Monday, December 29, 2008
Of course, I couldn't let the hot engine of my career idle or cool while Mr. Glasshands went through physical therapy or whatever you do when you break your hands. I did what they taught me to do in Hollywood: I sent him flowers, a fruit basket, and a note that said "Your job is waiting for you".
And then I started auditioning replacement drummers.
My first choice was Jens Hanneman - cat can play everything - but apparently he's already "committed" for 2009. We did have a good jam session, though. Jens totally dominated. Amazing stuff. Jens made a DVD a few years back, which was how I heard of him:
This young lady was my second choice:
She was quiet and polite (I don't think she said a word during the audition - her "uncle"/manager did all the talking). Can play to a click no problem. Moved her own gear, which was refreshing. Also apparently available for cheap.
3rd choice was a guy named "Gregg". He tried out for Luxxury a few years ago and blew us all away. Apparently he's now fronting a band called "G.R.E.G.G.", which is going to blow everyone away real soon.
Anyhow, Dante's on the mend, so I guess this was all for naught.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
The only thing worse than "not making it" as a star is "making it for a little while".
I've never met Adam Ant (a.k.a. Stuart Goddard) but I feel like I know him well. Yeah, he ripped us off a bit (hint: the song was originally called "Pantmusic"), but then again, who didn't rip us off?
To be fair, I stole from him, too - in obvious ways (What's my band called?) and less obvious ways.
Adam Ant not only worked with Malcom McLaren (better known for a less-talented, less-successful one-off band called The Sex Pistols), Adam got screwed over by him in truly spectacular fashion! McLaren helped shape Adam's pop star vision...and then more or less stole The Ants from Adam and refashioned them into Bow Wow Wow, replacing Adam with teenager Annabella Lwin (there are stories to be told here soon, too). Like the Pants, Adam was forced to rush to get an album out with "his sound" before Bow Wow Wow released theirs. Bow Wow Wow is primarily known today for covers - both their retread of "I Want Candy" and the (at the time) under age Lwin posing nude on the sleeve. (This is not to knock Bow Wow Wow - they are awesome, too)
The Devil take your stereo and your record collection
Ant was so punk he decided he wanted to make both pop music and money, not just smash everything - at the time, that was seriously radical. He wrote clever, hooky songs, teamed up with a fantastic guitar player (the underrated Marco Pirroni), and developed one of the most distinctive visual styles of the 80s (or any decade), right down to typography. Like Billy Idol, he often played (uncredited) bass guitar on his albums, and is much smarter musically and in other ways than his cartoonish image would have one believe. (However, unlike Billy Idol, one of my ex-girlfriends did not date Adam Ant.)
Trent Reznor says the backwards "N" in the Nine Inch Nails logo was inspired by Adam Ant's backwards "D" and NIN covered "You're So Physical" on their breakthrough "Broken" album.
Close personal friend Roxy Epoxy covered "Beat My Guest", and her vocal stylings and the music of her band, The Epoxies, owes a clear debt to Adam Ant as well.
As a kid in the 80s, Adam Ant was unlike any other singer, celebrity, or person I knew. He wasn't as polished, smooth, or awesome as Duran Duran...but he was oddly scary/threatening, raw, sensual, and human, receding hairline and all.
My first real girlfriend was head-over-heels for him, and thought he was sexy as hell (she also broke my heart, so her judgment is somewhat questionable). I saw his videos and wondered what he was thinking. Was he serious? How could he be in that get-up? But he couldn't possibly be joking because he seemed like he meant it...His songs were funny, sexy, and sometimes creepy.
Eventually I realized that part of what made Adam Ant's whole thing work was what actors strive for - that sense of "commitment" to the role, to the part, to the song, to the look. Adam Ant is fearless when he sings. He throws himself into his music completely, and that abandon is what makes it and him powerful.
We went on "Top of the Pops" for 3 minutes - "Dog Eat Dog", that was it - and the next day 200,000 people went out and bought the record. That 3.5 minutes took 3.5 years to prepare for...He sent copies of his records to a teacher who had been supportive of his artistic tendencies. And he was "the most written-about celebrity [in the UK] in 1981 except for Princess Diana". He had a slew of hit singles before flaming out in 1989 with an album produced by one of Prince's understudies. Took up acting, got some b-movie and TV roles. Did commercials for Honda scooters with Grace Jones. Carefully, obsessively managing and plotting his career.
The whole time he was grappling with serious mental illness: depression.
