Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Year Ain't Enough

A year is a long time. A lot gets crammed into those 365 days.

But for us, it turns out that a year is not enough.

A brief pass through the blog posts shows that right around 12 months ago, we we're getting excited about tracking our first record at Arcade Audio. With the tracking behind us, it sure felt like we were "almost done", or at the very least, pretty close. Oh, how wrong we were. And now that we're getting close for this dubious "anniversary", it's hard not to feel at least a little...I'm not sure what the word is - lazy? Guilty? Perhaps a bit of each.

I originally intended not to update this blog until the overdubs were finished. They're not done, but we are close - of the 15 original songs, 10 are in the books and three are in progress. Getting to this point has taken a lot more work then I expected. We have been fairly active tracking at my house for the last four months. My three-year old asks "Is Mark coming over?" on a nightly basis now. I think he has enjoyed this process more than we have, probably because our "studio" is one corner and one wall in his playroom (allowing for rousing games of Don't Break The Ice between takes).

Tracking usually takes place after work on weekdays, between the hours of 7 PM and midnight. Some nights, we start a little later and go until around 1 AM. Then it's back to work the next morning until the whole cycle starts over again. Getting motivated after working all day is difficult. There are a lot of distractions, including the always popular options of sleep or even just crashing on the couch. Fortunately, we've had some help - thank you to the New York Yankees for their rapid postseason exit and Cablevision for blocking Fox 5 during the World Series. You kept me focused, and I'll keep checking my mailbox for those refund checks.

I've gotten to the point where I'm no longer making predictions on "when" it will be done, at least not in the form of firm calendar time. The short answer is soon - later then Christmas, but earlier than spring training...oh please, let it be earlier then spring training.

We've started making preparations for our first shows of 2011, including two very optimistic dates in January. We're playing back-to-back shows in Baltimore and Hoboken with the Seldon Plan (MINI TOUR!!!). We'll be posting more about these dates in the next few weeks in all of the usual places.

For those of you who are have been asking about where we are at with the record, thanks for your patience. We think you're going to like it.

- Jerry

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's Not Political, Just Genetics

Every once in a while, we get a nice little surprise. Like flipping through the pages of Q Magazine and finding this (thanks for the heads-up, John)...

Thank you for the kind words, Mr. Niven.

We now return to our self-imposed exile in the studio. We are slowly inching our way towards the finish line...


Sunday, August 8, 2010

I Love The Smell of Amplifiers In The Morning

Getting setup over hear at SilverBEAT (a.k.a. my house...I borrowed the name from The Bats record) to track some guitars. It's an interesting setup with no microphones - the guitar amps are patched directly into the board, along with a clean signal direct from the guitar (no pedals, no amp). This allows us to mic a guitar amp up after we capture the performance. It also means Mark and I can sit in the room with the monitors blaring and crank the amps, without having to worry about microphones picking up our conversation - making it feel much more like a live recording with the band then overdubbing parts.

My new neighbors are moving in today. Welcome to the neighborhood.


UPDATE: We did alright today - finished Mark's guitar parts on "Canvas Shoes", "Signal To Noise" and "Carmelita", which was a bit tricky. Not a bad day's work.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Another Fine Mess (1994-1998) Vols. 1 & 2

After going to see the Feelies this past weekend and running into an old friend from college, I started feeling nostalgic about my old college radio show. Another Fine Mess aired on 91.7 WLFR from 1994 to 1998 on various days and timeslots. This was way before the Internet was a viable music research tool (or even the file swapping heyday of Napster), so most of these songs were discovered by combing through WLFR's CD and vinyl catalog and previewing tracks (and also through the help of some knowledgable DJs who helped steer me in the right direction). Some of these songs are still among my favorites, others I haven't heard much since the mid-90's.

