What’s Your Story?

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:

  1. List your accomplishments (actual not imaginary …. Though it’s only words, right? So, who cares? The Music Business cares, that’s who! Fly right!)
  2. 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)
  3. 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?’
  4. List 2 or three influences (OK, so I’m opting for Poverty, Validation and The Mountain Goats)
  5. 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)
  6. List any Music Business contact you have. (I know Elvis Costello. Well I saw Elvis Costello. From a stage. Does that count?)
  7. 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…

Blah blah…. blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah…blah…blah blah.

You see? Sure you do.

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….

Currently CiC is writing their bio.

My Bliss Keeps A Beat

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.

And turn it up. Loud.

Dear Dave… (or Darling Fascist Bully Boy…)

Hello. We lost a Good Man, My Friends. I was crafting this personal history of Dave and I to present to him when he was feeling better. Something so he was fully sure of the impact he had on my life and the life of the countless others he called ‘Brother’. It’s personal, full up on references earned over a 35 year friendship.

Hello Cap’n.  

These days have had me reflecting on the past, the meat of what mattered and how I got here. And as I gaze back at what would be my most full moments, you were there, stage right, holding it down, joyous, celebratory, a quick grin between us when the harmonies hit just right and the song sails. This brings me back to the very beginning. Verillis garage.

This is where we met. And I remember it all, the state of the clutter, the too small space   the blue aria pro, Vic smashing shit like a Muppet, the irrepressible Verilli acting every inch of his eventual occupation (not the drug store, the LA Hair Metaler) , you focused and concise…and so fucking young. I was too but I don’t see me here. I see you. Fuck you looked 15 but played like 50. I still remember the swells of Remember Tomorrow, the barnstorming of Tyrant. I remember the feel of really doing it, really singing into that mike, barking, and all my dogs barking with me. And Mrs Verilli. A true cartoon dragon of there ever was one, we, hard teens, metal heads, drinkers, druggers fuckers all hiding silently and wide eyed when she got home.

We were the classic 80’s movie that we did not know would be classic…cause it was the 80’s. We fought the popular kids with their poofy hair and van halen set. All the girls went dewy at the very site of Drew and the boys. And we brought pure fire. Pure anger. Purity. These are not our songs but you motherfuckers are going  to hear them anyway. Loud. Fuck you all.

And I flash forward a year, a year of beginnings, a year of you blowing my mind in Scots basement with every new song you learned the night before. Yes songs. BOC songs. It was really intimidating.

You have always been like that, or appeared that way. Focused. Cocksure. Correct. I’m sure you had doubts. I’m sure you had fears. But they never crossed your face or spun up your voice, in song or in jest.

One year later, one year of basement playing, one year of focus to do what we always wanted to do: not simply ROCK but rock with songs these people should know. The UFO set. Rock Bottom, the room would fall away and its you and that solo… Let It Roll. Only You Could Rock Me (Rock Me). We won that night.

Afterward I remember Wizards Lament….my first official song and how everyone came together and started adding their parts. And I remember it all falling apart. You hooked up with Scot, we became a cover band, I started the Basement Apes with Fetcho.

And this was the part where you became my nemesis. It’s a place of honor. While we wiled away our mornings and late evenings writing, recording, The Rafter Bats ascended. I think it would be a little late in the game to say I was coooool with that. I was jealous, plain and simple. You created something that had not been created yet, much less mass produced and genrefied. You were the first Bluegrass Rock and Roll band and it drove me mad.

I will always remember the moment I heard you on WPKN, the whole band playing some live tunes on a Saturday morning. And it sounded amazing…groundbreaking. And I called you at the station. I was out on the air with you. And captured the most uncomfortable 5 minutes of radio in existence. I’m counting the Hinderberg, by the way. I said ‘Hey!; and heard grumbles and very guarded responses from you and Dennis. It was hilarious. Soon after I caught your act in Greenfield Hill in Fairfield, that farmers market and we were in communication again.

Thing is….I drew such inspiration…such pride,..that you liked what I did. It wasn’t simply anyone liked it…it was you. And I knew you were no bullshit so your not going to bother aligning with me if you did not believe in what I was doing., And that made me press farther, push harder. And when I shared the tapes of what I had been doing, The Great Upsetters came to life.

It’s a mystery to me why that band did not go farther, and this time it was not from lack of trying. But fuck man…the times we had. The Post Office bar in Bridgeport with the undertaker bartender (Tins sister, if I remember) and the hookers and the crack addict. And this was one of those moments that meant the world to me. That empty bar, half the band tripping on acid, the other half hopelessly drunk, and when we kicked into Like A Rolling Stone…a song I don’t believe we ever played before and barely knew the words between the 5 of us….and when we started that, that 5 person draw sang like a crowd of 1000’s. Everyone screamed every word.

I don’t know if we got paid that night. I don’t know anything about that night except for that moment and the raw feelin of being fucking alive and sharing something with folks who wanted it.

And somehow we feel into the Ticketmaster National Showcase. Christ, remember that set? I bet you could still play it without much encouragement. We had it down to a super tight 38 minutes. What was it…10 songs? With the intro and outro of The Great Upsetters, the funky darkness of Something Missing, the sweet harmony of Whose Really Where. I was always proud at how we worked. We jammed hard but were never a jam band. We were focused to serve the song, that was the endgoal, and that was what we did.

The one moment you missed from that night was me changing for our set at the Holiday Inn and coming down the elevator, Phil Mogg walked in. I was in my fucking stage gear. I had to say something. And I did. En quote ‘ omg, Your Phil Mogg, your my hero and my band of UFO worshipers is just about to play a set for a national contest across the street and your band is the reason’….I said it likely faster than that with my eyes likely spinning around like a googly doll. He was polite, amused, and thanked me and wished us well.

