Reflective Retrospective Recollective


AiXeLsyD 🎸 Gasoline Dion 🎸 Ernie and the BertsSo, recently turning 40 has me reflecting on life in general (which is pretty damn great) & on my accomplishments as a “musician” even though I’m not actively gigging right now.

I’m pretty self-deprecating of my musical talents, but I am proud of the major part of the aural art that I helped create.  I compiled and uploaded a few of my favorites after using Audacity to clip out some silence and mp3Gain to try to get all the volume levels somewhat similar.

If you’ll indulge me I’d like to give my thoughts & memories on each of these songs that I was proud to be a part of with AiXeLsyD, Gasoline Dion, & Ernie and the Berts.  If I have any of the stories, names, etc. wrong, please correct me in the comments.  Being that these are punk rock(ish) bands, you may find the content explicit and/or objectionable.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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  1. Gasoline Dion – “Shameless Plug”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy came up with this cool shuffling progression and I played a super easy solo over it.  I believe we kept the first take of the solo even though at the time I thought I could do better.  It’s not perfect, but it’s fun.  It was cool to open shows with this then rip into something completely different. It was called “Tommy’s Jam” until an inside joke on a local message board inspired the new name.

  2. AiXeLsyD – “Wait”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Probably the first song that I wrote that I liked, and probably the first original that we worked on in the band.  We dug on this & recorded it a million times.  It morphed a bit, but was basically the same simple jam.  Ben doubling the vocals an octave lower and the guitar part at the end really fills it out.

  3. Gasoline Dion – “Pickle Farm”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy had recorded this song solo, and it contributed to the itch that I needed to scratch when we formed Gasoline Dion.  I really liked the melody.  I think he stole the lyrics from Space Ghost or Brak.  This song to me is about not being a square peg that’s forced into a round hole.  I liked singing background vocals & playing guitar.

  4. Ernie and the Berts – “Toybox”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin wanted to start a band to play rocked-out Willy Wonka covers.  That never happened.  This did.  It was the first original that stuck, and an early recording became the soundtrack to a friend’s video project.  Dave learned to play drums in/for this band.  This is a nice simple driving groove and is the perfect vehicle for the introduction of Erin’s gnarly gravelly voice.

  5. AiXeLsyD – “Hopeless & Heartless”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I wrote this on the outside of seeing someone with a broken heart.  I thought it was pretty catchy.  The “whoa-oh’s” are overkill but oddly necessary in my humble opinion. I think An-Die, Ben, & I are all singing on multiple tracks here.

  6. Gasoline Dion – “Cold”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | This riff was a leftover AiXeLsyD riff that almost became part of two songs but never really went anywhere.  Mike had some leftover Who’s.Keeping.Score? lyrics that Dave & I re-arranged.  Dave & I work really well on arranging musical parts & lyrics. I really really dig Tommy & I singing together on this one.

  7. Ernie and the Berts – “Fred Rogers”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin supposed that a local hero may not really be a hero on this one.  Maybe he read that weird urban legend.  I really like the guitar part here, although it’s missing some kind of effect in my head.  Wah?  Phaser?  Not sure.  Erin let me just go goofy with background vocals here.  I felt like Danzig or that Not-Danzig guy in the Cult.  I love how this song builds into chaos.

  8. AiXeLsyD – “Stand Up”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | This is where it all pulled together, and it was the last proper thing we recorded.  Ha ha. An-Die wrote the riff & lyrics, I arranged them.  Ben came up with the guitar noodling& octaves riff. I think I came up with the stupid  guitar part for the verse. I really dig my guitar solo here,even though I went too long.  (Oddly, this sounds a lot like “Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You)” by Dramarama as played by Buckcherry.)

  9. Gasoline Dion – “Political Songs (With Deep Meaning)”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I was listening to a lot of the Unseen, I think.  I don’t really write political stuff that often.  This was taking the piss out of that genre.  Dave sounded better on it with vocals.  I scream “feet” in the background and give the creepy laugh at the end.  We lost the original lyrics, so Dave used what he remembered and made the rest up on the fly.  I don’t really think any one ever tried to intemperate a deeper meaning. If they did, they didn’t tell us.

  10. Ernie and the Berts – “Don’t Fuck With Ernie”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | It was hard to tell if Erin was serious or joking a lot of the time. He had a deadpan delivery, and it was hilarious. To deliver this ridiculousness so seriously is hilarious to me.  I think I sort of came up with this riff over top of his bass line.

  11. AiXeLsyD – “Dave Ugly’s Girlfriend”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | It’s “Dave Ugly’s Girlfriend”, not “Dave’s Ugly Girlfriend.”  People always seemed to get that wrong.  Dave Ugly played bass & sang for one of our favorite local bands, Useless Torment.  I don’t tell the story as well as An-Die, but Dave was apparently saying he loved him, and An-Die was playing the “even if…” game, and arrived at this.  I remember being “mad” when Sum 41 came out as a punk band rapping.  I think Boner played guitar on this one and Ben played Drums?

