Hey, gang. I’ve got a few quick announcements today. First of all, my Underscores collection is finally complete and you can pick up your free download here. The story about how the album came together is kind of interesting but it’s rather long so I’ll save that for a future post. Anyways, if you’re in the mood for some creepy crawly soundtrack music go snag yourself a copy and why not pick up some other free stuff while you’re there?
Next up, we had our fifth installment of Sonic Circuits: Off the Grid last Saturday and it was a huge success. We had a nice turn out and inspired sets by all of the participants. My percussion duo with Rich O’Meara turned out rather well so I posted an excerpt of our performance below:
Finally, I added a “Press” page to the site so you can read some of the reviews I’ve got over the years. So far, I’ve only got stuff posted for Radio Friendly and Stereo Space but I’m going to dig around and see if I can unearth some older reviews too. Who knows, I might find something from ten years ago or something.
So that’s it for now! Hope you enjoy the new stuff.
Recently, I got invited to join a songwriters circle and it prompted me to dust off my acoustic guitar and work on some old songs that I had more or less forgotten about. I was sitting in front of the computer practicing a tune that I had written for my dog when it occurred to me that it might be fun to make a video of my struggling through it (I’m super rusty from months of not playing). Anyways, I hope you enjoy!
I played a show at George Mason University a few nights ago and as I was preparing the video I ran across this older footage of a performance I did back in July of 2011. It was one of my last gigs as a soloist before Daniel and I started playing as a duo and as far as I remember it was also the last time I ever played “Slipping on Eggs on the Floor” which was a live staple for me back then. Regardless of the terrible lighting this was probably one of my best versions of “Eggs” so I thought it’d be fun to share it. You can barely see anything in the original footage so I slapped a bunch of filters on it and adjusted the contrast in an attempt to make it more visually interesting. There’s no way I could get it to look good without doing something drastic so just pretend that you can only see the world in purple and you’ll be fine!
Anyway, below is said “Eggs” vid and below that is my most recent mini-set from the fourth annual Noise-a-Thon held in the Art and Design Building at George Mason University. Dig my awesome Rush shirt!
Several weeks ago I got really sick and ended up needing to go to the emergency room (actually it was more like URGENT CARE but telling people I had to go to the ER makes for such a better story). I had a high fever, chills, aches and pains but they weren’t quite sure what was wrong with me. They took some blood, which of course caused me to pass out, and when I regained consciousness I immediately had to rush to the bathroom to do unspeakable things that you just don’t discuss in polite company. In short, I was a complete MESS and everyone was looking at me like I was the outbreak monkey. Eventually, they concluded that I had some sort of stomach bug, pumped me full of antibiotics and sent me on my way.
For those of you who don’t know me, I don’t do well with medication and I most certainly don’t do well with antibiotics. In fact, my deep hatred for antibiotics has inspired me to write two acutely bizarre songs about them which you can listen to here and here. In addition to their usual side effects, antibiotics also make me extremely paranoid and restless. After the “ER” visit, I was cooped up inside the house alone for days which only made my existentialist nightmare that much worse. Desperate for reprieve, I resorted to the one thing that I knew would make me feel better: I FREAKED OUT.
Allow me to put some things in perspective. My grandpa used to come unglued all the time in an effort to alleviate the boredom of his day to day life. To the dismay of my grandma, he’d pull his pajama bottoms up under his armpits, slouch over like Carl from Sling Blade and stand on the front porch waving at passers by. Sometimes he’d pretend to be deaf or that you were speaking a language that he couldn’t understand. When I was younger he enjoyed stuffing me into a barrel and kicking it down a steep hill. It was a game he called “Hit the Tree”. If I crashed into said tree, I won. He also liked to stomp around the house and have very loud, obnoxious conversations with himself. On special occasions he’d even do this in public.
Needless to say, my grandpa’s antics would embarrass the hell out of all of us but looking back now I think that’s the very reason why he enjoyed it. He was quite willing to make himself look like a slobbering idiot (or an ishkabibble as he’d call it) just so he could revel in watching us squirm. Was it sadistic? Masochistic? A little bit of both? Who knew? Whatever it was, it must have rubbed off on me because I also take immense pleasure in pestering the ones that I love. I loved my grandma so much in fact that she used to keep a flyer swatter with her at all times just to keep me away. I love my brother and sister so much that they’re both damaged for life. I like to rile my wife up as she’s getting ready for bed so locking me out of the bathroom has become an integral part of her bedtime routine. Few things in this world make me happier than farting on my pets. It’s a blast! When I’m alone, however, I have no one to torture but myself and that’s when I have to get really creative.
