Tag Archives: Toybox

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!

Nostalgia…


So, I upped a bunch of old songs to SoundCloud.  Some aren’t bad.  Some are terrible.  (There’s some AiXeLsyD, some Gasoline Dion, & even some Ernie and the Berts for good measure.)  Feel free to enjoy and/or ignore.

AiXeLsyDI have had many many fun times writing songs & jamming with all of these cats over the years. We have recorded some good stuff, met interesting people, and played some absolutely wild parties & shows.  It’s awesome to have played at parks, in basements, on small stages, in garages, in countless dive bars, on big stages, in back yards, a sports bar, band battles, in cool rock bars, an Elks lodge, a dorm room, American Legions, skate parks, VFW’s, theaters, Fire Halls, and even live on the radio.  (Places I haven’t played yet… on a boat, under-water, on a moving flatbed, outside of the U.S., on TV – Ernie, can you get on booking that?)  Some people even dug our stuff.

Gasoline DionI’m glad to be able to continue to rock out with some old faces & some new faces.  I enjoy that I’m still playing shows, going to shows, rocking out with talented dudes, & continually meeting & being influenced by local musicians & those that are just passing through.  We get together to rock out & have a great time doing so …all while trying to be as goofy as possible.  I’m glad I fell into punk rock as there’s a sense of humor about it all.

Ernie and the BertsI enjoy the exchange of knowledge, whether it’s music trivia geekery, guitars & amps & how they work & how to play them, or just general rock n’ roll legends.  I enjoy being obsessed with goofy guitars yet able to appreciate a nice normal axe.  I enjoy making fun of bands that are doing absolutely terrible things, taking too long to set up, playing too long, or have terrible names.  I enjoy being the target of the same kinds of jeers.

In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day coming soon, I’d like to toast my fellow musicians whether I’ve been in a band with you, shared a stage with you, or just been to one of your shows and told you how much it rocked.

☘  Here’s to cheating, stealing, fighting, and drinking! ☘

If you cheat, may you cheat death.
If you steal, may you steal a woman’s heart.
If you fight, may you fight for a brother.
And if you drink, may you drink with me.

Please, share with me some memories of the crazy paces you’ve played, the fun (or terrible) times you’ve had with your bands… whether you were in one with me or not.  Share some of the music too!

Boston Market ups the pressure… (a.k.a. What now, Panera Bread?)


Insanity.

That’s right.  Boston Market not only reached out via my contact form thanks to Facebook, but also had the cojones to do this…

Boston Market RT!

Boston Market RT!

I still haven’t received a reply to my email to Mr. Wakabayashi, but what now Panera Bread? What now?  Clearly, this will pan out to be a bigger rivalry than Neil Young vs. Skynrd, or East Coast Rap vs. West Coast Rap.  Maybe even bigger than me vs. the people that think I’m McDonald’s (At Least Mr. Wakabayashi used my contact form correctly!)

If you have no idea what’s going on, or if you work for Panera Bread.  You can catch up here…

In other news, did you know that they both cater?  I wish someone would have told me.

Panera Bread (Scott Twp. Greentree Road) on UrbanspoonI actually stopped at the local Panera the other night because the wife was sick and wanted some of that cheese-broccoli soup.  I went in to get some to go, and got myself a half of a turkey sandwich and a cup of the chicken noodle.

The employee (a young girl, of course) at the counter was quite friendly, asked if I wanted lettuce tomato or onion on the sandwich, and even asked if I wanted mustard and/or mayo.  Clearly, someone went over new procedures.  Sadly, I asked for lettuce & tomato… and got neither, but I did get mustard and mayo.  I applaud the effort, and shame on me for not checking before I left the store.

I have to say, after my initial complaint, they have totally stepped it up service-wise.  I still call shenanigans on the new soup.  They ought to let sales do the talking… OFFER BOTH.  It’s certainly a popular item.  Let the consumers decide if they want a great-tasting soup… or the crappy flat-noodled healthy soup.  Clearly, as a leader in the Fast Casual industry, you can afford to test the proverbial waters?  I think more changes have been made, but it’s still not the old soup.  Shenanigans.

Also, I counted 3 signs within  a span of about 8 feet on the counter where you wait for your order advertising the catering… and the pop machine still does it too.  I think the receipt may have even said something about it.

