Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yo Dawg, I Heard You Like Music...

We have a show coming up this Saturday, the 12th February, at METAphysics (it's where we live, idiot). It's our 4th, and there's a distinct possibility, judging from this lineup, that it might be the most fun one we've ever had. I'm so excited that I'm shitting Sudafed for the little solidified amphetamine stones I've been pissing. I'm even ignoring my doctor's appointment for it.

You may be asking yourself, "WHO ARE ALL THESE GUYS? WHAT ARE 'BAD DUDES'? HOW MANY SETS OF 8 BEERS CAN I HAVE?" (All you want, cousin. Just as long as it takes place after the music.) I suppose it's my hostly duty to go about describing these guys in order to entice you to come. This is not a problem; I could write for days and days on the merits of these gentlemen. We'll start with Warren.


Warren Franklin is a singer-songwriter from Rockford, IL. When I write "singer-songwriter," I'm not talking pretty/wispy James Taylor ripoffs which receive genre-tags from iTunes as such, or Filipino YouTube buskers with some "sick covers" of R&B songs. I mean visceral, emotional, cutting pieces of music that need no introduction before you hear them; you get the point as it's coming at you. His album Stray is beautifully produced and polished with his voice captured in full dynamic range. However, it's the live show that gets you.  Using audience participation in ways that DON'T make you cringe and his sheer energy, he gets you excited, no matter what you're into.

One can listen to his music here. Also, here's a video of him playing my personal favorite, "Some Form of Irony," at Joie De Vivre's space (Hipster House. Yeah, they're kidding.) in Rockford. Should be a good indicator of what you're in for.


Sheep Numbers is Mike Martello's moniker for his solo work, outside of his other bands (the inimitable The NothingheadsWaterhensTin Tin CanPuff...possibly more?). The guy's got the musical work-ethic of Robert Pollard, the tunefulness of Robert Schneider (this is basically Mike's version of Marbles), the psychedelic haze of The Beatles, and the nerdy/endearing qualities of the 2 Johns of They Might Be Giants. He's also got the nostalgia you have for your old imaginary friend. I'm going to take a wild guess and say you may have had MUTUAL imaginary friends. The song subject matter ranges dramatically and emotionally; on one hand, you have turtles and bouncy-balls, while the other is penning poetry about the creative/energetic spark that's been systematically drained from us into adulthood. His music is pure, and the stylized aspects of it only hook you into that pureness. After getting to know him a bit, it's a pleasure to have him play!

One can listen to his solo work here. I know it says "Myk Martello," but it's gonna be SHEEP NUMBERS, cool? Problem, guy?


How is THIS the only picture of Bloom? It doesn't even include all of Nat's right leg! It's a shame! However, judging from communicating with these guys (and housing 2 members one night), there is a reason for that: Bloom is the most self-deprecating band in Illinois. I will never understand this, because Bloom are ALSO some of the best pop-punk tune-smiths (and not pop-punk like --these dudes--) I have ever heard, carefully considering their age (a high-school band that doesn't suck ass!), and ESPECIALLY considering their attitude towards themselves. Guys, you can cheer up, because you remind everybody of when Green Day weren't pseudo-pundit shitheads and were beloved by their own punk scene.

One can hear their music here. Also, keep in mind, they will be playing an acoustic set! Remember Punk Goes Acoustic? Probably like that, but with MUCH better songs. My favorite is "Vocabulary."


Last, but certainly not least, is a complete newcomer to METAphysics and all of it's typical inhabitants. (He actually sent us an email featuring his EPK and stuff? Talk about a good first impression.) He's a folk singer, with zero pretense and no intention of bullshitting you in his music. He's got an upbeat attitude to go with his woeful musings, and humor plays an important part..."Some People Say" is a good example: "Some people say that God does not exist/and others say that he does, but I just missed him." He's got an unabashed love for Bob Dylan (and one of the best "Influences Section"s I've had the pleasure of reading), but he doesn't choose to do what every fan does and spout a half-handed impression of him. He's got his own thing going, and he wants to take you out on a date. Often accompanied by his Undertakers, I believe he will be playing solo on Saturday...a perfect environment for him to project himself to an entirely new group of people.

One can hear his music here. This "Reverb Nation" shit is fancy. I think Island outta be able to log into one of these fuckers.

Oh, and of course,

What? What are y'all laughing at?

So there you have it. It should be a fantastic time, seriously. Madly eclectic, but who cares?? They all have been, with the exception of the first one, which was stripped-down and pretty and heavily-relaxed ('sup, ORIGINAL Poor PlacesProperty of Saints, and American Wolf). I mean, genres at META have changed dramatically every hour, so it's no surprise that for this one, we tried to have the best of each world we've had the pleasure of perusing.

Also, I've made an offer no out-of-towner can refuse. If you're not from Chicago or the suburbs surounding Chicago, and you come to this show, find me, Anthony, and I will personally walk you to the corner store and buy you a snack/a drink of your choice. It's the least I can do. Extra snack and drink if you're from a different county.

