Month: November 2010

Face the face.

This afternoon I was recording some banjo for a song I wrote late last night…sort of a dark gothic thing with a bit of religious imagery, which isn’t exactly the sort of thing I normally write. While I was playing the banjo, I kept looking at the crappy cheap classical guitar that often finds itself leaning against the Fender Rhodes. I did a mental double-take when I realized there was a face staring back at me.

I’ve never seen something like this happen around here before. I’ve drawn things (and written dirty words) in dust, but this one is completely out of my hands. I’ve never dusted this thing at all. Somehow the dust itself formed in a pattern that looks like a face. I don’t think I’m just seeing things.

It’s difficult to get a picture with the right light to really let the dust stand out, but here are a few attempts.

Now, I’m not running around thinking there’s anything cosmic behind this, like seeing the Virgin Mary’s face in a bag of pretzels or some such thing. That would be silly. I just think it’s pretty cool. How often do you see a really distinct, well-formed face in the dust that’s settled on the body of your guitar?

I was messing around with some of these pictures, warping them with effects, and I liked the way one of them turned out enough that I’m now rethinking what I want to do for the next album’s cover art.

I thought I’d settled on this.

But now i’m liking this quite a bit.

Or alternately, this.

I’m all for breaking with tradition and continuing to have my hairy mug show up on my album covers, but I’m kind of digging what happens to that guitar when it turns blue, even if the dusty face gets buried a bit in the process. Any feedback/opinions on what you think might make a better album cover are welcome.

Well, you’re born with nothing, and better off that way; soon as you got something, they send someone to try and take it away.

It’s end-of-the-month progress report time.

I did something a little different with the re-contextualized public domain film content this time. Instead of an old B-movie, there are bits of two different things interspersed throughout. There’s Your Name Here, which is a pretty amusing parody of industrial films of the time, made fifty years ago (some people have wondered how they got it to look so old, only to find out it’s not something recent poking fun at the past, but rather something that looks old because it is old).

There’s also Gumbasia, which was sort of a short-form clay animation parody of disney’s Fantasia made by Art Clokey and the impetus that led to the first Gumby films. I liked what happened when I stripped away the somewhat cheesy original music and added some of my own (it made it a lot easier to concentrate on just what a neat piece of stop-motion animation it is, especially for something made in 1953), so you get a bit of a preview of something that’s going on the next album in the process. I didn’t expect the marriage of music and animation to work half as well as it does, but that’s part of the fun of the whole thing — you never really know what’s going to happen when you chop things up and take them out of context. Some things fit so well it’s almost as if they were meant to be rearranged this way, while others are pretty absurd.

The absurdity is also part of the fun.

Though there are no cameos from Fuzzy Duck or Nikolai this time, Elliott has a strangely serene and longer-than-usual tender moment to share. And I have lots of hair. What more can you ask for? I think we’ve established by this point that the video progress report lives comfortably somewhere in the twenty-to-thirty-minute range. That length feels just about right. I can dig in a bit and ramble about several different things without getting too long-winded.

Who knows if anyone else finds this stuff interesting (O realize it’s still mostly my face talking about stuff, even if it’s broken up more and edited better than it used to be), but I have fun doing it. I think when I get to the one-year mark I’m going to sit down and watch all twelve video progress reports back-to-back to get a feel for how much things have evolved and how much I’ve accomplished in that time. I’ll have a marathon of myself, with myself. How postmodern is that?

Maybe I’ll do something extra-special for December’s video, which will be showing up by default right around Christmas. The thought that we’re only a month away from Yuletide weirdness once again is kind of messed up. Time goes by way too fast.

Also, Elliott tells me he forgot to mention Tunnel of Love as another undervalued Springsteen album that’s up there with some of the best work the Boss has done. Sometimes, when he’s alone in the house, he breaks out a little guitar and recreates the music video for “Brilliant Disguise”. I haven’t seen it in the purple flesh, you understand, but I’ve heard people talk about it in hushed and reverential tones.

LiveR than I was last week.

