Month: March 2008

Ou est le boeuf?

I added an image to the Papa Ghostface page in lieu of a proper picture of Gord and I doing musical things. It’s pretty silly.

Haven’t accomplished too much so far this week, mostly because I thought I would forsake the tiny acoustic songs in favour of some electric things, and subsequently I’ve had to reacquaint myself with the art and concept of recording a guitar amplifier. It’s not something I’ve really done since CHILDREN HAVE NO EYES.


ME: Well…yeah. In the beginning I had no amp, so I just used the amp simulator effects built into the Roland VS-880 I had at the time. Then I used the Digitech guitar effects box. I mic’d my little old tube amp for some tracks in mid-2000 — some solo stuff and a few Papa Ghostface tunes — but that was about it. Then I used a POD for a good long time.

EPEWHEL: Sacrilege! Also, notice how we are now an acronym that sounds funny when verbalized.

ME: So noted.

EPEWHEL: You’re telling us you had a newer Fender Twin Reverb and a cool gritty-sounding little old tube amp at your disposal, and instead of putting them to use you recorded your electric guitar tracks using…a POD?!

ME: Yes. Since around August of 2000 it’s been pretty much all POD, all the time.

EPEWHEL: You’re dead to us.

ME: I thought something like this might happen. But you know, before moving, when I picked up a real Fender Strat for the first time and plugged it into the Fender Twin, I realized what I’d been missing. A whole new world of tonal possibilities opened up before me. And from this day forward, I vow to rarely record electric guitars without the use of an actual amp, unless I’m going for a strange effect the POD nails on its own.

EPEWHEL: We still don’t forgive you.

ME: What if I get Guys with Dicks back together and revert to playing angry, distorted songs about sex and drugs?

EPEWHEL: Really? You mean it?

ME: Hell no.

EPEWHEL: You’re mean. Any subsequent conversation you wish to engage in should be relayed through our corrupt, incompetent lawyers.

ME: Sure. I’ll see you at the barbecue in July.

EPEWHEL: Yeah. Bring that blue cheese dip you make. One of our wives is a big fan. She’s dying to get her hands on the recipe.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I did use an amp for an electric guitar overdub on a still-unfinished new Papa Ghostface song back in January. But aside from that, I hadn’t done any serious recording with an amp for…I guess almost eight years. So yesterday I messed around with mic placement and recorded the guitars for a new song that unexpectedly wrote itself while I was in the process of experimenting.

I seemed to get the best sound with just one SM57 aimed around the middle of the amp grille, maybe an inch away. I tried adding an SM7B as a room mic, but it didn’t seem to contribute much, and it wasn’t because of phase issues. I’ll have to try experimenting with a large diaphragm condenser mic some distance away from the amp on another day and see what kind of sounds I can get. For this song at least, one mic on the amp seemed to be the right way to go. I double-tracked the guitar part and then added a few lead bits on top.

Listening back to what I’d done, I was struck by how much low end and low-mid information there was. It wasn’t mud or anything I needed to get rid of. It was “meat”, for lack of a better word. Something I never really got from the POD. I don’t even know if I want to add bass to this song, because the guitars sound really beefy on their own.

SM57s are funny microphones. They’ve been around forever, they’re cheap, they’re just about indestructible, and not everyone is a fan of them. But to paraphrase a sometimes-wise man named Fletcher, while the SM57 is rarely ever genius on any source, it almost never sounds bad. It does the job without getting fussy about what you put in front of it. And when it comes to snare drums and guitar amps, it’s a mic that’s been used on probably 70% of the albums in any given person’s music collection, unless all they own is jazz and classical music, or records recorded before the SM57 existed.