Alright, now I've gotta go to work.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Go Ahead, Little Idiot, Shake Your Tail-Feather You Stupid Son of a Bitch

It is very popular for rock and roll bands today to have "merch." They will create and manufacture t-shirts and the like with their name and a logo with the font of a gay-club's sign, usually for the sole purpose of seeing hot girls wear them. This is not wrong, it's just an extremely-typical practice.

"Merch" kind of taints what I like about music-making, but that doesn't mean bands/my band shouldn't do it; it's beneficial when it comes to earning money on tour and all that, and can provide for some cool mementos for when you're around 30 and wanna remember all the sweet bands you saw back in the day. However, besides selling Bear Hair on the road, I have been trying to come up with some ideas for "merch" that are atypical and fun, and do NOT include WAVVES weed grinders.

1. I was considering avoiding the whole buying/manufacturing thing and having us sell our own clothes. I myself have far too many outfits (being an avid fashionista/idiot) and would be completely comfortable with selling them to strangers for a cheap price. Mainly because no one would pay top-dollar for more than half the things I own. This is true of almost everyone else in the band (Evan, I believe, has about 5 interchangeable bland-colored rags that he slides on and off every day), and we would all have plenty of different styles to offer to the handsome populous.

2. TeMp0r4ry t4Tt00z. Now THESE are important. For example, they are EXTREMELY cheap to make, which would mean selling them for a dollar each would mean we can only make profit. Plus, they'd prolly be badass, and directly after the show, everyone can have fake tramp-stamps. What's not to like? I'd like the design to be a woman's head being sonagrammed (how does one spell this word?) with an image of a baby bear inside. Sweet tats, bro.

3. Mugs. I guarantee you, these would be useful for all. DO YOU LIKE COFFEE/TEA/HOT CHOCOLATE? I can't imagine anyone saying "No" to ALL of these things. Another detail: we'd have our "mean mugs" on them. Just our faces, lined up, mean mugging on the mugs. Inception. These will be a hit; even if a band was absolutely terrible, I'd still buy whatever mugs they were selling. Just goes to show how terrible I am about money.

4. This one is for a bit down the road, and all credit goes to Danny, and a wonderful but now-defunct band called Detektivbyran. It would be expensive to do, but a band can dream, can't they? Customized music-boxes that play the melody of a song. For the baby-children. This can be done to almost any song, and I'm sure we would have a few that would be splendid for this sort of re-thinking. Bjork also featured music-box renditions of her songs from Vespertine on the Cocoon EP, and those were gorgeous; however, I believe she kept the actual music-boxes. These can be made to look so beautiful, and I have no doubt there would be some craftsmen in the world who would be willing to make a few and negotiate a price. Obviously, this is not something for the present time, but I love the idea.

I am trying to think of some more. I've excluded shirts for the time being, but we have a jillion ideas for that particular thread. Most of them are silly. We'll see what happens.

Two things for listening: video footage of the song "Burst" from our first performance at the Viaduct Theater with Loto Ball. This song is not on Bear Hair, but it will appear on the EP right after that, called Furiouser & Furiouser.

Last, but surely not least, the mixes for Bear Hair have been coming in, and we are more than psyched. We've been putting some of the rough mixes up on SoundCloud to give people an idea of what it's going to sound like. Keep in mind, it's not mastered, but it's still pretty boss.

The songs featured are "Knife-Throwing Academy" (feat. Brandon Lutmer of Joie De Vivre), and "Taffy Apple Lifestyle People", a song we have not played live yet! I've also uploaded a few extraneous demos, 2 of which were featured on the Tandem Shop Holiday sampler ("Burst", "Hermit Crab"), 2 of which are slated for other releases ("Three Dreams", "The Last One").

Latest tracks by islandofmisfittoys

Goodnight, you guys. I am writing this far too late.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

30 Shows Mean Show Memories

I have asked my bandmates to help me compile a list of all the shows we have played in our 8 months together. The list has reached 30, and reading over the names and the places and taking in all the days was truly a lesson in vivid reliving.

Even the bad shows (I can count 2) resulted in hilarious happenings after; finding mysterious belongings and a big ol' dam in Elgin, "farkour," an old bartender named Pancho playing saxophone during sets, places that smelled like pee, oversized burritos and strawberry milkshakes, bands that made us wanna pee our pants, and the like.
The list looks like this:
may 23rd - open mic night at my house
august 8th - three rivers, MI
august 21st - swing state
august 26th - babylon (r.i.p.)
august 28th - audrey's show
august 29th - reggie's show

september 6th - canopy club
september 10th - viaduct
september 15th - open mic
september 18th - MEAT house (r.i.p.)
september 25th - pygmalion music festival

october 22nd - elgin (lol)
october 23rd - hipster house <333
october 29th - meta halloween

november 13th - starbucks
november 16th - silent auction at uic
november 26th - hipster house
november 28th - subterranean

december 4th - murray cultural center
december 11th - meta christmas
december 19th - reggie's battle of the bands
december 27 - nnamdi's pancake haus

january 4th - double door
january 6th - swing state
january 11th - pancho's
january 12th - viaduct 
january 21st - swing state
january 22nd - kedzie / jessi's apartment
january 23rd - subterranean

january 28th - round lake civic center

I will skip the first open mic night and go straight to Three Rivers.

