…to the “making the record and the making of the making of the record” post

Ok, my gaze into the crystal ball of productivity may have been a little rosey, but not by too much. Our muzakal work-weekend started Thursday night greeting Peter, the fellow coming in from Texas to document our musical ‘leavings’, and set up for Friday. That’s standard beginner band checklist stuff by now: buy guitar, write songs, engage services of band in-house cinematographer, play first show…

Friday opened with classic Charlesian luck - driving to NJ, the front right tie rod of the van broke off coming into the toll plaza of the Triborough. Note to drivers: if you’re gonna lose a tie rod, the thing that connects the otherwise free-floating front wheels to the whole steering apparatus, better to do it at around 10mph than say, a life-ending 70.
The whole story is too mundane to type here, and we’ve all been down that Gilligan road before – this one ends w/ the Professor rescued off a highway island and is all on tape now anyhow. With this early-round knockout, the champ retained the title we’ve all battled over since our first German tour of the early ‘90s, Scheißebruder.

So a late start Friday, Jerry swung in from Philadelphia, we spent a few hours addressing last-minute equipment/technical needs, then ran through some songs and tracked a couple different takes each of five new ones. Or was it only four? Well to tell you the truth, in all the excitement, I kind of lost track myself. But being that these are 44-year-olds, the most powerful musicians in the world, and will blow your head…clean off…with their next rockin’ jamz, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?”. Well, do ya, punk rockers?

Really, the whole weekend was so great, so productive for us and kinda felt like the old days, that everyone left feeling 75 years younger. It seems that maybe some metaphoric lever has finally been thrown and the production line is now running at full cap. – e.g Charles went home and with the family away until Sunday, wrote & recorded two more songs and fully demo’d a third. That puts him only about 122 opuses behind Kevin.

A wren may rock on the moon yet.

Making the record and the making of the making of the record

I know, I know

…it's never clear - are they recording, are they not recording, they’re calling these two shows a tour but they’re always playing two shows, are two of them brothers or were they married or what…

Ok, so, in brief, we often post (often on Facebook ) about Kevin & Greg arranging new songs into a two-man dirge wrecking crew, Jerry meeting with Kevin in the beat lab, Charles logging in some quantity time Googling mic capsules & guitar pedals, but due mostly to adulty schedules, the four of us have only gotten together twice since we kicked it off for like the third time last January – once to get drum sounds, the second time we tracked two songs’ basics.

Well, tomorrow you can bump the counter up to three, and a big three at that.

Work Personal days have been arranged, babies have been banished to in-laws, pedalboards of ridiculous complexity have been hammered together from Ikea shelving, an hilariously talented filmmaker/cinematographer has been flown in from Texas to roll film and wire the home studios with tiny cameras (the better to record our own shenanigans after his departure (see above)).

We are shit serious this time.

The work whistle sounds at 10:00am and we go until night and then another manful 6 hours on Saturday. If we don’t come out of this with at least 10 new songs basic-tracked (most of them Kevin’s, one of them good), I’ll eat the same fictional hat I trot every time I make these proclamations.

But this time I mean it, baby…

Two-City Tour shirt remainders

Two-City Tour shirt remainders

You know how it is, life takes you where it does, and some of us just aren’t lucky enough to have it drop our boat on the shores of either Lake Philadelphia or the Baltimore Sea (unusually for me, that’s not sarcasm. I’m originally Philadelphian (more or less) and we’ve got a soft spot in our shared Jarvik 7 of a band heart for Baltimore, having played over 35,000 shows there, going back to Jerry’s college years at nearby State U.).

So even if you couldn’t attend our bi-state-area tour last month, you can now shop as if you did, lucky consumers. We’ve got a few leftover shirts from the shows, in a few different colors, and while supplies last, they’re for sale here in our store.

The camera phone is iffy, but the design is basically the same as the front page of our website, sans Darko-cum-Harvey rabbit. It’s a photo taken on Rt. 17 in New Jersey, showing tilted phone poles & power lines, the aftermath of the same storm that clobbered Kev’s house with a 90-year-old oak tree.

Design by a wren, hand-silkscreening by a wren, crappy photos by a wren.

the wrens
Biting off more than they can chew…Since 1989.

