The Utility Project: About Bouquet © 2012
About Utility Project “Bouquet”
The Grady Martin Show
Guests: Drew X. Coles: Saxophone; Todd Moe: Voice Over
The special (self)assignment for this one was to create a radio/tv theme song. I didn’t THINK it would quite work out, but I did my best to stick to the spirit of the challenge. The chords are played as ordered and then were reversed after the voice over with the same drum track. I wrote a little v.o. for Todd to read and it was so dry and lame that I decided to ‘utility-ize’ it by keeping small words like ‘the’ and ‘a’ but taking everything else through the Meriam Webster machine. I replaced each word in the script with the word that preceded it in my (real paper) dictionary. So, a phrase like ‘It’s the Grady Martin Show, Starring Grady Martin’ becomes ‘It’s the Graduation Martian Shovelnose! Stapler Graduation Martian’ Much more interesting the second way, don’t you think? I give Todd a lot of credit for not only getting through the script but for maintaining the appropriate read throughout. I could not have done that. And I could not have played the sax like Drew either! He’s great. Thanks Drew. Grady Martin was a session guitarist in the 50’s, 60’s and beyond. That’s Grady playing the ‘Pretty Woman’ riff in the Roy Orbison tune. Brilliant and simple. Grady, to me, was all about the hook. Thank you gods of random for finding Grady for me. It was fun to pour through the vintage footage of Grady- just part of the band- playing on some great old tunes. He seems like he was a decent human being as well. Hope you’re o.k. with this Grady.
Guest: Hannah Rosen: Backing Vocals
The special assignment here was to create a guitar chord from the randomly selected chords – using the rootnotes- and playing it throughout. So that’s one chord you hear over and over. There are some changes on the bass that keep it going and I think my second guitar part does a little off-chord stuff. If I did it right I think it’s D, F, A, C#, E. Hannah saved me on this one. I was really happy with the instrumental version but struggled (as usual) with the vocal. Hannah was able to do what I was trying to do and I will admit that I copied her ghost vocal on a couple parts that she only sang as roughs. The subject matter from Wikipedia’s random article feature was: Chubut Rawson, an area of Argentina near a river that was part of an area settled largely by the Welsh in the 19th century. As a USAmerican I find it fascinating, we learn so little in school about South America and about cultures merging other than our own. We are so USAmerocentric.
Guests: Knowle’ge: Vocal Flow; Brian Lotze: Trumpet
I had been wanting to collaborate with a hip hop artist for years now. So I gave myself the assignment. Song C would feature a ‘rap.’ Knowle’ge really impressed me, he agreed without hesitation and was able to create something very much his own within an odd (3/4) time signature amongst the Utility ‘alt rock’ machine. I had told him about the subject matter for the song (a road in Ireland called the R116) but he either ignored this or forgot about it, I’m not sure. We recorded his flow first and when I heard it I was blown away. The song suddenly became more about me being open to change and allowing to be ‘schooled.’
Guest: Captain John Kaplan: Bagpipes
The special assignment for this tune was to have been to incorporate a marching band into the track. I nearly did it, but negotiations fell through (THIS time). So I turned to my friend in law enforcement who plays the pipes. John was a bit concerned after hearing what he’d played. He is a humble piper and has been out of regular playing for a while, he heard all the warbles and wasn’t sure how he felt about. I hope I’ve done him justice by pointing it out lyrically along with the other flaws inherent in the world of Utility Project. The first line of the song is “The piper warbles and the drummer can’t keep time” so there it is, done, we know there are warbles. It’s o.k. The song is about a German illustrator with a name destined for pop song stardom: Gustav Mutzel. After learning about Mutzel’s technical skills with a pen and having committed myself to addressing the warbles I wondered what it might be like if Mutzel could come back and help the band. I don’t know what “the band” would do with a German illustrator who has been dead for 100 years, but we’d find SOMEthing.
Guest: Sean O’Brien: Lead Vocals
I played with Sean in a band called The Mariettas back in the late 90’s. I played drums on one of his records a few years ago and have been wanting to get him to sing on a U.P. tune for a while. I believe Sean recorded the vocals right onto his laptop at home in Northern California, then he emailed me the file. The subject matter for the song is Roxborough Castle, um, just like the title. I did some research and was not able to confirm whether or not the burning of this estate in the far north of Ireland was accidental or an act of aggression. For the song’s sake we’ll sort of assume it was.
Guest: Maxwell Howard: Piano
My apologies to Tom Baker for the aborted version of this song, Tom played some very nice banjo and other goodies which never made it into the final tune, but we shall finish the track another time. Max Howard came and laid down some piano once I had the bass and drums in place. The “special” for this song is ‘whisper quiet’ sadly? this is about as quiet as I am able to be, I kept the arrangement spare, but I wouldn’t exactly call it ‘quiet.’ The assigned subject matter for the tune was “Bialystok-Grodno District” an area occupied by Germany during World War 1. Part of this ‘district’ later became host to the Katyn massacres of the 2nd World War.
Richard Nixon Judicial Appointment Controversies (inst.)
Guest: Ralph Lichtensteiger: Soundscape
I’ve been collaborating with Ralph for a few years now. It’s great fun to embark on a project and ask Ralph to ‘send me something.’ I told Ralph the song’s title and the chords (Fm, Em, Bbm). He sent me something pretty cool about a month later, the file was called ‘bacon.’ I’m not sure why. Yummy. I took Ralph’s soundscape and manipulated it. I then voiced an article on Richard Nixon’s Judicial Appointment Controversies and manipulated that. I did a few overdubs and it still seemed lacking. So I dug up an unused ‘Grady Martin Show’ drum track and pulled it over to this tune, than added a bass.
