I decided to move on the idea of a Hanslick Rebellion live archive. I’ll make everything available for download once I can get it all properly mastered; in the meantime, raw audio directly off the soundboard tapes will stream from this new site. Shows are as complete as the source tapes allow… there are a few glitches here and there. Most of the material comes from 15-year-old cassettes.
First one online is our November 2, 1995 gig at the QE2. The band had only been playing for about a month, mostly house party gigs. This was our first time in a real club. Also on the bill: Dryer, Splendiferous Monster and Queer for Astro Boy.
This was clearly before we started breaking our “no banter” rule, ha ha.
Performing “A Place Where No One Goes” live at The Institute in Cornwall, UK, 5-30-08.
That 2008 UK tour with Mike Bassett was so much fun, and we played in such odd places. Like the hidden room in an old Bristol tavern… a 700-year-old pub… a couple of art galleries… and here, an old clock tower by the sea (you can even hear the gulls in this video). Audiences were wonderful, too. I’d love to go back and do that again sometime.
By the way, a Steve Albini-engineered studio version of this song will be coming in the fall on my next full-length release, Shoot The Piano Player. Solo piano, tracked live to tape.
I keep hearing that the ’90s are “back”. I can kinda see it… I mean, there’s flannel plaid on every mannequin at the mall. But it’s like when all the hair metal bands reverbed up their drums, strung half a dozen blues riffs together and claimed to be channeling Zeppelin. C’mon, Led Zep was about so much more than that.
Reality Bites was available on demand so I watched it last night. I had never seen the movie… at the time it got too much hype, so true to my Gen X roots I passed on it. Watching it now depressed the living shit out of me. I don’t know that the film really captured the essence, the energy of the time – in fact, nah, it didn’t – but it did serve to remind me how cool the ’90s were. How cool we were. How cool we’re not now.
I’ve beaten generational demographics to death in other posts, and that’s only a smidge of the story here anyway. This is really about nostalgia.
I spend a lot of time dicking around in my own past. Not just musically. I use Facebook every day. For people my age, Facebook is a Ouija board through which we contact spirits from our past. You send out messages; ghosts reply from beyond. You can correspond with them, recount memories, share inside jokes. But you’ll never encounter one in person. They don’t exist in the real world – they’re spectral apparitions of people whose bodies still walk the earth, but are now being used for different lives, with different interests, different priorities, personalities marked and molded by experiences that did not include you.
I don’t mean to say that a Facebook seance isn’t enjoyable and comforting – it is, or we wouldn’t all engage in them every day – or that you wouldn’t appreciate the person your old pal has become if you got to know each other again in real life. But for the most part, the interaction is less a friendship than a mutual haunting.
My favorite musical endeavor lately is Sevendys – I think I’ve made that clear. Fresh music, wonderful new collaborators. I find it exciting and energizing. But my second favorite right now is Skyscape. Maybe it’s because the ’90s are back, or maybe it’s because, for Skyscape, they never ended.
Dom and I (and our legion of bandmates) generated so much material so quickly, and recorded so much of it, that I have albums’ worth of Skyscape music stored in bite-sized lo-fi chunks on old 4-track cassettes and floppy discs. A lot of it is terrible. Most of it is badly performed and indifferently recorded. But it’s full of energy and ideas which are begging to be harnessed and shaped by experienced hands.
When we work on Skyscape music, so much of it is about the people we are today – the skills we’ve developed, the attention to craft and context. But just as much of the process involves the people we were in the ’90s, the kids who built this foundation of ideas and sensibility, who laid down the trail of breadcrumbs by leaving so many recorded artifacts behind. On a Skyscape record, instrumental components are sourced from 20 years of material, as though everyone who was ever in the band is still a member – eternally young, free and full of passion.
For me, bringing these tracks together is like living in all times of my life at once. I think that’s how so many people my age are desperate to feel; I’m grateful to that younger version of me for the opportunity.
Here’s a perfect example in progress. This track started as a Portastudio recording made live at Dom’s 1992 high school graduation party. I was using my 4-track as a mixer and took the opportunity to pop in a cassette. The band was horrible… it wasn’t even really a band. Dom, Rob Hill, Sean Gould and I set up in a line – two guitars, no bass or drums. But our attempt at covering “Hey Jude” was as hilarious as it was awful, and I decided to see what I could make of it.
I thought adding a deadpan full-band arrangement would help the vocals seem even funnier and more absurd. Step one was to add drums. My preference was to have drums that sounded similarly 4-tracked, and sure enough I was able to find a suitable performance: drums from early 1993, when we were demoing songs for Band Of The Week. In this case, we pointed one microphone towards Loren Wiseman’s basement kit and he played “Age Song” at a tempo which was, coincidentally, a dead match for “Hey Jude”. I flew the drums in, added some tambourine, piano and a couple of backing vocals, and here we are. Still needs bass, guitar and more backup singers, but it’s turning into something listenable and fun!
