Recently came across this thing from our olde website. I was asked to write track by track commentary for a SDMusicMatters.com article back in 2004. I didn’t want to say TOO much about what’s behind the lyrics but I’ve always liked reading these things and I LOVE to type so….. Unfortunately, there was an inbox mishap and the writer didn’t notice the untold hours I’d spent on this until AFTER his deadline. Oh well. We love Dryw anyways. In fact, we love him so much that I’m adding this link. Clicking on some of these text links to long dead websites is quite a memory rush.
I wrote this trying to emulate an Elliott Smith song but didn’t do a very good job. It was more trying to write something really short after seeing San Diego band the and/ors. It features a cleared sample of Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of the Posies singing the National Anthem and an uncleared sample of me singing the opening beeps from Pole Position.
We did this for goofs on a hand held recorder. One take! Now that 4th & B has changed bookers I can safely say that it was a CRIME that we didn’t get to open for the Gogos and a female solo acoustic singer did. That’s reverse sexism folks and I won’t stand for it.
This is a song by our old co-lead singer John Andrews and it was simply too good to not keep playing. We have his blessing, even though I changed “head” to “eyes”. Right, John? After singing it a hundred times, I could NOT remember one line when we recorded the vocals. Luckily, his demo was in my car. Isn’t old age great?
A tune about Leap Year that’s one of the first songs I ever wrote. We exploited the holiday aspect until we were tired of this song, so it was great that Jeremy Cooke from Billy Midnight could come in and play something on fiddle that Dylan improved on guitar once. I’ve written way too much about this song already.
YOUR LIFE IS A JOKE
No one takes us seriously, so I thought I’d write about it and pull out all the stops on pop culture references (I count 3 tv shows, a movie, a song, a band, a breakfast cereal and an awards show). I love ska and this gets dangerously close to it. We kept the ending as a funny reminder of how tense the studio can be sometimes. Lead uke by Jason Hee.
THE SUN ALWAYS SHINES ON CHRISTMAS
I was invited to be on a local holiday record and when Beastie Boys’ management wouldn’t allow Rabbi Gimbel’s Jews Explosion to be on it, I wrote this about the recent fires and election. A nice third harmony by Mr. Nasr Helewa.
7th TRACK STRETCH
A real life answering machine message from a crazed Motorhead fan to the Garden of Speedin’. We got a few of these when we first went into business and got their olde fanclub phone number. This one was the most PG rated. We also wanted to use a recording of an idiot savant who once called spouting rapid fire Beach Boys trivia but thought it would be a bit too cruel.
AFTER THE BEEP
The first time I heard the Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights”, I thought Ben Gibbard was about to sing about how he tried to leave the song on someone’s answering machine but it would hang up on him or, worse yet, it accidentally beeped the code and played back the messages. He didn’t so I wrote a song about it using a strangely familiar melody I’d wanted to sing for a VERY long time. Yes, that’s a Poison reference on the end. Who do you think you’re dealing with?!
REPEAT TO FADE
Our producer, Mike Kamoo, thought it sounded like Pavement’s stabs at country or Uncle Tupelo. This is the only song we brought Jeremy in to play fiddle on and what he improvized was so good that we cued up a few more songs for him.
ESCALATOR TO HEAVEN
Who’s less funny: the person who yells out for “Freebird” or the person that laughs at it? NO girl will sleep with you if you yell this out. Girls, spread the word and unite! Rather than write a song of the same name that would encourage more wannabe comedians, I wrote this instead. Ended up kinda Everlys which is fine by me.
The first real rock riff I ever wrote. It’s a wannabe glamrock stomper that is dangerously close to a Sloan song but they rarely play here. I actually called a friend to see if it sounded familiar to him but it didn’t, so I knew I was safe. One day after school at University City High School, my friend Dan Buczaczer said “Shoot”. Our friend Jenne Leo replied “Bang” without missing a beat and Dan immediately clutched his chest and said “Got me.” I thought it was so genius that I vowed to start a band and put it in a song. It only took me 10 years to start the song and then another 5 to finish and record it. We recorded us yelling “bang” really high and then really low with a bunch of friends and when we played it back together, it sounded so much like the Muppets that we didn’t stop laughing for a good five minutes. Coaching Marie Haddad on how to moan and sigh was pretty embarassing but she’s a professional and helped me get through it. The chorus is supposed to be the most overdramatic Nine Inch Nails line I could stomach but it doesn’t come off that way. I don’t hate anyone named Penny. It just rhymed and I know too many Jennys.
GOT NO TIME (FOR EXPANSION TEAMS)
aka FESTIVAL OF BRAKE LIGHTS
For awhile, I had no lyrics for the verses and would rattle off the fast parts of “Turning Japanese” and the Femmes’ “Kiss Off”. I just wanted to write a rocker about driving and it ended up being about traffic. I thought it would be doubly ironic to borrow an Oasis melody for the chorus. As a kid, I alphabetized my baseball cards alphabetically by team and never had an excuse to demonstrate how I’d memorized them. After we finished the album, my friend Kimberly uttered the brilliant phrase “Festival of Brake Lights” which I wish I could’ve used.
HORSESHOES & BBQ’S
A friend of mine asked me to make my studio debut on a Bay Area compilation after I moved back to San Diego, so I recorded the first song I ever wrote for it. When I went up to SF to play the record release, I wrote a title track for the comp that was full of references to where we lived in El Cerrito and all of our East Bay music friends. I tried to write something dumb, simple and classic rock like BTO since I knew I’d never have to play it again. Oops. Great pedal steel solo by Mocha Joe Camacho.
Another of my first songs, written at the absolute lowest point in my life. I thought it was WAY too Ren’ Fair and pretty which helped the lyrics write themselves. Poor Brad Paye from Agave had to try to get a tricky piano part down with a studio full of people watching. We deleted it later, just to be cruel. At least we left in his great mandolin playing. Jeremy and Joe’s different takes sounded amazing all at once, so, with very little editing, we left in all of those incredible accidental harmonies. I read later that Jellyfish got the same accidentally results when recording the pedal steel on “Russian Hill”. We wanted one five second section to be over the top, so John Meeks and Scott Kennerly from Plural came in to sing a few of the 12 vocal parts and Jeremy did three violin parts for good measure. It doesn’t sound so over the top.
How do you keep an idiot in suspense? I’ll tell you later. It’s hard to write something slower and rocking without coming off emo. It was originally supposed to be about rollerskating and ended up accidentally being about how I’m a little bit Mazzy Star and she was a little bit “We Built This City”. Actually, the chorus isn’t supposed to mean anything but that sounds believable. Someone did an article on us and said that the song was about Eve Selis. It’s not. I’ve never even met her. Makes me wonder how many songwriting stories I’ve heard that aren’t true. I’m not so sure we did the right thing by doing the obvious “Fade Into You” homage at the end but it was fun to do.
Bonus tracks? What bonus tracks?! Thanks to Nana, Grandma, Doug Camphuis and Angela Correa for helping and Nasr for having a sense of humor about the end. Jason thought we shouldn’t thank anyone at the end because Sublime had already done that. They used guitars too, didn’t they? You’ll miss something but, for your convenience, you can skip one part instead of having to sit there with your finger on the scan button for forever. You’re welcome.
“We hope you’ve enjoyed listening to the records as much as we enjoyed melting them- no, no, no, that’s wrong – making them.”
-Paul McCartney on the Beatles 1964 Christmas Record