us and we were mighty proud of it. It is the words on this one and CC’s delivery that sell this.
Up next was one of my older songs, one written in the time of the Folk Award days, ‘Bigger Than.’ I am pretty confident I wrote this about CC despite it being pre-Grimm. We often wrote about each other in subtle or obvious ways. This song was best served as an acoustic number, the less musicians the bigger the impact. This version sounds like pure Country and I hate it. Hate. It. It was likely my fault. This was initially going to be an acoustic track, no drums. When Kerry was doing drums, I suggested he try a drum track for this one too, which I don’t think he expected. As often happens when creating songs, when I hear the drums, I was excited because drums hold everything together. When we started laying the tracks on top of it, the whole thing went Country and though I should have cut it from the record, I did not. Love the song deeply, hate the recording.
And in conclusion, the song that would grow things out of its own soil, the swooping lap steel and locked in thud of the rhythm of ‘The Big Fame.’ This was the song that would bring about the Radio Show. I really like this one. It was one of those songs that I would listen to and not believe I wrote it as it was so odd, so perfect. Everyone played this song perfectly and we were pretty pleased with it. Had to be careful with this live: if it’s too fast, that was OK. If it was too slow, it would take a lunar year to get through.
Pop and CC were responsible for the cover which featured CC in 50s gear vacuuming in front of an abandoned movie theater that was still in Windsor. The image along with the title were perfect. It was about show biz, you know?
We did something unique when this came out and actually bought radio station ads in a big station in Hartford. They only aired very late at night as we did not have the finance, but it was pretty special tuning into a 50000-watt radio station and hearing those opening strains of The Big Fame.
Once we had Dave Hogan on a few tracks, we asked him to come sit in at a show. And when I saw Lys and He play together, that was when it was clear we missed something by not insisting he play more on the record.
With the addition of Dave this became what I think was our best line up, which was The Grimm Generation Show Band. Dave on 12 string acoustic and Les Paul, Lys on Fender Mustang, banjo, mandola, glockenspiel, vocals, Eric on bass and Kerry on drums, Julie on Cello, Carmen singing and Me playing acoustic and stomping right along.
This band was put together to play The Big Fame Radio Show. And the sound was mountainous.
We continued to push for press for the Radio Show at the Radio Museum and we did attract quite a bit of attention. It was just a different idea and people were fascinated. CC and I did interviews, radio shows, pimped the concept online …. We were doing what we did the best, which was Promoting. Ideas for this just seemed to come up from the ground and it was our job to catch every single one.
And in time, on the precipice of our greatest triumphs, CC and Me in the House of Grimm were deteriorating.
In retrospect, I know what happened. It was all very practical. In the same way the band was showing up to carry us, CC was carrying me. I had lost my job and was drawing unemployment. Meanwhile I had a new girlfriend who was around the house of Grimm too much. And I was barely paying rent.
And money was bad all around. There were fears she would lose the House of Grimm and that was something we took very seriously. To me, 53 Park Ave was not a house. It was my home. What I created down in my basement lair was the best work of my life. What CC and I created at that Kitchen Table should was simple magic. Should allow us to live comfortably.
But we kept it together. For just a little while longer.
We released ‘The Big Fame’ record and perhaps with this poverty frame of mind did not make it available to stream on Spotify. At the time where musicians were just not sure how to work with streaming services.
We wanted to sell records, at last. Exchange our songs for cash. It was that simple. We had paid our dues as did the folks who played with us. We accepted that the GG Leer Jet was a few years away but we wanted validation to not feel insane for pushing this for years. This weighed on CC more than me cause though we did not make a lot of money, I made more money in GG than anything else I did.
Looking at it from Carmen’s POV, it just hurt. She did not come up in bands and wasn’t sold this limo dream as a kid. She was frustrated that something that took so much from us, something we paid real money for occasion by occasion, could not produce any on its own.
At what point is the Rock and Roll Fantasy a fantasy? At every point, obviously.
If your dream is to play bars and get laid, the stage is waiting. If your dream is to reach people with your songs, far worse things await.
We received some great reviews from friend around the Country including Our Man In Nashville, Joe. We met him through a musician friend and he started to talk about us in his Nashville home. Joe was a good guy and more, loved the Hell out of Grimm. He gave us a stellar review that we pimped like it would cure cancer.
Meanwhile our bread and butter, The Internet, was getting harder to navigate. All previously free websites started charging. Facebook was a collective din where no sound came through and none got out. We were there at that perfect point where anyone could pull off a new band when people were still engaged. Before all of these same people as well as ourselves, struck out for better sites and content.
Despite all of this, despite the disappointment of our record not getting listened to enough, we had a Radio Show to do.
The Windsor Vintage Radio Museum was a box warehouse type building but what they had inside was mind-blowing. It was radios throughout the eras, the first ever televisions and collection of outdated and delightful electronics. We showed up dressed to kill and set up for the show.
Genuine Hero (look it up) and CC Boyfriend Matt provided the catering from his super popular Burger joint. The members of the Museum board did their job and though we were set up in the Museums itself, surrounded by all of these amazing nostalgia inducing electronics, it was standing room only. I am quite sure the Members of the Board did not know what they were in for.
And it began. Ginger acting as narrator stepped to the microphone and said ‘I am here to tell you a story… about Asher…..’ while the band crept in behind her with the repetitive noir riff of the title track from ‘The Big Fame’ … soft sensual…maybe a bit scary….before we kicked into raging ”Earthquake, Hurricane, Flood and You’ and we were hitting it with every step. The narration parts had Julie playing beautiful movements on her cello based on the theme melodies while Ginger continued the tale.
The parts where the song was quiet such as ‘Until Then,’ the crowd sat hushed, not a sound, not a rustle. The loud songs got raucous. It was perfect.
And after the show we had a Grimm Listening Party with the whole band over. It got wild and was an unforgettable night.
And that last with that particular line up. Kerry had decided to seek saner waters by moving out to Indiana and Ginger went with him. We were again without a drummer.
Good fortune swung our way this time with Julie suggesting an old friend of hers, Jack to try out. He’s a slightly unusual drummer in that he mainly played percussion with congas and djembes. We were always up for rhythmic experimentation, though currently we were in a riskier position as we had an established set in The Radio Show which would be our regular set for all the gigs upcoming. Even with the extended spoken word, it clocked in at 55 minutes.
Jack showed up with some percussion as well as a snare. He did not play with a bass drum which due to the size of the band at the time was OK. There were plenty of instruments bringing the bass kick.
I met Jack first at his house in Essex and we went up to the practice room. I had my sheets, my chords, my guitar and my recorder so I was set to go. Once we hit the spot, we did not pick up an instrument even once. We just chatted. We found we fought in some of the same ‘wars,’ specifically a gig about 20 years previous that we both played.
The Hopi Fest gig was a well-meaning musical disaster which featured about 1200 bands. My band The Great Upsetters (featuring Dave Hogan) was supposed to play at 5. And then 7. Then 9.
Around 10 we dropped the acid.
It was about midnight when we took the stage. No one wanted us to play. The gig was long over and wasn’t particularly successful at any point. We demanded to take the stage, demanded to play our show, despite the only people remaining were crew folk who did not like us even a bit.
We played, loud. It wasn’t good, everyone was way too far gone within the group and absolutely hateful outside the group.
I told the tale to Jack that first non-practice and he said ‘I was there. I was in the band right before you. I will always remember watching you guys take the stage and thinking ‘What the fuck is going on with these guys?’ I related this story to Dave Hogan who was equally amused.
Jack had spent his time on the CT Shoreline with his own series of bands. He was a Legend in that area, not only known for his singing and time keeping, but also, he was funny. Like real funny.
I liked him immediately and hoped he could drum.
We gathered the whole 7-member Show Band together at The Grimm House with Jack and his weird set up. After Ginger split, Carmen took over the reins of becoming the Narrator of the story, trying on a collection of Southern accents because that was what she heard it as. And she was right.
The set began, again with a soundscape based on the title tracks and the opening of the story. And then we were off, the entire set straight through, no breaks. Jack did phenomenal. His odd kit was, in review, perfect for a band of this size. He would keep the time firm and it was never splashy. Just straight down the line, even throwing in some kicky dance beats that were never in the songs before. It worked brilliantly.
And we went back on the road playing The Big Fame Radio Show every following gig. The more we worked it, the tighter, the more dramatic it became. Now having both Lys and Dave playing guitar brought a real driving sense to the set. Jack picked up on cues and focused on certain moments, versus beats. Everyone was playing like this was a live musical drama, which it was.
We played a lot of gigs in this line up, but two remain in perfect focus for completely different reasons.
A friend and Grimm booster from Facebook were involved in an arts festival held in Bridgeport at the historical McLevy Hall. It was an interesting event. Multiple floors on the building and each room had a different type of creation happening. Drum circles, costuming, every conceivable type of visual and video art (Including on the outside face of the building).
