Friday, December 9, 2016

Witch Watch Stills

I haven't been a postin' as of late as I've been busy working on a number of projects. One of which is a mildly animated video for the Witch Watch song called "Witches Woods". There are two other videos in development, and I'll share stills from those later, but first I thought I'd share a few from "Witches Woods" first.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Murder Shoes Fall

The plan was to record another twelve songs and then pick the best ten from a pool of twenty. We wanted to up our game and give ourselves the opportunity to experiment and explore new terrain. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite end up happening.

The songs were there though. A massive pile of them had been demoed. In fact, they had been rapidly accumulating since May of 2015. The bulk of Daydreaming had been written by then, and the songs kept coming.

Having three songwriters can be a good thing. There’s the variety of styles and strengths, the healthy competition, and the undying flow of material. Three songwriters can also be trouble. Too much material to choose from, a lack of outlet, and conflicting artistic direction. Songs sit around and tempers flare. Side projects happen. Songs from the central pool vanish and reappear elsewhere. Those things happened and now you have a version of what was supposed to be our second album. Before I move on to discuss the new compilation, let me first gush a little bit about my former band mates.

When Murder Shoes coalesced, it was really, and truly beautiful. A functioning musical democracy is an unusual thing. We all brought songs in but in the end, it was down to Elliot and Tim’s expertise in arranging that made things happen in a timely and pain free manner. A hot steaming lump of riffage could be rendered into a rare gem quickly by the Elliot and Tim rock tumbler. Chris could always be counted on to pull out some evocative expressions from his guitar and I’ll definitely miss his pool of hits to work on. Tess, perhaps my twin in stubborn pride, has an undeniably amazing voice. It was a pleasure to see her write and sing melodies with ease even though our brand of rock was not as she once stated, her forte.

Chris and Tess did a lot of the behind the scenes emailing and connecting, the communications that lead to great shows and having a place to practice and we wouldn’t have gotten very far without their determination. Thank you.

Now, the album.

Eight of the songs on Fall come from a session we did with Ali Jaafar at Ecstattic studios.

Greater Expectations came from an idea to merge the casual swing of third album era Velvet Underground with the sweaty groove of CCR. Kind of like Girls Named Benji, but less manic. It was a great opener at shows, and it was damn good fun to play.

Burning Cedars was meant to be a sort of palette cleanser of sorts between rockers. A breezy Smiths meets Velocity Girl calm before another storm. That said, you’ll notice that the wind picks up audibly at the end of the middle eight, a swirling black cloud of impending doom complete with temperature shift. (Let me just say that having just written that, I’m a little over weather metaphors, but my original line was going to be something like Burning Cedars is like a gentle back massage between stabbings. Pick your favorite, I guess).

Tape Organ started life as an acoustic Pixies kind of number and then took a sharp left turn back in time to something more of a doo wop r&b and country flavor. It recalls the cigarettes and whiskey of Patsy Cline and also the starry-eyed wonder of The Flamingos “I Only Have Eyes For You”. It’s a throwback and gentle nod to the earliest sounds of Murder Shoes. A tip of the hat to those who enjoyed songs like “Jenny Says” and “Every Heart has a Fool” (available on the expanded version of our debut release Cash On Fire).

Mirror Sky is a track that sort of epitomizes what we do best. Combine one part come-hither sensual vocals with equal parts dread, melancholia, restlessness, Western vistas, and who gives a damn steel-toe swagger. A shit-kicker for the indie rockers.

Hands. Sometimes known as Show Me Your Hands or Give Me Your Hands. At the end of the day, Hands. Rather than try to explain the merits or story behind Hands, I’d rather the song speak for itself, though I will say that this song was a trump card in the previously alluded to plan to try new things out. Had the second album been finished, we knew this was would have made the cut. I wish we could have finished that damn second record.

Missle Siren is a baffler. A really weird cousin to Mirror Sky, Missle Siren is a demented take on what we do best. The really unusual two part chorus always sends me some place not of this earth. It’s off in the best possible way. What the hell is going on? The faucet is running, the toast is burning, and the cats are loose. This one always makes me grin. Love it.

Far Away is the third part of the Mirror Sky/Missle Siren trilogy. As the title suggests, it’s the extended desire of wanting be someone or somewhere else. Like the other two songs, it’s epic in scope, encompassing icy cliffs of reverb, moss covered fortresses, and ship destroying waves. Spooky perhaps, there’s a lot of wandering sprits around this one. Crushed souls and dreams on a journey elsewhere.

Cities was another stab at something different, another exploration. To date, we hadn’t written anything that was dance floor bait and the time was right to try it out. Cities was a joy live as you could be loud as hell and broadcast a dub like groove at the same time. Stray notes, dischord, melancholia, and good times. This one would have made the second album cut too.

