Monday, December 24, 2007

Our Story So Far

The songs currently in production for Mustardy (tent.):
"Her Grandfather, The Robert Frost of Korea"
"Bellydancing Superstars"
"Bad Croissant"
"With Drunk Astronauts"
"Mustardy Fanfare"
"Bo Neaubeaux, the Oboe Hobo"

The songs in the pipeline (in contention):
"Kaiser Gorilla"
"Grandpa Grub"
"Detective Ted"
"Keep That Sun in Your Eyes"
"Gourds Last Forever"
"Piltdown Man/Sundog"
"Santa's a Big Fat Creep"
"Happy Slapping"
"Man Made Man-Made Man"

We'll see if we can't knock this album out in 18 months or so.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mustardy Day Two

Day Two of The Mustardy Sessions began with horrible weather in the forecast. Not a huge problem, unless one of the band members is driving 35 miles to the session. Which, in fact, was exactly the case. But freezing rain (turning to sleet, turning to snow) could not deter Jon from making it to the first full Chuxx session of this new album.

We began by playing Jon the tracks we had laid down on Saturday, and then launched into adding instruments to "Bellydancing Superstars". Jon came up with a guitar line loosely (or maybe not so loosely) based on "Jamie's Crying" that actually works really well with the Eastern groove of the song. Skap added some violin (keyboard) and ukulele (the Chuxx new favorite instrument). I added a real bass (replacing the MIDI bass of the scratch track) and some slightly Emerson-ian organ.

Around time for lunch (Culver's Butterburgers...quite delicious) came the conversation of what to do: do we keep laying down rough tracks for other songs or do we try to finish at least one track. We were a little split on this issue, but came to an agreement that as we moved forward, we would try to finish a song or two for each session we got together. But that wasn't necessary in this first session as we were just getting the project off the ground.

That said, we came pretty close with "Bellydancing Superstars", I think. Other than some backing vocals, I'm not sure what else we need.

After lunch, we were visited by Bill Biggar (hopefully spelled right here) and his two nephews, who happen to be HUGE fans of the new album. Their favorite song? "Che Gusto." Go figure. So they sat in and watched while I laid down a scratch vocal track on "Her Grandfather, The Robert Frost of Korea" and while Jon tried out a lead guitar line during that same song's bridge.

Once that was done, we decided to take advantage of Bill's deep voice and the two kids in attendance by having them record wild lines for a so far unwritten song titled "Grandpa Grub." It's a touching story about the wily old grandpa who comes to babysit, but the parents aren't too wild about it. What with him letting the kids play under the sink and "washing down" their vegetables with tablespoons of bourbon.

At least, that's what the song seems to be about our heads. We'll see what happens when Skap and Steve actually write the music and lyrics.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

And So It Begins...

As Jon was not able to join us (what with having to work for money and all that), Steve and Skap and I got together to start laying the groundwork for the new album: so far called Mustardy. With that being the front-runner for new album title, these holiday sessions have been dubbed "The Mustardy Sessions."

So today we worked on "Bad Croissant" (which I had the rough tracks recorded for already), "With Drunk Astronauts" (lyrics by me that were put to music by Skap) and Bellydancing Superstars (about which I've already written).

Since the music for "Bad Croissant" and "Bellydancing Superstars" was more or less done, all we really did was add a scratch vocal to the tracks. It was "With Drunk Astronauts" that we had to build from the ground up, laying down rough keyboard and drum tracks and then some vocals.

We were side-tracked for a half-hour or so when we decided to record a random keyboard part Skap came up. The syncopation of the riff completely eluded us and after 35 minutes of trying to put it accurately into the computer, we gave up and dubbed the riff "Skap's Insanity Music."

There are two other songs pretty much ready to be put on this album that we did not work on today, namely "Her Grandfather, The Robert Frost of Korea" (which I wrote based on a true incident my wife lived through) and something Skap and Steve concocted now called "Mustardy Fanfare."

We may try to lay down some basic tracks for "Kaiser Gorilla" on Saturday or we may just try to finish as much of these songs as we can.

We'll let you know.

Monday, December 17, 2007

How We Write Songs

In a nutshell, here's the genesis of one of the songs we're planning on putting on the next Chuxx. This one's called "Bellydancing Superstars" and it began on March 6th with this email to Steve.

There's a live music venue a few blocks from our house that used to be a movie theater. It's called the El Rey. And when we drove by it last night it had the best marquee ever.

Bellydancing Superstars

In big letters. It was the only thing on the marquee.

And I thought, "Now, THAT'S the name of the new album." And my plan was to go home and grab my camera to shoot a picture of it. But when we drove by it later, they had changed the marquee.

So sad.

Steve's reply that same day: Standby for a drum part for an instrumental called Bellydancing Superstars. Skap also replied that day, with his thought that "Bellydancing Superstars" sounded like a new reality show, one which Emmitt Smith would certainly win.

Two days later, Steve sent the rough drum part along, to which I added bass and doctored a little bit so that it had room for singing in the verses and chorus. So on March 13, I sent Steve the doctored version, which now sorta sounded like a song. (These are the things we can do electronically now that there's the interwebs.)

By March 15th (the Ides of March, naturally), the rough music to the song was finished, even though Steve and I had not even been in the same room or on the phone.

On a side note, the lyrics to the song -- the only part that doesn't require elaborate computer programs or emailing at all -- are still not done.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


In about 11 days, the Chuxx will reconvene in Kansas City to begin work on our 19th album, which is (so far) unnamed. There is a motion on the floor to call the album Mustardy -- as in...

"We biked through Mustardy to get some real mustard, not that yellow baby shit they sell to American tourists in Dijon."

Thanks to Skap for that brilliant usage of the word in a sentence. We've never had a single-word title, so that makes it an alluring title to us. I'm sorta partial to The Usual Underwear & Bibles or A Planned Moose in Sweden. But Mustardy would be okay with me too.

Our attempt with Album #19 is to finish it by Xmas 2008...or Summer 2008 by the latest. We'll see how we do. I've got about a dozen songs pretty much ready to go for this album already. So, if we stay focused and fairly organized, we should be able to accomplish it.

More updates to come...