As always, thanks, here’s hoping you’re well, and hopefully see you at the next one,

the wrens

The Wrens National Two-City Tour

Maybe “national” is a stretch. Ok, even “tour” is a stretch. But with two consecutive nights’ shows booked for the first time in at least one SXSW ago, (Philadelphia, May 21st at the First Unitarian Church and Baltimore, May 22nd at Sonar), this, for us, constitutes a tour.

Even as I type this, bags are being packed, family farewells are in the offing, estate planning is under way, personal papers are being put in order, a tour bus has been arranged (SEPTA via NJ Transit), smoke-machine-repairpersons have been hired, vast amounts of road drugs have been grown, refined & processed…

[Clarifier: road drugs in our case being pretty much packaged snack foods (think: donuts) turning the dream cliché of “sex, drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll” into more like “conceiving legitimate children within the bonds of marriage, donuts & enthusiastically-performed song-craft in the rapidly-aging rock‘n’roll style”.
Again, for us at least.]

But what better way to ease back into touring than a wren-breaking two-day itinerary spanning as many cities, in neighboring states, over 90 miles apart?

We sincerely hope to see you there….

Show - Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church

On Fri May 21, 2010 we'll be playing in Philadelphia, PA at First Unitarian Church.

Tickets available here.

More about the show...

More info here, but our sweeping bi-state May tour commences in Philadelphia...

Show - Baltimore, MD @ Sonar

On Sat May 22, 2010 we'll be playing in Baltimore, MD at Sonar.

Tickets available here.

More about the show...

....and comes to an end over 90 miles away, in Maryland. How much younger we were back at the start of all this, in Philadelphia.

More info on both shows here.

Haiti Benefit show, January 27th, at the Bell House (Brooklyn)

Haiti Benefit show, January 27th at the Bell House (Brooklyn)

As mentioned last week, we’re playing as part of a larger benefit show for Haiti, and details (as well as tickets) are available today.

The show is Wednesday, January 27th, at the Bell House in Brooklyn, doors open at 6:00, and 100% of the proceeds will be split between Save the Children and Partners in Health.

All sets are short, stripped-down affairs and we should be on about 9:15 or so. Although with a line-up like this, it’s worth making a full evening of it:

NY State Senator Diane Savino

The Wahoo Skiffle Crazies

Pat Kiernan (of NY 1)

Here We Go Magic

Eugene Mirman

Matthew Caws & ? (TBA)

Eugene Mirman

Sondre Lerche

Todd Barry

The Wrens

AC Newman + Rhett Miller + Nicole Atkins + Charles Bissell as The Seekers

Ted Leo

Jimmy Fallon

Cold War Kids

…with others still to be confirmed (and note Charles’ ’60s Australian folkie turn as part of the Seekers cover set w/ A.C. Newman, Rhett Miller & Nicole Atkins). If you’re there between 6:30 – 7:30, enjoy free food courtesy of Great Jones Café, Dub Pies, and more. And there’s a special two hour edition of keyboard karaoke hosted by Sara Schaefer and fellow South Jerseyan, Joe McGinty, in the front lounge from 11pm-1am.

Again, tickets are on sale as of noon today (here). And if you’re not in the NYC-area but still looking for a way to donate the much-needed money for immediate help and long-term rebuilding, see our list of organizations already in Haiti, doing great and difficult work there (one post down the page), courtesy of our friends at Air Traffic Control.

And for whatever you can do, thanks very much,

the wrens

Haiti Earthquake Relief

By now, most of us have seen the heartbreaking scenes of destruction, suffering and death coming from Haiti, following the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck there at 4:53pm local time, January 12th, approximately 10 miles from Port-au-Prince. Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people are feared dead, as the capital city has been devastated.

To do our small part in helping to raise money for this cause, we’ll be performing at a benefit show here in New York City, along with a handful of other musicians, and we’ll post details on that as they’re finalized in the next day or two.

When disasters of this magnitude occur, sometimes amidst the media coverage and discussion, it can be less clear to know where to go to help or to donate the much-needed money for relief and eventual recovery. So with thanks to our friends at Air Traffic Control for putting this together, here is a concise shortlist of organizations that are already in place to help, and that you can help, by donating whatever you can….

