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May Song: Day Without Contact  

I'm skipping my usual "New Songs" format to bring you this announcement.

I've just finished a new album and it's time to get it in your hands and on to your turn tables. Please help me send it off to the record pressing plant. Consider this a pre-sale.  

Why  

While I do feel that every album I make is worth sharing, I don't necessarily feel that every album I make is worthy of the best possible format, which in my opinion is the LP. This one is worthy for many reasons.  

This album features sounds I've used before but never quite like this. Every sound has a purpose. A guitar or ukulele may provide the basic structure but what makes each song come to life is left to the piano, drums, bass, distorted bass, melodica, vintage Casio keyboards, and vocal harmonies.  

Collaborating with me on this album is Kelly Atkins. She's quite a fixture in the Bay Area music scene (perhaps you know Kitka or 20 Minute Loop?) She can make her voice sound like buzzing insects swarming around your head. Perhaps you like the theremin or the singing saw? She does it all folks.  

My hope is that these songs will inspire you to think deeply about some of the world's issues. Walk in the shoes of a mass shooter. Shake hands with artificial intelligence. Think about climate change the same way you think about your own mother with dementia.  

What's needed  

Through this campaign I'm hoping to raise money to manufacture the LPs and mail them to supporters. I am not asking for any financial assistance in producing the music. That part is done.  

The reality is this album will never be in a local store. This is our shot people. Let's do it. 

Click here to view the campaign.

Anyone curious what will become of this song, "Day Without Contact?" Help me make sure it gets on the record.

 

April song: High and Lonesome  

Shot on iPhone 7

"These are my thoughts as I climb to the top. With a sack full of bullets and a head that won't stop." 

It was difficult to write these words. It was even more difficult to sing them without sounding or feeling like a mass shooter. It's hard to write the words mass shooter. In 1966 an ex-Marine named Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the tower on the University of Texas campus in Austin, TX. According to Wikipedia, he killed 13 people and injured 31. The eventual total dead would be 17.

Since this massacre, according to the Washington Post, there have been 175 mass shootings in which at least 4 people were killed. 

I wanted to write this song simply to offer another perspective on the subject. We have already heard a lot from politicians and those who oppose and support the second amendment and so, I think it's time to get to know the shooters. How do we do this? They are our children and siblings, people who are in our lives yet they become killers. Some are older and some are younger. They are more often than not male. What makes a human do such an inhumane thing? This song is nothing more than an attempt to wonder about this.

Lyrics:

High and lonesome 

High and lonesome 

High and lonesome 

I’ll be 

High and lonesome 

High and lonesome 

High and lonesome 

You’ll see 

I climbed high on the mountain 

I got lost on the sea 

I climbed high on the mountain 

You’d be better with me 

High and lonesome 

High and lonesome 

High and lonesome 

I’ll be 

High and lonesome 

High and lonesome 

High and lonesome 

You’ll see 

These are my thoughts as I climb to the top 

With a sack full of bullets and a head that won’t stop 

These are my thoughts as I climb to the top 

Oh you better come see 

Just don’t get too close to me 

High and lonesome 

High and lonesome 

High and lonesome

Technical Specs:     

UA Apollo Twin     

iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2017) 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5     

AT 4033 Microphone     

AT 4021 Microphone 

Background vocals by Kelly Atkins   

She recorded them at home using a Rode mic and Pro Tools.   

Cascade M39 Stereo Pair Microphones     

1970s Univox “Beatle” Bass     

1963 Gibson B-25    

1991 Gibson Les Paul Standard 

Generic cocktail kit     

Honer melodica  

1970s Yamaha Console Piano     

Written, recorded, and mixed at home. 2019 (BMI) Warship Songs.     

Mastered by Warren Gardiner at Gardiner Audio in Melbourne, AUS 

 

March song: Just get clean  

Shot on iPhone X by Nadine Garred

Song: Just get clean

I imagine addiction is a thing ticking away, relentless in the way it runs through your day. It’s like a Casiotone beat that wakes you up and begs you to deal with it. You might work hard to cover it up but what you are left with is a throbbing feeling in your bones; a pulsing bass line that pushes you forward. You scratch and claw at your body like a 12-string electric guitar. You stumble and startle with every drum fill. You know you can do it. You know you can get over the hump; maybe even cut it down to two pills. “I will” you say, “I will.” Until “I will” swallows you and you can’t hear your own voice. 