I bought my two SM57s back in 1999 when the only other mics I had were a cheap RadioShack mic and an SM58. It cost me maybe $200 for the pair, with a little extra for cables and mic stands. I should probably buy two more at some point. The ones I’ve got have seen use on just about everything at one time or another over the years — acoustic guitar, vocals, kick drum, snare, drum overheads, guitar amps, violin, harmonica, recorder, bamboo flute, acoustic bass, various percussion instruments, and probably a few other things I’m forgetting.

One of my favourite drum sounds I’ve ever achieved was with two SM57s and a few cheap mic pres. The first really good drum sound I ever got (and it still sounds good to me today) was with the SM57s, the RadioShack mic, and the SM58 — no mic pres, no compression, no EQ, and with the mics in odd places, with an SM57 leaning against the bottom rim of the kick drum because I didn’t have enough mic stands to go around.

I read a story about someone whose studio was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath they found one of their SM57s floating in the river of wreckage. It looked like it had been in a chemical plant explosion, with the body of the mic horribly damaged and corroded and all of the paint stripped away. And when they plugged it in, the thing still worked and sounded just as it always had.

For about a hundred bucks, that’s an impressive microphone. My SM57s haven’t endured anywhere near that level of abuse, but they’ve been smacked by drum sticks and guitars hundreds of times, and they never seem to mind.


The point is, some pineapple tastes pretty fine no matter how you slice it. The Shure SM57 is one such slice of pineapple. When you plug it into a high end mic preamp it really comes to life and shows you what it can do. I think it juggles drill bits when no one is looking. Such is the life of a modest utility microphone.

But I was talking about guitar amps, wasn’t I?

The Fender Twin is scary. Not only is it so heavy I can barely lift the thing on my own, but it would probably deafen me if I turned it up all the way. I had it turned up to three yesterday, and when I really played hard it was so loud the mic was clipping. This is the first time I’ve ever managed to overload an SM57 with anything. People could probably hear me outside.

Needless to say, this isn’t an amp I’m going to get to break up very easily. But that’s alright, because I like the clean sound. Even my cheap old Strat copy that’s been through more warped tunings than I could count sounds sexy through the Twin.

My other guitar amp is this little old tube amplifier called “Paul”. Really. That’s its name. To this day I’ve never been able to unearth a single piece of information about it. I don’t know when it was made or any of the specs. It came with the Strat copy, which was the first electric guitar I ever owned, included almost as an afterthought. It’s kind of insane to think I got that guitar (which has been used on hundreds of songs and still refuses to die), the amp, a guitar stand, and a soft shell case, all for something like $240.

I could pay ten times that amount and I don’t think i would find an amp that sounds this cool, unless it was something vintage and sexy. It doesn’t really do “clean”. It doesn’t get that loud either, which is perfect for recording. I can turn it up all the way without having to wear isolation headphones to save myself. This is an amp I need to start recording again with a vengeance, because it has this cool grunty sound to it that no amp simulator will ever come close to approximating.

Oh yeah…music. Here are a few of the tiny songs I’ve been recording over the last week or so. Just Like on Steve Allen’s Show follows one of the most hideously overused chord progressions of all time, but that was the way it sounded in my dream, so I went with it. Also, most of the lyrics rhyme in all of the songs, which is something I avoided for a long time. These days I don’t try so hard to force the songs anywhere they don’t want to go. We get along better that way.

As before, if you’re listening on good headphones you’ll probably hear some MP3 distortion. More full-bodied things will be along shortly.

My drums are sounding better and may be recording-ready now. I spent some time tuning them last night and things just kept sounding worse, so I got discouraged and walked away. Then I read something on the internet that gave me hope and decided to give the toms another shot, only to discover they now sounded pretty much the way I wanted them to. I guess they just needed a few minutes to settle in or something.

Praise Burt Reynolds, God among animated canines.

Milk Moustache Kid

Just Like on Steve Allen’s Show

My Favourite Daughter

I’m tellin’ you now, the greatest thing you ever can do now is sing a song to somebody’s blue cow.

