Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What Will They Do When They Find Out I Am Not A Real DJ?

My neice (age 6) laughed and said "yeah right" when she found out I am DJing this party on Friday. Slowly, a wave of fear enveloped me as I realized I didn't have traditional party hits that get the crowd up. I have the Kinks. I have the Beatles. I have the Zombies. I have Belle and Sebastian (there's an Onion headline in here somewhere, I dont know, something about a riot at a library or something). I do have a few room shakers, but my large-scale DJ operation has not reached epic proportions.

So today a friend slips me an iPod full of future national treasures: Akon, Rhianna, and tons of other names I do not recognize conspicuously filed next to familiar "artists" Christmas tunes. Let me go on the record: this is going to be one hell of a feat! 6 hours! Everything must go! Everything will be played! Officially, I cross the threshold of "songs I like" to "songs other people might like"

Here I go educating myself on the thuggier side of hip hop!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ah ooooooooo

Morning came really early this morning, I think Anne forgot she messed up the alarm clock, thus making 6am on the clock be 5:30am. But, who am I to not start the routine? Next thing you know you are on a foreign, earlier train with older even more uncomfortable seats. Then, you put on the Handsome Boy Modelling School and start dreaming of bagels.

The studio has been getting a lot of play lately making remixes for a big holiday party this weekend. DJ Adequate is coming on strong with an hour of brand spankin' new remixes. He is training in his dojo for the 6 hour marathon with a combination of agility and stamina. Should you see him with alcohol at this event (and believe me, the stuff is bound to be flowing) slap his hand and say "no you can't have it back silly rabbit"

he will have slept by then, which is not the case now.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Bizarre Factoid

We are all veterans. MFA consists of people who have played little or much, or a little much.

Spinning currently: "Ruby Vroom" by Soul Coughing (the patron saint of MFA). I have only played New York City once, and that was at CB's 313 Gallery, next door to CBGB. Friends said "dude, you played CBGB?!" and I'd say "no, there's a difference." And not in just a 667, the neighbor of the beast kind of way.

That difference being Soul Coughing used to throw their weekly party night there in the deep recesses of the early 90's. Who knew? If I had known at the time, chances are I would have made even more of an arse of myself on stage.

"We need new heroes"

Monday, December 03, 2007

Who Needs Daylight Savings Time?

It's amazing, once the weather starts to turn you have two options: hibernate or generate. It seems for the last 8 years of my life I have chosen the hibernation option. When the going gets cold, the cold get sleeping.

This year, my senses are starting to mold the world around me into what I want it to be (as opposed to it molding me into something reminiscent of a potato, with or without soft landing). I am simultaneously rehearsing two new bandmates, each doing amazing work on their own, as well as prepping to bring the whole operation together. The days are getting shorter, but that almost means there are fewer distractions!

In the wings (mind you, alongside the launching of our album):
Booking several friends bands in Phoenixville
Building another cover band for late winter
Creating a U2 cover act for local irish pub
Creating a French cover act for a local Creperie (!)
DJing a friends' Christmas party (uh, 6 hours?!?)
Recording a set of Christmas staples acoustically
Helping engineer a friends' band record
A weekend mountaineering trip to Grayson Highlands, VA

Wow, no time for Season Affective Disorder!

First things first, MFA are getting together this weekend for another rehearsal. We are expanding to 4 piece, and eventually 5 piece, but still need to get together to arrange the songs. Whew!


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dashboard Confessor

Watch this, now go do something!

Life has been moving at a breakneck pace for me lately, we're busy getting the band prepped. I just listened to the album master again and am about to OK it. The weekend after Betsy's funeral, I found myself at a childhood friends' wedding basically on the backside of the mountain on which I learned to snowboard in Massachusetts for only the 5th visit since leaving in 1992; the very next weekend I found myself being peppered with what I'll call Gerglish by the most adorably disobedient German children in the mountains of North Carolina, not far from where I went to college. Only to retire back to my home in Pennsylvania. The year is 2007. I am 30 years old. My father has passed. My mother-in-law has passed. My wife must think I am crazy, I cannot take it all in. I cannot process everything that is happening around me. 2,000 miles in just over 2 weeks, done in 5-8 hour increments is more motion than I could handle, given the circumstance. Man, I used to be able to champ that no questions asked with barely a cup of coffee!

And now I go back to something I used to give me fuel when I was 15. Jimmy V. Basketball season is almost in full swing (the cake games are being played now; someone tell that to UK having lost to Gardner-Webb! I think they didn't get the memo!)

So here I go, one foot in front of the other. Family. Religion. Band. Don't give up, don't ever give up.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lightning Strikes Twice

Just thought I would let you know that my mother-in-law, Betsy Moser DeMutis, passed away two weeks ago today with her family around her. Anne is hanging in there; the two of them were very close. We'd been busy with funeral arrangements, and then with sorting out things on the homefront. It's all a bit of a blur, though the time has passed quite a bit slower for me than when my father died. If you feel so inclined, please make a donation to The Clinic here in Phoenixville in Betsy's memory. They provide free healthcare to those in need, and Betsy was a huge proponent of their cause!