I tried to keep this as "true to form" as possible; I not only picked the artists and albums that I specifically played on the show, but also the tracks that were featured most often - even if there are tracks on these records that I now prefer more. I was also careful not to "revise" the lists - I liked Pulp and The Stone Roses, but didn't discover them until after college, so they aren't on either list.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Dog Days Of Summer

Hello again, StN readers. Memorial Day is on last month's calendar, we've already broken 90 degrees a handful of times and the Garden State's beaches are clogged with the cosmetically inflated and pharmacutically enhanced. It is summer in New Jersey once again.

It's been a month since we last checked in from TRUCK America. We've continued work on our debut LP, which is taking about as long as painting a house with a toothbrush. Recording at home has it's share of pros and cons and all that "free studio time" that once felt like a luxury is starting to hurt more then help. There's something to be said for working on the clock and the urgency it brings. Not to say we haven't made progress. Things are moving forward, but sometimes you need someone to crack the whip to keep you honest. Of course, what better way to keep it honest than to put it in writing. Our goal is to complete all tracking (minus vocals) by our next show on July 9th, which is probably more optimistic than likely at this point.

The working title for the record is Palace Amusements, a reference to the now defunct amusement park and Jersey Shore landmark. Despite the name, the record is not about Asbury Park but that (in)famous town comes up a few times. We've recorded 15 originals (going all the way back to our start in 2007 and stretching to our most recent songs) as well as a cover of The Mighty Lemon Drop's "Inside Out". 15 is a lot for a record, so that list will probably shake out to 10-12 tracks on the final cut.

One final note about the record, and it's a bit of good news/bad news. The good: Palace Amusements will be released on the Baltimore based Beechfields label (a formal announcement will come in the next month). We are very excited to be working with such talented and dedicated individuals and we're looking forward to playing more shows together. The bad: this marks the end of the line for Tabbycat Records. It was a lot of fun, but it simply became too expensive and took too much time to do things "the right way". The point of the label was to release our music and after a while it started getting in the way of that goal. I don't think this will be our last venture releasing our own records, but for now this chapter is over.


We've got two shows on the calendar for July and possibly a third one in the works.

On Friday, July 9th we return to our favorite spot south of the Driscoll bridge, the one and only Asbury Lanes. This time around we are the gracious guests as the fine lads from Mod Fun host their fourth MODSBURY PARK concert series. The theme is "Mods vs. Rockers" - that makes us the rockers, but we're not complaining. We are really excited to play with Mod Fun again. We shared a bill at The Loop Lounge a couple of years back and they were great. Also on the bill are Dr Void & The Deathmatchines, bringing their awesome rockabilly via punk tones. It's a Friday night, so don't be such a square, Daddy-O....

Friday, July 9th - 10 PM

4th & Kingsley
Asbury Park, NJ

* DJ Bill Luther all nite between sets
* Guest dub/ska DJ set by Mick Hale
* 18+ up event (all ages can enter for bowling, if *with* a parent/guardian)
* GIVEAWAYS courtesy VESPA Bkly'n & B-Unique Clothing (AP)
* MP4 presented by Making Tyme/Kool-Aid-Kid Music
* sponsored by Weekend MIX-Up!

Our second July show is a rare mid-week performance and an even rarer outdoor show (only our second or third). But the real change here is the venue. On Tuesday, July 13th, we will be performing at Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. This show is part of 90.5 The Night's Live and Local series hosted by The Night's own Jeff Raspe. Joining us will be our good friend Jon Caspi and the Jon Caspi Band. This one is an all ages show with a 6 PM start, and tickets are covered as part of the park admission.

Great Adventure can get pricey, so here are some ways to keep the admission price down:

If you want to come all day and ride some coasters with us, discounted tickets are available online at

USERNAME: livega

Username and Password are Case Sensitive
These tickets also include a free Wild Safari Ticket

If you can't make it out for the whole day but would still like to see the show (and maybe ride some coasters), tickets are only $19.99 plus tax after 5:00pm on Tuesdays.

Not bad for a day at Great Adventure. Bring the kids if you are so inclined (we'll keep the stage banter clean); being able to bring our own kids was a huge part of why we took this show in the first place.