This song is about opioid addiction. These are the pills sent home with you after surgery. They are the ones you find below the sink. They are the pills you get from your friend who doesn’t need them. In 2018, according to the CDC, 70% of the 67,000 drug-related deaths in America were caused by opioids prescribed by a doctor.

Technical Specs:   

UA Apollo Twin   

iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2017) 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5   

AT 4033 Microphone   

Background vocals by Kelly Atkins 

She recorded them at home using a Rode mic and Pro Tools. 

Cascade M39 Stereo Pair Microphones   

Pano M8 baritone ukulele 

1970s Univox “Beatle” Bass   

1963 Gibson B-25  

Generic cocktail kit   

Casio Casiotone MT-68   

1970s Yamaha Console Piano   

Danelectro 12-string electric

Korg SV-1 keyboard

Written, recorded, and mixed at home. 2019 (BMI) Warship Songs.   

Mastered by Warren Gardiner at Gardiner Audio in Melbourne, AUS

Lyrics:

If I could just get clean 

If I could just stay sober 

If I could just fly away on some machine 

I would I would 

If I could make my bed 

If I could rest my head 

Towards an impossible dream 

I would I would 

If I could whisper in the night 

Body aches I make my own two feet collide 

Stung by the cold daylight 

Figure hates 

Figure waits 

Go figure me for who you used to know X3 

I would I would 

I would I would       

If I could just get clean 

(I got so hooked on these)

February song: AIOU  

Shot on iPhone XIII by Nadine Garred

Song: AIOU

"Robot, I'd like you to meet Tree."  

"Tree, this is Robot. He's gonna be in charge from now on."

Lyrics:

I look at you and I see 

That you are real 

I look at you and I know 

That you can feel 

That you can feel 

That you can feel 

That you can 

That you can feel, feel, feel 

Can you solve global warming, forest fires around this great nation? Can you bring me my car when I park it so far?

I look to you and I hope 

That you can cope 

I look to you and I see 

That you can fly 

I look to you and I know 

That you can cry 

That you can cry 

That you can fly 

AIAIOU 

AIAIOU

Technical Specs:  

Tascam 388

UA Apollo Twin  

iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2017) 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5  

AT 4033 Microphone  

Background vocals by Kelly Atkins

She recorded them at home using a Rode mic and Pro Tools.

Cascade M39 Stereo Pair Microphones  

Pano M8 baritone ukulele

1970s Univox “Beatle” Bass  

1963 Gibson B-25 

Generic cocktail kit  

Casio Casiotone MT-68  

1970s Yamaha Console Piano  

Written, recorded, and mixed at home. 2019 (BMI) Warship Songs.  

Mastered by Warren Gardiner at Gardiner Audio in Melbourne, AUS

January Song: Pick-up truck  

Shot on iPhone 8

Song: Pickup Truck 

Hello and welcome back to my regular song blog. 2020 will be a year dedicated to sharing new music, culminating in a brand new album. Ideas for my new songs came from an interview I heard. The man being interviewed said, ”Now I don't want to sound like the county moralist, but..." Of course he went on to sound like the county moralist, whatever that is. 

Anyway, this got me thinking about writing some new theme-based songs, which is not how I usually do it. I normally sit and wait for words and melodies to enter my brain and say, “Hey, why don’t you make me into a song?” Recently, I made an agreement with myself to turn this wait-and-see approach upside down. I’m now putting the idea first and crafting the melody, harmony, and production second. So far the results have been varied and I’ve abandoned a lot. It’s part of the new process. 

Writing this way is helping me stay engaged in the world more and walk in some shoes I’ve never tried on before. I’m also falling in love with a few vintage Casio keyboards, learning to play a cocktail drum kit, and discovering a lot more about harmony on the piano. I’m embracing the old 4-Track cassette recorder and I know in my heart that all this is making me a better songwriter. 

I’ve also been in touch with some old and new friends about collaborating. So far, these partnerships have been fun and I will be sharing a few alternate versions as a result. Stay tuned… 

"Now, I don't want to sound like the county moralist or anything" But I will sing in first-person as a Priest. I will sing in first-person as a mass shooter. And I will sing in first-person as a woman with dementia or the warming world. You can decide which. 