How many country music videos do you figure there are in which the artist is seen standing on the stage of an empty theater, atmospherically lit, emoting to an audience that isn’t there? My somewhat conservative estimate would be eight hundred and ninety-three. It’s gotta be up there with “parties while the parents are away” in pop-punk videos and “shirtless abdominal flexing in the rain” in videos for R&B ballads.

Today wasn’t as productive as I thought it might be, but Sundays are generally lazy, do-nothing days for me, so I guess it was to be expected. I did get three songs pretty much finished. They may need a few tiny vocal touch-ups, but otherwise they’re fine, and one of them is four minutes long, which feels like twenty minutes compared to the tiny things I’ve been recording lately. I also recorded banjo and guide vocals for one of my favourite songs I’ve written on that instrument. It still needs stomping, clapping, and maybe bass and electric guitar, along with final vocals, but at least the bed of the song is there.

There were some fun little unexpected touches/moments. For one of the songs I felt like something was missing, so I recorded two tracks of the spiral notebook the lyrics were written in, striking it like a snare drum with brushes, and it seemed to work. I switched my vocal mic into the omnidirectional pattern to record the Hilroy makeshift snare from a bit of a distance, and then forgot to switch it back to cardioid when I went to overdub some harmonies. I wondered why the vocals suddenly sounded less present, but didn’t think too much of it. Then I found out what the problem was when I went to record vocals for a different song.

It was nothing compared to the profound goof I managed during the unexpected Papa Ghostface session in late January, when I spent the better part of ten minutes trying to figure out why I couldn’t get any sound out of my bass, only to realize it had already been set up before I did a thing — I unplugged the patch cord going into the compressor right off the bat, thinking it was the cord for something else, and kept trying to figure out why the meters on the preamp were lighting up but nothing was coming out of the monitors. There was a reason none of the other cords nearby did the trick. None of them had the bass in their signal path.

Fortunately I figured out what was going on before too many baby iguanas were eaten. Fun times. Almost as fun as recording “stomping” on a recent song by using only the balls of my feet because I didn’t feel like standing up and really committing to the stomping, and then after about two minutes feeling the burn of ligaments screaming at me to stop torturing them.

I recorded bass for one of the banjo songs, but even though it adds some low end it seems wrong somehow. Like putting a cat in a three-piece suit. I don’t know what it is exactly. These songs just feel better left relatively naked, for whatever reason. I always think it would be interesting to try doing something more layered and “produced”, because most of my music ends up coming out pretty austere one way or another. But every time, it seems like the songs get wind of what I’m planning and they all say, “It ain’t gonna happen.”

They sound just like Charles Bronson when they speak, too. What can I do? I mean, you don’t argue with Charles Bronson.

Here’s a medium-tiny song recorded way back at the old house during one of those quiet periods when the crackheads were recovering from the night before and hadn’t quite started partying again yet.

Sixteen Words I Borrowed

I never mixed it back then because I wanted to overdub some more guitar bits at the end, but when I listened to it again the other day I decided that might make things a bit too cluttered, so I just mixed it as it was. Sadly, the MP3 makes the vocals sound kind of distorted in places when they really aren’t on CD. A pox upon you, MP3, for being a compromised and mediocre medium through which to relay music. I hope your digital penis shrivels and dies.

Once I get drum-related things squared away I’ll start posting songs that aren’t so stripped-down and acoustic in nature. Songs with distorted electric guitars and bass! Songs with toy piano and Fender Rhodes! Songs with my chord organ that sounds like an accordion with a chest cold! I can sense the blog nearly exploding from the anticipation already.

Midriff salsa.

Just finished recording some more stuff. It’s nice to be somewhat productive again.

I’m not entirely sure about titles for the tracks yet, but one song was written way back at the old house in May of 2007. Took me long enough to properly record the thing. It opens with the line, “Suck on my big blue plastic chin chest.”

It’s a love song, of course.