As my mom says, life happens when you are busy making other plans. Actually, I think John Lennon said that too.

We were busy reconfiguring the band to suit the album release, but as you can imagine we haven't been able to pick it up. The album is sounding great, thanks Burleigh! My notes are coming soon, thank you for your nudges and patience.

In other news, I attended a childhood friends' wedding in Massachusetts last weekend. Nothing like seeing the girl who was basically your little sister get married, all grown up. Speaking of which, to see a different neighbor who was 2 when I moved away was confounding. 15 years is a long time, and then to check her brothers' band on myspace. Toddlers and kindergarteners morphing into high school seniors and rock drummers! It's like having been on the moon for a decade and a half, remind me not to volunteer for the Mars mission like I've said I'd do in the past. Count me out!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hey, Aren't You...

My day-to-day life revolves around 30th Street Station here in Philly, at the crossroads of regional and local rail. My daily path takes me in the line of fire of the taxi line, in which I have to look for speeding taxis with new passengers, and speeding taxis having just dropped off passengers.

Yesterday, I look over at this line and see a vaguely familiar face attempting to cram huge road cases into the trunk of one of these taxis. Wait, that's Dan Wilson! For someone a lot less obsessive, it would mean Dan Wilson of Semisonic, the guy that wrote "Closing Time." For someone a little less obsessive, it would mean Dan Wilson, co-writer of the grammy award winning song "Not Ready To Make Nice" by the Dixie Chicks. But for me, it would mean Dan Wilson, producer of Mike Doughty's first major solo record, as well as solo artist on Rick Rubin's American Recordings.

I walk up and sheepishly ask "Excuse me, are you Dan Wilson?" 99.9% sure, he says "Yes, I am" rather distracted by the task of cramming said oblong boxes into the trunk. I reply "I am a big fan of your work, nice to meet you" and go in for a handshake. With that, I turn and walk away, headed for my train.

That's it, when you meet people you admire and you're not just Mr. Fanboy, it's kind of awkward. You don't want to let the moment slip without letting them know you know who they are, but your anonymity is a challenge to them, and they instantly have to navigate the possibilities. Especially if they're somewhat "It" at the moment (a grammy, plus a new record "Free Life" which by all reports is stellar), I can only imagine that a stranger on the street could be a) someone from the venue coming to pick you up b) that guy who keeps on showing up asking for the secrets to the universe or c) someone approaching you to co-write songs. Man, I wish our society was more like that "Sorry I was late, I had to co-write a song with a big dude whose ipod wouldn't turn off"

And what band was I listening to?
Queens of the Stone Age.


I do own "Feeling Strangely Fine" though, and just gave it a spin last week.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Yes, Master!

We got the masters back from, uh, mastering. It hasn't been tracked out yet, but upon converting the torrent back to listenable form, I am blown away by this black magic. Mr. Burleigh Seaver, my hats off to you and your dark arts! We've yet to finalize it, and will have to wait for Burleigh to get back in town.

Speaking of which, to our friends on the west coast, his band Shortstack are doing a string of dates out there starting later this week. Please check them out, tell them we said hello!

Should I admit to seeing the Smashing Pumpkins on this latest tour? I was all excited until actually being at the show. Some of the new stuff occupies the same sonic space with very little emotional resonance, though admittedly, it's my fault for not knowing it as well as everything up to 1998. Moreover, take this at face value, Billy's guitar and vocals completely drowned out the rest of the band. When you combine that with the rest of the band high tailing it off stage after the final encore to leave Billy eating up the ovation, you start connecting what this thing is really about, and sadly, that's not the way I remember it.

Good thing my obsession moved on to a band that will most likely never get back together. And this one, that can't.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Anchorage at Velvet Lounge

Our friends Anchorage (you might remember them as Eastern Homes or Sad Bastard) are playing Velvet Lounge in D.C. this coming Saturday night, October 20 prolly around 9pm. Go check them out. They've changed their instrumentation around a little, and opened up lots of spaces in their songs. One more time: go check them out!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Currently Listening to...

Stan Getz Bossa Nova.

Not to be a shill, but does it get any better than this? Holy crap, it takes me a couple of years to lose this record and then rediscover it. Verve put out this compilation in 1996, and it makes for some of the best foreground/background music I have in my collection. Some of the songs are flawlessly studio-sounding, only to have an audience clapping politely at the end. Might be studio chicanery (a la "Live at the Club" by Cannonball Adderly), but I somehow doubt it.