Established disaster recovery organizations and national governments have been mobilized. Click on the names of any of the following organizations which are also raising funds for relief efforts:

Doctors Without Borders
Wyclef Jean’s Yele Foundation:

Crucial recovery and rebuilding efforts are always under-funded in comparison to immediate relief efforts. Here are three organizations that have distributed staff in the country now and more importantly, have a long-standing, grassroots presence in Haiti and are well positioned to aid in the long-term recovery effort: 

Partners in Health
The Lambi Fund of Haiti

Making things even easier, you can also make a set-amount donation via text-message (U.S. Only). The amount of the donation will be added to your cell phone bill:

Text the word “YELE” to 501501 to donate $5 to Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund

Or, text the word “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross.

A good wrap-up of the relief efforts currently under way, here.

Thank you,
the wrens

More laurels...

More laurels to rest (your head) on

Perhaps you know Stylus Magazine – they were a great online music (& movies) site that unfortunately stopped publishing new content a couple years back, (although you can still peruse the archive of articles here).

Decennially, they reconvened this past month to put up a series of decade wrap-up lists & articles and super flatteringly, they put the Meadowlands as their #76 album ‘o the aughts. We’re pretty sure they’re about 75 slots off (meadowlands feels like a #151 at best) but there it is.

Decennially means every 10 years, which isn’t accurate, I just wanted to type it.

You can see the rest of the Stylus Decade here.

Thanks very much, Stylus, sincerely.

Q409 Annual Report to Shareholders – pt.3

B-B-B-B…But so where does that leave us?

So although we haven’t started new recording yet (I know, I know, believe me), in a very real way, we’ve never been more ahead or more prepared. Or had more plans or ideas. Weird, I know, but sometimes such are one’s middle years.

the brighter star in the firmament
Kevin has been demo-ing for the last year or two, really for the first time ever (strange as that sounds), and he’s got over 100 songs recorded, mixed, with parts and pretty xylophones and rockly operatic lyrics wherein he embodies the character known only as the Rake.
Wait, that’s not us.
But he does have 100+ demos done and one of them's quite good. No, really.

the star's mysterious brother
And he & Greg have been getting together a few nights a week for quite a while going over those songs, working out parts & variations. Greg spent more money & time getting his guitar equipment together this year than in the previous 19 band years combined (multiplied by a large-ish whole number). He’s even been taking guitar lessons for the first time so clearly, someone’s buckling down. And he’s now a dad for round two, so the buckle comes off as well, ladies.

the other one who insists on singing
Charles?...also now a parent. In his case the stay-at-home-dad kind which means only a few half-hour-naps'-worth of available band/work time each day. And even that has to be fit around swapping Bed-Stuy gossip with like-minded neighbors over one of those top-half-open barn-style backdoors like an extra on Hee-Haw.

So to better put that time towards something productive and art-like, as of today, he’s hereby relinquishing & handing off all boring band-business stuff to our new foncy ponts management (see Part 2) and is now, officially, after a false start last summer, trading his “From the Desk of Charles Dickhead” business bond laid paper letterhead (with matching band gavel), for a guitar, a carbon mic and a Non-Remy Weft hair weave to try his hand making records again. He hasn’t been this jazzed about music since he was 40 and playing in Kenton’s band.

the cuddly likable one
Jerry has this way of holding his head that looks smashing on film. So band photos should be a breeze now. In his spare time, he continues to lead the world in the production of smaller MacDonalds (currently four street models to choose from).

Resolutions and Predictions

So, for like the dozenth time, official full-band recording starts next Wednesday, January 13th, 2010, at approximately 6:00pm E.S.T. in a New Jersey basement studio not far from Rudy Van Gelder’s original Hackensack one.
And bonkers as it sounds, I’m going on record predicting that we’re mostly done with the next album by say….June.
No, this June.
I don’t blame you for not believing me, I kinda don’t. And yet, there it is. In writing, no less.

‘Cause it really is about time now. The goal is to go from being one of the least prolific bands in indie rock, to one of the most, putting out say, two albums a year ‘60s-style, and deep-sixing whatever goodwill we’ve engendered over the years by flooding the market with product. Cheap, formulaic product with a hand-applied art veneer.

Or maybe we’ll just get going and see where that takes us…

Either way, thanks as always, especially for the patience, and may your 2010 be as fruitful as we fantasize our own will be,

the wrens

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