What prompted your putting “Stories of the Old Country” in old books?
It just seemed natural. It was a album of stories. Instead of stories with specifics, they were stories with unspecifics. There were no lyrics, so the stories became 100% contextual to the listener. I felt that giving each copy a different context, in terms of what book it was housed in, might make the experience a little more unique. Some books have passages underlined. They may be meaningless, or they may not. But you kind of decide that for yourself.
Also, it was a recording made from a lot of field recordings, nat sound, and found audio, so using hardback books that I picked up from used book stores, seemed to go hand in hand with the process of the album.
It’s definately not a glossy, shiny, professional album. It’s dirty and used up and worn out. It’s supposed to be.
Oh yeah, and you can take the CD out then hide things in it. Like guns, or secret codes.
Is there any significance to the books used for such?
I picked all books based on size and title. For example, your copy was “Rope the wind” which seems very Utah. So I probably bought it thinking about someone Utah that might eventually buy it. I also found lots of books with Love and Kill in the title, which was easy because they are themes that transcend almost any topic. I think I even found one book called “To Love and To Die.” crazy.
Did you have any reservations about releasing an album in such a unique manner?
Yeah, it sucks when people order them because it takes longer to make. I quit making them ahead of time because I didn’t have enough time or help to get them all done, so now I just make to order. And that way I can choose a book that I think the person will like.
There are only 50+ copies available because of this. But thats ok, it wasn’t meant to be the next Phil Collins album (I wish!).
What were your major influences during the recording of the album?
Yeah. cLOUDDEAD. They (Dose One, Why?, and Odd Nosdam) are an experimental hip hop group that just blows my mind. I listened to their collection of 10″ records which mix beats with field recordings and huge swells of sound. It’s incredible.
But non musically, I was influenced a lot by the “old country.” I had just returned from a stay in St. Petersburg, Russia with Phil (from Boris Yeltsin) and I wanted to use some of the audio from that trip on a release.
The album also became a semi-document of that entire year of my life. A lot of the noise was recorded in Russia, but some came from Portland and other places I had been, so certain sounds trigger very specific images in my mind, so it became a way for me to capture those places — in that time. The alleys and subways and open fields and all that.
Do you have any future releases planned?
No. I have moved on to Grad School and don’t have time to record, plus plans for a live band never came to, so it would be hard to support a new record.
I often think about doing something new, but my means of recording have reduced since I moved, so I might do a recording of 8 bass guitars on my four track, since that is what I have to work with now.
Either that or just do covers of Sam Cooke and Etta James songs. I think that would be amazing.
What are some of the stranger instruments you used in recording “Stories of the Old Country”, if any?
Actually, we didn’t use anything that crazy. I did most of it with my bass, but there are a few guitars in places and a Korg Keyboard at other times.
I guess the strangest sounds came from my mini cassette recorder which I carried around for a while to get audio. There are lot of sounds from subway cars and conversations and children singing songs to themselves. In one track, you can hear my friends talking about old people having sex while i’m trying to record some guitar. You have to listen pretty closely, but its there. And they were listening to Bob Dylan.
Who was involved in the recording of the album?
I had lots of people come over and do little stuff. Like the drums were done by Jon San Paolo, but it was a strange recording experience.
I would invite people over and plug them in and hit record. No one listened to the tracks before hand and no one was allowed to delete anything, I just told them that I’d take what they did and move it around and mix it in somewhere.
For the drums, you can hear my telling Jon to go slower. He was very confused because he had nothing to reference. I just went to his house, set up a mic and a few drums and said “ok, play.”
But I guess the list of people includes Keenan and Warren from El Minotaur, Jon San Paolo (adrian fortress), Dan Magnum, Nathaniel Carroll, Brett O’Neal (victims of telephone — actually I just stole his guitar part from a demo for our band that never practiced more than once — “DanQuaaludes” — it will happen eventually, it’ll be awesome.)
ummm. Construction Paper Star did some stuff.. and I think thats it. It was basically who ever came over to my apartment.