This was also a sort of homecoming for me because though we had played down Bridgeport some, not as much as we played everywhere else. I did see some old friends and walking around with the Big Band made me feel like a boss.
We were playing in one of the upper rooms and while we were setting up there was a tither in the crowd. Apparently, Chris and Tina, rhythm section for the Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club were in attendance. We were starstruck. And they were sitting in our audience waiting on a show.
Which we gave them in spades. Maybe the best performance of the Grimm Generation Show Band ever.
Afterwards Chris and Tina were effusive with praise for the Radio Show set. Tina in particular mentioned she was transfixed. The band was all wide smiles and jittery happiness.
I recall this night through a gauzy inner filter that indicated ‘remember this.’
The other gig was equally dramatic but all off stage. This was the final Cabaret show in New London for the Grimm Generation. At which point the wheels came off the cart.
It started badly. Way before we even got near New London. It was snowing like mad as Carmen, Pop and I made our way down south. I was driving and I am not a good snow driver. And that trip was a white-knuckle ride all down Rt 2 which on its best day is an underdeveloped highway. I remember keeping the car on the road between the two white lines till they disappeared completely. I remember the stone silence in the car because both CC and Pop were well aware of my distaste for winter driving. By the time we hit the gig I was a single raw nerve and was not being particularly pleasant to anyone.
We had 2, 20-minute sets after a 2-hour slippery nightmare to get there. That of course is not unusual. We rearranged our set, dropping the slower, quieter numbers and amping up all the fast songs. Everybody was supposed to play a 20-minute set, but other bands were being loose with their time, under the impression we were all here for a good time. Not an unreasonable expectation.
It was driving us crazy. We played our first set in the overcrowded underground venue and we did play well. We were supposed to come up an hour later which was delayed and delayed again.
I approached the lovely lady organizing this event, a lady who was responsible for booking us again and again in a number of super cool shows, including all three Cabaret performances. I was not pleasant. She did not deserve it either.
Another band would step up and play a 40-minute set. Magic acts came up and played a 40-minute set. Improv comics, a ventriloquist, Burlesque girls all came up for their 40 minutes while I turned red in my seat. Carmen and I were shooting looks at each other like a murder was a ‘coming.
What happened when we took the stage is one of my favorite Grimm Generation memories. We were very professional and if someone wanted a 20-minute set, that’s what they got. We were Teutonic in our timing.
We step to the stage, all rage and madness. Carmen grabbed the mike and said ‘THIS is what a 20-minute set sounds like….’ And BOOM! We played with all of the rage, all of the disappointment, years of regrets, a questionable future could summon. We were tight and hot and incredible.
I was never prouder. It was the most punk thing I had ever seen, ever been a part of. We roared and it was not posing. For all the artifice that GG played with, all of the humor, all of the pulp, we meant what we did, what we played, what we sang. These songs were pulled from us and we refracted them into Pop music so a deeper amount of people would hear what we feel.
This was the goal, always. It was not to ‘get chicks.’ It was not for the miniature amounts of cash. We had something to say and we would sing it if you will take it better.
That Monday we got the note from Lys. Thank you for the experiences but I’m going to have to leave GG and dedicate more time to my own bad. This quickly followed with Eric saying he needs to quit GG so he can start a band with Lys.
I think the last Cabaret showed them sides of us they did not want to see again. I could not and did not blame them. They stuck with us for a few years and my gratitude at that, despite no real money, despite consistent long car rides for practice, they kept coming.
I had the conversation again with CC: These are not friends. These are musicians. They will come around right up until they have a better offer.
Soon afterward we received an offer that I had wanted since we wrote the Radio Show. A full hour performance on WPKN which was the Bridgeport college station that I, we, listened to for years. It was finally the opportunity to put the Radio show on the radio. And everyone, Lys and Eric specifically, came back for one more performance.
We gathered at WPKN on a sunny Sunday morning, not dressed for a crowd. Performing in regular clothes felt strange. We all took our seats and Dave the DJ introduced us and the piece. I remember the sun shining through the high windows looking at everyone surrounding me focused on the work. I felt bliss. Grateful. Proud.
We played beautifully. And of course, the recording never came. Technical difficulties. The Gods who held us in favor clearly turned away.
The House of Grimm was in turmoil completely aside from the music. The girl who never left my room eventually moved and invited me along. Since I was barely paying rent and relations between CC and me were getting icy, I went. Three months later that relationship went to Hell and having nowhere to go, I asked CC if I could have my space back.
And she rescued me. She let me talk for hours as the breakup did finally fuck me up. She was my rock, in addition to her mate and future husband Matt. They would come down every night and we established a type of club, smoking friendly. We laughed for hours for a year or two. I was home again.
And things end as they began.
With all of our hard work over the year, we actually placed for the Best Indie Band in Hartford and were invited to the red-carpet ceremony. It was unexpected as we did not even submit ourselves for review. Everybody dressed Oscars appropriate and we gathered at the Bushnell in Hartford with the rest of the CT Arts and Music scene. We saw some old friends and saw some old bands we played with. Everybody dressed to accept rewards. It was surreal and pretty sweet.
Due to the being nominated (we did not win as a band of teens had all of their friends stuff the Ballot boxes. I was OK with that because if I had friends, I would have done the same exact thing) we received a gig, which would be the Last performance of The Grimm Generation and our Radio Show. We had the full show band back with one exception: Eric on bass had moved on to other pastures so we brought in a ringer for the bass, a real cool and skilled gentleman named Dave.
The gig was at Arch Street which was one of the livelier venues in Hartford that still featured original music. On this night, it was a morgue. This all brought back clearly what started this: me pacing wildly outside a gig on New Year’s Day when I won the Harford Folk Artist. Sadness and disappointment.
It had to end that way. It was too good of an ending not to.
I had always said, to anyone who would listen, that the best conceived story ever written would be about a band that tried to make it and failed. These stories have everything: love, drama, craft, disappointment, moments of triumph, concepts of belief, betrayals, heroes and villains, addictions, usually a touch of true crime, death and life. There is something about viewing the world as a member of a band that makes you feel you have soldiers standing beside you, angels looking over you and a steep decline ahead. Which is true in any team activity.
Carmen and I remain close but we do not communicate that often now. During the course of about 4 years we talked enough for a dozen years. Now that we had no child to shepherd (GG was the errant troubled child), life started away from each other.
CC and Matt married and I sang GG at their wedding. She no longer sings but has started writing again in earnest.
After GG I decided to do a solo album ‘The Zen Of Losing’ based on that leveling break up I experienced and asked Julie to help me out with her Cello. We produced a record together with assist by old friends Adam (who recorded and played just about everything) and of course, Dave Hogan.
Working so close with Julie we became very close and then fell in love hard. We started a band with Jack and played that record. Coming to know Julie, as she truly was, it made me wonder how many other things I missed during that period. I was obsessed with GG thinking that was the only way to get it done.
Lys put out her solo record (with Dave Hogan contributing) and started the Lys Guillorn Band with Eric.
We came together one last time without instruments at Dave Hogan’s Funeral. Everyone was very sweet to me during that period as she knew what Dave meant to me.
Now any right-thinking band would put out their first official record (we had 3 EP’s under our belt at that point, all home recorded). It generally works well if you go with the songs that you know best, that have received the biggest applause. GG was never right thinking so consequently we wrote a whole new set of songs. Then started sending them to musicians who came into our orbit.
And when it came to where we would record, I had only one thought: The Scamp.
Chris was a drummer, but seemed to be able to play any instrument he laid his hands on. He kept time with the art rock extravaganza that was The Bud Collins Trio (at last count, 6 or 7 members). I had read their name when I lived down in Fairfield constantly in the New Haven Advocate, so they were sort of Stars to me.
Flash forward 10 years or so and there is me, freshly laid off by the Insurance company du jour and had 401 K money burning a hole in my pocket. I had a retirement plan already: Be a rock star and die young. So that money was slated to record my first solo album, The Jason Drug Reaction ‘Down On The Pharmacy.’
Yes, I was Jason Drug for some years. Yes, my Mom HATED it.
After playing with bands I decided to follow my muse and see where it would lead. I was effectively playing with the Houses’ money. I went studio shopping.
I came across a spot not that far from my near Hartford address and took a ride out to see what it was about. I met Chris and his engineer Finch and liked them immediately.
I booked a week to do the tracks, practiced up with the recently pilfered band mates, brought along some friends to add flair. We had a good time. It was excessive and exactly as I dreamed it would be, cocaine and late Sunday night strip club included (note: if you go to a strip club late on a Sunday, no one will be happy to see you).
It was a good record. I had a pretty hard Ziggy Stardust era obsession at that time (which still stays with me) and it was pretty obvious. My partner at the time was the irrepressible and mysterious ‘Fetcho’ who played guitar, was brilliant at creating melody and was cooler than everyone you know piled up on top of each other.
With my solo record out, I marketed myself. Pre Internet. So, this was a hard copy promotion (printed on paper! For real!), stickers, a Bio and the printed CD. I sent them everywhere I could for reviews, for press, for acknowledgement.
