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!

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!