Skyscape | “Hey Jude” | rough mix
Domenic Maltempi: vocals
Dom’s cousin Tina: vocals
Jed Davis: keyboards, backing vocals, tambourine
Lisa Brennan: backing vocals
Loren Wiseman: drums
Rob Hill: guitar
Sean Gould: guitar
Adapted from a live recording at Dom’s house, July 1992
Slowly decompressing from the LA trip. Jet lag wasn’t really an issue – I never caught up with the time difference because I didn’t really sleep while I was there (then again, I don’t really sleep anywhere). But my visit was packed with all-hours activity and I was pretty weary by the time I got back to NY. I still haven’t actually been home… I’ve spent the entire week in Brooklyn, recuperating at Crazee Joe’s. Looking forward to my Albany return tomorrow.
We got four really excellent-sounding tracks done, all live to tape in the studio. The band was set up Wrecking Crew-style in a rabbit warren of isolation panels; once we got a feel for the space, it became pretty easy to communicate during takes. The room (EastWest’s Studio Three) was small but full of character, and I think it definitely colored the music… everything has this syrupy smoothness to it, including the vocals.
Unlike the first Sevendys session, for which Sheridan and I’d had a week of rehearsal, this time the band came in completely cold. As a result, the live feel coalesced around the most prepared player – Chuck. He created this black hole of groove, just pulling everybody in. It was awesome! Sheridan went all Bernard Purdie on the shit, and Avi’s guitaring got super funky while retaining the jangly sweetness that is so characteristic of his rock playing. Definitely some alchemy going on. Here’s a sample, a video snippet from one take of “Congratulations”:
This batch of tunes was full of starts, stops, dropouts and tempo changes; Jerry played us through those on everything from Taos congas to an entire bag of egg shakers. He also served as a sort of field general, sensing weak points in the performance and pointing them out so we could shore things up. Meanwhile, engineer Ben and assistant Stuart kept things moving in the control room under the watchful eye of The Jarv, who was in turn working under the long-distance Yoda-like guidance of Dave McNair. The Celik brothers took over the control room (the whole facility, really – ask the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who were recording in Studio Two) and sent good vibes through the glass, and David Dillon brought the sax for a song that was called “No, REALLY Listening” when we tracked it but will henceforth be known as “Please Don’t Eat Me, I Love You”. All these cool characters… I’m still trying to figure out what the point was of having me at this session!
On Wednesday night we did a Sevendys gig at local Long Beach haunt DiPiazza’s. Chuck had already flown back, but The Jarv sat in on bass (and even played the same bass Chuck used for the session). I was a nervous wreck – five months of playing on the UAlbany campus will do that to you – but Avi, Sheridan and The Jarv were so good, and the crowd so warm, I ended up with a nice live buzz. We closed with the Celik brothers on stage for this steamrolling cover of George Harrison’s “Wah Wah”:
When we weren’t making music, we Disneyed it up with my gracious hosts, Michael Doret and Laura Smith, and Jerry’s awesome son Diego. Late nights were reserved for burgers and donuts with Jax. Just an incredible trip!
While I get the LA tracks in shape for mixing, I’ve started making plans for the next Sevendys session. That will happen this spring at Dreamland in Woodstock, if Avi and Sheridan’s schedules allow. Chuck and Jerry have become part of the fabric of the band, and I hope they’ll both continue with us – I am hearing insane trap kit/Taos drum Sheridan/Jerry interplay on the next batch of tunes. Maybe the full-on five-piece Sevendys could do a few gigs, too.
Once I’m back in Albany, at my Pro Tools rig, I’ll prep another batch of Green Plaid Recordings to share. These are just too much fun. I’ll also get back to work with Dom on the new Skyscape record; Jerry has already begun adding drums, and hopefully I can get this stuff done by the end of the year. 2011 is Skyscape’s 20th anniversary, after all.
Sevendys’ next session: Presidents’ Day weekend in sunny LA. Chuck Rainey will be joining us once again, along with a few other surprise guests. The venue: EastWest Studio Three, where The Mamas & The Papas used to record… and the Beach Boys created Pet Sounds. We’re pretty psyched!
Here’s Collider performing “California Sun” live at CBGB, December 17, 1999, at an event called the Ramones Cyberpunk Blitz. [The Blitz was technically the launch party for Arturo Vega's officialramones.com, which was and will always be the only website endorsed by all of the Ramones while they were alive - both ramones.com and the late band members' individual sites were developed posthumously by their families, who then strongarmed Arty into giving up the officialramones domain and changing his site's name to RamonesWorld.]
The Cyberpunk Blitz featured 10 bands doing Ramones covers and a performance by Joey. All of the participants were asked to play under a Ramones-themed pseudonym; we changed our name to Crummy Crummy Crummy Crummy Crummy Crummy Crummy Crummy Crummy Crummy Crummy Crummy Crummy Stuff for the occasion. Because we were the only band with a keyboard player, we got to do some of the more esoteric tunes – “Howling At The Moon”, “We Want The Airwaves”, “All’s Quiet On The Eastern Front”, and this one.