My first song for you is narrated by a man impacted by natural disaster. He sees “a pick-up truck, a barbecue, and a little girl's shoe” floating down a flood plain. And, as he watches, he wonders about faith.

Lyrics: 

Oh I walked 

Oh I sat 

Down on the riverbank and I watched it all float by 

I saw a pickup truck 

A BBQ 

A little girls’ shoe 

And a whole lot of luck 

And all this time I’ve been walking around through the wind and the rain X2 

If you believe me I will make you whole 

I will make you whole again 

So I stood 

Where I stand 

Grabbed a rock 

And by the time it left my hand 

I joined right in 

I sang real loud 

I sank real low 

And floated down again 

And all this time I’ve been walking around through the wind and the rain X2 

I will make you whole again 

(God’s not about what happens when you die 

God's not about what happens when it all turns black) 

And I walked through the fire 

And I walked through the flood 

And I walked through the wind and the rain 

And the tears and the blood

Technical Specs: 

UA Apollo Twin 

iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2017) 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5 

AT 4033 Microphone 

Cascade M39 Stereo Pair Microphones 

1970s Univox “Beatle” Bass 

La Patrie Collection classical guitar

Generic cocktail kit 

1991 Gibson Les Paul Standard w/ Ebow 

Casio Casiotone MT-68 

1970s Yamaha Console Piano 

Written, recorded, and mixed at home. 2019 (BMI) Warship Songs. 

Mastered by Warren Gardiner at Gardiner Audio in Melbourne, AUS

Australia: Super XX Man Talk About  

Super XX Man Vol. XVI Talk About

Overall, my time spent making music in Australia was amazing. I received a lot of support in Melbourne, for which I'm very thankful. Sorta Heavy Metal (see previous post) was featured many times on local radio shows and even topped one DJ's best of list for the entire year. I was thrilledIt was during a live on air performance one morning that Alisdair Henry heard Peter and me performing. He wrote me an email saying he was available if we ever wanted a second cello. Yes, we did! Around the same time my very good friend Antony McMullen decided he was ready to dust off his guitar and begin contributing to our growing sound. I think by this time, Hannah was living overseas somewhere with her family and therefore unavailable for the time being. We lost our angelic voice but gained more strings, guitar, and friendship.

One evening, at Ali's house, Peter grabbed the glockenspiel and started jamming along to a song I had written called "Talk About."

Peter said, "Scott I reckon this sounds a bit like Bruce Springsteen."

This sparked the writing process for the rest of the album. Songs came as they always seem to and that is by life experience. And times were tough.  I received a lot of songs from the ether just so I could cope I guess. Towards the end of the writing process I still had one song that eluded me. Honestly, I was ready write it off.

Along came Devon Sproule (stop reading, look her up, she's amazing). She was in the country for a series of solo shows and Super XX Man was lucky enough to open for her in Melbourne. I just had to take a chance and ask her if she would like to collaborate on a song I was struggling with. Lucky for me and the band, she had some time and agreed to do some recording over at Peter's. She and I arranged and sang the song "Sparrow" together. I think it's one of the best songs on the album and I'm so happy it was saved from the rubbish bin.

Originally released through Bandcamp on a limited run of handmade 7" picture disks, this album would mark the end of my Australian stay. In fact, it was released after I moved back to America. I'm so happy to report that this Australian produced album is finally available on all your favorite streaming platforms. 

It was mastered by Warren Gardiner, who works on everything I do now. He is a great listener!

The artwork for this album was made by my cousin, Denise Elder.

Australia: Super XX Man Sorta Heavy Metal  

Sorta Heavy Metal, Milk! Records, released 2012

In 2011 I moved with my family to Melbourne, Australia. It was there I met Peter Joseph Head and Hannah O'Keefe. Peter, a gifted multi-instrumentalist, and Hannah, voice of an angel, both helped me create and craft songs for what would be Super XX Man's debut album in Australia called Sorta Heavy Metal. With the help of a successful crowd-funding campaign (huge thanks to many of you reading this now), a special launch show curated by my friend Courtney Barnett, and a crack art direction team in Shawn Camp and Kendall Anderson Camp, this beautiful limited blue vinyl release was made available through Courtney's Milk Records

Here's how I met Peter: A friend of a friend introduced us at the Tote in Fitzroy, a trendy neighborhood in Melbourne. Austin friends might think Hole in the Wall or Liberty Lunch.

