Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Update on "(Catch) The Spirit (of 17)"

This song was conceived as part of "What You're Watching," a sketch comedy show we put together back in 2000. There are a couple of funny promotional parodies on there for a fictional station, KSUP, Super17. My idea was to parody those silly songs TV stations used to do with the anchors walking around town and pretending that they hang out with each other all the time. I envisioned a male voice doing the vocals, kind of like the guy who does those Bud Light "Real Men of Genius" commercials. Soon after I wrote the lyrics (here's an earlier post on the song), I found out my friend Richard Malmos was coming to town for his bi-annual float trip. He's a big-time L.A. voiceover guy. While he is away from L.A., he still does his sessions in a studio and they patch him through to his stations with a fancy phone line.

So I sent him the a scratch version of the song with sample vocals (a hilarious performance by Skap). So Rick has his daily session down at Wheeler Audio, a really nice post-production audio facility here in the Crossroads district of Kansas City.

So I go down there, and Janet Jameson is engineering the session. Janet is a very talented engineer and musician, so it was quite an honor to have her helping us out. Rick finished up his session (there was a lot of "Tomorrow night at 8!" type of a thing, and some fun movie stuff) and then he went in the booth and we got going.

The performance is absolutely hilarious. As he's doing his thing, Janet says, "He's channeling Neil Diamond!"

It turned out funnier than I imagined. Rick did an outstanding job and I'm anxious to get the rest of the music done.

Postscript: Skap and I had tossed around some ideas for what the vocalist should do at the end of the song, and we came up with some riffs on "he's infected, we're infected, she's infected." It has a couple of meanings, mainly that the song itself is obnoxiously infectious. And it really gives the song an ominous tone when you say something like "Now YOU'RE infected, baby!"

Monday, May 19, 2008

On This Day, A Cheese Jesus Is Born

Steve and I got together today to record the basic tracks for "Cheese Jesus", another song that had its genesis on the emails. A quick recap here:
  • April 23: Steve sends me a 5-point email, the fifth point of which is just the phrase, "I like cheese." It is a reference to an odd sketch we once shot for our cable access comedy show, in which a weird old man (played by Skap, if memory serves) bugs a nice gentleman (played by our friend Stu) in a train station (I think) by simply asking him, "You like cheese, boy? I like cheese." This is my recollection of it, inaccurate as it may be.
  • April 24: I answer Steve's 5-point email with a 7-point email, addressing each of his questions or statements in order. In response to "I like cheese," I write, "Of course you like cheese. Jesus!" Point 6 is then "Of course you like Cheese Jesus." And Point 7: "Please write Cheese Jesus. The lyrics cannot exceed 75 words."
  • April 25: Steve sends along the lyrics to "Cheese Jesus", totaling 67 words.
  • May 6: I tell Steve that I woke up with the music to "Cheese Jesus" in my head. I also write (while in the shower) an additional stanza, to give the song a nice two-stanzas-then-chorus-then-two-stanzas-then-chorus structure. My additional stanza jacks the word count to 86, but, as I say in the email, "if you only count Cheese Jesus once, the word count is 74."

So Steve and I got together for a quick three-hour session to lay down the song's basics: a simple drum track, a simple keyboard track and about five vocal tracks. When I came up with the music (on May 6), I had imagined the song as an a capella tune. But in the intervening days, I moved away from that idea, wisely I think. We might end up calling the song "Cheesus," if we find that funnier.

It was at the end of this session that Steve tallied up the Mustardy songs in the works on his computer, informing me that we now have 14 songs in various stages of disrepair. If we are organized about it, I feel confident we can have another album by this time next year. Maybe even sooner. But probably not sooner. We're lazy like that.

UPDATE: (re: word count) I forgot that I added two words to the lyrics. And upon recounting, it appears that the lyrics hit the target of 75 exactly, provided you only count the chorus once and the phrase "cheese Jesus" once.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Dancing Children

Last night I was having a few beers with a couple of friends, and once again learned that "Mr. Poorluck Buys Some China" has a strange effect on children. My friend, Dale, urged me to market the CD to "soccer moms everywhere," because his two kids (6 and 4 I think) were crazy in love with Bobby and the Chuxx. He said it was the best way to keep them entertained in the car. High praise when there is a DVD option involved.

He couldn't remember many specifics, but once again "Frank Has No Pants" was identified as a particular favorite of young children. I am not sure there is good reason to be proud of that, but for my part I am quite proud. And I think having the whole family sit down and listen to the Chuxx might be a great way for parents to open up that difficult conversation about whether children should or should not talk to strange men who are naked from the waist down. It is just so hard to decide who children should trust.

Parents could also hold family meetings to listen to "Herr Germy," and discuss the importance of vigorous hand washing before supper. Other important lessons regarding picnicing with fat men, real estate, preparation of pork chops, due diligence in bartering with Arabs, how to pick up Asian chicks, and the history of human waste disposal can all be illustrated by listening to Bobby and the Chuxx as a family.

So let us reconsider our sales strategy, and begin to aggressively market the Chuxx to children. Let us not permit the tobacco companies to corner that market.