The next song was an unexpected improvisation. I started playing this lick on an acoustic guitar and singing, “Love is a many-splendoured thing…why do you treat it like a sickness?” and kind of liked it. So I recorded the guitar and then improvised lyrics that were better than that. It’s about twenty-eight seconds long. I find I like little fragments like that more all the time.

The third song was one of several banjo tunes I’ve been meaning to record for a while now. I thought it needed a little something happening on the bottom end, so I tried stomp-claps, but that didn’t quite work. The clapping overpowered the stomping. Snapping didn’t fare much better. Then I remembered I have a tambourine that’s been hiding behind the banjo stand feeling unloved.

At first it was far too loud. So I developed a bit of a dance move I like to call the stomp-and-pivot — I stomped while facing the microphone, turned around and struck the tambourine as far away as I could get it from the mic without taking a step away, and then twisted back around and stomped again, repeating the process as needed with the stomping on the on-beats and the jingle-jangling on the off-beats.

Two tracks of that seemed to be the sound I was looking for, though I still think it could use a little extra thump. Some kick drum or floor tom would probably do the trick. I could have added some guitar and bass, and there was a pretty obvious banjo mistake in the middle of the first verse, but I kind of like this stuff raw. We don’t want things getting too polished. Other songs will have more window dressing.

I think I’ve developed some sort of vocal overdub compulsion…not really in terms of harmonies, but I find myself triple-tracking my vocals for a lot of these songs. Double-tracking sounds pretty good, but adding just one more voice seems to make all the difference, with the “lead” vocal in the middle and the other two mixed a little bit beneath it, panned at about ten o’clock and two o’clock. It just feels right for some reason. Maybe it’s an Elliott Smith influence, seeped into mah veins and make’d me done what I do. As soon as I mix some of these songs I’ll post a few.

I need to get some pictures and video content up here while I’m still young and virile — particularly the video of the first track from the final GWD live performance. I think that would be fun to have here. I hope to have the necessary equipment to make it happen soon.

Also, I’ve kind of got a thing for this ChaosTheory WordPress theme/template. It’s all that blue and grey that makes me weak in the knees. But I’ve also kind of grown attached to this design. Why must colours be so colourful? Why?!

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I’ve got cool shoes, so it’s no big deal.

Got a few things done today.

Recorded a song that will probably end up on THE CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN WITH A TRIANGLE. I think that album will have a lot of stomping, clapping, and “found percussion” in place of drums. It just seems to make sense that way. Also recorded one of the “dream songs”, which was an interesting experience. It’s always a little surreal playing and singing something that came from a dream. Wrestled a bit with a song called “You Dream Like We’ve Seen Each Other Before”, which is mostly done but still needs a little something extra and a few vocal overdubs. Some of the singing I added today was completely bizarre and doesn’t work at all in the context of the song, but it was fun to do. Played around with an untitled song that began life as a potential Papa Ghostface tune some years back. Thinking about adding electric guitar and percussion, but I’m not sure if it fits.

Still need to tune my toms to reinstate their sex appeal. Still need to mix about thirty songs for the out-takes collection thing, a few of which need drums and other touch-ups. Still need to use that rock-hard little bun they gave me at Tim Hortons as a weapon on someone. That thing could cause some serious damage…it could probably break a window without too much effort. Still need to synthesize a drug that induces permanent vocal cord paralysis to prevent Ashley Dupré (aka Spitzer-Licker) from embarking upon a “singing career”.

It’s pretty sad when all you have to do to sell albums and make a ton of money now is sleep with someone fairly high up on the social/political food chain, and have your name tossed around in the news when the scandal hits. It’s even worse when your music makes Britney Spears sound like a talented jazz songstress. What the hell is wrong with people?

