The Greatest Story Never Told

The greatest story ever told? I said it so I must mean it. Right?

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!’

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.

Hey! Wanna Join A Cabal???

Hey You! Yes YOU! You in the glasses! (that was just for me)

Yes I have a great opportunity, big payouts, we finally take down ‘The Man’. Just you and Me and a couple hundred thousand friends. We’re gonna cabal the night away.

That’s why you don’t see this blog anywhere else. This is just for Us. Shhhhhh….. You may note from my usual method of screaming ‘PAY ATTENTION TO ME!’, this ain’t that. Sure, I will post on walls (even a bathroom walls but the number always gets wiped away…) feeds, pages… if I wasn’t so lazy I would post bills and hang flyers….but going out side is so 2019.

Nope, its just us now. So chilllll…relax…let me drop some knowledge. This is the birth of the Cursive Cabal.

So…if your reading this….you’re interested in what I have to say. And if you read any of my previous blogs, you will note I’m not exactly a deep thinker. This will continue that grand tradition. But…more honest. Cause I am among friends here.

So….Cursive is Code. This is the new band, this is my new Magnetic North, this could be the last band. Who knows, right? Cause not all the members of this band will make the record. If you read this before, you know exactly what I mean.

Here is the tale: So when Grimm kicked the bucket, I decided to follow my expected route of Singer Songwriter sensitive heartbreak route. And I brought in Grimm Cello player Julie Kay to help me. I never discussed this before, but she helped me beyond any expectation I had. It wasn’t simply the beautiful playing or the Astral Weeks style bass thing she brought (which ticked off one of my musical fantasies). She was playing hurt. She was scheduled for a surgery…and she came down to the basement and sat uncomfortably, in genuine pain…and would grin and bare it.

If I had…if I was better at being human….would I suggest she not come, not put herself through excess pain? I can say we don’t know…I can also say it made no difference at all cause she was going to come anyway. She believed in what we were doing. She believed in Me. She would work her way down the stairs to sit in my bachelor pad (which looked a lot like a 13 year old’s basement except more cheesy keyboards…I think that was captured in a video somewhere….) or take a trip out to Collinsville to work on some songs with old music mate Adam Hagymasi, who did about half of everything on that record. If it wasn’t an E Bow (That’s Hogan) or fumbly acoustic (Moi), everything else was Adam. But Julie would take these trips with us while we worked out the basic tracks.

The record turned out good. I still have some free downloads if you want one.

This was….or wasn’t…I cant be sure…when I fell in love with Julie Kay. We did not connect till about a year later. And…Wow. We grew much closer. And live happily.

Anyway….yes, this is more honest…more deep .. than I expected to go…

So, a Misery Monkey like myself, now all flush on new love… time for my next record. I mean…I live with my band! (Julie) It was a test of my theory that writers write best when mostly miserable. And I was right! Unfortunately…

I was blocked. New happiness made no songs. And I somehow wised up to the fact that forced unhappiness is just dumb, dumb, dumb. Look around now. You just never know.

So I lived happily…and even the anguish of not creating abated a bit. We formed a band based on the acoustic sound, played some shows, had some fun. I was writing new songs but I just could not get motivated to do something with them.

Meanwhile….a bit of history. Dave Hogan and I started together in our first band….and played together from project to project the entre time I knew him. Our musical tastes were different…and always had been since age 20….but we came together on a mutual love of vintage guitar rock and British Glam. So Humble Pie….Mott The Hoople…Black Sabbath….BOC…..despite the time and tides of projects and bands, the friendship was based on these fundamentals. I don’t mean that to sound tribute or light…sure we came together on a few bands and differed in so many ways…but the way we loved these bands was zealous. Religious.

And we had an often discussed plan, a goal. One more BIG rock band with me and him. He always wanted to just be a musical director in some project…and I wanted to re-use the voice I cam up singing with, less croon, more rock.

So I took this to heart and started writing again. It was not easy. It was Karma. I was always fortunate that I could write on a dime. It was my Super Power. Sure not every song was ‘It’s Alright Ma I’m Only Bleeding’ but I could attach a half formed thought with a half formed melody and shake some shit up. Not this time.

I had my concept. I wanted to write a series of songs reflecting Dave’s and my coming up through the local music ranks. Targeting specific gigs, specific experiences. The significance of this to me was that all these tales turn quaint when balanced against the entire industries apple cart getting upset by the Internet. All the old plans, the old expected results, the long time argument tween Dave and I if excessive gigging helps or hurts…. I had my concept. And dug into it.

It was rough. I will say that I had to return to rhyming dictionaries. I had to try every trick suggested on every writing site. In time…it came. It did not break out like a dam; it trickled like a stream but still filled the record.

It was not just the band concept I was working with…I also had the excitement of being happy and in love…so those songs were written right along.

So I bought an electric guitar and Julie played keyboards. Did I know Julie could play Keyboards? Not at all. Can she play? Like a MotherFucker.

Then a year in the desert looking for musicians. I had not done this…actually my only experience doing this was Grimm…. And CC and I muse that we still don’t know how we got so many people involved, taking trips out to Windsor  and making something beautiful. This time was less successful, more anguish and wholly disappointing. EXCEPT….We found Dan. Dan plays bass, as well as banjo, classical guitar….and most important, was good fun to play with.

But the record was not getting made. No drummer. I worked on it with my vintage Korg Dr Rhythm Drum Machine (favored on RUN DMC’S biggest hits) and made a few tracks’, but others were beyond my rhythmic imagination.

Enter Julie, with yet another unknown talent on display: beat maker. After we upgraded the keyboard, out of frustration more than a plan, she started coming up with beats and we started recording properly. And it worked.

With unexpected results. The songs were danceable. I never created anything danceable unless you count bouncing uncontrollably as dance. Also….after working exclusively with acoustic for years…I was really digging the Electro Sound. It sounded vintage to a scene I never listened too. This was Julie influence. She opened me up to sound and brought those sounds right home to Deep River.

So now….Hogan. Weapon X (he would appreciate the comparison). And I sent him the tracks with a note on the envelope that exclaimed ‘Our Mott The Hoople Dreams contained within’.

And I was too late. And I will never forgive myself.

But Hogan was more than a friend and a stunt guitar player. He was a Saint. I never would have conceived of that when we were kids. But going to his funeral…the pure Love of all of his friends, the real heartbreak of losing a cat before his time. This record became important. Cause these songs were written with him in mind, his style, his background vocals. Based on experiences he and I both lived through…and lived with.

We often had discussion of we were just both legitimately crazy still chasing this same dream when every conceivable outlet turned against us. We always reached the same conclusion: We were.

I miss him every day.

Anyway….so back to Julie and Me and the record. We dug in….I played more guitar, more than I ever thought I was capable of….Julie brought out the strings and horns from the Juno….and we started crafting what would be and currently is Cursive is Code. The name came from a late night conversation tween Julie and Me of how generation of kids no longer recognize, much less can write, Cursive. That made it feel like a secret language, something shared among those who know.

Like You.

We put out our first song, The Grand Libido, found here: https://soundcloud.com/jason-p-krug/the-grand-libido-cursive-is-code

If you want to get ion on the secret action, follow this blog.

If you want to join the Cabal Mailing list, send me your email at jpkrug@gmail.com

We will be sharing a new song every few weeks. When such a thing is conceivable, we will be taking this show on the road and playing your town. Or the next town over.

Be One With The Cursive Cabal. And together we can…… (add impossible dream here)