Makes me really want to master my nylon-stringed guitar. Sure, he is a appropriating a musical movement from Brazil, but he is doing so incorporating them into the fold. Astrud Gilberto's voice must be responsible for millions of children, much like Barry White. A friend of mine posted a blog commenting on Russia's "sex day" as a way to encourage population growth.

Russia, meet Brazil.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

DJ Adequate for Sunbeams

I didn't even have a chance to post that I had been asked to do a charity DJ set in DC before already being back from it. Wow.

We were raising money for an organization called the Sunbeam Foundation, which some friends created after the passing of their friend a few years back to a rare, pediatric brain cancer. Check it out, you can still make donations if you would like.

The event was at Indeblue (in the shadows of the Verizon Center (aka MCI Center in my day, man, can them corporations merge or what!) and I set up in an actual DJ booth. Too bad I didn't have needles for the turntables (or actual records for that matter!) but I did my set live mixtape style. No matching beats, no genre cohesion. Part chaos. Part order. Dig.

We raised somewhere in the ballpark of $1000 before tallying the cut of the bar. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

This Is Your Brain on Music

Started a book called "This Is Your Brain On Music" by Daniel J. Levitin. Have to say, when he got into the part in the beginning about the notes Miles Davis is not playing in Kind of Blue, I immediately stopped reading and put it on the iPod. Immediately I felt an urge to listen to the Dismemberment Plan. Something about mathiness and rock equals the Plan, always.

Last weekend Jim came up and we got a few good rehearsals in. Jon is ramping up with the songs nicely, so much so that we are on the cusp of bringing a fourth into the fold to fill out the songs. We have been a trio since we decided not to be a duo, so being a quartet is completely mind blowing.

We ran through the album mixes deep headphone-style, after one of the practices, and did a few fixes after flying blind for a while. It was kind of like being the only one who can land the airplane, following instructions by a pilot on the ground (we called Nick while he was on his way to work!) Turns out some of the stuff I did was right, turns out some of the other stuff I did was not so right. Either way, we smoothed out some of the kinks, and now the record is on it's way to mastering again!

Album art is coming along as well. Some goodies are being developed in addition to the record, so hopefully the launch will go off without a hitch. The website will also get an overhaul, and will devolve further into internet absurdity. I just get so tired of all the websites looking the same. We are not a gloss and sheen band. We are a roll of duct tape and a coat hanger band. Feel it.

thanks for reading,

Friday, September 07, 2007

Back from Vacationland

What can I say? August was vacationland. So much so that by the time Labor Day weekend rolled around, Anne and I withdrew from the world altogether to watch movies, hike, and basically be spontaneous. There is nothing like going away to make you want to be home, and there is nothing like being home to make you really itch to do something. So I forgot to call Jon and Jim back (my phone died), and I messed up lining up practices for the next weekend. Secretly I am glad I did, save for any grief caused to my bandmates. They are the patient type, and from what Jim has said, he could use the weekend to survey a new automobile. Just keep the license plate of the current one, my friend.

Imagine yourself in a desert. Imagine the desert full of arrid mountains, then imagine a crystal sea between those mountains. Float on your back in this imaginary salty sea in the pitch black midnight after being on planes for 30 hours. Oh, and add a full dinner and a toast with new and old friends on the back of a 75 foot (25m) sailboat. Wonder how you got there, what you did to deserve it (nevermind you have paid handsomely for it), and then start freaking out about sharks. There are no sharks, but your brain won't have any of that nonsense so you scurry to the ladder, rinse and towel off, then fall asleep above deck under bright blue stars (and the steady pulse and sporadic lightning from a disco a half mile (800m) away on the shore. WTF?

That being said, it is nice to be home. Now I get to write the book.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Started back into travel season this past weekend for MFA's #1 fan's wedding, in Palo Alto, CA. Anne and I flew into Oakland late, late, late Wednesday night and crashed pretty hard once we reached the bride's house. Not only did she get up to let us in at 2:30, she woke up before us. Now, that is hardcore.

We have a disorder: we can't sit still. We are so restless even when we are road weary and sleepy. This found us about 24 hours dangling precariously above cliffs en route to Big Sur, just to take a picture of the sign and come back. I think I found the place to dramatically drive the car off the cliff when the time comes. Wow. No more buying the farm or kicking the bucket. I'm talking flaming car extrusion.

By the time we picked up my brother in SFO that next afternoon, we had covered Monterey, Santa Cruz, Carmel and Big Sur, not to mention having helped stranded friends in San Jose procure a rental car. It was hard to look at the farmlands and not think of Steinbeck, and thus my father, ditto for the the Santa Lucia hills. Very fittingly, we had put in Modest Mouse's Good News record.