I’m playing a few live shows. Don’t you be expectin’ to hear me play my own stuff, though…that isn’t going to happen again anytime soon. I haven’t really had an itch to play live at all in any capacity, but when I’m not the one in the spotlight there’s a bit less pressure involved, and it’s always fun playing with Travis.

The Taloola show is tomorrow night, and the Green Bean show is on December 17th. The poster says it’s on the 3rd, but that’s since been changed. More time to prepare our secret, soul-stirring Nickelback covers, you see.

Oh shit. It’s not a secret anymore. I threw it all away.

The next video progress report should still be along before the month is gone. I’ve just been getting sidetracked with recording an awful lot of stuff. Been playing a lot of electric guitar as well, which is a somewhat unexpected development. I mean, I like playing electric guitar and all, but for a while there it was looking like the next album was going to be dominated by piano and acoustic guitar. Now, not so much. There’s some pretty dirty, dissonant guitar work happening in some of the songs. I dig it. We’re a long way from the Guys with Dicks days of old, and obviously the sound/production quality has taken several leaps forward in the intervening years, but I can’t help feeling there’s a glimmer of that GWD intensity in a few of these jagged guitar parts.

Also, for a time I was pretty sure the next album would be a neater, narrower affair, with maybe only ten or twelve songs on it. That’s not happening either. We’re probably looking at another album that’s around twenty-five songs long and refuses to stay in one place. Probably should have seen that one coming. It could turn into another double CD, but I’m not sure I have the patience for that, and it might be a bit absurd to follow up one two-CD set with another only a few months later. Not that the threat of absurdity has ever stopped me before. At the very least, it’ll be a pretty packed single CD statement.

And didja catch the obscure Rolling Stones reference in the title of this post? Didja?

If it hadn’t been for you, I would be now in someone else’s digestion!

I was blissfully unaware of this until a day or two ago, but back in 2001 some misguided soul decided to cash in on the earth-shattering success of the movie Titanic by making an animated version called Titanic: the Legend Goes on. Only, they made a few changes to the story in the process.

A brief plot summary, courtesy of Wikipedia:

The plot centers around a poor girl called Angelica who lives with, and works for, her stepmother and stepsisters. They travel on the iconic ship, RMS Titanic, alongside a stereotypical English detective, two clumsy burglars, a family of mice, and a rapping dog with a BeatBox and jersey. She meets a young man called William who is traveling with his nanny, and they immediately fall in love. As their relationship grows, the ship meets with the disaster it was famous for and strikes the iceberg. The ship sinks and Angelica is separated from William during the frantic effort to evacuate the ship, and although she escapes fears that he has drowned. In the lifeboat, it is revealed that William’s nanny is Angelica’s mother, [and they] are happily reunited. They find William in the water alive and an epilogue reveals that the two were married and lived “happily ever after”.

I’m not making this up. Observe.

That’s right. Rap as a musical genre existed in 1912, and when the Titanic sank, everyone lived happily ever after.

It’s at once one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard of, and one of the most repugnant. It’s tempting to hunt down a DVD just to confirm the thing is real, but I’m not sure I’d want to experience the horror of actually watching it. Thankfully it was such a critical and commercial bomb, most people now aren’t even aware it exists. Still, the idea that children have watched this is beyond disturbing.

In less bizarre news, the end-of-the-month progress report should be along in the next week or so. I have no idea what to do with this one, but that’s part of the fun. I know — maybe I’ll save a Mexican mouse child from certain death and respond to his thanks with a poorly-animated rap montage!

Maximum coinage.

The box of CDs at Dr. Disc was empty. Again. Now it is full. Again. We seem to have developed a new rhythm where every two weeks the box is empty and I need to refill it. At this point I have no idea who all these people are who keep grabbing the CDs. But thanks for taking them, whoever you may be, even though you’re probably not reading this. I hope your libido hasn’t been permanently altered in the aftermath of listening to my music. And if it has been…you’re welcome!

On a non-music-related note, if someone tells you it’s a good idea to toss your random spare change into a jar or container of some sort from time to time, you could do a lot worse than taking their advice. It adds up.