1 Six Flags Boulevard
Jackson, NJ

Tuesday, July 13th - 5:30 PM

Long post. That's all I've got. See you next time.

- Jerry

Thursday, May 6, 2010

No Flash Photography, Please : A Day At TRUCK America

This past weekend, we performed at the first ever Truck America festival and I wanted to blog about it before the details get any hazier. A bit of back story seems appropriate, so here goes. Truck is an annual UK music festival that draws thousands of people each year to hear a collection of well-chosen bands over three days. The operations are handled by the brothers Bennett (Joe and Robin) and Joe's wife Claire. In three years performing live with The Brixton Riot at both live shows and music festivals, I have never dealt with a more friendly, courteous or organized group of people. They are the epitome of English grace and charm. From the day we were selected until the evening we left Big Indian, everything ran like clockwork.

Being within driving distance of New York, Hoboken, Philadelphia and Baltimore has allowed me to play a lot of shows without really taking a road trip, so this was a first for me. But not Matt - he got his wings schleping across the country in a short bus with The Love Scene. And as a result of his many mis-adventures, Matt has to be the most prepared musician I have ever met. His "survival pack" had everything imaginable - snacks, drinks, extra t-shirt, etc...but when I smelled the aroma of a disinfectant wipe coming from my passenger seat, I had no words. Baby wipes. Oh, so rock and roll.

It was a great day for a road trip, and the time passed by quickly. In fact, we were having such a good time, we overshot our exit. By 30 miles. It was then that we learned a valuable lesson about I-87 - you can't turn around (a fact that was reenforced at 1:30 AM when we attempted to retrieve Matt's car from the Sloatsburg reststop, requiring an extra 30 miles North just to head back South). For all the mockery that is heaped on New Jersey for our "jug handles", they serve a valuable purpose. After an aditional 20 minutes wasted looking for some way to get back on track, we settled for an illegal U-Turn.

Photo credit:

We finally arrived at the Full Moon resort around 4:30 PM and unloaded into the Roadhouse. The Roadhouse is a large, long and narrow room with a vaulted wood ceiling and wood paneled walls. It has a great live sound. Once again, the Full Moon staff and Truck people were friendly, informative and helpful. I was a little surprised by their no alchohol policy and the impromptu "beer search" that took place when we arrived. Our friends in Monogold had some of their stash confiscated, which prompted me to joke that I'm sure they could buy it all back at the bar, one can at a time.

After settling in, we walked around the grounds a bit. Full Moon is a beautiful place, with lots of open space, winding creeks and streams and lots of trees. The peaceful surroundings no doubt contributed to the friendly and laid back vibe - musicians, event staff and festival attendees all intermingled with each other, making it hard to tell the performers from the guests. Another thing that I noticed (and loved) about TRUCK - the musicians supported each other, sticking around to hear each other's set - a courtesy not often practiced in New York. I didn't get my chance to meet Neil Halstead of Mojave 3 and Slowdive (who reportedly spent Saturday afternoon chasing his toddler around. It would have been nice to discuss Vox amps and potty training in the same conversation). We spotted Gary Louris of The Jayhawks walking the grounds, but I resisted the urge to tell him how much I loved his guitar sound on Hollywood Town Hall.

"Give 'em the heater, Ricky!!!" Matt warms up with Steve and John H.

When we got back at the Roadhouse, Monogold was just getting started. I enjoyed their set when we played together at Maxwell's, but they were even better at Truck. They absolutely killed. It's amazing that so much sound comes from three guys. I was able to spend a few minutes with Robin Bennett during their set. He was an extremely gracious host and I'm glad I was able to meet him in person after several email exchanges. The Dreaming Spires were another one of the bands I wish I could have stayed for (one of many on a very long list), but unfortunately, our adult lives prevented us from staying the whole weekend. Our set was well received and even prompted some of the locals to dance a bit. We broke our unwritten rule of "one cover only" during our set, opting for a performance of Big Star's "September Gurls" in tribute to Alex Chilton and one of our personal favorites, "Inside Out" by The Mighty Lemon Drops for all of our English friends in the audience (which included author John Niven, who seemed to really like the idea of an American band covering The Mighty Lemon Drops). I've heard John on Steve Lamacq's 6Music show and it was great meeting him in person. I'll be reading "Kill Your Friends" on my next vacation.

