Category Archives: Uncategorized

2018.03 | Releasing A CD is Hard

So it turns out the duplication is the easy part of this whole process. Actually, getting some of the local press together has been easy as well. The venue, however, has been absolutely aggravating.

The release party was originally to happen at a cool space in Cooper-Young called Sounds Good Memphis. Good room, good sound, and excitement was building. Then, due to calamity from all directions, the venue had to change their tactic to private only. How the hell do you promote a release party that you can’t publicly invite people to? How do you explain in your radio interview that you can’t tell anybody where the show is? How do you pay for the room without a cover? That just wasn’t going to work and it made things so much harder.

Fortunately, we found an incredible place to do it. Move the Air Studios, the ground zero for the productions of one of Memphis’s best producers, Alyssa Moore. How perfect is that? So the show is solidly on the books for Saturday, April 14th. A cool post-rock solo act called Dinosauria is opening, and we’re recording the show for later release.

Thank God that all came together!

Here’s a link to the Facebook event. https://business.facebook.com/events/886232904888329/

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2018.01 | “Let Me Be Right”

“Let Me Be Right” began its slow evolution a decade ago, as a tune I wrote just so I’d have something easy to play at an open mic.

It first found release under its original name, “Shooting Holes”, on my lo-fi EP I recorded on vacation in Eugene, Oregon. Always felt good but unfinished.

Again, this one got demoed for a band version but ended up one of the tracks J.D. and I fleshed out for TRIALS. J.D. played a skittering guitar part for it and we piled on the distorted, overdriven guitars.

Oddly enough, The Jesus and Mary Chain soon released a new album and the vibes closely matched up. The song was definitely demoed with the JAMC as spiritual parents, so it was inevitable I suppose.

This might be the only song on the album with no hardware synths!

2017.12 | “Tabula Rasa”

“Tabula Rasa” is a new very old song. I originally wrote it in 2001 or 2002, back when I decided I couldn’t play well with others and started a project called The Jeta Grove. Very naïve stuff, but this one was a great pop song.

Flash forward to 2016, when I performed it on one of my Facebook live shows. I had forgotten it, to be honest. When I scribbled down the lyrics, I felt like I could greatly improve on them. It seemed to make sense to try it again.

I demoed it for the band and we did something cool with it, but time and availability sort of evaporated and I started working on the album myself. My friend J.D. Reager was keen to help me with the album, so we met over at his house some to mess around with it (he is also working on another album and I assisted in a small capacity).

I programmed the basic track at home, and we cut a really good guitar track at his place. It’s buzzy and fuzzy on its own, but his guitar part has an almost Keith Richards-esque swagger to it. I cut vocals with him but, in tweaking some lines for the end of the chorus, I ended up taking a pass at it at home. On the single version, if you’re listening closely, you can tell.

I used the Arturia Microbrute for the synth lead lines (and that great noise at the beginning) and the Korg MS2000 for some other synth parts – it’s kind of buried in there, but it’s there.

Listen to “Tabula Rasa (Single Mix)” on Bandcamp!

2017.11 | Self Portrait

Cats:

Po is one of my best friends. We’ve been through some stuff. I’m almost certain he thinks he’s a dog. Maybe he thinks he’s human. Grumbles in his sleep – I love him.

Dot and I have more of what I would consider a father/daughter dynamic!

How I Sleep:

At bedtime, I like to listen to things like Brian Eno (the ambient stuff, and specifically his album with Harold Budd called The Plateaux of Mirror) or The Durutti Column. I’ve tried having Tangerine Dream on but there’s always some brilliant sound or motif that rattles me awake.

I can’t sleep without taking medication. Trazodone, specifically. It’s not habit forming like many other sleep aids.

What I Wear:

I generally wear jeans as much as possible. Work requires slacks of whatever kind, and that’s fine too. I have a lot of t-shirts from bands we’ve shared bills with, or things I’ve picked from places I’ve visited. I really like button-up shirts. I hate polo shirts.

Breakfast:

Simple pleasures. I like eggs (over hard, typically) and bacon. Usually prefer toast as its own meal – a whole grain bread and tasty preserves. I drink coffee. Sugar, no cream.

