Sunday, January 2, 2011

RECAP! Episode 1-11 of BATTLEHOOCH U.S. Tour 2010

Parts 1-11: Chronicaling our journey from San Francisco to Florida

Part 1 - Tour Kick Off

KICK OFF Vlog Episode

  • Link to Tour Kick Off Blog here (and footnote here)
Part 2 - Technical Difficulties
  • Link to Technical Difficulties Blog post here
Part 3 - Seattle, WA

SEATTLE Vlog Episode

  • Link to Seattle Blog Post here.
Part 4 - Portland, OR

PORTLAND Vlog Episode

  • Link to Portland Blog Post here.
Part 5 - Eugene, OR - Solar Living Institue - San Francisco (Visit) - LA

EUGUENE Vlog Episode



  • Link to Eugene - SLI - SF - LA Blog Post here.

Part 7 - Las Vegas, NV

LAS VEGAS Vlog Episode

  • Link to Las Vegas Blog Post here.
Part 8 - Moab, UT - (UTAH Music Park)


  • Link to Moab, UT Blog Post here.
Part 9 - Denver, CO

DENVER Vlog Episode

  • Link to Denver, CO Blog Post here.
Part 10 - Oklahoma City, OK


  • Link to Oklahoma City Blog Post here.
Part 11 - The South (New Orleans, LA and Florida)

NEW ORLEANS Vlog Episode

FLORIDA Vlog Episode

  • Link to The SOUTH Blog Post here.

"Trumpet Poop on the ground with Peanuts" or "A Tribute to Captain Beefheart"

Don Van Vliet, AKA Captain Beefheart, has died.
Long live the Captain.

I didn't get my license until I was 19... so I used to get rides to high school with my dad. We'd drive in his '88 White Toyota Corolla (that's OOF OWF to ya'lls) and listen to cassette tapes of dubs he'd done of his old record collection. This is where I first heard such future favorites as "Box of Rain" by the Grateful Dead, "All Along The Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix, "Camarillo Brillo" by Frank Zappa and "Positively 4th Street" by Bob Dylan. It was on one of these car rides that he first showed me Captain Beefheart. The Captain was a favorite from his college days and he showed me two songs that were among his favorite in the whole world : "This is The Day" from Unconditionally Guaranteed and "Tropical Hot Dog Night" from Shiny Beast.

For YEARS, I thought "Tropical Hot Dog Night" was the weirdest song in the world. Stranger than strange lyrics and the backing band sounded like they were stumbling backwards through a samba parade. The song in general sounded like it was telling the wackiest joke ever. On top of it all, Captain Beefheart sounded like a Muppet with mad cow disease.
Obviously, nobody at High School gave a shit about Captain Beefheart. Some of my friends knew about him cause he sang "Willie the Pimp" on Zappa's Hot Rats album, but that was it. It was just strange music and I was the only person in the world who knew about it. As a matter of fact, I remember once I read a quote in some magazine where Trey from Phish said "Tropical Hot Dog Night" was one of his favorite songs ever and it blew my mind that someone else knew about Beefheart!
Whenever I tried to show "Tropical Hot Dog Night" to people, they'd just glare at me and get angry that I was playing such annoying crap. Heck, at this point I wasn't even sure what I thought about "Tropical Hot Dog Night". I appreciated how it was odd, bizarre and impenetrable but I wasn't sure if I REALLY liked it yet at that point. The music had a veneer of novelty, as if it was too weird to be really true.

I think my dad and myself are part of only a hand full of people on earth that really love "Unconditionally Guaranteed". The more I researched Beefheart, the more I found that the album was pretty much universally loathed by all his fans for being too "pop" and too "smooth". I guess I understand why that would be... After all, here was the dude who laid down "Lick My Decals Off, Baby" and "Frownland" playing smooth, laid back AM radio music with the dudes from BREAD! Might be a tough pill to swallow for some....
...But I don't care! I love the album and after all these years, I still think "This is the Day" is one of the most beautifully haunting songs I've ever heard. The album wasn't released on cd for years, so for the longest time the song only existed to me on vinyl. In other words, I only heard it when I would hang out with Grant Boardman, a friend who had a record player. (I have many fond memories of listening to the vinyl at Grant Boardman's house: black light, candles, shitty orange carpet and all. The music still evokes that room EVERY time I hear it.) The fact that it wasn't easily accessible and existed only on an outdated form of media created a spectral feel to the music. Fleeting, like an old memory. Also, I knew it was one of my dad's favorite songs, and Unconditionally Guaranteed was one of 3 record albums he brought with him when he dropped out of college and headed west. I think the combination of a unique back story, the fact that the album was out of print and the sweeter nature of the music created a sort of aura to the album that I always found compelling. It was like the tender feelings of my young parents preserved in amber. It was also an interesting balance to "Tropical Hot Dog Night". "This is the day" sounded like the same monster that was barking on "Hot Dog", but now he was sad and lamenting love long gone. A poignant example of seeing the sensitive side of the bizarre.

