Aug 16, 2009
Aug 13, 2009
Aug 5, 2009
Aug 2, 2009
The first single from my upcoming EP with K.Flay, "Single and Famous", will be debuting tonight on Aaron Axelsen's show on Live 105. For those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can listen at 105.3 FM, or online here to check out "Soundcheck", from 7 - 10 pm PST tonight.
Jul 31, 2009
Every Friday leading up to the August 18th release of our "Single and Famous" EP (on Horris Records / Flayzer Beam), K.Flay and I will be posting a preview of a new song and another podcast in our "Inside the Rappers' Studio" series.
We will go deep into the creative process to uncover the joy and magic of two post-modern geniuses working with beautiful creative synergy. Or just straight clowin', you know what I'm saying? HAHAHAHA.
This week, we are previewing "We Fresh" (beat produced by the Dust Collector) and our first behind-the-scenes podcast, live from a writing session in a cabin deep in the woods somewhere near Lake Tahoe.
WE FRESH Y'ALL!!!
- MC Lars and K.Flay
Jul 29, 2009
Jul 28, 2009
Jul 22, 2009
Jul 20, 2009
Jul 19, 2009
It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I just tracked a Hannukah song with Jim from the Rondo Brothers at their Potrero Hill studio a few blocks down from the coffee shop where I am checking in. San Francisco is summery as August approaches. Last night K.Flay and I did an interview on Live 105 to promote our upcoming EP and then I went to Ocean Beach later that night with some friends. We had a bonfire in a non-designated place and the cops came and made us leave. We then went to a bar called Zeitgeist where I ran into my college friend Josh who saw I was there because I posted on Twitter. He's starting a company to help promote bands and living in the Mission. It seems like everyone who's surviving in the music industry nowadays is doing so with independent funding through their own companies and channels.
I saw that Terry McBride of Nettwerk fame is starting a new company called "Polyphonic" to help fund artists' independent releases. Props to them, that is very much the future of music. Labels now function as banks that are, hopefully, invested in artists' careers as brands. The labels' primary goal is to help to further the bands as touring entities that license songs to commercials and movies. So when that relationship becomes more direct financially, as with Polyphonic, then it optimizes this new economic model. It's the artists' responsibility to the investor to recoup that money, and then both are free to do their own thing, and money is not wasted, like it was in the 1980s. I like it.
I had a good run with Nettwerk. Tom Gates, who managed other bands like Brand New, the Format, Men, Women & Children, and Anathallo, got wind of my act when I was playing underground punk clubs in England in 2003 after my term there studying Shakespeare. Our partnership was totally random and probably wouldn't have happened nowadays. I had 0 Myspace followers, since Myspace didn't exist. I had 0 Twitter followers because "status updates" to thousands of people through cell phones were unheard of. I was just a kid with a laptop and website and a love for punk and hip-hop. I had a dream.
He had read some press on my first UK tour with my Dad tour managing in 2003, we met when he was in San Francisco with Brand New while I was a Junior at Stanford, and he started working with me after seeing me play a coffee shop on campus. He convinced a lot of people in the industry to invest time and money into my career, and it paid off for everyone. We never sold a million records, but he and Nettwerk really helped to establish the "MC Lars brand" internationally through radio and video connections they'd established with artists like Avril Lavigne and Coldplay. When a 15-year-old girl in Houston was sued by the RIAA for downloading Avril Lavigne mp3s, she contacted me because she had heard "Download This Song". I told Tom, who told Terry, and Nettwerk invested a ridiculously huge sum to help her defend her case in court. Those were some of the benefits of being with a big company like Nettwerk - the good things they could do with their power.
When the industry started imploding in on itself in 2007, Tom bailed for a life of international travel and teaching, something he essentially did with developing young acts, but without the industry politics. I'll be honest, it hurt to have a partnership I had so much faith in crumble, but it was eventually liberating for everyone. I got a new lawyer. I got an new accountant. I went through a few different agents before finding the right one. Oglio came along with the gift of Crappy Records, an ironically titled label I was brought on board for through my Bowling for Soup and Hollywood connections. All things considered, they did a kick-ass job with pushing "This Gigantic Robot Kills" here in America. Yes, mad kids have downloaded the record for free, which wasn't necessarily surprising due to my statements in the press over the years. Nowadays this is something I officially discourage because Oglio is a small label and their existence is contingent upon their projects recouping if they want to survive. "Download This Song" was a call for the destruction of the major label system. These guys are more than just a bank, they are friends who have a brand that I'm pushing to give exposure to too. It's a new-era music partnership.
