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"