Two more songs on Fall come from the Daydreaming sessions we did with Knol Tate.

They were cut from Daydreaming at the last possible second. The vinyl version of Daydreaming has lyrics to both Cash On Fire and Leave It Love. Those who have been following our progress will note that Cash On Fire was our very first single. We decided to record another version of it that would feature Elliot and Tim, and as it happened, it couldn’t be more different than the original. The song is now a panoramic expanse. A lusty beckoning call in the middle of nowhere or an angry spirit sweeping through gutted buildings and burned out motor vehicles. Both maybe?

Leave It Love is a curious thing. Originally brought to us by Tim, our mysterious fourth songwriter, Leave It Love was transformed from a very chill Hank Williams deal into an exercise in rowdy roughneck punky-tonk We can be mellow, sure. We’ve done it many times, but it’s possibly a set-up, one to catch you unawares for a song like Leave It Love and its hot pint of backwash to the face. It’s a soundtrack to fists swinging, car chases, narrow escapes and reckless dancing, the sort that results in decapitation. We only ended up playing this a few times live. Bummer, but now you get to have it.

So that’s the Fall. Not officially our second record but parts of it. If you’d like to know what else might have made the cut, you’ll have to check out our new groups. Songs like “Equator”, “True Love”, “My Fist Is On Your List” “Last Date”, and “Hand Painted Dinosaurs” amongst MANY others, were all in that second album pile. Keep tabs on Witch Watch and Damn Wesley if you’d like to hear and know more about those missing puzzle pieces.

For now the Murder Shoes Fall album is available via bandcamp, but soon it’ll be on itunes and all that jazz.

(The front cover art comes from my book Enough Astronaut Blood To Last The Winter. Available from better indie book stores, Fantagraphics Books, and amazon.)



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Death Rattle

The end of Murder Shoes was a long time coming. The reasons for the breakup are many and varied, and I'd rather not bore you with the details. Suffice to say, that first year was a beautiful experience. The second year, not so much.

Anyway, we've moved on and my next project is already underway. My new group is called Witch Watch, and currently it's myself and Anna Neighbors. We've been plugging away, working on songs that were originally written for the second Murder Shoes album pile. We have over 30 in various states of completion, and we'll be tracking between 10-13 with Knol Tate in November. A couple friends of ours have offered to lend a hand with the bass and drums, thus ensuring maximum mojo. I'll be selling some art to help fund that session, so if you've dug the visual vibes I've laid out for Murder Shoes, do get in touch.

In brief, Witch Watch is a weirder version of Murder Shoes. Rougher, stranger, moodier, more absurd, and at times more pretty. If you like your Hot Snakes next to your Cocteau Twins following your Troggs, and after your Bauhaus and Wire flowing out of your music dispersal unit, you'll get the picture.

Jerard Fagerberg of the City Pages, wrote a nice epitaph on Murder Shoes. You can read it HERE.

More soon.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Under The Microscope At The Comics Journal

My last book, Enough Astronaut Blood To Last The Winter got reviewed today at the Comics Journal via Keith Silva. It's a tricky book to take apart and I think Silva does it quite well. Lots of open questions and examinations of why I do what I do. My home state is actually Michigan, but in all fairness, Minnesota is Michigan-esque.

You can read it here.

To clarify a few things about the creation, I'll give a little context. The book was assembled in its first draft before I left New York. This being the third book in a series of abstract autobiographies constructed at the very end of specific periods. My previous efforts had no publisher. Journey By Ferry was made possible with grants and Shutdown Vol. 3 was my design thesis, printed with love on a very testy Solna press.

Astronaut Blood was kicking around for a while, and then came the offer at Fantagraphics. Gary Groth was starting a new imprint, Fantagraphics Underground or FU for short, and he remembered the art book I had solicited. Gary's a very cool cucumber.

I then began the process of re-designing the guts, this being the 8th or so time, previous versions were done in the 5x7 and 6x9 formats and displayed in black and white. Photos and drawings had to be relocated, re-scanned, all that jazz. I love art and design, so that was just fine with me. The not so fun part was re-visiting the subject matter. Usually these books are done after location moves, defined chapters of a life. They're put together and then I move on. The dermis is shed, a purge occurs, demons are cast out, and a new life begins. Usually.

Re-editing Astronaut Blood forced me to re-enter a weird zone. In there I saw faces that had vanished, re-lived feuds that have since evaporated, explored ancient concerns, fears, hopes. Had imaginary drinks with friends that I loved that are no longer in my orbit. It was weird. And I had to cut it up again. This was a sort of confrontation.

It helped that the structure was there already, nothing new was added, if anything things got left out. Like the fabled 6 hour cut of Apocalypse Now (yes, it does exist), it needed some trimming. What may appear on the surface as chaos is actually a definitive exhibition. It's a monograph and journal designed by the artist as opposed to an art book assembled by an outside presence like a historian or researcher.

