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!

Raspberry with Phil Ek Part III  

                                      Photos by Tom's brother, Steve Hudson, taken at Crazy Horse, all ages club, in Boise, ID likely around 1993                                              

From the click of the drummer's sticks to the last fade out, music is about discovery, joy, energy, and commitment. This period of making music as Raspberry taught me this. It was in the practice space that I spent so many hours with Tom and Shawn, crafting songs and learning how to let the music take us someplace. The chords and melodies taught us how to bring our individual ideas together. We learned to communicate and compromise.  Shawn and I had to share the mic. We both had to trust Tom to drum us to the end. We had to tell each other why we thought something worked or didn't. 

This song, Gallery, embodies all these things. I remember when Shawn presented this to us. I had thought at the time that it needed a fourth chord during the verses -- that the three chords alone sounded too ambiguous or unresolved. But through patience and commitment, and when presented with the crack of Tom's snare and the clean strum of the guitar, it began to breathe. It started to swallow itself just before starting over and that is a lovely thing with music. I also love Shawn's melody and I admire his ability to capture the mood with his lyrics. (I think this is also one of the things I love about his paintings). 

Do me a favor: put some nice headphones on, hit play, and just listen to this song. Hear the tone of the guitar, the crack of that snare drum, and listen to Shawn paint you a picture as he strains and reaches for those beautiful high notes. This was Raspberry at its finest. We sweated it out in a hot practice space, learned to communicate and rock with emotion. 

Thanks again to Warren Gardiner for mastering this track. Please seek him out at www.gardineraudio.com for all your mixing and mastering needs. And thanks to Sean Lennon for the DAT transfer.

Raspberry with Phil Ek Part II 

While I have no memory of the setlist played by Raspberry, I'm quite sure we would have played this rocker called William T. Ryker (yes, I know that's the wrong spelling). We played a lot of house shows back in the day--they were the best too. Every once in a while, however, we just had to go big. It wasn't often we got to host bands like Bikini Kill and Fitz of Depression. Someone in our community called up a member of Bikini Kill and invited them to play in Pullman, WA because that's the way shows happened pre-internet.

I remember it was difficult to load gear into the upstairs of the old Combine place. We had to climb some rickety stairs in the back. If you've never lifted a Fender Twin amplifier, I'm here to tell you they are back-breaking things. And putting on a show at the Combine meant renting the space, borrowing a P.A., and praying that kids would come out. On weekends, the Combine felt like a ballroom. It was our Filmore except with a small stage, which made us feel like we could all reach out and play each other's instruments. On weekdays, I also used to do my homework there as it was just a few blocks from my last apartment in Pullman. 

Oh yeah! The song... This is just another unreleased song from the Phil Ek recordings made in December of 1994 at John and Stu's in Seattle. Pay close attention to the guitar tone. We plugged my Les Paul Standard straight into some massive stainless steel pre-amp to get the kazoo-like fuzz. Phil didn't have to convince me it would be great. All he had to do was remind me that he did the same trick with Doug Martsch's guitar.

It's too bad Raspberry isn't out opening for Bikini Kill now. 

Thanks again to Warren Gardiner for mastering this track. Please seek him out at www.gardineraudio.com for all your mixing and mastering needs. Also, please excuse the horrible digital noise at the end of this track. Warren tried really hard to clean this up but unfortunately, due to the nature of how long this was stored on Digital Audio Tape (DAT), there was nothing to be done. Think of it as a little extra feedback! Many thanks to Sean Lennon for transferring the DAT to computer. Much appreciated, amigo!

Raspberry with Phil Ek Part I 

Maybe we were in pursuit of our version of anthemic punk, emotional discord, or simply the right party to play at. I don't know what we were searching for, but I do know we loved the music we made twenty five years ago, and now, I am so excited to share some of this unreleased Raspberry music with you. In December of 1994, at the urging of Doug Martsch (Treepeople, Built to Spill), this little punk band trekked to Seattle so we could record with Phil Ek at John and Stu's. 

Once we released our 7" record and at least one full-length cassette, we began touring the region. Boise was always a favorite spot. Performing was exhilerating, but so was catching an early Built to Spill show at the local Neurolux bar after we played an early all ages show one night. To see and hear Doug Martsch sing those early songs and step on several distortion pedals at once was amazing. He was right there in front of my face singing "Christmas Twin Falls Idaho..." And he was nice! He just might be the nicest guy in rock. When he was not performing, he was tending bar. One night we were chatting and he said, "I like your band and I think you should record with Phil Ek." He put us in touch and the rest is history. 

