GIG: Hot Breakfast! and Friends Present: A Very Dorky Christmas. 12/17/16, 8PM, World Cafe Live at the Queen

by Ji11

​It’s true, and it’s so sad… but Matt and Jill have lost the holiday spirit this year. Will the company and incredible music of their friends John Faye & Sarah Herbert, Todd Chappelle, Dan Kauffman, Boy Wonder, The Honey Badgers, Rachel Schain, Sharon Sable, Brian Turner, and The Lords of Aspirin help them find their Yuletide joy?

Get ready for a fun and funny night as Hot Breakfast!, with the help of host and “narrator” Mark Rogers (Hometown Heroes WSTW), takes good-natured aim at the TV holiday variety shows of their youth in this unique concert event. It’ll be a live show filled with original music, laughter, surprises, and plenty of holiday cheer – the perfect way to celebrate the end of your Christmas shopping.
And as if that’s not enough – this will be your first chance to purchase the brand-new Holiday EP from Hot Breakfast!

So yep, it’s true… we have been recording a Christmas EP, and so far we’ve got four songs done out of the five. The song titles so far are “Everyone’s a Child When it Snows,” which is not particularly “Hot Breakfasty” in that it’s not funny or dorky, but quite sweet and a touch precious even… but we’re OK with it. Next is “Don’t Get Me Anything,” which is an upbeat fun thing which parrots our “anti-noun” “experiences over things” stance on gift giving. Up next is “Christmas is for Believers,” which is also not particularly funny, but has Matt’s clever wordplay and also a very honest, even-handed and kind way of approaching what could be a controversial topic: non-Christians who celebrate Christmas. The song that’s been sticking most in my head is a song called “Clean Blank Slate” which is a New Year song. It starts off saying something like “It’s January 1st and everything magically resets and all the bullshit that was going on last year just disappears,” and then the rest of the song is saying, “Yeah, wouldn’t it be nice if it was like that, but it isn’t.” When we were recording the backing vocals, we got the idea of burying a subliminal message in there… so we added some lyrics waaaay low down in the mix, and I’m really proud of what we did and how it came out.  The final song we recorded is “The Holiday Shift” which has a similar feel to our 2013 hit “An Idiot for Christmas“, and is about a person who has to work on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day for the sales, but our hero actually likes the extra hours and overtime pay, and is happy to have an excuse not to hang with his family.  We’ll also include our 2014 holiday song ” I’ll Be Home on Christmas Eve.”  We weren’t going to include “An Idiot for Christmas” on this CD, but we realized it’s never been available on a CD before other than as a bonus track on 2015-printings of our 2012 self-titled EP.  We know people love that song, so we wanted to make it more readily avilable. 

We’re releasing this new Christmas EP at the show! We’re excited. 

DEETS:

WHO: Hot Breakfast! Plus Mark Rogers of WSTW serving as the Narrator, along with a zillion other artists, including Rodd Chappelle, John Faye & Sarah Herbert, Dan Kauffman, Boy Wonder, The Honey Badgers, Rachel Schain, Sharon Sable, Brian Turner, and The Lords of Aspirin (Randy America and Dave Janney).

WHERE: World Cafe Live at the Queen, Upstairs. 500 N. Market St., Wilmington DE. 

WHEN: Saturday, December 17, 2016, 8pm sharp!

WHY: To take an evening off from the hectic holiday season, and to spend it with friends, laughing and listening to music.

WHAT: A PG-13 family-friendly, non-denominational celebration of dorkitude and music!

TICKETS: Tickets are $16+fees. Buy them at the World Cafe Live website.  NOTE: After purchasing your ticket, you MUST reserve a table at World Cafe Live at the Queen. Call (302) 994-1400.

FOOD: Plenty of food and drinks are available at World Cafe Live. It’s a restaurant as well as a music venue! Eat while you rock out. Don’t forget to make a reservation!

PARKING: There’s a parking lot right next to the venue on 5th St. between King St. and Market St. It’s usually $5.  There will also be free street parking all around the venue. (Street Parking is free in Wilmington  after 6pm.)

See you soon!

Your pals,

Jill and Matt

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GIG: July 9, 8-10pm, Bellefonte Cafe, Wilmington DE. HB plays (and records) the DEEP CUTS!

by Ji11

No, it's not a bong. yet

No, it’s not a bong.
yet
But that is a blue canary in the outlet (sorta) by the lightswitch…


It’s been a while since we’ve played at The Bellefonte Cafe. For a while there, we were trying to play at Bellefonte once a year in the summertime, but we fell off the horse… until NOW.                                  
There’s something extra-amazing about the Bellefonte Cafe in the summertime. When the weather’s right, they open the windows between the performance space and the porch seats, and people can sit outside and chat and enjoy the music while the breeze wafts in the room and carries the smells of coffee and black bean soup around the place. And our pals at the NOAA are saying that this craptastic wet blanket of oppressive heat and humidity will break by Saturday, so hopefully we’ll be able to get those windows OPEN!                    
Anyway, if you haven’t been to the Bellefonte Cafe in a while, they’ve been under new ownership for maybe two years now. The food is still just as delicious, lovingly prepared, and veg*n friendly, but it comes out infinitely faster. Everyone appreciated that upgrade. You’re still encouraged to listen and linger, but it’s no longer forced upon you because your food hadn’t arrived. They also moved some tables around, so now the musicians have a bit more space in the front of the big room there, which is nice for everyone.

This night is going to be special for a few reasons:   Mah nishtanah halailah hazeh mikol haleilot?   “How is this night different from all other nights?” Sorry. I had to make a dumb Passover joke. Carry on. ;-)

  1. We’re recording the show to see if we can get some live tracks out of it.
  2. We’re playing a bunch of our “deep cuts,” meaning, songs we don’t get to play very often because we don’t often have the good fortune of playing listening rooms… and these are songs that work best when people are listening. Bellefonte Cafe is a great listening room. And you can’t force a listening room… either people listen, or they talk loudly so they can hear themselves over the music. It just depends… but we find that a Songs like “Gravity” are hard to do in a rock club, and “Run” just never seems to make it onto our set lists for no particular reason.
  3. You might think the night sounds boring. I can hear my mother saying, “Who wants to hear songs ya don’t know? And is it gonna be the all ballads channel? Bleaggh!” A reasonable concern, but you don’t have to worry about it. There will be PLENTY of dorkiness on Saturday night. We’re Delaware’s PREMIER acoustic dork-rock power duo for heaven’s sake! Have some faith in our dorkdom! We promise we won’t get all navel-gazey atcha. For example, Matt’s alter ego, The Suburban Legend, will be making an appearance, since we’re playing his song, “Yeah Baby.” See? NOT BORING. PLENTY DORKY.
  4. We’re going to be world-premiering a new song, possibly even two!
  5. Jill will introduce you all to her newest instrument: Her bass recorder. It’s an AuLos A533B, and it’s GORGEOUS. Wait until you hear this thing. Jill plays AuLos recorders.
  6. Anyway, if that isn’t enough to sell you, then we’ll hopefully see you at a different show this summer… there are many to choose from! But for now, I’m just gonna give you the all-important deets for this gig.

    DEETS:

    WHO: Just us. Hot Breakfast!. The Suburban Legend and Ji11.

    WHEN: Saturday, July 9th, 8-10PM. (Bellefonte’s shows used to be 7-9 back in the old days, but now under the new ownership they bumped it later. We dig it.)

    WHERE: Bellefonte Cafe, 804 Brandywine Blvd, Wilmington, DE.

    TICKETS: No tickets! It’s a free event, but it is a restaurant, and you need to justify your arse taking up a seat for two hours. So please order some food and beverages. Also: The band gets paid via tips, so if you feel so moved, please toss a buck or two into the tip jars judiciously placed around the space.

    PARKING: It’s all street parking; it’s a neighborhood. All free. No meters or anything.

    FOOD: They’ve got a full kitchen and bar, and everything is hand-made to order and delicious. They can handle all of your funky dietary needs, so don’t be shy.