THE MEDIA: In an increasingly desperate attempt to bring you news that is outrageous enough to hold your attention, now that you have a collective attention span of about three seconds — in part because of your dedication to the bullshit we spew endlessly — here’s a story about a prostitute who lubricated the penis of Elliott Spitzer, until he got caught. It was a sad day for him, but more so for Little Elliott, who had never felt so loved. This young lady makes an absurd amount of money having sex with people who perhaps would never otherwise get any action, or at least not from anyone as young and attractive as her. Also, she sings, and it’s possible that everything she says about herself on her Myspace page is a lie.

THE WORLD AS A WHOLE: Whoa. She’s got, like, breasts! And a face!

THE MEDIA: Yes. She is a woman, and a homo sapien. They tend to have those things.

THE WORLD AS A WHOLE: Ooh…sex! Embarrassment! Resignation stuff! This is better than that time that one celebrity got her nose ring caught in her scarf, accidentally ripped it out, and had to have reconstructive surgery, so she took the opportunity to have a few slight refinements and enhancements done and left the hospital with a nose that was 0.2% different in structure than the one she previously had. And we could tell the difference because we compared 569 different photographs taken over a period of three days. That was, like, so riveting!

THE MEDIA: This one isn’t just a prostitute who’s absurdly overpaid. She sings.

THE WORLD AS A WHOLE: Fuckshitwhat?! Must hear music! Must buy music!

THE MEDIA: Be warned — it’s pretty bad.

THE WORLD AS A WHOLE: We stopped actually listening to music around 1975, remember? Since then, for most of us it’s just been wallpaper, and we have no concept of what constitutes “talent” or “good” or “authentic” anymore. Bring on the banal, insipid, horrifically derivative ear candy!

THE MEDIA: This actually makes said ear candy sound pretty good in comparison.


ASHLEY DUPRÉ: Wow. I just became a millionaire practically overnight from all the digital sales of my two unbelievably horrible songs. Cool. Maybe I don’t need to have sex with people for money anymore. I’m famous! But, you know, I’m real. Just like J. Lo. Everyone shed a tear for me. It’s a mean world, but I’m getting by, just barely, with my millions of dollars and offers to pose nude with various food items pouring in.

THE WORLD AS A WHOLE: Who else did she have sex with? Which magazines is she going to be posing nude in? Charlie Sheen? Hugh Grant? Penthouse? House and Garden? When’s she gonna make a music video? When what why where how whawhawha?

THE MEDIA: All in good time, dears. We’ll give you little pieces of the story, scattering crumbs gradually, feeding you just enough to keep you alive, like the junkies you are.

THE WORLD AS A WHOLE: Yessss…preciousssss…

(Five weeks later)

THE MEDIA: Breaking news about Ashley Dupré’s failed music career! Pictures! Profanity!

THE WORLD AS A WHOLE: Ashley who? We’re back to trying to figure out how many nipples Angelina Jolie has and documenting whatever it is that Paris Hilton does, one soul-destroying detail at a time.

(The world explodes from an overload of stupidity and materialistic blah)

That was fun.

Me? Bitter? Never.

Where does it come from?

I decided to try recording a song in the act of being written on video today, because I thought it might be interesting (at least for me) to be able to sit back and watch my songwriting process from the outside. I’ve been using a video camera to get down musical ideas for some months now since it’s faster and easier than recording things properly every time new ideas bubble up.

As it turned out, there wasn’t much of any process to document. This is what happened:

I picked up the acoustic guitar I brought upstairs to my bedroom a few days ago and started playing this sort of bucolic-sounding thing. I hit the record button to preserve the idea, singing words that made no sense just to get a feel for a vocal melody — which seemed to be pretty much there already, though I’d never played or sung any of this before. Then I thought I would try writing out a few lines to see if anything was there in the way of lyrics. Something about a character named “Big Brother Thomas” was in my head. Seemed like as good a way to start as any.

A bunch of words came tumbling out, and in about two minutes there were five verses. I sang through all of them, and it was clear the song had finished itself. I really didn’t do much of anything at all. I picked up the guitar, and it was as if the musical idea had been waiting for me, because it was all there almost immediately. I put pen to paper, with no real ideas in my head, and before I knew what I was doing the page was full.