We prepared studiously for the recordings. Not only did we practice a lot (often without singing so as to focus on the instrumentation) but we also strategized with Phil on the phone. I remember Tom asking him about drum heads, when to put new ones on, and best heads for the snare. We crashed at Thomas Metcalf's house in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. This was still very much the era of the Seattle Sound, so we were in it as far as we were concerned. It was an exciting time. We had high expectations for releasing this music. Until we didn't! Soon afterwards, Shawn left for graduate school in Virginia, and Tom and I joined up with Jeff Albertson to form a new band. So, the recordings just sat gathering digital dust. 

This first song is called "Stuck to the floor." Like previously shared Raspberry music on this blog, it features lyrics both Shawn and I wrote. The professionalism heard in this recording, I think, is obvious. I can still see Phil Ek, flashlight in hand, adjusting the microphone in front of my amp by inches to get the sound he wanted. We spent one full day just getting drum sounds. 

Thanks again to Warren Gardiner for mastering this track. Please seek him out at www.gardineraudio.com for all your mixing and mastering needs. Also, please excuse the horrible digital noise at the end of this track. Warren tried really hard to clean this up but unfortunately, due to the nature of how long this was stored on Digital Audio Tape (DAT), there was nothing to be done. Think of it as a little extra feedback! Many thanks to Sean Lennon for transferring the DAT to computer. Much appreciated, amigo!

A punk band: Raspberry Part III   

Song: Girl

Details:  

Recorded early 1994 in Spokane, WA at Jello Tree Studio by John Salvo. Co-released on Nervous Wreckords late 1994 as one of two songs from Side B of 7" record.  

I'll just let you ponder these lyrics for a bit:

Come around 'cause you know I'll be waiting, sitting on the toilet I'm singing about my town, just dying to impress you - mumble mumble mumble - you're taking this too hard... whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa girl that I can't have... even though the cousins of my elephants, sitting in the backyard singing about my town, starting to impress you - mumble mumble mumble (come on Shawn, learn to articulate!) - you're taking this too hard... whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa girl that I can't have... 

And with that, we close the one official vinyl release Raspberry ever had! There were three songs in total with cover art by Shawn Camp. We skipped Kinko's in favor of having the covers printed in Lewiston, ID by a pro. We lucked out because, although we budgeted for a lesser quality printing, the print-shop owner said "In the end I went with he higher quality because I thought it would look nicer - no extra charge!"

"Distributed by K" stickers were coveted; they meant the records were approved by the arbiters of taste at K. We wanted one. We stuffed the records in covers and plastic sleeves one summer day at my old upstairs unit in Pullman, WA. I think we wrote, in crayon, a letter to Calvin Johnson at K Records asking him to consider distribution. We received a letter back (maybe from Calvin) saying they would take so many copies. We got our sticker!

Technical Specs:  

Machine: Tascam MSR 16 1/2” with Soundtracs MRX 24x8x16 console; mixed to Tascam 32 two-track machine; backed up on DAT  

Microphones: AKG 414, EV RE-20, Sure SM57, Groove Tube MD 1a, various Audio Technica  

The room was a large spacious warehouse up a few floors from the street in downtown Spokane, WA.   

Special thanks to Warren Gardiner for mastering this track. You can find him at www.gardineraudio.com

A punk band: Raspberry Part II  

                                      Tom on drums, Shawn on bass - photo by Chris Lundeen                                              

Song: Empty Beer Can

Details: 

Recorded early 1994 in Spokane, WA at Jello Tree Studio by John Salvo. Co-released on Nervous Wreckords late 1994 as one of two songs from Side B of 7" record. 

Here is another example of our lovely little sound. Empty Beer Can features my immature lyrics about a girl, coupled with the proverbial "la la la" vocals on the chorus. I owned a really special Telecaster-style guitar at the time and this is definitely it. And I must say, that listening back to these recordings brings me right into the physical space in which they were recorded. I was positioned to the right of Tom while Shawn was to the the left. I used to prop my amplifier up on my old red, white, and blue roller-skate case. Because of the volume we created as a power trio, it must have been difficult for the engineer, John Salvo, to manage all the guitar and bass bleeding into the drums. I must admit, however, that I prefer recording this way to this day.

And this was also the beginning of my interest in recording. The vocals and a few additional guitars were overdubbed and I specifically remember John placing the AKG 414 microphone at or around the 12th fret of my acoustic guitar. He asked me, "Do you mostly want to hear the strings?" I guess my answer was "Yes!"

Technical Specs: 

Machine: Tascam MSR 16 1/2” with Soundtracs MRX 24x8x16 console; mixed to Tascam 32 two-track machine; backed up on DAT 

Microphones: AKG 414, EV RE-20, Sure SM57, Groove Tube MD 1a, various Audio Technica 

The room was a large spacious warehouse up a few floors from the street in downtown Spokane, WA.  

 

Special thanks to Warren Gardiner for mastering this track. You can find him at www.gardineraudio.com