I throw my change into two separate containers. The loonies and toonies go in a metal (or faux-metal) container that came with an old cell phone. Amusingly enough, the container has probably gotten more use from me than the phone ever did. Quarters, nickels, and dimes go in a big plastic jar I’ve had for close to twenty years now. I can’t remember what its original intended use was, but it quickly turned into a depository for change.

Every so often, when things get close to the point of overflowing, I decide it’s time to roll up the change and either stick it in the bank or get it converted into paper money. We’re talking years of accumulated change here. Still, it always surprises me just how much it all amounts to when it’s all properly arranged.

Early yesterday morning I took a look at the plastic jar of silver coins and realized its time had come. While there was still a bit of room left, the thing had grown so heavy it was difficult to lift. Best to take a crack at it while it was still possible to pick up without breaking something, I thought.

So what started out as this…

…turned into this.

What I want to know is, what ever possessed me to slap a sticker on the side of the jar that says “prevent tooth decay every day”? That’s a mystery.

But yeah. Tossing your spare change into a container of some sort and letting it accumulate for a few years is never a bad idea in my book. If you give it at least a year or two, you might be surprised how much it all adds up to. Most people probably don’t want to go to the trouble of rolling all those coins (it took me at least a good three hours to do what I did up there), but if you’re used to doing repetitive things with your hands — like assembling CD cases and folding inserts, or engaging in self-massage — the time just flies by.

When I die, where will I go?

Fucking hell. When did Tom Jones become cool? Did it happen sometime this summer or fall? And how is that even possible? It’s like some bizarro universe we’ve stepped into here.

Don’t get me wrong. I always thought the guy had a hell of a voice, and he deserves credit for fighting his producers to get people like Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chet Atkins, and Richard Pryor on his variety show that aired in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But his music and the whole “ladies’ man with approximately as much chest hair as Sean Connery” image always screamed cheese to me.

I can dig “It’s Not Unusual” and a few other songs if they come on in a restaurant, but there was never anything there I really wanted to listen to more than once or twice. Unlike Scott Walker, who could have very well turned into a cheesy balladeer but instead ran screaming from the middle of the road and sent his golden voice off to another planet to make insane, uncompromising, bizarre music like nothing else, Tom seemed to stay in the same comfortable place, right in the middle of that road.

The other day I read something about a new Tom Jones album with a gospel/blues flavour. I thought that sounded like it could be a little interesting. There had been a review in a recent Mojo magazine, but I missed it, assuming it was more of the same old cheesy stuff.

I checked out a few songs. My jaw hit my genitals. The CD has now been ordered and will hopefully get here sometime next week.

I say again — fucking hell.

I’m stunned by how good this stuff is. The man is now seventy years old, and he still sings better than most people a third of his age. The difference is, now the music is stripped of all the schmaltz, and with age comes wisdom, and all that jazz. He even finally threw out all that black hair dye! Maybe letting go of a bit of vanity and getting comfortable with the idea of getting older has something to do with the seismic shift in musical direction.

But I mean…he covers a Bob Dylan song — and a great, unjustly neglected one at that — and does it at least as well as Bob, if not better. That’s not easy to do. Outside of Jimi Hendrix doing “All Along the Watchtower” and maybe a few Dylan covers on Rod Stewart’s early solo albums before he sold his soul to Satan, I’ve rarely heard a cover of a Bob Dylan song that sounded to me like it justified its existence.

This shouldn’t compute. And yet somehow it does.

Needless to say, my feelings about Tom have just been completely upended. I don’t get excited about new music very often, but I’m really looking forward to the day when this one shows up at Dr. Disc.

Coming attractions.

I wrote a bit about this on Facebook, but Facebook is stupid and doesn’t let you say much of substance in a status update…hence my continuing absence from the world of Twitter, which is even worse in that regard. If I were a bird, I would not tweet. I would shriek and squawk and peck at things for a good long time before I was satisfied my point had been made. Being limited to one or two hundred characters just isn’t for me.