We're going to put the K.Flay EP out like we did the Digital Gangster LP - via donations from our website and then press physical copies. She, YTCracker and I are going out on tour in the US from mid-August to mid-September. My new manager, Mark Saffian (whose company Content House is an up-and-coming entertainment giant), has been opening lots of doors for me in other aspects of the entertainment world. I enjoy working with him because he's so energetic and focused and always on top of his game. He set up this showcase for us at Comic-Con next weekend, which anyone in the Southern California area should attend. YTCracker and MC Frontalot will be there, along with some other music and web-comics friends. I'll be at the convention signing CDs at one of the booths too.
So that's it from my front. I've been doing a lot of business thinking as you can see, because this helps me organize my creative world. Nowadays, independent artists really need to be on top of both hemispheres of the "grind" to make things happen. I've heen reading a book about script writing that is giving me good ideas for formalizing our hip-hop musical we're putting together. I've been writing for my next solo record. I've been talking to Dual Core and Jesse Dangerously about getting going on these EPs we've been talking about doing (Jesse's for a long time, Dual Core we thought up at Nerdapalooza). I've been traveling and swimming and plotting my next moves on this nice time off of the road.
Play on players, stay up!!
Atlas Cafe, San Francisco, 7-19-09
Jul 18, 2009
Tonight on Live 105 in San Francisco K.Flay and I talk with Menace about our upcoming EP. Listen live at 9 pm PDT by clicking on this link to their streaming ish.
The EP is called "Single and Famous" and will be available in August on Horris Records to coincide with the upcoming "This Gigantic Robot Kills" US promo tour with Flay and YTCracker.
Jul 16, 2009
Jul 15, 2009
Jul 13, 2009
I'm sitting by myself at the airport in Orlando. Nerdapalooza was such an epic win for everyone. There was so much love in the room the whole weekend, the fans were all very forgiving and loving during the technical problems, and the performances were excellent. It's a team, an army of artists who all support eachother and are more of a family than anything else.
Props to Hex Carter for organizing, and for everyone who helped.
I'll write more of my thoughts later, since it's 7 am and I haven't slept much at all in the past few days, but check out these photos I posted to Twitter earlier.
Big thanks to John and Judy for taking us to Universal Studios!! That was awesome too.
Jul 10, 2009
I just learned that my Oakland homies the Matches are going on indefinite hiatus for creative reasons. Come see their last shows in California for a while. They will always be a legendary Bay Area band, we've had some great tours together, here and internationally.
Jul 6, 2009
Let me preface this piece with an important truth: I have love for ANYONE trying to make a career for him or herself as a professional musician. The odds are stacked against you incredibly. No one buys CDs, so you're going to have to make your living off of touring and selling t-shirts out of a suitcase. GarageBand is in the hands of any and everyone, so unless you have more than a remedial understanding of home recording, the competition is ridiculous when it comes to the need for your product to be presented professionally. Plus, on top of all of that, nowadays everyone knows how to market themselves with Myspace and Facebook and Twitter and blah blah blah, so unless you get extremely lucky with the best song ever written played for the exactly right people at the exactly right time with the most dope YouTube video ever filmed, you're dead in the water.
That being said, it's time to get something off of my chest that I've been feeling for years. Unless you are MC Frontalot, it's time to stop trying to make "nerdcore hip-hop". Damian Hess, a.k.a. Frontalot a.k.a. the inventor of the genre made a name for himself when the Penny Arcade guys saw what a hilarious job he was doing on Song Fight! years and years ago. He is legitimately talented and I respect and love what he does. I've been friends with the man since 2006, toured with him twice, and done quite a few one offs with him at places like the San Diego Comic-Con and SXSW, and will see him again this coming weekend in Orlando. When comedian Negin Farsad made a documentary about Front's first tour, it got some exposure, and when coupled with the "Nerdcore for Life" movie by Dan Lamoureux, the genre's name gained some more press briefly in 2007. It was made increasingly popular for a moment when one of the rappers in the Lameroux film used his YouTube connections to get a preview of the documentary featured on the site. The rest was history. I was lumped into the genre even though my management, my publicist and I had always seen what I do as entirely different. I never self-identified as a "nerdcore rapper" and always cringed when people said I was. Because I knew the end was in sight.