I spend far too much time contemplating fast food & fast casual dining.  If only I could save time buy purchasing already prepared meals.  Does anyone out there do that?

Boston Market is ready to battle.


Boston Market cup

In this corner...

Look out Panera Bread, Boston Market has your number!  I was out of town this weekend, and didn’t check email much.  I didn’t have the time & energy to properly respond to this until we came home.  I find this to be incredibly awesome.  Dennis “The New Guy” Wakabayashi from Boston Market is ready to put his company’s catering services to the test.  The line between my lunacy in email writing and reality is ever increasingly blurred.  Perhaps my preposterous idea will turn into a real happening.

Insanity.

Sparked by some snarky postings of various blog post url’s on Facebook

From: Dennis Wakabayashi <engage@bostonmarket.com>
To: <Me>
Sent: Friday, November 11, 2011
Subject: W(aL)D Feedback
Name: Dennis Wakabayashi
Email: engage@bostonmarket.com
Website: http://www.bostonmarket.com

Message / Comment:

Hi, I’m the new guy here at Boston Market, just brought on, to engage with awesomeness like yours. I loved your article and definitely interested in the catering battle royal at your place…count me in! Not only that my friend your band has some T-shirt coming your way!

Send me a list of sizes, and a couple videos of your music, so we can be sure you’re rocking the family friendly vibe that we know and love….

If you want to reach out to me directly DO IT. dwakabayashi@bost.com (Senior Manager of Digital Marketing)

How’d you find my blog?:
You posted on our Facebook page!

Time: Friday November 11, 2011 at 6:23 pm
IP Address: 000.000.000.000
Contact Form URL: https://aixelsyd13.wordpress.com/contact/

Sent by an unverified visitor to your site.

So, of course, I wrote back…

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Nov 14, 2011
Subject: Re: W(aL)D Feedback
To: engage@bostonmarket.com
Cc: dwakabayashi@bost.com

Shalom Dennis!

I see that more companies are hiring people in your position to figure out the best ways to use social media to their advantage.  What a great thing!  I have had some excellent interaction with Nate Riggs of Bob Evans.  I have even had great dealings in the past with Lori Smelt at Boston Market.

I have a goofy email sending online persona, now named Waldo Lunar… that keeps clashing with the real me.  It’s ever more impossible to separate the real from the absurd.  Ha ha.

I have asked for the T-shirt sized of the other dudes in my band, but I’m not sure if their ideals would support such blatant corporate sponsorship.  We are, after all, a punk rock band at heart.  Then again, what’s more punk rock than doing the exact opposite of what a good punk rock band should do?  Also, I’m just a Bert, so I must clear things with Ernie.

I’m not sure that the band, Ernie and the Berts, is family friendly.  Despite this perhaps somewhat misleading name… we’re prone to spew forth occasional potty humor, sexual innuendo, and movie-Tourette’s-like bouts of profanity.  Also, don’t ever eat Ernie’s soup.  This has not stopped the interest of other yet-to-be-named possible corporate sponsors.

For your review and entertainment, I do however submit the following videos:

I trust that you’ll laugh, cry, and share with friends.

I’m glad that they have someone with some wit and intelligence monitoring Facebook for Boston Market.  In 2011 (soon to be 2012), I feel that it’s extremely important for a company to use social media for important feedback regarding the perception of their brand & service.

I’m quite glad that you’re interested in the catering battle-royale!  Unfortunately, I haven’t had any takers from the Panera Bread camp.  In fact, I believe their policy is to ignore my emails from now on, or that I have been perhaps stifled by their in-house spam filtering system.  I haven’t received so much as a “thanks for your interest” or even a “please stop emailing us.”  They haven’t used Facebook to the advantage that you now have.  Although, they did reply (uninterestingly) to a tweet.  Do you perhaps have any professional colleagues at Panera that you could cajole into action?  Since Batman Movie night has come & gone, my wife & I have discussed the possibility of a Back to the Future or Indiana Jones movie night.

(I assume that your interest is in a catering battle, and not the literal scuffle for a single dollar?)

Perhaps, with the lack of interest from Panera Bread, we could involve Bob Evans?  Surely, your meal offerings are more in line with them, rather than some paltry soup and sandwiches?  How would you feel about your chances against them?  Maybe Panera needs to lie low in the media, in light of recent events that happened nearby.