Either way, these two songs established an emotional and intellectual connection with the Captain that came to full fruition in years to follow.

When I got to college, I became obsessive about discovering new music. I was always asking people about what music they were into, downloading albums in bulk and trying to learn as much as I could about rock history. As I became exposed to artists like Os Mutantes, Fela Kuti and Syd Barrett, I started to realize that my musical tastes generally steered towards the direction of the more bizarre, outer reaches of rock music. It became obvious that "weird" was what I liked. So, inevitably I began to come across Beefheart's name more often and gradually got exposed to more of his music.

In the latter part of my college time, I moved into a house with some of the members of my band and it was there that I (we) started to really get into avant garde music. We spent hours and hours making experimental recordings - sound collages, white noise, atonal jams, you name it. In this environment, Trout Mask Replica became a very important musical reference point and the first full Beefheart album that I personally got into for my own reasons. The fearless spirit of Trout Mask Replica was extremely influential to my band mates and I and informed much of our experimentation. Heck, we even covered "Moonlight on Vermont" for a while. (Apologies for the kinda brutal sound quality... but that's SEX WITH JON for ya.)

Also, the deeper into Beefheart I got, the more I realized how relevant he was to my music studies. At the time, I was getting into the abstract regions of music theory in my college courses and being exposed to people like Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Webern. All the things we were learning about (atonalism, chromaticism, poly rhythm, word painting) were elements that he explored extensively in his music and presented in a much more intriguing way than the stuffy classical dudes I was learning about (no knock on Stravinsky et all, just sometimes I like my atonalism without a bow tie, feel me?). When the world of classical music became too heady and mathematical, I'd go back to Trout Mask and it would take me back down to earth... back to the human body. He became more and more crucial to the way I thought about music... I even briefly considered writing my entire senior thesis on Trout Mask Replica.

Eventually, I graduated from UCSC and moved to San Francisco. While I didn't get over Captain Beefheart, for a while he stopped being something that I referenced constantly. While still retaining a desire for progressive, forward looking music, I was no longer spending most of my time actively wading in the choppy waters of the avant garde. He was with me more and more in spirit and not in active practice...
Then, one day last year a good friend of mine showed me how to do BitTorrents. (If you don't know what it means to do a BitTorrent, it's basically the reason why no musicians can make money anymore off their recordings.) Long story short, I soon found myself with the full Captain Beefheart discography. As I started to revisit old favorites and dig through all the tracks I hadn't yet heard, it started to dawn on me: This was music that was crucial to ME.
This wasn't just music that I was intrigued by or that I thought was technically important... This was music that I profoundly connected with! Music that I really loved! I realized how his whole body of work was a vast treasure trove of brilliant ideas that pointed in a thousand directions... most of which had yet to be explored! It was (in my mind) the very definition of artistic bravery. It showed how much was left to be found out. It was music that STILL sounds like it was made tomorrow.

I may be venturing into hyperbole, but this is REAL TALK here, yo. I loved his weird music AND I also loved his simpler, more melodic music. I liked his simple, brutal blues work outs AND his obtuse, intricate compositions. I loved the musical complexity AND I also loved his abstract lyrics and surreal word play. I loved the fact that the dude who made "This is the Day" also made "Pena". (Seriously, marinate for a moment on what those two songs say about the scope Beefheart's music covers. It's staggering, yo.)

When I listen to his music, I feel like I'm able to go to a place of limitless creative fertility. It's like sitting in a garden where you can watch the most incredible flowers blossoming right before your very eyes. The longer you're in the garden, the more incredible the flowers are that you see. The day after he died, I sat in my room and listened to Trout Mask Replica front to back and I was knocked out (like I've been many times before in my life) at how singular that album is. He had forged a completely new musical (and lyrical!) vocabulary that was wholly separate from everything that came before it (and after). Yes, you can hear elements of things like Howlin' Wolf, Ornette Coleman, Stravinsky, Shakespeare, et all but these elements are so disembodied that the music transcends mere pastiche. It's like genetic recombination. It's musical mutation. A wholly new organism with it's own distinct characteristics and DNA.