Did I tell you I didn't cry?The music lifestyle is demanding and fatiguing in every way. You work so hard to "live up to your potential" and to "make it". And then what? Even if (to quote Mr. Ant and others) there's always room at the top, you're always just renting that room. You will be evicted.
Well I lied
Once that happens...well, there's nothing worse than watching something you've worked so hard for - your fame, fortune, fans - slip away from you. To go from playing rooms packed with screaming girls to being harassed and called a "has-been" everywhere you go...it's tough to take.
Adam Ant went through all that and more. Dated Heather Graham! Yet he still came back and put out "Wonderful" in 1995. It's not a crazy, wild record - it's a grown-up album about dealing with all this stuff. I was skeptical then and am still not crazy about it, but the stellar "Won't Take That Talk" opens the album, and I still get a thrill and a smile on my face when Marco busts out that Jazz Chorus-fueled guitar part on "Wonderful".
At some point Stuart/Adam wrote an autobiography - why am I only finding out about it now?
Here's the first part of a great, long-overdue documentary "The Madness of Prince Charming" on YouTube. The whole thing has some surprising moments, both funny and extremely dark:
Mr. Goddard, I raise my hotel bourbon to you. You helped make me who I am today. You can steal from me any time, and I hope to someday shake your hand and thank you for your words of wisdom, and your music.
Ridicule is nothing to be scared ofAdam Ant Sampler:
Don't you ever
Don't you ever stop being dandy
Showing us you're handsome
Don't you ever
Don't you ever lower yourself
Forgetting all your standards
Beat My Guest
You're So Physical
Stand and Deliver
Desperate But Not Serious
Monday, December 01, 2008
My take? "Pro" isn't what you use. It's how you use it.
The notion of "inspiration" is too subjective for me to consider, though. For me, it's easy to be briefly inspired on any new instrument, from the sheer novelty of the sound or interface. I've come up with many a part or song by noodling around on someone else's gear.
And what inspires you today may be what you're sick of tomorrow.
Good instruments make it easy to get at sufficient depth to encourage creativity without either losing you in details, menus, and parameters or restricting your choices.
Sadly, I no longer have any of the gear dating back to the Pants' early days in the suburban garages of our youth. However, I do have a few pieces of gear I've been using since the late 80s and many I've been using for nearly 10 years.
The good stuff is limited just enough, and frequently references old, tried, tested designs - the Nord Lead 2 we use live is basically a digital Prophet-5 with more voices (sadly, it doesn't do much better than the original for a display).
Back in ye olde dayes (a.k.a. the 80s) the Pants threw down big cash (at the time) for a Yamaha DX-7. It was considered one of the "Seven Deadly Synths" one had to have for a complete studio/record/band/whatever. It remains one of the best-selling synths of all time. New Order used it for their famous bass line on "Bizarre Love Triangle". I think Howard Jones used one for "What Is Love?" And its electric piano sounds were inescapable for the whole of the 80s.
I hated it.
We only ended up using it on a few tracks on "Life, Style". It was hard to program, combining a brand-new synthesis methodology (frequency modulation, a.k.a. FM) with one of the worst user interfaces ever to grace a popular keyboard. At the time, we (like almost everyone else) were unable to move much beyond the presets.
Parenthetically, it also schooled me on the dangers of beverages in the studio - I spilled a bottle of diet Pepsi Free into the key portion a week before a major gig. Ended up costing several hundred dollars to fix and I had to borrow a Korg Poly-800 to cover for it. Ouch.
A few years ago I traded a hot pink Ibanez Steve Vai Jem 777 for a DX-7IIFD, largely because I was interested in exploring alternate tunings, which the IIFD did (and was one of the only keyboards to do so). By then, I had learned enough to understand FM - but the interface still got in the way.
And no matter what, the DX series always felt like work. I never once sat down and said "ooh, this makes me want to write a song!"
The first synth I ever had was a Casio CZ-101 which my parents bought me for Christmas. I loved that thing and could program it 9 ways to Sunday. My brother sold it a few years ago after I asked him to take care of it for me (I guess I should have been more specific about what I meant by "take care of it for me!").
I still have horrible ancient recordings of that thing - seems like I couldn't touch it without starting to write something. Ironically, it was only slightly easier to program than the DX, and far more limited. And definitely not considered "pro".
But given a choice between the two today, I'd grab that CZ-101.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Genius? Hell, the man is a prophet.