At this time everyone thought, for a second, that nerdcore was going to blow up. "We finally had a voice," a cadre of mediocre rappers exclaimed. But people forgot to notice one thing: the genre was ultimately limited. It traded on the notion that home-produced beats and an awkward flow were something people would want to pay to hear, instead of just laugh at for a minute while you were looking to put on some "real hip-hop," like Jay-Z or Kanye West. And now we are seeing the brunt of this fallacy in thinking.
As with any genre, if you want to last, you have to write songs that affect people in an emotional way and have an interesting live show and be very savvy with your business. What came up were hundreds of Myspace sites with kids rapping over Nintendo samples about Star Wars and how they couldn't get laid. Nerdcore has been declining in popularity and notoriety because, to be quiet honest, its appeal as a genre outside of a select few people is ultimately finite. The Ramones and the Sex Pistols had an aesthetic that changed music forever, Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash perfected the art of the breakbeat and changed the party vibe by creating a context for funky beats to be played for hours with no gaps. It wasn't until punk evolved into the post-punk of bands like Joy Division and Public Image Limited that it became interesting again and it wasn't until the production of the breakbeat was reinvented by guys like Dre that hip-hop began to evolve musically. Not to oversimplify things, but music evolves when people realize that it's time for something new, and that time for nerdcore hip-hop is now.
I get demos all the time by kids who self-identify as "nerdcore hip-hop artists". And I tell them all that before you try to artificially incorporate yourself into a subgenre, that you need to UNDERSTAND its genesis and BE PREPARED TO PUSH IT FORWARD. Sounding exactly like the dopest people currently in the scene is not enough - you need to be original.
Let me illustrate by describing some people who have pushed things forward within this Internet-based hip-hop community who have the potential of having a career in the years to come by respecting but transcending Frontalot's movement:
YTCracker is my boy. We've been working together for over a year, he's helped me with my hustle and I've hooked him up with shows, and our "Digital Gangster LP" recouped all of its costs within a few days of its release. That is unheard of, as 90% of records that come out never make back the money invested in them. Yes, he has "Nerd Life" tatted on his torso, and yes he put out an EP with Nintendo beats, but this dude is also a DJ and musician who truly understands music and runs one of the biggest forums for hackers on the Internet. He uses the "nerd" concept as a branding device, but he's really a hip-hop gangster with a lot of talent who, when he pushes himself and expands his subject matter, I tell everyone still has the ability and flow to reach a mainstream audience. He also hosts my website and the Horris Records site.
Schaffer the Darklord is one hilarious and very talented MC. He's a great writer and performer and he's one of the nicest people I know. He gets his rhythmic skills from his earlier career as a metal drummer - which is why his flow is so precise and his stage movements are so engaging and energetic. I've found that many great rappers are also great drummers.... case in point: Josh Eppard, Coheed's old drummer, whose Weerd Science project is pretty untouchable. Schaffer will go far because his YouTube presence is so huge and he will keep building on the underground notoriety he's made for himself. It's not "nerdcore hip-hop", it's very entertaining and clever rap that tells stories in the tradition of Slick Rick or Snoop, with a flow that resembles "Weird Al" at his best. Say what you will about his "hip-hop cred", Schaffer is an artist who I will always be excited to hear live or on my iPod any day of the week.
Jesse Dangerously is someone I've admired from afar and finally got to work with last year and meet at SXSW. We became buddies because he, like me, has never wanted to be part of the nerdcore genre and intentionally approaches the mic with a knowledge and flow of some of the best old-school rappers. When we were rehearsing in the alley behind the venue in Austin for SXSW, some kids walked by and heard Jesse's flow and were blown away and all started freestyling with us. He's a true talent that I know will go far. We once spoke about working on EP together, and it looks like that probably won't happen anymore due to our conflicting schedules, but I know Jesse will be in the game for years to come and I will proudly say that I knew him back in the day.
Beefy is an amazing talent and has taken the "nerdcore" identify and had fun with it and made some great records and pushed the aesthetic criteria. He's a great storyteller and performer, and has a great ear for dope beats. In five years, he could be on the forefront of his own movement. Go see his live show - and you'll agree that homeboy's a powerhouse performer. I've had the pleasure of sharing the stage with him a few times and he always rips it up.