    FACEBOOK EVENT: Here’s the Facebook Event Link, if you’re into that sort of thing. :-)

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    We hope to see you at this show– We promise it’ll be nothing short of wonderful.

    Your pal,

    Ji11

     

     

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The Songs of 39 Summers

by Matt

Hi guys!

I don’t know about you (well, I do know about you – yeah, you know who you are), but I’m a full-on, no apologies, no-holds-barred rock n’ roll nerd. When I love an artist or even a song, I crave input: what inspired the song? How did it come together? What happened in the recording studio? How do I get these Maraschino stains off my Wussy t-shirt?

So I fully understand if the following post isn’t for you. Not only is it full of music-nerdity, it’s a little long and self-indulgent. But if you’d like to read a bit about each song on 39 Summers, this is the place for you. Not a lot of frills here, but there are some lovely links. I hope you enjoy it.

1. 39 Summers

“Don’t look now, but it’s Halloween”

I have notebooks full of old song lyrics and potential song titles. We were looking through them in September of 2012, and we found an incomplete tune that caught our attention called “37 Summers.” I apparently started writing it a few years ago – it was to be a personal, folky song about internal struggles and missed opportunities, and blah blah blah, who wants to hear that? (Well, sometimes I do, but not now.) Inspired by a chance encounter with an old friend who was frustrated at the lack of progress in her personal relationship, I completely reworked the song, giving it a new pop-punk progression, a recurring “oh oh oh” in the verse, a snappy, upbeat groove, and really bratty lyrics. Eventually, “37” became “39” – it just scanned better.

When we perform “39 Summers” live, Jill plays tambourine to drive the song forward. In the studio, of course, we had drums, electric guitars, and – just for that bubblegum/garage band feel – handclaps. We had a great time recording this one – we dig the acoustic & electric blend, the way Ritchie pounds the drums, Kevin’s inventive & playful bass runs. But for me, the highlight is the furious, fuzzy solo by Joe Testa.

Then again, everything Joe Testa does is furious and fuzzy. (Photo (c) 2013 Spandox Studios.)

Then again, everything Joe Testa does is furious and fuzzy. (Photo © 2013 Spandox Studios. All Rights Reserved.)

2. Underground

“Look around, man, the sky is falling!”

One day in March of 2013, I got an idea for a new song about unplugging from technology and just disappearing into the ground for a while. Jill was working in San Antonio, so, after I finished the song, I uploaded a video of me playing it and sent it to Jill via Dropbox (yes, we used technology to share the song. Isn’t it ironic? Don’tcha think?). She saw the video and, after laughing at my attempts to sing the high notes, she said she wanted to record it.

When we finally got together to play it, though, it wasn’t quite working. Some of the notes were too high and few melodies were a little awkward, and we couldn’t figure out how to fix it. I reworked a few melodies and changed the chords on the bridge, but it just didn’t gel. But then, we did a very smart thing: we asked Ritchie Rubini to produce the song. He convinced me to lower the key by detuning the guitar a half step, and he helped us give the track the exact aesthetic we wanted – hard-rocking and quirky, with a 60s pop edge, offbeat instrumentation, and a few surprise moments that still make me smile. One of those is a bit of amp fuzz caused (intentionally) by Ray pulling the cord out of his bass. This was Jill’s idea, her little tribute to Ben Folds Five, who also have a song called “Underground” (even though their bass skronk is in their tune “Song For The Dumped”). For the record, I didn’t like the noise at first, but Ritchie and Jill talked me into keeping it, and I’m really glad they did.

They can’t sue you if you call your ripoff a “tribute.” Sorry, Robert.

On the last day of recording, Ritchie brought in Dave Duncan, a guitarist we were unfamiliar with. Once again, Ritchie’s instinct was dead-on – Dave knew just what to do. He came up with a fun, funky melodic solo in about 15 minutes. All in Ab, the unkindest guitar key of all. Plus, the guy’s chill and hilarious – our kinda people.

It blows our minds that two months after writing the song, it’s there on the album. It’s one of our favorites.

3. Defender

“I will use your shirt to wipe your bloodstains from my hands”

The oldest original in the Hot Breakfast! catalog, “Defender” was written in 1996, after I saw Fastball open for Matthew Sweet at the Stone Balloon in Newark. I loved the melodic power-pop both bands delivered, and I wanted to write something in the same vein (despite the bitter lyrics, “Defender” isn’t really about anyone in particular). But while I performed the song live in various solo gigs in the 90s, including a full-band show at Borders Books (RIP), I never thought to record it. I knew I couldn’t get the sound I wanted without a great drum track, and I didn’t have the ability to record a full drum set on my own.

After Jill heard the song in 2011, it became a staple in our set, and we recorded an acoustic version for our self-titled EP in 2012. But while we love playing it on our own, we really wanted the album version to have the full-on power-pop/punk sound we always heard in our head. So we recruited some of the best players we know – guitarist Joe Testa, bass player Kevin Niemi, and drummer Jeff Dement – and we cut ‘em loose. And they rocked hard, helping drive “Defender” to new heights.

The clean lead part that I play is actually an acoustic guitar – I tried to record it on my electric, but I kept bending the strings, sending the guitar out of tune. But Ray filtered the acoustic track, giving it a strange, semi-hollow sound that we really dig. We considered adding more instruments to make it radio-friendly – piano, keyboard, maybe even MIDI percussion – but ultimately, we wanted it to sound raw and rockin’.

Jeff Dement, Kevin Niemi, and Joe Testa only play together for about 90 seconds of the song’s 3 1/2 minutes. Those may be my favorite 90 seconds of the whole album. Jeff’s drum fill from 2:31 to 2:35 pretty much defines the word “awesome.”

Jeff's love of parasols, however, pretty much defines "disturbing."

Jeff’s love of parasols, however, pretty much defines the word “adorable.”

4. Act Surprised

“Warning: there are spoilers ahead”

If you’ve never Rufus Wainwright’s song “Go or Go Ahead,” please purchase the song (you’ll want the album, too – trust us), make sure you’re sitting down, and remedy that situation right now. We’ll wait.

image

Rufus is so rock star that he manscapes before every cup of coffee.

Hey, welcome back. Incredible, right? (The song, not the photo, although…yeah.) But it sounds nothing like “Act Surprised,” which takes its inspiration from both Phil Spector-style girl groups and British pop. So why do I bring up “Go or Go Ahead?” Well, the first time I heard it, I misunderstood the lyrics, believing Rufus wanted his listener to “act surprised.” I thought that was a pretty neat lyric, so when I realized what Rufus was actually saying (“go or go ahead and surprise me”), I called “act surprised” for myself. I finally got around to writing a song with that title in late 2011.

“Act Surprised” has become another staple in our acoustic sets, but we really wanted a recording that both matched and played against the hard-edged emotion of the lyrics. Plus, we’ve both been listening to The Noisettes an awful lot, and we wanted to try to capture some of that same, glorious retro-soul-rock. So I play acoustic and piano, and Ritchie, Joe, and Kevin bring the drums, electric, and bass. But for me, it’s Jill’s vocals that really make the song work. The lyrics are cynical and sometimes a little detached, and could even come across as cold. But Jill’s delivery tells a story. Her initial restraint (her first verse sounds thoughtful and reflective) is slowly chipped away until it finally gives way to a passion and raw emotion that never fails to blow me away. That kind of thing is so tough to capture on a recording, but Jill and Ray found it.

Oh – it turns out one of my favorite bands, Superchunk, recorded a song called “Act Surprised” in 2001. So…I guess they called it first. Oh, well.

5. Gravity

“A place without my earthbound pleasures is just too difficult to see”

I wrote “Gravity” in the late 90s as I watched two of my friends take brave chances with their lives, changing directions completely so they could go after what they really wanted. I wanted to write a song that expressed both my admiration for their courage and my determination to overcome my own fear of change, but I wasn’t sure where to begin. The chorus literally came to me in a dream – I woke up and immediately wrote down “don’t be giving up on me, cause I will be there eventually.” The rest of the song came together quickly after that.