2017.10 | Show Explosion

We played one of our coolest shows yet on Sunday night. Earlier in the year, I made the acquaintance of one John Davis. You might remember him as one half of the indie duo Folk Implosion (his partner in that project being Lou Barlow of Sebadoh/Dinosaur Jr. fame). The suggestion was made that he come to Memphis sometime, to play a show. Imagine my surprise when he booked a tour and added Memphis to the itinerary. It was on.

We faced a unique predicament – a live band without longtime collaborators Jason Pulley (keys) and Matthew Trisler (guitar). What to do? We asked our friend Jacques Granger from The Family Ghost if he’d like to join the band to play what he accurately coined the “Gillian Gilbert role” in the band.

Somewhere along the way I proposed that John join us for a Folk Implosion cover. He graciously said yes. Now it was real for me.

Sadly, the night of the show Jacques found himself unable to play, so we were down to a trio. Could we pull that off? We’ve handled hairier.

At any rate, the show started with J.D. Reager and the Cold-Blooded 3 (minus Matthew Trisler) who brought the rock per the usual and included a rendition of the Monkees tune “Sunny Girlfriend”:

(l to r: Bubba, J.D., and Eric “Wolf” Wilson)

We were then joined by one of TWO touring bands: Evil English, whose drummer is in John’s backup band The Cicadas. They were fantastically moody and minimalistic. I am looking forward to the album they have in the works!

Evil English (l to r: Rob Chamberlain, Lindsey Elcessor)

Finally, it was time for John to play. His band, a three-piece themselves, created a surprisingly heady and dense wall of music – and John is a great and unconventional guitarist.

John Davis & the Cicadas (l to r: Rob Chamberlain, Justin Blatt, John Davis)

And then, it was time. Josh, Eric and I. We were joined by Jason for “(If I Held You) Close To Me” (unspoken rule: if Jason is around he must sing his part!) and John did indeed join us to perform “Pole Position”. Amazing. He seemed really happy when I hit Lou’s harmony in the last chorus.

Photo by Jason Pulley (l to r: Eric “Wolf” Wilson, John Davis, Josh Stevens, and yours truly)

Oh, what a night.

SETLIST: I Give Up Everyday, But I Never Manage To Walk Away / Ampersands / If This Is Forward / (If I Held You) Close To Me / First Episode / Pole Position (with John Davis)

2017.9 | Recording Update + Shows

Last Thursday, I tracked guitars and vocals with J.D. for “Over and Over”, “Tabula Rasa”, and “Motivational”:

• “Over and Over” is not a song I had originally considered for the album (having recorded it at home, I was considering it for my recent Obscura collection until I realized I was keen on a lyric rewrite).

• “Tabula Rasa” is very old but I revisited the vocals a couple years ago and have been meaning to bring it to the band.

• “Motivational” has been in several live sets since 2016. If you’ve seen it live, this version is a little less amped up but it’s still pretty loud.

LIVE SHOWS:
8/6/17 – Growlers w/John Davis (Folk Implosion) and J.D. Reager & the Cold-Blooded Three
November – Growlers w/Overlake and The Family Ghost

Xo
Jack

2017.8 – Ar-can’t-saw

This sounds much worse than it actually was, but it was definitely a trying time!

The premise was simple: my first show in Arkansas since the Pneumatic Girls played there in 2013, plus a chance to get one of my best friends (Robert M. Jones) back on stage one more time. It expanded some to include my longtime musical collaborator Matthew Trisler, which was quite welcome as I was really nervous about playing a solo acoustic show.

My girlfriend and I made it to North Little Rock without incident, stopping briefly to drop the kids off with my parents. It was good to see Robert and Jamie again and we had a great visit prior to the show. Robert and I ran some CDs to the Arkansas Record & CD Exchange – it's good to have allies in every city you visit. While there, we touched base with our buddy Reade Mitchell whom was helping out with the show (on stage with percussion, as well as helping us secure a PA). A little later we made our way over to Reno's Argenta Cafe. The vibe in the place is pretty cool, as is the service and food. We were pretty excited. I assisted Reade with the PA and hooked my Tascam multitrack up in an effort to get a good recording of the show. We ate and I ran about hamming it up with the regulars. Reade's wife, Carla, made it out to the show as well as a number of old friends from my college days.

Robert's set was great – brief, but I like to think he made a great impression on people. I got onstage and played melodica on "You Will Cover Me". Matthew followed and his set was great, but the bar had me stop him short (time, and also the regulars supposedly weren't sticking around – a "running people off" thing) – talk about super super awkward. I think that probably rattled me.