The wedding-type events went off without a hitch (actually, I should say with a hitch, as the deal was sealed) Nothing like being bone dry in a nicely pressed suit, low-80 temps when back east you'd be melting. Maybe that's why my friends aunt said something about "you could eat him with a spoon." I think I know what that means, but I'll still plead youthful ignorance. There was a mechanical bull, but I could not get on in time for last call and closing. The more youthfilled (and liquorfull) ignorantati of the softer persuasion had the bar captivated, no way was a 200+ hombre like me getting up there to spoil their view of cleveland.

spent an afternoon in San Fran with some of anne's beloved from college. very, very kind people. Just so happens their apartment is atop the Noe Valley neighborhood and boasts a super steeeeeeeep hill right nearby. I think I asked them at least three times how they got to work and if they had to hoof the hill. It was probably the sleep depravation talking. The weather was even more perfect than Palo Alto (perpetually spring to San Fran's perpetual fall) and we hung out on their deck, overlooking the bay.

Maybe I'll turn this into a foto blog once I get the technology.

also, when we get the monetary technology, we are so going to record at Tiny Telephone. That would rule. Or maybe record in Sausalito with Steve Lillywhite as if we were the Gusterds. woot.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Dr. Dremo's Thanks, and setlist

Thanks for coming out to the show on Saturday at Dr. Dremo's! Please visit that place before it is history next March!

With a little light goading, we raised over $600 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We also sent Mr. Matt Sedlar packing into his official graduation from MFA professional development academy.

Every Day Is Fall*
The Ballad of You and Me*
East Coast Versus West Coast*
Sweet Caroline*
Queen of the Lost Causes
One In The Same
Campfire Hymn
Now It's On (Grandaddy cover)
Slow Motion Decay
The One That Got Away +
St Matthew's Court
Gravel In My Palm
I Was Electric

Tender (Blur cover w/matt on irish drum)
Wishing Well

*= matt solo, to give jim a rest
+= with Terrence Henry of Eastern Homes on harmonica

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

City of Brotherly Grit

Jim here. With a show approaching, I made the trek to Philly this weekend to rock out with MFA and catch up with some old friends. The XPN Fest (or whatever they call it) had the most awesome backdrop (the Philly skyline) I've seen since those D.C. shows they used to have on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Capitol. Fountains of Wayne didn't disappoint and I think I'm going to have to keep an eye on those Fratelli boys.

It always feels good to play, but it feels even better when you get to play outside when it is 74 degrees and breezy. While we didn't play long, I think we are ready for the gig on Saturday. I'm really glad we are jumping right in like this. It's been way too long since the last show!

After practice, I met up with my college buddy, Chris, who was playing in a block party in the working-class neighborhood of Port Richmond. The party was also a 21st birthday celebration for one of the friends of the band. They had 2 kegs, a large box of soft pretzels, a hot dog machine, a popcorn machine and a cotton candy machine! An aside, I turned on the power to the cotton candy machine just to see what it would do. After twirling around for about 5 seconds, the power for the entire block went out for about 3 minutes or so. Oops, sorry folks. Of course, we pretended like it had nothing to do with us. Just one block over, there was another block party with much of the same pomp. I don't think I have really seen anything like this since my early days in Pittsburgh.

Later that night, I went to a house party in the Philly suburbs in an upscale neighborhood (I have no idea where exactly). The back yard was ginormous (this word was just added to Merriam-Webster!) and had a regulation size soccer goal. I think I overheard that the hostess had played some college footie. I assumed the crowd would be the pretentious hipster sort by looking at them, but instead I found everyone to be friendly and talkative.

Community means different things in different places. Everyone knew each other on the block in my hometown. Now, outside of the artist that lives two flights up, I don't know anyone in my apartment complex. If this weekend taught me anything, it is that community is what you make of it... and I need to try harder.

Sunday, the original lineup (Matt and I) went to New York City for a total of two hours. However, while we were there we had the only $5 meal available anywhere in the City. 2 BBQ half chickens with sides, soup and drinks for a total of $12! Then we met up with old work friends Nick and Jessica and hopped across the Hudson and Hackensack rivers to catch D.C. United vs. Red Bull New York at Estadio de Los Gigantes at the Medowlands. While our boys didn't pull out the victory, we saw a hell of a header by the other team.

Aside from major road construction delays on the way back home, it was a solid weekend of enjoyable experiences.

See you on Saturday!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Show coming up, album going out, ships coming in

Ladies and Gents,
Two weeks ago I was sitting at the old, crackity mactop twiddling knobs and wondering "wow, what sounds better: not-so-good, or not-so-bad" shoring up work on 4 tracks. Turns out, once you settle in on middle-fi, it all looks rosy. Think about it: DIYing will limit your budget but will not limit your creativity. The end result might not be super-pro, but we're not a super-pro kind of band. We're more of a "make it up as you go along" kind of band. More than that, we're open source. Tinker, tinker, tinker. If anybody asked me for tracks, I would probably give it to them to see if they could make it sound different, better, or even worse (Mark, I burned you a DVD but haven't sent it!)

