As you probably know, my friend & favorite musician person, Will of Okkervil River, has been doing a subscription series of live albums spanning the Okkervil career so far (also available individually) and that he’s just released Vol. 6, A Wren Among the Pornographers. You may not know that that wren is me - I was the Okkervil guitar-for-hire spring/summer of ’08, and chiefly for that tour, opening up for the the New Pornographers…
Years ago, apparently almost 6 years ago, Kevin told me a story that if I remember correctly, he attributed to Brian Wilson (I couldn’t find it online but I’m no private investigator), wherein Wilson, on being asked for the whatevereth time when the record, presumably Pet Sounds, was gonna be done, would just hit the button on a tape recorder he had, cueing his pre-recorded, and I guess exhausted reply.
While organizing project files etc. as I’ve been finishing up, I re-found this the other day and so posting now, six years later, mostly ‘cause I’m running out of time for my own old-man joke:
Sometimes, when trying to explain why this recording’s taken so long, even compared to the four years of the meadowlands, or saying that I've worked on this pretty much daily etc. etc., it all seems bonkers (and it is) or at least doesn’t make logical sense…
This year (2019, depending when you see this), and July specifically, are wrenniversary-intensive. I’ll keep it brief, in the style of the bullets...
30 years ago, in 1989…this band started…
Being in a band, besides being comic past a certain point, is akin to running a very small family business, like say a hardware store (if you actually made your own hardware, weren’t actually family, were expected to tour after the new hammer came out, etc. [analogy collapses]. Ok, it’s not about the hardware, it’s about the ‘family' part)…
I hesitate to say, partially because it hardly matters in the bigger picture, especially the current political one, but...of the last batch of songs that needed more re-re-re-etc.-re-work after going to mastering last fall, I finished the last one & sent it off yesterday.
Just a brief & less-brief note w/r/t the Esopus project...first the brief.
The launch party for the ltd. ed. Esopus Foundation/Magazine project I did w/ the bonkers-ly amazing artist Beth Campbell has been re-scheduled for Monday, Dec. 14th, 7:00-9:00 at Beth's studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And I'll be playing a short-ish solo set including the song Three Types of Reading Ambiguity from the upcoming album, which was the focus of the project w/ Beth...[READ ON]
Yesterday got the mastered&sequenced version of the album back from the mastering guru (haven't gotten to listen to it yet partially because I'm sick of & hate
it but also because the at-home dad's child-bosses do not honor a traditional workday).
Sad-lariously enough, only just realized that it was also exactly 5 years ago yesterday, that recording officially started .
Holy hell. Wasting life in half-decade increments.
Realizing that it's the killer-combo of being not only unimportant in the real goings-on of the world but also, in the ever-going back&forth of "it's almost done, this part is done" etc., both hard to keep up track of and in those details especially, really pretty boring...
but in my dumb mission to post updates on some tiny portion of the everyday work on the record (and believe me, although arguably it shouldn't be, it really is every damned day), Sunday morning I finished & sent off the final-of-many versions of the last song to mastering. Which means that...[READ ON]
I hope your Thanksgivings...
...were great. At my end, well you know how I'm always prattling & whining on about how difficult the record's been to make, how little sleep for 4+ years now, etc. etc.? Of course you do. Yield-wise, it's more my stock-in-trade than releasing actual albums. And while true, even I'm pretty tired of hearing me go on about it.
But all those art-for-crap's-sake life choices came to a head at Thanksgiving. Driving up to Massachusetts that Wednesday, got sicker & sicker, fever, vomiting. Thursday morning felt worse, with a weird & unwelcome Rice Crispie effect to each breath, a cough output I'll only describe as 'cranberry'...[READ ON]
...probably nothing he knows.
For 10 years I taught guitar in a music store in NJ (hi, Woodside Music in Park Ridge), to mostly high schoolers w/ some adults & younger children thrown in. And in those hundreds of students there would always be a few that were better (either more talented or more accomplished, I have yet to crack that one) usually in a "hey, another perfect Led Zep solo down pat" way, which is great and as the cliche` goes, taught me a lot. But there were always a few that seemed further ahead...aesthetically, for lack of a better word, who might end up doing something really cool in the future, either artistically or just more broadly, in life etc., even if it wasn't quite clear (at least clear to me) what that might be.
Luke Wyatt was one of those young'uns...[READ ON]
So Friday morning...
...for the first time in I don't even know how long (years at this point!), we all four got together. The occasion? Well, I realize it's not big news in any sense except to us, but after 25 years as a band and for the first time in 20, we, as they say, have inked a deal. Pens were handed out presidentially. Morning beers were clinked together. The devil wrung his hands in delight & vanished in a smoke puff, laughing...[READ ON]
Last Thursday, July 31st, was a another unlikely milestone for us: the 25th anniversary of our very first show, at a club long-since gone on 42nd St., Manhattan, right next to the Port Authority. And even though there were a few hasty rehearsals first, it being the first time of many that we powered up amps & attempted to 'wow' the non-crowd (also first of many), we count it as the official starting gun.
And typically late to everything, including watch-bestowing self-ceremonies we hold every five years to congratulate ourselves on being even later to breaking up, we didn't get around to posting anything. Heck, I only noticed because I set a calendar alarm. Four years and 364 days ago. [READ ON]
It has been a while, non? Even as four years of work on the album finally wrap up, actually leaving the house to climb on a stage, in front of people and flail a guitar like a man drowning.
Kevin & I (that's charles) are playing a benefit show for P.S. 154, a public school here in Brooklyn at which (full disclosure) our oldest attends kindergarten. So yes, daddy is singing for text books & pencils...[READ ON]
It was half of 20 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper bought the band a copy of the Meadowlands. Probably for one of his more mature friends and hopefully w/ a discretely included gift receipt.
Meaning yeah, the Meadowlands came out exactly 10 years ago today, on Sept. 9th, 2003, which also means that our 'most recent' release pre-dates things like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Democrats in the White House, heck Bush's 2nd term, the show Lost, 6 albums and 3 EP's by Okkervil River, the Dinosaur Jr. reunion, some actual dinosaurs, the careers of Justin Bieber and Katy Perry COMBINED and the over 8400 separate and unique indie music micro-genres that gestated and died a quick bloggy death since...you get the idea. But putting it in any of those terms does feel like saying it came out in the '70s. (choose your own century)...[READ ON]
Tues.: drop kids at school, inexplicably overdub even more guitars in living room in effort to finish recording before more due children are born
Wed.: proselytize on keeping other cities weird
Thurs: use phrase ‘day party’ a lot; eat sensible dinner at our respective homes (NJ, Penna., B’klyn).
Fri.: enjoy commemorative breakfast taco, read up on Austin. Email other band geeks to discuss reforming
Sat.: reflect how everything’s bigger in Texas, especially buzzes
Sun.: feel the burn…of a week like any other. Reflect on what we’ve learned. Look ahead to 2014 when we actually go.
An itemized invoice I sent Kevin, billing him for work done on one of his songs (ok no, not seriously billing him. Althooooough if he cut me a check, I’d probably cash it. For his is a generous personhood, while I am a small grabby man). Greg’s reply to all this: you need to increase your rates....[READ ON]
2010, that is…
Yeah, 2010…actually not a typo. For years we’ve posted a year-end wrap-up of what we’d been up to the previous twelve months (you can pour over a few of those here). They’ve tended to be drawn-out semi-comedic affairs that were long on “we bought a computer” sort of news and short of any announcement of real recording (not counting a band-ful of false starts, laughably optimistically documented here or here, both from four years ago now, for ex.)...