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.
Matt Jaffe is a great young Bay Area songwriter I’ve had the pleasure of working with recently. We recorded an album’s worth of songs last summer with me playing guitar to round out the high energy power-trio of Jaffe, drummer Alex Coltharp and bass player Sammie Fisher. Matthew King Kaufman produced and Michael Rosen engineered and mixed at his Berkeley studio. The rehearsals and recording sessions were an absolute blast and I love how it all came out. Now my young guitar student Alexander Newell is playing in the band! It’s such a joy to watch young musicians grow up and realize their dreams. Tour dates and links to get the EP are all at mattjaffemusic.com. Check ’em out!
One of the great punk records of the 90’s, RANCID’s 2nd LP is the one that really announced them to the world. It was an exciting time with GREEN DAY and RANCID blowing up out of the east bay scene, and suddenly punk rock was a mainstream genre. When I co-wrote “Name” with Tim Armstrong, all the big labels wanted to sign them. Coming from the Lookout Records school of DIY glory, they weren’t terribly interested in becoming sanitized pop stars. So instead of watering things down, they stayed on Epitaph Records and kept getting MORE punk!
Recorded with my fellow UPTONES Ben Eastwood and Paul Jackson in 1992 with Tom Pope on drums and Matthew King Kaufman producing, this is an eclectic set of songs we created while touring as HOBO. “Sky High” has a funky syncopated bass/guitar line in the verse and a hard-rock/power-pop chorus. “Fish In A Tree” and “Gearing Up For A Breakdown” also don’t fit squarely in any one genre. “She’s A Mystery,” one of my favorite Paul Jackson songs, is probably the most “pop” thing on the album. Some wild stuff on this one. Available from iTunes Store.
I knew Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman from their BASIC RADIO and OPERATION IVY days. One day in the early 90’s, Tim knocks on my door and asks if they can cover “Get Out Of My Way” (which I wrote with UPTONES singer Erik Rader), in their new punk rock band. “Sure, go for it!” I answer, “of course!” We then write another song called “Outta My Mind” and a few months later he brings me their debut CD with both songs on it, and they’re off and running.
This was recorded in about 3 days at Sharkbite in Oakland. One of the standout tracks for me is “Fell In And Out Of Art” by Paul Jackson. Album Typical of Paul’s compositions, the individual parts don’t make complete sense when played solo, but when they’re all played together, they create a moving tapestry of chords and melody and mayhem. Check it out:
It was so fun playing guitar on this song and the whole album. I sang lead on a few tracks as well, including our cover of “My Girlfriend Is A Rock.”
Available in all the digital places.
This 4-song studio recording is the latest from The FASHION SLAVES. The band name was originally inspired by the song “Suffer For Fashion” which I co-wrote with young singer Emily Jayne. Recorded “live in the studio” old school style at East Bay Recorders, produced by Matthew King Kaufman and Michael Rosen, this also includes a cover of “Goin’ Down!” Written by Emily and Paul Jackson and myself, this straight-ahead rocker was originally recorded by The UPTONES for our East Bay Orbits album. Eric Knight on bass and Pete D’Amato on drums, with Emily on rhythm guitar myself on lead, made for a pretty monstrous little combo. We played a bunch of shows and made a couple of CD’s in two years or so and then, we went insane. This EP tells the story.
Available at iTunes and all the other digital gizmos.
Making this record was a wild experience. There was no producer, or more accurately, there were at least 11! Each of nine band-mates, plus the recording engineer, plus our manager. That’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen, and we were all very opinionated and strong-willed. We booked “lock-out” time at a recording studio – an archaic practice from when mixing boards were not computers, and you had to leave the faders and everything right where they were between sessions in order to save your work. Being 17 to 19-year-olds at the time, we just wouldn’t go home. I have no idea how many hours we spent in there, but it was lunacy. The cover art, same deal. We all had a say in it. Hence the strange, obscured image collage, which ends up reflecting the recording well. To my eternal bafflement and delight, the thing became a college radio hit in 1985. Long out of print, K.U.S.A. was on 415 Records, and you may be able to find one on eBay or something if you’re curious. If it ever gets released digitally, I’ll plop a link to it here. It’s a very uneven work, full of amazing moments, and some moments too where I just scratch my head and go “what were we thinking?!” My takeaway as a musician, songwriter, etc. was this: I MUCH prefer to work with a producer, but this kind of chaos can produce some unique and beautiful things as well. This post is too long and I’m totally oversharing. Oh well. Hope you enjoy it if you do have it. I played a massive guitar solo on Outside The Inn! I like that part. We also re-recorded Out To Sea for this, and it’s dreadful. Listen to the version on East Bay Orbits instead, that’s the original. Can you tell I’m a little neurotic about this record? I’ma shut up now.