Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

I. AM. SO. EXCITED to share this with all of you. The brilliant and underrated Andy Eichhorn recently resurfaced with a new EP and some social media outlets. So, naturally I took a deep breath and sent him a message, and…here we are! I am always honored when the folks who made and make the music I love will give me the time to pick their brains a bit. Andy has been nothing but super sweet since then and even sent me some goodies from his old band ZUCKERBABY! :::drool::: So, holey moley, let’s go!

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MSG – Greetings Andy! Thank you for taking the time to do this Q&A/Interview for M-S-G. I am so psyched to have this opportunity with you. For anyone about to take this adventure with us…Andy Eichhorn is a bit of a “cult” music figure once fronting Canadian Pop/Rock darlings Zuckerbaby in the mid 90’s to the early 00’s. If you don’t mind, I’d like to start somewhere around there. Can you tell us a bit about what it was like trying to get something like Zuckerbaby off the ground in Calgary Alberta, Canada in the mid 90’s?

AE – Thanks, Soda!  I’m thankful for the opportunity, you’ve interviewed a lot of great artists and I’m happy to make the cut. Well, I won’t say it was easy because nothing worth doing ever is… but it did happen very naturally.  Reed & I were really coming into our own songwriting as a team, finding our own way of doing things, listening to and getting excited about the same music we loved from the past and present. We hit a stride together creatively and could just FEEL it. Whether or not anything else was going to happen, WE were happening. And to anyone who writes or creates – that’s a one of a kind feeling! Getting the music industry to take notice of what we were doing was another story. We hammered away at any lead we could find. Cold called record companies, managers, booking agents –you name it!  It seemed that something pretty magical was brewing, and people were coming to shows to see us more and more. Music industry types started calling us back and wanting to see the band. It was all very exciting!

MSG – And even before Zuckerbaby, you fronted Calliope, which, at its core, was you and Reed (Shimozawa). That project was a touch darker and a bit on the Alt/Grunge side. What made you guys kinda make the change and streamline your focus/sound?

AE – I always say there wouldn’t have been a Zuckerbaby without Calliope.  It was our “getting to know you” project, a stepping stone to what would become Zuckerbaby. That was around 1994 and the musical landscape was changing yet again. When Reed and I met we shared a love for so much music from all over the musical map and it all kind of spilled out on that record. As we kept going, we turned each other on to the bands and artists that each of us loved. When Calliope came to an end, we were thinking about what was next. Both of us brought a song to the other guy to see if there was anything worth pursuing. Those songs were “Bellybutton Queen” and “Heavy”.  A new band was born!   

MSG – Now, for me, Zuckerbaby was love at first sight (and sound of course). I immediately caught a heavy Jellyfish influence, which was major for me and after getting the first ZB album it only further solidified that wonderful comparison. I personally think you guys came the closest to that sound with not an ounce of it being contrived. It seemed and sounded so natural, you guys just nailed that style so effortlessly. The self-titled Zuckerbaby album is an absolute classic. AND, to top it off Jack Joseph Puig, who worked on both Jellyfish albums, worked on your 1997 debut. Can you dish some history here? 

AE – No question, we loved Jellyfish so much! Hearing Roger Joseph Manning Jr. speak recently about some of the other music he and Andy Sturmer were influenced by made sense to me. He mentioned Elvis Costello, Crowded House, Cheap Trick…all the bands I was soaking up at the time or had been into when we were writing and recording the first album. I got to spend some time in San Francisco (where Jellyfish began) and went to places like Russian Hill (a song on the Jellyfish record Split Milk) and got to try to feel the vibe.  We convinced the guys who managed them to also manage us. Working with Jack Joseph Puig was a feather in our cap for sure. He worked on the Jellyfish records as well as The Black Crowes, Tonic, The Grays (super underrated band featuring Jason Falkner, Jon Brion, Buddy Judge and Dan McCarroll.)  If you can find it – get it!  Yeah, it was very cool to walk into a studio like Ocean Way in Los Angeles and mix your songs with a legend like Jack. One night he sent us away and said he would call us when he had something for us to listen to. We decided to go to The Viper Room (a club owned by Johnny Depp at that time).  We were in the lineup outside, waiting to get in and over my shoulder I hear a familiar voice saying something like “here’s some leftovers, I think It’s still warm”. It was Johnny Depp bringing food to one of the doormen at the club. Then we got to see Tommy Stinson’s (The Replacements) band called, Perfect. Great night in LA! I went back to the hotel and called my friend Lorrie Matheson back home to tell him about the show because he is a huge Replacements fan. Lorrie ended up producing my new EP all these years later. 