Dual Core is an international crew with an American emcee who calls himself int80 who works with a British producer called c64. David (int80) came out of the Scribble Jam Midwest hip-hop scene, birthplace of people like Eminem, Slug from Atmosphere, and Sage Francis, and is a rapper who HAPPENS to be a computer programmer by day, which makes him more than a "nerdcore rapper". He's an amazing freestyler and one of the nicest people I know (next to Schaffer), and I'll never forget the fun afternoon we spent in Chicago one day before our show there with Front and YT. He's an amazing rapper and friend.
Look at these artists and then look at some of the lesser known peeps in the scene and you'll see why some transcend and some are doomed to obscurity. My point is this: if you want to make music, make amazing music and don't try to be in a scene. Don't limit yourself. Don't just be a rapper. Master all of the programs for beat making. Study hip-hop, but not just hip-hop, study all music and learn to sing and play guitar or piano. Push yourself and THEN send me your demos. In Negin Farsad's documentary about Front, Jello Biafra warns us, "be careful of your own stereotype, it could become a prison." That's what's happened in the past year with nerdcore but no longer needs to be the case. We're on the verge of the second decade of the twenty-first century. Kids who are doing dope things with hip-hop sonically (3OH!3, Hyper Crush etc.) are the ones reaching fans and changing things. Kids who are ONLY listening to MC Frontalot and mc chris sound like lo-fi versions of the Lonely Island guys.... and if that's what you're going for, more power to you... but true music fans would rather listen to artists who make great albums and move us emotionally than listen to a novelty act looking for their fifteen minutes in a genre that has come and gone.
Let's push ourselves outside of our comfort zones and flip the script by surprising each other with what we can do.
It's time for something new and I'm typing this as a call for action to all of the kids out there who want to make careers in music. If you want to make a mark, keep impressing those of us who have been in the game for a decade plus and don't simply try to emulate what we've done. Say something original, say it well, and make my car shake when I listen to your demo mp3 or keep my attention rapt with the dope YouTube video you make to go with the song. You are all mad talented and I know you can create amazing stuff.
RIP Nerdcore.... what's next?? It's honestly a really an exciting time to be on the mic or producing beats.
P.S. A lot of people ask me what my favorite hip-hop records are when I point to originators that can inspire us to move forward. These are some good ones by true artists that I think everyone should study and keep handy in their iTunes:
- Run-DMC: Raising Hell
- Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
- Nas: Illmatic
- The Notorious B.I.G.: Ready to Die
- E-40: My Ghetto Report Card
- Boogie Down Productions: Ghetto Music (The Blueprint of Hip-Hop)
- Dr. Dre: the Chronic
- Snoop Doggy Dogg: Doggystyle
- Wu-Tang Clan: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
- Mystikal: Unpredictable
- Outkast: Aquemini
- Jay-Z: the Black Album
- Dizzee Rascal: Boyindacorner
- MC Frontalot: Nerdcore Rising
- K'Naan: Troubador
Jul 3, 2009
Jul 2, 2009
Jul 1, 2009
Jun 26, 2009
Jun 25, 2009
Jun 24, 2009
Summer is upon us. I've been working like crazy with K.Flay and DJ on some hot jams for our EP. We've been writing for weeks and are tracking with our favorite Bay Area production team the Rondo Brothers Thursday and Friday. We had like nine plus songs and have narrowed it down to our six favorites. I'm currently at my parents' house in Carmel Valley because I had to come back for an appointment with my optometrist tomorrow morning. Fuuunnnnn. I'm living a double life.
Tomorrow we're working on one more song for the EP. Tonight I rapped with my friend Chris Peck's band the Crymuscles at their show in San Francisco. I've been taking BART a lot because traffic and parking in San Francisco is terrible. I love my summer sublet in the Oakland hills. I'm learning my way around the East Bay again.
My sleep schedule has been so weird. I'm usually up until four or five a.m. then I get up a few hours later and start work. I don't understand it. It may have something to do with all of the time changes and different time zones we've been touring through so my body gets confused. Maybe I need to stop drinking coffee. Or stop smoking meth. Just kidding about the meth!!!!!!!! I like my teeth and face being intact.
I did a collab with int eight of Dual Core and 17,000 nerdcore rappers. Basically, it's a Twitter song where we all rap back and forth like we're on Twitter. Cool concept, but when I sent him my vocals, he wrote me back like, "Lars, you sent me silent tracks." I don't know how it happened - maybe ProTools is haunted or something. So I sent him my ProTools session for him and his British producer to have fun with. It's going to be cool. I really love Dual Core because David (int) is a really talented rapper and their production is always catchy and fun to listen to. He transcends nerdcore because he came up in the Scribble Jam / indie hip-hop seen of the mid-west late 90s community. He's a rapper who just happens to be a computer guy, not the other way around.
