monkey power trio ’06: the oregon accumulator

Sorry for being so quiet these past few days, but I’ve been in Oregon with the rest of the Monkey Power Trio, recording what will, if we can get our shit together, be our 12th record. It was unlike any other session we’ve ever had in that outside influences were almost nonexistent. We decided to forego a real studio this time in favor of complete seclusion. So, while Linette was stuck at home fighting off a virus and caring for Clementine and our incontinent cats, I’ve been on top of a beautiful mountain somewhere in the pacific northwest, in a log cabin with four of my best friends, making music, drinking beer, gorging myself on cheese and smoked pork, and soaking my nasty toes in the swiftly-flowing Sandy River. The spiders were absolutely horrible (I hate cobwebs in my mouth), but everything else was great… And, most importantly, we captured some damned good songs.

(I owe Linette a really nice vacation somewhere… away from me and the baby. If not for her support of me and my various projects, none of this stuff that I share with you here at would be possible. It’s incredibly difficult managing everything in our lives that needs to be managed with two people, even when things are running well, so I can only imagine what the last five days have been like for her, given the fact that both she and the baby have been sick. I’m always surprised each year when she lets me leave town without a fight, and I really do think that she needs a creative project of her own that puts her somewhere in the woods where she can write, take hour-long baths and watch DVDs of the “Phil Silvers Show.”)

I’m sure the Monkey Power Trio will try other things in the future, but, as I think we all agreed that this was the best session we’ve ever had (perhaps not musically, but certainly in terms of enjoying ourselves), I think it’s likely that we’ll try to replicate this scenario in the future — just renting a secluded cabin somewhere, bringing our own mics, and recording onto a laptop. No engineers to laugh at our lyrics or roll their eyes as we play, no limits on set-up time, and no constraints in terms of how many times we can go back to work on tracks. (When we’re working with an engineer, we usually just ask him to keep the tape rolling, embarrassed to ask for him to do too much. This year, we had the freedom to go back, listen to stuff, add background vocal tracks, etc. The result, I think, was, on the whole, very positive.) We, of course, will keep our “one day a year” rule, but, inside of that, we now realize there’s some flexibility… We, for instance, recorded several hours Friday evening, and then picked things up again Saturday morning. While it still fit within the one-day (or 24 hours in a row) rule, it wasn’t something that we could have done in someone else’s studio, at least without paying a lot more.

Last year, upon the conclusion of the Monkey Power session in Minneapolis, I wrote a really long post about the serious, deep depression I’m prone to enter into upon being left alone in the airport after all of my friends have departed. (Post Monkey Power depression – which usually lasts several days – is worse for me than anything except for the untimely death of friends and family.) Linette, I think correctly, advised that I not post it. (It was really dark, to the point of being troubling.) Anyway, as I’m typing this a few minutes after putting all of my friends (save for one) on their planes, I’m starting to feel the same sense of loss wash over me. It sucks. I know I should be thankful that we have this time together each year to hang out and make music, but all I can do is focus on the loss, and the fact that I won’t see them for another 365 days. It will fade with time. It always does. But it’s getting pretty bad right now… I just wish that I could live closer to them, and that a bigger part of my life could be devoted to idiosyncratic little creative projects like this one.

For those of you who are Monkey Power Trio fans (I suspect that at least two of you are), our plan, since we still haven’t gotten around to issuing our ’05 record, is to release both this session and the last session together. We don’t know if it’ll be in the form of two 7-inch records, or one 12-inch record, but, given the time and money involved, we’re pretty sure this is how we’ll do it. I don’t know that we’ll have it done by Christmas, but, if we can keep the momentum of this session going, I suppose there’s a chance.

Thanks again to Linette, Clementine, and all of our loved ones who make this annual event possible. I think I speak for everyone in the band (except for maybe Matt, who I don’t have the authority to speak for) when I say that we really do appreciate it. You might not guess it from the records, but we really do enjoy our time together… And here, in celebration of our special bond, is our 2000 hit, “One Day We’ll Meet in Heaven.”

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  1. clownpuncher
    Posted August 21, 2006 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    When you say all my friends (save for one) does that mean that you put all of your friends except for one on their plane, or you put them all on the plane and one of them is not your friend?

  2. mark
    Posted August 21, 2006 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm… Interesting question. I’ll have to think about it.

    Oh, and I should have mentioned this in the post itself, but the photo at the very top was taken as our submission to the Hall of Douchebags.

  3. clownpuncher
    Posted August 21, 2006 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Who’s the douchebag with the backwards sun visor?

  4. clownpuncher
    Posted August 21, 2006 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    In the bottom picture, is backward sun visor boy pissing in the river? If so, why is someone smiling?

  5. mark
    Posted August 21, 2006 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    His name is Mike Bell. You might know him from the Atlanta Braves. He played first base for a while. Now I think he details cars (I wasn’t paying attention when he explained it to us, but I think it involves washing windows and the like). I invited him into the band about 10 years ago, in spite of the fact that he used to punch me in high school and make fun of me.

  6. mark
    Posted August 21, 2006 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    And he wears to sun visor to hold his hair on.

  7. clownpuncher
    Posted August 21, 2006 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Never heard of him. I guess he looked like somebody else that I used to know. I can’t imagine anyone abusing you in high school. How uncouth.

  8. clownpuncher
    Posted August 21, 2006 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Pile Driver anyone?

  9. mark
    Posted August 21, 2006 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Is that some kind of hair restoration process that requires a visor?

  10. Tony Buttons Esq.
    Posted August 22, 2006 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    It is good to be reminded on occasion that not all all pasty, chubby white men are evil.

  11. mike_1630
    Posted August 22, 2006 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait to listen to the new stuff… and yes, Oregon is amazing…

  12. mark
    Posted August 22, 2006 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    “Some Fat Old White Men are Good: The Monkey Power Trio”

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