I was really looking forward to Forgetters' set and they did not disappoint. They have great energy and raw stripped down sound. Blake is an excellent frontman and an all around nice guy. The original plan was to head home after Forgetters' set. That didn't even come close to happening, as we stuck around for The Joy Formidable, Nina Violet and even some of Wintersleep's set (all excellent). Finally, after several failed attempts to drag ourselves away, we packed up and started the long ride back to Jersey. Just like that, it was all over. But we had a fantastic time. In addition to thanking the Bennetts for their hospitality, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention John Herguth of Atlantic/Pacific who put in a good word for us. We owe you big.

PS - In usual TBR fashion, we were extremely lax with taking photos. Oh well. Better to be heard then seen.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Death of a Snare Drum

If you've been reading our Facebook page at all, you've probably heard about Matt's snare drum's epic failure at our last show. We had completed our tribute to Alex Chilton (a last minute, learn-it-in-the-car-and-say-a-prayer rendition of Big Star's "September Gurls") without a hitch and got through most of "Signal To Noise", until right around the 3:04 mark, when a mystery projectile flies through the air...

Matt mentioned later that he thought he had simply broken a stick, which is fairly common. After a quick check, he noticed the sticks were completely intact. When he looked down, he saw this...

(I added the maroon background).

You can see us all hovering over the kit to inspect the gaping hole in his snare drum - like one of us "geetar players" is going to know what to do about it. We stood around for a bit and waited for a new snare to appear (courtesy of either The Campbell Apartment or Lieder, not sure which, but thanks!). In the interest of moving things along, we opted to do one more track with the busted snare.

It reminds me a bit of those "dead 70s" sounding snare drums, like the snare sound on Let It Be (this one, not this one). In 27 years playing drums (including time in hardcore and punk bands), Matt has never had a head split before. He's also not sure why it split when it did, as the "fatal blow" wasn't even the hardest hit.

Just for good measure, here's one more song from the Asbury Lanes show.

But really, all of this simply means I have no real news to report.

Happy Wednesday, people.

- Jerry

Thursday, March 18, 2010

In Memory of Alex Chilton

NOTE: This will be posted to my NJ.Com blog either later today or tomorrow, but I wanted to get it posted as quickly as possible. Once it moves to, I will remove it from here and replace this post with a link to the article.


I woke up this morning to the sad news that Alex Chilton had passed away at the age of 59. I am feeling a lot of the same things I felt when Joe Strummer passed away. I never met Alex Chilton, but his music has had a huge influence on me. My first exposure came from The Replacements song that bares his name. I wasn't sure who Alex Chilton was at the time, but if Paul Westerberg was singing about "children by the million” singing “for Alex Chilton" (a slightly ironic lyric given his relative obscurity in popular music circles), that was good enough for me. A few years later, A fellow DJ at our college radio station (one who was instrumental in my musical "education" - a big thank you, Mr. Chadwick) recommended I check out Big Star. It was almost too much to take in - hearing the first two Big Star records (#1 Record and Radio City) back to back was a revelation; I imagine it would be a lot like hearing A Hard Day's Night and Revolver without any advanced knowledge of The Beatles or their music. #1 Record mixed 70's rockers like "In The Street" (which went on to become the theme song to the FOX sitcom That 70's Show) with lush mid-tempo acoustic songs like "Ballad of El Goodo" and "Thirteen". It is a beautiful record, filled with songs about love, introspection and self-doubt. The performances are pristine - every note perfect, every harmony spot on - an amazing accomplishment in the days before Pro Tools and auto tune. Chilton (along with Chris Bell who was equally instrumental for the album's brilliance) had crafted a delicate masterpiece with #1 Record. With Radio City, Chilton offered an entirely different spin on his songs, stripping them down to the bare essentials of drums, bass, guitar and short blasts of piano and other incidental instruments. Like its predecessor, it is loaded with top shelf songs - from the opening blast of "O My Soul" and its twangy guitar heroics, to the driving chords of "Daisy Glaze" and "Back of A Car", it is as essential as an album can be. And then there's "September Gurls", the bonafide power pop classic brought to the masses by none other than Susanna Hoffs and The Bangles. There's an old saying about The Velvet Underground that says, "they never sold many records, but every one of the group's fans went out and started a band"; the same can be said for Big Star. In #1 Record and Radio City, Alex Chilton provided the definitive guide to power pop, and countless bands have followed his lead.

