Wednesday, December 16, 2020

METALLIC HARDCORE MADNESS

Got together with the Milk Money dudes (and Casey* in case we needed a tie breaking vote) to talk about metallic hardcore for a while one night. We were on this Zoom call for almost three hours, and Dan patiently got it down to one. If you like Late 90's/Early 2000's HC, and want to watch what was described as "the nerdiest thing I've ever seen you do" by a friend of mine, hit play.

*I forgot about this post, but if you scroll to the bottom, there's a SoundCloud link to the time he and I drove to Las Vegas and he told me exactly what he wanted his funeral to be like. The possibility of getting derailed for some weird reason is the other reason we brought him on.*

Sunday, November 29, 2020

HOWL

Being in a band is fun.

It's a lot different this year, but still super fun.

When lockdown/quarantine started, Milk Money was just starting to gain some momentum on our first album, RECKON which came out last December. There were a bunch of awesome shows lined up, and we were really excited about playing a bunch of new places that none of us ever got to play with our respective HC bands.

We were also working on a video and just finished filming at one of the three locations we set up.

Then, well, you know.

My favorite thing about the video was the concept, which is laughably dated in our new, current reality. 

It was going to be made up of three separate M$ "shows" in strange locations, while people tried their best to go about their business, pretending we weren't there. The first location was a tiny office while people worked at computers, made copies, and tried to have discussions. The second was a small, crowded restaurant while people ate, drank and hung out while we played in the aisle where a server had to maneuver through us to get to each table. The third was a busy toy store where customers crammed past us to get what they needed without giving us a second look. It was going to be fun. 


Thinking about pitching, filming, or releasing that video now is hilarious to me. It's going to be one of those things that's lost in time, and that's a bummer.

Once all of our shows were cancelled and we realized that we wouldn't be getting together in real life any time soon, we changed course and started working on some new songs. Dan and I had been getting together every couple of weeks at Downtown Music, trading riffs, and demoing some riffs and songs to show Drew and Byron. Some of it was good, some of it was okay, and a lot of it needed work.

Eventually, after a lot of videos and audio files passed back and forth in the group text, we had the skeletons of four songs. Drew tracked drums at his house, and uploaded them to our Google Drive folder. From there, Dan, Byron, and I added our parts and stuck them back in the folder. Dan set up a vocal studio in his kitchen pantry and went to work while the rest of us gave our thoughts. When we had everything, we packaged it all up, and sent it to Scott Sellers, who used to sing for the band Rufio. He started producing records from home a while ago, and had access to a bunch of equipment that none of us did. We crossed our fingers and waited to hear what he put together.

Since all of our parts were recorded clean, we assumed that we were going to have to give him a little direction on tone after the first pass, but he fucking nailed every single song. All four songs came back so much better than any of us imagined, that I don't think any of us had any notes other than "This sounds fucking great!"

He finished mixing and mastering it around the beginning of October, and we officially released HOWL on October 23. It's one of my favorite things that I've ever been a part of, and I'm incredibly proud of how we put it together under the circumstances. We already started planning the follow-up, and the way things are going, we're probably going to be doing it the same way we did HOWL. It's not as much fun as being cooped up in a tiny room throwing out ideas, and then hanging out at a studio for three days, but it's much safer.

The only time we've been in the same place since March of this year was right before Halloween. We got together up in Heber to film a video for one of the new songs. It was awesome to see everyone again, even if it also meant hanging outside in 40 degree weather and hauling our gear a quarter of a mile down the side of a mountain for the perfect shot.

The songs on HOWL are a lot different than the ones on RECKON, but still have the same M$ vibe. You should check them out, and follow us on social media (@milkmoneyrock), Apple Music, and Spotify. We've got more songs coming, and who knows? Maybe we'll even get to play a show or two next year.

So we need you all to wear a fucking mask and follow the public health guidelines so we can do that. It's not a difficult concept. The more your dumb anti-mask friends protest, the longer this will go on. That's just how it is. I want restaurants to open at full capacity again, I want bars to stay open late and have bands play, I want to sit in coffee shop, and go to movie theaters. And I want to go to a fucking show and hang out in the parking lot for two hours after it's over bullshitting with my friends.

