Ten years ago I got together with John Woong-Sae Jung and Kyu Seok Park and made a 6-song EP in a tiny studio in Seoul, Korea. We smoked cartons of cigarettes in a room without ventilation, drank energy drinks, coffee and booze, and ate cheeseburgers--a classic recipe for productivity in those days.
At the time I was reading a Frank Zappa biography and Chuck Palahniuk's "Survivor." I was very intrigued by robots getting ahold of knives, a friend's story of suicide, and taking the opulence of hip hop stardom to it's over-the-top conclusion.
I always found it peculiar that a band or musician focused on a specific genre of music when there are so many sounds to make. So I set out to make this project as thematically and aesthetically disparate as possible. In that regard, at least, I think we succeeded.
But as much as I had the ideas for the songs, John's production and multi-instrumentation were imperative to creating the sound I hoped to achieve. He programmed beats, helped flesh out melodies, and played many instruments throughout the tracks.
Kyu Seok, drummer for the band THETHE, provided live drum tracks and engineered the whole thing en route to helping create the only fully realized "solo" musical project I've ever completed. For that, they are just as responsible for Home For Good For Now.
So blame them, too.
Many of the seeds planted during these sessions grew into the philosophy and aesthetic of Tandoorifinger, a band John and I would start later in Austin, TX. Below are the five tracks with a bit of background on them.
1. What Y'all Think - "If I had a daughter I would name her Margaret/and tell people she was adopted, so I would seem benevolent"
I've always appreciated the absurd humor in opulence for opulence' sake. For example, using diamond-encrusted crutches or headgear when you're perfectly healthy and don't need braces. This idea grew from a healthy love of Kool Keith and that amazing period when rappers were wearing clothes so big they appeared to be toddlers. I miss that time. Sigh.
2. Survivor - "Testing 1, 2, 3. Can you hear me?"
Chuck Palahniuk's book of the same name so impressed me that I wrote a song about it. I have never recorded another country-style song, but I sure like the desperation in trying to tell a story before the plane crashes. John suggested I do the melodic ooh's during the chorus, which was a new thing for me, but he was right. I always wanted Chuck to hear the tune, so if you happen to know him, please pass it on.
3. Poisonous Words - "The things you said were melting, happening too soon, still I was wrong"
My friend, Lee, actually wrote much of the main riff to this song, and I arranged it and added melodies and lyrics. He dealt with the horrible suicide of someone very close to him before he could make things right. This was a snapshot of his regret.
4. Flake - "You got a date with a new Wild Turkey/Put on a helmet to be injury-free"
I don't know what the hell this is about. I think maybe a commentary and critique of my own flakiness and what I saw in others. Flakiness is a quality more typical of people in their twenties, but I have been surrounded by it or been the center of it before and since. Also, I was very inspired by Frank Zappa at the time, so it's pretty out there. If nothing else, John shreds the solo in the middle in the style of "Evil Scientist"--if you play guitar you will know what that means.
5. Let's Build A Robot - "We had to form an alliance of defiance tryin' to stomp out this appliance blinded by violence"
Me and Lee were spending a lot of time together drinking and working on Untied, a short film about Noboarding. At one point we smoked some cannabis and built a robot exactly as described in the song. The result ended in tragedy when our robot realized it had no soul.
It's been pretty fun revisiting these tunes. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
If you are in Austin, TX, check out a Ukemi show to see John and his band do some powerful work--it will blow you away.