Thursday, December 23, 2004

Where is my pizza?

Jim here. Awesome recording session at Mark’s the other night! This was such a good idea. Not really all that rehearsed or thought out, but that has been the MFA motto so far and part of what makes this whole adventure fun. I want to be credited as “synthesizer sound engineer” as the sounds I picked for “The One That Got Away” were quite awesome if I do say so myself. While this won’t be the glossy production that we hope to get at Inner Ear, there is something really nice about having a song mostly done in one day. You guys will love it. Matt finally got to play keys on something, which I am sure he was dying to do. He’s eying my keyboard a little funny these days so I made sure I put it away and out of his reach in a safe place.
Back in 1998, I recorded a song at Pitt’s radio station, WPTS. I played Drums, Guitar, Bass and sang and my friend Kyle played lead guitar and keys. I was quite proud of the way we recorded that tune and I am sure Matt is feeling the same way about this effort as well. Matt, Mark and I all have the same reverence and appreciation for music. I can’t of a better group of guys to be making music with. Anyway, I’ll leave the holiday rock sappiness behind as I make my way to Pittsburgh this evening. Happy Festivus today.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Busy Bee

Matt here. Last night went to dinner with somoe really good friends at an unspecified Italian eatery of vast proportions. To narrow it down, it's in DC, usually has a huge line out front, and you have to get there early, as it is the only good pasta restaurant in the area. Anyways, there is nothing quite like seeing people you don't see much anymore, yet the connection is always there. Call me some holiday sentimentalist, but friends' quirks provide me endless entertainment/thought/fodder, always wondering "why don't I see these people more?" Durst is back from Brooklyn for a while, and was a surprise addition to dinner with Bruce, Tammy and Philip. Pat called it the "Zero Beat Dinner" ha.

Replaced Sister Lovers/Third by Big Star (savagely stolen from my car last week) at Crooked Beat in Adams Morgan. Infinitely better than #1 Record/Radio City with is infinitely better than anything else that came out at the time. I prefer my Memphis soul to be with fake brit accents, which is odd, because fake brit accents on american bands now drives me nuts. Go spend money at Crooked Beat, for the love. DC needs more good record shops, Tower be damned!

Ended up playing Halo 2 until the wee hours of the morning. Okay, not being a videogamer-type, I got my guts handed to me by Bruce. For someone who couldn't beat Super Mario Brothers, playing any game that requires full use of both thumbs on some swivle stick pad thing and pulling triggers simultaneously proved too much. At least Philip and I beat Galaga 2 before that, or else I'd have left with my 12 year old inner self in tatters.

Not once did anyone exclaim "the button won't let me shoot!" a la my true 12 year old inner self.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

And December gets Weird…

Pixies at Constitution Hall: completely satisfied with the level of rock. The encore alone could power 10 lesser bands for about a year.

The on-stage murder of Dimebag Darrell: Not being the biggest Pantera fan (listened to Far Beyond Driven some back in the day), or metal fan for that matter, I do not have any personal attachment… other than the sense of how wrong this is/was. It really freaks me out that whatever spat occured in Pantera's demise could provoke someone to actually want to kill one of the parties involved… not to mention in front of 250 people.

This has really weighed heavily on my conscience today, much the same as the Great White show in Rhode Island almost two years ago (which coincidentally has me scoping out potential exits every time I go to a show).

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Chavez, and GBV

Saturday night we ambled over to Irving Plaza for the recently reunited Chavez opening for GBV. It was a shame, but we witnessed a "moment." You know, one of those times where you are there to witness something that could be definitive and the only thing you have to rely on is your memory from that point on. Well, sadly, this moment was the last song by Chavez. Having not played together for a while, before the last song, Matt Sweeney announced "well, this is our last song, and since it very well could be our LAST song…"

It felt as if a bizarre chapter in obscuro-90's rock had closed… with nearly inaudible frequencies crushed out by a hollowbody guitar, leaving us with bands nowadays who try on genres like clothing. There was something more genuine from when bands churned about approximating Sabbath, but even then by a longshot.

