Saturday, March 6, 2010

Archive Post: _Goodbye Bikini Island_ Album Notes

Here are some brief notes about the songs on Goodbye Bikini Island. I will expand on them in the future.

 ---=== Looking Thru a Candle ===---

“...Set your imagination for the year 2000!”

This ambiguous little sample has morphed time and again since we first set it to music around the turn of the century. At first, it's meaning was the same as the original author's intention (National Lampoon's Golden Turkey, for those keeping track): it was a reference to the future. A year we all looked forward to, mainly because it meant we would be out of high school, finally.

Once Y2K (<-- ha ha!) came and went, the sample took on a playful kind of humor. Most people probably recall Conan O'Brien's “The Year 2000” bits, which were a tongue-in-cheek “look into the future”, usually through the lens of current topical celebrity gossip—which made it a post-modern look at both the extreme amplification of celebrity culture, and a snipe at current pop-life itself. Even once we reached and passed the year 2000, Conan never changed the bit, it was still a look at the year 2000, which was still treated as the future. By the time we were playing this song in 2003, that sample had taken on the same kind of ironic humor.

But now it's 2010. Conan is off the air. Irony isn't hip anymore. The decade's been summed up (Radiohead, y'all, Kappa Sig! Auto-tune! Youtube!), and Hosey has been making music longer than some of our fans have been alive. (What up, Erin?!) “Looking Thru a Candle” hasn't changed at all in these 10 years, but what it seems to be about has. As a friend pointed out, it now sounds like a plea to return with Hosey to a time before this decade succeeded in sucking the life out of a nation (I can't speak for the world). A time when everyone in the country felt like a bunch of teenagers locked in a garage with some crazy idea for changing the world (an idea that will be fully explored in the next track. We're ever oh-so-clever). Of course, I'm permanently stuck as that teenager, but luckily I was very mature for my age.

So let's break it down: The opening sequence is built out of a Botch sample. The words at the intro, should be instantly recognizable to any child of the 80s as the opening credits of Voltron. The ringing tones that come in with the drums are sampled from the soundtrack for 2010 (how incredibly apropos!). The drums were played by our friend Allen Jones, and they were recorded by another friend, Aaron Rayborn. Both of whom are currently rocking faces and destroying vans as Malamute.

---=== It'll Happen to You ===---

A pretty straightforward track. This one is for anybody who was making music as a teenager against their parents' better wishes. Anyone who “showed so much promise.” Who “threw their life away.” “Never got laid.” They say that every musician gets into music for the girls, if they say anything else then that person is lying. Alright, I'll bite, but if that's the case then things have been a *spectacular* failure for me. Of course, maybe deciding to be a Scratch DJ wasn't the most female-friendly choice. (I should have been a singer, and besides: mics aren't heavy to load-in at all)

I “remember” recording this one. I was at the bar around the corner, and something made me furious so I came home and just started beating the hell out of my guitar and the main riff of this song was born. I randomly selected some drum loop from god knows where and started recording. Hughes came home shortly after I finished laying down the two guitar tracks and dropped his Bass on it. The sample (“What the hell are you two doing?”) is obviously from The Simpsons, and we had been playing with it over different tracks for a few weeks, but this seemed like the perfect fit. Then I squeezed the “Aaah” scratch (found on every break record ever) to within an inch of it's life and recorded what came out. And that's how you sum up the glorious failure of your life in a 2 hour drunken haze on a Saturday night.

---=== Mode 7 ===---

This is another really old Hosey song. It started out as a jam for acoustic guitar and Bass, but was reinterpreted for the album. Most of this was recorded in one afternoon, when we were bored. There's a million guitar parts, or maybe just like 6 or 7. Either way, it's a lot stuff, we were in “studio project” mood. No concern for recreating the song live, and frankly I doubt it's possible.

But! We still play the acoustic version all the time. It's a lot of fun, and I think it might be a little more interesting than the Big Rock version. Maybe we'll record it sometime. Otherwise, I'm sure if you can make it to one of our wild-out keg parties, you'll be able to catch us leading the room in some sort of campfire sing-a-long and maybe we'll drop it into the mix

---=== Just a Few Seconds ===---

Ahh, Surf Rock. Surely a genre that can never die. Maybe I'm a little biased because I live above a surf-rock bar. I mean, they still play Surf Rock every Saturday night everywhere else in the country, too, right? Surely “Wipeout” is still the biggest party jam in every frat house across the land?