This is what “songwriting” is like for me these days. I feel like some sort of conduit, and I’m just trying to be open so when the songs come I’m prepared for them. It’s bizarre. I can’t remember the last time I actually sat down and said, “I’m going to write a song now.” It just sort of happens on its own, with no real prompting from me. I’m not sure I’ll ever really be able to make sense of it. I don’t think watching it happen would be very entertaining, but it’s a nice ability to have, if you can call it that. Whatever it is. Wherever it comes from.

I’ve been wondering about this whole thing for a while. It’s funny to me that a lot of my inspiration used to come from pain, and anger, and unpleasant feelings in general. Things from my childhood. Fun with supposed friends and half-baked flings. A lot of it was music-as-catharsis, blowing things out of my system so I didn’t end up putting my fist through a window or something else instead.

Seems like I got most of the worst of that stuff out of my system sometime back, and now inspiration comes from anything and everything. Before moving, I found myself writing a song one day in which a father tells his son about what his life will be. Only, they’re trees instead of people. I would never think to write a song about something like that. Again, it just happened.

Who knows where it all comes from. I’d like to make some sort of no-budget documentary about all of this (something I’ve been thinking about for a while now) and follow the recording of an album or several, but I think watching one person doing everything and occasionally talking to the camera would get boring pretty fast. It’s another one of those things where if I could clone myself it would be more interesting in every way. Better camera angles! Three Johnnys at once!

I wonder what the plural form would be. Johnnies? Johnni?

Today I read a response from Daniel Lanois to a question about recording drums, and he said he usually uses three microphones: a U47 as a mono overhead, an SM57 on the high-hat, and a mic on the kick. No room mics. No “mic on every drum and cymbal and even on the drum throne because maybe we can use the ambient sound reflections from the drummer’s ass in the mix somewhere” approach. That kind of blew my mind. It just goes to show that you don’t need to use a ton of mics to get a great sound. All you need is a good set of drums, a good musician, and a few good microphones. And it doesn’t hurt if your name is Daniel Lanois.

Recently I was thinking maybe I should consider picking up a few new mics, specifically for drum duties, because maybe the R88 won’t work out the way I want it to, and I don’t want to use the same mics on drum overheads and acoustic guitars (though I’ve done it more than a few times in the past). I haven’t really done much of any drum recording or figured out a set-up in the aftermath of half of the mics I was using before being retired. I was looking for the “magic bullet”, as they say. But really, what I should be doing is what I always did before — experimenting with what I have, shaking things up, and seeing what sounds fall out while I’m at it.


When Miley Cyrus starts showing up in your dreams, you know something isn’t quite right.

I went CD-hunting at Dr. Disc today and found two Tim Buckley albums on 180 gram vinyl, new:

Happy Sad


I already have both of these on CD, but I couldn’t resist buying them anyway. There’s something about vinyl.

For one thing, the covers are so much more interesting to look at it’s not even funny. CDs sometimes seem sort of like musical Chiclets in comparison. If Starsailor had been there, I think I would have done a cartwheel in celebration. And I’ve never done a cartwheel in my life. I think I tried back in grade school, and it just wasn’t happening. It couldn’t have helped that I was going through a ten-year growth spurt at the time.

There were some Scott Walker albums at Dr. Disc as well. I was tempted to get those too, but at $23 an album it would have started to get a little painful after a while. I need a new turntable and a better stereo system in order to hear these albums sounding their best anyway. But in the meantime, they’re nice to look at.

I have been mixing some things, and tomorrow I should be recording some things. Maybe a bunch of tiny songs, since they’re pretty easy to record in large numbers without eating up a lot of time, being tiny and all. I need to tune my toms so I can get back into recording things with drums (it seems they went a bit out of tune in the move), and experiment with the mics I have now to see what kind of drum sound I end up with.