And then on to GBV. The songs are there. The words are somewhat a kin to marshmallow fluff (taste good, little nutritional value). The music is poppy, ambitious, mod at times. And so was the booze. After the pompous, retrospective slide show, the band was not in any hurry to take the stage. Once they did, they were not in a hurry to get anywhere… and played a heavy handed collection of obscure EP tracks. They definitely played for the hardcore audience (ie, the crowd that cares they are going away), as opposed to me– someone who will be happy with their "best of" CD, and the idea of the band, not the reality. I like the idea you can just go out and do it, that you can take up at any point in your life and follow some passion to the point of people actually believing you. The reality, of course, being that when you release every song you ever write, a few of them will be great. In GBV's case, Bob Pollard has been at it long enough to have a lot of those great ones… and a ton of forgettable crap (either by content or fidelity).

The stage "banter" which went from adversarial to incoherent between audience shared swigs of tequila, only underscored my own hunger. Actual hunger. From having not have eaten since noon. Strangely, the songs held together (I guess they have practice with beer soaked performance thing) and we stuck around long enough to hear "Glad Girls" and the hilarious PA mic interplay between Matt Sweeney of Chavez and a ridiculously inebriated Pollard ("keep it together, Bob, play a song"), but things could only get worse by blood alcohol content standards, or by pompous stage move decency standards. Flying kicks I dig. Mic-twirling I dig. Teasing the audience with cigs and miller lite is so… so… uh… incredibly juvenile and lame.

I have now invented a new standard by judging performances:
How Much Of This Would Offend My Brother
"Punch the guy next to you if he bought a Counting Crows CD": signs point to neutral
The whole soliloquy about trusting people who drink, not trusting people who don't (and audience/pogrom roar): signs point to yes

Ah yes, and now into the afternoon of international shipping. There could be a GBV title in there somewhere!

Tis the season

matt here again…

Just remembered this: while looking for a gift for my nephew last night, I came across a child-size replica of Ron Artest's Pacers jersey at Marshalls in Pentagon City mall. Any takers?

Monday, December 06, 2004


Friday night was the most fun I have had out in a very, very long time. Not just because the band was playing, but there were good vibes everywhere. We feel fortunate to have the friends we do, and thank you deeply for your support. We were so happy, we were babbling on the mic. Yes, yes, y'all, mic's are fun.

Sean Winter played a great set, closing with "Angeles" by Elliott Smith. Very nice. Laura Burhenn pulled "Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star out of nowhere. Without that lonely slide guitar, at first I thought it was lacking. Then I couldn't stop fixating on the sound of the keys. Utterly gorgeous.

The best part of the night came late in the game. We had finished our set and were 80% done loading out. Being the responsible gear hauler I am, I was also playing DD… we had bought the bartenders some shots in gratitude, and WHAM, Russ is on the underside of a stool, spinning around and around like some bizarre, whirling dirvish rodeo. His friends (whose names I forget) also joined in, attempting the feat, but the rest of us stood around in awe, hilarious captivating, spell-bound, laughing hysterically in awe of Russ' talent/skill/revered showstopper.

More posts as the week goes on. If you want to know the setlist, drop us an email and we'll crank it out to you. NYC was a quick trip (more on that later) capped by visiting David Durst who is living in Brooklyn now. It sounds strange to say "visiting" but it is such an insipiration when friends pick up on their destiny and follow it, regardless of logic. A friend of a friend is gone on tour, and very kindly let us stay at her place for the night… David was saying Jenny Toomey had stayed the week before. We felt like royalty.

More shows coming up! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Staccato and Beyond

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. I sat in the Ape House at the Zoo for about an hour, and for that I am thankful. But, the past is gone. This next week is shaping up to be quite the doozy.

