The Speakeasy Heroes were the predecessor to my Minneapolis outfits. If we could travel back in time to the year 2000, we would see a young grunge outfit transforming into something special. We were greater than the sum of our parts. I have not quite been able to capture and release the magic of that band since. On the whole, the music I am writing today is vastly superior to the music I was writing back then, but sometimes a good band trumps good music.
We were able to reunite for the first time in 12 years and performed a couple of songs at my wedding. Here is a clip of us playing Nate Cryns’s Con El Sol.
We released an LP that summer, complete with songs written and recorded that summer. Pretty neat! Ask nicely, and I might send you a copy.
An energy flows from my upper stomach and into my eyes and exits through my armhairs when I listen to “Every New Day” by Five Iron Frenzy.
Five Iron Frenzy is a now-defunct Christian ska band from the 1990’s. They were among the biggest bands on the Christian touring circuit for a while in the mid-1990’s, at the height of the short-lived pop-ska scene (remember Squirrel Nut Zippers?). They were also one of the best bands of that decade.
They had 2 1/2 good albums followed by a bunch of crap, which is as good as we can hope for most of the time.
“Every New Day” is something of a rock-infused ballad. It is up-beat and heart-felt at the same time. It is genuine and caring.
While the lyrics were written in deference to the Big Man in the Clouds, I think a lot about Lisa when I hear it today. It is about how someone can make someone else feel like every day is fresh, beautiful, and exciting.
One time back in 2001, I was waiting in line at a Dairy Queen with a former girlfriend. We were fighting about something that was probably not worth fighting over when I saw a mentally challenged girl a few spots up order a chocolate fudge ice-cream sundae. When I saw how happy the girl order became when the sundae hit her hands, I immediately lost all reason to argue.
Here I was with someone that I cared about, enjoying a summer day at a DQ, waiting for ice cream, and fighting about something dumb. The fickleness of human interactions was visible, and I became instantly ashamed.
The girl with the sundae was beautiful, and we were raining on her parade….or maybe she was shining a ray of sunshine on ours.
There are people among us who are rays of light. There are those of us that suck up sunlight, and there are those that radiate it.
There are great and wonderful things happening in this world all around us all the time. Sometimes it helps to be reminded of that.
A few minutes ago, I discovered Noah’s Youtube Channel. Wow! It has all sorts of fun videos that he has created with his music recently (and also with LETRON’s and my music as well!). Simply delightful! Check out this video of “Run. Run! Run!!! RUN!!! RUNNNN!!!!!” he made:
For two days we ran around the River Market area in Kansas City and shot this video. We had to dodge the cops around the train tracks and we had to beat the groupies off with sticks…
This video kicks ass, and I think y’all will agree. There is nothing more badass than a 30-year-old, old-school gangster chasing a punk while riding a 10-inch bike with training wheels. BAAAAADAAAASSSSSSS.
This is the official music video for “Run. Run! RUN! RUN!!! RUNNNNN!”, Performed by Cryns #3. It stars Firooz Basri, Toby Cryns (me), and Storm Robert. Mandy Basri assisted throughout.
Thanks to everyone who came out, emailed, called, texted, and otherwise supported our music video-release effort over the weekend! The party on Saturday night was a HUGE success. Highlights included a robot dance-off, an hour-and-a-half of Cryns #3 sing-a-longs, potato chips as far as the eye could see, and a little bit of debauchery (you know who you are…).
As of today, we are still working on getting YouTube to play nice with our music video. We have it up online at a secret location and hope to have it available for the public good by this evening.
If you have photos from the evening, please send me a link to them!
Yesterday I led a session at Unsummit about the democratization of music entitled, “Rock-and-Roll in the Digital Age”. The personal computer and the Internet have significantly altered the path of music history. With virtually no technical roadblocks to recording music, everyone with access to a computer can do things that would have cost thousands of dollars just a decade ago. Put simply, artists can now focus on their art.
Back in the day (pre-2004), getting a “pro” sound recorded meant spending thousands of dollars in a recording studio. We had to pay for the space and also for the audio engineer. Then we had to pay for master tapes and, God forbid we wanted a CD to play at home, we had to pay for that.