MSG – Coming down off that self-titled you guys followed up with Platinum Again which was a gorgeous, more mature sounding record which left behind the bubblegum for more polished rock gems. The album also seemed a bit caliginous. I remember interviewing Reed a few years back and he said that was a real tough one to make. Care to elaborate? You guys also lost your original rhythm section around that time? What can you tell us?

AE – We were in trouble. Career, relationships – life. But we still kept going.  It WAS dark, it was different from the first record but I think it showed another side to the band that I will always be proud of. There’s a song on that record called “Sleepwalking Sister” that should have been a single. The lyrics were inspired by Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles who had a solo album in 1997. She had a song called “Enormous Wings” that she said was inspired by the author Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  I listened to her record then read the collection of short stories that inspired her song and wrote the lyrics to “Sleepwalking Sister”. There are a lot of beautiful songs on that record. We collaborated with some other writers for the first time and that yielded some varying results as well. We were trying to do something other than what we had done on the first record and I think it turned out really well.   The two albums are very different but both great in their own way. And, yes, we parted ways with Brian our bass player before we recorded Platinum Again and Wayne left after the recording so he got to play on the second album. It can be a brutal business as far as relationships go. You’re forced to make decisions quickly and sometimes it’s right and sometimes it’s not.

MSG – How long did you guys work on promoting ‘Platinum’? And what was the next move or had things pretty much come to an end? Were there talks of a third record?

AE – We released Platinum Again in the Fall of 2000. It was another new era.  Things were changing in the music industry that would be game changing.  We toured Canada with Collective Soul and after that it looked like our relationship with Universal Music was coming to an end. Things kind of slowed down for the band and there weren’t many touring opportunities at that point. We did think about doing something further but not if it didn’t feel right. Nothing really definitive or dramatic happened but I was getting tired of everything. We fought really hard to make Platinum Again. The time in between the first record and writing and recording the second one was very tough. It took a toll. 

MSG – Now, it seems like you went a bit underground after Zuckerbaby, from what I may or may not know. What was life after the band like? Were there more bands? More gigs?…Or did you decide that was it at that time?

AE – I took a step back but it wasn’t too long before we started working on new stuff. Reed and I did a lot of writing and recording between 2004 and 2006. I briefly played in a friend’s band here in Calgary. Zuckerbaby played a couple of shows locally around then as well. 

MSG – It has been really, about 2 decades since you graced us with your gifts. You just released a new solo (debut) EP entitled Satellites and Secrets, which is beautiful. I want to get into that but don’t want to leave out the fact that you did poke your head out in 2015 to do a one off reunion gig with Zuckerbaby opening for The Age Of Electric who had been celebrating “X” amount of time and did a few shows, re-released some music and what not and you guys opened up the show in Calgary. What was that like? You also issued a new single called, “Do The Crime” soon after that. Is there more ZBaby where that came from?

AE – Thanks! The EP was something I have always wanted to do. It probably would never have happened without reconnecting with Lorrie Matheson.  He has a studio called Arch Audio and invited me over one day to hang out. Next thing you know we were planning and plotting how to make a record!  All of the guys in Age of Electric are loved by me. It was so cool to open a couple of shows for them when they did a reunion. We toured Canada in 1997 with them which was absolutely classic! I’ve been inspired by their songs and talent since before Reed and I met. And he was friends with them before that! So, there’s a great history there. We recorded an album’s worth of Zuckerbaby material between around 2004 and 2007.  That’s where “Do The Crime” came from.  So there is a collection of songs from that era that we haven’t really done anything with.

MSG – I wanted so badly to get to that gig. I absolutely LOVE AOE, mega influence! Anyways, so, here we are, 2020 a year of utter chaos and you drop your solo debut after all that time, a sophisticated collection of songs indeed, almost adult contemporary. How long did it take to write, record, etc? How long did you have this planned for?

AE – Timing has never been my strong suit. I could have just shelved it when all this happened but I finally got the EP finished and didn’t want to wait any longer. Glad I didn’t because it feels really great to connect with people who seem to like what I do! I hadn’t written anything complete in a very long time but always had little ideas. I got more focused a couple of years ago as far as songwriting goes. The recording process was a few days here, a day there as time and money would allow.