It should be interesting. I’ve got this stereo ribbon microphone that hasn’t even been taken out of its case yet. It’s been sitting there for something like a year now. I’m curious to see how it sounds as an overhead weapon. It’s an AEA R88. It wasn’t cheap, but I knocked a bit off the price with the trade-in value of one of my Rode K2s.

I paid a thousand bucks a pop for two K2s back when I thought Rode mics were where it was at. Several months and a few new mic preamps later, the K2s were just about the only Rode mics I had that didn’t sound like the aural equivalent of a rake scraping across a length of sidewalk, but I didn’t see the need for two of them anymore. So I traded one in.

It was in mint condition. They gave me less than three hundred bucks for it. I’m sure they turned around and sold it for another thousand the next day, advertising it as “new”. Good old Long & McQuade. Always rewarding long-term customers who have helped to keep them in business all these years.

My favourite picture of the R88:


Looks like someone got creative with red light.

It’s a big, heavy beast. Luckily I have some heavy duty mic stands that are up to the task. I’ve never used a ribbon mic before. They’re supposed to be kind of tame in the higher frequencies, whereas a lot of modern condenser mics are kind of hyped in that range. I’m not sure what kind of sound to expect, but I s’pose I’ll find out how the ribbon likes my drums soon enough.

It’d be nice if just the stereo overhead mic and a kick mic were enough to get a sexy drum sound. I’m not a big fan of using two mics on every drum head and cymbal. I don’t think I’ve ever used more than four mics on a drum kit at any given time. It just seems like the more mics you use, the harder it becomes to get something that actually sounds like a real drum set. But maybe that’s just me. In any case, the less tracks I have to use up, the easier it is for me, and the less mics I have to use…the easier it is for me. Love is in the air.

At the very least, I hope to have some rough mixes of some new tracks to put up here within the next few days.

Also, I talked to Gord today, and it looks like there may be hope for a real Papa Ghostface reunion after all. Never underestimate the power of well-groomed eyebrows.

This bag of oranges has your handwriting on it.

I am in love with this thing:

And someday, she will be mine.

In the meantime, I think I need to set myself a musical deadline of some sort. It’s not something I’ve ever done before, because there was no need for it when I was recording every chance I got. Things are different now. My motivation got misplaced somewhere in the move, and I imagine it’s frozen in the back of the garage by now.

So I will say this: by the beginning of June I will have something new to physically give to people. An EP. A full-length album. A box set. The bloated out-takes collection. A five-part documentary series. Something for when the weather is nice again. Some thing.

Whatever it is, it will have music on it, and it will be new.

And everyone will say, “Johnny West? Who the hell is he?”

And I will say, “You thought I retired, didn’t you?”

And they’ll say, “No…we really didn’t even know you existed.”

And I’ll say, “Now, now…no need to play coy with me.”

And they’ll say, “Please leave us alone, or we’ll be forced to use our pepper spray.”

I can feel the love already.

A bit of a disclaimer.

Now that most of the albums have a song or two on their respective pages, I should probably issue a warning.

There are some things there that may offend some people. I’ve avoided posting MP3s of some of the more visceral material on some of the albums (I’m not sure why exactly. Maybe I just don’t think most people would be interested in listening to me vomiting my guts up and calling it a song — but if you are, I’d be happy to send you some of those CDs!). Even after that, I found myself censoring some things because I didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable while listening.

In some places this sort of backfired. For instance, Gord and I always felt “C’mon” was one of our all-time best Papa Ghostface songs, but some of the lyrics I improvised may come off as being misogynistic or otherwise disrespectful. So I initially threw a different song up in its place before thinking better of it.

It’s the same case with a lot of the GWD material and some of my early solo stuff. There’s lots of profanity and sex talk on those albums. I was an angry young guy, into role-playing and being lyrically inappropriate whenever the spirit moved me, which happened to be often.

