A Roomful of Sexiness (2001)
this is where we became a proper band for perhaps the first time, with a standard bass/drums/two guitars line-up that lasted for more than one day. it wasn’t exactly rigid, though, since there was a lot of instrument swapping going on.
it all started when gord and i wanted to put together a papa ghostface band for the air jam (our high school’s aforementioned sleazy version of a talent show, mostly without the talent), but we weren’t sure where we were going to find a bassist and a drummer. when tyson (who had shaved off his magical spikes of hair for a job interview) found out about our quest, he told us he played the drums. this came as a surprise to us, because we’d always thought of him more as a guitarist. that was the instrument he played in his role as main songwriter in fetal pulp, after all.
it turned out tyson really could play the drums. he wasn’t just foolin’. gord recruited old pal andrew whitelaw to play bass, and all at once, we had our band.
we started getting together about once a week and quickly developed a rehearsal routine: we would run through the song we were going to play live (the papa ghostface tune be sorry) once or twice. then we would forget all about that, i would hit the record button, and we would start improvising without any preconceived ideas about what we were going to do.
i was in a weird place creatively at the time…i guess it was sort of my brief fling with something approaching writer’s block. i could still write songs, as i was always writing things that went unrecorded while i was improvising things in the “studio”, but i couldn’t finish anything to my satisfaction, and it was really starting to piss me off. the lyrics in particular just weren’t happening. i mean, when i sat down behind the piano and all i could come up with to accompany some interesting music was a chorus of, “i’m like a truck you’d really like to fuck,” i knew something wasn’t quite right.
having something like a real band for the very first time gave me an outlet to blow all of my frustration out of my system, and it galvanized me. even when i felt i had no ideas, inspiration would bubble up from nowhere without much prompting. dress me up is a good example of this phenomenon; about ten seconds in i say, “i got nothing,” because there isn’t an idea in my head, and before long i’m singing about a girl who’s really a frog with a large eyeball inside of her mouth while my guitar and gord’s interlock and bounce off of one another. within a few minutes you’ve got a song about cross-dressing love.
speaking of love, tyson was infatuated with testicular love, even going so far as to play it for everyone in his law class, which always puzzled gord and i because it was easily the most normal song on the cd. i’ve always preferred the more twisted stuff, like it’s all coming back and orgy clap, where i unleash some seriously inspired dementia about bad people and bad sex.
orgy clap in particular has an interesting ending. just as it seems like the music is getting ready to explode, it suddenly fizzles out. this was because my dad was on the phone in the other room, and he came into the music room mid-song to tell us we had to stop playing. earlier in the song he had done this already, and we had been able to turn the unexpected lull into something interesting and then build the intensity back up again, but this time he told us we really had to stop, and it killed the song. i actually like the way it ends, because it’s completely unexpected, though tyson always thought it would have been better if we had been able to keep going for at least another few minutes.
this cd is home to what may be the worst drum sound i ever recorded (there was only one mic over the entire kit, like on WITHOUT DICKS,and this time i didn’t push it up high enough in the mix or place the mic well enough to get a full-bodied sound), but it’s still one of the better albums from the lineup-shifting days. be sorry is really the only thing that doesn’t work, and that’s mainly because my singing isn’t that good, gord’s guitar is out of tune, and the original PG version simply rips it to shreds in every way. gord is pretty much on fire throughout, though, regardless of what instrument he’s playing, and he has some especially sexy guitar moments on princess in a bottle (the middle of the song features a nice moment of unexpected instrumental guitar telepathy between the two of us) and right at the end of testicular love.
tyson himself provides one of the spoken word pieces this time out on the stench of wasted currency, railing against consumerism and waxing philosophical while i take over on drums. i think i did a surprisingly good job for someone who wasn’t really a drummer at the time, and for some weird reason the drums come through a lot better while i’m hitting them. this was also the cd that got people saying, “all your songs are about sex!” apparently they were listening to the music while masturbating underwater.
fun moments: tyson shouting “hey!” as orgy clap starts to find itself, scaring the shit out of me in the process, hence my response. tyson using his pager to make some cool melodic sounds at the beginning of the instrumental spanish onion and gord saying, “that sounds so cool!” tyson jokingly screaming that we need a break at the end of one of the longer workouts. tyson poking fun at my sex-centric lyrics at the beginning of the stench of wasted currency when he says, “i guess this is where you want me to say ‘penis’, huh?” hey…those are all tyson moments!
there’s also the hidden track, where we all sing a silly a capella song, the four of us overdubbed about three times in unison, and gord lets out a hilarious sound that’s like a cross between a yodel and a cow screaming. you can hear me cracking up in the background.
the album title came from tyson — i would regularly refer to things as “sexy” instead of “cool” or “special”, and it had a weird way of catching on with other people, as did my spontaneous outbursts apropos of nothing of things like “oh yeah”, “shake it”, and “sex is good”. i was an influential guy in those days. it was funny.
we did end up getting into the air jam this time, but that’s a very long story in itself, and one that inspired a play. the important thing is, at the end of our performance i held my guitar as an extension of my penis, and the day was won.
turtle song/tuning/be sorry
juju ramona ball
don’t ask/don’t tell
it’s all coming back
dress me up
princess in a bottle
the stench of wasted currency