Catch up time.
Location: Krefeld, Deutschland, the Mansion Jansen. So named after the building's owner, my friend Markus Jansen (of the great German bands M. Walking On The Water, and -of course- Jansen). It's not really a mansion, but it's a great old house with some great old crumbling decorative mouldings, ancient lamps, amps, and a cellar haunted with weird old bric-a-brac, drums, cobwebs and present laboratory. I like 'weird old'.
The idea of being here is partly a kind of self-imposed isolation, a place to work without too many distractions, and a place to rest up a little after the smoke and fires of the mad challenging year reflected in the Monthly Journal album and it's ensuing promo and tours in Europe and the UK. (After all, I worked hard to burn myself out.)
A Certain "Tone"It's the first time in many years I've spent any extended amount of time outside a major city. Ever tried learning a second language? I'm trying to learn German but it doesn't happen over night. Meanwhile it hasn't been too big a problem but increases the feeling of isolation sometimes, and at times the lack of clear communication has been more than a little frustrating. For example just a few nights ago there was a neighbor/friend who said something to another neighbor/friend who offered me this translation: that a certain "tone" was emanating through the walls from my place lately, and that if I was planning on basing a new song or something on this "tone", that, in her opinion, it would be a "mistake". I deduced that said "tone" was either a certain something new I've been working on with a looped Hornicator, or Wendy Windless (new instrument in-progress). It had been my intention to work on one or the other that very evening. You've got to laugh at these things in the long run but knowing she was within earshot, so to speak, it felt really uncomfortable. Sometimes I miss my old floating room sound booth I had back in NYC.
Weird old KrefeldBirthplace of Joseph Beuys, Ralf Hütter (Kraftwerk) and velvet (it was invented here). I've come through quite a few times on tour in the past. Remember the Shooting Stars video by photographer Philip Lethen? I watched the Perseid meteor shower last night and was reminded of it. That was shot in the upper rafters and clock tower of an old church here.
So it's a bit of a home-away-from-home. I remember years ago lying ill with a horrible fever/cold next door to where I am now, and Kay (Vogel , theater director - who also used to live here) coming by with a VCR and Woody Allen's 'Manhattan'. Better than a bowl of chicken soup.
Recording with Brian Viglione
There are some exciting other new things in the works, one of which was having brought my old pal (Dresden Dolls drummer) Brian Viglione over for a few days in May for recording. Brian is, in my opinion, one of the best drummers out there right now, as I'm sure any of you whom have seen him play will agree. He was in the country working with Botanica at the Theatre Dortmund. We laid a lot of stuff down, including some mad jamming with Mother Superior, but worked mostly from some abstract rough sketches and loops that I've not been sure what to do with -up until this came together. I don't know yet what the final shape of these creatures we started will become, but they were exciting sessions that we both felt real positive about. I have a feeling that the results are going to grow into something real special.
America and VideoI also spent some of the summer in America. Visited some friends in Philly and NYC. Went back to Colorado, visited my Mom and spent a few days in the fiery Rocky Mountains. And did some crawdad fishing with my niece and sister. I filmed a crayfish attacking my camera.
This will surely wind up in a piece of some sort at some point. I've been collecting quite an assortment of odd footage over the past few years, and it is one of my goals to do more work in a sound+visuals medium, i.e. probably digital short movies, but I'm trying to think outside the box so I'm not sure. Meanwhile filmmaker WIll Tribble just sent me a treatment for a proposed video for 'Cannibals Have Captured Our Nicole Kidman' which is quite entertaining so I'm really excited about working with him as well.
Is a DVD still a good idea?People have been asking me why I haven't got a DVD for sale at my shows for years. I've got loads of material, just not enough time to put it all together into a package.
So that's my summer in a nutshell so far. Where does the time go? Next weekend I'll be back in the UK, playing Festivals and shows again for the better part of two months. The schedule but is still being fleshed out so I'll be updating as they come in but here's how it starts (and as usual the latest is usually first on the thomastruax.com LIVE page)