As the rain continues to pour on our thirsty California, I’m reflecting on the last year a bit, and considering what to do next. While the debacles of 2016 played out, I spent some time writing and recording new music. I released four new songs as “Peace and Love and Rock and Roll part 1” as the new year arrived. Nearly everything about it is a first for me. I’ve never done a solo record before, I’ve always worked with bands. Never self-released anything before, or self-produced.
I’m glad I did it, and I have decided to do more. I made a new website to host my records, and after thinking very hard about it for almost two seconds, decided to call it peaceandloveandrockandroll.com. You can pick the EP up there instantly in download/digital form, or even order a physical CD if you like, from the very small batch I made.
Wishing you all a good start to this strange new year. I am going to go swim in the rain now.
Peace and Love and Rock and Roll to you and yours,
The cabinet appointments are funny. They are funny. Tragic, catastrophic, horrible, but utterly hilarious. Treasury Secretary is the best knee-slapper. Just give it to Goldman-Sachs. Say FU to the populist voters with both middle fingers, loud and clear, right away. Outstanding.
We’re doomed. But it’s not as if we haven’t been doomed before. Humanity survives all sorts of things – plague, cold war, Nickleback, maybe even this. But wow. The pendulum swings from reason and science and decency and such things, all the way to retarded bigotry, misogyny, sadism and greed. Did I leave anything out? Yes lots of things. You can’t list all of it in one lifetime. It’s not at all funny at the end, for it likely means immeasurable suffering and loss, destruction, mayhem and death visited upon the land like a biblical shit-tsunami. Oh well.
Years ago I wrote this song, “Laws and Sausage.” It was an overstated spleen-venting about fat cats and pig-dogs, a sort of ska-cartoon Orwellian bad trip that could never resemble actual reality. Or could it? I almost didn’t want to record it, it was so silly, but my band-mates in Stiff Richards dug it and our producer wanted to hit it so we did. Later The Uptones recorded it and Lisa McElroy made this appetizing video.
I don’t think either version ever got released on a CD or anything, due to timing or an attack of common sense. Anyway, it occurred to me as I listened to Democracy Now! this morning that I will miss President Obama very much, and that PT Barnum was right.
I played guitar on that recording, along with young Matt and his fabulous Distractions. He’s a helluva songwriter and musician, and it’s been a pleasure to work with him and watch him go from open-mic wiz-kid to budding rock star. I’ve been by turns, a session player, coach, and even tour manager for this band, when they supported Blues Traveler on their US tour last fall.
“Holding On” is one of my faves in their live set, and I dig the “rollercoaster” metaphor in the vid. Occurred to me also, that “holding on” is like attachment in the Buddhist sense, the cause of suffering, and that gives the chorus its power. But I think too much. “Holding on, cos I don’t know what’s true.” Amen, brother.
Recently I’ve been making some new recordings of my own, and young Matt actually co-wrote and played guitar on one of them. So the circle is complete! More on that later. Cheers all!
This is a reel of solos I plucked from various records I’ve played on over the years.
Here are the tracks and albums they are from:
1. “Radiation Boy” – The Uptones – Skankin’ Foolz Unite! – 2008
2. “Psychotic Reaction” (Count 5 cover) – The Fashion Slaves – Check Out The Fashion Slaves – 2011
3. “Write A Song About Me” – Matt Jaffe & The Distractions – Blast Off EP – 2015
4. “Sky High” – HOBO album – 1993
5. “Not From Here” – Stiff Richards – Email EP – 1998
6. “Fell In And Out Of Art” – Stiff Richards album – 1996
“… And Out Come The Wolves” is my favorite Rancid album, and “The 11th Hour” is a collaboration I’ll always be proud of. Tim Armstrong and I wrote it in about three hours spread out over as many days, as the band was deep into the finishing stages of recording. I was surprised that Tim wanted to push one more song through the works, but it not only made the cut but ended up being track #2 on the record. There’s a 20th Anniversary remastered edition that just came out, more on that at Epitaph Records. This album was the soundtrack to my life in late 1995.
This record from STIFF RICHARDS features 5 original songs with lead vocals from The Rev. Paul Jackson, and some phenomenal drumming from Tuan Titlestad. On the opening track, “Not From Here” (later covered by The UPTONES), you hear the collision of Bennie Wood’s commanding ska bass style and Tuan’s all-out rock drum approach. That sets the tone for the whole EP and it does not let up. “Halibut” is a personal favorite of mine, especially as it finds Paul channeling Sasquatch, explaining, “Don’t call me Bigfoot.” The set closes with “Bonnie and Clyde” (also later covered by The UPTONES) which was composed in the studio. These songs called for me to go hog-wild on guitar, and I love how it all come out.
The Fashion Slaves started as a side project when Emily Jayne was singing and playing guitar with The UPTONES in 2011. We got home from a little tour and she’s rarin’ to go so we decided to make a four-piece rock band. I called Eric Knight whose bass playing I loved in ENGINE 88, and young Pete D’Amato completed the combo on drums. This live album contains one of our earliest performances. Our producer Matthew King Kaufman encouraged us to play the Millard Fillmore High School dance, and sent Michael Rosen out with his mobile recording setup to capture it. The opening cut is our cover of “Psychotic Reaction” which was so damn fun to play as it has two (!!) extended guitar solos, so I went completely nuts right at the beginning of the set. Here’s a video Emily made for the song.
This is a compilation featuring each of the six people (so far!) who have performed lead vocal duties in The UPTONES: Erik Rader, Charles Stella, The Rev. Paul Jackson, Moose Lethridge, Emily Jayne, and myself. The most recent recording (“T.V. Guns”) is from 2010, and the earliest (“Out To Sea”) is from 1983! We did a show in 2011 in which we got all these characters onstage to perform their signature Uptones songs. It was an epic bit of cat-herding but definitely worth it, the show was a blast. That probably won’t happen again, but you can still get the record from iTunes, or order a CD from uptones.com – I think we have like 2 left!
Playing the Gilman Street Project as it was then known, is unlike playing any other venue. It’s all-ages and volunteer-run and there’s no booze inside. All of the energy of the audience pours onto the stage and is amplified by the band and launched back in a way you don’t often find in mainstream clubs. There’s a sign that says “NO STAGE DIVING” and that’s pretty funny. We played two sold-out shows in August of 1989 when the club was starting and The UPTONES’ 1st chapter was ending. Beserkley Records got ahold of a recording of the 2nd night, mastered it up and released it! You can hear a few tunes from it at uptones.com or pickitup at iTunes.
The UPTONES recorded “Skankin’ Foolz Unite!” live-in-the-studio with Matthew King Kaufman and Michael Rosen producing, at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley in 2008. We went in with the intention of capturing our live performance energy and not messing around with a lot of overdubs or studio trickery. It turned out to be one of the most exciting and fun recording sessions I’ve ever been involved with. We played some songs from our early years like “Radiation Boy” and “Get Out Of My Way” and some new ones like the title track “Skanking Fool,” and “Bad Men Of Bodie.” Covering The HEPTONES’ “Book Of Rules” was an out-of-body moment, and it just felt great to make a record in the old-school method which I always thought would be best for the band, but somehow we never previously completely achieved. You can hear some songs from it or order a CD direct from us at uptones.com, or pickitup pickitup at iTunes for instant ska satisfaction.