Been hanging out with cool people, doing awesome things like going to the Ansel Adams / Georgia O'Keefe show at the SF MoMa with my Orinda friend Samantha. I've been swimming every day at the UC Berkeley pool to get back in shape. Touring sometimes makes my body rusty, with McDonalds and the stress of hours and hours of driving and the weird sleep schedule and lack of aerobic exercise off of the stage, so I'm returning to the lean, mean muscle machine that I was when I first started this touring life. It feels so good to be getting back in shape.
The other day K.Flay and I went shopping. She has become my unofficial stylist. We were learning how to update what I wear so I'm less 1998 and more 2009. I used to always wear giant jeans that were way too big, because I forgot that MC Hammer didn't have the comeback we'd all hoped. Now I'm chilling and whenever I've been going out women keep starting up conversations with me because my pants are no longer three sizes too big. It's nice to have female friend advice on what to wear and not be sloppy all of the time.
Oh man it's almost 4 a.m. Got to get up in a few hours to see Dr. Flicker and talk about my contact lens prescription. To all of you in Internet Land - sweet dreams. Your boy MC Lars loves you. Unless you're doing meth and robbing people. Then you should be executed.
Carmel Valley, CA
P.S. Look for K.Flay's new mixtape. I did a guest verse, as did Eligh from Living Legends. Hot.
P.P.S. We're starting work in the "This Gigantic Robot Kills" video. WATCH OUT FOR IT!!!
Jun 20, 2009
Jun 11, 2009
I'm performing an improvised art piece tomorrow at noon at the Stanford Cantor Art Center. My old professor Mark Applebaum invented a new type of score and different musicians have been interpreting it (mainly classical musicians).
I'm rolling up with K.Flay, MNP, and Thomas Tissot on percussion to interpret his piece with video, freestyled raps, and poetry. It's going to be a one of a kind performance, unlike any other MC Lars show ever before.
More info here.
Time: noon - 1 pm
Where: 328 Lomita Dr, Stanford - (650) 723-4177
Jun 10, 2009
The results for what the next single/video from "This Gigantic Robot Kills" should be are in!! We had 1242 votes and these were our results:
- This Gigantic Robot Kills - 307 - 25%
- Hey There Ophelia - 201 - 16%
- True Player for Real - 148 - 12%
- It's Not Easy (Being Green) - 136 - 11%
- O.G. Original Gamer - 135 - 11%
- Twenty-Three - 84 - 7%
- We Have Arrived - 58 - 5%
- No Logo - 57 - 5%
- (Lord It's Hard to be Happy When You're Not) Using the Metric System - 46 - 4%
- Where Ya Been Lars? - 40 - 3%
- 35 Laurel Drive - 30 - 2%
Congratulations to Zach Migler of St. John, Indiana for being the randomly selected winner of the robot USB drive!
Look for the "This Gigantic Robot Kills" video this summer!
Jun 1, 2009
I've finally come home. You guys have seen this right?
Most of that was filmed when I was a little kid growing up in the Oakland Hills. I'd borrow my parents' old school Sony Super 8 camcorder and make insane videos for hours, then play them for my friends (for their amusement and consternation).
Well, get this - this summer, I'm subletting an apartment under a house in the Oakland Hills that I found on Craigslist. Coincidentally (ironically?) the place is TWO HOUSES down from where I grew up as a kid. My parents moved us to the Monterey Peninsula between fourth and fifth grade, and I'd always missed the Bay Area. So I'm back to my genesis point before I go on tour again late next month.
I went for a walk today around the neighborhood, and it's so strange to be in a place I haven't lived in for sixteen years. Everything seems so small, but the feeling I get being back here - the air, the weather, the beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay from the hills - is unlike anything else. I feel a peacefulness I haven't felt since the mid-90's. So yay for synchronicity and sporadic connections to the past.