None of that happens until this virus is under control. Wear a mask, stay safe, and fuck Donald Trump and everyone who stands with him.

Now go listen to HOWL.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

LOL

Remember when I thought that blogging was going to make a comeback? Such innocent, optimistic times we lived in back in March.

I guess I can give you a rundown of what the last seven months have been like for me? I kind of think you don't care, but then again, you're still checking this blog hoping for content, so I'll oblige you.

The restaurant that I work at shut down on March 16th. We all went in on the 17th to clean and take some food home (since our full order for the week showed up a few hours before the Health Department gave the order). I invited everyone to the Milk Money show on May 16th, saying "This will all be over by then for sure." 

The first week and a half of quarantine was super productive. Dusted off the blog, got creative with some Milk Money stuff, tried to see if my cats liked pancakes, and tried to keep somewhat active by adapting a few workouts for my small apartment.

The ten days after that were pretty rough. Reality set in, and it finally started to dawn on me how long a pandemic might last. The weather turned to shit again, so I took a lot of naps, made coffee at 6pm, and stayed up until 2 or 3am watching movies. 

It wasn't until early April that I found a rhythm. I started making coffee at a reasonable hour, writing (not blogging here, of course) in the morning, then working out. The gym I go to closed down, but they amended things a bit, and started posting daily workouts on their app, and videos of how to do some of the exercises online. Luckily I had a kettlebell, a couple of dumbbells, and a jump rope. Some days, I'd work out in my living room. On nice days, I would go out on my front walkway. I had 200, 400, and 800 meter runs mapped out around my neighborhood, and was pretty consistent with it once the weather got nice again. 

In the evenings, I made dinner, then went for a walk—which became my literal favorite thing to do. I looked forward to them every single day when I woke up. I would listen to either a podcast, or an audiobook, and just head out—mask in one pocket in case I passed someone, and hand sanitizer in the other. I was going about four miles every day, and longer when the book got really good. The audio version of Beastie Boys Book is incredible, and I want everyone to listen to it. Ad Rock and Mike D narrate most of it, but they have chapters and sections read by a ton of people who just love Beastie Boys like Will Ferrell, Tim Meadows, John C. Reilly, Snoop Dogg, Kim Gordon, Chloe Sevigny, and Bette Midler. It's so good that I bought the physical copy just to see all the photos they referenced in it. Both are so, so worth checking out. If you watched the Apple TV+ documentary, you know what I'm talking about. That was a filmed version of the live show that Ad Rock and Mike D did after the book was released. I watched that, and thought, "That was pretty good, but I wish they went into more detail about..." The book does just that—with the exception of MCA's death and how it affected them. They just wanted to talk about the fun parts of having him in their lives, which I get. 

After that, I listened to an audiobook on the making of The Office, and then another one about the rise of all the cool New York bands in the early 2000's like Yeah Yeah Yeah's, White Stripes, and The Strokes called Meet Me in the Bathroom. I missed pretty much all of those bands in their heyday because I was immersed in HC culture, but I've come around on a lot of them—especially Yeah Yeah Yeah's

That's pretty much what I did every single day. For a month and a half. Every three weeks I went to the grocery store, and occasionally I would get coffee and go for a long drive, but that was it. My next door neighbor went home to California, my downstairs neighbor holed up in her parent's condo in Park City, and my other neighbor moved out right before everything shut down. I basically had the whole place to myself, so setting up all my guitar gear and playing loudly was another little outlet, but I was pretty bored. I really didn't see anyone for like two months—not even a Zoom hangout. I went to my parent's house for dinner once, and helped my brother take graduation photos for his virtual commencement ceremony from the U of U. My friend Kyah dropped off some Starburst that she brought back from England the literal day before they stopped allowing international flights. When Cassie got back from California, we built a planter box for our garden, and then failed spectacularly at actually growing anything in it.