So here we go, two weeks later we are gearing up for our first show in 18 months on July 28th. I am psyched, it's like Christmas in July. Not only that, but we're playing Dr. Dremo's, a place we have yet to play in the DC area. It's not a rock club. It's not a pool hall. It's not a typical venue. MORE THAN THAT, we are raising money for a charity that is very, very, very close to me: The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. If you've read anything in this blog, you probably read the one about my dad's memorial donations going to them. I actually agreed to this show before I knew the charity, so this is the icing on the cake. BUT wait, Jon can't make it because it's his birthday and he'll be in NYC, so Matt Sedlar, our former bassist, has stepped up. We never had a chance to give him a proper goodbye, since his departure coincided with a downtime for the band. We might also have a sax sit in, depends how much cramming we can get done.

"Summer Music..." has gone back to mixing for some tweaks, but will be delivered to mastering. Yes, it has been 3 years. But there are reasons.

What else? Philly is beautiful today. Thunderstorms swept through last night, taking the heat but leaving palpable humidity, with a slight breeze. It's somewhat tropical, and not in a "jeez, I'm melting" kind of way. More of a "dood, this could be the Keys" which seldom happens in the mid-Atlantic in balm season. Anne and I met a night where I wore a beloved green beater button-down, and an undershirt, and I swapped out sweating through one and carrying the other as it dried out, and changing when need be. Like I said, it's Christmas in July, only a little more humid, but not enough to drop you. Dig.


Friday, July 13, 2007

This Ain't No Chinese Democracy

Our album is now mixed. We would like to thank the Army of Emotional Support for pulling us through this one. Realize, we have gone through 3 and a half band members in the process. I say "and a half" because we have been itching to introduce a 4th member, but delayed as the record was delayed. Not to mention personal stuff. We are now "older" and "wiser" which in rock is the mafioso kiss on the cheek, but we'll let you decide that.

So here we go, the master recordings are going to the masterer (I'd make a "Yes, Master!" joke, but that is actually a legit, operational business, and we do not want to create the impression we are looking elsewhere) in the District.

Stay tuned for a show announcement, if you are still there. This feels like falling asleep on the telephone. You still want to listen to what she's saying, but next thing you know you've awaken to forgetting whether or not you've hung the telephone up or not!

Yours in scouting,

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Chinese Firedrill

"Living this life/is like trying to learn Latin/in a Chinese Firedrill"

You know, if I were able to report that I'd be a slouch and that is why the record is not mixed yet, I might feel better about my place in the Universe. How do I say that I have been working really, really hard at learning how to mix? How do I say that we "ran out of money" for the project and brought the mixing in house? How do I say that I have already scrapped four song mixes in favor of fine tuning my ears?

I like to wear lots of hats, it just so happens now I am a producer. I did the remix EP to prove I could, and now I am mixing the remainder of our record. It is sounding good. Anne has been an invaluable resource: she will not BS me and say "sounds good" to spare my feelings. If it sounds like used kitty litter, she'll say it sounds like used kitty litter.

The thing is, I like a nice, dense mix. I like combining several elements and making sonic burgoo. Where some people might like to a sparse drum, bass, guitar mix, I want to drop the guitar and replace it all with synths and a vague mellotron.

So that's me, I am tweaking here and there, EQing everywhere, and shining these nuggets.

Oh, and playing in a cover band for a big family party. Got a PA (my first!) for the vocals and for the iPod DJ afterward. We have 3 vocalists (4 if you count Anne, but she has relegated herself to learning to play bass before trying to play and sing!) We've been practicing since March, and know our set backwards and forwards. Okay, so just forwards, but still, that's something!

Summertime rolls...

ps- I am 100% free of the bean (coffee). Well, I had a half cup with Anne on our anniversary whilst watching Meet the Press, but other than that, I'm decaf.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Songs for Your Bean

Getting ready for a busy summer, I have decided, once again, to quit coffee. Jim probably thinks I am crazy, but really, I think it's what is keeping me up at night. And not in that great, James Mercer kind of way where I am brilliantly composing songs out of a bad situation with drug-addled neighbors. More in that "man, maybe I do have that restless leg syndrome I make fun of the TV for advertising"

But I dig the bean. One of my favorite things is sitting in my mom's kitchen and sipping coffee in the morning. That's the thing, it's all about habit, and partially to do with the gas-on-a-brushfire effect you get for the first month but goes away, leaving you with a phantom limb.

Oh yeah, I give up and take up coffee all the time. This last time getting into coffee was directly related to dad passing. Weird, eh? The man could drink some coffee. Once asking him how much coffee he'd drink in a day, he responded a whopping "up to 10 cups, basically it's all I drink in the morning." So I have used the bean to get myself out of bed, and to coax myself onto the train when I couldn't drive.