MSG – So aside from this, have you and are you still involved in music in other ways? You don’t have to get too personal, but what might an average day be like for you now if you don’t mind me asking?

AE – This is it musically right now. It was a big deal for me to get back at it and my hope is to keep something going. An average day for me involves work and family mostly. I have to carve out time for myself to do my thing and stay creative. My family is very supportive! I find that if I go too long without singing and playing or working on some new idea I start to get bummed out.

MSG – What are the plans for the EP? I know, given the state of the world, there isn’t too much planning going on anywhere. Will there be another recording? Will there be any shows? You know… the door is open at my place if you ever get here and want to do a house show!

AE – You never know! If the pandemic gets under control, I might take you up on that. I had hoped to play a show in Calgary with the band who played on the recording. I also wanted to do some shows in different cities with other musicians I have known over the years, that was the plan. Maybe one day! I did a couple of acoustic shows, just me and a guitar, before the lockdown and I was starting to really like doing that, too. Everything’s gone online now so I’ll keep posting songs, covers and stuff like that. Hopefully I can get playing somewhere soon!

MSG – I feel like we covered a lot here and filled in a few historic holes. I’m sure people will really enjoy a peek inside after all this time. What did we leave out?

AE – There’s always something left out but I think this is a good wrap up of past and present. Thank you so much for doing this!

MSG – And where can people get the new EP?

AE – Satellites and Secrets is available on all the streaming platforms and CDs are available through bandcamp. And both Zuckerbaby albums are on itunes as well!

MSG – Well, I think that about covers it. Thanks a lot Andy, this was rad, an absolute pleasure. Another one of my nerdy music-related dreams come true. Stay safe and groovy Andy and let’s give this to the people!

https://andyeichhorn.bandcamp.com/releases

Canadian band, THE SMILE CASE has sent M-S-G a brand new single to debut from their forthcoming album, Bipolar Bear Wildlife Park on Blacktop Records. A great description straight from the horses mouth is below:

“We are releasing a new album called ‘Bipolar Bear Wildlife Park’ on
March 6th which is more than likely one of the most painful ‘love’ records ever written. The band is an acquired taste and for fans of Elvis
Depressedly, American Pleasure Club & Craig Finn. This song and the new
album is an anxiety fueled rollercoaster that sounds better with a pair of headphones and 5mg of Diazepam.”

So, how could you NOT want to check that out? Be brave, here ya go:

The Look All Over

For more info: Blacktop Records

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Canadian Pop/Rock favorites, Zuckerbaby returned last week with a new ass shaking single called “Do The Crime”. By the sounds of it you wouldn’t think the band took 16 years between their stellar sophomore release Platinum Again and this new instant ZB classic which flaunts all the vigor and youth of their eponymous debut coupled with the panache and primo songwriting the band has been known for.

Zuckerbaby - Do The Crime (Single Cover)

Zuckerbaby – Do The Crime (Single Cover)

They recently came out of hiding a few months back to support the freshly reunited Age Of Electric, another 90’s Canadian Alt-Rock phenom at a show in their home land of Calgary. Hell, I guess they all liked it so much they did it again about a week ago. Dynamic duo Andy Eichhorn (Vocals/Sometimes Guitar) and Reed Shimozawa (Guitar/BG Vocals) have never sounded fresher. Seems the break did them all some good. New this time around is rhythm section Jamie Warren (Bass) and Ian Grant (Drums)…well, new to us anyway as Reed had informed me earlier this year in an interview that these guys had been with the band not too long after Platinum Again had been released and, if given a choice, this would be the two guys he’d ultimately choose had the band continued. Which brings us to the present…

“Do The Crime” is reminiscent of early Zuckerbaby in the fact that it’s got a bit of bubblegum to it and a pleasant dose of those Jellyfish style harmonies they are keen on. But, let’s not take anything away from the sophistication of the track either. Ever present are the sharp lyrics delivered by an unaged sounding Eichhorn. “You can do the crime, change your mind don’t waste my time if you could press rewind, leave it all behind, make up your mind.” And I did press rewind, multiple times, because I can’t get enough. Punchy guitars and bouncy bass and drums lay the infrastructure for the always sugary sweet singer to convince you to indeed do the crime, and whatever it may be please sign me up. If it’ll get the universe another full length Zuckerbaby record then yes, I’m ready for my mugshot!

Get the single now on iTunes. Take the risk if you aren’t familiar with the band. It’s only 99cents. Have a fit, let’s go!