When that did not work, I created a fake charity tour named CARMA with myself and friends from Gigglejuice. The idea behind the tour was to ‘raise awareness about homelessness’ which was as empty of a sentiment that I could come up with. I did not want something trackable…because it was a scam.
It was not a good scam because it was not very successful. I don’t believe we made a dime and likely lost a bit of money. But we did receive a ship load of press.
Recording ‘Down on The Pharmacy’ was fun and I always appreciated The Scamp. We kept in touch, even did some sessions afterwards, on the house. By now, social media was starting to grip the World so we fell back in touch. So, when CC and I were looking for a studio, he was my first and last call.
He was available, built a new studio at his house in the woods of Storrs and was less expensive as we were friends.
The recording of the first GG record ‘The Last Record Party’ was madcap. Because The Scamp got weird in delightful ways, he also knew how to record interesting off the cuff stuff that made the record fall into place, which was convenient as we came loaded for bear.
We brought Dave Hogan on guitar, 2 drummers, 2 bass players, 1 trumpet player and courtesy of some Bud Collins Trio members hanging around, keyboards and guitar. The Bud Collins keyboardist played on just about every track and I believe I was in the same room with him absolutely. We asked him to add color and he was cool and said ‘Sure.’
Each session ended with Chris The Scamp saying ‘OK, that was good. Let’s hope my computer doesn’t crash and everything disappears…’. Every. Single. Session.
It was a beautiful out in the woods spot to make a record. Meanwhile The Grimm Generation brought about 18 songs, but were switching them up constantly as a new 7 songs had been written since we started.
The record we made was The Grimm Generation’s ‘The Last Record Party’ which came with one of my favorite record jackets of all time: Black white and red photo realism image of a plane about to crash right on top of the House Of Grimm. Pop did not fuck around and took this vague idea of mine and created something lasting.
The record kicked off with electric guitar and trumpets in ‘Sometimes I’m Subtle (Sometimes I’m Drunk)’ which was Carmen’s creation. I still remember when she presented the words to me and I saw it almost all at once. The crashing bits and fanfare and a killer hook that stuck in your brain. Mike was the trumpet player who we hooked up with from Craigslist. He was an ebullient guy, a lot of fun and was the singer and trumpet in his own cover band that did really well around here. Sitting to play with him that first session, just CC me and Mike at the Table was surreal. I had never played with a trumpet player before and he was excellent. Not simply skill, but trying things to fit around and into the sound which he did brilliantly.
Next up was more muted trumpet magic on CC’s ‘The Definition Of Love.’ These were the songs we had been playing with The GG3 so Dave Hogan had time to build the perfect guitar parts for these songs. This was a lovely sort of noir take on our favorite subject. This was a popular song for us. People dug it pretty hard.
My first pass at the big singers’ microphone was ‘Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick’ and it was a beast. Lyrically, one of my personal favorites but I do wish it had more distortion on the record. This was a quick study of a relationship approaching the precipice of a high cliff. I wrote a lot of songs on this subject at the time (versus the sad boy breakup songs) because this was the life I was living at the time.
A beautiful GG3 version of ‘Hovering’ and ‘Keep It’ were next. What The GG3 lacked in membership was made up with ingenuity. Since we started as a stompy 2-piece, melody was not something we were paying much service to. It was the song. The song shared a particular point of view that we hoped would crawl through primal arrangements. Once Dave was in the fold, he laid beautifully poignant lines on top of that made it feel closer to conversation between lovers than crying in your beer. ‘Keep It’ was a song that came to me whole in another romantic misadventure and I remember those words just whole. I recorded the very first demo on a pre smartphone voicemail and think that version captured it better than any of the other 4 or so times I recorded.
‘I Fall For Everyone’ was next and we already thought this would be the first GG video so we were focused on getting this one just right. A killer lyric by CC that was funny and terrifying and just plain honest.
Followed by ‘The End of The World’ from the first EP, this time given a more royal treatment and baritone guitar. One of the things I loved most about GG was our harmonies that came from raw experimentation. My natural singing voice was a bit higher than Carmen’s so I would often swoop between the low and high harmony in a single song. Our harmonies on the chorus of this gave me goosebumps. I had worked vocal harmonies with bands before. I would not say I was particularly good at it, but faced with this arrangement, I had to be. We were two people and a guitar, so any flourish would need to come out via vocal work.
Next up was one of my best performances and maybe best songs, ‘Slow Language.’ And it hurt me. Because I meant it. This was one of Dave’s favorite songs of ours and when we played this as a trio, his guitar soared and spouted actual tears.
For a bit there I was writing songs that made hay with Biblical imagery and from that came ‘The Book Of Day Job.’ It was one of the funnest live songs we ever played because it was speed metal fast with Carmen and I croaking out a note for note harmony throughout the whole song. On top of that Dave Hogan used one of his sharpest tools: the slide guitar. He whooped and wheeled all over this and the result is just pure mania.
Followed by Carmen’s most direct song about sex ‘Pull The Trigger.’ Men in particular went crazy for this song and it was not difficult to see why. Raw, bordering on dirty but always on the angels’ side.
And then came ‘Forward Ho.’ Lyrically the song meant quite a bit to me as I wrote it after a grand disappointment in the Grimm camp. The point was ‘Fuck it…. let’s move on.’ I should have recorded that and saved the record from including this song. The best memory I have if this song is recording this session with Kerry and trying to keep up with him. He could play fast. And we wanted fast. But Christ. I remember feeling like that classic Maxell Tape ad where the guy was sitting in his chair and everything was blown away behind him. It was a personal victory that my guitar track was spot on, but this was not a great song.
As opposed to this one, which was a great song. CC’s ‘Toy Girl.’ Always a lyrical favorite of mine and just too fun to sing the chorus in that weird harmony. I always remember this track because we had a lot of hand percussion on it and I clearly remember The Scamp, Dennis the drummer, Dave and myself playing all kinds of weird hand instruments and just laughing like loonies. It’s likely the best and has the most trumpet than any other song on the record.
An early version of this was our first video. In the burgeoning Facebook Universe, there were a lot of people shopping their creative wares. We found one such cat named Dan who showed up and drove around Windsor with us, filming us posing around Windsor. The video came out quite good but it was before we had this version of ‘Toy Girl.’
One more thing about ‘Toy Girl.’ This style of writing that Carmen was pulling off was genuinely impressive because she had attitudes I never could. She discussed being a woman in ways I never heard anyone else address. She was all bluster but a real sense of naïveté in her style. She had a way of saying things that opened me up to what it was being a woman in this modern world. She was cool and distant. But she was real and talked about that distance. Songs like ‘The Definition Of Love,’ ‘The End Of The World,’ and ‘Hovering’ were stark and scene setting. She wrote in cinema.
Next up was my creation ‘Blue Eyed and Black Hearted’ which became our theme song. We also filmed a video for this which was strange. An older gentleman from the region reached out to us when we were looking for anyone with a pulse and a camera. We showed up at his place which had a garage. It was an August afternoon in Connecticut so the average temperature was about 1200 degrees. We performed in front of a green screen with CC wearing her usual array of fashion flair, me wearing a smart vintage (but thread worn) suit. It was diabolical. The video came out alright.
My song ‘Nothing Astral’ was next, which was previously featured on our ‘The Book Of Love’ EP. Simple arrangement of The GG3 with Dave bringing some sweet melody and Carmen really owning the song vocally. This was my paean to Tunxis Hill Park, a place where we used to congregate as teens. I imagined it as a dirty bit of suburban sex that I am not convinced I ever had in that Park. Followed by CC’s ‘Why Wouldn’t You?’ We loved this song when we wrote it with its vaguely psychedelic lyric and a reggaeish groove. It was really groundbreaking in our songwriting. Unfortunately, by the time we recorded this, we did not love it so much. We were already writing better songs at this point.
Next up was ‘Hipster + 10’ and we utilized members of the Scamps’ musical combo The Bud Collins Trio. We used their keyboard player Ziggy all over this record and you can hear how it helps. A thing I learned about from Grimm was to ask people if they want to participate and make something amazing. Of course, ‘amazing’ is in the eye of the beholder, but it was a type of marketing.
CC and Me were musing on how cool a keyboard would sound on ‘The Book of Day Job’ and Chris said he would call Ziggy and see if he is game. We met absolutely once and he played on near every song. We gave him practically no directions. Just play something cool. And he did. About 18 times.
We also had BC3 guitar maven Chris play on this as well as Les Scamps on the drums. This was rife with irony, by the way. The song itself was written after playing a gig with The Bud Collins Trio and was a song about themselves. I never told them that part.
‘Fire and Gasoline’ was written about 6 days before we recorded it. Lyrically, I love it. The final version was not great though Kerry’s crazy beat almost makes up for the overall lack of flourish on it. This song was best served as an acoustic duo oddly. CC and I did a show on WPKN and played this fast pile up as a ballad. It was one of the best recordings we ever did, the one time acoustic vocal version. Lyrically, the thing I like about it is it said exactly what I wanted it to say: Fuccccck You.