Okay, that is an understatement. This year has been a doozy, the year of rock. Anne and I went to Coachella, and saw everyone from Dios to The Cure. Since then, of course, there have been several good shows, but nothing like this next week.

This week started with Brice Woodall and Monopoli at the Hut Sunday, and will move forward with Ted Leo at the Black Cat on Thursday (if you don't count Verbal at the Backstage Tuesday, hey, a brother's gotta sleep sometime). Then, we have our show at Staccato Friday night. Check this out, by some stroke of dumb luck, Jim had an extra for one of GBV's final shows in NYC Saturday night. Barely being able to see past this weekend, we've got the Pixies next Wednesday here in DC.

This is why I moved to DC in the first place, to be in proximity to such shows… and the gods of rock have smiled. There's a Tenacious D song in here somewhere…

We'll be armed with a camera, so look for some kind of stab at photojournalism, but Jim is keen to remind me that it won't flow with our website redesign. I'll find some way to post them that won't distract.

And please come out to our show this Friday. We know there are tons of good shows that night (Magnetic Fields, Blonde Redhead, Brice, the Homes,etc), but Sean Winter, Laura Burhenn and My Friend Autumn will be in fine form and ready to make you glad you did.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Immort Ale

Who gets 120 points in Skeeball? I suck. Mid-Autumn (no pun) at the Delaware shore is something to see. It was very chill and the company was awesome. Most of the places I would want to go were open, yet not crowded. Dogfish Head's beer sampler is the right taste at the right price. I was also able to do some tax-free music shopping as well picking up the latest Shins (finally!) and Ted Leo/Rx records. Oh, I also picked up 4 one-inch round pins. Yes, I am 28 and still collect one-inch round pins. I think the bands were Jawbox, Afghan Whigs, Built to Spill and... uh... Damn. I forgot what the other one was. Beware of Jiffy-Pop though. I almost burned down the place I was staying at.

Oh yeah, the other pin was Superchunk.

Artomatic was cool. I hopped on stage right after a 3-hour car trip from my weekend getaway to Delaware. Even with very little practice it felt good to be playing again. I think we were playing just the right kind of mood music for looking at TONS of art. The way Artomatic is setup at this particular stage, it is almost as if you are an exhibit in itself. We didn't distract, but blended in, calling attention to ourselves only as much as we had to. My favorite comment about the band is: "it sounds like more than just guitar and drums". I take that to mean that we fill out the sound very well and we don't sound thin. I threatened to take my pants off around song #3. Sadly, it didn't happen.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Fourth Wall

Yesterday's show was a good time, thanks for coming out. I have to apologize for being outside of myself with a fever, hope it didn't come through too much. Artomatic is a very interesting scene, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the video looped sex scene from Monster's Ball. What a frightfully fantastic walk through the minds of several artists. Philip D'Ambrosio said it best when he spoke about getting a window into the inner workings of the artist. Though he was referring to the Pet Sounds box set, the same applies at Artomatic. I urge you to check it out, walk around maybe with headphones on, and take it all in.

Just as much, what the crap was Ron Artest thinking? I am not a huge NBA fan, but sporting in general was done a great disservice by a display of 1) american hooliganism and 2) professional abandon. They talk about great performance breaking down the fourth wall to the audience, it's safe to say the Pacers broke that wall down and then some. And then some more.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


So we've added a second show, this Sunday at 6pm on Artomatic's Cabaret Stage.
This will be MFA stripped down, with the boost of massive reverb playing in the sanctuary of a former convent. Wandered around a bit on site last night, and saw about 1% of the art displayed there. Then we went on a witch hunt to find an alternate drumset for Jim to play, and ended up getting a beer at Staccato. And listening to someone play an awful medley of 80's songs. Okay, I secretly enjoyed hearing Take On Me go into Freedom go into Faith (both George Michael)… why doesn't anyone cover Howard Jones?

Also picked up a print copy of On Tap, the current issue profiles friend Laura and friend Brice. Dig!