I'm also single again. I was dating an awesome Northwest girl for almost two years - we were even cohabitating - but we broke when I was on tour with the Aquabats in the UK a few months ago. Completely mutual and good. But on the freedom tip - it's really liberating to be in an apartment where I can do my own thing. Not that I didn't love my ex - I'm just saying it's awesome being on my own again. I once again have that the freedom and creativity that comes with being able to work on a track until 5 am.... which is hard when you're in a studio apartment with a girl who has a nine-to-five retail job... when my nine-to-five is nine p.m. to five a.m. It's also given me more time to hang out with my other friends and dedicate more time to my comics. The next girl I date - we're not moving in for a long time, and if we do, best believe it will be in a two-bedroom apartment, son.
So - moving on from my existentialist glee (which you all have in your grasp, by the way, mix some Jean Paul Sartre and Tibetan Buddhist teachings and you'll find that even though the world doesn't exist, we're free to be happy in its impermanence and satisfy our human needs) - the point of this blog is to sum up the rest of the Australian tour.
When we last left you, we were in Melbourne. I was just about to see my family that still lives in Victoria. There are four brothers by one of the daughters on my Grandfather's brother (i.e. my Great Aunt and Great Uncle's side), and they all play instruments. I was trying to convince them that they should start a band - like the Aussie Jonas Brothers - and I'd sign them to Horris Records. Here's a picture of the young MC Lars second cousins in Sydney, being joyful and looking related (the four brothers on one side and two sisters on the other):
The next day we went back to the monastery and drove with the Wherewolves guys to Sydney. Once we arrived in Sydney, we stayed with our friend Andrew from Taperjean. He lives with his parents in a big house in the Sydney suburbs. It was his Dad's birthday so the house was festively scented. The next morning Andrew made us an amazing Indian breakfast and then the Wherewolves guys picked us up for our show at Blush in Gosford on the Central Coast.
Between soundcheck and dinner, DJ and I went for a walk and made a flow chart of the next four projects we're working on in the next year or so. We started brainstorming guests and collaborations and beats. Not to give stuff away, but the list contains (but is not exclusive to):
- an EP with K.Flay
- an EP with Jesse Dangerously
- my children's / Christmas record
- my next full-length
(Side note - tomorrow I'm meeting with DJ and Flay to start talking about the EP... beats... concepts... schedules. All of that fun pre-production stuff.)
Anyways, after our dinner at the Poker Hall across the street from the Gosford club (these are huge in Australia and I've heard from Bill Bryson that gambling accounts for 20% of their GNP - WTF?), I went to meet up with my homie Dave, the drummer for a band that's very famous in Australia, Something with Numbers. I toured with them in 2005 in Australia then brought them out to America in 2006 with the Matches. If you don't know Something with Numbers, check out "Apple of the Eye" on YouTube.
At the show I got to hang out with some of the other members of the band and catch up with them - Tim and Scott - and saw their old guitarist Lachlan. The touring life is a strange one because you'll go out on a month long journey where you spend every second of your life with another band and then you won't see them except for about five minutes three years later. But those five minutes make it feel like no time has passed between encounters. I loved seeing my old Aussie rocker friends - they are kicking butt in Australia and deserve everything they're getting because they've worked like hell for it.
There were piranhas in a fish tank at the show and Dave joked that they were a barometer of a band's performance. It was funny - every time an opening band sounded good, it seemed like the piranhas were motionless and staring at the stage in rapt attention. When the opening bands messed up or weren't sounding right, the piranhas were swimming around like they were bored and ignored the stage. It was pretty hilarious. Here's a picture of the piranha enjoying one of the opening bands:
The next morning DJ and I had a meeting with our Australian label rep Andrew about the upcoming projects and next singles for Australia and got really excited. Let me tell you about Taperjean - it's a label run by our friend Andrew Perumalla, and he has put out stuff by bands like Cartel (LOL), Limbeck and their new hit Closure in Moscow. They are distributed in Australia by Shock, one of the best distributors down there, and have done super well by putting out a diverse roster of music.
"I only put stuff out by bands I believe in," Andrew told us as we ate Thai food and dreamed of our exciting futures. "I mean, if you don't believe in the long term sustainability of the bands you work with, who will?"
I've licensed EPs and LPs to lots of different labels through the years. Truck Records, Sidecho, Big Mouth, Below Par, Nettwerk... but I'm really happy with the current situation. Jaret Reddick from Bowling for Soup started a label with a producer named Linus Dotson, and they teamed up with our friend Carl Caprioglio to start a label called Crappy Records under Oglio. They have been growing the label and invested a lot of time and energy and financial resources into my new album. They then sublicensed the record to Taperjean and exported copies to the UK and Japan. They let me put my Horris Records logo on the back of the CD, but really, the album is a Crappy Records release, which I try to clarify in the interest of helping the label grow and reciprocate their support.