And finished up that record with the title track ‘The Last Record Party.’ Here is what I remember. I was pissed at Carmen. Why? No idea. Nevertheless, pissed. This is about Us. And she knew it. She knew I was pissed and knew it was about her. And she sang it with me which had 2 effects:
1) Impressed the Hell out of me.
2) Made me not pissed anymore.
This was the simple cause and effect of my song writing. If something gets me good and riled, a song generally comes from that. Not happy. Not go lucky. Just raging pissed. I spit out the words on a pad, less than interested about what type of tune would go to it. As I said before, this was therapy. Once I finished the song and calmed down a bit, I would look at what I wrote and think ‘Man. Thank God I’m not that guy.’
We had ourselves a real live Rock and Roll Grimm Record which was our plan from the start. And as social media grew more substantial, we needed a video.
GG was always lucky in meeting the right people at the right time. Enter The Director, Zach.
CC and I came up with the concept, which was a send up about looking for musicians for a new band and how similar it was to dating sites. This video, like all of the Grimm videos was filmed at the House of Grimm. When we met Zach, it felt strange…he was very young, or seemed so to us, who were no longer very young. He had good ideas and a steady cam. Notes flew back and forth between us.
When we finally came together some Saturday with camera in place, we had a ball. You did not have to convince Carmen or me to pose. It was really all we did. We did as the director wanted, helped him follow his vision as he was helping us achieve ours. It was a good partnership and we ended up working with him again a few times.
The video turned out excellent. It looked amazing based on Zack’s skill, and it was just plain funny. It did exactly what we wanted it to do, ending with a knock at the front door and when we opened it, a real live bass player awaiting us (Brian who also played on the record).
Another video we made with Zack was a full production for the song ‘Nothing Astral.’ This involved actors which was of course new to us.
We reached out to Killer Kerry to play the creepy guy peeping through a telescope at a young couple making out. Zack had some friends with an acting background to play the previously mentioned horny teens. It was genuinely surreal watching the kids making out in the car while Zack craned his camera around. It seemed dirty and it genuinely was. When I saw the footage from the car scene…it was pretty hot and maybe would not be allowed on network television. We also asked a friend Ginger to play a psychotic angry woman placing signs on street signs.
The central spot of the video was Dave and us playing in the Grimm garage while these stories wound all around us. Carmen and Pop did up the garage into something absolutely dreamy with a lot of sparkling tinges. The way Zack caught that garage footage, based on his taste, spun it into pure Garage Rock fantasy.
It was the three of us playing with a lot of close ups and beauty shots. Dave impressed me. He was not the poser that CC and I were. He brought out a genuine world weariness just in the way he looked, something with true gravity. CC looked killer in her Elvis Costello shirt and I did what I always did: wore blue, because of my eyes.
The value of this video has grown within me. In a Dave Hogan less Universe, it is a fitting tribute.
We were proud and excited of what we did and started sharing it everywhere in the cyber verse. And we did make some mistakes.
We stuck with Facebook, mainly because the site was so friendly. And at the time we were there anyway. The benefit of Facebook at the time was it was a free market. You can post gigs and videos of gigs, start conversations and network through Messenger. We did not at that point know the narrow reach we were really dealing with. We started a Twitter account, but we could not be limited in terms of how many characters we could post. Aside from YouTube there were not many other options at the time. Instagram would not come out for a few years yet.
We had a record, something we were proud of so we did follow up with the accepted logic of the time: get on tour and sell some records. We enlisted Dave Hogan and the GG3 hit the road.
Now…when I say on tour, we were not traveling the country. We all had jobs we had to get to the next morning. Despite our ego, we were not so confident that we could succeed, cash wise.
So, we set out for any venue that would have us, regionally. That was bars, clubs, coffee houses, multiband bills, yards and festivals. At one particularly prestigious Film Fest in Mystic we met Bill Clinton. OK a professional Bill Clinton imitator.
We hawked CD’s from every stage trying to recoup some of the money spent in making ‘The Last Record Party.’ We played some super fun gigs but mostly to empty rooms. It did not even matter at the time. We were having a ball. Every gig ended with a long ride home and a too late night up with CC and me listening to the recording of the gig. These were the Grimm Parties. This tradition continued till the end and brings me great joy to reflect on how hard we were laughing at our poor audience attendance but excellent performance.
We played a club in Belchertown, MA that was straight from a horror movie except usually in horror movies there is some kind of cast. This gig contained one elderly couple who danced to every song we played.
We played a Coffee House in New London to an absolutely empty room. A Saturday night too. And they charged me for the coffee.
We played a female centric arts festival that hated us but kept booking.
Despite our best efforts or directly because of those efforts, GG carried drama around like a PA.
I think that both CC and I forged into one massive ego who we took slights pretty easily. A band that we promoted but did not promote us. A venue that was not promoting and unprepared to hold a gig.
This particular brand of band drama was flourishing in the Social Media world where you could never lose the thread of what some like minded band was doing, with better or worse than us. It was immature of us but we convinced each other it was not.
We wanted a certain antagonism to be present in what we did. We never intended to be everyone’s cup of tea. We were definitely the black coffee with 2 espresso route, and usually that was my beverage of choice. Which may explain a lot. We did not want to upset people but were certainly not going to bore them.
Love and Hate are similar emotions. We were OK with a little of both. As long as you were paying attention. This did keep us out of some rooms, off of some collaborations. We resented that as well and the circle wound around.
This factored into our personal lives as well, though mainly mine. Understand that I had never had a real single life. I was married to my high school girlfriend at 22. Then married again at 27. At 40, I was single for the first time, which brought me to Match.Com, which brought me to The Grimm Generation.
There were a lot of gigs where I was watching the door with a real trepidation for fear that someone might walk through it at an inopportune time. Like when I had someone there. This happened a lot. There were many tears shed in the passenger seats of cars right outside the Grimm gigs.
I had ascended to be something that I could never be before: the mythical JpK. This was a name given to me by CC and when that name was used, I was more than human but less than pleasant. I was irresponsible and rationalized any number of questionable acts as ‘doing it for a song.’ I played fast and loose with hearts. As ‘JpK’ I was in complete control of all things, confident in every action.
It felt good to be a god. I was a false idol at best but it felt pretty fine.
Another more significant gig we did was during the great Snowmageddon storm here in CT where we had about 4 feet of snow on the ground and most of the state was completely out of power. On Halloween.
Someone who played that night would become a big player in The Grimm Generation. The Lil Cowgirl Lys Guillorn. She wrote lovely dark folk songs, played guitar and a plethora of other stringed things and was an accomplished visual artist as well.
I am not sure if Lys remembered when she and I first met. I came across her in one of the alternative weeklies and heard her songs and really liked what she was doing. I read that she was going to show up at a Rock and Roll Flea Market and decided to drop by. When I saw her and asked if she was Lys, she looked at me like I was going to lay a summons on her. I think I scared her. I was acting my least monster-y. Which is still a little monster-y.
I think both CC and Me had a sort of crush on Lys. She was so cool, so talented, so much the artist we were aping to be. We wanted her in Grimm. Though doing what we never even considered.
So, picture this: we are driving to this gig Halloween night, not a single electric light the entire trip. Gas lines fed back on the highway exits as only 6 approximate gas stations in the whole of Connecticut were operating. CC and me and her SUV tagged The Slounge after one particular misadventure. It was spooky, truly.
Nobody in the World would have blinked an eye if we cancelled considering the circumstances. We had a record to push and this was an avenue, so we found our way to Waterbury, CT. Of course, no one came out to see it considering the healthy dose of apocalypse all around but the bands came and we supported each other quite vigorously.
And we met Lys in person who was part of this multi band bill with her mate Ken. She was shy and smart and just plain ole’ cool. We all got on quite well. After we played, we suggested that maybe she should come up to Windsor some time and jam. She was game.
We did not have a clear role for her yet, but we also did not know how many instruments she played.
After sending her a few tracks …. Nothing off of the record just released, we were already writing a new set based on the sound CC and I were mining. She came with a mandola and a lap steel. We dug the lap steel big. It had an almost timeless howl to it and that appealed to us. She was also a hotshit guitar player but we would not discover that for a little while longer.
Hooking up with Lys came at a perfect creative time for GG songwriting. Carmen was coming in to her own lyrically and was really nailing the mood, the tone of our songs, which was slowly changing from the basic foot stomp raw Rawk sound into something that was a bit more open, more honest. I was using the basic chords I knew and throwing on a capo for these I did not know, and our sound expanded.
With Lys engaged with GG and playing a couple of different instruments, we decided to invite Dave over to play with the three of us. Both Dave and Lys were noted songwriters and performers in Connecticut so we were just pinching ourselves that they would travel to play with us. We called these the LAND Sessions, for Lys and Dave. We were always attempting flagrant wittiness.
