Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Meat PuppetsThis is a good article on theMeat Puppets
Another sad story about a band with all the promise in the world who lost everything because of drugs. But they're back now. Read up.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Avoid Wet Blanket SyndromeI recently started posting The Plastic Flappybats songs in Hold My Life.
My friend Frank and I recently studied the craft of songwriting from Peter Case. Hold My Life readers will recognize Peter through his songs that have been featured in various episodes of the comic, music fans will know Peter from his work with the Nerves, the Plimsouls, and also through his amazing body of solo music since the Plimsouls disbanded.
Anyway, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Peter Case. One of the first things he told us in the class was "avoid wet blanket syndrome" - basically don't be your worst enemy, don't get halfway done with the song, decide it sucks and give up on it. Finish your songs and if you decide later that it sucks, well you don't have to play it anymore.
Beyond that, he said to write, write, write. Write every day. And he gave us some valuable tools, using examples from songs written by people like Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Lennon, McCartney and himself, to name just a few. Westerberg's name even came up a couple times... we really dug into the craft of songwriting, and the things that are universal in great songs. You'd be surprised...
Anyway, he gave us new and different colors for our pallette, gave us songwriting assignments every week and sent us out into the world to write songs. And I appreciate Peter's willingness to take neophyte poserus like us into his world and give us the time of day.
We know we're not ever gonna get a record deal-- and honestly, none of us really gives a shit. We're not gonna get our big break. We're probably never gonna get offered the opportunity to play a show anywhere but at Karmic Calamity on First Fridays (kind'a hard to lose that gig cuz I own the joint)-- and we don't really care. The Flappybats just wanna play songs, and hopefully people dig it as much as we like playing.
So that's where the songs are coming from. The class itself gave me greater insight into the life and mind of a songwriter, and I've begun applying that to Penny's story as well. But part of me kept saying "well if you put music in your comic, why aren't you putting your own stuff in there"
And it makes sense. Kind'a putting our money where our mouth is. Yes, the recording quality is haphazard, they're poorly mixed (I never said I was a producer or an engineer), the vocals aren't so hot (I never said I was a good singer) and there are mistakes a-plenty to be found on the recordings (I never said I was Keith Richards). But I think the spirit is there, and you know what? I like the damn songs. We think (well, most of us think) they sound pretty good when we play them live, and they're a hell of a lot of fun to play. And that's the approach Penny's taking in the comic. She keeps saying that everything in life is so heavy, so many things dragging her down, that she wants to write fun, groovy, poppy songs and just entertain people.
So keep that in mind when you listen to the songs in the comic. The Flappybats have songs titled Stumblin Blind, Due West, Far Away, Little Miss Think Twice, Clove Cigarettes, One Hit Wonder, I Don't Know and High Heel Mary. And coincidentally, Penny has songs with those exact same titles.
I think of those songs appearing in the comic as The Flappybats from the comic covering Penny's music. I like to think of those guys waiting for Johnny to leave the studio, and knocking out a cover of Little Miss Think Twice while he's out buying smokes cuz they like her songs better than his.
Unfortunately, they have no idea how to produce a recording.
Just have fun with it, be kind, and hopefully you'll dig the songs.
Cleaning HouseFunny thing happened to me awhile back.
A lonnnng time ago, I'd written a blog entry about the night that a bunch of us wrote a song for our friend Betty, former bartender of the former bar formerly known as the Pit, where we formerly spent most of our free time.
We met a guy there named Richard Alexander-- I dubbed him the Pianist of Doom. Richard is a cool guy, incredibly gregarious and extroverted, who helped us write our quickly cobbled together song and played the thing with us when we dragged Betts out to the lobby to hear it.
It was a fun night, everybody had quite a few, and quite a bit of banter (and more drinking) followed. Richard recently contacted me after having been pointed to the blog entry by a friend of his, and let me know that he felt that he came off looking like a goof in the story. I didn't think so, but Richard was bent about it, so I took it down.
Frankly, I'm surprised that anybody actually read the blog.
Anyway, if you're reading this Richard, sorry. Like I told you in the email I sent, it certainly wasn't my intention to piss you off. If you have a website or a myspace or something I can link to, please do send it to me, and I'll post it here.
And next time you're in Phoenix, hit me up. I'll buy you a beer and hopefully we'll have a laugh about it. We just can't go to the Pit, it's a dorm now. Ugh!
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Like a Mixed Drink Waiting To HappenI feel like I should post this while it's still fresh in my mind.
The Plastic Flappybats took the stage again tonight at Artwalk, and had a smashing time doing so this evening.
Were we good? I dunno. Do we care? Not particularly. I'm sure that I've mentioned this before: the only thing that matters is that we do the best we can do, taking into consideration our general skill level, the amount of practice we've had, and the average level of intoxication of the band at the time we play.
And, y'know what? Given those parameters-- the 'Bats freaking killed it. We had fun. We were sloppy, it was so cold out that guitars started going outta tune--- but we did our best, and we had a lot of fun in the process.
The Plastic Flappybats are the best band you'll probably never hear. And even if you did, you might just not get it. We're that lowbrow.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Open Season SoundtrackI got the opportunity to hear Westerberg's soundtrack for Open Season the other day.
It's good, catchy, poppy stuff. To me, it sounds like a return to the "14 Songs" sound. Which, for a movie soundtrack, is probably a good idea.
Can't wait for this CD to come out. And the movie, for that matter.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Various happenings of little importanceThe other day, I saw my friend Lindsay. She hasn't seen the Flappybats play for a long, long time. And every time she did see us, we were horrible. Anyway, I see her, she's telling me that a mutual friend of ours has joined the roller derby, and that the team she's on was going to be making an appearance at the Bikini Lounge here in Phoenix last Friday. We were invited to go, but couldn't because it was a First Friday and we had to have the gallery open that night.
So then we talk for a minute about First Friday. Lindsay's never done the artwalk thing, and said something to the effect of, "yeah, I'll have to do that sometime".
If she was going to do it, I mentioned, she should try to make it the First Friday in October, because the Flappybats are planning to start playing outdoor shows again. She looks at me, as if to say "why would I come see you guys play?" Knowing that that's exactly what she's about to say, I follow up with "We're really good now."
Without missing a beat, Lindsay says "No you aren't. You guys suck." And no matter what I say, I can't convince her that we aren't gonna go up there and be awful.
That's love. Then again, it's probably deserved skepticism, because when last she saw us play, we were truly awful. It was quite awhile ago. Back when we were still butchering "Jane Says".
I saw her the next day getting on the elevator, and said in passing "I swear, we're really good."
"No you aren't." she says, as the elevator door is closing. Drat. Foiled again. Somebody's gotta keep us honest.
Anyway, I'm starting to get geared up to play again. We haven't been able to since the Pit closed back at the beginning of July. We have been practicing, though, and should have a nice set of rockabilly songs worked up by Oct 6.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Something newI got this weird idea in my head to create Flash trailers for Hold My Life. First one went up today on GirlAMatic.
The music is from a demo that the Flappybats had cut of our first original, High Heel Mary, and I somehow convinced Rhonda to record a couple clips of Penny's narration from the first episode. Yeah, it's a little sloppy-- I prefer the term "shambolic" myself-- but it was a hell of a lot of fun to do, so I think there'll be more in the future.
Who knows, maybe I can make it a regular feature. Maybe every other week debut a new trailer. We'll see.