They are putting out other cool stuff like the Leftovers (from southern Maine) and Skyfox (from Denver). One day Crappy Records will be blinging like Epitaph, but for now it's a few hardworking dudes helping young bands get their stuff heard in an industry that makes it harder and harder to make a dime off of well-recorded music. So if you've downloaded my music illegally, I know I've rapped about "new media economics" and stuff, but please also make sure to buy the CD or get it off of iTunes - my label guys have been nothing but awesome and together we are going to kick ass with "This Gigantic Robot Kills" and their young rock bands and make Crappy Records happen worldwide (the joke is that the albums aren't actually crappy, get it? LOL BFS).
Anyway, let me finish up describing the rest of the tour. We took a ride on a ferry around the Sydney Harbour, looking at the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge - two sites that when you see them all you can say is, "Yeah, I'm in Australia". It's an unmistakable moment I always have every time I get to Circular Quay where it hits me that I'm on the other side of the world. Bill Bryson describes this in his book about Australia, "In a Sunburned Country".
We went to Campbelltown for our second New South Wales show. When we were being told about this place, everyone kept saying, "Ooh! Campbelltown is rough mate! Watch out!" and "You'll get mugged!", so DJ and I were slightly apprehensive.
But if you've ever met me in real life, you'll know that I'm a big guy, and DJ is straight-up gangster, so you might wonder why we'd be nervous.
Well, we got there and the city felt extremely safe. People were friendly - it was well lit, clean, and felt like an upscale Bay Area suburb. I'm not going to make any jokes about the relative dangers of boomerangs to AK-47s (sorry, I did the opposite of what I said I would) but I guess the scale of "dangerous" in Australia is a little different than we had anticipated. We went for a walk and got some food and DJ went to a barber shop to get his hair cut.
When we walked in, and because DJ is a pro in telling people how to shave his head, he was very specific about what gauge clippers he needed etc. Since we walked in the room, the mood was very silent, like the barbers were wondering, "What are these weird Americans doing here in this random Sydney suburb?" It was very very quiet and awkward.
DJ paid the guys and as we were leaving one of the guys asked, "Where are you from?" We told him California.
"You know we're Iraqi right?"
DJ and I then went on to explain our embarrassment with our former leader's international policy decisions and how we were sorry our country had messed up their relatives' lives so badly. They laughed and we all shook hands. The mood became lighter. Everyone was smiling and laughing about the awkwardness.
"Well, if you need anything while you're here, come back, let us know," they told us. What a nice thing to say.
It was a cool cultural exchange. For the record, Australian dudes living in the Sydney suburbs are super cool and friendly. It made me so happy that we'd just said peace to our redneck Former President No-Talent-Ass-Clown.
The show in Campbelltown was really fun and afterward we went back to Andrew's house. The next morning DJ and I woke up early to meet up with his friend Nicole and her boyfriend and they took us on a fun trip around Sydney. We went to Bondi Beach, Watsons Bay, saw an awesome view of the skyline, and went to my personal highlight of the trip, the Featherdale Wildlife Park.
Now, for those of you who don't know (which I'm sure you all do), Australia has some of the freshest fauna on the face of this planet. That's because all of the animals evolved unique on this giant, organically heterogenous island. That's why you see animals that you only see on Australia - some of the coolest and most resilient in the world. And because the ecosystems are so diverse due to the many different biomes in Australia, the animals have to evolve uniquely. It's like Darwin's Galapagos Island studies extrapolated onto a continental level. That's why (I've heard) the animals on New Zealand are so different - unique evolution due to a varied climate and geological separation.
At the zoo, we hung out with wallabies, koalas, emus, Tasmanian Devils, dingos, and all sorts of awesome animals. Check out our photos from the experience that reflect the enjoyment of meeting our new friends as North American cultural ambassadors:
While we were feeding the wallabies, the freaking emus kept coming over and knocking the food out of our hands. Here you will see a picture of the spilled cone of such a tragic interaction. Look how sad the wallaby looks. I put the "FAIL" logo on for comedy to emulate Failblog.org. I know, I'm hilarious with this Photoshop ish.
I posted a link to some of these on Flickr earlier today, and someone wrote on Twitter "You shouldn't feed wallabies ice cream." For the record it wasn't ice cream!! They put wallaby food in a cone so you can feed them better.
