Update Is Overdue.

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When is the malady Blogger’s Guilt gonna be added to the DSM-IV?


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Both Pete and I are creatures of habit; we’ve eaten lunch at French Meadow, and dinner at Quang almost every night of this session here in Minneapolis. At lunch break, we just get in the rental car and go without discussing where we’re going. I have some friends I get together with in New York once a week, and every week we go to Mama’s on 3rd and B, and yet we always spend ten minutes discussing where to eat.
We ordered some Brazilian beans from Gorilla Coffee in Brooklyn. Been hitting the coffee pretty hard, as is par for the course in the studio. But it’s pretty hard on the mental state. In general I’ve maybe been in rougher shape than I’ve wanted to admit to myself. It’s stressful.
The guest room I’m sleeping in is adjacent to the studio and next to the drum room. So there’s amps and snare drums stacked in there, and in general it feels like I’m sleeping in the middle of the recording process. That can make for rough nights if I haven’t remembered to lay off the coffee after 4 pm.
The Wilson house is a fun place to be, though; Dan’s daughter Coco has become my guru. Even if she won’t let me read her Calvin and Hobbes.
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Music is good. We’ve been averaging better than a song a day; we had a three song day on Monday! We got through all the tunes that I was certain would sound great, now we’re into the ones I find problematic. I’ve liked them while we were cutting them, which is good fortune, but does not necessarily mean I’ll love them when we listen back, or when I listen to them weeks from now.
The miraculous thing about Haughty is that I still love the tracks two years later. Rare for me. I’m hoping for the same phenomenon this time around. But, we’re going for a rougher sound this time, meaning more flaws, which may be harder to forgive myself for as time passes.
Pete McNeal has done some drum tracks that I think will make his reputation, they’re so great.
Kirby is hot shit, too. We subject him to near-inhuman amounts of teasing, being that he’s 23 and girls love him and he’s supertalented. But he sounds so great; clearly we’re envious.
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The Good Good Day.

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Why I got into this mess in the first place.
(Above pic by listener Nathan; pic below by listener Patrick Woodward)


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We were doing this tune, and it seemed pretty straightforward, but Pete and I wanted it to sound tougher. So we toughened it up, and it sounded just kind of harsh and weird, so we brought it back down, but suddenly everybody had changed their part, and we were in the wilderness.
Everybody was lost, and we stumbled through it a few times, and it just sounded like four dudes messing around on four unrelated songs. Pissiness ensued.
Pete was doing this one kind of thing. I took a cue from it, and hooked up my iPod to the stereo. We listened to this one song that I heard as being related to Pete’s idea. Pete came up with a long, complex version of what he was doing.
Pete, just play the first bar and loop that.
Pete plays.
No, no, the first bar.
Pete plays.
Pete! Just the first bar! Not the first two.
(it was a long day, I was caffeinated and testy)
And suddenly we had a thing! Is it soup yet? No, but it certainly is broth. We all jumped in, and made adjustments.
Suddenly, it was great, and we kept playing, and it got hotter with each take. Then it got too hot–everyone was hyped up and playing louder and more aggressively than the song needed. That’s when we realized that we had it dialed in a couple of takes ago.
Really wonderful.
I slept like a rock (and, incidentally, blew off the Fiery Furnaces gig that I called First Ave and asked to be on the guest list. If anybody from First Ave is reading this, sorry about that)

More Spiritual Blah-Dee-Blah.