Overall, it was a beneficial process. One that's actually happening again now as I write this. Folders sit in my studio, holding the work I've done since I've moved to Minneapolis. It'll be examined and dealt with when I leave. Luckily, the title has already revealed itself. More on that later.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Eel Mansions No. 2 Page

So yeah, kinda under the creative, fun hammer these days with two bands and the second Eel Mansions book due. I'll be posting Eels pages more roften on the Eel Mansions blogspot and Tumblr, just thought I'd give you a taste here as well. Thankfully a steady diet of Wire, The Velvet Underground, and Eno records keep my mind occupied. Couple shouts to Lispector, Valet, and Oh-Ok for more music fun.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The haps 7-16-16 Edition

Hell. Not stuck in it, rather working through it. The next volume of Eel Mansions is due in October and simultaneously, I've been writing songs for Murder Shoes and Witch Watch. And so, tonight sees Murder Shoes at The Kitty Cat Klub, our stuffed animal home from home.

Friday, April 29, 2016

2016 Mid West Music Festival

Murder Shoes will be playing at Broken World Records in Winona tonight as part of the Mid West Music Fest with all manners of other great bands, and as per usual, we got a boatload of new songs

Friday, April 1, 2016

File Under Floyd

Pen and ink drawing from I Can Count To Infinity, a book in progress. Meanwhile my current book, Enough Astronaut Blood To Last The Winter is available via Fantagraphics.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sandy Says

I grabbed a random cobra and headed to the beach. Sheila was there, looking quite asparagus in a 1970's one-piece. I trip on a castle and taste earth, only it's not as tasty as usual. A cell phone rings x1000 and a dolphin burps cured meats. The wind blows the meats east.

I lay the cobra on a towel and it coils around some lotion.
"Get em'!" I'd say.

The cobra closes its eyes and goes into r.e.m. sleep. On the water ahead of us, two paunchy men discuss a pending divorce settlement via sailboat. Their fingers dusted with remnants of heavily flavored nacho asbestos. Sheila turns to me and smiles. It seems to extend all the way around her head and I become jealous.

"I thought we'd go out tonight and disco dance."

That's rather random. Hell, I haven't disco danced since 1980. I was five.

"Pencil me down for eight o' clock" I say.

I killed her smile with my surplus joke. What's wrong with this picture?

Three men with rusty rifles and worn out military gear tell us to evacuate the beach. My cobra wakes up.

"Why do we have to go?" Sheila asks.

"A hydrofoil washed up on the shore. It looks hurt. We're gonna nurse it back to health".

A fourth "soldier" saunters up carrying a cooler, wearing gaudy neon shades.

Play The Piano..

From the next book in progress, I Can Count To Infinity. You can get a whole book of stuff like this HERE.

April 5th At The Kitty Cat Klub

Wow, we haven't played the Kitty since before our midwest tour. Crazy!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Tomorrow Night's Setlist

VIntage Romans Poster

Every now and then I'll get a request to dig up some Romans posters. I was only able to grab something like four designs while we were on tour. This one's rather special as I LOVE the VSS and Thumbnail.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

MMMM....Saturday night show. Seven new songs? Yep. ANNNNNND maybe one from the storage locker in back of cousin Zed's doomsday bunker a.k.a. a golden oldie.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New To The Murder Shoes Merch

for those of you who have attended a Murder Shoes show, you know our merch table betrays the fact that this isn't our first rodeo. Like any hardworking band in their first year, we have three CD EPs, our debut full length on CD and LP, koozies from our midwest tour, buttons, stickers and copies of my previous art and fiction book, Journey By Ferry To Celibate City or Thigh Town and my recent graphic novel, Eel Mansions. BUT NOW we've added my most recent art book, Enough Astronaut Blood To Last The Winter, published by Fantagraphics Books. It's 262 pages of inky inky goodeness, and if that wasn't enough, copies comes with a hand drawn CD of our complete debut album in demo form. Personally, I love demos, it's a chance to peek behind the curtain. You get to hear Tess sing, Chris sing, and hell I even sing on one. It's a bonus only available at shows. If you can't make the Eagles club this Friday, we'll see you at 7th Street Entry next month. Meowsa.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Our second show of the year hits just before Valentine's Day. Special thanks to everybody that came to see us at First Ave, that show was crazy fun. Hopefully we'll get to that again sometime. In the meantime, we'll be honing some new songs and trying a few out during the next few months. Lots of stuff in the pipeline. Some songs might only get one airing as some are set contenders and some just hang out for the album or whatever. I guess they go through a trial by fire, the live performance being a test of a new song's strength. More soon. Oh yeah, about to start work on a roto-scoped Murder Shoes video. Should be a hoot.