Guests: Beth Robinson: Cello, Drew Coles: Saxophone
The song structure for this one is: ABCAAC, so sadly, I only got to play my favorite part once. Drew amazed me. The part where the sax first comes in seemed awkward but when Drew played over it he was able to take that and really swing it. Go Drew! Beth came and added cello. It’s so nice to hear them play “together.” Beth played a nice intro, too, though she didn’t know it at the time. The subject matter for this tune was a painter named Fausto Zonaro. He was born in Austria and educated in Italy in the mid-late 1800’s. In 1891 he was asked to come to Turkey and later to be a court painter for the Ottoman empire, which fell a few years later. He was forced to return to Italy with his family and later got divorced. I wondered what this ‘fall’ might have done to him.
Ronnie Listner Is A Bobsledder
I was chasing a collaboration here that didn’t happen, maybe next time, you know who you are! Early on I was doing a bass overdub and realized it was sharp so I redid it. But then I accidentally heard my re-do along with the sharp bass and liked the sound. It reminded me of early Wire. It’s kind of buried in the mix now, but maybe if you squint…. After months of work I thought this one might be a throw away until I talked to my daughter’s piano instructor about backing vocals. Without hearing the tune she suggested starting with a dissonant note and resolving into a ‘proper’ one. It worked! The subject for this one is, of course, Ronny Listner. Ronny works at a prison when he’s not bobsledding for the German national team. I happen to live pretty close to Lake Placid. I was hoping to shoot some footage of bobsledding during the world championships, alas, a certain media company owns all of the rights. And now it’s March and it’s 80 degrees for some reason. I’m not sure if Ronny was here sledding this year. But let’s assume he was.
Special for this one? Glad you asked. Record and then digitally edit the drums. I recorded a drum track using all of the pre-determined rhythm information (5/4 beat, ABC structure, S = slow -I can’t play SLOW! But I try) I used random.org to locate three different sections to loop- I think they’re ½ second sections? I can’t remember. Then I ended up with a few minutes of rhythmic insanity. I was finally happy with the music track and struggled to find a vocal melody. The subject matter for this song was ‘Chronological List of Saints of the 7th Century’ I just started reading through the list and Mungo stuck out. Saint Mungo is the patron saint and founder of the city of Glasgow.
Still Life With Dead Bolt
Guest: Brian Lotze: Trumpet
Special here? “Random.org space noise” Mads can explain it better than me, but my ‘idiot’ explanation goes like this. “Random.org has a receptor perpetually gathering noise from outer space that it then translates into true random integers.” I am not a scientist, what do you want? I took some of this noise and manipulated it (um, flanger? Phaser? I don’t remember) and looped it. I thought it made a nice backing track. The subject matter for the song was ‘Upper Sapey’ a hamlet – not really a suburb I don’t think- to be fair- approximately 110 miles from London. There wasn’t a lot of information on Upper Sapey but I did find some real estate and then things took a little turn for the worse one day when I found myself locking myself inside for no particular reason.
Guest: Kjehl Johansen: Slide Guitar (so angry that I somehow omitted Kjehl from the CD jacket collaborator list!)
Kjehl has been a Utility Project collaborator from day one. For this project Kjehl and I gathered the random information together while on the phone and internet. It was predetermined that this song would feature Kjehl and after I sent him the drum track he recorded some nice slide in Los Angeles and sent it back. The subject matter for this song was a South Australian cricketer named Ian Michael Chappel. He was active in the 70’s and 80’s and later went on to broadcast the sport. He became rather famous for ‘sledging’ short for ‘sledgehammering’ or trash-talking during matches.
Guest: Hannah Rosen: Vocals
This is the last song that I completed, I had a version I was happy with, but it just didn’t make sense with two Doyle voices. I was able to convince Hannah to come record again. Thanks Hannah! The subject matter assigned here was ‘Seether Discography’ I had never heard of the band Seether, but checked them out and quickly remembered hearing the song ‘Fake It’ (many times) a few years ago. Not a bad tune. So my challenge was to somehow get the band’s discography into the lyrics. The Occupy Wall Street movement was just gathering steam when the song was written so I imagined a couple meeting at a rally and not really giving two hoots about the cause but being more interested in comparing notes on their favorite band.
Visa Requirements For Sudanese Citizens (INST.)
Guests: Amy Swartele: Paintbrush; Tom Baker: Banjo; Brian Lotze: Trumpet; Drew Coles: Saxophone; Max Howard: Piano; Manfred Hofer: Vocals Via Answering Machine
Special: ‘Amy Paints’ I wondered what it would be like to surrender rhythmic information to something that doesn’t typically have a discernable rhythm. Amy was kind enough to come over and paint on sandpaper for me. The idea was that other instrumentalists would layer their takes responding to the sounds that had been left there. Almost like a collaborative audio mural (?) Manfred ‘phoned in’ his performance tying it all together.
Amazon death bus
Guest: Brian Lotze: Trumpet
The special here was “b/w horn solo.” Curiously, because when the trumpet is played well – like Brian does – tone is tone- backwards or not, so we had to try a couple of different things here to actually be able to tell that it was coming at you backwards. Can you tell? I can tell. Subject matter: “Balzar Canton” an area of Ecuador not too far from a place that some friends visited. They told me all about a terrifying bus trip they had. They also told me about a rooster watching television. But the bus seemed like a better fit for this tune. Maybe next time, couch roo-tato
Bouquet (The Thank You Song)
I’m a shameful sellout to kickstarter, I hope my ‘backers’ don’t mind me rhyming them up.