I still enjoy dropping nasty words into songs once in a while, mostly because in real life I’m a fairly foul-mouthed person. I read a quote from Prince once that I related to. He talked about how his father didn’t like one of his early albums because of the language. “Why does there have to be all that swearing?” he asked his son. Prince’s answer: “I swear.”

We be what we is.

I’m not a misogynist, nor have I ever been, I swear. I just seemed to gravitate toward weird sexual subject matter in my teenage years. In some cases I would be posting lesser songs if I tried to sidestep anything potentially offensive. And with something like SCOTCH TAPE SEX POT, I don’t think there’s a single song on the album that isn’t profane or out-there in some way.

So I’ll just say this: if you’re easily offended, you should stay away from the songs on the pages for albums like MERRY FUCKIN’ CHRISTMAS, SCOTCH TAPE SEX POT, and A ROOMFUL OF SEXINESS.

There. I feel better now.

My pages have parents and children now.

I’m almost finished the write-ups for the albums on the Discography sidebar at the right. My brain is sore. Just a few more to go.

Some of the descriptions are pretty skeletal, while others seem to end up talking more about what was going on during the recording of an album instead of what’s on the album itself. The idea isn’t to explain everything (because that would take far too long), but to give anyone who’s interested a bit of an idea of what some of these CDs are like.

I’m probably the worst person to write about the music, because I’ve never been able to be very objective about my own stuff. Most of the time I just hear what’s wrong with it, and have rarely been able to divorce myself from a critical position. I always thought it would be interesting to be able to listen to my stuff as if someone else had recorded it, like all the other music I’ve ever listened to, from a different mental space. What can you do?

Anyway. I will probably tweak some of the write-ups over time, adding some bits, getting rid of others, and I hope to soon have album cover images and other such relevant things up there. What fun it be.

Spring ain’t gonna spring till it’s good and ready.

The winter months always make me a little nostalgic. A lot of it has to do with memories from back when I had a band. For whatever reason, the times when there were snow seem to stand out. It was a strange period for me…probably the worst time of my life, but also the most exciting. And for a little while, I had a real band with two other guys, and I threw everything I was thinking and feeling into the music we made.

Usually I’m pretty content to do everything myself these days, but sometimes it’s a little disappointing to realize I’ll probably never put another band together. I just don’t see it happening. Reliable talent is too hard to find, and my working methods have changed completely, to the point that I’m not sure how I would go about collaborating with anyone else successfully on anything but an occasional basis.

I suppose I’m lucky the collaborative projects that there were lasted as long as they did. A lot of music was made in a short period of time. It was very strange, having an almost telepathic musical connection with other people — collectively improvising songs out of nothing while recording, and then listening back to what we’d done and marvelling at how it sounded like we sort of knew what we were doing. Sometimes it was a powerful feeling. Almost spiritual in a strange way.

In celebration of our band that recorded about a dozen CDs no one will ever hear, here’s a song from those wild times. This one hails from january 2002, off an album called STELLAR. It doesn’t really give you a great idea of whatever it was that we did, because what we did was kind of all over the place. Some songs were twenty-minute-long journeys into insanity, while others were compact and almost accessible. I’ll write a book about that time in my musical life someday. I need to do something with all of the memories I have floating around. I don’t think it’s something anyone else would ever want to read, but I would really be writing it for myself anyway.

This track is a bit of an anomaly in that it doesn’t feature much in the way of lyrics, and it doesn’t have the emotional nudity that most of the other songs we recorded carried with them. There is something personal going on in what few actual words there are, but you wouldn’t know it unless I took the time to explain it. And that would be no fun.

Still, Gord and I always thought it would be fun to play this one live. We pictured people walking into a bar and hearing the song emanating from within, wondering if someone had slipped something in one of their drinks. We never did get to try it out on an audience, but it was fun to imagine the possibilities.

We’re out of Tuna