We went back into town to meet up with Wherewolves and rocked one of the most fun shows of the tour. It was in downtown Sydney at a club called Spectrum, a place I'd played at twice before. I saw a lot of my old friends, including Denley Healy who was at Shock when the Graduate dropped, and Stephen Wade, our friend at Select Music who helped us book the tour. It was awesome. The club owner let me help DJ and we danced until really late. As a finale I put on Men at Work's "Down Under" and we all sang along. It was like something out of a movie. A weird, fun, international movie - involving lots of alcohol. As they say, when in Rome...
Wasted, Andrew and I took a taxi back to his house. Andrew was rapping my lyrics back to me the whole way back - interpreting them with his own spin - and, much to our cab driver's amusement and consternation, we made it back to his house. You don't tip in Australia, but because our cab driver Babu was so patient with our intoxicated boisterous antics, best believed I tipped him nicely.
Andrew's half-awake Dad let us in at 4 a.m. and Andrew and I stayed up late talking about girls and how to know if they like you or not - and how to know when to call them v. text them. It's funny how little changes when you're in your mid-twenties - you still stay up late talking about what you talked about in fifth grade.
I took a plane early the next morning and flew to Brisbane. I met up with my friend Chanel, a CSUMB student who's spending a year studying in Queensland, and she took me on a tour of the city. We saw the Aboriginal art the museum, the man-made lake by the river, and went to hear a semi-funny street comic get shut down by the police. I bought a bunch of postcards to mail to friends but forgot to mail them. Is it still fresh if they're postmarked from San Francisco? LOL I don't know.
The Brisbane show was really really great. It was full of incredibly hot tattooed barely dressed Australian punk rock girls who kept coming up to me and hugging me and asking me to sign their CDs/their shirts/them. I'm not saying that this doesn't happen in America. Wait, it doesn't. I guess it helps having a top 30 hit song in a country where the women are all beautiful and have mad style.
I even got a few kisses on the cheek by a few of them - true player. But seriously- thank you to the bangin' punk rock girls of Brisbane for buying me drinks making my last night there so fun and hilarious. See you next time. I promise.
Before the show, we learned that one of my favorite extreme metal bands from the UK was there hanging out and had come to see the show. They are called Cradle of Filth, I found out about them in high school when they did a sick-ass cover of Iron Maiden's "Hallowed be thy Name." Do yourself a favor and check them out - if you're not a metal fan, you will be after hearing this. This a video a fan synced of that song to footage form the third Prince of Persia game... it works pretty well:
So I knew I had to give them a shout out. What song though? I don't really have any metal jams, and "Guitar Hero Hero", while it has a rocking solo, is not really metal. Then I thought, did I have any dark songs? And it hit me - I'd dedicate my song about one of the darkest poems by one of America's darkest poets, "Mr. Raven."
It worked, after the show their manager came up and thanked me for giving them props and invited me to come see them the next night. I said I'd go if I could reschedule my flight (it didn't happen unfortunately) but I got to meet the guys, and they were really cool and friendly. I don't know if they were big hip-hop fans, but I'd love to work with them one day. We could tear it up on a rap metal tip that will make Fred Durst have to change his drawers. You feel me?
After the show we hung out at the club and I said peace to Chanel and her cool friend from Chicago and headed back to Sam from Wherewolves' house get a few hours sleep. He and his kind girlfriend drove me to the airport early the next morning. I flew to Sydney, hung out there for an hour or so, and took the long long flight back to San Francisco. Because of the partying we'd done on the last few shows, and the lack of sleep, I slept most of the way back across the Pacfic. I'm still on Australia time but the jet lag could have been a lotttttt worse had I not adjusted en route home.
So that's it. Thanks to the fans who came out, thanks to the DJs who have been playing the single on the radio in Australia, thanks to Taperjean and Crappy for putting the album into stores, and thanks to Wherewolves for rocking our music so hard every night. We'll be back to Australia soon, we promise. In the meantime - we've got BFD this weekend and our big-ass US summer tour (more info to follow). We'll probably be back in the UK later this year too - I've been hollering at Ed who runs the Good to Go Tour, so that's looking good.
Love to all! Good night.
From his summer residence in the Oakland Hills, I'm outtsie like Bukowksi. (Feel free to steal that - I know it's not the last time I'll be using it.)