  12. Gasoline Dion – “Bitch Pants Opera”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I don’t know if we could do this one today.  People seem so easily offended.  It’s just a joke.  We don’t really care if you wear girl pants.  We’re not insinuating or implying anything.  We look ridiculous too.  Another Dave vocals song, I am screaming the high parts.  All of us are in the beginning. I think the breakdown was inspired by hardcore /screamo kids in skinny jeans doing the windmill and Peelander-Z’s “S.T.E.A.K.”

  13. Ernie and the Berts – “Ikea”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Dave suggested I try a little more dynamics with space and clean.  Dave is usually right.  You can do a lot with the same 3 chords over & over. This was a slice of Erin’s life, full of his observations.  We almost got permission to go in & shoot a video there.  Somebody must have really listened to the lyrics.  He had “nicer” ones prepared just in case we needed to sell out.

  14. AiXeLsyD – “Love, Hopes, Dreams, & Smiles”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] |I think An-Die hated this one.  I liked the noodling& the melody.  The lyrics are super dumb & trite.  The song was made infinitely cooler when Ben put in that volume swell in the final mix.  That was never there, then we started doing it live after he did that to the recording.  This could probably be punched-up a little bit more.

  15. Gasoline Dion – “Two of a Kind”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy sings like an angel.  I have no idea what in the hell he’s talking about here.  I think Dave & Mike made this honky-tonk-ish.  I played a little solo under Tommy’s vocals at the end because nobody ever told me not to.  The end sounds like the Misfits’ “NY Ranger.”

  16. Ernie and the Berts – “I Don’t Wanna”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin stole this one from a band called Suck-Your-Brains-A-Go-Go.  I don’t know if they ever recorded it.  I should ask the man who wrote it some time.  We made it ours. I think Bengt punched-up some of the guitar & added a bit of harmonies during the recording process.

  17. Gasoline Dion – “Shameless Plug (Reprise)”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Same thing as the first track, second solo take by me with a wah pedal this time. Dave is also on guitar making crazy noises and soloing in between all of my notes.  Ha ha.  If you don’t “get” the speaking part, watch the Josie and the Pussycats movie some time.

I’d love to know what you think, or to read/see/hear your own memories about these bands or in any bands or projects in which you have participated.   Did I miss a song or two that you may have remembered or liked?  Comments (or likes or whatever is deemed social-media-appropriate) on the songs on SoundCloud or YouTube would be awesome and greatly appreciated, too.

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Check out the playlist on SoundCloud:

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Check out the playlist on YouTube:

Can you Dig it?

I think you should be able to download a zip of the collection on Google Drive or SendSpace if you’re so inclined.  If you can’t get it there, let me know and I can email it to you.

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The AiXeLsyD stuff:

The Gasoline Dion stuff:

The Ernie and the Berts Stuff:

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Check out some related posts:

NOTE:  Edited to correct links to YouTube videos, made new ones for some slideshows that were too short.  Also, check the comments!

It’s a girl!


Well, that’s what they told us.  Words can’t express how beautiful this is to me.  Seeing that little heart beat today made it all hit me.

I’m sure I’ll post more funny goofy silliness about having a daughter eventually, but right now I’m just so happy and I wanted to share.  I can’t wait to meet her!

Also, the feet on the printout were adorable, but I could be biased:

Feet!

Feet!

♡ Happy Birthday Bethany! ♡


Generally I blog about goofy stuff except for food allergies, and not much here takes a serious tone.  If you’re reading this, I assume you already know that.  A bunch has been going on with life lately, we’ve been through a whirlwind of ups & downs as things get increasingly hectic.  I’ll spare you the details as my good friends & family probably already know all the stuff we have going on anyway.  At any rate, that’s not the focus of this blog any way… it’s just the spark behind it.

The focus of this one is my wife, Bethany.  Her Birthday is today, and with it approaching while we have many other things going on… I didn’t want it to get lost in the shuffle.  I decided to make note and wish her a happy birthday here.  (Someone might have to tell her about this… I don’t think she reads it much because she hears most of my ranting live without the added benefit of a filter.)

Archery Camp 1997We’ve known each other for many many years and originally there was not even a remote spark of interest.  We have a wide age gap, and I was a counselor when she was a camper at our church camp, Living Waters.  I’m sure we talked, joked, and laughed… I even helped instruct her in Archery.  Sadly for the reader, nothing creepy was going on.

Many years later we went to dinner at Ritter’s as old friends catching up (thanks to AIM of all things), and something sparked there.  We generally don’t have much in common.  We have wildly different personalities.  We go together perfectly.

Beans N' CheeseI’m glad I have found my other half.  We like to laugh, and goof around with each other.  We meet on common ground where things are important.  Neither of us sleeps well when the other isn’t in the bed.  We do enjoy cooking together, entertaining, road trips, Flogging Molly, the RamonesJohnny Cash, & Willie Nelson.  I got her quoting Star Wars, she has me inexplicably interested in Glee.  We both like antiques, have an appreciation for the history of things.