ZUCKERBABY – DO THE CRIME (single)

Staring at this blank slate, trying to figure out where and how to start to describe the record that is Modes Of Transportation Vol. 1…It won’t be an easy task and I have certainly been procrastinating…

Just a few weeks ago the 20th Anniversary of this wacky masterpiece landed in my mailbox. I was certainly ready, willing and able to consume. Spookey and his music have been a major part of my life for a very long time. I’ll never forget first hearing his sounds. I was sprawled out on the floor doing homework watching Much Music for the short time America had the Canadian music network, which at that point was far superior to MTV and brought a vast many bands into my life. Initially I wasn’t quite sure what the hell I was hearing. It sounded like a cartoon about a boy going through puberty at first. But, it was a genius at work, yodeling like a crazy cat over an almost mechanical sounding bubblegum indie pop apocalypse. The song and video I am referencing is, “These Days Are Old”. This was the lead single off the record. Some years had passed since the release of the album when I first caught wind of it, and I was very lucky to have done so. Shortly after that I had it in hand and played it for everyone, equally perplexed, but who also went on to claim it as one of their favorite recordings. Anyway, enough whimsy, let’s tackle this Anniversary Release!

Spookey, Modes Vol. 1 20th Anniversary Cover

It’s beautiful, dense and very well crafted. This reissue is not some mediocre thing thrown out there to capitalize on an artist’s most successful venture. It’s calculated and lovingly delivered. What you get here is a Remastered “Modes” with 4 bonus tracks and lots of expanded artwork including a very touching and inspirational forward by Canadian songstress, Esthero. After reading her words I found that her story was kind of similar to mine. Accidentally discovering Spookey and being, well, somewhat confused at first. But then…obsessed. Seems textbook.

“We all have records we like – love, even…lots of them…but there are only so many you can KNOW.”

And well, she’s right. There has not been a single thing this guy has put out that I haven’t loved. Not like, but love. That’s pretty rare with a big catalogue and rare still with artists you really dig. To me, Spookey is very consistent.

The nicely remastered “Modes” follows the same track order from the standard release opening up with the few foreboding seconds in “Terra Magnifica” which sounds like your going to get something horrifying but then immediately turns into something beautiful with a cavalcade of instruments and a children’s choir only minutes in. It sets the bar pretty high and the theme only continues throughout. Next up is lead single “These Days Are Old” which I already waxed poetic about earlier and probably includes one of the best and most eloquent nylon string guitar solos you may ever hear. “Crystal Cradle”, colorful, fun, cute…”Running Away”, one of the most straight forward Alt Rock songs on the record. In whole it’s truly an adventure, and presented with more clarity than ever. I’d love to do a track by track, but I gotta leave you with some mystery. Just remember this when you get up to the conceptual “Life Insurance” delivered in 3 parts.

 

It came out on TVT in 1995 and was hailed as Pet Sounds for a new generation. It’s back and STILL from the future.

I didn’t even get to the bonus tracks! The first of four is “Knife In The Water”. It’s classic Spookey Ruben; it’s the bonus level, the 1-Up…the heart container! An absolutely brilliant contribution and you wonder why it was initially left off of the original record. My only guess is that the lyrical content is somewhat dark; a murder mystery of sorts. That’s followed by “Machine Language” which at first could be likened to a lost Nine Inch Nails tune. Before Spookey went solo he was in a thrashy, experimental math rock kinda band called Transilience. This track leans more to that era of his work. Next up is “This Truth” which has a more cool jazzy on the beach kinda vibe. Finally putting the period on this edition is a live cover version of the Pilot classic, “Magic” which lends itself greatly to Spookey’s diverse vocal range.

Spookey!

SPOOKEY!

I personally cannot say enough about this artist’s installment of aural pleasure other than the fact that it’s thankfully getting another breath of fresh air. If I could complain about one thing, and I use the word complain lightly, is the fact that “The Lonesome Mule” was left off this version, which appeared on the Japanese release from ’96. The fact that it also appears on Ruben’s Rarities collection Welsh Rarebits from a few years back makes it forgivable.

Anyways, art like Spookey Ruben’s is one of a kind. Much like Prince, Spook is that special, and his return has just begun. Look forward to a monster year from this very special songwriter.

(Also sink your teeth into Modes Of Transportation Vol. 2/What’s A Boy To Do? And Modes III, coming soon)

https://spookeyruben.bandcamp.com