With the album set now firmly set for a Dec 9 release, and our first track 'Being Beige' premiering on Monday, I've jaunted over to one of my favorite cities in the world, Berlin, for a zillion face-to-face interviews.
Berlin holds many memories for me, as SP first played here in 1992. And boy, the Germans weren't sure what to think of our trip. And I'm not sure they still do, but this round of press has been very supportive of the new album, with lots of kudos handed around. One kind man even told me yesterday that our record was the best he'd heard in 20 years 'from any band'; not just Pumpkins. Quite a compliment!
Also, Berlin was home for many years to my good friend Rudolph Kicken, who recently passed away from illness. 'Rudy' was a visionary, and as an art dealer who specialized in avante-garde photography taught me so much about life. He will be sorely missed, and is as I walk these streets.
So here's to Rudolph, and all he stood for. I hope to make him proud....
Ok, so we've got this new jam, but I can't tell you the title 'cause it's too good; and somebody will steal it. CALX? I've no fear…
So for now we'll call the song COMFORTABLY DUMB. And if Shredder's enthusiasm is any indicator, we've finally turned the corner into making the record we'd like to make.
But first a diversion. Because in looking for a video director for what should be our first single's little moviette, Jeff and I had to sort through a whole lot of stuff that featured models walking through fields, and ghetto wannabe's acting hard in front of an HD camera. Typical fare, nothing incendiary, mind you, but the kind of stuff that used to make me wince back when I made multiple videos a year.
"Same shit," I told Shredder, "different decade."
And folks, let me say there sure are a lot of beautiful people these days, walking slowly towards a future that is always, always, always bright. History will fix that, I'm guessing, but suffice to say that I was on this journey with this lot and their music. Which tends to be sparse and laptop-friendly. So you can understand why I went out of my way to find a few rock clips that might be more in our wheelhouse. But…
I found the rock stuff even more tired! "Oy," I thought, "I can see why the kids listen to this other stuff!" And I mentioned that to Jeff when I came in to work on our secret tune. He said he'd felt the same thing. Which led us to discuss what it meant to make a future-leaning record when we know the guitar is becoming persona non-grata in a world beyond our control.
COMFORTABLY DUMB *sounds* like it should be on SIAMESE DREAM, and done that way I'd be accused (as I tend to be accused) of 'ripping myself off' (IE listening to my old work to find new inspiration).
"Um, no," says William. "If I was going to do that I'd have done it when I apparently stopped writing hits." Yawn…
Pick your year on that.
Anyway, so Jeff and I got out the Music Machine Modular and started looking for some magic. And found enough to bounce the song at least from the 90's back to the 80's. We had a good laugh about that.
"Fudge it," I said, and we tried doing it 'Howard's Way'. Think: 4 on the floor kick drum till you die.
"You have to admit it's more exciting," Shredder said; and he was right. So we let that be. But the chorus, that wasn't happening with the d-i-s-c-o.
So for that I stacked up some good old skool SP guitars. Now that, that worked.
"We're rebelling against Howard," Jeff said; and again he was right. Rock on…
According to various 'news' sources, Resistance Pro no longer has a television show in production. Which is funny, because I'm currently in Minneapolis with R Pro filming that 'cancelled' show.
Think of it this way: a band starts making album. But halfway thru process the Label they're on decides they only want a certain type of music (in this case: original programming, not unscripted). Band keeps making album while another label is found. Simple, but with various unknowns.
So here's what I can share: AMC Network so far has been great. As have our production partners Left-Right, who are with us here to film tonight's event. And though there are grim elements to a story like this (change, people getting fired) there might yet be a silver lining.
I for one have worked for 3 years on this, and after innumerable meetings and lawyers and all that jazz, I remained convinced that we have in our hands a groundbreaking show. Yes, that means to imply that you can have pro wrestling and groundbreaking in the same sentence.
And though there have been huge disappointments along the way (the least of which is the low hanging fruit: of rockstar + wrestling = stupidity, etc; the greatest involving how the addition of cameras turns usually normal folk into Pontius Pilate), I still hold on to the notion that it is better to try to break molds than preserve them. And with this show, as-yet untitled, we have; and if given the chance: we will.
But not before I take a sober look at what's involved. And not before I contemplate what any further interface with the world (beyond rock and roll) asks of me.
As most of you who read the Nexus know, I have a new album coming out in less than 2 months. And invariably I'll be asked, 'why do a show like this?'
The answer, if there is one, is because the show explores a truly unexplored sub-culture; filled as it is with good souls and troubled ones. And what happens to that sub-culture if you add, like a deus ex machina, a kind hand. If American cultural life is any indication, something innocent will be sacrificed for something cheap; and that, my friends, is where the real 'why' question should be asked.