In my ongoing quest for cheap entertainment, I sometimes stand in front of the mirror and make faces just to see how repulsive I can be. I consider myself to be a decent looking guy but dear lord can I make myself ugly. I discovered that despite my twiggy frame I still have a bit of a double chin so I’ve been exploiting that one a lot. I have big, crooked teeth so that serves me well too. I’ve found that ugliness can be a fine art and through diligent practice and perseverance I’ve been able to broaden my palette significantly. In the throes of my recent illness, I was like a painter who just stumbled upon a new color spectrum and was whisked away on a roller coaster of sleep deprived, heavily medicated inspiration!
So why am I telling you all of this? What does it all mean? In a nutshell, my grandpa severely warped my sense of humor and because I was so lonely and bored from my confinement I decided to put all of these afflictions to good use. As I was bouncing off the ceiling and walls it occurred to me that perhaps I should document this mania. And, because I’m such a pragmatist, why not work on my video editing skills at the same time? It’s a win/win.
The result is the video you see below. Click it. Don’t be afraid. It’s silly, random and juvenile for sure but I hope that you’re at least able to draw some enjoyment from my intolerable isolation:). Don’t let my suffering be in vain!!!
First of all, the Underscores album is still coming along nicely so I thought I’d preview some of the tracks for you.
The first tune is like the soundtrack to an evil carnival ride, the second one is an atmospheric guitar loop with spatterings of percussion and the last one is an all out lo-fi psych metal Frankenstein monster of a jam. Three very different tunes but a nice sampling of what to expect from my next release.
Next, we have some footage from my tour last spring. On the last night, Chester Hawkins (from the late, great Blue Sausage Infant) and I decided to do a completely improvised set and this is what we ended up with. We had another camera set up and a better audio recording of the performance but unfortunately our ambitious plans to compile them into a sleek multi-shot video never came to fruition. Oh well, it’s still fun to watch. Keep in mind that this is one of my very first times experimenting with my drum/electronics setup in public so I wasn’t showing much restraint. I had so many ideas coming at me and I felt the need to cram them all in. All in all, it was my favorite night of the tour and Chester and I agreed that it was a lot of fun. Hope you enjoy it too!
I know I’m not always quick on the draw when it comes to updating this site but I just wanted to go ahead and say HAPPY NEW YEAR and all that jazz before we get too much further into 2013. I’m such a slacker!
Anyways, I’ve been working on some new live material and I just recently played my first solo show in almost two years. A friend of mine was kind enough to film it for me and you can see the results below. I struggle with some technical issues throughout but I still think the videos are worthy of sharing. I hope you enjoy them as I’m planning on making studio versions of all three of these very soon.
Also, I’ve been spending a lot of time organizing my music archives and I just posted a couple of new EPs on my Bandcamp page. The first one is called Absorption and the second one is called Swear Jar. Both are short compilations of some of my older experimental 4-track recordings (circa 2000-2003). I was listening to a lot of John Zorn, Ween, Residents, Zappa, Boredoms and Mike Patton at the time so to say these EPs are bizarre would be an understatement. With that said, I think they’re well worth the effort if you’re a fan of more adventurous home brewed lo-fi weirdness. They’re FREE so what are you waiting for?
If you’re keeping up with it, I’m still making progress on my Underscores project but it looks like it may be expanding into a two, maybe three, volume set. I’ll keep you posted as it develops along side all of the new material I have planned. Busy, busy, busy!!!
Finally, Bandcamp has started a new “fan” project where people can share their favorite artists with each other and brag about all the music they’ve downloaded from the site. On the surface, it looks like it could be pretty cool and you can read more about it here. If you find yourself downloading some of my tunes in the near future why not sign up for a free fan account and tell the world about how awesome you thing Pilesar is ? Hey, every little bit helps!
Several years ago, some friends and I attempted to write and record an avant garde country album called “Izland of Crooked Houses” but due to scheduling conflicts and a few other variables the enthusiasm eventually faded and it was decided to shelf the whole project altogether. Needless to say, it was kind of a warped collection of tunes but some of them were actually really good. This EP represents NONE of those “good” songs. What we have here is an extremely short compilation of my favorite weird bits with a couple of bonus tracks to boot. I still plan on releasing a version of “Izland…” in the future but I want to spend some time giving it the proper studio treatment it deserves. Anyways, here are some details on the songs presented on this EP.