“Gravity” is the only song on 39 Summers that could be considered a “cover” – I recorded it on my 2007 solo album Songs for the Earthbound, and I used to sing it by myself at the occasional gig. But it wasn’t until Jill sang the vocal that the song really became alive for me – with apologies to Spandau Ballet, it’s like hearing the sound of my soul.

“Gravity” is probably our most quiet, contemplative song, so naturally we don’t play it at a lot of gigs. But we wanted the album version to capture the personal, intimate feeling of those rare moments when we do perform it, so we recorded it as we play it – one guitar, one voice. And just to really make it personal, we recorded the vocal at Jill’s house late one night, then brought it to Ray’s studio to mix.

6. We Are Not Cool

“When it’s time to mingle, we know we don’t belong”

Jill and I are dorks. There’s no question about it. We’re also geeks. And nerds.

The saddest part? WE THINK WE'RE BEING COOL RIGHT NOW.

The saddest part? WE THINK WE’RE BEING COOL RIGHT NOW.


We’re totally fine with that. These days, of course, it’s great to be a nerd (who knew Huey Lewis was a prophet?). Nerds run the world. They even get the girls (and the guys). When I was a kid, words like “nerd” and “geek” used to be pejoratives thrown at us by the cool kids, but now we, and pretty much everyone we know, embrace them.

Get this visionary a new drug, pronto.

But still – sometimes I wonder what it must be like to feel completely confident, secure…and cool. So I wrote a punky little song about that feeling, building it around that opening lick. We weren’t really sure what to do with it, so we brought it to Ritchie, who agreed to produce it. A lot of the touches on the track – the synth, the claps n’ stomps, the bratty harmonies in the chorus – are pure Ritchie. He also encouraged us to keep the final couplet (“I would trade it all away/to feel cool for just one day”). We thought it was a little over-the-top and misleading – after all, we enjoy our dorkdom. But he said “everyone feels that way sometimes, even just for a moment.” That was good enough for us.

“We Are Not Cool” marked the first time we worked with a producer, and it definitely won’t be the last, especially when the producer is Ritchie Rubini.

7. It Only Takes two to Rock

“We did the math for you.”

Songwriting is usually a solitary activity for me, but, fittingly, it took two to conjure up “It Only Takes Two to Rock.” I came up with the title and the chunky guitar lick, but we spent many, many hours bouncing ideas, lyrics and melodies back and forth. We did a ton of rewriting, too – dragons, jokes about OSHA, and a prophet on a hill all had cameos in earlier drafts of the song, but ended up on the cutting room floor (sorry, guys – maybe you’ll make the cut in the sequel). And we had a ball the whole time.

We first recorded the song with just one guitar and two voices (and, of course, a triangle solo). But I’d just purchased a new overdrive pedal and wanted to try it out, so I recorded an electric part as well, and we really dug the way the acoustic and electric blended together. Jill had to leave for a business trip, so I spent the next few days playing, adding drums, a bass, and more guitars. When she got back and heard what I’d done, she was delighted – this was the first time we recorded a full “band,” even though we stayed true to the title by making all the sounds on our own. We kept noodling with it, adding more vocals, changing parts here and there, mixing and remixing, until we came up with the version that kicked off our 2012 Hot Breakfast! EP.

It’s hard to imagine a Hot Breakfast! gig where we don’t play “It Only Takes Two to Rock,” so we knew we wanted the song on 39 Summers. We thought about re-recording it, but we really dug the version we already had. I went back in and remixed a bit, but my attempts to gussy it up with additional guitars, keyboards, and percussion fell flat. So, except for a new spoken-word segment, we pretty much left it alone. Gotta say, though, the mastering job by Eamon Loftus really brightens it up and gives it the punch it deserves.

With its acoustic/electric guitar mix, 80s hard-rock feel, epic structure, spoken breakdown, and general over-the-topedness, we’re often asked if the song is a Tenacious D cover. We’re flattered by the question, as we are massive fans and followers of the D. But nope, it’s all ours. “It’s not a Tenacious D cover,” we reply. “It’s a Tenacious D ripoff.”

Wait…did we say “ripoff?” We mean tribute! TRIBUTE!

8. Hole in Your Pants

“You’ve a flair for trouserwear that’s tantalizingly bare.”

For a simple, funny, dorky song, the chords, lyrics and melody to “Hole in Your Pants” are tricky enough that I’ve embarrassed myself by playing it wrong during more than one performance. (Perhaps that says more about my guitar and singing skills than my writing skills.) But it’s also become one of our concert staples – it seems everyone loves to hear us sing about holes in pants. And we’re totally fine with that.

We recorded “Hole In Your Pants” for our 2012 self-titled EP, but we were never thrilled with the result. So when we got the offer from Ray to record at Studio 825, we decided to give “Hole in Your Pants” another shot. We really like the new version – the arrangement is the same, but the guitar sounds much snappier, the vocals are cleaner, the overall mix is brighter and stronger. It bears repeating – Ray is an outstanding engineer.

Ray with his bandmates. You’ll never guess which decade this photo is from.

9. Maybe You Saw it Too

“It’s only sixty miles until the edge of space.”

When I was recovering from surgery in 2012, I wrote a strange little song called “Maybe You Saw it Too.” We liked it, so we set up the microphones, and less than 24 hours later, we recorded an acoustic version of the song.

But as fun as it was to write and record a song so quickly, we were never really happy with the result. The song was still too new – we still didn’t have a good sense of how to perform it, much less how to record it. So we sat on it for a few days until we realized that the dual nature of the lyrics (it’s kind of a love song about UFOs) lended itself to a different kind of sound for us – a blend of an acoustic ballad with old-school, blippy electronica.

Jill and I love techno, especially when it’s mashed with rock (check out Infected Mushroom’s blistering “Becoming Insane”, and don’t you dare stop listening before the 5:32 mark), but neither of us had tried to create it before. We were in uncharted territory here. At first, I tried to add loops, beats and sounds to the existing track, but it wasn’t working – the guitar part was originally intended to be the only instrument, so it took up too much space when the other sounds were added. So started over from scratch with a MIDI drum track, sped it up a touch, and added a much more spare acoustic track. Then, we started building.

We spent hours on it. And more hours. (Thank goodness we were working at home where studio time is free.) This stuff is really difficult. With MIDI, there are tens of thousands of preset sounds to choose from – and if you know what you’re doing, you can alter those any way you wish. With so many choices, coming up with the right arrangement was incredibly difficult, especially since we wanted to retain the acoustic bounce of the original song. We added tracks, played with them, deleted them, and were pretty much ready to put the mix aside for another day. But finally, as we gave it one more listen in the car, Jill realized what the song was missing (it had to do with the percussion in the chorus), and we finally came up with a mix that made us happy. I’m really glad we stuck with it – it sounds like nothing else we’ve ever recorded.

By the way, if you want to hear people who really know how to blend keyboards & loops with guitars and soulful vocals, we recommend you visit our friends RKVC. You’ll be happy you did.

"If you had come to us in the first place WE WOULDN'T BE YELLING AT YOU RIGHT NOW."

“If you had come to us in the first place WE WOULDN’T BE YELLING AT YOU RIGHT NOW.”

10. Run

“Don’t fear the dark – one little spark – then get on your mark”

The melody for “Run” had been haunting me since the 90s, but I could never find the right words. I thought it would be about feeling positive vibes (“Breathe, breathe in the night, breathe in the energy” was my “Scrambled Eggs”), but the words just wouldn’t come, so I wrote the chords and melody instead. I played it for Jill, humming the melody, and she diagnosed the reason for my roadblock: my original lyrical concept didn’t fit the intensity of the music. But she liked the tension in the verses and how the melody built to a big chorus, and she suggested going someplace darker and more urgent with the lyrics. So we decided to call the song “Run” and make it about getting away from everything that holds you back, everything that keeps you from making a change for the better. Within 24 hours, the lyrics were complete.

