Ye Olde Garage Band

Claudia Doesn’t Like It” was my most successful garage band. We played gigs regularly during my junior year of high school, and I learned a lot about how to write songs for a three or four piece rock band.

We didn’t have access to good recording equipment in those days, so I don’t have many recordings that are worth sharing here. But in 2001 Jake Bracken and I got together to digitally record some of the old songs for posterity, and called the album “2001: A Claudyssey.” Some of these recordings turned out okay, but I was a bit clumsy on the drums.

“The Yellow Banana Ant” is one of the definitive Claudia songs, and the version I posted here is the 2001 recording with an extra guitar part and some backing vocals which I added a year or so later.

“The Red Plastic Shark” is another Claudia favorite. This is the 2001 version.

“Nameless” displays the edgier side of our sound. This song was heavily influenced by Ride’s “Vapour Trail.” This is a slightly edited version of the 2001 recording.

In late 2001 I started working on a new song with my brother Mark, which we called “Cyberian Joe.” The rhythm track was made from dial-up modem sounds, and it took me months to put it all together. It’s easy to hear the Kraftwerk influence in this interesting and weird song.

I have hours and hours of poor quality live recordings from 1995-1996, but I won’t afflict you with any of them unless I get requests.

Enjoy!

 

Early Adventures in Digital Multitrack

I just posted recordings from my university days, which was when I first got my feet wet with digital multitrack recording. I licensed a shareware app called n-Track Studio which I used for years. A new version came out within a month or so of my purchase, but the company wanted me to pay for the upgrade so I just kept using the old version for the next 6 years until I migrated everything to Linux.

The name “New Folder” was a joke, because I was a compulsive organizer of my own computer’s filesystem and it drove me crazy to see other people’s computers with random folders scattered all over the desktop. “New Folder” is the default name for a newly created folder in Windows, and I remember seeing a desktop with New Folder, New Folder (2), and New Folder (3) all on the desktop, and all empty folders! I decided that the only way I would ever have a directory named “New Folder” on my computer was if I gave that name to an album. So I did, and I chuckle to myself whenever I see it in the file manager.

I am still fond of these recordings, but they are a bit rough around the edges because I was at an early stage of learning the craft.

“The Dead Horse Revival” was my first attempt to program drums in a midi piano roll editor. This is a song that dates back to about 1995, but in the early 2000’s I was working on my fingerstyle technique and had been reworking this song with a new chorus. I needed a song to test the electronic drums with, so on a whim I chose this. I was smart enough not to try recording my primitive fingerstyle, which was pretty sloppy at the time. The original song was called “The Dead Horse,” and this version breathed new life into it.

“Oasis” has been through many iterations. This version is actually a remix that I did in 2006, and I was still not entirely satisfied with it. I am resisting the urge to revisit this song, because I have already spent too much of my life on it. But it is tempting, because I left out the rhythm guitar in the verses and it sounds too empty. I also want to rework the drums during the verses, rewrite the lyrics, and maybe transpose it down to a key that I can actually sing in. But I like the guitar parts, the synthesizer, and the drums during the second half. (Obviously I have mixed feelings about this recording.)

“Green Thumb [midi]”  was the logical extension of my experiments with midi drums. My brother Mark was working as an intern at the local PBS affiliate TV station, and needed a short song for the soundtrack of a commercial he was making. “Green Thumb” is an old Claudia song, and this version was a radical departure from the alternative rock original, but I was really pleased with the result. This recording is actually a stereo remix I made in 2006.

“Wormwood [midi]” has almost an identical story to “Green Thumb [midi].” This was a song from the immediate post-Claudia period during summer 1996, and the original version was recorded on a tape that we named “Chronocide: The Downfall of Mountain Standard Time.” We performed this as a new song at the last Claudia concert in November 1996. This version is a stereo remix from 2006.

“Song of Odysseus” is a rearrangement of the Claudia song “Stay With Me,” which needed a new set of lyrics. These new words were inspired by my winter bicycle commute, which always seemed to have a headwind. Mark contributed a line to the new words. The music was taken directly from the “2001: A Claudyssey” recording which featured Jake Bracken on bass.

“Lint in my Pocket” was a solo recording of an old pre-Claudia song that I wrote with Mark in about 1995. This was my first attempt to do digital multitrack recording by myself, and I think it turned out okay. The popping and crackling came from my cheap sound card.

“Aurelia Aurita” was another early solo multitrack recording. The song was written in 2000 not long after I got home from my mission. I found the words in a notebook of poems that Mark had written. Aurelia aurita is the scientific name for the moon jellyfish.

I hope you enjoy these old tunes!

 

The Unfinished Album

Last night I posted the Lost and Found recordings. I was very disappointed to leave that album unfinished, and at the time it felt like I was walking away from my music forever. Some of the tracks intended for that album have made it on the list for Moldy Oldies, including the song Lost and Found. I thought you might want to hear my sketch recording of that song from 2006:

I also looked through the archives and found a working draft of the track list for the Lost and Found album, last updated in 1/2007:

1. Rising Sun (02/06)
2. Lost and Found
3. Something Wrong (08/05)
4. The Battle of Bull Run
5. Standing on High (06/06)
6. My Abode
7. (But I didn’t know which way was home . . . anymore)
8. The Queen of Public Transportation
9. My Hydroxide
10. Lost. . .
Oasis?
Song of Odysseus?

