Archive for December, 2009

Christmas 2009

Monday, December 28th, 2009

I spent Christmas in Borrego Springs with my parents. They rented a house on the edge of town right next to the mountains. The view was stunning.

IMG_0061

I lived in Albuquerque for a little over 2 years while studying music at the University of New Mexico. Borrego, with its enchanting desert landscape and Southwestern style art and architecture, is the place in CA that comes closest to a NM vibe. The only thing missing is the food. If you are ever in Albuquerque, be sure to stop by the student ghetto’s El Patio on Harvard, for a vegetarian burrito plate. I recommend the green chili.

IMG_0122

It was cool spending a few days chilling out and hiking around the desert with my family. They got me a camera for Christmas and I spent a lot of time taking photos trying to learn how to use it. Other than my cheap cell phone camera, I’ve never owned a digital one.

crimewaveuw5[1]

My dad and I watched The Godfather and a handful of noir films at night. He collects them and has an extensive library of DVDs. He always has great insight into the films too, as he’s read a lot about them. The connection between the two is that the legendary badass, Sterling Hayden was in one of the noirs we watched, Crime Wave, as well as Godfather.

Driving back to LA last night, I was overcome with a wave of depression thinking about my life, music, etc. I think about things like that during this season. It’s the time of year that the “what the hell am I doing?” moments hit the hardest. I had Michael Butler’s Christmas episode of his Rock and Roll Geek Indie Cast on the iPod. I had emailed him and his daughter, Martina (who was looking for Xmas music to play on her Emo Girl Talk podcast) an mp3 of my acoustic Spinal Tap Christmas with the Devil cover. I didn’t think they’d play it as it’s neither very rock or emo, but I figured I’d do my best to promote the Unhenged Spinal Tap tribute CD that Brian Ibbott of the Coverville podcast was kind enough to include me on.

At the very end of the show, three songs from the end, Michael said he was going to play something by his “good friend John Dissed” and played the song. I was instantly overwhelmed with gratitude and my depression was lifted.

THEN the next two songs were Hanoi Rocks “Dead by Christmas” and The Ramones “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)”! Not bad, getting played on my favorite rock podcast preceding two of my favorite bands of all time. Nothing beats that, no radio airplay on any show in the world, nothing.

Michael just got back from the UK where he played bass on seven songs for his hero Ginger of The Wildhearts‘ Birthday Gig. Fans of the Rock and Roll Geek Show donated over $1,400 to get him there. I have to say that some highlights of 2009 for me were meeting Butler at the Viper Room this summer after seeing him rock out with Ginger (who I’ve since become a huge fan of), being turned on to some great music from his show that I never would have heard otherwise, and hearing this song, and my band Bull Lee, on the Indie Cast.

ging birthdaY 2009 470

Ginger got Michael into The Secret and he talks about it a lot on his various podcasts. I watched about 5 minutes of the film on YouTube and had to turn it off. It has a little too much pseudo-science for my taste (I refuse to believe, for example, that thoughts can radiate through the air and convince a stranger, completely out of sight, not to steal something). But the positive vibes Michael puts out and has had returned to him by his listeners is contagious, so maybe there’s something there that I missed. I definitely feel grateful to be considered his friend, and a once-in-a-while-contributor to his shows.

Check out Butler’s Ginger Birthday Gig recap on The Rock and Roll Geek Show, Episode 383 on iTunes or on his website.

Oh, and The Wildhearts are giving away a free song, “Zeen Requiem” here. It’s currently my favorite song of all time.

The Bull Pit #37 – Best of 2009 (pt. 2)

Monday, December 28th, 2009

newyearThe Top 5 Bull Pit songs of 2009 by High School Motherfuckers, The Gentlemen, Atomsplit, Zoe Vette and the Revolvers and 900 Pound Gorilla.

Go to Podbean or iTunes to stream, download or subscribe. Skull artwork by Mike Dyson, Guerrilla808 Studios (guerrilla808@gmail.com). Music provided, in part, by MusicAlley from MEVIO.

