Monday, January 28, 2013

Tango Till They're Sore

I just recorded a cover of the Tom Waits song Tango Till They're Sore, which is available below for your entertainment. On a side note, I was watching The Book of Eli on cable a couple nights ago and was surprised to see our craggy-faced friend playing the owner of a junk shop. If a movie involves classic horror or an end of days scenario, there is a good chance Tom Waits will have a bit part in it, either playing a creepy drifter, a preacher, or a crazy dude that eats insects.

What kind of name is Theme Park Mistress?

About three or four weeks into the second semester of my freshman year of college at Purdue, I really wanted to quit. I don't really want to go into the story; it's old, sour, cliche, and embarrassing. But this incident got me sidetracked, and I lost what little focus I had and just about flunked out. I failed calculus, barely passed Latin, quit my programming class--I'd changed my major from journalism to computer science--but I became obsessed with writing music. I'd learned piano as a child and played alto sax in the high school band and taken up guitar some time during my early teens. Thankfully, those early tunes I composed while depressed and drunk in Lafayette are lost to time. I do remember listening to a hell of a lot of Bob Dylan and the Band, as well as Johnny Cash. I used my nice university internet connection to download album after album, resulting in a digital music collection totaling around sixty gigs. I spent the next couple of years trying to join or start a band to no avail. It takes awhile to become good at something--the 100,000 hours rule is often misquoted (explanation)--but everyone agrees it takes a lot of time to become a phenom or just an expert. Most novelists fail to write their magnum opus the first or second time out, and the same goes for musicians. (The ones who have lasting careers, that is.) Not to say I've reached that level as a songwriter; I'm just saying that I sucked as a guitarist, a singer, and a writer, for probably about three years until I reached my current level of awesomeness. (Which all must agree, is beyond compare.)

Theme Park Mistress is the first and only band I've ever been in. We formed the summer of 2010 and have been rocking out in Cincinnati, OH ever since. Our first out of town show in Dayton, OH is approaching. I like to think of us as a throwback band--our sound is a blend of classic rock, 80's college rock, and 90's grunge--and I think we could have a universal appeal, that is, if we could ever play a packed venue. If you want to see us play, go down to the Mad Frog in Clifton on Friday.

We're some decent-looking fellas. 

Jon Oravec is the guy on the left. He's of Slovakian/Vampiric descent and is a former amateur lightweight boxing champion, so look out, folks! He's our guitarist and plays a Stratocaster that he "liberated" from a Hard Rock cafe somewhere out in Vegas where the cacti and strippers flow like water. Been known to pick with an English sixpence. Don't mention Morrissey around him--he'll go apeshit. 

Andrew Aragon is the fella in the middle. He's seven feet tall and works part time as a Chris Cornell/Prince impersonator. He keeps the rhythm, as well as the most consistent facial hair, in the group. Keep the beer away from this guy--he's a raging alcoholic. 

I'm the bastard on the left. I don't need to sing my praises; just let it be known that I've switched from rhythm guitar to bass, so now TPM has all the fat bottom it needs. My ass has also gotten fat from doing squats all the time, so I guess the previous sentence works on two levels. 

Visit our Youtube channel or our Facebook page to listen to our music. We've been working on an album for a while, and I can say with confidence that we'll have it available some time this year. 

Until then, I'll leave you with my current top ten album list, since I almost love making lists as much as does. 

1. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere--Neil Young: No one plays guitar like Neil Young. Nobody sings like Neil Young. Nobody can make a messy song work like Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

2. Good Morning Spider--Sparklehorse: Druggy, melancholy, seeped with sadness and beauty. Look, I'm Robert Christgau!

3. Aphex Twin--Selected Ambient Works 85-92: The kind of music that rewards close listening as well as background listening. Techno with a soul. 

4. Elliott Smith--Roman Candle: Double-tracked vocals, sparse accompaniment, touching lyrics, and pop chops on display. Like listening to that sad, wise friend you never knew.

5. Led Zeppelin VI: I could probably never hear this one again, for classic rock radio has beaten all of its songs into my brain, but debts must be paid. 

6. The Knife--Silent Shout: Weird Swiss duo releases the perfect album for driving around at night in a rural landscape. You can almost feel the naked tree branches reaching out to touch you. 

7. Weezer--Pinkerton: Yeah, Weezer kind of sucks, but this album fucking rocks. Every song is pure pop gold, and the guitar skills on display are awesome. No filler, all killer. 

8. Love--Forever Changes: I listen to this album constantly when I first met my wife. It's not particularly romantic, but it's forever married to that particular time, and because of that, as well as its general excellence, I cannot forget it. 

9. Nine Inch Nails--The Downward Spiral: When I first bought this album at the tender age of fourteen, I thought it was fucking evil. I still think it's an incredibly nihilistic piece of art; however, it sounds like nothing else--no one knows how to marry heavy guitar with keyboards like Trent Reznor. Remember when you could hear a song with the chorus of "I want to fuck you like an animal" on the radio? Damn you, Justin Timberlake, and your groping hands!

10. The Beach Boys--Pet Sounds: The romantic's album. Exquisitely layered instrumentation, quality songs, high-register vocals with soul. Makes you want to fall in love. 

Bonus mention: Tom Waits--Bone Machine: They'll play this album when the world ends. "Bring me some water; put it in this skull." Tom, you were everything I expected when I saw you in Louisville. Best show of my life.