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Somebody wrote me, angry about “His Truth.” Again. I wrote her back saying, respectfully, that she seemed angry at this God she didn’t believe in. She got PISSED. A friend of hers forwarded an IM exchange.
Here’s my response:


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Dear David:
Does she know so much about my life to say that bad shit isn’t going down?
I do believe somebody who sees the sorrow in the world and gets pissed off that people believe in a God that’s not intervening–rather than, say, FEMA–has an implicit beef with a God that’s not paying attention.
It’s baffling to me that to believe in God means:
a) I believe in an interventionist God the Dude, rather than a more fluid idea.
b) spirituality has eliminated fear/struggle in my life. You can call it ignorance, but it’s not always bliss.
c) I’m endorsing Christianity/”salvation”/some other dogmatic, organized belief system. That spirituality = religion.
I don’t have a dogmatic idea of what God is; it changes almost from day to day. Sometimes it’s the spirit of humanity, sometimes it’s Love, sometimes it’s music, sometimes it’s The Cosmos (yeah, cornball), and somethimes that old, paternal God the Dude. Among other things. Personally, that’s essential to my spiritual consciousness.
“He had no interest in addressing what is widely acknowledged to be THE major question in christianity.”
You’re right, I have no interest in addressing that. Personally, it’s irrelevant to my spiritual life.
“…he’s ultimately afraid of uncertainty.”
Yep. And not only the terror of confronting the future, but uncertainty itself. Fear isn’t gonna change anything, it’s just gonna cost you sleep. We live on a ball of dirt hurtling through space, buses and trucks are everywhere, bird flu may be imminent; every day is an act of faith.
Why is an endorsement of spiritual consciousness by nature smug? “This milkshake tastes great.” “Fuck you for praising a milkshake that I don’t have!”
Is it a contest? Does the most peaceful guy win? Does anybody win?
Why does one have to take “I trust the hand of the almighty and the infinite” at face value, not an metaphor? Are you hearing “the almighty” and not “the infinite”?
The lyric is “Don’t fear the random fate.” Where am I denying the existence of randomness in that sentence? The first part of the lyric’s about the pointlessness of fear. And the second part: doesn’t fate mean a predetermined (and implicity gloomy) course of life? The lyric isn’t “don’t fear the bad shit that randomly occurs in life.” The lyric refutes the existence of fate.
I’ve met a lot of people in my life with much more basic problems than me–people struggling with a special needs child, people struggling with spouses’ illnesses, people in Cambodia and Eritrea struggling with poverty, guys who lost limbs in the Iraq war. Some of them are much more at peace than I am. People whose consciousness is “the world is bigger than just me” are happier.
Above all, why would this song make somebody mad? Why not just say, “Ah, this guy’s a loon, and not as smart as me,” and press the skip button?
Thanks, David.
Mike

Superman Have Luv for Me.

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(these pix ganked from listener Russell Sanford)


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Brandon Routh, who plays Superman in Superman has recommended “Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well” on his iTunes playlist. #1 on his list! Yeah! Go team us!

First Day of Recording.

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(Above ganked from Russell Sanford; below, ganked from Patrick Woodward)


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We’re trying to make this one sound super live. So, we loaded the gear in, and spent hours and hours seeing which snare drum sounded right. Munson came by with his big old bass. Kirby fucked around with his amazing cheap Casios and a Memory Man pedal.
One of the snares is called a Tube-Lug. I don’t know if we’re using it. But I want to say the name over and over again: Tube-Lug. Tube-Lug. Tube-Lug.
It took us ’til dinnertime to be ready to play. We tracked “27 Jennifers,” take after take, the pocket settling and loosening up gradually.
The guitar part is all downstrokes. My wrist was fucking sore when I went to bed.
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A Homie on the Culture Desk.

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(these pix ganked from listener Garrett Sheehan)


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My old running dog from the NYPress, Sam Sifton, is a culture editor at the New York Times. He’s been there a couple of years, and it’s embarrassingly thrilling for me when I go out to lunch with him and get a glimpse of the interior of the place. Also, the cafeteria, where dudes play chess at the lunch table; a social microcosm I’d love to observe for a while.
He’s got a new thing going on at the online version of the Times, where he responds to readers’ questions. Here’s how hip he is: I sent him one, jokingly, and he actually answered it, with a Young Jeezy quote.
I’ve always loved his style, a mix of hard-boiled and affable. See him at: http://www.nytimes.com/ref/business/media/asktheeditors.html.

The Long Haul North.

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These pix, of the Cleveland HOB show, ganked from listener Tony Butitta.