I went back to work in the middle of May, and the whole summer has been pretty much a blur. I go to work at 7am, get home around 5pm, take a power nap, work out on my front walkway (I've since moved to my garage), make dinner, go to bed, and do it all over again. I have a nice little patio, so about once a week my friend Casey comes over, we get takeout and eat outside. Listening to stories about how many of my friends relationships fell apart during quarantine bummed me out, and made me realize that while I was bored for a few weeks, ultimately I was fine. Aside from work though, I'm still doing the quarantine/social distance thing. But at this point, I can't really tell if it's because of the pandemic, or because it's just how my life is now. The only time I really see anyone is at the BLM protest marches, which I feel sort of guilty saying doubles as my only social outing. 

Last week I turned 40, and a few of my friends rented out an entire theater so 8 of us could watch The Goonies, eat movie popcorn for the first time since March, and not worry about any strangers coughing on us or talking. That was pretty great. Now that summer is winding down again, and I'll be on Funemployment (without the fun) again soon, maybe I'll write more. Doubtful, but we can pretend.

Oh! We did write and record an entire 4-song Milk Money EP this summer without ever actually getting together a single time. It comes out on October 23rd. Maybe you'll hear from me before then, but, come on. Go find @MilkMoneyRock on social media and keep track. The new stuff is different than Reckon, but still has the M$ vibe. I really dig it. Hopefully everyone else does, too.

Monday, April 13, 2020

MILK MONEY


This band started in 2004, but didn't actually start playing until 2019.

Dan Fletcher joined Cherem in 2004, and one of our first tours was in August of that year. We did a lot of overnight driving back then, because we mostly toured in the summer and our van didn't have A/C. On the way to our first show in Sacramento, I was driving, Dan was riding shotgun and Bill was on the first bench. Everyone else was asleep. My main rule while I was driving was "no hardcore." It made me sleepy for some reason, so I always put on something upbeat—punk, hip-hop, whatever. Dan was looking through my CD case, and put in a mix of old grunge songs. I was happy, because I didn't think anyone else liked that stuff. I know Austin didn't. Clint was pretty indifferent. 

We listened to Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, Alice in Chains, and Nirvana all night, talking about how much we loved them, and how much fun it would be to play in a band like that. We decided to start one when we got back from tour. We never did.

Dan and I played in a bunch of bands together after that, but nothing like the one we planned on starting that night. 

Cut to 2017, when Dan and I started a group text with our friends Byron and Drew. We were all busy, and none of us had a practice space, but we all wanted to play music. We started trading riffs and ideas, and Dan compiled everything into a SoundCloud. Then we found Will. He wanted to sing for a band, so we told him to pick three songs from the dozen or so that Dan put together, and booked one day of studio time. We set up, ran through the songs together for the first time, and hit record. It was super fun and turned out really good. We put those songs on a 7" and played exactly one show. It was called Potential

Potential fizzled out after that, and we all went on with our lives. Dan was playing solo stuff. Drew and I started doing Tamerlane pretty regularly. But none of us were playing together. Then Byron resurrected the group text.

He wanted to get together for a contest that one his favorite bands was doing. Pup was releasing a new album, and as a promotional idea, they released the lyrics and chord progression to one of their new songs. They encouraged everyone with a band to use it as a template and record their own version. They wanted to post their favorites before unveiling what the song actually sounded like. It was a cool idea, so the four of us got together at Dan's practice space one night. 

Things went sideways almost immediately, and we scrapped the cover song before we even started it. Instead, we started playing around with riffs, and wrote a pretty cool song. Then we wrote another one.

"Did we just start a rock band?" asked Byron.
"Dan and I have been trying to start a 90's style grunge band since like 2004," I said.
"I guess this is it," said Dan.

Songs came together pretty quickly, and they were all really fun to play. We were only getting together about once every two weeks, but after a few months, we had 12 songs and no idea what to do with them. We tossed around the idea of releasing a couple of different EP's, but couldn't decide on anything.

"Fuck it," I said. "If this is a 90's style rock band, let's just come out the gate with a full length."

So we did.