That’s Chris De Rosa on drums, Bonnie Bowers on bass, Sean Gould on guitar, and yours truly. Video courtesy of Chris De Rosa.
As of last week, I have a performance residency on the UAlbany campus; I’ll be playing every Tuesday night for the rest of this semester, and I expect to resume when school starts back up in January. They’re calling me the “Songwriter-in-Residence”, which I think is cute.
The shows are all free and open to the community. I’ll be paired up with another performer every week; we’ll each do a set. As long as it’s possible, I’m gonna try tailoring my presentation to complement the other artist. If the second act is a band, I’ll do a full-band thing. If not, I’ll do solo piano. Other configurations are possible as well – whatever I can make work.
This whole “Fake Coffeehouse” thing is interesting… in the room that was once the UAlbany Rathskeller (it was McDuff’s when I was a student), a stage was installed during a round of renovations – with lighting and everything. The intention was to make the place a coffeehouse, but somehow it ended up being a Wendy’s instead. Tables and chairs were placed on the stage, and everyone forgot it was a stage. Now University Auxiliary Services has turned it back into a coffeehouse. For one night a week, at least. They’re providing free coffee at every show.
I’ve been given the privilege of curating the Fake Coffeehouse series – it’s up to me to book the other performers. I hope to do three things: bring local artists to campus so students can see how much great music is being made in the Capital District; help student musicians find an audience; and bring national touring acts to play in an intimate setting. I want to help cross-pollinate the school and city music communities… I believe that the students are the key to a thriving Albany music scene. So many of them are passionate about music; it’s just a matter of letting those people know there’s stuff right here in town that is worth their time.
The first Fake Coffeehouse show featured a set by the Ramblin Jug Stompers, an awesome Blotto side project. Could not have been a more fitting way to kick off the series. It was wild fun, and a homecoming of sorts for those guys – not only had they played the room in its earliest incarnation, but they met as students on the UAlbany campus 40 years and one month ago!
This Tuesday night, I’ll be paired up with a singer-guitarist named David Schulman. He’s a UAlbany student who does acoustic originals and some loopy electric stuff. Between now and November 30 (when the series closes for the semester with a performance by Brian Dewan!), we’ll have a ton of surprises and great, great music. And coffee.
Here’s a song I wrote in 1994 and have been thinking about a lot recently. We played it live at The Bitter End earlier this month; it was the first time I’ve done this song in public in about 15 years.
Jed Davis | “Symbiosis” live | September 1, 2010
Jed Davis: keyboards, vocals
Al von Schaaf: guitars
Mike Keaney: bass
Anton Fig: drums
Recorded live at The Bitter End, New York, NY
Mixed by Eric Jarvis
There is a new full-on studio version of “Symbiosis” coming on Small Sacrifices Must Be Made!, which is looking more and more like it’ll be my next full-length release. The conceit of Small Sacrifices is that it’s 2010 me (with Anton Fig, Reeves Gabrels, Graham Maby and Brian Dewan) completing unfinished songs by early-1990s me, and “Symbiosis” seemed like an obvious choice. The studio take is really magnificent, with even an even wilder drum take from Anton and harmonies by a superawesome guest vocalist!
Last summer, two magazines I was designing folded simultaneously and I found myself with some extra time on my hands. I took the opportunity to hit the road with three of my favorite musicians: Reeves Gabrels, Mike Keaney and Matt Johnson. We drove west to St. Paul, south to Lenexa, Kansas, and then back home, stopping along the way at anyplace that would have us. And we hit as many Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives locations as we could find on the route.
It was a blast, and every show was captured on my trusty digital stereo recorder. A couple were even multitracked by the venue. When we got home, I collated representative tunes from each show into an audio souvenir of the tour. Dave McNair did a stunning job massaging takes from different rooms and sound systems into one smooth set, and the result is CELEBRATION PARTY!, which came out today at iTunes, Amazon, and every other such digital retailer.
You can listen to the album in its entirety right here at the Song Foundry, of course – and also purchase the download in a package with one of the silkscreened posters from the tour if you like. Reeves and I signed and numbered 50 of the posters, which I gotta say look awesome. I drew the poster in crayon (after the work of Kazunari Hattori), and then the great Kayrock of Brooklyn printed up a sweet batch.
Here’s video of “We Wait And We Wait” from the tour’s first stop, in Pittsburgh, PA.
From the first night of my CELEBRATION PARTY! Tour in the summer of 2009. With Reeves Gabrels (guitar), Mike Keaney (bass) and Matt Johnson (drums). And yes, I always introduce “We Wait” as “Rockin And Lovin In The Rock And Roll Nite Of Love”. Tradition is tradition!
This video includes a new audio mix, multitracked off the soundboard by the venue’s house engineer, Bengt Alexsander, and mixed by THE JARV himself: Eric Jarvis.
Howler’s Coyote Cafe, Pittsburgh, PA; August 8, 2009. Filmed by Sile Mazza.