I'll be brief, I'll be fair, 'cause I've (almost) been everywhere…
No fun, no games, just flat out prose. 'Cause where DJ's make the loot, rockers make zeroes…
So where are we? Or should I not include you in the we? (My hive mind revealed)
Still working on CALX (day 5-6? Can't remember). Huge breakthrough yesterday, a kind reminiscent of ADORE/FUTURE EMBRACE where the process itself takes the writing to new places. For if MONUMENTS TO AN ELEGY is familiar, like a lost symphony, than DAY FOR NIGHT is that subconscious dream that you can't remember; a ruinous chase.
And if my dreams are indication, we're in the murky space between dimensions. Also, Howard is coming back soon. But not to save us/I. He'll be there/here to expedite process. I might be an ace producer, but I'm slow as an engineer driver. Or as Howard says to me: "You break them."
A tip of the the hat to the aggrieved. Today's work will be fleshing out CALX's bass parts, Shredder's lead (yes, we have ONE). And whatever is needed to make a chorus sound like a chorus. No 'lift' here though, as the chorus downshifts to nothing. It's c-o-o-l.
As the Pumpkins were breaking up in 2000, I was approached with an idea: why not do an animated series around the characters I'd built for the Machina 'play'; with the purpose of developing a ground-breaking and unfolding musical work that would use the world-wide web to its then limited capability. Obviously, I agreed, as evidenced by Brian's poster here, for a show that was begun but abandoned. Not by me though, as I assigned the rights to a production team that was putting together the episodes themselves. Personally, I was excited by the implications, especially given Machina's tepid critical response, and also for the fact that another companies interest prodded what was that Virgin Records (R.I.P.) into believing they'd made some mistake in a) not supporting the record properly, and b) letting me walk contractually without much in the way of an offer.
So it's a shame the series was never finished, not released in any real way. Done right and well, I believe it would have put a different light on my motivations and actions in that time. But like so many good ideas in rock and roll, it died at the well. Not because the production team failed, but the controlling company (their parent so to speak) was sold.
Here's another head scratcher. I was staring at the screen and just about to bail on the track when Jeff agreed. "We can always just move on and come back to it," he said.
"No," I replied, saying I'll give it another hour. "I like the discomfort of what's being asked." Which was that we had the type of riff that bridges the gap between what I used to do circa 1991-1995 and what psedo-optimists like Howard need to hear as they jog.
The riff? A little thing. Major 7th's dancing around chords. You've heard me do it before, but never like this.
So I said to heck with guessing, and laid down a Coral Sitar guitar loop; over which was played a quick counter melody my new-old Crumar Bit-One rack keyboard. Schmantzy! My impetus to finally START making the album. "We've got to commit," I reminded Jeff, "or we'll just keep spinning around intellectually."
And with a bit of a vibe going I was able to manage to find a vocal melody that implied something more regal than the folk-song bs I had. Not that it was bad, my folkie hokey. It just wasn't I-T. The new melody line being enough to make me think I was on the edge of some greater territory, but (and it's a large issue) that can also mean you're just ultimately going to end up staring into a different canyon with no way out. The best songs, somehow, manage to hold a lot of light, and so that's when you 'know-know'.
9 PLANET ROCK, a horrible title if there ever was one (and it won't last), came to life once I put a guitar riff over the sitar riff that was slightly, and I do mean, slightly different. Suddenly I saw lighters in the air; in my mind, of course. Which does't mean anything except that that subtle shift I found: same idea, almost same tempo (a bit slower), made me excited. Because for the first time I could *feel the album we're hinting at.
"That's it," I pointed out to Jeff. "That's the difference." Translation: all the other frills are cool, but it's gonna be the guitar here that brings things to boil. And not just any guitar stuff, but those riffs that in their microcosm touch the macro of cosmos, and yearning, etc. Which is really f'n funny considering the style as it were is the same style I hatched in my bedroom: oh, about 1983. What my dad used to call 'going all Hendrix…"
So here's to Jimmy and that 3rd Stone From the Sun.
Oh, and P.S. SPANIARDS is out, and back to b-sidesLand.
Our dog-friend Keller in Evanston needs some love!
Can you help KELLER? After being abandoned at the shelter as a puppy, Keller grew up behind bars and has been looking for a home for way too long! He's a gorgeous, loveable, rambunctious boy who's had a rough time of life, including surgery for an intestinal obstruction. Keller never met a human or dog he didn't like and is incredibly tolerant of even the pushiest pups. He shares everything with everyone, dog and human alike, and is good with dog-savvy cats. Although he's learned some great manners, he's still a young pup who can get overexcited and mouthy, and he needs an experienced owner who can keep working with him. Whoever does will get the reward of an amazing dog.
Contact the Evanston Animal Shelter, 2310 Oakton in Evanston IL, 847-866-5080 or EASadoptions@gmail.com