We originally thought this would be a full-band song – in fact, we considered recording it at Studio 825. Instead, we worked at home home, giving the song electric guitar, bass, and drum (both MIDI and real) tracks, and enlisting the mighty Chuck Kuzminski of CKuz Guitars to wail out a solo. But even after hours of futzing, the mix wasn’t sounding right – it seemed processed, sterile, inorganic. So one night, Jill and I hooked up a couple of mics (including the awesome Dragonfly Blue loaned to us by Stephen Manocchio) and knocked out a live, acoustic version in one take. Finally, the rawness of the performances matched the intensity of the lyrics – it was a keeper. We added some very simple percussion and an additional guitar part in the bridge, and there it was – a version of “Run” we were happy with.

We still wanted a guitar solo, however, and that was getting tricky – Chuck and I had difficulty getting our schedules to line up, and injuries on both our parts made it even tougher to get together. But finally, one morning in April, I made it down to Chuck’s guitar shop and we recorded a few takes.

Now Chuck, in addition to being a great guy, is one of the best, most versatile players I’ve ever heard. I, however, made a dumb, rookie mistake during the recording – I let his earphone cord dangle next to the guitar, and whenever Chuck moved, the cord knocked against it, making a noise that the mic eagerly picked up. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice this until I’d already packed up and gotten back to Knappshack Studios. Fortunately, Chuck had so many excellent takes that I was able to pull a good, clean solo from a couple different tracks. I’m still kicking myself for this – it was an avoidable problem that should never have happened. But Chuck’s mighty talent saved the day. Thanks, man.

“You’re welcome. Now excuse me while I play all these guitars at the same time.”

11. The Garden of Bad Metaphors

“We’ll be squeaky as a rocking chair…”

As a playwright and literature geek, I love playing with language. The title “The Garden of Bad Metaphors” was a license to have all kinds of fun coming up with the dumbest metaphors, similies, and internal rhymes I could. That’s about all there is to it.

What was really fun, though, was playing with the style. As soon as I mentioned the title to Jill, we knew the song should be a celebration of psychedelic folk, something that might have felt at home in San Francisco circa 1968. I’ve always been a huge fan of the genre – I grew up listening to the “Psychedelic Psupper” (I know, I know), a Sunday (Psunday?) night show on Philadelphia’s WMMR hosted by Michael Tearson. I love the trippy melodies and offbeat approach to those songs, and it was a blast trying to create our own little tribute (ripoff).

That’s right – your dad hosted a psychedelic radio show. Now get off his lawn, because it’s holding the secrets of the gateway…to…your…mind…

Recording it was a little trickier. On one hand, we had a wonderful time playing with MIDI sounds & effects – we decided nothing was out of bounds in our quest to honor and exploit all the aural trademarks of psychedelia (flangers, sitars, bongos, etc.). On the other, one of my MIDI patches – the one I paid for – was constantly crashing the program, making editing a lot more difficult than it should be. Because it was so finicky, I completely missed that my vocal track had a bit too much mid-range EQ and was noisy. So when we got the song back from Eamon, who mastered the album, I asked him what was with all the distortion at the end of the song. He said “you tell me – that was on the track.” And dammit, he was right (that’s the thing about mastering – your “problems” have nowhere to hide). I was able to fix a lot of it, but a touch of crispiness remains. Let’s just call that another style choice.

12. Things

“Maybe all the things we can’t define disappear when we combine.”

“Things” is one of our favorite words. Jill and I often communicate in a shorthand, and “things” is very useful; “I’m going to do the things,” one of us will say, and the other knows what we’re talking about. So I decided to write a song called “Things.”

Pictured: Things, wild.

Thing is, though, sometimes things aren’t so great. Sometimes the things we gather get in the way of real life, of communication, of love. These days, I think everyone struggles with that. So the lyrics ended up being a bittersweet reflection on how difficult it can be to stay close when we all just have so many…things…to deal with.

The structure is a little unusual. Instead of writing a chorus, I gave Jill a wordless melody to sing. At one point, I sing a counter-melody that morphs into a duet. I love performing this song live, because it is truly amazing how much Jill is able to communicate and express with just the sound “oh.” It becomes even more transcendent for me when I join in.

But getting a good recording of “Things” was really difficult. For one, there’s a pretty big dynamic range in the guitar – I’m doing some really soft picking at times. To capture it, the guitar mic was turned up so loud that you can sometimes hear me breathing. For the louder parts, I had to scoot back in my seat so I didn’t overload the signal. Tricky, but doable.

Getting the bridge to sound right was a bigger challenge. For the first few bars, I sing actual words under Jill’s sustained “oh,” but they were hard to understand in the first few mixes. I tried lowering her volume during that part, but the effect was odd and unnatural. Ultimately, we used stereo panning and subtle EQ to fix the problem; if you listen carefully on headphones, you’ll notice Jill’s voice moves a bit to the left side right before I sing. My vocal comes in a little right of center. But once we start singing “oh” together, the voices slowly move together, reaching the center just as we finish. Given the hopeful final verse, this seemed like an appropriate way to finish the song.

– – – – –

And with that, I’ll conclude my notes as well. Thank you so much for reading – we’re so incredibly lucky that we get to make music and share it with you. I’ve really enjoyed writing about the songs. I hope I didn’t bore you. If I did, here’s an interesting picture to wake you up.

You're welcome.

Pictured: America.

Better? Good.

Love,
Matt (the Suburban Legend)

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The Making of 39 Summers

by Matt

It all started with a friendly email sent around Halloween of 2012.

“Hi guys, hope all is well,” it read. “Wondering if you two would be interested in doing some BGVs for a local talent.”

The email was from Ray Gagliardino, the owner of Studio 825 in Wilmington, Delaware. After we figured out that BGV probably meant “background vocals” (a process that took roughly a half hour), we agreed – especially after learning the “local talent” was our buddy Brene Wilson, an amazing singer-songwriter we met years ago.

“Great!” he replied. “As a kickback I would like to record three of your originals here.”

Studio 825 was well-known to each of us, mostly because the Joe Trainor Trio recorded Twelve Stories, their latest (kick-ass) album, there. Jill and I went in separately to contribute to that Joe Trainor Trio album; Jill sang, I played sax. And we were both wowed by both the capabilities of the studio and Ray’s relaxed but focused approach to producing. It had been a year or two since we’d been in a studio (Jill records and tours with The Industrial Jazz Group), but we immediately fell in love with the glory and romance of working in Ray’s studio in particular. Both of us love the process of recording, of building music, and making music in Ray’s studio filled us with excitement.

And we knew that it was time to record an album.

Brene Wilson, Jill, Ray Gagliardino, and Matt can totally see you right now.

Brene Wilson, Jill, Ray Gagliardino, and Matt can totally see you right now.

It’s not like we hadn’t recorded as Hot Breakfast stuff before – we recorded and mixed our self-titled EP over the spring and summer at Knappshack Studios (i.e., Jill’s living room). With a simple Tascam interface, Cubase 6, a few half-decent mics and cables, and a willingness to take chances and make a lot of mistakes, we came up with six recordings we were relatively happy with (turns out, a few people agreed). Most of the songs on our EP were strictly acoustic, but “It Only Takes Two to Rock” was filled with drums, electric guitars, basses, overdubbed vocals, and surprise percussion. Building that song was a pleasure, and it filled us with the desire to record more tracks with a hard-edged, rock sound – just the way we’ve been hearing them in our heads.

It only takes Jill to Rock!

It only takes Jill to rock!

Now, even though Hot Breakfast! is an acoustic duo, we like to think we’re a full-on punk/hard-rock/pop band. Sure, we perform with one guitar and two voices, but we hear electric guitars, drums, basses, keyboards, a backing chorus – the works. (We should probably seek help.) And we really wanted our first album to capture that feeling that only existed in our minds, that encompassing, joyful caterwaul we sacrificed somewhat when we decided to perform as an acoustic duo.
 