“Ballad of the Possum Eatin’Monster” was written sometime around 2008 and it was based on my real life run in with a vicious possum in the woods behind my house. I was so traumatized by the incident that I had no choice but to write a song about it. Originally, the main character was supposed to be this evil and vindictive monster but as the song started coming together I found myself sympathizing with him more than fearing him. I decided to shift the tone and make it more of a morality tale. My friend Logan and I recorded a 4-track demo with just vocals, bass and drums and then we sent it to my other friend Nikc Miller so he could add his guitar and vocal parts. After a few half-hearted attempts to make a proper recording we discovered that we just couldn’t recapture the raw sound and spirit of the original so we just kept the demo as the official version. I’m glad too because I simply could NOT get my vocals that low again without severely hurting myself. I’m not even sure how I did it the first time.
“Hurricane” is a funny kind of country western number that I’ve been playing in different live groups since about 2003. I played it with my metal band Mandible, my jazz-thrash-math-surf group Mosquito Death Squadron and my short lived Pilesar and the Quagmire project. People always seemed to enjoy it so I felt it’d be a perfect fit for the “Izland…” album. We recorded a few different versions but this one is by far the best. Fun little trivia note: I wanted the song to sound like it was being played live at some dive bar in the middle of nowhere so we recorded multiple takes of us milling about, chatting with each other and clinking our beer bottles together. We even joined in with the sing along!
“How Can I Stay Mad at You?” is another older tune that we recorded several versions of with different treatments. This is the full band version. I’ve always liked this song but I didn’t feel like it really fit with some of the other material. I don’t have much to say about this one other than I really like the trumpets and the bass line is really fun. I hate my vocals but whacha gonna do?
“Pop Princess” was a one off track that I did for some internet compilation back in 2005-2006. It wasn’t part of the original “Izland” sessions but I threw it in there because I need a closer to Side B. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that it doesn’t really fit but then again none of these songs really fit anywhere if you think about it.
“It’s Your Turn to Do the Dishes” was also not part of the “Izland” sessions but I always liked it and felt it needed a home. I recorded it back in 2004 as part of ANOTHER internet compilation (I must have been going through a phase) and I felt it’d be a good bonus track. It was fun to make because I had to record myself doing the dishes for a few minutes and then I had a weird conversation with myself in some unknown tongue. I added some lap harp at the end and voilà! Instant hit!
In case you haven’t noticed, yes, this EP is supposed to be a virtual 45 (hence the name). I’ve always wanted to release a 7″ record but I’m broke and they’re expensive as hell to make. I figure if I’m going to spend that much money on a physical product it might as well be a full length CD or something. For now, the Virtual 45 will have to do….
There’s been a lot of crazy stuff going on in my personal life lately so I haven’t had a chance to update this site in a little while. I just realized that I never officially posted the link to my newest release, Stereo Outs, so here ya go:
It’s a FREE download so go snag it now. I hope you enjoy it!
In other news, I’ve decided to take the remainder of this year and part of early next year off from live performance so I can get back into the studio and focus on some long overdue experimenting and recording. I’m also trying to reconfigure my live rig to make it more versatile and easier to manage. The new solo set up might lend itself more to improvisation and abstract song writing but to counterbalance that I’m also going to be putting together a few groups to play some more composed material. In other words, I’ve grown bored with the status quo and it’s time for me to doing some innovatin’! Maybe I’ll get on the stage sometime in the spring but I’m planning on lurking in the shadows for the time being.
Don’t expect a shortage of Pilesar related music however. I’ve been busy writing new songs, developing new collaborations, preparing tons of archival material for release and making a lot of headway on my next full length album. Even if I’m not playing live I’ll still be plenty active, so don’t fret!
Well, I’m off to rake the yard and run some errands. Have a great week:)
I haven’t updated this blog in a while but I’ve got a ton of news to make up for it. First of all, Stereo Outs is finally starting to wrap up and I plan to release it in a few weeks on Halloween. Best part is, you’ll be able to download it for FREE off of my Bandcamp site. OOOoooooo!!! Scary!!! Speaking of free, I’m also making progress on my Underscores project and I’ve got a whole slew of other archival material in the works so there will be no shortage of Pilesar music going into 2013 and beyond. Lucky you!
In addition to all the Pilesar shenanigans, my improv group, Catoctin, has been pretty busy as well. We just played a successful set at the Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music this past September and we have plans to start recording an album in the upcoming months. I’ll post some links to videos and tracks below to whet your appetite. Hope you enjoy them!