It was a Sunday I would remember. Both Lys and Dave, who lived in the same are but had not met each other. And they watched each other with a wary eye. The thing was both Lys and Dave had personalities that would not be called ‘effervescent.’ They were both a bit shy, a bit quiet and we thought they would get on like a house on fire … and in time they did, forming a true and real friendship aided by a deep personal admiration of Gram Parsons.
That Sunday, though, they were not there yet. Being seasoned performers and genuine folk, no one was nasty, no one spoke out of line…but a general vibe around the room was sullen.
Despite that, the practice tapes were strong. There was something here with Dave playing with his warm Les Paul and Lys with her lap steel. Both Dave and Lys sang, and there was something about the vocals going between CC and Lys that was engaging. Carmen still had that lower sultry register and Lys knew exactly where to place her voice in that mix. Dave and I had practiced our harmony singing from the bands we played in together, dating back to our teens.
After they both left, Carmen and I just looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders.
The LAND GG set up played a couple of gigs with the 4 of us including a beautiful day at the Meriden Daffodil Fest. This was a big local festival and THE place to be seen. Plus, they paid well. The Grimm Generation was not used to being paid at all, so paying well was a step up.
This was the place to meet all of the CT musicians you ever wanted too. The whole event was organized by Robbie (who also hosted our first gig and ran the Homegrown Radio show for CT Music) and we took the stage on a glorious Saturday afternoon and tore it up.
Another gig the LAND set up made was one of the stranger ones (though paid even better…. we were socking away money for the next record) was at a Science Museum in Hartford. We were everywhere online at the time. New record, new video and we updated information every day or just made something up. Gigs were coming to us too quickly to count.
A Science Museum downtown during a Thursday Cocktail Party for the donors and we came dressed to the nines. Carmen in particular was done up as a version of the killer robot chick from Mars Attacks. Her hair was higher than the stars and she looked amazing. To counter, I painted myself green and wore attached antenna.
The room was a sonic nightmare. High ceilings, a lot of chatter (to be expected) and despite the costuming, not many people came near. Or maybe because of the costuming. This was the first time I heard Lys and Dave do their Gram Parsons set. It was beautiful, if not inaudible.
The alien gear and high hair had the intended effect and The Grimm Generation received press, which was the point.
Not long after that, Dave sent me a private note and said that due to his obligations with his own popular band, he would have to step back from GG. I understood. And suspected we would meet again.
With Lys in place and our writing expanding to include more stringy, less stompy sounds we kept gigging just the three of us. The hot rock sound of the GG3 started to take a back step into something more open, and we barely played any of the songs off the records we made. We were writing a new record and one we expected would be Our Statement record. I believed in all of that stuff, like CC did as well.
And it began. Carmen and I were close and she had to put up with my frustration of my lot of life: believing I am talented and having to prove this to the World. She was in attendance of that ill-fated New Year’s Gig. She took up two seats with her beau du jour. She had already listened to me whine and wail about the great unfairness of it all where I had to work a job like a chimp while being a legitimate delicate genius.
I was not sure if she could ever take this seriously. I certainly poisoned the waters effectively.
I was already a living example of how being the grandiose starving artists can wind you up in a basement. She already knew this dream was near impossible because I would mention it again and again. To her.
We met at the Table. I capitalize this as it was not just any table. This became the HQ for every folly that GG would follow. A kitchen, cabinets, stove, a sliding door onto the porch. Clocks on the stove and the microwave. One door that opened into a dining room, another door that led to the living room, one door that led down to my room. The home of many videos, many recordings, many brilliant ideas. Some meals.
For the book marketing, this is the way this would generally go: coffee gets made, we each have a pad, and we talk about big ideas. This was a bit different. Still coffee (as I was most entertaining when buzzed out of my brain), still the two pads. This time I brought some songs and asked her to sing them. It was songs that I had either been working on or songs from previous projects.
My songs generally had a theme which was relationships gone bad. I always found interpersonal relationships more interesting than cars or fast woman or doing something All Night Long. These played perfectly into the Grimm sound where so many of our stories written and put in the book were on similar subjects.
I used my personal failings as my Muse. And she was good to me.
That first session, acoustic and pad and my words printed out on the equipment from whatever Insurance job I had at the time. For it was Connecticut so that’s what people did. They still do.
Carmen was nervous but she was brave. Bold. She sang the songs as I asked her to sing them and in time, stronger. And stranger. Her low rumble brought out highlights in the lyrics that I missed while writing them. She was bringing something unknown, unexpected and simply glorious. We both felt it.
The following day, Carmen at her incredibly intense job of being one of Windsor’s 911 operator, Me at my stint at CignaTravelrersAetnaEtc., we started talking about the session. We were both excited. These notes worked to expand our World, to make the Grimm Brand go Worldwide.
This was how we operated, always. We were never into this to have fun.
This was our super-secret device used to take over the World, like any common mad doctor. This was not casual music to us. We were trying to teach philosophy.
The session happened again and again. What would become the Grimm Twins was forged at that Table.
Carmen started writing songs. And they were good. Really good. I knew she could write, but this was a revelation.
Here is how this would usually go: Carmen would kick up a sheet of words. A poem initially before she eventually started working into the verse chorus style. I would slip down to my room with words and put a couple of chords together. I would decide ‘this is the Chorus’ and ‘this is the Verse’. And then hook up with Carmen again and try an arrangement. And it worked.
The more we did it, the better it got. The more we did it, the more we believed in it. The book was put on the shelf while we worked on our new tactic to steal the hearts of the public while making bank.
And we had a tool: Social Media. This was still generally new. This was when Facebook was fun and not an undiagnosed sickness the country shared.
We knew we had marks against us. People generally do not start bands beyond an age of 40. In previous years it would be impossible to get signed with an older band as the market was always, in style and audience, youth.
We bragged about it utilizing Facebook as our weapon of choice. At that time, Facebook was still a reasonable place to market music. It was a dream platform where you can add a picture to a song and have text space to convince people to listen to it. We were all in. We were both charming and quick, but did not like to show this off in public as much so it gave us the perfect disguise to draw people in and start a conversation. And it worked quite efficiently for a few years. And those years were what we needed.
Despite being a musician in this geography, I had very few music contacts.
This is before I understood the raw power of the Red Head Chick Singer.
Carmen was hot. Red hair, a good sneer…. She was what a Female Singer in a rock and roll band should look like. And we used this to our advantage. She and I, the Grimm Twins took a lot of photos of ourselves in appropriately Rock and Roll ways. It started with us taking pictures of each other, but then we fell in with quality photographers who were looking to do something new. And we were new.
A selection of leading photos, a concept of a primal Rock and Roll sound based on a bashed up acoustic and a sneering Chick Singer, interesting song titles and a touch of salacious humor. With Facebook offering us up as a menu item. We cleaned up.
By cleaned up, I mean we were taken seriously. Despite the cracks in the logic of starting a new band at 40, despite the lack of gigs and poorly recorded shared demos, people were curious.
It was a moment in time. We used our lack of status and plain spoke mission as a distraction. We took ourselves seriously despite the low-level sex jokes and high-level self-involvement. And Facebook was where it played out and Facebook was good to us.
We started attracting visitors, views. We started getting noticed by musicians, local and National. We celebrated every small victory and defeat at that Table that started it all.
We started small but thought big. Since people were looking at us as a band now, we needed some kind of product to let them hear. I had a small 4 track recording rig that was already past its time but we did not need grandiose equipment I could not operate. We kept it simple: brown paper cover, simple woodblock style image art, 6 songs. This was our first release ‘The End of The World.’
We recorded this as a couple of acoustic guitars and a couple of voices. No rhythm section, no leads.
Though it had a piano on it. This happened when we met a piano player and invited him in. He was a nice guy soon to disappear into oblivion but did play with us a couple of times. We took a track from one of these sessions and put it right on the record, uncredited on ‘Hovering.’
It was our first blush, it was an EP and sounded decidedly folky, but the songs were there. The title came from something Carmen wrote which was a brilliant bit of stoned 70s memories from when she was a kid. Once I started working on it, the hook, the tune for Skeeter Davis’s ‘The End of The World’ kept buzzing in my brain. And we married CC’s song with that hooky chorus ‘Don’t they knowwwww it’s the end of the World….’
The aforementioned ‘Hovering’ was on it as well which was another CC song that was heartbreakingly beautiful, lyrically. I came up with a pretty simple structure that carried the tone of the vocal. We also included an earlier song of mine ‘Keep It’ and a song that would become our first video ‘I Fall For Everyone’.
CC was the same way as I was about Press; we wanted it. So as soon as the EP was finished, we started sending it out for reviews. And amazingly, we were covered in the Hartford Courant which was akin to slipping onto the stage of Madison Square Garden. The review was sweet; it was not overwhelming with praise, but it could have been far worse. That first taste, our names in the paper, made the stakes higher.
With the press came musicians. We were making a big noise online and at this point, and everyone was on Social Media. When someone in your field seems to be doing something different, you start to pay attention. We were getting our names in the papers, we were over posting our outrageous amazingness, so when we hit Craigslist this time looking for players, a few of them were already aware of us.