Basically, we wanted to rock.
 
Now, when he made his offer, Ray believed we wanted to record as an acoustic duo. Full-band recordings take a lot more time and planning, and for a studio, time is money. His offer was generous, but he hadn’t intended on being quite that generous. So when we went in to sing on Brene’s songs (which are awesome, by the way – he’s one of our favorites), we told Ray that yes, we absolutely want to record at his studio, but we want to pay his regular rate, because we wanted five songs – three with a full band.
 
A few looks at our schedules, a very kind agreement on rates, and a handshake or two later, and we were on the calendar to record at Studio 825.

* * * * *

Hot Breakfast! is, and will always be, Jill + Matt. Jill takes the lead vocals, I take background vocals and play guitar. But while we both play a few different instruments and can pull off some impressive tricks on our home studio (with a few overdubs and many, many takes), we knew we needed some fabulous guest musicians to really make many of the tracks come alive. Fortunately, we knew right where to go.
 
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – Delaware is currently the home to an incredibly talented and welcoming community of musicians. The folks making original music around these parts aren’t just some of our favorite musicians – they’re some of our favorite people. We help each other out, we support each other, we look at each other as peers, not rivals. So when it came time to find musicians to join us in the studio, we didn’t have to look far.
 
For “Defender” – a song I wrote back in the 90s, when people were just learning to walk upright, the choices were easy: Joe Testa on guitar, Kevin Niemi on bass, and Jeff Dement on drums. No question. Kevin and Jeff are, of course, the rhythm section of The Joe Trainor Trio, and you won’t find musicians who rock harder. Joe Testa, who has been one of my best friends for many years, is simply one of the best rock guitarists in the area – a monster player with amazing versatility.
 
We took a different approach for “39 Summers” and “Act Surprised,” mostly for scheduling reasons – we needed a drummer who could record in the morning, leaving us the rest of the day to work on guitar, piano, and vocal tracks. Enter Ritchie Rubini, a Delaware legend who played with some massively popular and successful local bands, including The Caulfields, Matt Sevier, and Angela Sheik. Ritchie is a wonderful drummer and producer (more on that later) and, much to our delight, agreed to play drums on the songs.

We don’t know what’s going on in this video either.

There were two tunes we decided to record at Studio 825 – “Gravity” and “Hole in Your Pants” – with only our voices and my guitar. So there it was – five songs, two Hot Breakfast!ians, and a whole lot of backing talent. It was time to go to work.

We got to Ray’s studio the morning of November 26, 2012. By early afternoon, Ritchie had recorded the drums and percussion for “39 Summers” and “Act Surprised,” and man, did they sound sweet. After hearing each song only a couple times, Ritchie nailed the feel we were after – his drumming is both technically brilliant and filled with personality. We loved working with him, and were thrilled with the result. We added some guitar and vocal tracks and called it a (really great) day.

The next night, Jeff came in with his kit, and we knocked out the drums for “Defender.” Jeff just killed it – his style was perfectly suited to the Pixies-like feel we were after. Our only regret is that the song didn’t have more drums, actually. And the next day, when Kevin knocked out his bass parts on all three songs, we were even more excited – Ray captured the sound beautifully, and Kevin attacked each song with his signature playful, thoughtful, hard-rocking style.

A deceptively calm photo of Kevin Niemi (right after this, he ate a groundhog and made love to an amp).

A deceptively calm photo of Kevin Niemi (right after this, he ate a groundhog and made love to an amp).

The next night, it was Joe Testa’s turn to lay down some electric guitar tracks. Here’s where I was nervous, because in my home recordings I was never able to capture a really strong electric guitar sound – it would take hours of futzing before I got close. But Ray and Joe are two men who know what they’re doing – between Joe’s custom amp and Ray’s skill as an engineer, we had no problem finding great sounds, from clean R&B grooves to super-heavy distortion. There was a lot of tracking to get done, as we had to record lead, rhythm and solo tracks on three songs, but by the end of the night we were incredibly satisfied with Joe’s playing (not a surprise there) and the sounds we captured. Everything was feeling just right – the songs were coming together quickly, and sounding even better than we’d hoped.
 
The next day was trickier. I was trying to record the lead for “Defender,” but I couldn’t keep my electric guitar in tune. I tried playing it on Ray’s sweeeet Les Paul, but the results were similar – certain notes kept going sharp. Finally, Ray diagnosed the issue: I was so used to playing my acoustic, which requires a heavier touch, that I was pushing too hard and bending the strings – not necessarily an issue for rhythm tracks, but fatal for the naked arpeggios of “Defender.” I was frustrated and discouraged, but Ray had a solution: play the part on your acoustic, he suggested, and we’ll use studio t’chnology1 to make it sound like an electric. It worked, and after Jill laid down a rockin’ vocal, we had a song in the bank.
 
Over the next few days – right up until a couple days before Christmas – the others started to fill out as well. We were giddy – these songs were sounding good, even better than we hoped. We started to wonder if we should be doing more than five songs at Studio 825.

* * * * *

I had written “We Are Not Cool” in November, but we were never sure what to do with it. It was a fun little pop-punk song, but it felt unfinished somehow. But there was something there, something alive. We considered taking it to the studio, but we didn’t have a clue how to approach it.

“Maybe we should hire Ritchie as a producer?” Jill suggested.

Ritchie is the only man who rocks this hard while sporting a sweater vest and glasses.

Ritchie is the only man who rocks this hard while sporting a sweater vest and glasses.

Now, Ritchie is well-regarded as an exceptional producer. We’d heard some of the work he did with Angela Sheik and von Grey, and it is marvelous. And we loved the few hours we spent with him in the studio – his energy and humor are infectious. But we had never worked with a producer before. We liked the idea of being in charge, of having the final say, and we weren’t sure we wanted to give that up. But, as Jill pointed out, if at any step of the way we didn’t like the way things were going, we could always either cancel the session or just not include the song on the album. I finally agreed.
 
We recorded an acoustic demo of “We Are Not Cool” and sent it to Ritchie and Ray. A couple days later, we got a call from Ritchie – he wanted to meet with us to discuss the song and what to do with it. Again, we were nervous. This was uncharted territory, especially for me.
 
But one visit with Ritchie erased all doubts. Not only did his ideas suit us and our dork-rock aesthetic, but he came up with little touches that we never would have imagined on our own. Also, as we said before, we really liked the guy, and had a feeling working with him would be a rewarding experience.

Here's Ritchie doing some awesome old-school magic at the end of Dave Duncan's guitar solo in "Underground."

Here’s Ritchie doing some awesome old-school magic at the end of Dave Duncan’s guitar solo in “Underground.”

We got to the studio early and Ritchie immediately got to work on his drum track. Once he had it sounding the way he wanted it, we started layering – acoustic guitar tracks, then electric. Ray laid down the bass, and holy hell, is he one mother of a bass player.
 
By the early afternoon, the track was already sounding great. But it wasn’t until Ritchie had Jill record backing vocals in the chorus and laid down a keyboard lick that the song really came together. By that evening, we had a rockin’ tune that we loved, one that encapsulated Ritchie’s adventurous, quirky spirit and our signature dorkiness. So there it was – our relationship with Ritchie resulted in both a great track and a joyful experience.
 
So a month later, when I wrote a song called “Underground” and played it for Jill (while she and I were 1700 miles apart – sometimes I love living in the future), we knew what to do – we gave Ritchie a call. Another meeting, another demo, another fantastic, unforgettable day in the studio, and we had a track we loved – one that had the giddy 60s garage-rock sound we both love, and lots of fun little touches. A couple weeks later, a couple days before Easter, we went back to the studio and had Dave Duncan, a fantastic local guitarist, cut an offbeat, whimsical, rockin’ guitar solo. A few more tweaks and “Underground,” the final track recorded on 39 Summers, came to life.