The Bull Pit #36 – Best of 2009 (pt. 1)

Monday, December 21st, 2009

top10bannerCounting down my 10 favorite songs of the year from the show. Bands: Babylon Bombs, The Joneses, Jet Vicious, Sex Slaves and Rock City Angels.

Go to Podbean or iTunes to stream, download or subscribe. Skull artwork by Mike Dyson, Guerrilla808 Studios (guerrilla808@gmail.com). Music provided, in part, by MusicAlley from MEVIO.

2-for-1 Holiday Pricing on CD Baby

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

One of my goals for 2009 was to get all my recorded original acoustic music on CD Baby (physical CDs) and the iTunes Music Store (digital downloads). That project was finally completed this week with the appearance of my fifth EP, When Hard Nights Fall, on both sites.

I wrote and recorded the songs a year ago, roughly between the Presidential Election and New Years. Consequently, both the past and current Presidents make appearances, as well as Christmas, love, despair, revenge, hope, inspiration, dreams and death.

The Christmas song on the album actually isn’t one at all. In fact, it is called “Not a Christmas Song”, and coincidentally was recorded on Christmas. I had some bad luck that day as I lost the project just as I was almost done mixing, and had to start over almost from scratch due to a software error. The song is about New Years resolutions and how we often make the same promises over and over, knowing that there’s a good chance we’ll fuck up again.

JohnDissedEPs3

I have made all the EPs on CD Baby 2-for-1 for the holidays. Go here to check them out and hear samples.

Or get an iTunes preview here.

The Bull Pit #35 – Illumination

Friday, December 11th, 2009

lumonous podcastBands this week: Jinx Titanic, Good Riddance, Higgins, Warner Drive, Street Brats and Guitarshop Asshole.

Go to Podbean or iTunes to stream, download or subscribe. Skull artwork by Mike Dyson, Guerrilla808 Studios (guerrilla808@gmail.com). Music provided, in part, by MusicAlley from MEVIO.

The artwork attached to the file (also at right) for this episode is a photo I took last night of a piece from Sean Sobczak’s solo sculpture exhibit at the Continental Gallery in downtown LA. The show is called Luminosity and there are two more chances for you to check it out: Saturday December 12 (tomorrow) and the Closing Reception on December 29. Go to SandmanCreations to read more about Sean.

Luminosity, Grace and a New EP

Friday, December 11th, 2009

This week, the city of Los Angeles benefited from a surprise visit from my good friend Shyam Yadav, who is fresh off a plane from Morocco where he was working on – I’m sure he won’t want me to tell you this, but here it is – Sex and the City 2! He’s here to take a photo for his FTX 14 Soundtrack album cover.

FTX is Shyam’s French Toast and Hugs gang (you can see past FTX album covers and read about the gang here).

Last night I met up with Shyam at the Continental Gallery downtown. His roommate, Sean Sobczak’s sculptures are on solo display there all month. The show is called Luminosity. Yesterday was Art Walk and people were swarming the gallery, completely transfixed by Sean’s work. It was amazing. If you’re here in LA, you should go check out the exhibit.

When Shyam and I weren’t talking, he was busy taking pics of the sculptures for his ongoing Grace photo album project. Grace is his classic 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle, and Shyam has photographed her in front of many historic monuments; including the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal. He has 15 volumes of photos. Here’s a sample from last night:

grace

It was surreal seeing hundreds of people posing and taking photos with their cameras and iPhones in front of these sculptures that I’ve seen so often while hanging out at my friends’ loft (dubbed The Justice League). Twitter must have been buzzing with illumination last night! The only thing missing was Grace, who is always parked inside the loft, behind velvet ropes, facing off with a two-headed, fire-breathing dragon.

dragon

It was a great night hanging with my good friend and seeing another friend have such overwhelming success right before my eyes. The world can be a beautiful place at times.

Grace has also made her way onto my latest album cover. When I wrote the song “When Hard Nights Fall”, the title song of my new EP, I had a vision of a car driving through the desert at night. It had to be black and classic. I didn’t think until the last minute to use Grace as a model for the cover, but I thought of it in time to get a photo from Shyam the last time he was in town (he had to take a special shot to get the right angle). Illustrator, Mike Dyson (Guerrilla808 Studios guerrilla808@gmail.com), did a brilliant job bringing her into the world I had in my head for the cover.

