Monday, 24 November 2008

Everybody Wants A Way Out -the cover

B0b Tibbitts "The change in album title from 'Dragonfly Heaven' to 'Everybody Wants A Way Out' necessitated a complete change of style for the cd artwork. Mark and I asked Mark Roland if he could represent the cd in his unique way. My task was to generate all the designs for the lyrics pages from the original painting, selecting what might go with each song. In some cases I used Photoshop to evolve what I already had and building on it. I also asked MR to paint some extra pieces for certain positions and for certain songs. The jewelcase cd well posed a particular challenge... I wanted to reflect on the whole album and offer the voyager an escape from 'sado city' via the 'pillbugs balloon of hope' into the 'happy beyond'...the answer was the beckoning psych figure at the door to escape that Mark Roland very skillfully created.... because, we all are looking for a 'way out' after all."

Mark Roland. "Much of the booklet interior, and the cd back cover is Bob's work, using the raw material I provided, and Steve gave us some suggestions that helped get the ball rolling. Bob and I had a few working titles that were abandoned, like Dragonfly Heaven. MM finally nailed it with Everybody Wants A Way Out and we were off to the races. Unlike Buzz, we had not heard the music, so the title itself was the inspiration. Bob, Steve and I, kicked around some ideas. At some point the grey city/maze became the place you wanted a way out of, and I started the cover. The guy on the back was a continuation of the maze concept, that is the residents of the maze city also had mazes on their heads. I also did a small piece for the cd well and the portrait of Tragedy Ann. The rest was Bob, working with photoshop and the stuff I had done. One of the more involved ideas we couldn't get to develop, was what happens after you escape the city, and the idea that you kept trying to escape further and further. Art packages for cds seem pretty minimal these days, it was a pleasure to try and give the fans some visual narrative to get lost in as part of the whole enchilada.It was a tight deadline and Bob really had to pull some long shifts to finish the booklet. Steve gave me some suggestions and I used a couple in the painting, perhaps so subtle that he couldn't tell. Steve pointed to the Metropolis concept (the great German film by Fritz Lang) and the tower in the painting sort of came from that along with the sense of futility. Bob did a very early one with a line of figures jumping off a cliff, I thought that was a bit too grim, but we stayed with the dark theme.Another more elaborate treatment, would have shown more of the inhabitants of the city, all trying to find their own ways out."

Bob "One of the aims was to be able to make the lyrics legible without obscuring too much of the art. Most of Mark's and indeed Dan and Davey's songs contain at lot of lines...and taking into account the size of a cd booklet page, presents a bit of a challenge at times. There is nothing more infuriating than trying to read information on a page that is either in a 'silly' font or too small to read...and often many of today's cd packages suffer from this due to financial restraints in production or that the cd art is an after-thought. One of my ideas that was also deemed a little too grizzly, was an image of a bottle of pills, open and on it's side with the pills spilled out, the label stating 'Not The Way Out' or 'Another Way Out'. I wanted to portray the city inhabitants trying to escape one layer of their existence by bustling and squeezing their way through one of the doors on the city structure, almost a stampede, but failing. Mark Roland visualised this in a great way in the cd tray.

The character there beckoning to the listener to pass through the doorway into the psychedelic 'other'. There were many, many slants on the cd title that evoked ideas to work with, but as Mark Roland said, the schedule was slim so most of these ideas never became formalised into sketches or rough art. The task was made more challenging for us both in that unlike Buzz, we had not heard the songs to give us inspiration. There was no real feedback from Rainbow Quartz either as we had no time to present roughs or proofs to them, so we were pretty much left to our own devices. Mark Mikel gave us the freedom to create and this was, in a way, helpful...but I was a little anxious that the package would please him and the other Pillbugs and that Mark and I did credit to the music. I think we did. The fact is, you can't please everybody. It was an enjoyable project to work on nonetheless."

Early Ideas
Bob. "There were very few 'demos' of the art this time around. Time decreed that we got to work immediately and hope the result would please.... The underground image was submitted by Steve Mumford. The 'lemmings' idea was mine. I used a 'stock' photo for this one so if we had gone with it we would have had to track down the original photographer. Anyway, it was deemed too 'gloomy'. End of that one."

Steve Mumford "Here's what little I may have had to do with the cover. You might remember the fantasy cover I did back before there was a finished title for the release. I don't think this had any influence on the final cover. But there might be something in the buildings.... I don't know.The second image below was the one I came up with when I heard the new title for the release "Everybody Wants A Way Out". I think this is the image that may have sparked the direction for the final cover."