I asked Peter, "So, I hear you play cello?"

Peter said, "It's not my main instrument."

OK. Man of few words maybe? 

When he took his cello out of the case for our first ever practice, he played one of Bach's cello suites to warm up. I was impressed. Then he picked up the guitar and I was even more impressed. This marked the beginning of a lasting friendship.

Peter introduced me to Hannah O'Keefe. He and Hannah had played together in other bands. She is a sweet human being and was able to blend right in.

For the song "Down To The Water," I wanted some energized drumming. Again, Peter to the rescue. He introduced me to Pascal Babare, a drummer and music producer in Melbourne. I brought my computer and all my stuff over to his bedroom. He had his drums already set up. He banged out some crazy loud parts to bring life to this song about a community dedicated to their water source. 

What really finishes this album for me is coincidentally the last song called "Best Friends." It features a nice lyric about a piece of thread and a needle, and some nice accordion by Michelle Garred. It's a song about my children and describes the deep bond they still share today. As the song moves along, you can hear Peter play the Koto and another bowed instrument. For me, it finishes like a lullaby.

The record was mastered by my dear friend, Dave McNair. He's taught me much of what I know about recording and he has helped me out many times. When I got the LPs in my hands and readied the albums to be mailed out I had to borrow a turntable from my neighbor, John Gorman, just to listen to it.

Seven years on and I'm listening to the vinyl right now. It still sounds great and I think it might be one of the best albums I've ever made. It has stories and imagery, depth, it's moody, not too polished, and varied just enough. It features cello, guitars, drums, percussion, keyboards, bass, Japanese traditional instruments, and likely much more I can't remember.

I'm pleased to announce that it is finally receiving a wide release. As of right now, you can stream it on all your favorite platforms. Here are a few links:

Spotify

Amazon

Take care,

Scott

 

True Love Has Found You Daniel Johnston  

Photo by Tyler Mallory, 2016

I received a phone call one night when I lived in Austin, TX. It must have been around 1997 or 1999 even. Honestly, I can't really remember. I do know I was planning a little Super XX Man tour that would take me to Toronto for a music festival called NXNE. The caller identified himself as Daniel Johnston's father.  

I think the call went something like this:  

"Is this Scott? Hi, my name is Bill. I'm Daniel Johnston's dad. He's been invited to attend a music concert in Toronto and I understand you are going there. Do you think there's a possibility that he could ride with you?"  

As he was explaining just how delicate a situation this would be, I distinctly remember hearing another phone line pick up and Daniel's unmistakable voice coming on the line saying, "Dad, am I going? I really want to do this. He seems cool Dad. Can I? Come on dad! Dad, come on!" Daniel did this several times throughout the conversation.

Each time, I remember his dad very gently asking, "Daniel, put down the phone and let me work this out."  

Now, my memory of this is very fuzzy. I remember being very excited by the possibility of touring up to Toronto with Daniel Johnston. But, and I'm sure his dad knew this all along, it was likely not a good idea. Daniel was well known for very unpredictable behavior and required much support. I think his dad was simply crossing me off his list so that he could let Daniel know that he had now officially explored all options. Honestly, I was relieved. My biggest fear was Daniel getting lost or running out of his necessary and seemingly endless supply of soda.  

I really love Daniel's music. His songwriting is so honest and real -- his authenticity is remarkable to say the least. Through listening to his songs and admiring his approach to songwriting, I learned a lot from him. What I learned most is to always be courageous in the process of making art. Just turn on the faucet and let the water flow. Below is a list of my favorite songs by DJ, which you will find on my Spotify playlist called my favorite DJ songs

1. Walking the cow

2. Running water

3. Lousy weekend

4. True love will find you in the end

5. I had lost my mind

6. Don't let the sun go down on your grievances

7. Speeding motorcycle

8. Chord organ blues

9. Mind contorted

10. Never relaxed

11. A little story

12. Story of an artist

13. Honey I sure miss you

14. Crazy love

15. Devil town

Daniel Johnston was a true original. Visit his website to learn more about his music and visual art. In my opinion it is a must that you see the movie, "The Devil and Daniel Johnston." It is an amazing film! Finally, please download and enjoy my cover of the brilliant "Mind Contorted" song.