Alex was scheduled to perform at SXSW this weekend, a testament to his undeniable influence and relevance as a musician. It would be a fitting homage to have a tribute concert featuring all of the SXSW artists he influenced performing Big Star and Chilton songs, but they would probably need another week of shows to get to everybody.

To borrow and rephrase Alex's own words, "Thank you, friend / Wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you / I'm so grateful / For all the things you helped me do". Thank you, Alex. Rest in peace.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Some Noise From The Void

It's been quiet around here. Very quiet. Time to answer a few questions about what has been going on in our camp.

First, as a recap to our Maxwell's show, thank you again to everyone who made it out. As promised, both TBR and Lieder donated our full door profits to the American Red Cross. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't amount to all that much, but we believe that every little bit helps, and it's those hundreds of thousands of little bits that are (hopefully) making a difference. If you were there, we hope you feel good about donating because really, it was your donation - all we gave was our time and we were happy to do it.

Next on our agenda will be Asbury Lanes show on Friday, March 19th. If you've never been, I highly encourage you to check it out. It's truly one of the most unique venues I've ever been to (and definitely the most unique venue we've ever played). It might seem strange that we would be so excited to perform at a bowling alley, but then who doesn't like bowling? And bowling mixed with live music?!? Sure, it might not have the same effect as watching the local mullets knock pins as Nickelback blares from the jukebox for the 19,826th time. Actually, that's the idea.

We're also looking forward to reuniting with The Campbell Apartment for this one. They've been on a bit of a break as they pen their second record. With all the guys back on the east coast, we're thrilled to be playing with them (and Lieder) again.

With those brief items out of the way, that brings us to news about the record. I'd like to tell you that I've saved the most exciting news for last. I'd like to tell you that we're putting the finishing touches on it right now. I'd like to tell you all of this - but I can't.

As we've mentioned in previous posts, our limited (and that is putting it mildly) budget has forced us to finish the album on our own. Thanks to advances in modern technology, recording at home doesn't mean a sacrificing quality. This is a good thing - a very good thing - because it allows people like us to make records at a fraction of the cost of booking studio time (in all fairness, our project is more of a hybrid that mixes both home and studio recording).

Unfortunately, that coin has two sides. Working "off the clock" is good for the wallet, but it can also slow down the process. When you suddenly have the time to work at your leisure, it is very easy to lose some of the urgency as the project wears on. I also believe that it affects the way each of us plays our parts. Everybody wants to get his pieces "just right". When you are in a studio paying an hourly rate, there is pressure to work fast; every take represents a few more dollars slipping away. Now that the pressure is off, I've found it harder to get that elusive "final take". I guess a good analogy would be how some closers in baseball need a tight game in order to pitch their best. Not that I would ever compare my sloppy strumming to the precision of Mariano Rivera.

This is all the news I have for now, which I realize isn't much. I can also reveal that there's a good chance this next record won't be released on our Tabbycat Records label. It's not quite definite just yet (which is why I'm not revealing all of the details), but that's good news because it means somebody else wants to put it out.

- Jerry