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After a last leisurely breakfast at Waffle House (I get ‘em scattered, smothered, covered, and chunked, for those familiar with the Waffle House hash brown code), we said goodbye to Scrap (John Munson’s playing bass on the record) and headed north to Minnesota.
I love the atmosphere in the South so much that it makes me blue to head north. Tennessee turns into Kentucky and then into Illinois so quickly. And then there’s a shitload of Illinois to plow through.
We slept at a Microtel in Wisconsin–Pete McNeal, who is insane for cheese curds, got a bunch at a convenience store–woke up, found the Starbucks, and then the Cracker Barrel, and made it to Minneapolis by rush hour.
Now I’ve woken up at Dan Wilson’s house and the rock will commence shortly.
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Final Note on Bonnaroo.

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These pix, of the post-show acoustic mini-set I did at B-roo, by listener Jenn See (more of hers at www.touristofeverything.blogspot.com).


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We kept bumping into Bonnaroo-ers on their way home as we stopped in gas stations. Some of them came over and congratulated us on the gig, which was nice.
Bonnaroo really is as special as they say it is. The music business in general has lost its intense interest in the jam-band scene, but those hippies, man, they still have something beautiful going on. I met the drummer from Umphrey’s McGee, he digs my shit, maybe we’ll do shows together.
The most fun I had there was when they’d shuttle me around on a golf cart, bobbing and weaving through the dusty, stoned crowd.
I dig all the Weird Shit they put up for the crowd: the flame garden, the sound sculptures, the silent disco, the VW garage, complete with garage bands and basketball hoops. Like a post-Burning Man thing. It’s the only festival I’ve ever been to–groovy European ones include–that try so hard to make sure that you’re in a fascinating environment, not just standing in a field waiting for a band.
Awesome scene: at the Sonic Stage post-show mini-show, right in front of me, a girl whipped out her pipe and a ziploc bag and placed it on the stage. She pulled out a bud, cleaned it a little, put in the pipe, and lit it up. Very casually.
I don’t like being stoned any more, but it sure is fun to play shows for people on drugs. There were three girls on E just fucking losing their minds there, right in front. Come to think of it, that probably was not so fun for their fellow attendees.
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Bonnaroo/Ridiculousness.

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Driving and rocking.
(above pic–of D.C.–by listener Leah; below pic–of Cleveland–by listener Tony Butitta)


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Just got back to a hotel on the outskirts of Nashville from Bonnaroo; we split before Phil Lesh, to beat the traffic; turns out we beat a rainstorm, too.
We drove 600 miles after the gig in Cleveland last night, to arrive at 9 am. We managed to get some Waffle House in our bellies before we loaded in the gear.
The show was BIG. Maybe 3000 people? The largest tent, and it was overflowing.
I did that show, plus a 30 minute set at the acoustic stage, a couple songs on the radio, three interviews, a photo session, and a signing thing where I autographed stuff for a couple hundred people.
(Good Lord, that’s three shows in less than 18 hours?!)
I AM TIRED.

Philly.

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Pix ganked from the famous Jen and Taia (see below).


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I had some weirdness going on after the gig, so I was kinda shaken. But: I had this dope-fiend-y plan to hotfoot it to Jim’s Steaks, next door to the Theater for the Living Arts. I planned all night to jump offstage, towel off, change my shirt, and get my cheesteak (with onions–simply “with,” as Philly-ites say–and extra cheez whiz) before the place closed, as it said on the door, at one a.m.
I got there at 12:42 and the doors were locked. I knocked. Dude comes to the door: “We’re closed.”
ONE A.M.!! I yelped.
“We ran out of rolls,” he said.
They ran out of rolls. As the Bee Gees sang: TRAGEDY!
We went to Pat’s. It was great. But I’m a Jim’s person.
By the way, Philadelphians, what’s up with Geno’s? (It’s right across the street from Pat’s, and twice the size) Scrap observed: “With all that neon, it just screams not as good.”
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