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!
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The first official Ernie and the Berts interview?


<shameless plug>

Check out this interview with Ernie and the Berts from AZ Productions!

</shameless plug>

Tyson Foods, Inc. & Willie Barber FTW.


Yesterday, I got two surprises in our mailbox… One being that half of it was our neighbor’s mail, and the other being the promised letter & coupons from Mrs. Barber at Tyson  Foods!  OK, the mail mix-up wasn’t that big of a surprise… that happens at least 4 times a week.  It’s always good to get mail that’s not bills or junk mail though, and this made my day…

Tyson Foods - LetterSeems a little stiff compared to my earlier exchanges, but form letters are a necessary evil with a company as large as Tyson I guess.

Also enclosed were five  coupons for free Tyson Foods items!  Two coupons for one free bag of Tyson Frozen Breaded Product or Any’tizers Product, one for any one package of Tyson Individually Frozen Chicken Product, one for any one package of Tyson Wright Brand, and one for any one package of Wright Brand Product… which makes some awesome bacon.

Tyson coupons

This is much much more than I expected, or could have hoped for!  Really, it all started out as goofing around, not a complaint by any means.  It’s certainly better than the paltry pile of coupons that I received from Pillsbury when asking about funding further “how many pizza rolls can really fit in the microwave at once” research.  I let the ball drop on that one… perhaps I better write to them and ask again, using Tyson and Taco Bell as references of good coupon giving.

I’ll have to write back to Willie to say thanks.  This really was quite generous, and will certainly help in stretching the food budget in the coming weeks!

It’s a Southern thing, just ask Willie.


Tyson Foods | Ask Willie

Tyson Foods | Ask Willie

So, my apologies to Mrs. Barber, apparently Willie is also a girl’s name down south.  Ha ha.  You guys need to read my letter to Tyson about the soggy not smelly tiger-tender, and you’ll know what this is all about.  Here’s some follow-up…

from    ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
to    “Barber, Willie” <Willie.Barber@tyson.com>
date    Sat, Oct 2, 2010
subject    Re: Tyson Honey Battered Breast Tenders
mailed-by    gmail.com

Buenos Dias Mr. Barber!

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my missive.  I’m glad that it entertained and proved interesting!  The information from your Food Safety & Quality Assurance Manager is enlightening.  I guess if I had thought about it, I may have arrived to the same conclusion… as my wife did.  Perhaps she should look into Quality Assurance as a career?

Sadly there was no golden ticket type prize for the tiger-tender, but certainly some complimentary coupons would brighten my day.  Your thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated!  My address is:

ERiC AiXelsyD
XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Pittsburgh, PA  XXXXX

I still need to look into sending Duquesne Light a bill for my prematurely perished perishables, perhaps cluing them in to your generosity will tip the scales in my favor?  Maybe I should send them the tiger-tender and see if they like soggy formerly-frozen foodstuffs in their freezers.

I’m flattered that you had previously read my ramblings on the web, and honored that you remembered my name!  Now I’m curious as to how I came to be on your radar.  I tend to be goofy at times, and serious at others.  Life’s all about balance… why not enjoy the balance when it swings to the absurd?  Your kind of reply is my favorite.  You may not be surprised ad how many of these types of emails fail in providing a response.  Some people are apparently just too uptight!

I enjoy many of your fine products, and now will even more… and I’ll recommend more to my friends & family!

A good day to you sir,
-ERiC AiXeLsyD

PS – Think there’s any headway at all to be made with Arby’s & the distribution of their Bronco Berry Sauce?

And, she wrote back…

from    Barber, Willie <Willie.Barber@tyson.com>
to    ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
date    Mon, Oct 4, 2010
subject    RE: Tyson Honey Battered Breast Tenders
mailed-by    tyson.com

Happy Monday Morning!

As I recall, I chanced upon your name/blog while researching one of our customers—maybe McDonald’s, Burger King, or Subway?   Thanks for the address–the coupons will be mailed tomorrow.

By the way, I am a Mrs. not a Mr.  It’s a Southern thing!  AskWillie

Willie Barber

So, she’s read one of my various diatribes on Subway or my disdain for a nearby McDonald’s.  Quite amusing!  I don’t think I’ve messed with Buger King for a long time.

It is sad that she hasn’t addressed the Bronco Berry sauce issue, but I’m sure she can’t or won’t for corporate reasons.

I wrote back once more:

from    ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
to    “Barber, Willie” <Willie.Barber@tyson.com>
date    Mon, Oct 4, 2010
subject    Re: Tyson Honey Battered Breast Tenders
mailed-by    gmail.com

My Apologies, Mrs. Barber(!),

I guess I should have done my own research!  Ha ha.

I have certainly blogged extensively about a local McDonald’s who is as slovenly as they are slothful, and another who is run exceptionally well and always seems to be clean, efficient, and orderly.  Plus, McDonald’s is just so fun to poke.

I also have an ongoing thing with Subway about their seafood subs and cross-contamination.  I have a severe shellfish allergy, and find them quite irresponsible as far as posting warnings, using the same knife to cut all their subs, and in replying to their customers.  Perhaps you ought to go over there and teach them how to run things!  They never did answer my question about having an in-house subway instead of a cafeteria or kitchen in their corporate offices.  No sense of humor or customer satisfaction, there!

Thanks again for the coupons, my wife & I both appreciate the gesture!

Tyson’s Newest #1 Fan,
-ERiC

…and no reply as of yet, not that I really need one in this instance.  This was just some shameless plugging.  I’m just waiting for my awesome coupons.

Also… if you follow the Ask Willie link, is that the coolest job description, or what?