Thursday, 20 December 2007

the first Pillbugs album

Mark Mikel "Why call ourselves The Pillbugs you ask? Well it's really a parody of a parody of The Beatles. Do you remember the Gilligan's Island episode with The Mosquitos? Where Gilligan, Skipper, Professor and Mr. Howell formed The Gnats and then Ginger Mary Ann and Lovey formed The Honeybees? It's alot like that. The goofy insect names. It was the mid-90s and we were looking for something with that 60's spirit to counteract all the gloom. After coming up with a bunch of lame ideas we settled on the least of the lame. People in Toledo never really latched onto it. I think they are all still wondering whatever happened to The Mark Mikel Hallucination."

"Shadow Puppets Fear No Music."

Thou Doth Warm Me (Like the Sun)/I Could Never Be a Bird/Black Sombrero/Undecided/We Are the Orange Sky People/Comburda/Leaving to Be Friends/Pretend You're Not Home/Captain Nemo/Now, I'm in the C.I.A./ Might As Well Fly to the Moon/Paper Aeroplanes/Meddle With Me/Pretty, Young and Free/Ball of String/Son of Shirley/Goodnight to Babylon/ I'll Get By/Vladimir's Sister/Plastic Surgical Holiday/Morning, Mr. You/She Done Alotta Dope/You'd Better Sit Down/The Kick-Around Boy/No, Imogene/Broken Ringing Bells/Hangin' Around at 5/The Plot Next to Garcia/Big Bad Momma/Reprise/Illuminating Drink/Fear No Horizons

DAVE MURNEN “On Illuminating Drink, I’m sure Mark worked his productive magic..but really most of it was done live if I recall..everyone on the respective instruments..mark on keys and I on mini moog synthesiser freaking out in the background...there was probably more editing from my channel than anyone elses.I believe we came back and overdubbed vocals...and I know Mark Mikel and Kelley added some more guitar and some other weird stuff prior to vocals being laid......the original track is much longer than what was released.”

Mark Mikel "We made a poster that listed all of the songs that we were to record and "X'd" off the progress made at each session. Most every song made it. Only one intended song didn't make the cut- "The Rock and Roll Show." It was too big or grandiose of a song and it competed with "Fear No Horizons" for the closing track. Still there was no real competition in choosing between the two. There just wasn't a place for The Rock and Roll Show in the puzzle so it never received a final mix."

Mark Mikel "When I wrote Paper Aeroplanes we knew it wasn't going to work as a band recording with drums, electric guitars and stuff. Plus I had a pretty sweet demo of that. We had to be careful. Adding one wrong thing to that song could take it completely away from its original charm. Tabner protested the addition of the violins but I heard it working in my head. When we heard the strings added to it we realized it took on a heavier tone but it sounded GREAT. It really worked better than we could have imagined. That's one of my fav bug moments -when those strings kick in. Tabner loved the song the way it was (very simple and stripped down) so he was just concerned about losing that. There was no way he could hear what was in my head until it was on tape. Plus the mixture of my mom's grand piano with Tabner's Martin acoustic guitar just sounded beautiful as is. I remember thinking that he's right and maybe I should leave it alone.But as I was writing out the string arrangements for the album and I couldn't resist writing the Paper Aeroplanes score. If it didn't work, we'd only be out a 100 smackers or so. I remember when we recorded the strings- we only had a few hours to use the quartet (they were very expensive) so I had to record a track, make a quick judgement and then move on. I remember begging them to stay a few more minutes to add strings to "Now I'm In The CIA" and they reluctantly agreed. "Broken Ringing Bells" and "Fear No Horizons" took the most of the scheduled time. The quartet cost us 800 bones. Anyway after they left I got to play with the mixes and really take a listen to what we had.I set the balance for Paper Aeroplanes and it sounded so good that it actually scared me. It seemed bigger than life and I had never heard us sound like that before. I was (along with Tabner and the other bugs) completely floored.For a long time after (a few years really) when someone would ask me about my favorite bug song I'd always answer Paper Aeroplanes."

Mark Mikel "The only self consciously English thing The Pillbugs ever did was that cover for the first CD (with tower and teacups). Everything else British about us was ingrained many, many years ago. I think Davey and I both have trouble sounding American when we sing. It sounds unnatural and forced most of the time. It's because of what we sang along with as children. We're the products of The British Invasion. Davey and I are mimics and we probably mimicked our heroes once to often to escape.Listen to All In Good Time. That's me trying to sound American but even on that song I sometimes accidentally slip back into my old ways. When I try to lose the accent it seems to come out like Roger McGuinn/Tom Petty, Bob Dylan or Neil Young. I'm still trying to perfect my Ray Charles but it hasn't worked yet."

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