One who intrigued us made their way to the House of Grimm. That would be Bass Mike.
This would be the spot where I describe Bass Mike but this is an impossibility. He was the definition of inscrutable. I believe he was married. Or divorcing. He had children…or did not. He was a good dude, fun to play with, a great conversationalist, but I cannot recall a single personal thing about him.
Except he was the perfect Grimm bass player. He instinctively understood what we were doing and was all in.
He also likely had a slight crush on Carmen, which was expected and kind of her job.
Let me not be misunderstood: Carmen was never someone I would describe as salacious. She knew how to flirt and when flirting was the best advantage to take. I always considered CC as a canvas that other people painted their desires upon.
Though the only one who would paint on that canvas was Carmen herself.
At each turn as we were creating narratives and generally just shucking records, we would create campaigns. For example, our Lucky Panty New Year’s Show (with live free panties!). Or the Grimm Ghost Halloween Show with a live presentation of ghost photography and the creepy GG sound.
CC always became inspired by these shows and changed her look based on what was happening…and she was amazing at this. Whether rocking a Ziggy Stardust look or dressed in a vintage 80s business suit for our Holiday themed ‘DieHard’ movie party or what she put together for the GG videos that were still upcoming, her look was integral to what we did. She was in complete control of her look.
It was an element I could not have imagined on my own not having a key eye for fashion. Carmen owned it. And started dressing me as well.
We also had some talented friends. Pop was an artist who we came to know quite well and truly designed the Grimm Generation visual style. She was shy, quiet and wildly creative. She helped us along from vaguely scribbled concept to real cool Pop art stylings.
She was the Original G, meaning we were working with her just as we started and she was invaluable. We had such a vision for what the GG Brand would encompass and she was the one who could get it onto paper and make it sign. Also, the Official Grimm Generation Photographer which was where all the acclaimed click bait came from. Carmen and Pop would go back and forth on aesthetics, the tiny little moving machines of image that made us seem larger than life.
We dangled pictures of CC as a way to trap people online. And it could be said that the same was done of me. And it was successful. We started getting heard and receiving messages. Many were sleazy, or were an introduction to upcoming sleazy behavior, cause…you know…Dudes.
And what came from these off line conversations were a lot of bands looking for interesting openers.
So then came the gigs.
Our first ever gig was the Coffee shop in Wesleyan, invited by Local Music Man and general bon vivant Robbie. He featured us quite a bit on Wesleyan’s WESU which was exciting. OK, so he got the name wrong a lot. And sometimes never played us at all after promoting it. We took it in stride.
The next gig weaved together a few people who would fill out the greater GG Universe as we were invited to warm up The Peacock Flounders at one of my favorite gig spots, The Never Ending Bookstore. In New Haven, CT. The drummer/singer for the PF was one Killer Kerry Miller who would eventually join up for a time.
In addition, the guys who ran the Bookstore, Rev Dave and Brad were true believers in the realm of local Rock. They created a space that was small, but mighty. They booked us quite a bit in time and we were always appreciative of their efforts on our behalf, as well as toward The Scene in general.
When we showed up, there was a movie camera there. We were shocked. Not a video, not a digital camera on a tripod, a real live movie camera. This was our first real gig and we were wondering if the press had caught up with us. Nope.
It just so happened that the lead singer of the Peacock Flounders, Ron, was getting a movie made about him based on some historical CT rock reference. The man with the cameraman was a former CT Newscaster, which was absolutely surreal. It was a good gig. The crowds at the teeny tiny Bookstore were always incredibly supportive. It was a small room and that added to the energy. It was a fine place.
And from that gig, another band asked us to play with them. But we were facing a problem. For all our bluster, we were a guy with an acoustic and a girl singing. There are many brilliant bands based on this sound but it is hard in the clubs, bars, venues we were getting offered. We were popular with Rock bands, not folk bands, so our sound was thin for the rooms.
We had fascinating and fun ways to vent this irritation. When we would play and if the people kept talking, we would whip out a song that CC wrote called ‘I Like To Watch.’ We built into this song a long duo harmony that, when provoked by a crowd not paying enough attention, would ramp up between the two of us until the effect was something like a smoky siren blaring through the room.
Gigs were coming, new songs were being written at a rapid clip. This was when CC and I really hit our stride in producing work.
Where previously the glue that bound us was The Book, this was changing to The Song.
We had a fairly simple formula based on the tools we were given: an OK acoustic guitar player, a first time band for the singer and pop length songs that were exclusively based on the lyric. We wanted to cut out the middleman of solos and musical bridges and get to what mattered to us: being heard and perhaps understood lyrically. We set up a Tuesday practice night which in time became every night.
We produced song titles that were noticeable. This was part of the marketing, being able to assign significance using the canon of pop culture references to hem the listener into a time and a place that was all Grimm. Song titles were marketing. Understand, we had no listener at this point, no crowd to play to, no radio to play upon. Keeping ourselves amused was important when you are playing for an audience of two.
One thing about the dynamic of those days was that even before the band, the book kept us intertwined with each other’s lives. I came to know or know of CC’s boyfriends who, to a person, I did not like. Reflecting on CC’s love life brought us songs like ‘Waterford Speedway,’ which was a true story based on a real boyfriend with a real affair going on across the country due to the Internet.
These types of interactions, our own and others, was becoming a real theme in what we did. Not simply because we were drama hounds, but it was all new and public. This was before people really got the scope of Facebook’s public interaction. People would share things they would never say out loud to 30 million of their best friends. ‘Waterford Speedway’ was an appropriately dirty story about a woman traveling from a great distance for an even greater disappointment.
On a similar subject, related to the same beau was my song ‘Twisting Our Lives Away,’ which was based on my hearing their interaction above my basement lair. It was strange because there was never any romantic desire from me toward CC. but when I reflected that in the song, I came off as jealous. I do not believe I was but man…these songs. They paint a picture about me that makes me uncomfortable.
It was never a question as to whether these songs would come out because embarrassing personal discoveries in songs was my bread and butter.
When Carmen started kicking in songs, that was when the balanced voice of GG came through. A song called ‘Murder Wins,’ which she wrote, caused me to write one of my prettier, less obtrusive arrangements for it. Lyrically, her song shined like the late autumn sun. It was subtle, and meaningful.
‘Aloha Japan’ was another story song based on a different time. It always reminded me of a faded postcard featuring some sweetly smiling bikini girl from some gauzy 50’s timeline, with color faded to a sepia tone.
As we continued, she started bringing in songs like ‘Save The Girl,’ which was a more empathy driven version of ‘The Next Indie Boy.’ These were all true stories we were living in stereo.’Save the Girl’ was a plea to a woman we knew to not get caught up in the whims of a man to stop this madness and save herself. As opposed to ‘The Next Indie Boy’ which spoke to the same girl and said ‘Screw this guy. There is always another singer somewhere’.
‘Come to Me’ which would eventually be recorded on our EP ‘Coming Home’ was simply gorgeous. It was a torch song and very slow and sexy.
The song unveils itself, starting with snapshots of the very human feeling that accompanies missing someone and builds to a plaintive and deceptively simple “Come to me…..Be with me….Love me as I am….” which always took my breath away in its simplicity. With my habit of overwriting, trying to replace feeling for rhyme schemes, I could not have come up with something so simple and beautiful.
The recorded version lacks the initial passion of the duo version as I suggested Adam ‘do something like Radiohead.’ He did, I was wrong.
One of the songs I brought forth was during a period that I was working a lot of bible imagery into everything. That was ‘Pleasures of the Flesh’ which was another of my Dylan style ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ rips. It was fast and when properly played came off as high gospel based on the raw energy. Lyrically it bordered on blasphemy.
Something that CC brought forth, which I believe was one of my favorite never recorded GG song was ‘Proximity Bomb’. It was a too fun tune about how getting closer to the wrong person will bring harm upon you. In case the message was not received, the chorus is a countdown to ‘Boom’.
Now let us discuss the song ‘Alse Young’. For it bears discussion. When history books are written, any chance we have of showing up on them is based on this song.
Alse Young was a real person and is noted to be one of the few witches killed from Connecticut. She was from Windsor which was where the Alse Young lived before being taken in chains to the Hartford State House and hung for, and I quote the official records ‘keeping company with the dark’. We caught wind of this tale and I started the song. As traditional a folk song that we would ever write, it reflected the whole horrible story in 4 verses
This was our perennial Halloween release and we discussed the subject as much as possible. A few years later, we received a note from author Beth Caruso who was writing a book about Alse Young and actually came across our song in an Internet search. She was incredibly excited to find another reference to Alse and utilized the song in some marketing of her book ‘One of Windsor: The Untold Story of Americans First Witch Hanging’. I became incredibly excited when she guested on a paranormal podcast that I followed and they played the song on that podcast on Halloween. I actually spoke to a few of Alse Young’s relatives who were very appreciative of our work.