Then onto the show. Another of these moments that I look back on and you were there right next to me. We killed it. A perfect set. Girls screaming like the fucking Beatles. Magic. Just the wrong decade. 5 years later our 70’;s worship would have been hip again. Right outfit, wrong year.

Hopi Fest. This was not something amazing musically…it just showed what an original bunch of crazy crackers we were. We stormed that stage long past anyone wanting to hear it. But we did not care. This was The Upsetters…and by definition anything the Upsetters wanted to do they did.

And the end of the Upsetters. I broke up bands for the same reason I am writing from a day job today versus my yacht…fear of success. I know it was me. I would start to think all artisty and start thing of something that would fulfill me. 

I did not know then these memories would hold and hold me to answer for. I did not expect to live this long.

And I made my solo record with the invaluable help of more Hogan stock, Bill Becker. I got to know Bill pretty well during the GU year in his role of…well everything. And he was a killer bass player and partner for me. I miss him right now, even as I write this. He was a good man without any of that icky goodness that corrupts good men and makes them dull. 

While Graylight Campfire ascended. Prick.

I remember a gig DayDrug did with Graylight (which I don’t think I dreamed…but who knows?) and introducing you as my friend was a point of pride. By that point, we were not simply friends. My family has not been as much family as you have. I know that sounds strange. I do not make a lot of friends. Its not a plan, a design, just a circumstance of being self obsessed.

But you are my friend. You are beyond that. We became brothers on this trip. 

You have a lot of brothers, Dave, A lot of people who believe in you. Enough people who admire you. You are a beloved commodity. You inspire such…reverence when your name comes up. You think Im being fancy, but I assure you are not. It’s a shame we never really know our standing till standing is no longer an option. 

This month….. I looked at what I have accomplished in my life as an artist…and I had some successes…and you were there beside me, holding it down, holding us up, bringing that unmistakable but astral tone in your sound, in your very soul.

A lot of people love you, Dave. Admire and love. You need to know that. I don’t think we ever get this explained to us when we need it, so consider me Professor X:  Nothing is the same after you. You are legendary and that will grow with everyone who ever knew you.

Then Grimm. I stand by the fact that my favorite period of GG was the trio. You and Me and CC…meeting imitation Bill Clintons, playing the always drama packed Swan gigs, the video for Nothing Astral…your PART on Nothing Astral still one of my faves off the cuff Hoganisms…… recording up in  Storrs with Dennis along, Fuck….. Graylight / GG set at Ideat Village which…Wow…….

I mean…we created a form of rock and roll, something that was compact but fully loaded, 3 people, 2 with instruments. And a set of songs honed down and fine tuned.

Then Lys. Seeing you two sing those Gram songs was….incredible. You too added something into them that the countless covers missed…maybe it was a true love, maybe it was revelry….. but I felt like I had a hand in something good by putting you two in the same room. I know she thinks the same thing. I always picture us in that horrible sounding space museum…. And the Daffodil Fest, with you and Lys on the remarkable non rainy Daffy day. The 2 Boots shows.

On that point….the picture. The picture taken at Café Nine of just you and me on stage. Of when you were doing an early acoustic set and I cam down. A Friday I believe. How when I saw you…and you saw me….every wrinkle of the past had faded, every sharp left turn evens out….. and it was meeting an old friend and it took that moment for me to really recognize the trip you and I had been on. We were older men then…older still now…but we just grined at each other with a look like ‘well that was a time, eh”…and played the Upsetters songs, near perfect.

Cause our harmonies……was something beyond talent or skill…there is an understanding on how our instruments bend and warp around each other. That’s history in action. Its beauty in repose.

Anyway…the GG machine rolled on, now with you in place for the Big Fame record and shows. Yes, I regret not having you on Dizzy. Yes, I regret not having you on every track. But the shws…the radio play, culminating in the big time times 2: playing for the Tom Tom Club and WPKN Sunday Brunch. 

I still laugh when I think about you at McLevy hall, being wholly UNIMPRESSED by the literal Rock stars watching. It impressed me and CC and I were always good for a star fucking. And GG was gone. Poof.

Onto me beginning of this phase of my life (while Graylight ascended…did I say prick? I did? Cool) which started with Zen. Not in a literal sense…I was insane at the time. But you were there too. You were there with the necessary rock and roll Dave/J back up on Last Days Of Rome….the real picture of how talented experimental you were on the ebow shit which really made those tracks.

But what I recall best is the radio show. Me coming on to introduce Zen on your WPKN show. Still on my soundcloud as I listen to it from time to time. Not to hear me, monitor my performance. To hear Us.

It is a conversation shared publicly of you and me just talking shit, not sharing secrets that we both know. There is a love in this conversation and this interview sits upon things I am proud of. Cause we were brothers, separated by bold, by circumstance, miles, poverty. Our dreams glimmered gold while our wallets got lost. 2 men coming from the same war, and an easy acceptance of what we have been dealt. 

Now…not so easy. Cause this is not fair. This is not right anymore. I could listen to that conversation forever. It is friends. Veterans of the same psychic wars. One still more practical than the other. My madness tethered by your cool. An amazing team. A perfect match.

Except my art made me want to try everything on the plate while your steady hand held the rutter and kept you focused on the horizon where everything glimmered like a future coming.

I am an eccentric and you are a working man.

But it is not fair, make no mistake.

I did it. I wrote that record. The Mott one. The one where you get to be in the sainted seat of music director…some singing….real rock and roll shit. Its about everything I out down here. The trials and tribulations of limonene dreams.

I wrote it with the clear image of some future stage where your standing stage right and leading the band through the songs…you have a smile on your face…it looks like peace.