JD 0dViper2

The When Hard Nights Fall EP just showed up for sale on iTunes this week. I recorded it last year, roughly between the Presidential Election and New Years. Consequently, both the former and current Presidents make appearances, as well as Christmas, love, hope, despair, healing, dreams and death.

Physical CDs can be purchased here on CD Baby.

There are two more opportunities for Luminosity public viewing: Saturday December 12 (tomorrow) and the Closing Reception on December 29. Go to SandmanCreations to read more about Sean Sobczak.

Oh, and French Toast and Hugs 14 is happening downtown in January. It won’t be as pretty or glamorous as Luminosity, but it’ll be just as meaningful. More details to come…

The Bull Pit #34 – Bob & Keith’s Excellent Misadventure

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

bob and keithStarring The Gentlemen, Edmund’s CrownAM Stereo, Jet Vicious and The Passarounds.

Go to Podbean or iTunes to stream, download or subscribe. Skull artwork by Mike Dyson, Guerrilla808 Studios (guerrilla808@gmail.com). Music provided, in part, by MusicAlley from MEVIO.

Unhenged: A Coverville Tribute to Spinal Tap

Friday, December 4th, 2009

unhenged

When Coverville host, Brian Ibbott, announced on the podcast over the summer that he was looking for artists to participate in a Spinal Tap Tribute CD, the workaholic in me couldn’t resist offering my services. From the menu of unclaimed songs, I chose the Tap’s “Christmas with the Devil” to cover. Brian kindly agreed to give me a shot at it.

I had my friends N and F, from the French grindcore band Nique Ton Foetus, help out with bass, lead guitar, background vocals and a creepy Devil-Santa voice (the boys were here in Los Angeles from Lyon, France for two months this summer interning for our Bull Lee Records label). You can hear an interview with them on Episode 10 of The Bull Pit as well.

Here’s the official press release for Unhenged: A Coverville Tribute to Spinal Tap:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 4, 2009

IN HONOR OF THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RELEASE OF “THIS IS SPINAL TAP”, COVERVILLE MEDIA ANNOUNCES THE RELEASE OF THE FIRST EVER DOWNLOADABLE SPINAL TAP ALBUM!

On March 2, 1984, Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Christopher Guest released what would become one of the most popular mockumentaries of all time, “This Is Spinal Tap”, starring a believable – albeit fictional – heavy metal band. But what makes a band real vs. fictional? The (core) members of Spinal Tap, David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel and Derek Smalls, played all their own instruments, wrote their own songs, released two albums, and even toured.

But they never had a tribute album. Until now.

The long-running podcast and radio show, Coverville, spent the past 8 months assembling independent artists to complete a 13-track tribute album for the band, with artists like indie favorites Paul & Storm, Arrica Rose, John Dissed, Chance, Zapruder Point and Dogs Of Winter. The album features covers of well-known heavy metal parody Spinal Tap tracks, like “Big Bottom” and “(Listen To The) Flower People”, with some tracks performed in a straight-ahead rock style, and others performed with their own tongue-in-cheek humor.

The album can be downloaded for free at: http://coverville.com/spinaltap/

The full tracklist and lineup for the album is:

• Hell Hole – Schnauzer Radio Orchestra

• Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight – Le Butterface

• Heavy Duty – James Ghofulpo

• Rock and Roll Creation – Dogs of Winter

• Cups And Cakes – Zapruder Point

• Big Bottom – Paul and Storm

• Sex Farm – Bongo Orkest

• Us, Stonehenge, and Them – Chance

• Gimme Some Money – Brian Grosz

• (Listen to The) Flower People – Arrica Rose

• Bitch School – Chris Cohoon

• Break Like The Wind – Dave Verdick

• Christmas With The Devil – John Dissed

Previous Coverville Media projects include a tribute to Supertamp’s “Breakfast in America”, and another for the band Squeeze, which founding Squeeze member Chris Difford used as pre-show music on his tours last summer. The Coverville podcast and radio show recently celebrated its 5th anniversary and 600th episode, and can be found at www.coverville.com.