The Island of Misfit Toys was once called Sanders (GET IT? IT'S MY LAST NAME! SRSLY DO YOU GET IT??). This picture by Mark includes Spiros, the original bass player/one of the best guys on Earth. However, it was made before the inclusion of Kamila and Lui, so please don't assume we were hiding their dirty little faces. 

We had been screwed out of three "FIRST SHOWS" that we were super-excited about (but not NEARLY prepared enough for), and were approached with an interesting offer from Evan's extremely-good-looking older brother Johnathan: to play at a school-turned-community center run by a "group" (cult?) he works with. We got all excited about it, practiced a bunch, and tried to ignore the fact that it took place in a small town in Michigan where none of our friends were. We were excited to play, and that was that.

Loading the cars was an experience. Spiros and Lui were sadly not in attendance, so they weren't there for the first exploration of "how are we gonna fit all this bullshit into normal automobiles?". It was Evan and Julia driving, Evan having his Explorer and Julia with her fit blue sedan machine. I threw myself into shotgun in Julia's car (typical bullshit on my part) and we went to pick up Kamila...and we didn't know what to say.

I won't go into detail because I'd hate to embarrass her, but she was in tears. The show seemed a bit sketchy to her family, and tongues thrashed. However, in our way, we tried to cheer her up the entire car-ride through endless jokes (thanks, Danny) and Anathallo's beautiful, soothing album Floating World. When we stopped for food, the hugs were immediate and gratifying from all sides and a smile stretched from East to West on her face. At that moment, I knew that this band was going to be something more than a pile of talent and myself; it was going to be something that made me want to wake up and start the day practicing with them. (If only that were an option!)

We got to the place (surrounded by strange, closed restaurants and a pervading void) and immediately saw Evan's handsome brother, Johnathan. Julia, Kamila, and I squealed like repressed school girls. He showed us where to load in, and we set up in what looked like it was once a classroom! The room was full of attractive 20-somethings and Evan's family, along with some other people that provided good people-ambiance. I went to change into my costume.

I wore a costume around this time for comfort reasons; I felt like the music was far more representative of myself than...myself, and decided to match that sincerity by wearing two articles of clothing that are 1. my favorites, and 2. given to me by extremely-important people. The dashiki was a present from my Uncle Chuck, who hipped me to the progressive rock that I adore, and the red onesie was from my old girlfriend Jennie. I wore it to pay tribute to them. However, it gets sweaty SO fast, and almost makes me faint. And that's EXACTLY what it did in Three Rivers.

We played "Hermit Crab" first, to awesome reception! People were so sweet. We plowed through the rest of our set (leaving "Beginnings of a Beard" for last instead of first) rather hurriedly and nervously, but we were extremely happy nonetheless, and the acoustic break Evan, Danny, and I provided was a well-needed break...because I was about to collapse. The sweat was making my outfit ten times heavier, which made me exert more effort to wear them, which made me sweat, which made get the idea.

We ended the set and I immediately changed in the bathroom, only to come out and hear the kindest things, especially from Evan's family. It was a pure and unfettered show, and it was perfect for honing our craft and stage presence without issues like "promoters" and "draw" and other such slop. It was genuinely fun.

Then came the rummage sale.

A box full of bunnies, a giant banner that says "Excellence Begins With You!", four meaningless VHS tapes, a $40 french horn, books, a cat coloring book (Kamila), other items...I get to look at all the wonderful items we picked up every day as mementos from a day of true band bonding. We checked out and loaded into the car, and I tried to get Julia back into her air-conditioned car as soon as possible; her jeggings were causing heatstroke and she was bathed in sun to the point of some sort of allergic reaction to...something. We headed to a restaurant, got eyed by locals, chatted with a sweet, Tylenol-bearing waitress, and headed home, exhausted, happy, and prepared for whatever was coming next. 

I woke up at Evan's house, and immediately started walking to work. I couldn't tell ANYBODY a damn thing about what happened the day before, because no one was curious.


Now, to end this post...we are hosting a Valentine's Day type of show on February 12th over at METAphysics! Warren FranklinSheep Numbers (Mike Martello of The Nothingheads and Tin Tin Can), Poor Places (Tim's band), and Morgan Haner will be playing, and The Island will be closing out the night. Show starts at 7, and it may just be one of the best shows we ever put on here.

The event page is HERE.

It will be a night of fun and splendor, so please, whoever you are, feel free to come out. And if you're still reading this, I couldn't be happier. More to come!