Songs of the moment:
I Think of Demons- Roky Erickson
Cold Brains- Beck
September Gurls- Big Star

Reading Cash by Johnny Cash. What would it mean if I said I hadn't seen Evil Dead yet?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Shift On The Fly, Baby!

"It's drums, it's not exactly rocket science"
-Jim Greif in response to our last minute booking at Artomatic, and lack of rehearsal therefore. This is why I love playing music with him.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Bob, The Edith

"I'm looking for a way out of politics, for a way to bring everyone back as one. We've been divided by masters who spin us a song, but say very little than what we already know. I'm turning off my radio. I'm turning off my television. I'm gonna talk to the man and the moon about how the mrs. mom treats him right. Resignations, hesitation marks… they're all the same."

At least bad politics spawns great art, we have that going for us.

Listening to rough mixes from the studio last week and plotting an earlier return. I'm imagining a world where I can pay everyone who works on this record in Bob and Ediths.

Jim is back in town, and we have much to talk about.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Day 2 in the studio

Went into Inner Ear this weekend to lay down some more tracks for album TBA with Nick Anderson engineering.

Okay, it just feels good being able to say Day 2 and report on it. Mind you, Day 1 was back in May. It took us some time to get back together with life happening and all. I brought my former band in to do a song. Okay, it just feels completely trite to use the words "former band" here, Bruce and Philip are like brothers.

The vibe was loose and relaxed, and there was much laughter. Much of that credit goes to the others, as I'm business too much of the time. It is a priviledge to work with people that I have such respect for, and to watch them work around a composition that previously existed in very ragged 4-track form. Bruce had an interesting time working around one of the tempo changes, and the subsequent release completely jumps off of the tape. You can literally hear the drummer nail the change, and then pour himself out through the outro of the song. I only hope mixing does this justice.

Two more songs are done nearly in their entirety, one done nearly completely live. With one mic (!). Some decisions were made on the fly, but we are about 75% done with the record now. Or, at least done with the basic tracking. Chances are we will take these out of the studio and tweak them quite handily. You just can't afford to tinker in the studio like you used to. Or, um, when you are footing the bill.

As soon as I can figure out the streaming of videos, I'll post some of the shenanigans to the main page. When in South Arlington, please visit Weenie Beenie. It'll love you up and call back the next day, just to say hello and see how you're doing.


Friday, November 05, 2004

District Represent

Okay, on the heels of my beloved Red Sox winning a World Series, everything has a sheen that prevents me from adequately putting my feet on the ground. I am generally nicer, and am even dispensing my limited "knowledge" of html and even worms/viruses (more on that) toward the greater good. Go me.

So now the powers that be of Washington baseball are reporting that the Expos will likely be named the Nationals when they get started up here. Not quite as good as the Greys (though they were actually a Pittsburgh team), and exponentially (pardon the near pun) better than the debiliating Senators. The Nationals. Hmmm… let me drink on it.

So here is my new beef. Viruses/Worms are the new "Boston Red Sox losing in the post season." Seriously. This crap has to go. My roommate was infected by some virus that has sent out personal information transmitted through emails. I don't know how it all works, but it has sucked out her ability to live, and laugh, and love. So if you get some email that says "End Tyranny, Vote Kerry" flip a bird at the young voters who didn't show, and the rest of the country that can't see they have voted for four more years of rights being taken away from us. Not to mention the bird for the worm people. Gross.

That being said, I live in a place where 90% of people agree with me. If not, feel free to comment and discuss. It's what patriots do.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

What Am I, 12?

So I think I am 12 again. Or still. I can't tell.

All I know is it's cold and raining outside, and I made myself some hot cocoa. But, instead of doing the adult thing and using one packet, I put two in there. So, now I've got myself a significantly heavier cup of cocoa that is twice as delicious.

Try this at home kids.