Based on Beth’s book and some dedicated friends, they actually started a movement to exonerate all of the Witches persecuted in that period. They were seeking the witches to be declared innocent. And they were successful. Alse Young was exonerated.
We did not create this, though helped where we could. This was all Beth and what it gave us is a unique entry into genuine American History.
After getting some notice with the ‘The End of The World’ EP we went back in the basement and started work on the next one. This only made sense as we were producing so many different songs in a wide variety of styles, it was difficult to keep track and to be sure we were working on a consistent sound. We were still a 2 piece (the mysterious Bass Mike split the scene) so that reads as folk. Despite some definitely folk songs, that was not what we were writing at large. We needed to get more product out to either confuse or attract the general public.
The next Grimm Generation EP that came out was the ‘I Like To Watch’ EP, this time only 4 songs.
All of the EPs (4 in total) cover art was all Pop’s creation, using a brown paper and a black and red theme matched with sort of wood cut images that spoke specific to the music. We were definitely upping our game with the sound despite the fact that we still did not use any other musicians. Playing together every night as we had been doing for months, maybe a year, had tightened up the control of what we wanted to sound like and what the songs presented.
‘I Like To Watch’ started off with ‘Hipster + 10’ which would be recorded for the ‘The Last Record Party’ full length. This was a song that took on a different vibe when we played it live. When it was just CC and Me, we roared out this song. I wrote it and liked the lyrics quite a bit. This was effectively a bitter song talking about bands whose name traveled farther than ours had. It made me angry and that is why I started writing songs, to assuage my worst impulses.
When Dave came on board for The GG3, he loved this song as it was decidedly darker. I remember a gig we played where we warmed up Scott from Neurosis so we had a pretty metal crowd in attendance. The three of us took the stage and killed this and I saw some heads banging in the back. It felt amazing because Dave and I came up through metal.
Next on the EP was one of my older songs ‘Sex Changes Everything’. It was a song that I had written several of the type which was a ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ type list lyric, always super-fast. I believe we went ahead with this one as it seemed to attract attention based specifically on the title. I had played this song with a few different bands in my years and it was a good song, though not terrifically Grimm.
Then the song that I said for a long time was the high-water mark for Grimm Generation songs, the high point of our collected career. At that point. That song was ‘I Like to Watch’. Carmen produced the lyrics for this one and it was an amazing slice of backwards voyeurism. This song had a real build to it from the start of the quiet vocal to the raw roaring we did in harmony to end it. This song was directional, showing where we were going.
The final song on ‘I Like To Watch’ was ‘A Year Of Living Dangerously. A Carmen Champagne penned lyric, a lovely quiet tone that spilled out desperation. It was another song that when CC presented it to me, I knew she was no joke.
The next EP was our Valentine Day release ‘The Book Of Love’. In my opinion, our best EP. We had started to really focus on the sound and these were songs that were played out by The GG3 quite a bit as the songs were written about that time. It was a small little Rock record still recorded on acoustics, but the sound quality was better as I was getting better at recording Grimm.
This started off with a GG favorite and a song that would eventually be re-recorded in a real studio for ‘The Big Fame’. The song was ‘Real Bad Voodoo’ and this was such a cool rock song that Carmen wrote and I came up with a slinky sounding arrangement. It had an infectious quality to it.
I should mention that all of this was new to me coming from a background of either writing my own songs or writing words for other people’s arrangements. I did not believe I could write music. My musicianship has always been unique but I would not say practiced. It was until this moment in time that I had a formless bunch of CC’s words that it just came to me. It wasn’t something I knew I could do. This started with her singing my songs, my simple arrangements. As she wrote more, I was put into the position to write good songs to go with her clearly good words. Since CC’s tone was lower than mine, I started using the capo in ways I have never done before, and started playing with the sound of the keyed chords. Some of these were perfect for Carmen’s vocal; some were perfect for my own.
Like so much about this period, there was something happening that seemed like magic. I cannot say that enough. I know how it sounds. I know. I’m a skeptic by nature and truly a pessimist. I also have no other explanation where I, we, acquired these skills that we did daily during the Grimm days.
Up next on ‘The Book Of Love’ was my ‘Pull Down The Covers … Slowly’ which was either very sexy or very scary. It was deep and slow; the quiet arrangement sounding plaintive in a way and near psychotic in another. This was a strange one and we did love it so.
Carmen and I often called the Grimm songs ‘our errant little children’ because even if one was ugly, or clunky, overly salacious or not, sometimes just dumb, they were ours and we birthed them. And honestly, I think we always liked our weird little songs a bit better. This song was another example of Grimm’s growing power with our two voices.
Song # 4 was another one I am proud of mainly because it was kind of funny and that was ‘Someday I’m Going To Leave You’. Carmen actually told me that when I brought this song around, she thought it was a veiled threat / message. Despite that not being true, it still felt good to hear. This song has an excellent stompy vibe and again features the patented GG harmony on that chorus line. This and ‘Real Bad Voodoo’ both came to life when Dave sat in with the electric guitar.
‘The Boy King’ was my song that I had previously played with The Citizen Spy. The song was based on one of CC’s beaus of the time that complicated their relationship in every conceivable way. This is a really good song, good words, good hook. This song was also a genuine fear that I had that this was autobiographical. Everything I accuse this character of could be reflected back on me and it made me uncomfortable. But it had a good hook so it survived my queasiness. I did re-record this for my ‘The Zen Of Losing’ solo record, which followed GG.
Finally, was our first pass at ‘Nothing Astral’ which was re-recorded for the debut ‘The Last Record Party’.
We were in a quandary. Though musicians were becoming available to us, we were attached to our style of communication and creation. Two people can operate far quicker than a band strictly based on scheduling. CC and I moved together and spent just about every night of this period either practicing or marketing. It was an addiction. ‘What can we do to advance our agenda? 3-2-1-Go!’ and we would be in constant communication, always World Building. This same mania could not work with a bigger group.
We knew we needed something else. Something to change our trajectory from Indie Folk to Rawk.
And I knew a guy. Enter The Man.
Dave Hogan (or Dave Hogan to his friends) was a hot shit guitar player who I happened to know from starting our first band together when we were about 15. Burning Ambition specialized in covering obscure metal and was completely out of step with everything happening at the time. We wanted to anoint the masses who had the poor fortune of not discovering bands like Raven, Loudness and of course, Iron Maiden. And they (We) were a bunch of classic Kerrang level loonies just like you read about in said magazine.
Except Dave, who had the same worship of these generally obscure bands but was much quieter about it. Mike, bass player, was a degenerate freak. The drummer was an immensely talented rhythm beast who drank to excess. I was near 250 pounds and wore a white karate Gi as front man gear.
Dave was quieter, though no less a drinker. There was something about him that you could tell, even from that age, he was studying his craft.
Burning Ambition became Wild East (cribbed from the Ian Hunter song, a massive influence on all of us) with just Dave and I remaining in the line up. We again were trying to convince people there was better music out there than they were listening too (there was no lack of snottiness in this) , this time creating a set that effectively replicated UFO’s ‘Strangers In The Night’ double live album. When people asked if they were our songs, we said ‘Yes, Sir’. Why not?
I was the singer and the only one producing lyrics. It was almost a parlor trick where I could hear a tune and create a narrative out of thin air (Note: the songs were not good). This amazed people…and honestly made me a bit difficult to deal with.
To point, I was always looking long at Dave. Thinking he just did not fit with where we were going or more so where my genius would lead us. I had my first conversation with Dave about why he should find another band. It was not the last time I had this exact conversation with him.
And, inevitably, all for naught. We did find a quite inventive guitar player but the trajectory of the band was heading to where the majority of teen dream bands went: playing shitty covers in shitty clubs for shitty people. And the same plan next weekend. I was singing covers (to this day, hearing Aerosmith ‘Dream On’ makes me queasy.).
Meanwhile …. Dave had a good band. A damned good band. I was jealous as fuck and Dave became my nemesis. I joined that band a few years later. They were good! And when I quit, I took most of the band with me to make my first solo record. And had that conversation again.
So, what did Dave do? He started ANOTHER band that was even better! Fucker.
He started The Rafter Bats which was playing a mix of rock and real bluegrass before anyone even considered such a thing (Flying Burrito Brothers aside). And getting very popular around these parts. Way too popular.
I was seething.
I still remember driving around on a Saturday and hearing that the Rafter Bats were sitting in playing a set on WPKN (The Best Radio Station. No qualifiers). I actually called them live on the air and the chilly silence at when my name was mentioned was a true and wonderful moment of my life. I did not want these dudes to hate me, many of them were good friends
But fuck …. It makes you feel like a supervillain to suck the joy out of a studio like that.
Dave was my nemesis but I am not sure I was ever his. Years after this, I believe with the invention of Facebook, he invited me down to sit in with him at Café Nine (New Haven) Cocktail Set, and I did. And we talked over old times and we became closer than maybe we ever were. Many of our mutual friends had already died via drugs, liquor, poor decision making. We were rounding out to be the last of our breed. I missed him. I hope I apologized but he knew me for what I am: a megalomaniac.
