Feb 25, 2008

Road Trip Recording

Driving home last night we decided that we should try to record a record while on a road trip. The idea is to rig a van with mics for each of the people in the car. Driver pretty much has to be the singer and the passengers have to be well placed in the car so as not to poke each other with guitars and banjos.

But the end result would be a record (probably along the lines of an EP depending on the length of the trip) that was recorded in a single drive. I'm thinking we start out with my van and trip to LA down the 5. Of course the theme probably has to be the same of the drive.

Oh and someone can ride in the trunk/back-back and do the sound mixing.


Feb 24, 2008

Band Practice/Recording/Party, 2/23/08

Musicians present: Vijay, Molly, Ciana, Steven, Lisa, Russ, Devin. Songs recorded in studio: Frankenstein, Marcher. Songs recorded/performed live: Diggin' A Grave, Siki, Siki Baba, Portland Bridges, Idea, Postcards From Italy, Neighborhood #3 (Power Out), A Cautionary Song, Goodnight Irene, The Night Life.

Feb 17, 2008

Band Practice/Party, 2/17/08

Location: Live Oak Park. Weather: mostly cloudy. In attendance: Lisa, Russ, Ciana, Steven, Devin and Alex.

Portland Bridges: Lengthened the instrumental for the recorder and violin solo, removed the chorus after the instrumental.
Idea: Worked on it a little bit.
Frankenstein: Worked it out note-by-note for Devin, plus other detail work.
The Night Life: Played through, moved the bridge, verses and choruses around. Russ worked out the melody.
Marcher: Came out fine. Devin played drums and sleigh bells.

Diggin' a Grave: We decided to do the slow version all the way through, then a count off, and 2 verses fast.
A Cautionary Song: No changes, except Devin played the mandolin.
Postcards to Italy: Sounded fine. Ciana switched to drums. Added a little dramatic moment at the end where it stops momentarily before going into the last instrumental.
Laika: Good as usual.
Siki Siki Baba: Experimented a bit with the rhythm section. We eventually decided it should sound "driving." Did detail practice with the transition near the end of the song. Lisa played drums on different surfaces.
Born on a Train: Added a dramatic pause before the last verse.
South Australia: Sounded good after two attempts. Steven used the recorder.

Feb 11, 2008

Band Practice/Party, 2/10/08

Yesterday, we played near the gazebo at Lake Merritt. Originally, we wanted to play at Molly's house, but we moved it outside because it was a nice and warm day. Musicians present: Molly, Vijay, Steven, Lisa, Ciana, Russ, Devin. Songs played: Marcher, Frankenstein, Portland Bridges, Mt. Wroclai, Postcards From Italy, A Cautionary Song, Laika, In the Backseat, Hallelujah, Fear of Trains, Diggin' a Grave, and After Hours. Song debuts: Idea, The Night Life. We stopped only when it got too dark to continue. Audience: tequila guy.

Feb 7, 2008


Here's a new song.


As we [Am] walk in- [G#] to a room of freezing cold [Am]
You [G#] laugh and say hello my [Dm] friend
I [E] fear my [Dm] kind idea [E]
And I [Am] brew a [G#] kettle drumming tea for [Am] you
[G#]Yellow foggy silver [Dm] blue
I [E] feel its [Dm] sweet ap- [E] peal
And [Dm] you in the armchair all [E] alone
Ooh, [Am] tell me [F] something [G] about the past [E] decade
Of [Am] blue and the [F] monochrome [E] tube
We can [Am] swing and [F] rock till
We [G] both have had [E] our fill
Of [Am] time and of [F] space and of [E] fun
But we [F] know we will never be [E] done

Am G# Am G# Dm E Dm E

The nightclubs and bars and disco lights
Ooh, don’t compel us
As much as our habit of
Staying up watching all night
As I fell into your arms
Fallen out of harm
The charm of a dream of mixed rhymes
And the fancied invention of lines

Later on, the sun is in the room again
Chased away the moon again
The mirror is frosty dear
In a daze, gentle wind a warm embrace
And everything is in its place
So near come for me here
The Sunday review is on the lawn
Ooh, we should go out, see what it’s all about
The bricks in the old custom house
We can stop and wonder
In front of a window of a shop
That is closed for the day
And the sights that we’ll see on the way

A Sea Shanty

In response to a previous statement that we ought to do a sea shanty, here's one of my favorites:

South Australia

[D] In South Australia [G] I was [D] born
[G] Heave [D] away! [G] Haul [D] away!
[D] South Australia [A] round Cape [D] Horn
And we're bound for [A] South [D] Australia

[G] Haul away you [D] rolling king
[G] Heave [D] away! [G] Haul [D] away!
[G] All the way you'll [D] hear me sing
And we're bound for [A] South [D] Australia

As I wlaked out one morning fair
Heave away! Haul away!
It's there I met Miss Nancy Blair
And we're bound for South Australia

There ain't but one thing grieves my mind
Heave away! Haul away!
It's to leave Miss Nancy Blair behind
And we're bound for South Australia

I run her all night I run her all day
Heave away! Haul away!
Run her before we sailed away
And we're bound for South Australia

I shook her up I shook her down
Heave away! Haul away!
I shook her round and round and round
And we're bound for South Australia

And as you wollop round Cape Horn
Heave away! Haul away!
You'll wish that you had never been born
And we're bound for South Australia

Here's a version by the group Tangleweed.

Feb 6, 2008

Found our video

Remember that guy who filmed us when we played up in Bernal Heights on Nov 17th? Looks like the vid still exists on the internet.

Here it is again:

The video as a whole is weird, of course, but I think we look cute. And sound pretty good. Just ignore the bong noises...

Brilliant ideas we've had so far

Band "retreat"
where we all go camping or something and roll out our rug and hang our chandelier and play music in a massive park. around a campfire or something. and talk about music and get high on life. *mklj
YES! my only concern right now is weather. can we go to south america and do this? *cw*
we also need our rug and chandelier.. *mklj

European World Tour
in which we live it up in europe and play in various parks. maybe even wandering down the streets. must include a stop in paris. *mklj
OUI! *cw*

music video
we should make our music video like a 1950s home movie, of us playing music and sports in the park. let's get a vintage movie camera. i want to remember this part of my life. -sc
oh i love this! *mklj
this, like all of our ideas, means that we should tighten our sound and make some original music first (or at least do REALLY tight covers.) but i think it's a fab idea...esp. in b&w! *cw*
or color with a lot of contrast.. *mklj

video in which we're playing cardboard instruments
inspired by this pic *mklj -->
yes, i like that. let's shoot the frankenstein video in a junkyard where we are also building stuff out of cardboard and other recycled materials. like frankenstein and his monster. -sc

curious merch
dude. so maybe i'm getting carried away with this curiosity shoppe thing, but how awesome would it be if we sold like curious merch like a curiosity shop?? we could sell like..anything. like stuff we made. like crazy photos or paintings or arctic fox skulls. *mklj
i like this idea. this is so much cooler than selling stickers and t-shirts like all the other bands. -sc

our first show
where we just play for our friends maybe at the berkeley marina (or at the berkeley farmers market...)

Trip to Paxton Gate / Antique Shops/ Other Places to Glean Inspiration
We can make mini-field trips and excursions to imbue ourselves with the aesthetics we want to achieve...not that this doesn't happen naturally, but it might be nice to SEEK inspiration...just to let her know that we want to be buddies with her asap.
i approve. let's go *mklj

mailing list
people are coming up to us in parks. we should keep a mailing list so we don't lose touch with them.
we need to make sure not to be spammers since we have a lot of "shows" but if the mailing list is for people who want to play with us, I can just add them to the list we have now and invite them to 2-3 practices, if they come, we can decide if we want to keep them. i'm all about accepting people, but some people are sketchy.. *mklj
yeah people can be sketchy and we must be careful. we can screen the people who make it to our mailing list, talk to them to see if they just want to hear us, or want to play with us. it is probably a bad idea to invite strangers to one of our houses, but if we have band practice at a park, i think it should be okay. we can keep a mailing list for people interested in band practice (like what we have now), and a "public" list for strangers interested in hearing us. we can also have "tour dates"----start planning band practices waaay in advance.-sc
i'm wondering if maybe having a mini website would be a good idea. that way they could come to us? not sure that's a good idea though since it would lend itself to stalking. ..i will start a new idea.. *mklj

one mic recording
this is kind of a technical point. if we make recordings of ourselves, i don't want it to go through studio processing and mixing. since we're all acoustic, i think it will be possible to record with one mic in the middle of the room, like they did 50 years ago. we can mix ourselves by moving strategically around the room. a band called aberfeldy did this recently and actually it sounded pretty good. -sc
well except that i still like the idea of crickets etc. which would Probably require studio mixing. *mklj