We can’t say this enough – we love working with Ritchie Rubini – he’s everything a dork-rock band could ever want in a producer. We’ve got a feeling this won’t be our last time.

* * * * *

We ended up recording seven tracks at Studio 825. But there are twelve tracks on the album, and the other five were recorded on my laptop at Knappshack Studios, also known as Jill’s Living Room.
 
As I mentioned before, I’ve been home-recording for years, even before we made our EP and “An Idiot for Christmas” single. I made cassettes with a 4-track studio in the 80s and early 90s, and I recorded two CDs (2007’s Songs for the Earthbound and 2010’s All This Life2) with Cubase, inexpensive but powerful recording software installed on my laptop.

We don't have a lot of pics of us recording at home, so here's Ron Jeremy in a white robe playing the harmonica.

We don’t have a lot of pics of us recording at home, so here’s Ron Jeremy in a white robe playing the harmonica.

When you record at home, you’re constantly in the studio. You can record, tinker, mix, remix at any time of the day or night – you don’t have to worry about keeping our engineer from having a nice dinner. We love the freedom of recording at late hours, making different sounds, playing and experimenting, knowing we can always try another take, another patch. But the downside is that we don’t have the equipment nor the proper sound-proofed space that most great studios provide (not to mention the expertise of a great engineer like Ray). If we wanted our home recordings to stand up next to the tracks from Ray’s, we were going to need a little help.
 
Enter our secret weapon: Stephen Manocchio, the Sound Engineer at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Delaware. Not only is Stephen a great engineer in his own right, but he’s a good friend who made us a very kind offer to record in his own personal studio. That timing didn’t work out, so Stephen did something wonderful for us – he loaned us some of his excellent, studio-quality microphones, which helped us capture clean, crisp vocals and acoustic guitar tracks. We still lacked soundproofing, but we decided it wasn’t the worst thing in the world if the occasional songbird made a cameo.
 
We won’t bore you with the details of recording and mixing the “homemade” tracks. It involved a lot of recording and re-recording, countless hours of late-night, down-to-the-wire mixing, and tons of second-guessing. But we kept our minds open and an adventurous spirit. On one track, “Maybe You Saw it Too,” we sampled MIDI drums and sounds for countless, fruitless hours until we decided to give up – only to have a revelation during a car ride that gave us the sound we were looking for. We scrapped a fully-recorded, full-band rock version of “Run” because it felt too processed and re-recorded an acoustic version live in one take – all it needed was a bit of percussion and an awesome guitar solo, and Chuck Kuzminski (of CKuz Guitars in Middletown, Delaware) provided that a few days later. On yet another – “It Only Takes Two to Rock” – we decided to keep the version on our EP after some subtle re-mixing and not-so-subtle enhancements.

Okay, so we guess we did bore you with a few details. Sorry about that. The important part of all this is that we had yet another secret weapon in Eamon Loftus, the genius who mastered the entire album – the studio tracks and the homemade tracks. His tireless work and expertise gave the album some coherence. He was able to smooth out the dynamic differences among all the songs, adjusting volume and EQ to find common ground between the loudest rock cuts and the softest acoustic songs.

After a lot of back and forth (which was actually a pleasure – Eamon’s as funny as he is talented), we had it: 39 Summers. The first full-length, original album from Hot Breakfast!. There’s not really enough room here to thank everyone who helped make it possible (hell, there’s barely enough room on the internet), but we did our best on the CD jacket.

Speaking of the CD jacket, we have to give shout-outs to two men who helped make the CD look great – photographer Joe del Tufo and designer George Murphy. Joe’s been taking amazing live concert shots in Delaware and Philadelphia for years – including some of us – and agreed to take cover shots for us. We’ll tell you all about that experience in a different post, but wow, what a day that was. He also designed the cover and gave it a sweet little Easter egg (hint: there is a witness). And George, who also happens to play guitar in one of our favorite bands, gathered all the photos & files we sent him and came up with a layout for the CD case that blew our expectations away – and he did it in a very short time on top of a huge workload. Thank you, George and Joe, for making us look cool.

And since you’ve made it this far in this blog post, we want to thank you too. So here’s “39 Summers,” the first song on the CD, for your streaming pleasure. We hope you enjoy it.

Much Love and Dork Rock,
Matt (the Suburban Legend)

Everybody smile on the count of three!

Everybody smile on the count of three!


1That’s not a typo, but an attempt to write the way Jack Black speaks. (NSFW language)
2Currently ranked #661,835 in sales. In your FACE, #661,836!

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GIG: ALBUM RELEASE PARTY. Saturday, May 18, World Cafe Live at the Queen

by Matt
Some bands like soft, subtle images. We're more of a "LET'S JUMP OFF A TALL BUILDING" band.

Some bands like soft, subtle images. We’re more of a “LET’S JUMP OFF A TALL BUILDING” band. (photo by Joe del Tufo, with less photoshopping than you’d think.)

Our new album is almost here!

And when it gets here, we’re gonna celebrate!

And we wanna celebrate with you.

We’ve been recording 39 Summers since November of 2012, and we are delighted to announce that our Album Release Party will be Saturday, May 18th, at World Cafe Live at the Queen. Joining us will be The Honey Badgers and The Joe Trainor Trio, two insanely talented bands who also happen to be our great friends.

We are often asked if we are the most attractive acoustic duo from Delaware with the initials "H.B." No. No, we are not.

We are often asked if we are the most attractive acoustic duo from Delaware with the initials “H.B.” No. No, we are not.

Both bands are performing sets of their own, and will join us later onstage for MIND-MELTING WORLD-DOMINATING COLLABORATIVE ROCK. That’s right – not only will you get to be among the very first to purchase 39 Summers (at a discount, no less), but you’ll also get to experience your favorite acoustic dork-rock power duo backed by a full band!
 
AND THAT’S NOT ALL! Other special guests include Joe Testa (who currently plays with Zombie Girl Noelle Picara) on guitar, percussionist Javy Diaz of Tilting Windmills, drummer Kanako Omae Neale, and bassist Ray Gagliardino, the owner & engineer of Studio 825, where we recorded much of the album. We could not be more excited.
 
Don’t get us wrong – we’ll still be performing several tunes as a duo. It’s what we do. But these are some of our favorite musicians and people in the whole world, and it’s an honor – and a rare opportunity – to share the stage with them.
 
The Honey Badgers kick off at 8:00. They’re a terrific young folk duo from Newark – please go here to listen to their music. See what we mean? You’re gonna love them.
 
You’ll also love the Joe Trainor Trio – but then again, you probably already do. These fine-looking and hard-rocking gentlemen will begin playing around 8:30. They came out with a great album last year that deserves every bit of your attention, and not just because Jill and Matt are lucky enough to show up on a couple of songs.
L to R: The de-evolution of sleeves.

L to R: The de-evolution of sleeves.


 
World Cafe Live has quickly become one of our favorite venues. The stage is great, the sound guys are superb, the staff is super-friendly, and the food is delish. Important Tip: in addition to purchasing your tickets, make sure to call (302) 994-1400 to reserve your table, especially if you want food. And you’re gonna want food – everything on the menu at World Cafe Live is fantastic.
 
This is a really, really big night for us. Our many thanks and eternal gratitude to everyone – and there are a whole lot of you – who helped make all of this happen. Come on over and celebrate with us!

DEETS!

WHAT: 39 Summers Album Release Party!
WHO: Hot Breakfast!, The Joe Trainor Trio, the Honey Badgers
WHERE: World Café Live at the Queen (upstairs), 500 N. Market St., Wilmington, DE
WHEN: Saturday, May 18th, 8:00 PM
TICKETS: $12 (+$3 processing fee). Purchase tickets here or call (302) 994-1400. Dinner reservations are strongly recommended in addition to your ticket purchase to ensure a seat. All tickets are General Admission.
FOOD/DRINK: Full menu & bar service.
ACCESS: All ages event. Wheelchair accessible. Parking garage next door.