The liner notes to his 1991 masterpiece "Peggy Suicide" explain the songs while explaining nothing. Of his nearly-a-background-to-a-Levis-advertisement (already anticipating the commonplace song licensing of today) "East Easy Rider", he writes:
Seems to me that the wheel's gonna kill us. You spend your life being sold on the idea of freedom and the open road, 2-lane flat-top, the driving movie, the open-topped sports car, the motorbike as phallic metaphor, the whole schmeer. Then we find out that pollution's going to kill us all...if we don't move...our children are going to take a look at the world that we've left them and they're going to kill us in our sleep.Way ahead of his time. And the song sounds great. And it's groovy. And catchy.
Cope can write fantastic pop songs with the best of them, even in the middle of bad production (either excessive or too minimal - see "Charlotte Anne" and "Out of My Mind on Dope and Speed") He can also rock and blow your mind like Iggy Pop or Captain Beefheart or you name it.
He's also a distinguished scholar who speaks Russian and isn't just passionate about music, he's also learned.
It turns out he has a blog where he reviews records. Here's a bit from a review of a 12-minute long Alice Cooper bootleg, arguing that Alice Cooper is better than Captain Beefheart:
...at least the Coop’s first two LPs sounded like the Beatles in a liquidiser – Lick My Decals Off sounded like fucking Henry Cow jamming late period Pere Ubu! Mercy!That's not just heresy to the elite rock crowd, it's a spot-on critique of much modern art.
It’s just that Alice Cooper became a Hollywood golf no-mark while Captain Beefheart became a holier-than-thou sepia print by Anton Corbijn. Alice may have become arena dross, but Beefheart opted out of music altogether. And, in my book, choosing the art gallery scene over the arena rock scene is a far bigger crime against humanity. But then, my love of music is such that, for me, even T’Pau, Living in a Box, and the Jools Holland Big Band together doing reggae versions of the Macarena comes closer to approaching the divine that the passive drywank snorathons of meaninglessness spewed-up by the I’ve-got-my-personal- neuroses-and-I’m-not-afraid-to-use-them brigade of Tate modern masters.
And here he is on Van Halen:
The great thing about this ATOMIC PUNKS LP was always the way the rhythm guitar dropped out when the solos came in, leaving the mogadon bass of Michael Anthony as sole supporter of the song’s chord sequence, thereby rendering Edward Van Halen’s shards-of-shattering-Red Arrows-windscreen guitar aerobatics less Olympian and more Lokian. To be fair, much of the first studio LP did just this and gained hugely from the Cast Adrift element of chaos that it brung to the party. But as an antidote to the parts that got rhythm guitar support (and the second LP certainly fell a major victim), this ATOMIC PUNKS bootleg really reveals what a freeform racket they could brew up. Man, those amazingly confident harmony vocals sound even greater when you’ve lost all sense of their context.His reviews have footnotes, people. Footnotes! Why isn't he reviewing every record ever written? This is a man you can have a beverage and a conversation with!
He's totally nuts, too. But what would you expect? He stopped making records people actually liked around 1997, and immediately started making interesting music thereafter.
Julian, I salute you and I look forward to our inevitable collaboration!
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
As a kid, I could not get their songs out of my head even though I knew they weren't "cool".
One of the (few) benefits of being an old new wave musician is not having to worry about being cool.
Daryl Hall now has his own webcast, which I believe makes him more cool, hip, and au courant than yours truly. It's called Live From Daryl's House and it is amazing.
Musicians come over to Daryl's house, hang out, drink wine, play some songs, chat. It's more or less what I wish I was doing with all of my friends all of the time. You can tell everyone is having a blast, and the performances are fantastic. And it's not super-slick.
This episode's guest is Chromeo, who I've been digging since their first record came out back in 2005. Someone get Daryl Hall on basic cable!
Some tracks in case you have no idea what I'm talking about:
Hall & Oates - I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)
This is, for me, the quintessential Hall & Oates track. Synths, a drum machine that actually grooves, and a cool vibe. I can hear the launching point for hundreds of other pop hits in here, including Timex Social Club's Rumors.
Hall & Oates - Maneater
Another genius track which features a great sax + delay solo - a great example of how technology can enhance a musical idea.
Hall & Oates - Method of Modern Love
While "Big Bam Boom" is mostly considered to be the last (and least) of the Golden Age albums of H&O, I include this song here to show how they kept up with pop production and also note their extremely solid songwriting chops. Anyone who can spell out a phrase that long and make it a hook is a true master. "M-E-T-H-O-D O-F L-O-V-E", indeed!