Take good care,

Scott

 

I'm so glad I'm here  

I have been fortunate to land where I am today; as a person, a man, a father, a husband, a songwriter, and music therapist, I am right here. As far as music goes, now and then I like to look back to see and appreciate the progression to my present. I have crossed paths with many people along the way. I often sit and think, "What if that continued?" or "What if that actually happened? Where then would I be?" Here are a few highlights for me:

In 1996, I had the pleasure of meeting Bob Mould -- someone I already greatly admired. Tom Hudson, my roommate and bandmate at the time, called me at work and said, "Scott, call home and check the messages." I did and discovered Bob's deep voice inviting Tom and me out for coffee. He wanted to talk about the music I was making at the time (early days for both Super XX Man and Silver Scooter). We had the opportunity to spend time with him and meet other musicians in his home. He mixed a few of our early 4-Track recordings as Silver Scooter, which became our first Crank! Records 7". We played mini golf and went out for shakes at Sonic. Our collective goal at the time was to make a Silver Scooter record. Though making a record with Bob never happened, it was an amazing experience.

Later in the 90s, Tom and I were hired to pick up Emmylou Harris and her band at the airport and take them to Luckenbach, TX for a concert with "Waylon and Willie, and the boys." She sat in the back of our 15-passenger tour van with dark sunglasses on and didn't say a word. Her crew chatted with us though, and that was fun. It was also great to have a free bbq meal back stage and catch some quality music.

When Super XX Man was on Hush Records and later, Tender Loving Empire, both small labels in Portland, OR, I got to go to NPR studios in Washington D.C. I met Bob Boilen and played one of his Tiny Desk concerts. It was super rad. I was a nervous wreck. I will always remember my take-away highlight was the building tour Bob took me on and seeing a locker with duct tape on it that simply said, "Carl Kassel."

In 2011, my family moved to Melbourne, AUS. Once we got our feet on the ground, I started exploring where I might want to book a gig. The Old Bar was highly recommended to me, so I listened to all the artists on the calendar until I fell in love with Courtney Barnett's voice. I contacted her through her Myspace page. She wrote me back and invited me to the gig. I met her friends and we quickly booked some shows together. When Peter Joseph Head, Hannah O'Keefe, and I finished our Sorta Heavy Metal album as Super XX Man, Courtney and I discussed co-releasing it on her brand new label, Milk Records. I did my first ever crowd funding project in order to raise funds and she helped me kick it off by organizing a gig with me. She suggested other artists cover one of my songs as part of their sets. She and her partner, Jen Cloher, covered "Box Store." I believe Rob from a band called Immigrant Union played harmonica (refer to video above). Courtney and Jen later recorded it at my home in Melbourne -- that recording is beautiful and I am happy to pass it along with this post.

So, as I sit here in my pretty little studio (thank you Christina) and think back on my musical journey, I can't help but rejoice at how fortunate I've been. The point of all this reminiscing is that there's not a single other place I would like to be more than right here and now. Every step I took brought me right here. I say that as a person, a man, a father, a husband, a songwriter, and a music therapist.

newness and collaboration 

While I definitely have enough old punk material to close out 2019, I just don't feel like sharing it anymore. So, thanks for listening and downloading the Raspberry stuff. Other old bands I was in will have to stay in the box. Besides, I was starting to feel like that guy at the party who shares too much and who makes you think, "Gosh when is he going to shut up?" And truthfully, I just don't think I stand by some of my old work any longer. So, here's to newness . . . and collaboration if you feel so inclined. 

I'll be working on new songs for the remainder of the year, and I am hoping you will share in the creative process. I'll be posting snippets of ideas and inviting you to contact me to say, "I'd like to help with that one." It's true I could just simply do this alone, but I think it might be more fun and help build community if you come along with me. 

I have never felt more creative. Perhaps it's just because I'm more grounded than ever and I have this studio space to create in, thanks to my beautiful and generous wife, Christina (she took the photos on my site too). Perhaps it's just my way of making sense of this world we all share today.

This first song is one of many I plan on writing about serious issues popping up in the current world landscape. It's about artificial intelligence (AI) and all that it promises and all that we hope it brings to the table. Will AI make our lives better? I'm not sure, but I do think the right collaborator could help me make the song better. So, step up to the plate, reach out to me, and let's make a song!