Oh yeah…that thing I mentioned on Facebook. Some relics from the “vault” got a bit of airplay on CJAM, which was a bit of a surprise to me. Kyle Lebel has a great and wildly unpredictable show called Juxtaposition Jukebox that airs on Monday afternoons, and he’s one of many people at CJAM who has given my music a lot of support. Given the diversity of music he plays on his show, I thought he might get a kick out of some of the weird things I’ve done that most people have never heard. So I put together a box set of a bunch of the CDs from the back catalogue I reissued/repackaged recently, not in an effort to get more airplay, but just as the sort of thing you’d do for a friend. I’ve heard talk of this sort of thing happening in a land long ago and far away, when people who liked one another did nice things for the sake of doing them.

When was that, the 1800s or something?

Anyway, to my surprise, he did play a few songs from the box just a few days ago. It was pretty surreal to hear somebody talking about Papa Ghostface and Guys with Dicks on the radio. Three of the four songs he played surprised the crap out of me, because they weren’t at all what I was expecting to hear. I’m not sure what an obvious choice is for a Papa Ghostface or Guys with Dicks song to play on the radio, but he sure sidestepped that. It was cool to hear. Now not only has “Ass Dildos” been played on the radio, but so has the old GWD tune “Eating My Own Waste”. another feather in my cap. The four songs chosen were all completely different from one another in just about every way, hammering home for me the point that I’ve been quite a few different places musically over the years.

Thanks to Kyle for giving that stuff some play.

I now have cover art in place for several albums that are either in progress or sitting on the “to tackle at some point” pile in my brain. Since everyone likes album cover art (especially when it’s made by me), and everyone likes lists that aren’t really lists (especially when they’re written by me), here’s a bit of what’s on the way and when it might show up.

I write a lot of things that don’t end up getting recorded for one reason or another, but my idea here is pretty specific. See, my main songwriting method for a long time was improvisation. Most of what I actually wrote in the traditional sense was little more than an exercise to keep my brain from dying in various high school classes (it’s pretty easy to make it look like you’re taking notes or doing work when you’re really writing lyrics), and almost none of it was recorded. There’s a shelf in the studio with a top surface that’s covered in folders and notebooks full of this stuff. The period from about 1998-2004 was especially productive in terms of things I wrote but didn’t record — not counting the ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE songs, which are another story altogether.

For some weird reason, I’m lucky enough to still have a lot of the music in my head that was supposed to accompany the words, and I’ve held onto a lot of my rough ideas for vocal melodies and arrangements. For years now I’ve toyed with the idea of taking some of these old songs and recording them, and I think pretty soon I might stagger out of my hammock and set that in motion. Could be interesting to take a song I wrote in 2000 and try recording it now, ten years later. I don’t really ever work with material that isn’t fresh, but I think it might be fun to pluck some of my favourite misfits from their dusty folders and take a stab at bringing them to life.

If it actually does happen, it has the potential to be a serialized thing in several volumes, given the amount of material. I’d say there’s a pretty good chance volume one will appear sometime in 2011, and songs that might show up include songs like “I Broke up with You Because You Listened to Crappy Music”, “Stabbed in the Head with a Fork”, “Love Is like Rabies”, “Emilio Estevez” (the hit single I never had), and “My Penis Says Hello”.

The previously mentioned quasi-seasonal album of new material. It’s coming along and is hovering around the halfway mark now, in terms of how much work needs to be done before it’s a finished album. I’m going to say it should be out there by January 2011 at the latest, assuming I’m not able to get it release-ready by the end of the year. Right now it’s sounding very much like a winter album, but nothing like AN ABSENCE OF SWAY or any other winter album I’ve made. Whatever that means. Songs so far range in length from sixty seconds to ten minutes, and it’s shaping up to be the most piano-heavy thing I’ve done in quite a while, with detours into borderline punk rock and skewed quasi-doo-wop territory.

I think I’m officially allergic to making an album that stays rooted to one place. But it’s an allergy I’m happy to have.

The insane magnum-opus. I’ve halfway committed to finishing this a few times before, only to get distracted by other things and push it back some more. I want to have it finished by the spring/early summer of 2011 at the latest. I think that’s possible. I mean, over the past several months I didn’t think I’d really accomplished anything on this front, but when I sat down a few days ago and did a little figuring, it turns out I’m farther along than I thought I was, with about two hours of material already finished, mixed, and CD-ready. That means I’m nearly halfway there. If I can get that much accomplished when I’m not even trying, I think things will pick up quite a bit once I start putting a serious effort into pulling this thing together.