Get ready for summer, kids. Give up something you love to get something better in return. Puritan Self-Denial Beach Blanket Bingo anyone?

ps- this is Led Zep summer. does anyone remember love?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Am I depressed because I listen to pop music, or do I listen to pop music because I am depressed?

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I never really listened to lyrics in songs until recently. I heard sounds, which formed a vibe, but I never really paid attention to the actually meanings. It was almost as if I had created some sort of emotional security system. Going back through some of my favorite records, and I am going wayyyyy back, I am hearing things in technicolor.

Take for example. 1993's "Altered Beast" By Matthew Sweet. This record is brutal! How could I not have heard it before? Sure, there are the guest artists (Mic Fleetwood here, Nicky Hopkins there, Robert Quine, Richard Lloyd, Ivan Julian everywhere!) most of which I wouldn't even recognize by name until recently. But when you hear the songs, man, put it away, it's bleeding! Perhaps I picked up on the black humor of "Someone to Pull the Trigger" and the rocking rockingness that is "Ugly Truth," but you think I would have heard the desolate obsession with a relationship that is to bad to keep, but too good to ditch.

And it doesn't stop there. Every song. Every. Single. Song. Funny, I don't remember being an overtly sad teenager. This being one of my favorite records, I need to re-examine. Let's go down the check list: suicide attempts=0, overdoses=0, runaway attempts=0. There you have it folks, I am certified oblivious. And Jody Stephens is on this record, given my latter day Big Star introduction (thanks to pd)… you'd think I'd have noticed the jangle.

The production is super-compressed, I guess to bring out the vocals, and you'd barely notice the guitars except for the fact, um, THEY ARE EVERYWHERE! But I think I appreciate this record more now that it's 14 years later. I actually had this one before "Girlfriend" which I technically never bought. Tracing it back, I think this was a record that an old girlfriend didn't get back. Strange, she got all the REM, but not Matthew Sweet. Score!

Funny how it works out. Man, I still love this record!

Friday, April 27, 2007

"c'mon Bob, get it together"

Sometimes I think I should turn this thing into a personal MP3-blog, not one that has other people's songs but mine. In the spirit of the odds and ends covers EP release, I am contemplating nearing full disclosure and unleashing a double album documenting a year in the life. There is just too much material to fit onto one record, I almost feel as if that game was built to defeat art in the first place.

Let me think about this, I know some people are interested in hearing the non-album tracks, but I have to self-edit enough to not be Ryan Adams. You will not get MP3's of me drunk trying to impersonate old Hank.

Have a good weekend. I'm making a quick trip back to DC then back to Philly to take our neice to her first major league baseball game. I think I like baseball because I get nostalgic about my own youth, not that I dislike the game, but it's a little irreverent of modern times. We want it, and we want it now. We don't want to have to wait out a pitchers duel. Wait, maybe that's WHY I like it. Ha.

be well,

Monday, April 23, 2007

Graduation Day

In the My Friend Autumn universe, players don't quit or leave, they graduate.

It is with regret that I inform you that Matt Sedlar has earned all qualifying credits and has moved his status to Alumni. Congratulations, Matt! You now join the illustrious ranks of Tom Lewis and Paul Binghay. Should you feel the need to stop in (you will get several invitations to guest lecture) please feel free. You were a fine purveyor of musical insight, and you helped make MFA into an actual band. Your album credits are a testament to not just your bass playing abilities, but your overall musical sensibilities. Thank you for your service.


Jon Heller has a scar on his arm from a Goldfinger show at age 17. How cool is that? I am not being ironic, I once put "Mable" on a solo "album" back in 2000 and called it the best song ever written. He is our new bassist, and I know what you are thinking: oh brother, MFA is going aggro. Not exactly. Jon has studied bass for years, and is thrilled to be in a trio where we not only actually hear his voice, but we welcome it. Not sure when our first show in version 4.0 will be, stay tuned.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

We're #1!

(on Google)

Tallying stats for the new EP, it's come to our attention that we are the #1 listing when you google My Friend Autumn, without quotations (try it!). I guess those algrithms love sudden bursts of hits, moving our ranking up.

Thanks for all of the emails, we've got two more songs on the way. Bear with us, we hit some technical difficulties while trying to track guitars. Now that our neighbors have (sadly) moved out, I've got a small window to get the tubes on the amp crackling.

much love,

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Boardtape 2007

If you are interested, this years' installment of Boardtape is up on the My Friend Autumn website. Long story short: Boardtape began as a mixtape my brother made me when I lived in Montana winter 2000. Last year it was a podcast in 4 time-life themed movements, this year it's one big file, and mountaineering themed.

Why mountaineering? We're attempting a winter ascent of Mt Washington, New Hampshire in February. Don't worry, we're also packing snowboard gear to get some turns in (I know you were worried). Dano's packing his banjo, and I'm packing my travel guitar, perhaps this trip'll spawn some late night "man that was a cold day" songs. Speaking of which, Dan got tickets for Sufjan at the Kennedy Center. Way to go!