We met up with our friend Wes Johnson for a few days last summer and recorded all twelve songs. It sat on a hard drive for a few months while we tried to come up with a marketing strategy, and figure out the best way to release an album in 2019. Then we got tired of waiting, and just put it up on Spotify in December.

Once January rolled around, we started playing shows, writing more songs, and shooting a video. It was all rolling along, and we were having tons of fun. Then Coronavirus hit and put everything on hold. That's where we are now.

The bright side is that we're still trying to keep busy. We made a quarantine video for the track "Human Spine" last month. We started recording interviews for a Milk Money podcast series. We're trying to figure out how to record some new songs while maintaining social distancing. And we started writing a weekly advice column.

The last one has been my favorite so far. It's hosted by our friends at Gold Blood Collective, and we're trying to get one up every week for the next little while. You should read it.

Here's a bunch of links. It's up on every streaming platform there is, so go to whichever one you use and add us. Listen to the album, tell me if you like it, then come see us play live—if that's ever a thing that people can do again.





Thursday, April 2, 2020

THE EPITAPH RECORDS PLAYLIST GAME


The only regular interaction I get with other people these days is through the Milk Money group text. Some days it's super active, other days not so much—but it's always fun. Lately, we've been making playlists based on record labels that we grew up listening to and posting them to the M$ Twitter account and Facebook page. The group gets pretty active when we do them, and brings back a whole bunch of great memories of when we were younger and music was literally all that mattered.

If you didn't grow up in the punk/hardcore scene—going to shows, buying records, and obsessing over bands—record labels probably have no bearing on your life. But to those that did, you know how crucial it was to have a label that you would basically go to war for.

Dischord started the obsession. SST followed suit. Sub Pop showed everyone how to be big and small at the same time. Fat Wreck Chords was a staple of early 90's punk rock, while Victory and Revelation were the mecca for anyone interested in hardcore. Thousands of discussions were based on what band should be on what label, how crazy it was that a particular band ditched one label for another, and what label's "sound" a smaller, unsigned band encompassed. I'll never forget when Sick of it All signed with Fat Wreck Chords. My friends and I were so confused, because it didn't seem like they fit in at all with the rest of the goofy, fun-loving bands on the label. Then again, we were 18 and didn't know anything anyway.

One of the most influential labels for me personally was Epitaph Records. The label was founded by Brett Gurewitz primarily as a vehicle for releasing albums for his own band—Bad Religion. There weren't a lot of punk rock labels in the early 80's, so DIY was the way to go. The first seven or eight years of the label were mostly Bad Religion albums, until he started signing other acts, most notably NOFX and Pennywise. After that, Epitaph became a huge deal—not just in the punk scene, but the world in general.

Epitaph released some of my favorite punk/hardcore albums of all time from bands like H20, The Bouncing Souls, Rancid, Descendents, and Refused. It's a murderer's row of great music. Brett Gurewitz unknowingly introduced me to bands I still listen to, admire, and play air drums to when I'm walking around my neighborhood in the midst of this global pandemic. He's long been one of my idols, and before the total collapse of the record industry, I wanted to try and follow in his footsteps. He's still someone I look up to, but starting a record label in this era of music is just a terrible idea that no one should do. I have several boxes of unopened, unsold CD's in a closet to back that up.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, it's on to the game that the title of this post alludes to. I know that was five paragraphs ago, but hopefully you're still reading. I mean, what else are you doing?

If you've suddenly found yourself with an abundance of time, and need a break from binge watching old episodes of The Office, or arguing about TIGER KING on Facebook, give this a shot. You can use pretty much any label, but Epitaph makes it easy because they have all their releases cataloged by year on their website.

Here are the only rules:

1) You can only pick one song for each year.
2) No artist can appear more than once.
*Additional Rule Edit*
3) I'm opening this up to include Epitaph's sister labels, ANTI and Hellcat. It's my game and I'll change the rules to suit my own needs if I want to.

With Epitaph, it got really, really difficult for me between 1996 and 2001. Would I love to have "Rather Be Dead" on this playlist? I sure would, but Everything Sucks by Descendents was released the same year. It's all about making the tough choices. I skipped a few years here and there (mostly between 2008-2015ish because I never listened to a lot of the bands they were releasing), so I'll be revisiting my playlist soon to add a few more.