You can send a goodwill token of appreciation for my new adventurous advertising ideas, if you end up using any of them.  A commission check would be nice also.  I excel in the ridiculous, but am unsure how to make a profit from such ridiculousness.  Following the model put forth by advertising within the walls of where one is currently doing business, I figured it would be OK to ask in this email.

How do you feel personally about unabashed advertising for catering service while you’re currently in the place, already spending your hard-earned dollar?  Let’s face it, at the brisket meal hovering around $10, I can go to a local diner for less and not be slapped with advertising while I sup.  I go to Boston Market for the tasty meals, (perceived) speed of service, and glittering hope of consistency.

Imagine picking up a bottle of Coca~Cola at a convenience store, and on the label, it tells you to go buy a 24 pack of cans, 2-liter, and/or six-pack of bottles.  At the moment, you’re interested in quenching your thirst… not stocking your ‘fridge or obtaining a caffeine high.  Not a perfectly parallel predicament, but food for thought nonetheless.

I would like to thank you for your interest and the response to my insanity.  I can’t wait to see how this plays out.  Can you think of any other catering battle participants?  Perhaps we can put together a rock n’ roll show rather than just a small movie night…

I’ll let you process all of this, and get back to me on your own time with your thoughts.

Excelsior!
-ERiC AiXeLsyD (a.k.a. Waldo Lunar)

Bread Soda

In this corner...

Now, how to get Panera Bread to bite?  This isn’t rhetorical.  I’m actually looking for your advice.

If you’re confused here, you may want to check these out:

Videos, Contest , Kickstarter, T-Shirts, & more chaos… (via Ernie and the Berts)


There’s all kinds of stuff going on in the Ernie and the Berts world You ought to check it out…

Videos, Contest , Kickstarter, T-Shirts, & more chaos... A while ago we played at a crazy show in Sheffield Lanes, above the Fallout Shelter.  It was all ages, it was madness, it was beautiful.  This is some of what you missed: “Toybox”: A lot of screwing around, then “Ikea”: Video by Ernie’s mom, Terrie Cobb. This is just a sample of the awesomeness that you can get full-on by supporting our Kicks … Read More

via Ernie and the Berts

Sat. Feb. 5th at Excuses with the Hang Lows! (via Ernie and the Berts)


Feb. 5th at Excuses… you really ought to come out to this one. The Hang Lows are cool dudes, and ska bands are always a great time!

Sat. Feb. 5th at Excuses with the Hang Lows! So, we've got a new sort-of last minute kind of gig.  Details just got pulled together, but they're all below.  Keep in mind that this is an early one… it starts at 8:00pm and will most likely actually be an 8:00 start with us on first, and the Hang Lows hitting the stage around 9:00pm.  We hope to see you there! The Bands: The Hang Lows – Facebook / MySpace / Reverb Nation / Twitter Ernie and the Berts – Facebook / Reverb Nation / MySpace / Tw … Read More

via Ernie and the Berts

Ernie and the Berts – FREE SHOW! 12/30/2010 @ Howler’s Coyote Cafe!


I’ll update all the information on this show at this thread on PittsburghBeat.com as any new details happen.

There may also be some new links since the last time you checked the Yahoo! group page, like some audio/video goodies, and of course the link to the official “Toybox” video on YouTube, brought to life by our pals Jason & Terry… with recording help from Brendan of Summer Lungs.

On to the show details…

The Bands:

The Place:

The Details:

  • 21+
  • 8:00pm
  • $$$ FREE SHOW! $$$
  • Thursday, Dec. 30th, 2010

Looks like Ag Ag Lady made a flier…

Ernie and the Berts “Toybox” | Official Music Video!


This was a project by our friends Jason & Terry.  Luckily, they needed a band and we were up for making a video.  I know I’m pleased with the results!

Ernie and the Berts owes these cats some thanks as well as Jonathan and Naveed for starring along with Jason & the band… and Erin and Lynn for giving up their house for a day.

Almost forgot, Brendan for helping us record this thing & his patience!

Hopefully, you dig the song and the video.  We’re (of course) interested in your thoughts/critique/reviews/compliments/criticisms/etc.!

The Toybox


So, Ernie and the Berts got a demo done…

Take a listen, and let me know what you think!

(I had to do a little WordPress code cheating to get the player in here, but the preview works… let’s hope it sticks.)

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