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Monday, February 20, 2006

Shirley Rolls

Last week I talked about Raymond Richards and his fantastic studio, Red Rockets Glare, where we recorded our new album (for the most part). I neglected, however, to show what he looks like, which is this:

Although I am rather partial to this picture, myself.

The other thing I wanted to talk about today is the band that opened the night this past Saturday at the Cocaine in Little Tokyo. At the moment it's a band of one person named Tom Bogdon, who as you may remember played nearly all the guitar parts on our new record, and he calls his band Shirley Rolls. I've been trying to find a good picture of Shirley but have mostly failed, except for this:

I'm afraid that I didn't record Tom's performance on Saturday night, but should have--I am often bored by singer/songwriter types who strum away at acoustic guitars and mumble into the mic, but Tom is a superfine guitarist (he doesn't fingertap or anything, but he plays better than just about anyone I know) and although his vocals are sometimes reserved he can also sing loud and strong when he wants to. The crowd ate up his rendition in Spanish of a '60's Argentinian tune, whose name escapes me at the moment because I'm an idiot--Tom, if you're reading this, let me know what it was--but the highlight of his set was easily an acoustic rendition of his fabulous rawk song, I Got Nuthin'.

As far as I know, Tom is putting this song out on 7" 45 rpm vinyl very soon, and I'll keep you all posted when it does. He seems to also have a track on this compilation for Robots And Electric Brains magazine, and you can also hear more mp3's on the Shirley Rolls website. All the tracks are good but I definitely recommend listening to "Piss Pot."


Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Wallaby Does Not Impress

As promised, here are some pics from our recording sessions over the last few months at Raymond Richards's Red Rockets Glare studios:

Red Rockets Glare is a converted garage. Unlike our garage, though (which, come to think of it, isn't all that converted), it's nice and comfortable and sound-treated inside (those sideways square things next to our heads are acoustic treatments to help control soundwaves--I don't undertand how they work, possibly by divine providence, and there's not much chance I'll understand soon) and, oh, it doesn't leak when it rains and form large patches of mold on the floor. That is fortunate. In the corner, underneath the lamp there, there's an odd phonograph that works by sliding a record in through a slot or something--Raymond says it's meant to hang on a wall! Of course I neglected to take a picture of that.

Recording with the mighty Univox viola bass. That thing on the wall above Mary's head is an electric sitar--which we swore we would stick on a track somewhere should the opportunity arise, but never got around to it.

Mary records a vibraphone part for "Medium High." It was tempting to put vibraphone on everything, even where it would be totally inappropriate, but it only appears on that one track. We discovered that if you play back vibraphone recordings on fast-forward with the tape recorder, it sounds really really cool, a kind of fluttering, warbling sound, like water or birdsong. I just remembered that I think I wanted to add a second or two of fast-forward vibraphone noise to the end of the record--but of course we forgot. Or maybe that was one of those ideas of mine that Mary and Raymond nodded to politely before rolling their eyes and moving on to something actually useful.

Maestro Tom Bogdon, who played all (or almost all) of the guitar parts on our record. We were reeeeaaaallly lucky to get him...at the moment he's playing solo with his own band, Shirley Rolls. In fact he's going to play with us at The Cocaine on the 18th!

In other news...young master Ivan attended a birthday party yesterday that, instead of clowns, featured a "hire-a-menagerie" service consisting of a gentleman and his wife with their massive collection of repulsive tropical vermin. Well actually, only a couple were repulsive (the huge, shapeless toads and the violent-looking scorpions) but there was also a wallaby which, if you're not familiar with them, is basically a miniature kangaroo and thus astonishingly cute. It doesn't walk, it goes 'boing.' Ivan, however, was a little more taken by...the toy trucks in the front yard. Tarantulas? No interest. Giant monitor lizards? Couldn't care less. Huge apes grunting Cole Porter tunes in close harmony? Well actually they didn't have any of those, but you get the idea: Ivan would look at the fauna for a while and say "trucks," and that was that.

You're a boy of peculiar tastes, Ivan.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I have been a lazy bastard

No updates for a year and a half. My apologies. I have my reasons–mainly that, even in the best of times, I am a poor diarist. But really, time has not been my friend. It’s not just this journal--I haven’t returned to drawing classes, I’ve done only a smattering of animation, our garden is nearly all weeds...uh, I haven’t made my four-hour, epic black-and-white 8mm opus on the life of Edwin Beard Budding, inventor of the lawnmower. 1

So, dear electro-diary, let’s talk about what’s new and exciting. I’d say our son, young master Ivan definitely falls in that category–he’s a cutie! Blue eyes, sort of balding in reverse, likes to say “okay” and “mine” a lot. We took him to New York City, he took his first steps in Central Park, flirted with girls. Older girls, mostly, he was one and they were about 23 or 24, or thereabouts...I can see this might be a problem a bit down the line. Oh, if you listen carefully to our new record that we’re putting out, you can hear him in some of the quiet parts, crying and chatting. It kind of sounds like some kind of weird chirpy synthesizer, but no–it’s the sound of a baby run through an Echoplex. Kind of hard to reproduce live.

What else has happened these past months? The record, the record! We have our second LP recorded and mixed. We did not record it ourselves in our garage this time, having tired of making records that sound like we recorded them ourselves in our garage. Oh actually–we started recording it in our garage, now that I think of it, with our friend Tom Bogdon running the tape deck, until all of our equipment suddenly started committing suicide. The 8-track deck fried itself, and one of the expensive monitors I had just bought fell off of its little stand, kind of like a lemming leaping to its death. So instead we decided to go a studio with non-self-destructing equipment and an engineer who actually knows how to run it, and wound up at Red Rocket’s Glare, owned and operated by Mr. Raymond Richards, and I gotta say we couldn’t be happier! In a futile gesture of anachronism we recorded and mixed it entirely in analog (good luck finding 1/4" splicing tape these days, man oh man!), which gives us cred, boy. We’re gonna call it “Our Tears Have Wings.” Tom plays guitar on this one, Raymond plays keyboards and steel guitar and tamboura, Mary plays vibraphone! And glockenspiel! And drums of course. We should post some pictures. Mary, do we have pictures handy? We should post some, really.

I gotta go–EKUK is playing at the Cocaine tonight and I don’t want to miss their set. Oh, and I met Senior, of Junior Senior fame, at Mr. T’s last night! He came to see 8-Bit (he has good taste). He is very tall. There are pictures. I’ll post them as soon as I can get my hands on them.


1 Partially because I can’t find anything interesting to say about him. Oh, he also invented the adjustable spanner. And he was really a hamster. No, wait, I made that up.