20 November 2005

Friends In Need

My nascent blogging career was severely curtailed these past few days by computer malfunctions, and, considering that my computer normally forms admirably, I couldn't help wonder if Something or Someone wasn't trying to send me a message, to wit: shut up already, there are already more than enough blogheads blogging up the blogosphere.

Nonetheless, I bundled up my recalcitrant laptop and went to see Patrick Hynes, my onetime partner in both Lookout Records and the Potatomen. Patrick, in addition to being an inspired artist, one of the best musicians I've ever known, and an all-around great guy, also happens to be a computer genius. He plugged it in, waved his hands over it (or maybe just gave it an encouraging pat on the trackpad, I'm not sure) and of course it was instantly restored to good health.

The only trouble with asking Patrick for help of this kind is that I usually end up feeling pretty dumb for not knowing even the tiniest fraction of what he knows, but heck, I spend a fair amount of time feeling dumb for not knowing what lots of people know, so I can live with it. Anyway, I still needed Patrick to show me how to make an mp3 from a tape cassette, something I gather nearly everyone knows but me, but there you are again...

The mp3 I needed was of a song called "California." Actually, there are probably quite a few songs by that name, but this one was by late 70s SoCal band the Simpletones as covered by my old band, the Lookouts. The recent VH1 documentary Driven: Green Day used a snipet from the Lookouts version, and when Jay from the Simpletones got wind of it, he emailed me asking for a copy. He seemed thrilled that his old band's song had made it onto national TV, and I apologized for our amateurish butchering of it. At the time we recorded it in 1985, we'd only been a band for about six months, and our drummer, Tre Cool, who sings exquisite soprano backup vocals, was still just 12 years old.

Anyway, back in those ancient times, digital recording was virtually unheard of, especially for fledgling punk rock bands from the backwoods of Mendocino. The "master" copy of our 22 (!) song demo was a gnarly old cassette that had been kicking around in the dust somewhere up atop Spy Rock Road for many a year. A point of interest, possibly: the recording engineer on our demo was one Hal Wagenet, one-time guitarist for the hippie band It's A Beautiful Day and now a Mendocino County Supervisor.

So now a second Lookouts song has made it into the digital age; the only other one, which actually got remastered for CD, was "Outside," from the compilation The Thing That Ate Floyd compilation, written and sung by a 14-year-old Tre Cool. As for our Simpletones cover, for which we rewrote some lyrics to reflect our Mendocino version of the California experience (rather different from the Simpletones' SoCal one), it's now on its way to Jay, and as soon as I can figure out the technology, I'll set up a link so the rest of you can hear it. UPDATE: Patrick, ever the champion he is, has stepped in and provided me with just such a link: "California".

That's where the wonderful Kendra K comes in: she's been my adviser on all things bloggish, and please don't blame her because I'm a slow learner. I'm hoping she'll help me devise a way to make sound files available here, and while you're waiting, you can always head over to her neck of the woods and marvel at the aural fury that is Thee Kendrak Attack.

And seeing that I'm in slightly pluggish mode, I don't want to forget about Patrick and Erika's Little Type Mail Order, which to my mind is carrying on many of the best traditions of the old school Lookout Records. Not surprising, since Patrick was one of the main driving forces at Lookout from 1990 to 1997, and Erika applied an equally masterful (can you say that about a woman?) and adept hand to the Lookout mail order department. In addition to selling the kinds of records and fanzines that you might not find anywhere else, Pat and Erika are also now running websites and mail order for both Adeline Records and Screeching Weasel.

There's loads more to talk about, but right now I'm off for my semi-annual visit to Gilman Street. I'm especially stoked because for once my membership card from my last visit hasn't expired yet. Score two bucks for me!

1 comment:

justin k. (burymybody80@yahoo.com) said...

wow! it's fun to hear a "new" lookouts song!

i have to admit, though... i've put "one planet one people," "spy rock road," "mendocino homeland," "IV," and the tracks from "more songs about plants and trees" and "make the collector nerd sweat" on cd for myself! i got tired of hoping for some kind of real cd reissue!