Bob. "This is an early scan of the final artwork. This was modified by Mark Roland. If you compare this with the ultimate final art, you will spot some differences, like the eye in the sky and the mummies in the city wall, the 'P' on the escape balloon, etc."

Monday, 20 October 2008

The Pillbugs Everybody Wants A Way Out

The Pillbugs Everybody Wants A Way Out
Released On Rainbow Quartz November 10th 2008

Life As It Happens (Tabner-Mikel)
Can't Get It Right (So I'm Loving It Wrong) (Mikel)
Greeting Committee (Mikel)
Emily Loves (Chalmers)
Soundman (Mikel)
Sad Little Girl (Chalmers-Mikel)
Merely Stacking Chairs (Mikel)
Do You Really Want To Go To The Center Of The Sun? (Mikel)
Hard Line (Mikel-Tabner-Chalmers)
Play The Hear Back (Chalmers-Murnen-Mikel)
Trip Fast And Run (Murnen)
Get Away For The Summer (Mikel)
Tragedy Anne (Mikel)
North Of Reality (Kelley-Mikel-Murnen)
Mark Mikel "Sessions began Feb. 8th and ended May 26th. I remixed and re-tweaked a bit more afterward but not that much. I had a hard time finishing it after Mark passed on May 3rd. The music actually hurt. It was totally finished by the end of June. This is the first Pillbugs album to not have any hired session players and I played the cello for the first time on any of our releases. There are many instruments that I've never held in my hands. It seems if I get my hands on any instrument I can (within a few hours) make some decent musical notes or sounds on it. I can play convincingly on guitars, drums and keys but I'm not a virtuoso on any instrument...and definitely not close at all to being considered a cellist. The same goes for trumpet, sitar and french horn. Even though I can do takes until I get it right on tape -in reality I'm freaking lousy on those things.
Life As It Happens was originally an instrumental track recorded for Scott Tabner's solo album. I asked him if I could write lyrics to it and open our album with it. He said, "yes," of course.
Dan's the rock of the band and a huge fan of what we create. It's pretty much all he listens to. Very different from the rest of us in that way. He's not only an amazing drummer but he works harder than anyone I've ever met in my life. Still you can count on him to always have the same humor and sweet disposition.The new album has a track by him (Emily Loves) where he sang the lead vocal and played every instrument. That's never happened before on a bug album. Dan brought in his demo for Scott Hunt and I to hear and it just had a perfect vibe. We were thrilled and insisted he recreate it note for note. Hunt and I produced its first session using the demo as the template and though we did sing some backing, most of the backing vocals were multi-overdubbed Chalmers. It's a unique frat house-type track...nothing like we've ever released and I love it. I told Dan that this would probably be our hit. When Jim McGarry heard it he told me it was the best song I ever wrote (laughs).
Scott Hunt played the bass and drums on Do You Really Want To Go To The Center Of The Sun? and bass on Can't Get It Right (So I'm Loving It Wrong).
Dave Murnen drummed Merely Stacking Chairs and Chalmers played guitar.
There are no alternate takes of any songs except Sad Little Girl. It was much faster and heavier before with Davey and I sharing lead vocals.
Play The Hear Back. After Davey wrote and sang those weird lyrics, I asked him what he was going to call it. He said, "I don't know. Play the hear back." I just took that as the answer. I later noticed the similarity in feel to Illuminating Drink but it wasn't intentionally designed that way. It's really not the same at all in key or groove. It's just eerie sounding Pillbugs like Illuminating Drink. Dan Chalmers wrote the main riff. Scott Hunt, Dan and I jammed on it trying to add more. Then SH dropped out from the project and Dan and I carried on another day. We worked out how the song would eventually go. I came up with the chorus chord changes and melody. The basic track was Dan on drums and me on the bass. We got a great sound on those two instruments that night and we had fun doing takes.An organ track was added. Then I taped a vocal melody line singing "na na's" and dubbed a CD that I gave to Davey to write the words. After Davey's vocal was added it was Scott Tabner's turn to embellish. We asked Scott to improvise a blues lead solo throughout. He recorded about 2 or 3 different attempts on the same amount of tracks. Then I asked him to try it with the song running backward and that was taped on yet another track. I also asked him to do a screaming wah-wah bit in the middle but he refused.Later I comped the best bits morphing the backward and forward Tabner guitars. I added the screaming wah-wah guitar bit, some piano, extra bass, electric guitar, backward glockenspiel, and backing vocals. That's pretty much it.I liked that the track recalled Illuminating Drink in some strange way and it really was a case of the band sounding like ourselves.
Soundman. It definitely comes from experience. The last thing you want to do is piss the soundman off, yes? The recording was produced to sound like a "straight-outta-the-garage" band relying on an inept soundman they'd just met. That's why there's all this feedback added in. It's supposed to sound like we're trying to rock while everything is going wrong.I wrote the main riff in the song (plus the first few chord and note patterns) when I was 15 years old. It was one of the first things I ever wrote. Tabner and I jammed it a lot as kids. It always haunted me as a catchy when I was under the gun to write and produce a new album quickly, I grabbed at it and turned it into something. It's also the first song we taped for the album.
North of Reality has Mark Kelley's demo faded in at the very end for a few seconds. This is his only appearance on the album. That song's a tough listen for all of us. We get pretty choked up everytime we hear that fade. It's like he's back for a couple of measures...and then he's gone again.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Dragonfly Heaven Art