Some of my favourite things I’ve recorded over the past few years have been held over for this album, and it’ll be something when it’s all finally together in one place. It might not be something you’ll want to listen to, given how grotesquely long of an album it will be, but it’ll be a huge load off my shoulders, or my chest, or wherever loads hang out, to finally feel like I’ve at least put a decent dent in the pile of songs intended for the project.

I still like this album title, and this album cover, even though it got thrown on the back burner in favour of Bitter Bearded Balladeer. I’d like to say it will eventually appear as something very heavy on electric guitar and the closest I’ve come to “rock” in a long time, but for all I know it’ll end up being a synthesizer love fest. You never can tell with these things. Music has a way of going where it wants to go and tearing the leash out of your hands. Or my hands, anyway. Maybe this one will show up sometime in the New Year as well.

Realistically, Bitter Bearded Balladeer will probably appear before anything else, THE ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE will hopefully come next, and I imagine I’ll end up getting sidetracked by other unanticipated ideas along the way. Maybe even a broadway musical written in collaboration with Chad Kroeger.


I thought it was about time for a change around here after more than two years of things looking like Halloween year ’round.

It never really occurred to me before to mess with the theme/layout at all, and I was content with the way things looked. But yesterday I found myself looking through some of the other themes just for kicks and previewing what some of them would look like. I found a few I liked. Lately I’ve found my eyes tend to get tired pretty fast when re-reading something I’ve written here, and it didn’t take much pondering to put it together that the culprit was the odd, dark colour scheme. When things got lighter, suddenly my eyes were a lot happier. In the space of about half an hour I went from just trying out new themes to deciding it was time for a little renovating.

I was torn between about three different themes along these lines. I settled on this one because it gave me more widget power. Things are more or less located where they were before on the sidebar, but everything feels a little neater and sleeker to me. As a nice unexpected side effect, most of my videos now display at a larger size, and I can make pictures larger too.

Don’t get me wrong. I liked the way things looked before, Halloween colours and all. But I think this is an improvement all around, and now I can’t believe it took me so long to think of making a change. It’s kind of silly, but I’m enjoying how so many pages look different now with the new colour scheme, and some of the album cover art/images seem to stand out more than before. My eyes are happy. Hopefully yours are too.

I don’t know how the hell it can be the second-last month of the year already, but somehow it is. That’s messed up.

The album I’m working on (still with the working title of Bitter Bearded Balladeer) continues to take shape and come into focus a little at a time. After some experimenting, I think I’m now settled on the album cover art. I’m not going to promise to have it finished before the end of the year…the last two times I got overconfident about such things, the albums in question didn’t quite make it to the finish line in time. So maybe if I don’t commit to anything, this time it’ll all work out.

Right now it’s shaping up to be one of the more atmospheric and dreamy things I’ve done in a while. But there’s lots of time for that to change. Only time will tell whether or not the sixty-second borderline punk song makes the cut. Things have already started to shift on some level. Up until recently, it seemed to me the album was going to be piano and acoustic-guitar-dominated. Now, maybe not quite as much. Last night I recorded some elements of a song where the lead instrument is an eavestrough elbow. I don’t want to make any bold proclamations, but I’m not sure there are too many songs out there that were written (or, in this case, improvised from a percussive groove) and played on eavestrough.

Add a bit of delay and it’s got a nice metallic thrust to it.

Eavestroughs aside, one thing I’m pretty sure won’t be making the cut is this song right here.

Gift for a Spider

I like the way it turned out. It’s one of those songs that sounds like I spent a decent amount of time crafting it when it came flooding out in no more than ten minutes, and those are always fun. But I don’t think it’s going to fit on the album. I’m also a little perturbed that I used a bit more compression than I would normally want to. I was just getting down “scratch tracks”, not really paying attention to settings, only to find I liked the first takes, but they were a little squashed-sounding and I didn’t feel like re-recording them properly.