Be well, enjoy all of this music. There is a lot more on the way! It's been a busy 2007 MFA studio-side, we're regrouping in March to start rocking y'all in the first person.
-mc, mfa

Monday, January 29, 2007

Further Reading on our new EP

At our level, you really have to play everywhere you can. That is: chase leads, find venues, talk to people. We’ve played in a converted church sanctuary artspace that is now condos, on a dock about 6 inches above the mighty Potomac, living rooms, street corners (with and without overzealous doorguys screaming at us), as well as a variety of clubs, lounges and ballrooms. We’ve had our Guns N Roses moment where the helicopter arches overhead and trains its searchlight on us. We’ve had our Spinal Tap moments where we can’t find the stage, or when the stage prop balloons get repeatedly kicked in our faces by the drunk guy. We’ve even helped book friends as entertainment for glass blowers meetings. “Load in, load out, get down, get out, drive home too late, my mind stays crooked and my back stays straight”

As always it’s not just the songs, it is the story behind the songs. I cannot speak for the people who wrote these songs as to what they were thinking and trying to say, but I can speak for myself about how they make me feel and the memories they project. It was a time and a place, and I should mention every one of these people are still making music, so this is not a eulogy.

Alice Despard used to own and run Galaxy Hut, Arlington’s last bastion of funky artiness. She was always good to her bands, once you could get her attention to book you. This would usually necessitate having beers with friends at the Hut, and immersing yourself in their culture- getting to know the bartenders, helping bus tables, keeping the door closed during songs. One day after work I dropped in just as the Hut was opening. Waiting for Jim, I saw Alice do something I will never forget. A patron had walked in and was obviously down on her luck. She had 4 dollars, and wanted to buy a 5 dollar glass of wine. She then began asking Alice lots of questions, some apropos of nothing. One of which was asking for mayonnaise, for use as lotion. Abruptly, but courteously, Alice steps out from the bar- this woman, me, and some straggler at a booth still there- and buys this woman a big bottle of lotion. The Hut got its’ far share of characters, but everyone respected the place because they knew the place respected them. This song is one of her bands “signature tunes” and eventually Philip D’Ambrosio would leave Zero Beat to play bass with them; this song taking on greater significance in the soundtrack to my life.

Jake Reid used to DJ with an old roommate’s boyfriend. Their night, Head On, would consistently surprise me. Considering myself studied in several different sounds/genres, out would come some song that would blow me away, taunting me with the notion “you don’t know Manchester” or, insert your city here. We did a few shows with his former band, Alcian Blue, and this song always stuck out from their sets. While riding the “Wall of Sound” about as far as it could go and still be discerned as music, suddenly a shift in the verse of this song would floor me. Their original brims with frenetic energy of cascading guitars (in my version you can hear the intro as ambient sound, the snare bashing giving away that it’s been sampled), but at root you can hear rock n roll in a variation of it’s most primal level. And you barely notice because it is done so well. This is the song that started this project, realizing there are people I know that are that good. Sure songwriting might be dumb luck, as you stumble around in the dark and find something: but it’s still luck.

Eastern Homes was once a band called Sad Bastard. Sad Bastard began as Terrence Henry recording demos to hard disk back west. After moving back to DC, I got all alpha-male (something I am not) and threatened by his presence in my little world of bands, music, etc. Mind you, this is a friend I have had since I was 19. Zero Beat was slow to get our act together, and Sad Bastard threatened me in a way I regret. We had a chance to get something really cool going, but all I could worry about was him stealing my bandmates- yes, me, the jealous lover. Life is too short to worry about such things. Positivity must prevail. Negativity will kill a band. Imagine my surprise when I figured out I was simultaneously Zero Beat’s John and Yoko! Before all that, Terrence had the idea to cover the other bands’ song and release a single. Here is my contribution, 4 years later. I sampled the loop from his original demo for this, taking the chill vibe and turning it out late night style.

Laura Burhenn and I became friends through Jim Grief, MFA’s drummer. At the time he was still in LavaJet, and Laura was hosting an open mic at Common Grounds (now Murky Coffee). She had the placed wrapped around her finger, but had to stop hosting due to scheduling conflicts. She offered me the gig, and I was content to funnel the small stipend into a modest recording budget for MFA’s first 3 recording sessions at Inner Ear. About two months in, I realized most of the people coming to the open mic were there to see her, and all but the regular crowd dried up. It was her, playing her songs on an out of tune piano that was the draw. Her version of this song is very feminine and swoony, and I wanted to play with the gender while giving it somewhat of a dancefloor feel. While trying to make it somewhat masculine, it ended up androgynous and almost J-Pop! The open mic space started to share with a group called “Stitch and Bitch” and we were slowly phased out. Laura and I would see each other about every 3 months when she would cut my hair. When I moved to Pennsylvania, sensing the end of an era, I gave her my electric shears out of gratitude for 2 years of modern style and timeless advice.