Before the new album was titled Everybody Wants A Way Out it had been called Dragonfly Heaven. The ever wonderful Bob Tibbitts presents the unused cover art ideas for that version here. Over to Bob.

"The 'drawn' art was something that Mark Roland submitted to me for consideration. As it happened the album title was changed and so a new approach was required. Other than the Mark Roland art, the other stuff came from my view of the title, although I hadn't heard any of the new songs, so it was a bit difficult to create an image that represented the upcoming release. I have a hunch that considering other releases on RQ, Jim might have liked the Dragonfly stuff. It is completely different to the style that we eventually decided to go for."
Art by BT
Art by MR
Art by BT
Art by MR and BT
Art by BT
all art copyright the respective gentlemen

Mark Mikel live at the Village Idiot summer 2008

Mark and by Anna

Mark Kelley "We love you and will miss you."

"The Pillbugs regret to inform their fans of the tragic passing of their bass player/singer/songwriter/brother, Mark Kelley. Mark battled cancer for 9 years before his life was abruptly ended on Saturday May 3, 2008. He was 45. Please keep his wife Karen, his children and other surviving family members, as well as his bandmates, in your thoughts and prayers. He will be laid to rest On Wednesday May 7, 2008.We love you and will miss you Mark Kelley...R.I.P.10/28/62 - 5/3/2008"

Monday, 14 April 2008

The Pillbugs live in Detroit 2008

Here's to the End of Time
King of Zorg
Charlie Blue Car
All In Good Time
Larry in the Sea with Daffodils
Captian Nemo

photos by the ever wonderful Jammi
except this one
Some Pillbugs Bling

Friday, 11 April 2008

Beyondo Mondo Radio Party

Steve M "....after minutes and minutes and minutes of intense negotiations, I have secured the official record of this momentous broadcasting event!!And so for your dining pleasure, I present:
Mark Mikel and Scott Hunt on the Beyondo Mondo Radio Party from WAPS, 93.1 The Summit...."

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

The Pillbug's upcoming Detroit show

Mark Mikel. "Our bass player for the show will be a man named Todd Cotton- he's been a friend of Chalmers' and mine for many years. We ran into him at the music store and asked him. He was very enthusiastic."

Friday, 14 March 2008

100 MP3's Volumes One And Two

These two data discs are a treasure trove of unreleased tracks that were for sale via the bugstore last year for a short while. A very limited edition there is supposidly an eight disc version called The Archive circulating only amoungst the inner circle of bugdom.

Friday, 7 March 2008

happy birthday release party

Here's some pictures Jammi took at the gig

Sunday, 2 March 2008


The Buzz For Aldrin poster cover

"This is the prototype of the Buzz For Aldrin poster that was intended originally to accompany the Buzz For Aldrin CD release. Unfortunately it proved to be a problem in production because of the size and the number of folds involved. It evolved this way in order to accommodate all the band's lyrics and at a reasonable size that could be read easily. The way I had worked out the folds to arrive with the back of the folded poster showing the credits page opposite the cover, meant that the text would be printed upside-down (but would appear correctly upon folding). You can judge the size of the poster from these photos I took with it unfurled upon my coffee table at home. I believe that it was originally intended that the poster front, the codex created by Mark Roland, would be made available (at a small charge) directly from him. This would be supplied unfolded for framing by the purchaser. Since I created the poster back collage, I made some text amendments to the lyrics and then re- formatted the whole job to appear in booklet form as it is today. The back is still available full size minus lyrics. As you can imagine the front, codex and back collage has much more impact to the eye at this size." Bob Tibbitts 2-03-08.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

International Pop Overthrow Vol. 5

International Pop Overthrow Vol. 5

Track 3 disc 1.The Pillbugs -Delicious

3 CD set on Not Lame. This set was released in July 2002 .