This is tip of the ice-berg type material. I could ramble for much longer about Beefheart. I could talk at length about all his albums, his side men, and I haven't even touched on the fact the he was a painter for much more of his life than he was a musician (and a damn good one too. SHEESH!). But, I will say that I the man made a whole self contained universe with his art and it's a universe I can go to whenever I want and feel a unique and special kind of freedom and inspiration. For that, he'll always be huge in my mind.

R.I.P. Don Van Vliet (January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010)

-Archaeology Johnson

P.S. - a couple more crucial Beefheart videos from YouTube. Never enough.

BATTLEBLOG 2011 UPDATE (Includes info about the Tour Videos, New Album and More)

Quiet, but not Forgotten. (The BATTLEBLOG).

("I will begin again" - U2)

It's 2 days into 2011 and that means I'm surging with the awesome power that is NEW YEAR MOTIVATION. Yes, dear friends, Archaeology Johnson has a "To Do List" - filled with all manner of things that will (hopefully) enrich my life and (hopefully) infuse my existence with purpose and meaning. That's just a fancy way of saying that for the next few days I'm gonna be sitting around in my PJs listening to Mothers of Invention bootlegs, goofing around with my crazy new distortion pedal and spending money to get broken stuff fixed. (Really?)

This post is meant to be an update of sorts. A State of the Union, if you will on some BATTLEHOOCH related topics.

The Status of the Vlogs from the BATTLEHOOCH 2010 U.S. Tour.
  • We are obviously home and the tour has obviously been over for a couple months now. Yes, there hasn't been a peep on this Blog for a couple of months but what can I say.... we got home and I needed to take a break from the self contained universe of madness that was the tour and focus on the NEW, the COMFORTABLE and the FRESH. I visited home a couple of times. I got majorly caught up on sleep (Ed note: Still relishing in the novelty of having my own room and my own bed. Each night of sleep since being home has been delicious boys and girls. Delicious.) I spent long stretches of time working on new songs. FRESH PERSPECTIVE. However, to prove that we weren't just sitting on our asses, here's a video of us playing in Berkley since we're been home.
  • Now, it's a New Year and it's time to resume telling the tale. In the next few days we'll have the next official Tour Blog post which documents the conclusion of our winding, wayward jaunt to the east cost. (These episodes will cover the existential conundrum that was BATTLEHOOCH IN THE MIDWEST. Profound. Deep. Exhaustive.)
  • If you followed our trip via Twitter, Facebook, E-mail, Carrier Pigeon, etc. you know that we spent over 6 weeks in NYC and had a ridiculous amount of adventures. An overwhelming amount of said adventures were captured with our cameras (Thanks Kickstarter Backers!) and will be presented in some form (short film? concert movie? episodes?) shortly after the next Blog post. STAY TUNED!
  • While you await the exciting conclusion of the story of our 4 month Odyssey, please feel free to revisit all the prior episodes. A collection of all the Vlog episodes and accompanying posts can be found if you press THIS LINK.


We have started working on the next BATTLEHOOCH album. However, unlike past releases where we would work on a hand full of songs for a while and then record them on the cheap as quick as possible, we are going to be trying things differently.... cause we like to be
(said in sarcastic mocking tone. we're so meta, yo)

So this new plan kinda is shaping up as follows:
  • Everyone is writing songs/riffs/progressions/rhythms/concepts/etc. (We'll call these little musical units TIDBITS.)
  • We're gathering together each week and showing each other the new tidbits. The tidbits are then demoed, jammed on, rehearsed, altered and generally molested and mutilated.
  • We move on and do it all over again with a new batch of tidbits next week.
  • Net Result: LOTS OF TIDBITS. A Whole Pile of New Ideas that we cherry pick the tastiest, funkiest, most mind-blowing parts.
  • We put it together so you can listen to it while you a) do your homework or b) get high. (Ed note. BATTLEHOOCH does not endorse doing homework or getting high.)
  • If any of these demos are presentable, we'll share on this blog.
This doesn't mean that you'll have to wait indefinitely to hear the next new, sexy and official BATTLEHOOCH recording. No ma'am/sir! In fact, if you've seen us in the past year, you'll know that we already have 7-8 new, unrecorded songs that have been prominent parts of our live sets. The plan as of this moment (Sun 1-2-2011 - 1:16 PM - In bed, listening to "Mud Shark" by Frank Zappa) is to go into the studio in the next month or so and record one or two of those songs. The sad fact of recording music is that it always takes way longer for the song to come out than you ideally want, so these recordings probably won't be out until spring BUT... still Spring will be here before you know it. Promise. :) STAY TUNED!

What Are They Listening To? - New Years 2010/2011 Edition

  • Captain Beefheart -

He died. Here's my post about Captain Beefheart. Avant Garde Sentimentality. True Hero.