My brother Dan was the first in our group to meet Brice Woodall. Every Wednesday we would descend on Iota to play open mic, often badgering our friends as if it was our show. Depending on when you were able to sign up, it could be a brilliant performance, or some drunken solipsism. While our ability would vary, this guy Brice would be spot on. Turns out he is friends with one of our friends from Boone, from their days in Richmond, and we all hit it off. We would go check out his old band, BWP, at shows, and Sad Bastard opened a show for them in Richmond back when Dan was playing bass with them. He would fill the slot of opener at some of our Staccato dates (both SB and ZB) and we would consistently wonder: why isn’t this guy playing for more people?! A few years later he’d move to Chicago, put a band together, and tonight he is playing with his band in Philly on an east coast tour. Without a doubt one of the hardest working musicians I know.

Myspace is a beautiful beast. The end user license agreement might be interpreted to mean that Rupert Murdoch owns your recordings; but millions of people can hear your music if you play your cards and/or spam right. Our engineer, Nick Anderson’s band The Hailing, is up there, and he introduced us to them when we were at Inner Ear for recording or mixing. They’d be in and out every now and then, the perks of setting up your own mini-studio within the bigger studio. Happening upon their myspace page was the audio equivalent of the part in Wizard of Oz where Dorothy steps out of black in white into full Technicolor. Except for this one demo. This one song was more black and white, and warranted a little colorization. I took a 2 minute acoustic ditty with 3 or 4 part harmonies and reconstructed it here as a fully formed Faint/NIN send up. The rhythm was created as an attempt to do a Beauty Pill song, but worked far better with the way the melodies arc. Covering Beauty Pill would need to be very sparse, as Chad Clark’s production leaves very little room for variations on the theme (read: any attempts did not succeed). Chad told Anne and I one day while talking about mixing “You are very lucky to have Nick’s name on your record!” Hearing what Nick has done with some of their ideas inspired me to look into production more, and we have had several exchanges about the merits of tape, analog gear, and vibe, vibe, vibe.

Also file under myspace: More Lights by Georgie James. They had been working on “Demos at Dance Place” and their full length at Inner Ear, but we had not crossed paths. John Davis and Laura Burhenn had been talking since Laura opened for Q and Not U a year before, and she had been aching for something less singer-songwritery for at least as long as I had known her. Once upon a time I considered selling her the music and songs to “Summer Music for Winter People” for her to record her vocals over to try out some “rock.” Their collaborations as Georgie James are a pop enthusiasts’ band- steeped in years and years of pop music tradition, and More Lights seems like the perfect melting pot. Better yet, it’s pro-active. Having seen Q and Not U at Coachella and Fort Reno in 2004, I still have not met John. While working on our “Opening Flower + Happy Bird” EP, Mark Stalzer regaled us with stories of his band touring with Corm. Apparently they invented the interstate rock lock, so all you start-ups out there owe them royalties. [ed note: Mark has reported it was Maginot/Corm Rob that invented the rock lock- not him– thanks for fessing up, mark!]

I like how in the original, John and Laura’s voices couldn’t be different. Never said I’d do the songs better in remake, just reinterpret them. I almost left this and other songs off, but rationalized their chronological merit. It shows the breadth of the process: to step outside yourself and push your boundaries. Then you realize there are none. Aside from copyright concerns, which I truly hope to not get sued over, my boundaries were all hard disk related.

Stay tuned for two more tracks that couldn’t make the January 23 deadline. These aren’t bonus tracks, but intended as the “index” and “about the author” of this album. Front cover photograph of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry is one of my dad’s.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Happy New Year!

No, we don't have a new site! Our old one is going on into the terrible two's, and we're going to renovate come album time.

In the meantime, we are very proud to present "Alterations in Fluid Volume" an EP consisting of 7 covers in various styles, as well as 3 original instrumentals. We've gotten a little lap-toppy lately, but that is due more to the shift from apartment, to apartment, to apartment, to rowhouse.

Back in the "please do not sue us" department, our advisor has pleaded with you to 1) ask us to remove your song should you disagree with us (interpretation is the next sincerest form of flattery) and 2) ask us to remove your song should you discover we have sampled you. We're not playing the Soul Coughing game and hiding them. Some of them are smack dab in the middle, right up in your face saying hello. Mostly, you will find they serve the songs. Again, if you disagree, please email us at info at my friend autumn dot com.

Thank you for bearing with us as we prepare our full, all album feast. The first album EP has gone to the art department. We're having to release the record in halves due to scheduling conflicts with central command.
And thank you to Bruce Falconer or David Durst for naming the second instrumental.