mini website?
that way we could just give people our website and not have to spam them with email or even maintain an email list for that matter. retention would be lower probably, but i like that it requires them to be proactive. still a problem with stalkers though.. *mklj
it's funny i never thought i'd have to deal with fans. haha. *mklj
i think we should have a mailing list, but only include people who actually requested to be on it. i don't consider it spam when i get e-mails from a band, i actually enjoy feeling like i'm part of their secret club. we don't have to use the mailing list that often, either. maybe once a month. i like the idea of maintaining a website too, we can have a curiosity shoppe section where we sell stuff we make. -sc
(see our facebook page)

touring India
because Ciana, Russell and I just saw Darjeeling Limited and it's clearly a must. *mklj
hear, hear! *cw*
...on our European World Tour *mklj

electronic side project
an all-electronic band, with laptops, synthesizers, disco lights, effects boxes, samplers and other fun stuff.-sc
and we could go on tour with ourselves. like our electronic band would open for us. or the other way around depending on how we feel that day. *mklj
ooh can it be fun and dance-y? *cw*

listening party
in which we each bring a song (or more than one...) that the rest of us maybe haven't heard or should hear again. and we could do a hear and tell and talk about what we like about it and discuss what we could maybe work into our sound. just a thought. *mklj
that sounds like radiohead decal. something like that would be good for developing listening skills, too. -sc

serving food at concerts
When we start playing concerts at real venues, we will be the first band ever to provide food to our audience, because it's a band practice/party. Even better if we prepare the food ourselves. Can you imagine, a buffet table down the middle of the Fillmore? -sc
first of all, i love that you say "when". catering lots of large parties will cut into music playing time and could add to ticket prices, but i like the idea of being an event bigger than the band. what i think would be cool was if it was a potluck, but venues would probably have legal issues with that. and with us bringing the food for that matter unless we got food service licenses... which we could do. *mklj

First song ideas

could we do a song in french? i would totally help out with the lyric-writing/singing as necessary. *mklj
YES! Singing in French (or any language) is easy because accent doesn't matter. Plus it's so fun when most people don't know what you're saying. *cw*

for the exotic/travel element. a quick glimpse into a moment. *mklj
this should also be one of the things we sell at our curiosity shop. -sc

one song with two lead vocalists
i think it is sexy when two singers take turns with the lead vocal, even more so if one singer sings a verse and the other singer sings the same verse later in the song -sc
hells yes. agreed. sexy = good, and we have a lot of sexy in our band. -cw

sea chanties
or is it shanties? *mklj
YES, like at day of the dead! -cw

i'm writing a song about the bicycle, since it is the main form of transportation for some of us. and because we have a bicycle bell.-sc
can it be a dark, mysterious bicycle song? like dark and mysterious in the way the arcade fire are dark and mysterious? *mklj
sure, i will try to make it dark -sc

everyone contributes
i am def. feeling like we need to get off of the ground floor with original music, and i don't want to force our lovely steven to come up with all of it on his own (unless he wants to). it might be cool to try making a collaboration, or even having everyone meet up just to talk about new song ideas so that we can put SOME ideas onto paper (or out onto the soundwaves) and start being our own band, rather than a cover band. though i love singing covers, i'm way more into "Frankenstein" right now than any of the other songs we sing! -cw
i totally agree. i don't want to write all the songs because they will all sound the same. bands like the beatles and queen are awesome and got variety because all of their members were songwriters. on the other hand, the beatles started out as a covers band... they learned to play pretty much every song written from the mid 50s to early 60s, and i think that's why they are good... they took the best elements from their favorite songs and created something even better. this band spreadsheet has been pretty helpful so far, but yes we should all discuss song ideas during band practice.-sc
I think it might be slightly premature for me to attempt to write proper songs, but i do like the idea of trying to write lyrics for random music, postal service style.. but yeah variety is good. I also am still into our covers because I at least still need that help to make the connection between music and sounds that I like. ...and I still feel fully compelled to learn the entire beirut catalog in case they ever need a banjulele player ;) *mklj