I will eventually get around to recording all of these, I hope.

Rising Sun

I could be your older brother
I could be your friend
I could be a new beginning
I could be the end

Am I a rising sun?
Or am I setting sun?

I could be your pruning hook
I could be your sword
I could be your humble servant
I could be your lord

Am I a rising sun?
Or am I a setting sun?

I could be a new beginning
I could be the end
I could be a burning sunset
It’s up to you, my friend

“Rising Sun” is a rewrite of an old Claudia song called “Sunshine Sets,” written during the fall of 1996. We played “Sunshine Sets” only once, at our last concert in November 1996 before Jake went to Japan on his mission. In 2005-06 I thought the lyrics needed a rewrite. I was pleased with the recording, especially the guitar parts. The vocal arrangement was influenced by Toad the Wet Sprocket, and the drums were influenced by The Police, as I was listening to both bands a lot at the time. The original composition was heavily influenced by The Cure (especially the guitar parts from High and Mint Car, which were favorites at the time but I have a hard time listening to these songs now). My one regret about the song is that I didn’t mix the bass high enough in the final version, and I couldn’t go back and fix it because I lost the source files for the song when my backup disc failed.

These lyrics were written in 2005-06 during a turbulent political time when many people in both parties were unhappy with the trajectory of government. The song is based on a famous quote from Benjamin Franklin at the United States Constitutional Convention.

Something Wrong

I haven’t seen her for a while
I used to see her every day
And when I ask, “What has happened to her?”
I can’t get anyone to say

Is there something wrong with Alyson?
Or is there something wrong with me?

And I was troubled at her leaving
I thought that I had caused her shame
And the way that people wouldn’t speak about it …
I would have taken all the blame

Is there something wrong with Alyson?
Or is there something wrong with me?

Did you know that I loved her?

“Something Wrong” was written in 1997-98 about a high school friend of mine that suddenly disappeared from school. After a few days I realized that other people seemed to know where she was, but they wouldn’t tell me. It turned out that she was in a psychiatric hospital for a few weeks due to a psychotic episode. When she eventually came back to school she even showed me some of her delusional writings. I love this recording, and consider it to be one of the best I have ever made.

Standing on High

Standing here on High
Wishing that the rain would leave me dry
As it’s falling from the sky
And I wait …
And I hope I won’t be late

Standing on High

There’s a memory here
I can feel it near
Is it hope or is it fear?
Oh, no! We won’t give up this fight
We’ll make it through the night
And someday, whatever happens, it’s gonna be alright

Standing on High

Will you meet me here?
I’ll meet you here on High Street

“Standing on High” was about a tragedy which happened in my medical school class. One of my classmates disappeared and has never been found to this day. He was last seen at a bar on High Street the night before he was to go on a spring break vacation. I pieced this together from a few musical scraps I had been working on that year. The first verse was originally about standing at a bus stop (on High Street) in the rain on my way to school. The chorus guitar part was adapted from a beautiful riff written by my friend Joseph Wecker. The second verse borrows a chord progression from an old Claudia song called “Lint in my Pocket.” The chorus was influenced by John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High,” Radiohead’s “High and Dry,” and John Mayer’s “Not Myself.” This is the final arrangement of a recording that went through a few iterations, and I was pleased with the final result.

Getting Things Started Again

My music has been mostly offline for the past decade or so, squashed nearly to extinction by my education and training, as well as my busy family life. But life has settled down a bit and I have started making music again!

I plan to post the cream of the crop from my older work, but for now I have just posted my new recordings, on the Moldy Oldies album page. There is a lot of nostalgia for me in these old songs.

“Alpha” was my first recording with Jim Ash, recorded 10/28/1994. This was my first music collaboration in the St. George music scene. The first version of the song was a keyboard sketch that Jim had recorded, which I improvised a guitar part for. Both of us revisited the song with derivative works in our garage bands over the next couple of years (The Tens – “A Perfect Day” and Claudia Doesn’t Like It – “Never Come Back To Me”/”Stay With Me”). This new recording includes a few quotes from these later versions of the song. I started this new recording in 2013, and that spring I visited my cousin Tom and showed an early iteration of the song to him. We recorded a few guitar tracks on top of it, and a riff he recorded that day also ended up in the final song. I used LMMS to make all of the electronic sounds, and my Telecaster to record the guitar parts.

“Lullabye” is a guitar song which I wrote in 2000, and then added a chorus in about 2006. This version was programmed on a software synthesizer, my first song made with Linux Multimedia Studio (LMMS). I first started working on it in 2012, and I finished it last year. I have loved analog synthesizer sounds ever since I bought those old “Switched-On Bach” records at a secondhand store when I was a teenager, so I tried to emulate some retro synth sounds on this recording.

“Omega” was a cheesy keyboard song I wrote in early 1995, as a sequel to “Alpha.” We originally intended to have Jim record a guitar part for it, but we never got around to doing that. In 1995-6 I reworked the song as a guitar grunge song which we played in Claudia, but I wanted to return the song to its original charm for this version. I did borrow a few ideas from the guitar version. This was programmed on LMMS.

I hope you enjoy the new recordings. More are on the way!