The guitar riff that is sampled, the one that opens the song, is from a really bad (like, funny bad) 50s sci-fi film. The band was uncredited, and I'm sure the band onscreen was not the band playing the music, but whatever. I don't know why I fell in love with that little riff so quickly. Maybe it kind of reminds me of “House of the Rising Sun.” The rest of the guitars are me. The scratching is another obvious one: Marvin the Martian, everybody's favorite Looney Tune at one point or another (maybe after you saw Clueless?)

Speaking of Looney Tunes, I am reminded of a quote I heard from Chuck Jones many years ago. He directed many of the Looney Tunes shorts and is considered to have defined the character of Bugs Bunny. He set up the rivalry of Bugs and Daffy and directed the quintessential Bugs/Daffy episodes. When defining the relationship between Bugs and Daffy, he said that they were just like him, and I think all of us: “I can dream I'm Bugs Bunny, but when I wake up, I'm Daffy”

---=== Suburbs of Cybertron ===---

Another old Hosey jam from the Hattiesburg days. It's built around a sample pulled from the first several seconds of Transformers: The Movie from 1986. That movie introduced a character that I believe has come to define the spirit of sampling, or maybe just Hosey. That character: Wreck-gar.

Wreck-gar is a Junkion. He is an inhabitant of The Planet of Junk, an eons-ancient galactic dumping ground found in a remote region of the Milky Way. The Junkions have no natural culture or language of their own. Everything about them is built from the trash of other civilizations. Their language is built from discarded media and random transmissions that find their way to the planet. This means that a typical conversation with a Junkion might go “Destroy Unicron? Yes! Eliminate even the toughest stain...” [group in unison now] “Or your money back!” “News at eleven!”

Obviously a character such as this would have a certain appeal to sample-based artists.

Also found in the song: drums from Sonic Youth's “Schizophrenia”, a shout from Ozzy Osbourne, the fourth or fifth(!) appearance of the noisy Chicago guitar jam that we are apparently so fond of--it has appeared on every album.

---=== Like an Animal ===---

Not much to say about this one. It's just Hughes and I improv jamming one night in the middle of practice. We thought it was cool so we put it on the album. Not a lot of thought here. It's a good example of how a Hosey song begins. We usually take something like this and expand on it.

The piano sample is from a Freddie Mercury solo record. The vocals are from 30Rock, one of the best shows on TV. If you don't know, now you know.

---=== I Just Wanna Go Home ===---

“I Just Wanna Go Home” is a phrase you probably hear once a day without even realizing it. And I don't mean a similar sentiment (which you definitely hear or announce once a day), but literally the exact phrase, “I just wanna go home.” Usually with the same bored angsty teenage inflection that one would expect. Check it out, I'm not kidding. If you're watching TV you'll hear it, and you're probably watching Law & Order:SVU and some victim is trying to get out of talking about an attack. If you are at a party tonight, someone is going to say it, maybe to you. If it's your boy/girlfriend and they're being pouty, too bad. If it's some new boy/girl you just met: hell yeah, high five!

The crux of this song is a piano sample played by Aaron Rayborn when he was a member of An End to October. They've since become the band Malamute, and this isn't the first time they've been mentioned in regard to this album. Thanks guys. The vocal sample is Adam Clayton Powell, culled from one of his famous “Keep the Faith” speeches. True fans might recognize it as from the same speech we sampled for “The Big Dogs' Day is Done” on V II.

---=== So There's a Girl... ===---

Oh the 80s, will you ever die? This is a love letter to those dreamy, summery ballads of my childhood. The ones that smell like a swimming pool, that are fun like a roller rink lock-in, that you only admit you like to impress a girl, even though deep down you absolutely adore “Love is a Battlefield” and know all the dance moves and you don't care who knows it!

You know what, I'm pulling my cryptic DJ card. I'm not giving this synth sample away. Anyone who can name it will REALLY impress me, it's very very obscure. Although, it WAS released to record stores and radio, and has a barcode and ISRC associated with it, so it's not like “local-band-obscure.” The vocal sample for this is again pulled from 30Rock. See? We don't play by any rules. We'll make a whole album out of one side of a record if we want to, what?!

---=== Goodbye Bikini Island ===---

Fireworks. Merry-go-round. Summer.

Originally Posted Saturday March 6th, 2010