It’ll end up somewhere, someday. Because songs about disturbed people who start off intending to murder someone only to end up possibly killing themselves after maybe or maybe not killing someone else are like blankets that warm your heart. I honestly don’t know where that sort of subject matter comes from.

On a random note, the song (if you can call it a song) by Taio Cruz and Ke$ha called “Take a Dirty Picture” is the most creatively bankrupt, moronic piece of stupid shit I’ve heard in a while. It gives “Eenie Meanie Miney Mo Lover” a run for its money. That there are people who get paid good money to create this garbage is just twisted. But hey, a critic from the BBC wrote: “The jarring clash between Taio’s supersmooth soul-gentleman image and Ke$ha’s sloppy drunken nonsense is genuinely fascinating. The song actually transforms from one kind of a thing to another, depending who has their hand on the microphone”.

Yeah. It’s high art alright.

I guess the lesson here is if you send me a picture of your naughty bits to my phone, I’ll jerk off to it and then write a song about the whole ordeal, and maybe I can be famous too.

On a less random note, MY HELLHOUND CROOKED HEART is somehow back in the CJAM top thirty again. How that’s possible, I don’t know. But there it be.

CJAM is cool.

CJAM’s annual pledge drive is in full swing right now. Here’s a little song about it.

Heartwarming CJAM Pledge Drive Jingle

Aside from the tongue-in-cheek-and-hand-down-pants “Durex Sheik Condom Song” (which can be found on the OUT-TAKES, MISFITS & OTHER THINGS compilation), this is just about the only time I’ve ever recorded a proper “jingle” for something that really exists.

At first I thought I would do some sort of bizarre spoken piece, utilizing different voices and archaic impressions — “Bill Clinton and Barney the Dinosaur support CJAM”, or something along those lines. Then I wrote a song in about five minutes and thought I’d make it completely ridiculous, building it around a cheesy dated electric piano sound. Sort of an intentionally bad “We Are the World”-inspired thing. And then, I picked up a tenor banjo, a riff fell under my thumb, and instead of absurd cheese I ended up with something like a Johnny West song that just happens to be about the pledge drive.

It’s probably better that it worked out this way. The song is still silly, but not so cheesy, and there isn’t a single corny fake instrument in sight. Maybe you’ll hear it at some point on the radio if you’re tuning in. Hopefully it’ll make some people laugh at the same time it inspires them to donate what they can to the cause. I tried to keep the lyrics general enough so the song could be reused for future pledge drive action too.

Oddly enough, it sounds like the closest thing I’ve done to a CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN-style song in quite some time, minus the triple-tracked lead vocal sound that’s all over that album. The electric guitar is even that funky old Teisco again. I’ve been dusting that thing off lately, and it’s reminding me all over again what a cool little axe it is.

You can hear me sneezing just before the drums come in. I was going to get rid of that, but it cracked me up a little. So it got to stay.

I wouldn’t normally write a jingle for any reason unless I wanted to make fun of someone or something. This is a bit different. I try to donate generously every year during pledge drive time, because it’s a way for me to give back a little and show my appreciation for all the mind-boggling support everyone at CJAM has given me, and contributing a silly little song seems to be another way to do that. It’s also nice to get an extra T-shirt or two. My favourite is still the blue one from last year’s pledge drive with the prominent headphone design (it’s one of those “so comfortable you almost forget you’re wearing anything” kind of shirts), though the hoodies this year are awfully nice.

I guess my relationship with the station goes back to the summer of 2002. I’d known about CJAM for a good few years by that time, and I listened once in a while, but as far as I could tell radio was this mysterious, almost mythical organization I would never be allowed to be a part of.

Then one day a friend popped in on Chris Hewer’s show Actual Air, played him a song of mine, got an invitation to bring me into the studio, and a week later there I was in the basement of the university’s student center, clutching a guitar and a few CDs. Just like that. For a good hour or so I talked about what I did, played a few songs live (both of which eventually saw the light of day on that MISFITS compilation), played some songs off of various solo and Guys with Dicks CDs that were fresh at the time, and sat there in awe of the fact that I was on the air and surely someone was sitting in their basement at that very moment, listening, smoking a joint, and thinking, “This dude is messed up.”