For more info please contact Brian Ibbott: 720.352.4737 or coverville@gmail.com

“Even the Losers”

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

tom pettyOne of the covers I recorded back in 2008 was Tom Petty’s “Even the Losers” from the album Damn the Torpedoes, which will always hold an especially nostalgic place in my heart.

When I was a kid my dad used to run the San Diego Mission Bay Marathon. We lived near Temecula, which was a little over an hour north of SD. My parents would drive down the day before the run and leave my little brother and I with our Aunt Doris who lived down there. She was in her early 20s and we thought she was the coolest human on the planet. Her boyfriend was cool too, and used to crack us up. One of the funniest things he said was when we were watching I Was A Teenage Werewolf which starred Michael Landon, and he said “Where’s Hoss!?” For some reason we thought that was the funniest thing we’d ever heard. I still think about that moment from time to time and laugh out loud (if you’re too young to remember, Hoss was the name of Landon’s overweight brother on Bonanza).

Anyway, being the music-starved record fanatic kids that we were, Doris used to take us to Tower Records and buy us albums. We were used to the record stores in Riverside which pretty much only had the top 40 albums. The music selection at Tower was amazing. We would spend hours running around there. Some albums we picked out during those visits were the first Cars album, the KISS Solo Albums (I, being a guitarist, got Ace’s, and my brother, a drummer, chose Peter’s), and Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes. It is impossible for me to listen to any of those records without feeling tidal waves of nostalgia.

So when I was trying to think of covers, Petty was high on my list as he is probably my favorite all-time singer-songwriter. The song that I love most, aside from “Louisiana Rain”, on Torpedoes is “Even the Losers”. You can hear me rush like crazy on bridge of the recording, that’s how excited I was to play it.

Ray from the CoverMe blog has featured my version of the song on a Tom Petty tribute along with Petty covers by Wilco, Matthew Sweet, Johnny Cash and others.

Go here to check it out. Thanks Ray!

Suggested Listening

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

podcast

Post-Thanksgiving work day. Here at the J.O.B. doing my best as usual to drown out the douchbag co-worker with podcasts. After you check out The Bull Pit Thanksgiving Special, here are some other good ones for the week: 

Rock and Roll Geek Show #380 – Host, Michael Butler plays excerpts from a KISS bootleg he bought at the Oakland KISS show. The sound quality of the music is great, and Butler’s play-by-play is hilarious. Paul Stanley has some awesome stage raps. Makes me wish I went to the show last week. If they come back, I’m going. 

Rock and Roll Geek Indie Cast #117 – Michael’s all-music companion to the Rock and Roll Geek Show this week features songs by The Devin Townsend Project, Pete Way, American Heartbreak, Replacements, Celebrity Skin, Material Issue, Cheap Trick, Poison Arrows, UFO and more. 

The Good Clean Fun Show – I’m catching up on the last two episodes of this as I write. Good drama about Butler’s day job (which I can relate to as I’m sure you can), and the boys getting kicked off of UStream for showing a film called The Sinful Dwarf. This is an awesome train-wreck style shit-talking podcast which is always entertaining. Some good rock talk as well. 

Coverville #630 The 6th Annual Thanksgiving Double-Shot Beatles Cover Story – Beatles covers by Mark Mulcahy, Paul Weller, The Smithereens, Eton Road, Nina Simone, Shawn Colvin and more. 

Sound Opinions #209 – Annual Turkey Shot. Hosts Greg and Jim are both music journalists for Chicago newspapers. They are kind of the Siskel and Ebert of music podcasting. It’s an NPR thing, pretty cool. 

CD Baby DIY Musician Podcast #76 – Corey Smith made headlines when his independent music career slowly grew into a multi-million dollar business, selling out large venues… That’s this week’s description of this DIY tips show for musicians. Some good info for anyone who does online DIY marketing, music or not. I haven’t listened to this week’s episode yet but will do after GCF.