issues with frankenstein
i think poetry is supposed to introduce new ways of using our language, but i am still uncomfortable with some of the grammar in the lyrics... for example, "i have been waiting all this time as time goes by" sounds kind of weird to me because i am mixing tenses, and "i live to bring me closer to you"----should it be "i bring myself closer to you?"----but that doesn't work well with the rhythm. i like the phrase "portrait of my thought" but it doesn't rhyme well. any help will be appreciated! -sc
i am not so concerned with purposeful 'incorrect' grammar. my personal inclination would be to just be Completely ungrammatical and use exclusively sentence fragments machine monster style to sidestep the issue entirely. although, the music might be a little light for that. *mklj
i am positive that grammar doesn't matter in songs. it can even kind of detract from stuff, esp. if you have to crunch in syllables that don't want to fit in order to be correct. "frankenstein" sounds great! rock and roll has never been about grammar (except when it is, but that's a different kind of band we're talking about!) cw

world's fair
i really like world's fairs because they are festive, involve many countries and promote the future of humanity, although the closest i've been to one is the epcot center. so i think it would be a great idea to make an album about or set in a world's fair. we should also play on treasure island, which was built for the 1939 expo. -sc

Preliminary thoughts on sound

the songwriters in this band need to know... what should our songs be about? how should they sound? are we going to make happy songs, depressing songs?-sc

Alive, danceable.
i'm kind of into weird sort of almost meaningless lyrics sort of radiohead style. i love depressing music, but i would rather be in a dancey band. but dancey in a beirut sort of way. something alive sounding. sort of life affirming without being gross. like life affirming in an amelie way. *mklj
i agree - we can be singer-songwritery on our own, but since we have a bunch of people and a TON of liveliness among all of us, it seems that we should at least delve into things that involve some kind of rhythm or groove or fun, exciting sound. not that it has to always be like that. radiohead really is a great example - they span a really broad range of tempos and danceability. i'm not so worried that we'll be too drab or mellow - in fact, i think that we'll probably end up having a really well balanced sound. the point is: a resounding YES to songs you can dance to! *cw*

i agree- 7th chords are a go! *cw*
"d7, my first favorite chord" *mklj

songs amelie would listen to - sc
yes *mklj
second that emotion *cw*
but all our songs don't have to have the same feeling, right? or at least not the same sound. i mean, i think they should go where we need them to go. *mklj

drunken ocean orchestra
you know, like a sound that swells. *mklj
i think it sounds really good when ciana (accordion) and vijay (violin) play long notes together -sc
yes yes yes! i think that richness of sound (like a vibrant tapestry or some other dorky analogy) is something we should go for. pretty bare-bones songs will come naturally after we're done creating a lovely, dark, layered chocolate cake of music. *cw*

snapshot/impressionism lyrics
where the words draw a quick picture of a moment. something like a snapshot or short story or fast painting. with details, but without all the details. something emotive without being overly specific. where your idea is still kinda blurry, but you get a strong feeling from it. *mklj

a light peppering of hand claps, not overdone
always a big fan of hand claps, in moderation. *mklj
such clapping should fill the role of an intermittent percussion instrument. not campfire singalong clapping. -sc
agreed *mklj
ooh like in the cure's "close to me". what better hand-clapping is there than that? -cw
close to me! can we cover that? *mklj
YES, let's do it. the cure tends to be pretty easy to play... cw

about covers..
I think covers are a good way to find things we like about music and sounds that we want to keep for ourselves, but maybe a good middle step between being a covers-only band and a no-covers band would be to personalize our covers a little more. like how radiohead call themselves a radiohead cover band - because it's not the same every time they perform it. and it doesn't necessarily sound just like the album. I'd be interested in playing around more with the various instruments we have and making sounds sound like us even if we're using other people's music. like the white stripes jolene doesn't sound like dolly's and sufjan's lakes of canada sounds 1000x better than the original. so maybe we can start there? *mklj
at this point, i think it is important for us to cover songs as closely as we can to the originals (of course, to the extent possible given our instrumentation). doing so will force us to learn and improve quickly. we should challenge ourselves to learn all the solos, little riffs, the correct strumming patterns, and not just to do what is most comfortable to us. this will also teach us to listen to music more closely, because it will probably involve a lot of playing back the same part of the recording over and over, and perhaps watching live videos. it is a bit of extra work, but i think it is more fun to really experience what our favorite bands go through, than to just sorta follow the chords we found on the internet. -sc

Various Aesthetic Elements

Persian Rug to lay out when we play.
Chandelier to hang from a tree
Banners/Flags - like Björk had at the shoreline - Loved that. *mklj
Mystique - you know, mysteriousness *mklj
The Bizarre
A fine combination of rhythm (aka Rock and Roll) and a sense of exoticism
Exoticism deserves a line of its own