Chromeo - 100%
The closing track on Chromeo's latest album, "Fancy Footwork", this song proves these guys aren't kidding around and can write a track that is both groovy and touching.
Chromeo - Needy Girl
This was the song that hooked me into Chromeo as well as inviting comparisons to Hall & Oates in the first place.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
He broke several bones in his left hand and also broke his right wrist. He is scheduled for wrist surgery tomorrow.
We are grateful that aside from these broken bones, he only suffered bruises and cuts (a fat lip and a badly banged up foot) and is otherwise healthy.
The doctors have indicated they expect him to make a full recovery and retain full use of his hands.
Our thoughts are with him and his family.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Show starts at 7 pm.
Following us, the kids at Dolores Park Movie Night will be screening Jaws 3D. Naturally, they'll be handing out free 3D glasses!
Our show this time is notable for a number of reasons.
One is that we'll be featuring a special guest bass player, so come check him out!
The other is the Return of The Obligatory Cover! Hear us reclaim a song stolen from us years ago!
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Every now and then we like to get people hyped on other bands, especially ones that didn't rip us off.
Farflung is one of those bands - they deliver a beyond psychedelic space rock typhoon.
This is their latest video for the song "Endless Drifting Wreck", from their new album, "A Wound In Eternity".
Chemical enhancement is optional.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Hot on the heels of our fantastic exhibition at the DeYoung Museum comes this: Sid Luscious and The Pants bring the maximum New Wave with the mighty Palace Family Steak House and mystery guests Rocket Culture at Beale Street Bar & Grill at 133 Beale St. between Mission and Howard.
For a few more details, read the flyer (courtesy of Just Visiting) you see here.
Bring your friends.
This is going to be fun!
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Also, look over there to the left - as part of our ongoing attempts to prevent ourselves from earning any money, we've added some links to free MP3s and have included the new Yahoo Media Player to let you play them all right here. You can also download them and keep them forever.
First up, two new songs and one old one:
"Drives" - Been working on this one for a while. This isn't mastered but is probably the final mix.
"Older Woman" - Maybe six months old, written after listening to a lot of soul music and some pre-insanity Michael Jackson.
Finally, digging through the old tape library we came across the rare, much-bootlegged 12 inch "night version" of "Lifestyle Magazine Lifestyle".
Oh, and "Life, Style" can now be purchased as MP3s through the Rhapsody PC client!
Saturday, February 23, 2008
A special thank you to Ed Ivey and the staff of the DeYoung Museum for allowing us to perform there as part of the Gilbert & George opening. I believe we can now officially say that the work of Sid Luscious and The Pants has been shown at the DeYoung Museum of Art!
Duran frickin' Duran can't say that. Those thieving hairdressers can't say that. Adam "I wish I were you guys" Ant can't say it.
It was magical. According to people that didn't even know us, we sounded great! Thank you to everyone who came out to see us play. Truly one of our career highlights!
Did anyone get any photos? Anyone???
Sunday, January 27, 2008
We will be playing the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Details are available - it's a tribute to famous British performance artists Gilbert & George. We've loved these guys back when we were more famous than they were.
Their work from the early 70s was an incredibly powerful influence on T What!?'s guitar playing, particularly "Smashed" and "Gordon's Makes Us Drunk".
- Friday, February 22, 2008
- Admission is free (for our show).
- Doors are at 6, we start very promptly at 7 (really, 7. We'll be done by 8. Do not be late!)
- DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park (directions)
- San Francisco, CA
DJ Laird will be spinning before and after.
And the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will be doing whatever it is they do.
Bring your friends. And their friends. And so on. How often do you get Maximum New Wave in a museum? We figure at least 15 minutes before they shut us down!
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
We're pale, caffeinated, a little buzzed, and ready to bring the Maximum New Wave in 2008!
Here's the deal: We've almost got our new album "Pantemonium" finished. Good things take time.
We're going to play this year, but not a whole lot - 6-8 shows tops. But those shows will be really good, worth your while, and at interesting and surprising venues. That's just how we roll.
Stay tuned, thanks for listening, and bring your friends to dance.
We're on the MySpace and we want to be your friend so bad it's sort of creepy and uncomfortable.. Also add us to your RSS feed reader or bookmarks. We'll have MP3s and stuff up soon.