Seriously. Oh yeah, and we've got a show coming up. Check out the shows page. Na na na boo boo.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Moving from Boston when I was 15 was a pivotal moment in my life. The early 90's presented a challenge: how to follow the Red Sox in a city without NESN, TV-38, or satellite providers who could come through. We drifted apart for a bit. I found no solace in the (spotty at best) Charlotte Hornets, nor in the minor league franchise that played across the border in South Carolina. I would see Field of Dreams on TBS and watch it only to weep at the scene shot at Fenway Park, and reminisce about the time 3 friends (Steve Brown, Jason Scott, and Nick Governale) and I snuck from the free bleacher seats I scored from the Globe, to approximately the same section, completely by accident.

I started watching games again as soon as I could figure out when they were on, but not enough to keep up. I'd been back a couple of times to see old friends, but we were too busy catching up to rekindle our mutual affliction/affection for the Red Sox. For example, at 19, we were too busy talking about college to strike up a pick up game in the cul de sac ("the circle") or gawk at one another's card collections.

Sherm Fellers voice, forever engrained in my conscience, I have now come full circle. I called everyone (um, three of you!) whose number I hadn't lost (um, most of you!) to celebrate the unthinkable. 8 games of beautiful baseball: fantastic fielding, heroic pitching, and rock-solid batting. There is nothing that I could say that hasn't been said before. Sure, a Red Sox championship could never undo my departure from Boston, but at least it could bring me back closer to some of my roots. I'm just a kid in Section 31, trying to catch foul balls with my hat.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

NATO: command me

Hey all,
Jim here, I’m feeling the midterm crunch but I do my best blogin’ when I am procrastinating. I’m digging The North Atlantic CD that Matt let me barrow. I’m going to see I heart Huckabees tonight, despite the mixed reviews of people who watch movies for a living. Mixed is better than bad. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m feeling the drumming itch… and the show itch for that matter. MFA will prolly play out before any of my other bands. Ironic, don’t you think? Well, only if you know us. And that would be the only reason you would be reading this so…

anyway, back to the grind.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

All Grudges Final

I sit here in a room lighted by a lamp on a dimmer switch, about half-lighted, finishing the remains of spiced apples that didn't make it into the pie last night. Cinnamon good. Sugar good. Flour, not so much. Rode the red line up to Van Ness after work to give love to the local record shop- Revolution Records. There is something godless about Tower, however easy it might be.

Picked up "From A Basement on A Hill" by Elliott Smith, and I am struck here listening. It is lush, and will take several listens to fully digest. Every fade out and every pregnant cacophonic pause gives extra weight to the already fatalistic beauty that it is. My response, as soon as I finish typing this, I'm going to the Iota to see my friend Laura play. It's raining, I'm a little tired and phased.


Why not?

Memory Lane

The new Elliott Smith record is out today. Having had to go across town for a doctor's appointment, I haven't been able to pick it up yet. At it's best I am sure it will be phenomenal, being a big fan of Elliott's attention to detail; but at it's worst I am sure it will be flattening, and full of innuendo that will remind just how fragile a state Elliott was in. It's amazing that even in a death such as his (a friend commented "I think that is the saddest thing I have ever heard" upon me relaying the news), people have found solace of their own, as if to build Elliott's mythology even more, immortalized by his own oblivion.

As the blog phones light up, let me just say I performed in the tribute show in Richmond and I was amazed at the community that had popped up around his memory. It was easily the most attentive crowd I have played to.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Is this thing on?

I am in the process of going through self-imposed web-training bootcamp. Bear with me. I had carrots and pizza for lunch, and am ramping up to make the 7 plus hour drive to my parents' place tonight. I've got a personal bet with myself over whether or not my dad will be asleep in front of the TV when I arrive, late night. The consumate gentleman, he will snap to attention to greet any and all visitors that might show up in tow with his sons no matter what time of night. Well, usual suspects being (1) wife and (1) girlfriend, and sometimes the back door is locked, either way, it'll be nice to see if I am wrong or right, or both. I'm confused.