Names we came up with so far...

something not starting with "the"
because... because i just don't like "the"? and it throws off my folders in my itunes library. *mklj
i agree. band names that start with "the" remind me of standard 4 piece garage bands. -sc

Abigail and the Bumble Bees
This is retardedly awesome, though a first attempt at a "Person's Name & The Band Name" sort of construction. It is not pretentious (or pretentiously dorky) which is why I like it...just a silly idea for y'all, get the ball rolling. *cw*

Vladimir and the Curiosity Shoppe
I like the image I get from this. Lots of space musically. *mklj
I'm still in love with the merch possibilities of being the curiosity shoppe. *mklj

Vladimir in the Curiosity Shoppe
I like the Curiosity Shoppe, but Vladimir sounds too Russian...-sc
I'm ok with russian... but I'm not married to the name Vladimir. I do like the exotic vibe, though. *mklj
I still have a strong pref. for "and the" over "in the" because "in the" is indoors and we're outdoors? but like, if we're vladimir and the curiosity shop we Are the curiosity shop. and i love that. rather than having us just people in a shop buying stuff albeit cool stuff. *mklj
I like Vladimir for the Nabokov reference, his writing is full of pretty little things and really powerful aesthetics that could work well for us...I also like "in" instead of "and" because it seems more interesting, but I do like the idea of being "the Curiosity Shoppe" as a shortened name. -rssl.
i agree. even though it starts with "the" heh. *mklj

_____________in the Curiosity Shoppe
let's think of some more names...
I still kind of like "and the" better if only because I think it works better with trees and outdoors-ness *mklj

The Curiosity Shoppe
even though it starts with "the" *mklj
I still like Shoppe v. Shop, but it has been pointed out that people will probably spell shoppe wrong - that doesn't bother me though *mklj

Band Practice/Party
except i feel like this is more what we DO than who we are. *mklj
but isn't that rad? sort of . doesn't that radically rethink how band names work? all po-mo style and what not? still like VintheCS best right now. -rssl.
But it's only the BEST BAND NAME EVER! it is sort of bare bones, does not pigeonhole us at all, and will hopefully never get dated. plus, two sets of siblings agree that it is brilliant *cw*
also approve -rssl.
still hung up on the description v. name thing. I still want a Name. *mklj
i'm starting to see the beauty in this. and i do like the slash.. *mlkj

Molly Says Yes
love the name for the joyce reference, but people in band with name of band is always a spot of trouble, cause they everyone is always asking "Who is Molly?" as opposed to them asking "Who is Vladimir" and getting the answer no one -rssl.
ditto *mklj

The Ministry of ___________
try going to google.co.uk and typing in "the ministry of". you get lots of good options. i like the idea of a band name that reminds of me of tea *cw*
it sounds a little too orwellian to me... (like "ministry of truth," "ministry of love," etc.) -sc
understandable...i am feeling something antique-y and british, of which this is merely one interpretation *cw*
i had the orwellian thought too. -rssl.
so did i. well, orwell and the ministry of silly walks... *mklj
TEVS, y'all! just putting stuff out there...*cw*

Earl Grey / English Breakfast / Other kind of tea
I think many of us agree: tea is both sexy and exotic *cw*

Drunken Ocean Orchestra
I like this idea as a sound, but I have a feeling there's already a band/orchestra with a similar name *mklj
Electric Light Orchestra
yeah, except for BPP, referencing music in your name can be dangerous. i think we can work with the drunken sailory sort of aesthetic though. keep listening to the decemberists...*cw*
i'm thinking not so much about sailors as the water itself. *mklj

Carmine - Shalimar - Edwardian - Chartreuse - Chevalier - Ballet Russe
Words That I Like That Could Be Incorporated Into a Band Name *cw*

Sun in the Shade
it sounds more like a song title -sc

Goodbye spreadsheet, hello blog!

Remember this idea?
blog: this band spreadsheet is awesome, but it seems to be getting big and messy. what if we set up a group blog, so we can have longer discussion threads without scrolling sideways? also, a blog might be easier to access for those who don't have this spreadsheet bookmarked.-sc
let's do it! this is kinda hard to navigate... *cw*

Here is an attempt at getting even more organized.

We'll see how it goes.