No one is going to actually do this, because most of you are adults, quarantined with your family or a significant other. But on the off chance that you do find yourself with a little extra time, give it a shot and see what happens—especially if you do Epitaph. I would love to see where you and I differ on these songs.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

HUMAN SPINE

I'll tell you more about Milk Money another day, but I'll start with the video we made the day of the Great Utah Earthquake.

We started shooting a video for another song earlier this month. There's three locations that we wanted to use, but we only got through the first one. It was fun, and in the end, I think it's going to be really awesome. We're shooting with an old friend named John Raftery. He's a tattoo artist at Mercy here in Salt Lake, and has been making movies and short films on the side.

Now that we're all stuck at home, we were forced to abandon the rest of it for the time being. Understandable, but a bummer all at once. I was texting with a friend, who saw little snippets of the first shoot on our Instagram (@MilkMoneyRock), and she asked if everything was on hold. I said that it was, and then she came back with a great idea.
I stole it from her immediately, and hit up the band group text (which is a very comforting thing to have right now as I live alone in a small apartment and haven't seen anyone in days). They loved it, and over the next couple of days, we each filmed our part and sent them to Dan. He's been playing around with Final Cut Pro a lot over the past few months, and had a rough cut ready before I even recorded mine. I recorded mine in the afternoon—which gave me a good reason to change out of sweats for a bit—and Drew finished his later that night. Dan had it ready to go the next morning.

It's pretty rad what you can accomplish when you can't leave your house. Hope you like it. You can find the rest of our stuff on Spotify/Apple Music/Bandcamp/Soundcloud/whatever.

Milk Money


Saturday, March 21, 2020

ARE WE BACK?


Blogging is about to have a massive comeback—for about two months.

I'm on day four of this social distancing/isolated quarantine thing that we're all supposed* to be doing. If you live in Salt Lake City, you had the added bonus of waking up to an earthquake on Wednesday morning, which definitely helped everyone's anxiety. So for a few hours, we all had to worry about getting deathly ill from touching something, and also worry about our houses collapsing on us. It wasn't a great day.

Aside from that (How was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?), it's not bad. For me, it's not all that different from what I do during the winter when I'm on sabbatical from work—aka Funemployment. At least this time it's not freezing cold outside, and I can go stand on my porch for a few minutes every couple of hours to get some fresh air.

What I've learned in the past few days is that the internet is fucking boring now. Instagram killed blogging, Facebook is a dumpster fire of conspiracy theories and lies, and Twitter is just depression in real time. There's a lot of people thinking they're going to "beat the algorithm" on Instagram and Facebook by falling for the same old tricks that never work, which is both funny to see and sad at the same time. Those sites are smarter than all of us, and you either have to accept it or get the fuck off. Those are the only two choices, and the sooner you accept that, the easier it will be for all of us going forward. Anyway. Some of the sites I read regularly aren't posting any new content, I don't want to read about the President's incompetency, and sports are gone for a while.

This is why I think blogging is going to have a little bit of a resurgence. Everyone that had one back in 2012 is going to dust it off out of boredom (like me!), and we're going all going to have something to read for a few minutes a day to take our mind off of everything else.

None of them are going to be great, a few of them will be almost good, and most of them are going to be word vomit as a warm-up to whatever actual writing project they have to do that day (me again!).

I really have no idea what people are hoping to get out of these posts—if they get anything at all—but I'll (probably) be posting a couple of times a week for the foreseeable future. I'm still making Spotify playlists, I'll probably tell you about my new band, we can trade Isolation Rituals, and talk about what shows we're watching, and which books we're reading**.

So, I guess add this page to your bookmark bar? Check back every once in a while? It might be fun. I actually have no idea! None of us do! Welcome to 2020.

*I know my neighbor isn't doing any of this because his routine hasn't changed at all. He still leaves with his gym bag, and comes home with a plastic grocery store bag with like two items in it several times a day.
**Don't forget about books! They're great and fun and the perfect escape.