When Grimm started producing songs, I was keeping him in the loop by sending tracks for his review. It was not initially his bag but as we got more real Rock and Roll, he became more interested. We had him up to Windsor to add some guitar to what we were doing and it clicked. The GG3 was born.
It was me on Acoustic, CC singing, and Dave and his Mega Boogie and Les Paul. We still did not have a rhythm section but we were getting loud even without the extra members. The songs took the form of what would be our bread and butter: smart Rock and Roll songs with a dirty minded bend.
It was a unique arrangement but it had a sound that was full tilt. We were all assuming our roles within the GG Organization. Carmen was singing and dressing like a rock star already. I would thrash around with my acoustic, my steady stomp was the drum. Dave would sit opposite me and pull these lovely lines out of that fat Les Paul. It felt like we were a 70’s band.
Dave liked to play guitar. He always had some other projects going because he just wanted to play guitar and not worry about the bookings, the travel, the Plan. Despite his excellent voice which brought up a dusty church in some long-gone town, despite his ability to write his own Rock and Roll come Country songs, he always wanted to just be the music director for someone and just play guitar.
And in the GG3 that is exactly what he did. CC and I were the masterminds and he were happy as Hell not to care…just to show up when we need him, rock out and then catch a ride home.
We were gaining traction. Once Dave, a Dude who was already well respected in the area, started showing up at gigs, more musicians started paying attention.
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.
I held a job, married, had a child …. divorced…. married again, gained a step child…. divorced…
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.
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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
The greatest story ever told? I said it so I must mean it. Right?
This is something I have said before. Probably in this very space. It is something I believe. And something I have done.
And it goes a little something like this (hit it!):
The Greatest Story Ever Told is based on a band that did not make it. A Band you never heard of, playing songs you never knew.
But what about the coke fueled parties? The difficult second album? Who slept with whose wife / husband / daughter?
What about the grandiose celebrity failure checklist that passes as music journalism?
You see, bad behavior is not exclusively for the rich and famous. We have all done pretty fucked up things.
So for the Coke Fueled Parties, you get a junkie drummer. And that is no party.
Re: the difficult 2nd album, how about trying to get a gig during a pandemic where everyone who was afraid to go outside at all developed genius marketing? (More eloquently, if you cannot go up the Mountain, watch the weather because there may be a time that the Mountain will come down to you).
The assorted affairs? Yes, you need to be rich to do that. Right? (crickets…)
No…these are trappings of success. Right down to the fact that they are reported and cataloged and presented to a generally uninterested World.
No. What I am talking about is Death or Glory.
Or steady work or Glory.
Playing shows for the bartenders only or Glory.
Packing your shit back in the van during a blizzard where no sane soul would even leave their house … or Glory.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!’ he said: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred…’
These are matters of faith. You trust your Muse; you weigh your chances and you make your move. And you seek out folks with a similar vibe, a similar desire who can hopefully play an instrument you cannot. When you bring a group together with a single-minded idea of what they want, amazing things can happen. Usually in line with samples sized bites of true disaster. But that’s show biz.
Bands come from everywhere. They can be your long-time friends, or family. They can be friends of friends that you have hung out with some but don’t know them that well. They can be an anonymous donor of rock that you found on whatever acts as Craigs List this century.
And you get tested. And they get tested right along with you. And how you all deal with these tests…is a test.
I have played with people I have not cared for. I know that people who don’t care for me have lined up behind my songwriting. It’s a Devils Deal…. but that doesn’t mean it cannot be successful. Some bands sound is based on the raw anxiety that each individual member has by having having to spend time with the other members. Fact: these are usually my favorite bands.
‘Their’s not to make reply, Their’s not to reason why, Their’s but to do and die: Into the valley of Death…’
If you have the drive, you push through and a proper line up gets assembled. Though unless they are friends or family, don’t get used to them. You’re not the only one in town selling this dream.
And songs come together. (Note: this whole magilla is related original bands playing a roughly Westernized Pop style. If you play jazz, I have no idea why you are even reading this).
You write songs with a message, and that message does not need to be deep. It does need to have a hook. Something that resonates either melodically or lyrically.
You bring these songs to the collective and everyone adds to the brew. The song that you wrote alone in your bedroom half drunk becomes a clarion call informing the sound of what you do. It is one of the most pleasing parts of the process having a musician kick up an idea that you would never have even considered and its genius. Something subtle, something wholly revelatory. This errant child of your drunk sadness starts to walk upright. And maybe shimmy a bit.
This is Glory. This is why potential is an absolute addiction. You broke your own heart writing this song with real tears and after it goes through the process, you sing it without a care. Cause everyone has a job to do.
So you build songs together, work up the dynamics, the drama with continuous practice, continuous play. A night or two gets picked and that is Jam Night. You all take to the Lab.
It is a secret thing right up until you start selling it.
‘Storm’d at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell Rode the six hundred…’
The more time you spend with these people form the bond that is necessary to take on the upcoming disappointments. The first being that the more time you spend with these people, you realize that there is oil in the water and always will be. Everybody has a job to do and your current job is keeping your mouth shut.
And how could disappointments not come? This disparate collection of self-involved souls have created a masterpiece out of the ether. The World will tremble. The bars will overflow with milk AND honey when they behold what we created.
Inside the Jam Room, you forget outside the Jam Room. That you can be good, you can be motivated, you can be willing to lay down your life for that Glory. But you are unlucky. And an unlucky zealot is just a dude with an opinion.
‘While horse and hero fell, They that had fought so well Came thro’ the jaws of Death, Back from the mouth of Hell …’
And maybe time has passed you by. Maybe you are not in line with what ‘the kids’ are buying. Maybe your just tired.
Its possible, of course. With each victory thwarted by an uncaring World, the stress shows on all of the faces surrounding you.
You press on. A good review versus a bad gig. A drinking problem versus firing your guitarist. The slowly reclining press of a culture that is ceasing to exist at all.
This won’t stop you. It never does. You have something to say. Maybe in the next band.
‘When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! All the world wonder’d. Honour the charge they made! Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred!’
This is a month of personal Celebration. Anyone who knows me knows that I wait all year for this jewel: through the sour Winter, the shitty Spring, the unbearable Summer just to be delivered to these shores of Autumn goodness, starting with colors in the trees and ending with the crunch, crunch, crunch of leaves. I live for this.
And of course…Horror. The fictional kind. Not the ‘walking around in a plague ridden wasteland while zombies are flying US flags’ type of horror. (Note: VOTE!)
Though sometimes a movie walks the line so expertly that you can not …not believe in the story.
Its not new news that many horror films are socially conscious. Zombies = Consumers. Slashers = degrading morals of the new generation. Godzilla = Amazon. But when you base a fantastical movie with cue and current social issues…and film it in the Found Footage style….something bigger can come from it.
A note on Found Footage: I have a problem. It is not that I don’t like Found Footage…it is that I LOVE Found Footage and will watch every terrible Found Footage movie that gets released. And many of these are bad.
I always feel a kinship for these unknown horror directors who somehow cobble together the money to make what is the cheapest type of horror film. You just need a few friends, a few actors and an imagination when it comes to effects. It is really a problem for me.
I will die of this sickness in time and expect my grave to be plundered by drunk teens with Go Pros…but I will be waiting for them….
Not why we are here.
This is about Savageland. You can find this movie steaming for free in many places and I suggest you take 1 hour and 20 minutes out of your life.
But understand….you can not escape from the monsters in this one. Cause we are them.
The story takes place in Arizona. I never had a concept of Arizona in my brain. I knew it was hot which was enough to cross it off my global checklist. I did not know it bordered Mexico. I did not know until 2016 that there was a pretty healthy redneck population.
A person who I trust once told me it was the worst place on the planet. I believe her now.
The story is put together as a TV Style documentary with old news footage and current talking heads, police and mourning families It tells the tale of a massacre that occurred in Sangre de Cristo (don’t look it up … the town if fictional too) where one man went mad and killed 57 men, woman and children in the most awful ways imaginable. Which was deemed as impossible as that much mayhem would need a team of killers in running shoes … but you see…he was Mexican.
The movie is rife with people speaking to how our Country was being over run by said Mexicans and many people say terrible things during the interviews. This was pre Trump by one year BTW….and that speaks volumes. Wonder how we got here? There are parts of the Country that were ALWAYS there and waiting.
So one impossible act, with one day laborer slaying an entire town. Except…. He took pictures. And what is on these pictures does not work with what he was ultimately electrocuted for.
You need to watch this. I’m not going deeper into it cause … you need to see this. It’s a great Horror movie.
The terrifying part is that thought the horror is faux, the attitudes, the xenophobia is not. And that is more chilling than the scariest thing crawling form the deepest darkest swamp.
It is 2020. You don’t need a costume this Halloween. Just wear your normal street clothes. We are the monsters our parents warned us about.
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.