Chris gave me a standing invitation to drop in on his show anytime. I took him up on it a few times. And for a while that was pretty much the only airplay anyone gave me.

Things changed in a big way in 2004, when the deafening indifference I was encountering everywhere in the local music scene led me to stop giving a shit about ever trying to get anyone to care about what I was doing. I thought I might as well drop some CDs in the mail slots of a few random CJAM DJs anyway, just for the fun of it, since I’d never tried doing that before. I figured maybe I’d get lucky and some curious person would give me a chance.

Angela Desjardins got a copy of NUDGE YOU ALIVE and started playing a lot of it on her show Braille Radio (which recently morphed into Night Vision). She was the first person to start giving my music some serious, consistent airplay, before anyone else had much interest in who I was or what I was up to, and her enthusiasm for what I was doing was worth all the “I’m too cool for you” nose-thumbing I got from just about everyone else.

Of course, some of those same people would turn around and talk about me like I was the greatest thing since invisible contraceptives once I began to be considered somewhat “cool” and worthy of attention. Funny how that works, isn’t it? When you’re not so well-established, no one wants to give you the time of day. Once there’s some buzz built up around you, everyone wants to say they got there first, and they pull the old revisionist history trick to make it seem like they supported you all along.

Adam Fox was the music director by then, soon to become station manager, and he also became an important supporter, encouraging people in and out of the station to give my music attention. Suddenly I had three different CDs all hovering within CJAM’s top thirty at the same time. I don’t think I’ve put out an album that hasn’t charted since then, and it still feels surreal every time I see my name on the charts or hear one of my songs the radio, even after all this time.

Of course, CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN came along two years ago, and then everything exploded in a whole new way. But a lot of people at CJAM were supporting my music long before it was considered the hip thing to do, giving quite a bit of airplay to BRAND NEW SHINY LIE and GROWING SIDEWAYS in particular. It meant a lot, especially during those days when I found myself wondering why I even bothered making music at all, since it seemed like I couldn’t get anyone to listen to one of my albums if my life depended on it.

How things change, huh?

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say there’s no way I would have anything even close to the audience I have now if it wasn’t for the support of CJAM. I couldn’t even hope to list all the people who have supported — and continue to support — me and my music. Off the top of my head, aside from Angela, Adam Fox, and Adam Peltier, I can think of Murad, Kyle Lebel, Max, Cristina Naccarato, Josh Kolm, Jan Blondin, Cassandra Caverhill, Cassandra Brait, Vern Smith, the Scaledown Radio guys, Theresa Leslie, Mary Popovich, Nicole Markham, Jon Nehmetallah, Steph and Chris, Eric Arner, Mike Whaley, Dave Konstantino, Dale Jacobs, Randi Irving, Adam Hawkes…and I could keep going.

Though some of those people are gone now (a handful of them moved to Toronto or elsewhere, I assume because of better downtown parking opportunities), I think CJAM keeps getting better, and there are a lot of great people who keep it running. There’s no elitism there, and the support given to any and all local music is pretty incredible. It doesn’t matter if your music is folk-rock that sounds like it was recorded at a multi-million-dollar studio or lo-fi French shoegaze that sounds like it was recorded inside of a shoebox. Someone will give it a chance, whatever genre it inhabits. And the programming is so diverse, there’s something there for everyone.

I’m not just being nice when I say it’s the only radio station I bother listening to anymore. In my not so humble opinion, commercial radio is absolute garbage. It’s locked into a grid of mediocrity, devoid of anything even resembling soul, and there are no new or interesting sounds to be found there anymore. Kind of like the aural equivalent of the Hollywood movie industry, with the abysmal remakes just wearing different clothing. The only reason I turn on the radio at all anymore is to hear what’s happening on CJAM from time to time.

And hey, if you turn on your radio between 10:30 and noon on Wednesday (that’s tomorrow), maybe you’ll hear me on CJAM talking about random pledge drive-related things while I hang out with Cass and Sarah on This Is So Cool, It Hurts.

I first typed that as, “This Is Cool, It Hurts,” which sounded kind of masochistic.

(Thanks to Owen Wolter for letting me use one of his pictures at the top of this post.)