ufos and other stuff

Had a good interview yesterday with Bill Brown, founder of the Surveillance Camera Players. And I have one scheduled this evening with UFO artist Ionel Talpazan… Should make for a good issue of Crimewave.

I’m at Dan’s now. We’re finishing up the mailing of our 2002 Monkey Power singles.

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three out of five aint bad

Matt, Dave and Mark, three-fifths of the Monkey Power Trio, go the the Museum of Natural History.

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written yesterday in new york

Im sitting in a place called the Tea Lounge in Brooklyn right now, waiting for MM.com reader Chelsea Lowe and her husband. Both, like me, have OCD. Patsy Clines Crazy is playing in the background. Im nervous. I hate meeting new people. It terrifies me. The only thing that makes it a little bit better this time is the fact that theyre probably more nervous than I am. Somehow that makes it a little bit better. I tend to think like that. I tend to see everything in relative terms Its like on the plane from Detroit. I was nervous about dying, but there was a seven month-old baby in the seat right next to mine. The thought that the baby would be dying along with me made things a little more tolerable somehow. I was thinking, At least Ive had a chance to get this far, at least Ive been to Europe, fallen in love, seen Twin Peaks.

(Im embarrassed to admit that I in any way derived satisfaction from the thought of a dead baby. I know it sounds terrible. I almost edited that out. Its hard to explain OCD to people that dont have it. The thought just popped into my head, and, when it did, my anxiety lessened a little. For the record, however, if a terrorist got on the plane and threatened to kill the baby, Id offer myself in the babys place in an instant. I figure Ive had a pretty good life and the baby deserves to have her shot too. I should also point out that I thought about a lot of other stuff on the plane too, good stuff. The baby was great. Her father, who was traveling alone with her, was also really nice. He and I talked a lot about parenthood, the work involved, as well as the joy that comes along with it. We talked most of the way to New York. I think that they might have been the best people Id even been put next to. I almost thought of suggesting that we get together again sometime. I didnt though. I also didnt mention anything about his daughters death making me happy.)

note on Twin Peaks: Ive never mentioned it here before, but I used to worry every week that Id die before the new episode of Twin Peaks would air. Id never thought much about it, but thats pretty fucked up. I wouldnt worry about dying. Id worry about dying to the extent that it interfered with my Twin Peaks compulsion.

Back to the present:

Well, we went into the studio yesterday as planned. I havent heard the recordings yet, but I suspect that, once again, weve somehow managed to churn out at least four songs that warrant being released in vinyl. After we recorded, we went out for Italian food. Then we went home and went to bed. I was asleep before 11:00. It may not sound it, but eight hours in the studio is tiring My voice still hasnt come back.

This session was odd. Dave and I have been discussing it quite a bit in the hours since. His theory, and I agree, is that weve gotten more comfortable in the studio as a band. As a result, were completing songs much more quickly, at least in terms of the instruments. The problem is that this doesnt leave me as much time to come up with words for songs. Whereas in years past we would all meander around, groping blindly toward something for hours at a time, now we just come up with music immediately. That puts me in a weird spot (being the one who has to come up with words) and I think its beginning to show. Lyrics dont come so easily, especially when we have a rule that we only play the same song four times at most, with or without lyrics. Theres a lot of pressure And the product, I fear, may be suffering.

In spite of all of that, I think we did some cool stuff though. As I mentioned before, however, I wont know for certain until we get the recordings back from our 25 year-old sound guy. (This was the first year we recorded everything directly to computer, and it concerns me. Its the first time we walked out of a studio with nothing to listen to, not even cassette tapes.) He said he would transfer it all to a hard drive that we bought for the occasion, but that it would take him 24 hours or so to get it set up. Given the fact that Linette and I just lost a lot of stuff at home when our hard drive crashed, Im aware of the risks. It would just suck to have our session lost forever.

As for the songs themselves, they were all over the map. As I recall, one was called Rollin to Perfection. It evolved into a story about a couple in which one persons career was on the rise while the others was on the decline. Another one was about that baboon I mentioned here a few weeks ago, the one that cracked a babys head open and ate its brain. It was silly and stupid. Basically, it was told from the mothers perspective as she came to terms with it. Then there were some political songs, and a few songs encouraging astronauts to disco dance and slap each others butts. Those were good. What else was there? Oh, there was a song in which I stole a bunch of words from a religious doomsday cults newsletter. That was fun. Lots of stuff about locusts and boiling rivers of blood. One of my favorites, I think, was a song called, Robot Woman Meets Monster Man: Chapter 1. I wont give anything away here, but its pretty good.

We must have done twenty songs in total before we reached the last hour. Thats when our old high school friend, Anne Shapiro, showed up. She was great and we had lots of fun. She brought along a ukulele, and its addition (along with hers) really livened things up. She and I sang a few conversational kind of songs together. They were fun. It was good having a womans voice around for a change. It reminded me of some bootlegs Ive got of Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers.

OK, Chelsea is on the phone. She cant find a parking place. I need to go outside and meet her. More later

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still here in new york

Sorry, I don’t have time to be clever this morning. We’re all packing up our instruments and getting ready to head into the studio. I’m a bit nervous. I feel like this every year. I fear getting into the studio and all of us just fighting, and not producing anything we’re happy about. It hasn’t happened in the past eight years, but I still fear it happening. One year it has to. One year we have to leave the studio after our session just hating one another. At least that’s what I fear…

Dave is telling me right now how he knows how to add “blood splatter” to any image with Photoshop. He read a tutorial on Fark. I want to ask him to add blood splatter to all of the digital photos I’ve shot since arriving in New York. Speaking of those photos, I hope to find a way to upload them this weekend.

Wish us luck.

Oh, last night, the envelope stuffing session went well. We’ve got about 75 copies of the last Monkey Power record ready to go out in the mail to college radio stations and such. (Thanks again to all of you who sent in addresses and contact information for said stations.)

Damn, I have a lot I want to tell you about, but I need to start thinking about song ideas and stuff. Please excuse me.

Love, Mark

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new york, a hell of a town

I made it in yesterday, safely. I am sitting here at Dan’s apartment now. We, the members of the Monkey Power Trio, are all sitting around yelling at each other now. Just like old times… We’re also stuffing envelopes and writing letters to radio stations. We’re mailing out last year’s record, “Almost Clear.” I’d like to write a lot more, but there’s no time now. I just wanted to let you know that I made it in yesterday and that I’m OK. Tomorrow is our annual session. After that, I should have time to write more.

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