Yours in rock,
Matt (the Suburban Legend) and Ji11

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Radio Spot: 1/16 and 1/19: In-Studio Guests on Y-Not Radio!

by Matt

HEY! Wanna hear your favorite acoustic punk-dork-rock-power-duo perform live on the radio and chatter about all things dork? Well, now you can!

We are this week’s featured band on Y-Not Radio’s local music spotlight– how cool is that? This afternoon we headed out to their West Philly studio to chat with the mighty Josh T. Landow about how our new album is coming along, the virtues of Fig Newtons, and a little band history, too… and we even performed a few songs live for their sweet studio audience. It was a blast.

The show will debut this Wednesday, January 16 at 11am and later at 10pm and will replay on Saturday, January 19 at 8pm.

Since we were representin’ our fine state of Delaware, we were asked to curate a hand-picked playlist of some of our favorite music from our favorite Delaware bands (OK, one’s from Baltimore, but we met them at the Wilmo Rock Circus so we’ll let it slide). A teaser: When you tune in, you’ll be one of the first people on the earth to hear a track from Angela Sheik’s upcoming album, and you’ll also hear some great cuts from Brene Wilson, The Joe Trainor Trio, The Keefs, Rachel Schain, The Way Home, Me and This Army, Todd Chappelle, and Mean Lady. Woot!

How did we land such a sweeeeeeet gig?

Because we’re freakin’ Delaware’s premier acoustic punk-dork-rock power duo. That’s how.     (OK, really now.)

Because we were lucky enough to meet some big-wigs from the station (Josh T. Landow and Joey O) through our friend Rodney Anonymous. Among Mr. Anonymous’ many accomplishments and hobbies, Rodney also hosts a monthly industrial show on Y-Not Radio called Rodney Anonymous Tells You How To Live. A great conversation with Josh and Joey, a CD exchange, and an email or two later, and Hot Breakfast! is on the air telling the world about the vibrant music scene in Delaware! Ka-pow!

So… thanks, Rodney– we owe ya!

RADIO SHOW DEETS:

WHAT: Hot Breakfast! is the in-studio guest on Y-Not Radio‘s local music spotlight
WHO: Hot Breakfast! with host Josh T. Landow (and you’ll hear songs from our favorite locals, too!)
WHEN: Wednesday, 1/16 at 11:00AM and 10:00PM, and again on Saturday, 1/19 at 8PM
WHERE: Tune in online at ynotradio.net — the future of radio is riding on the backs of screaming electrons, baby!

Let us know what you think of the show!

Your pals,

Suburban Legend and Ji11
a.k.a. Matt and Jill

PPS: WORLD DOMINATION IS CLOSER THAN EVER, PEOPLE.

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Album Update

by Ji11

A few months ago, Ray Gagliardino (who owns/operates Studio 825 in Wilmington) hired us to create and lay down some backing vocals for Brene Wilson’s current studio project. Matt and I have worked as on-call studio musicians before, so we were happy that Ray thought of us when Brene needed some extra voices. As payment, Ray offered to record a few of our acoustic songs, and we asked if we could “upgrade” by paying him to record full-band versions of a few tunes instead. He said yes, so our new album picked up instant momentum.

Here’s what we’re thiiiiinking about for the new album which is still untitled. The list below is not the order, and we’re not even sure we’ll be including all of these songs… this list just shows the songs that are in the running. We welcome your comments– please feel free to reply below (as opposed to emailing).

  • It Only Takes Two to Rock— We’ll likely just remaster the version we already have on the EP because we’re really happy with it.
  • Defender— We’ve re-recorded this at Studio 825, and this time it’s a rockin’ full band arrangement featuring The Joe Trainor Trio’s Jeff Dement and Kevin Niemi on drums and bass respectively, and Joe Testa on electric/lead guitar. Joe Testa plays in Noelle Picara’s band, and also played bass in the JT3 when Kevin broke his finger last year. Joe also plays lead guitar when Joe Trainor wrangles TheCompany to do our big live version of The Wall.)
  • Hole in Your Pants— We’ve re-recorded this at Studio 825, mostly because the version on the EP sounds kinda muffled.
  • You Were a Spider— We’ll re-record this at Knappshack Studios now that Matt has a new guitar! Yay!
  • Major Tom— If we decide to include a cover song, we’ll probably just remaster the EP version of this tune instead of re-recording it. We’re pretty pleased with it.
  • Run — We have the backing tracks mostly done on this; Jill needs to lay down vocals. We’ll do this one at Knappshack Studios.
  • Maybe You Saw it Too— We’ll record this at Knappshack Studios.
  • Act Surprised— This one also is a full-band song with Joe Testa and Kevin Niemi, but it features Ritchie Rubini on drums and percussion. It’s all done; just needs to be mixed. We recorded it at Studio 825.
  • Gravity— The beauty of this song is in its simple arrangement. We’ve got a good take of this song already recorded from Studio 825, but I want to try re-doing the vocals at Knappshack.
  • The Island of Bad Metaphors — We’re trying to arrange this in the most cheeezy 60s psychedelic folky way possible. Think Jethro Tull at the Renaissance Faire. We’ve recorded some the tracks at Knappshack already, and they sound great so far.
  • 39 Summers— This one also is a full-band song with Joe Testa and Kevin Niemi, but it features Ritchie Rubini on drums and percussion. It’s all done; just needs to be mixed. We recorded this at Studio 825.
  • Things— this is a brand-new tune, and we’ll record it at Knappshack.

So that’s the update so far! We’ll keep you posted as things progress.

Your pal,

Ji11

ps: also, stay tuned for more information about upcoming shows, too! In the meantime, the calendar on the right has all the info you’ll need for now.

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Be “An Idiot for Christmas” – just like Hot Breakfast! (WTSW’s holiday compilation is here!)

by Ji11

Your favorite acoustic dork-rock power duo (that’d be Hot Breakfast! – whaddya mean, Paul and Storm!?) got a wonderful early present this year.

Our new song, “An Idiot for Christmas,” was selected to be on the 2012 WSTW Hometown Heroes album Comfort, Joy, Love and Snow. We are honored and humbled to be included with so many incredible local musicians.

The album contains 33 songs, all performed by Delaware-area musicians, and it’s yours to download for a minimum contribution of $10. TEN DOLLARS! FOR 33 SONGS! All proceeds from album sales benefit Toys for Tots.

We made a promise to put our song on our site as a free download, so here it is – you can stream or download the song (as an MP3) below. We hope you like it. We really hope this won’t be that song that everyone hates, a la that “Christmas Shoes” song, but we’re not holding our breath, because we like breathing.

But please, please, consider purchasing the wonderful WSTW album. It has songs by some of our favorite performers, including Angela Sheik, RKVC, Sunshine Superman, Em McKeever, and many, many more. Give it a listen – you’re sure to have some new favorites when you’re through.

Until then, you are welcome to stream “An Idiot for Christmas” right here via the widget below, and you can even download it by clicking the teeeeeeny arrow button on the right side of the widget.

Mobile users can click this link here: Hot Breakfast! – An Idiot for Christmas.

We hope you like it!

Your pals,

Suburban Legend & Ji11

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Free Halloween download! (The Cowboy Outlaw)

by Ji11

OK, so get this.

We wanted to record a creepy song for Halloween and present it as a free download because we love you. We chose “The Cowboy Outlaw” by Brian Dewan because Jill is totally obsessed with him, and he also wrote “Wastepaper Basket Fire” which you’ve probably heard us cover if you’ve seen us live. He also created the interior album artwork for “In The Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel, if that means anything to you. (It’s one of our favorite albums of all time, no exaggeration.)

So Hurricane Sandy rolled in and made the power at Knappshack Studios all wonky, so we recorded and mixed/mastered it in a rush so we could get it to you before the electricity cut out. We even made a video of us recording it, but YouTube is doing site maintenance right now, so we can’t upload it. (It’s not that exciting anyway, really.)