Today, we have an opportunity to record music using stuff we mostly already own. There is no need for an audio engineer. “Space” can be anywhere that is quiet. And your computer is your recording studio.
The impact of this shift in ease-of-recording is that more and more artists are able to create music. This is great. Couple that with free or pay-as-you-go national and international distribution (i.e. websites, iTunes, Rhapsody, and Napster) as well as an organizational and categorizing tool (i.e. Google), and we’ve got everything we need to get rolling! (Securing fans is a different story…)
As you have probably read, this democratization of music has REALLY pissed the record labels off. They have sued everybody they can think of to sue. They have squandered so many opportunities to become relevant that they are now a laughing stock. Today, the record labels’ main assett is their connections/network. They can still open doors for musicians but only because they have a solid stable of established bands that signed up before the digital age changed everything. They can offer opening slots and give bands credibility. And they can loan you money. They can also provide you with a business organization.
BUT most of that is irrelevant for most musicians.
Most musicians make music for the joy of it. And even the ones who are trying to make it big don’t really need the labels. It takes a lot of hard work and persistence to make a career out of music, but it would take a similar amount of hard work and persistence to get noticed by a record label. In fact, record labels are now looking for polished acts with a proven track record of success, basically serving as loan sharks to established bands.
Today, for kicks, I decided to try streaming and recording a live concert from my living room. And hot damn! It worked!! Check it out:
I think I will try to do one of these regularly… Plus, with UStream, you can interact with me live if you happen to be online while I am recording. I’m going to mull this over a bit, and I’ll let you know how it develops.
There’s this song by The Blow called, “True Affection“, that I absolutely love. It is beautiful, catchy, and simple and means something different to everyone who listens to it. THAT is the sign of a good song. When it means something to you. The great songs mean different things to you over time.
For me, “True Affection” has changed from a song that describes an ex-girlfriend to a song that is a euphemism for life. We are always gasping for air, looking for that one big thing to solve all of our problems and make us happy. But we are always drowning, anchored by reality.
Yesterday, I set out to test UStream‘s capabilities, and I could think of no better song to record than the aforementioned one:
One of the common threads amongst musicians worldwide is our ability to find new uses for duct tape. There was a time where I had duct-taped a microphone to a broom which was duct taped to a chair so that I had a microphone that reached my mouth. Another time, I duct-taped two broken drum sticks together so that I could bang on a cymbol that was duct-taped to a broken cymbol stand, which also was in need of some duct-taping. After microphone stands, the drum set is the next-most duct-taped instrument.
Anyway, yesterday I was helping Scott move, and he graciously offered to allow me to hold onto his awesome, little Prelude guitar while he is out riding across the U.S.A. for the next 3 months on his Transamerica Bike Adventure. The problem was, I needed a way to get the guitar home while riding my bike across increasingly the hilly terrain in Minneapolis. Since he had no bags, he offered to make a duct tape guitar strap for the thing, which ended up working great! THEN, a few minutes ago, I discovered that you can buy duct tape guitar straps!
OH! And you can also make a duct tape prom dress, tuxedo, Rappelling harness, or band-aid. Wow!! It truly is a great time to be alive.
Anyway, upon arriving home last night, I decided to record a song on the Prelude, which now has a duct tape strap:
Today I might be playing a show with local rock legend, John Stowell, over at the Acadia Cafe. John called the other day and asked me to sit in with his band on the ukulele. Sounds like fun! The show is at 2 p.m. and is free to get in…I think…
Also, I am trying to set up a songwriting session with Dave for today as well, but the schedule is packed tight. Hopefully he is flexible! 🙂
Finally, I’m putting the band back together!!! John, Ryan, and me will be playing a Cryns #3 set at Trocaderos on April 21 at 7:50 p.m. It’s part of a battle of the bands and should be pretty fun!
Lastly, check out this awesome dog, Rahm, that my dad has on his desk:
I just recorded a guitar lesson for “Leaving L.A.”, a song off of our first record …if Howard Roark could dance. Let me know what you think! Also, please let me know if you have other songs of ours that you would like a guitar lesson for.