  • Ariel Pink -

2010 was a big year for Mr. Pink. The men of BATTLEHOOCH were among the throngs that fell in love with the twisted alchemy of his music and we fell hard. It started with a friendly interest in this year's BEFORE TODAY album. The interest continued to grow, so when we were filling up my Ipod with new music for our 4 months on the road I made sure to get a whole gaggle of Ariel Pink albums. It wasn't until New York that we started digging through them. First it was THE DOLDRUMS, whose "For Kate I Wait" became a band favorite. Then "L'estat" and it's epic "(Popping noise)-CHEER UP!" breakdown became another favorite. Then we discovered "Among Dreams" and it's serpent bass line and sun burnt beach boys wobble. Then we found out WORN COPY was an amazing album. Now, we're obsessed with it all. On our recent drive down to LA, our van playlist was utterly dominated by Mr. Pink. BEFORE TODAY is hands down my favorite album of 2010 and seems destined to be one of my favorite album ever. (He also gets points for reminding me a lot of early Mothers of Invention albums and leading me back into yet another major Frank Zappa kick.)

  • Can - "Turtles Have Short Legs"

Grant showed me this jam last night. So good. Tago Mago-era B-side. I love how the piano kinda sounds like "Penny Lane" style Beatles but the rest is pure juicy KRAUT. Also, a Damo lyric for the ages, "Turtles have short legs, not for walking". Wonderful example of juxtaposition working out (i.e. Bouncy 60s style pop AND tribal, sprawling, textural future beats)

  • Tame Impala

INNERSPEAKER was another album that got played a ton during the tour. Different members had different favorite songs, but it could always be counted on to provide a sweet blast of hazy rainbow bliss. Recently discovered their EP is pretty baller also (accompanying video is of a song from said EP). Saw them recently at the Independent and it was totally epic. They opened their set with "It Isn't Meant to Be", "Solitude is Bliss" and "Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind". It was fucking beautiful and me and my homies danced like tripped out animals.

  • Depeche Mode - "Everything Counts"

I don't know if everyone else in the band feels this way about this song, but I always kinda felt like it was a "Theme Song" of sorts on the tour. Or at least I often found myself thinking about the chorus during brutal points of the tour: "It's a competitive world. Everything counts, in large amounts".

  • Tobacco -

This music is filthy, trippy and funky in all the right ways. Both FUCKED UP FRIENDS and MANIC MEAT are flaming gobs of awesomeness. Don't eat the berries around you.

  • Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

A quick RANT, if I may.....
This album wasn't a band favorite per se. In fact, I think at least half the band hates this album. But this album has been a big topic of discussion as of recent in the music world (I guess getting a 10.0 from the fork will do that.) and that includes the world of BATTLEHOOCH. We listened to the whole thing as a band on the drive back from LA and it lead to some interesting debates (Is he any good at rapping? Does it succeed based purely on ambition? Are the incredible beats compromised by his tabloid status? What does a 10.0 rating mean?)
Personally, I think the album is pretty staggering. When I listened to it by myself for the first time, I couldn't help but feel like I was being enveloped... Like I was in the presence of something GARGANTUAN. I'm amazed by the scope of the music: how unabashedly ECCENTRIC and WEIRD it is AND how unabashedly EPIC and POP it is. And dig the half hour video for "Runaway". That's some seriously mind bending Fellini style shit at points.

This is a GRAND artistic statement. It sounds like the Future.

I think it proves Kanye West is very simply the bravest pop musician out there currently. Lady Gaga might be more conceptually out there, but she still is seriously lacking in the over all jams department (Even though I admit Paparazzi influenced the bass line in our song "Joke"). Even if you don't dig his raps, you can't deny he makes HUGE BEATS and has some straight up EPIC HITS. (Or as the man himself says, "At the end of the day, I'm KILLING THIS SHIT. I know damn well you're feeling this Shit"). I don't think the album is perfect but I don't think that's what these mags/blogs are talking about when they drop a 5 star/10.0 review on it. I think this album's ambition is undeniable. Just the other day, a homie told me that to make this album Kanye block booked a whole studio indefinitely, flew in his favorite musicians (RZA, Bon Iver, Elton John, etc.) and would work all day at making this music!!! He would take a 90 minute power nap every 4 hours but otherwise, this dude was working all day to bring this vision to fruition. I think that's tight and quite inspiring as a matter of fact. I feel like it'll be a while before this album really sinks in and peeps can really discuss what this album means, what it attempts and what it achieves. For now, I'm kinda just in awe of it.

That's all for now. Peace and Love (and Kanye West).

-Archaeology Johnson