In order for us to provide our version of this song as a digital download, we had to secure the rights to the song, just like we did for Kiss Off and Major Tom. Once we got that done, all we had left to do was upload it to this here website, write this blog post, and get the word out.

Ji11 was feeling benevolent so she copied/pasted the lyrics below for you, and while she did that, she had Googled to see if Brian Dewan had a video for the song. But instead of finding a video, she saw a Snopes article that mentioned the song. APPARENTLY IT IS BASED ON A TRUE STORY. How cool is that?!? We had no idea. Which makes the song even spookier. Yay!

So… here’s the song, and here are the lyrics. Enjoy! And have a happy and safe Halloween.


To download it, just click the teeeeeeeeeny “down arrow” on the far-right side of the sound widget above. Otherwise you can just listen to it right here on this page.

Mobile users can just click this link:
The Cowboy Outlaw.mp3

 
The Cowboy Outlaw
by Brian Dewan
From his (freakin’ amazing) album Tells the Story

Gather ’round my children, and I’ll tell a tale of woe
About a famous cowboy outlaw who lived a hundred years ago.
Today his soul at last is resting peacefully in hell
Though many years have passed away since through the gallows-trap he fell.

He was sitting propped up in a chair just after he was hanged
And they photographed his body as a distant churchbell rang.
A circus man was waiting with fifty dollars in his coat
And he bought the cowboy outlaw so he could have him in his show.

And very soon he was embalmed and toured from town to town
People paid to see the outlaw that they’d heard so much about
He stood before them with a pistol against a painted scene
The greatest cowboy outlaw that the world had ever seen

But in time he was forgotten and no one knew his name
And when he began to fall apart they took his booth away
They painted him with varnish and put a crown upon his head
Come and see the king of Egypt said the sign out front instead

And then one year the circus closed, the tents were packed away
And he was sold to an amusement park on Massachusetts Bay
He was sold for next to nothing and they packed him in the van
They thought they’d bought a dummy but they’d really bought a man.

He was sprayed a special color to help him look a fright
And they hung him from a gallows ‘neath an ultra-violet light
He hung there in a spookhouse for many, many years
As youthful faces passed him by in tiny railroad cars

Until one fine and fateful day in 1976
He fell down from the gallows when the hangman’s noose unhitched
His arm broke at the shoulder as he clattered to the floor
And the man who went to fix him was stunned by what he saw

And the teenage boys did holler, and the teenage girls did faint
When they saw the bone protruding from the varnish and the paint
A coroner came to serve him and ran a slew of tests
they found out who he was, in time, and laid his soul to rest

A hundred hears have come and gone since he spoke his final words
I’m not afraid to die and leave behind this rotten world
So go and pull the lever hangman, now my race on Earth is run
And he thought his life was ended but it had only just begun

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Our new EP is here!

by Ji11

Ladies and Germs (and Brian),

We would like to be the first to tell you that our new EP is here, and will be available for the first time EVER at our show tomorrow night at 1984. Brian Lintz, our Coolest of the Cool Little Brothers, gets the first one, so all 23,000 of you will have to WAIT IN LINE BEHIND BRIAN, got it?

We’ll also have ’em available at our set at the Ice Cream Festival this Sunday.

You can also purchase individual tracks or the entire album in a bundle by clicking the link at the top of this page here.

We’re really excited about this!

Here’s the track listing:
1. IT ONLY TAKES TWO TO ROCK – M. Casarino / J. Knapp – 5:05
2. DEFENDER – M. Casarino – 3:40
3. KISS OFF – G. Gano – 2:45
4. HOLE IN YOUR PANTS – M. Casarino – 2:35
5. YOU WERE A SPIDER – M. Casarino – 4:11
6. MAJOR TOM (COMING HOME) – P. Schilling – 4:18

That’s copied/pasted right from the CD labeling software, yo. There’s no changing it now. Since it’s an EP, it doesn’t have a fancy title. If we wanna be pretentious we can say, “It’s our self-titled EP.”

Don’t see your favorite song? Don’t worry… the album-album is still in the works!

See everything you need? Well, er, OK… looks like you’re all set then.

Your pal,

Ji11

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What is the haps?

by Ji11

Howdy, Compadres!

Some of you have asked why we haven’t been playing much in June, and then answer is simple: We’re recording! And dammit, we’ve given ourselves a DEADLINE finally, so it’s balls to the wall recordo-fest.

It’s really interesting to see how this record has morphed since we first started recording last October. It was originally gonna be a teeny sampler EP that we would simply give to venues as part of our press kit, and it was going to have a few originals and a few covers and that’s it. But then we figured we should make them a bit longer so we could sell them at shows, so we needed a new approach. So we scrapped about 95% the work we did in October and started up again in February all fresh and new. And now it’s June, and we’ve written and recorded some new songs since then… to the point where we have to think about which songs to leave off the CD. Not a bad problem to have, I suppose…

We’re also considering the different ways to release the CD. Yes, we want to have physical copies with album artwork because lots of people still like to hold a physical CD and read the lyrics, etc.. But other folks don’t care about the physical disc itself and would much rather just download high-quality .ogg, .flac or simple .mp3s of the songs like you’d do on Amazon or iTunes… but those sites take a big chunk of the revenue (which is reasonable, since they’re doing a good amount of work on our behalf). But it might be more profitable to rig up a system where we sell you a download code which you’d enter on a seekrit page on our website to download the album. The code would only be able to be used a few times (ideally), so we wouldn’t have to worry about people giving the code out to 900 of their friends for free… though really, if 900 people had a copy of our album we wouldn’t be upset, really.

Anyway, this is getting long without me saying a whole lot.

The upshot is: We’ve got some great stuff coming your way, and we’re really excited to get our music out to you. We expect to have CDs available by our gig at the Rockwood Ice Cream Festival on July 8th at 12:00-12:30pm. Depending on how that goes, we’ll probably schedule a CD release party at some point. Not sure when, but we’ll keep you posted.

Here’s a very, very, VERY tentative song listing, and these are NOT in order, and we probably won’t include all of these. We shall see. And who knows… we might write and record more tunes between now and July 8th. :)

ORIGINALS: You Were a Spider, Hole in Your Pants, Maybe You Saw It Too, Defender, Gravity, It Only Takes Two to Rock
COVERS: Major Tom (Peter Schilling), Kiss Off (Violent Femmes), Crazy (Gnarls Barkley in the style of the Violent Femmes), Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne), Rock of Ages (Def Leppard), Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springsteen) (We are intentionally not recording Total Eclipse of the Heart.)

And then there’s the whole business of figuring out what the heck to title the thing. Maybe we’ll open it up to a vote…

Stay tuned for more updates!

Your pal,

Ji11

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Back in the studio…

by Ji11

One of the nicest things about having a home studio is that we can really take our time with a recording since we’re not freaking out about the spendy engineer1. We can take our time, we can record at 3am if we want… whatever.

Of course, one of the bad things about having a home studio is that we are constantly dicking around with mixes, re-recording things, coming up with alternate versions of songs, adding floor-stomps or whatever, so the recording never feels like it’ll ever be finished. We have no deadline since the studio time is essentially free.

The only thing really pushing us to finish the CD is our desire to keep Brian and the rest of our Cool Little Brothers2 happy.

Anyway, this time around, we’ll be recording our new songs Maybe You Saw It Too, It Only Takes Two to Rock, and re-recording Defender. Speaking if Defender, here’s a video of us singing it in Kyle Cassidy’s living room, just after we put our clothes on.

Stay tuned for more updates from the studio. Our Twitter feed is probably the best place to look, because hey, instant gratification. (We’re also on instagram (we’re “hotbreakfast”), but we don’t use it all that much.)

Catch ya soon.

Your pal,

Ji11


—————
1 The Spendy Engineer is totally gonna be the name of our new restaurant.
2 For those of you new to Hot Breakfast!, “Cool Little Brothers” is the name of our fan club. Not everyone can be a member. There are initiations.

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