Category Archives: history

Intimate Objects, Confidence, and what happens next?

Intimate Objects was actually my first full solo release back in 2013. Barring two songs (“Like A Broken String” and the original version of “Brakes”), I wrote and recorded the whole thing over the span of a week. Two of its songs became Pneumatic Girls tunes (“A Team of Bumblebees” and “Near Misses”) and “Brakes” has been refined for the album I’ve been working on most recently.

I’m starting to view this as part of the process of writing – a flurry of semi-improvised ideas that evolve and later emerge as a tight, cohesive piece. I’ve never really known what my process is, and generally have considered it to be somewhat random (or maybe even chaotic).

This new album is going to be called Confidence. It is the result of a song cycle that actually began way back in 2000 with a Tascam four track. 15 years as a span of developing work seems like an awfully long time, doesn’t it? Still, that’s where we are.

And with that, I also understand that a new cycle has begun last year. I don’t know where it will take me, though. Not yet. Actually, I think I’ll let it surprise me as it tends to do.

XXXIV. Two Decades Now

So, it really has been twenty years THIS YEAR that I started making music with performance in mind. It would actually be 24 years since I started writing “songs” – meaning lyrics with music and all that. 1994 is when I met the people with whom I would start my first real band. Dan Decker and T.J. Mahaffey and I became chums at the University of Central Arkansas – chums with a mutual appreciation for nine inch nails, as I recall. Lash 41 was our first stab at a recording, performing entity. The three of us made a cassette which compiled our four-track songwriting experiments. For what we had in terms of life experience and equipment, it was quite good and a great jumping-off point for everything that came next.

Of course life and its college-aged drama had its way with us and we had our falling outs and making ups over the years (thankfully making up once did the trick!) and we met up again for the first time in Lord only knows how many years last November at a Pneumatic Girls show. It was like nothing had changed, apart from perhaps we are all a bit more handsome now! The 1990s were not a good time for men’s fashion, as I recall.

But yeah, TWENTY YEARS. Twenty years, as part of seven band projects and as a solo artist. Cassettes and compact discs and seven-inches and digital downloads.

 

V. The Story of Imperial Lanes

This EP got its name from the now-closed bowling alley on Summer Avenue. The only other name under consideration was Slow Numbers, but since four of the songs were not slow this title seemed misleading.

Not that Imperial Lanes is any better…none of the songs are about bowling.

The cover is my cat, Dot, and a skull my girlfriend and I bought at Garden Ridge last October but didn’t actually get around to hanging up in the window. I was being goofy and put it on the wall, and Dot was checking it out.

Mastering was taken care of by Carl Saff. When we asked Harry who he used for all his other releases (which made sense…you sort of want someone who knows the nuances of the producer making the record), this was who he sent us to. Carl got it nailed down pretty quick, only making adjustments to the first and last songs to bring the bass EQ to a point consistent with the other tracks.

Audiographic Masterworks here in Memphis did the duplication. They were very easy to work with and turned it around quicker than expected.

As for songs, we had considered recording two other tunes before calling this one an EP. Those songs were “Girl, Disappear” and “Lost In the Fire”…actually slow numbers. Maybe we’ll get around to using that name eventually.

I. Counting Upward

I remember being a bit gobsmacked when I asked Angela Horton, formerly of one of my favorite Memphis bands ever (The Satyrs), if she was interested in playing drums with me and she said yes. When I started trying to put together what became The Pneumatic Girls, that was the biggest piece of the puzzle for me.

The first lineup was Angela and I, plus my friend Maggie Bausch and man about town Patrick Glass (you most likely know him from Moving Finger, who just put a single out on Goner), and things gelled pretty well. Inevitably, scheduling proved to be a problem and we couldn’t maintain any momentum. Patrick is a HELL of a bass player, for the record, and you should pick up anything that any of his projects puts out.

But I digress…that didn’t work out due to scheduling. Enter Eric Wilson, whom I was playing with in the Near Reaches. It really was a natural choice and so he joined the fold. Soon thereafter (and I don’t actually remember the particulars) we added Matthew Trisler on second guitar. Honestly, I think of him as the main guitarist as he’s managed to elevate a lot of these songs to a level that my rudimentary playing could not possibly achieve. The things that man can do on 12-string.

So we could call the corners, as all good witches are wont to do, and we started bashing around several of the songs that would comprise a good half of our current set. All of it came from music I had recorded on my own and released in 2012, but playing them live far exceeded the ambitious-but-polite versions I made on my own.

So then it was time to try and play a show…and the world-famous Poplar Lounge (as it is billed) gave us a chance on the 33rd anniversary of Ian Curtis’s suicide and we delivered. We delivered in spite of the PA dying with three songs left to play.

We’ve played there several times since and haven’t blown up any more equipment, so I’m willing to believe it wasn’t our doing. We’ve also played the P&H Cafe and the brand spanking new Hi-Tone. The old songs have matured and grown, and a handful of newer tracks are coming right along.

In October-November of this year, we entered the studio and tracked six songs with Harry Koniditsiotis (of Angel Sluts/Switchblade Kid fame) behind the board. Cap’n Harry definitely shares some aesthetic philosophies with the PGs, and the rough mixes are noisy, spacious, and ambitious. Will it be an EP? An album? Still not sure, to be honest. A lot of that will depend on what YOU want.

Yes, this is about you, too. Commerce aside, there is a romance between the performer and the audience, between the art and the listener’s ear. If you want it, then it needs to happen. That said, it’s a pleasure to have you along for the ride, and we want you to be outspoken and opinionated…we want you to let us champion you as much as you will champion us.  Because let’s face it, if we don’t care about what you think, how can we expect you to care about what we do?

– Jack Pneumatic