We both have large & close extended families.  We all fit in all around.  That’s important to both of us.  We’re both still actively involved with camp, it’s a very special place to us on many levels any more.  We learn more about each other & ourselves with each passing year.

Bethany has brought out my sensitive side and I have given her a healthy dose of geekery & anarchy.  I’m proud of her for going to school and advancing her career.  I’m in awe of how she works with her special needs campers during recreation camp in the summer.  It takes incredible amounts of patience and mental strength.

She supports my crazy punk rock band, guitar acquisition habit, Batman & Star Wars obsessions, and puts up with lots of the History Channel and Discovery Channel.  She looks out for me with my crazy shellfish allergy, and takes care of me whenever I’m not feeling well or even if I’m just having a bad day.  She has gotten over rolling her eyes at my skull coffee mug.

So to Bethany, my wife & best friend, I want to say Happy Birthday!  I also want to tell you how much I love you and how glad I am that we are who we are.  I am a better man for for knowing & marrying you.  You are my favorite, and I’m glad we found each other.

♥

The Clarks; “Producing ire” or “to admire”?


Nothing can polarize a random group of yinzers like discussing the Clarks.  A lot of people love them, a lot of people hate them.  There’s probably even more people that could really care less about the whole issue.  The reason I’m blogging about this is, well, it blew up when I mentioned my distaste for them on Facebook.  Everybody & their mother (literally in my case) has an opinion about the Clarks:

That Clarks commercial makes my butthole pucker...

That Clarks commercial makes my butthole pucker...

English: Gary Busey in Almaty, Kazakhstan in O...

"Wahooooo!"

Have you seen the Clarks’ Toyota commercial, or any of the Gary Busey Kia commercials?  Gary Busey is bat-shit-nuts, and I’d rather buy an inferior car endorsed by him.  OK, I’d really rather buy neither… but the Gary Busey commercials don’t make me want to change the channel, and they don’t make my butthole pucker.

I present to you some video evidence for your review:

Then, I posted a status linking to the first status, asking for help building my list.  It turned into chaos.  Don’t believe Joel below.  He’s a bit mischievous.  Tiffany certainly seems adamant about her love for the Clarks.

Help make a list...

Help make a list...

So, what’s the big deal?  Personally, I find their songs trite, corny, tonally bland, and their vocalist quite annoying.  My general line is that his vocals are the aural equivalent to taking a cheese-grater to my eardrum.  When I hear them on the radio I involuntarily sigh or roll my eyes.  Yet, I know some of their songs because (thanks to local radio) I have heard them ad nauseam.

The Clarks (album)

There's a penny on the floor from our last album sale residuals...

I understand that music preferences are an opinion, and that others are entitled to theirs.  I’m just stating mine.  There’s no need to get your panties in a bunch just because I don’t like the Clarks and you do.  I’ll try hard not to consider you hopelessly tonally-challenged if you happen to like the Clarks.

I get a feeling that a lot of people like the Clarks simply because they’re from the area and mention Fayette County in their songs.  Yinzers seem to like them because they’re on the radio, or because they’ve been in a bar when they played.  They appear to appeal to the lowest common denominator,  I don’t know how many people like the Clarks because they actually like the Clarks’ music.  When I ask someone why they like the Clarks, I get answers like “I saw them at so & so’s bar” or “They’re from here” or something about allegiance to IUP.  It’s never “I really like [name of song here]” or “I really like their song writing/guitar playing/etc.”. Again, this is my opinion.

Also my opinion…  This car has more musical ability than the Clarks:

It’s been told to me repeatedly that people in bands around Pittsburgh simply don’t like the Clarks out of jealousy of their success.  I don’t believe I’m jealous of the Clarks for myself, but I guess I am a hater on certain levels.  I hate that they’re representative of Pittsburgh music.  I hate that people with no grasp of the local music scene ask me if I know/like them when they find out I’m in a band.  I hate that so many other bands around here that deserve wider recognition go unnoticed and go without radio play.  At the same time, a lot of musicians that I know just don’t like the Clarks because they write & perform bad songs.  This undoubtedly fuels the ire.  Perhaps it’s “bandwagon” to hate on the Clarks?  Maybe it’s the “cool” thing to do?  Maybe we’re all just not tone deaf.

A box grater with multiple grating surfaces.

Scott Blasey

So, please, I’d like a discussion on the comments below, not on the Facebook post about this blog.  You can comment using your name/e-mail address/url, your Facebook login, your Twitter login, or your WordPress login.

If you like the Clarks, please tell me why.  If you don’t like the Clarks, please tell me why.  If you don’t care about the Clarks, you can let us know that too.  Let’s not resort to name-calling or devaluing anyone’s opinions.  We’re (mostly) all adults here.

Perhaps I’ll make another blog post soon trying to make a list of Pittsburgh local bands that deserve more attention & a wider audience.

Again…

  • If you like the Clarks, please tell me why.
  • If you don’t like the Clarks, please tell me why.
  • If you don’t care about the Clarks, you can let us know that too.
  • Let’s not resort to name-calling or devaluing anyone’s opinions.