So it was time for me to play and I, uneasy about the end of the previous set but appropriately fueled by Shiner Bock, cranked it up in earnest. Then it hit me: I can't hear anything. My guitar, my vocals, Reade's perc, NONE OF IT. "Motivational" came and went, roughly, then "Ampersands" … "First Episode" … "Sundaydrunk" … all rough. Someone ran up to address the problems – no one could hear me sing. I could relate. I began to deflate. I was a little too tipsy to have a full-on anxiety attack. I started cutting songs, really rushing to get the energy in the room back up (and also so I could get the HELL off the stage). Robert jumped onstage to sing the big finish of "(If I Held You) Close To Me" and that was pretty awesome. The only song I felt genuinely good about was a manic cover of Bob Dylan's "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine". We finished and I was really glad it was over. The staff at Reno's (even considering the awkward moment with Matthew's set) were exceptionally gracious and kind, and took good care of us. I'd love to go back. Maybe with a band.

We went back to Robert & Jamie's house, did a lot of laughing, and I sort of finished myself off with rum and a memorable visit to the restroom to exorcise some spirits. God bless my girlfriend – I've no clue why she puts up with me.

We drove home, picked up the kids, and proceeded to have car trouble so after an obscene amount of time we made it back to town. I'm surprised I didn't kiss the ground.

Happily, Robert and Matthew's sets recorded nicely, and mine did not. All the easier to forget it.

SET*: Motivational Poster / Ampersands / First Episode / Sundaydrunk / For Old Friends / We Died Laughing / If This is Forward / (If I Held You) Close To Me / Most Likely You'll Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine (Bob Dylan)

* From memory, which may be very spotty.

2017.6 – Overlake

NOTE: Video from the show can be found at https://www.facebook.com/thecauldronmemphis/videos/2025157331045041/ – lots of love to The Cauldron and Heather W., who does her part and the parts of three or four other people to elevate Memphis.

SET LIST: I Give Up Everyday, But I Never Manage To Walk Away / First Episode / Ampersands / Terror In the Aisles / (If I Held You) Close To Me / For My Favorite / Brakes / Umbrage

This was the first live appearance of the song “Umbrage”. This was also Matthew Trisler’s final show as a full-time member of the band. The weather was horrible and a lot of people didn’t turn out. Overlake played a lot of music from their new album, Fall, and were amazing as always.

2017.5: Back On the Horse – 03.04.17 @ The P&H Cafe 

Photo: Reade Mitchell

Set list: If This is Forward (solo)/I Give Up Everyday, But I Never Manage To Walk Away*/Ampersands/Sundaydrunk/Home*/Terror in the Aisles*/Eye (Smashing Pumpkins cover)/For My Favorite/(If I Held You) Close To Me/Bad Day For Science

Lots of new things happening here: new drummer, new songs, new cover (don’t do many of those)!

We got to play with Reade Mitchell, from Little Rock AR. He was a DJ back in my high school years who had a great impact on me, and when I found out he made music a couple months ago I invited him to come to town! Perhaps that’s a little indulgent of me but his set was lots of fun, and maybe it will also lead to shows in Arkansas. We would love to come see you folks this summer.

Our friends J.D. Reager & the Cold-Blooded Three also played (well, to be fair J.D. and I share bandmates) and it was one of my favorite sets of his, to date.

The first show with new drummer Josh Stevens was a lot of fun. We debuted “I Give Up Everyday” which sounded like a great garage/psych number with the band, and had started playing the chords from “Texas Can’t Have You Back” in a different way which became something in progress called “Home” (for the moment!) And get this: we finally played “Terror in the Aisles” live! 

We also tried our hand at a cover of Smashing Pumpkins’ song “Eye”, though we played it like a slow-burning rock number. Covers are often a struggle for me, but this one turned out pretty well. It was fun, at least.

I was really anxious about how to replace Dik in the live band, but Josh is right for the group. I couldn’t be happier. We were also short one Jason Pulley, but he made it to the show and got onstage to do his end vocal for “Close to Me”.

Taking a couple months to tighten up before our May gig at Growlers (more on that later) and for recording the next album …

Photo: Reade Mitchell (l to r: Matthew Trisler, J.D. Reager, Reade Mitchell, Jack Alberson, Josh Stevens, Jason Pulley)