Continuing this streak on my recent adventures, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my music-making activities. For a few weeks now I’ve been rehearsing and working on some songs with a couple old friends, Tyler Crew and Brent “Poopy-Pants Jenkins” Not-Sure-If-His-Last-Name-Is-Really-Jenkins. Poopy is quite a drummer, I had no idea until I went to see his previous band The Turd Burglars just a couple months ago. I’m on bass and vocals, Tyler C is on guitar but I venture he’ll throw down some keyboards at some point too. A cool thing about working with him is he actually has a college degree in music composition, so we can just spit chord names and terminology like “secondary dominant” at each other and reasonably expect that the other knows what we’re talking about. Imagine some old-school-goth style punk rock shit with cold echoey guitars, then add some distorted power-chordy Lou Barlow type bass on it (which fits, really – after all Lou and I are both fans of Peter Hook (of Joy Division)’s playing.)
I wanted to change up my home-recording setup too, though. See, I volunteered to play drums in the band for the East High Alumni Swing Show – a fund-raiser for the music department of the high school I went to. Actually I signed up as a multi-instrumentalist, and no other drummers came forward. It’s kind of an adventure because I’ll actually have to learn and play stuff like “At The Hop” and “Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy.” I’ll be using Tyler Vincent’s kit with Tyler/Noel’s cymbals – the one that’s been set up in my basement for most of the past year or so now. Anyway I was tearing down the kit and loading it in a van to take it to a Swing Show practice and I suddenly realized what a lot of space in that section of my basement was freed up. And I got to thinking, you know, this would be a really nice home-recording space just like this, without a drum kit taking up 3/4 of it. Who needs drums anyway? I’m not going to play drums in any real bands, because they’re not even my drums anyway. On top of that I’d been listening to a lot of the old Ragman stuff, especially What If The Man?, and had recently got interested in the early (pre-III) Sebadoh stuff, much of which was home-recorded, 4-track, acoustic guitars, household-object percussion, and tape collage madness. I realized how close in approach the two things were, and I realized that I’d really like to get back to that kind of vibe. Instead of writing guitar riffs and pasting them together into songs, thinking I absolutely have to give them the big rock-band arrangement, I should be writing songs and arranging them with whatever I have. In which case, not having drums isn’t really a handicap, and having the extra space to pull up a chair and relax and work at a comfortable pace is a major plus.
So I moved an old shelving unit that came with the house (actually I think it’s a bed headboard but it suits the purpose) in from the garage and piled up cables and pedals and Casio keyboards on it, moved my cassette 8-track down off the big electric piano and onto a low blue trunk that will serve for now in lieu of a coffee table, and moved over the old green chair we acquired from the trash bins outside Married Student Housing at the end of the last school year. I’m still kind of interested in my Big Black-ish band idea too, but that involves my drum machine and the concept has evolved into this kind of techno/industrial beats with bluesy/cock-rocky guitar riffs thing that I’m thinking of calling the Chuck Hoffman Blues Excretion. But I might never actually do anything with that, it’s just an idea in my head… Well whatever, the point is that I’ve made an effort to simplify, that I believe will be creatively liberating.
I have ten The Circumstance songs that I feel comfortable calling an album. I re-mixed a few of them with a bit more attention to detail. I’m calling the album Title Of Photograph: Filled With Dread in Los Angeles, after a photo of me once taken by Barb Schilf that will be used for the cover art, and is also the title of a really cool instrumental featured within. My plan is to “release” it primarily by way of intarwebs and primarily for free, or on homebrew CD-R for nominal prices to cover materials. And possibly mail a lot of unsolicited copies to people I admire.